Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

A Michigan Educator Has a Few Questions About Those NAEP Science Scores

Publication Date: 2012-05-13

Mindy Nathan is Dean of Adult and Alternative Education for the Berkley School District,a suburb of Detroit. Her school, Tri-County Educational Center, is an alternative high school program that draws from Detroit and several "edge" suburbs. She describes the corporate decimation of the Detroit Public Schools as "New Orleans all over again, without the flood."

The students at Tri-County Educational Center are "mostly 16-19, with a small adult program kind of blended in. We do run a small GED prep class and Adult Basic Ed at night. We have a growing arts program and a brand new basketball league that teaches the kids much more than basketball. We run a Restorative Justice class that is awesome . If I was going to characterize our school in any way, I'd say that we are all about loving the kids that others have not."

Achievement gaps in 8th-grade science show need for meaningful accountability in Michigan schools

ROYAL OAK, MICH. (May 10, 2012) -- As Michigan education leaders prepare to dramatically overhaul our state's school accountability and support system, new test results show our state's African American and low-income students remain woefully behind their white and more affluent peers in science.

"The new national assessment data, released today, is yet another confirmation that we need new approaches to supports and interventions for struggling schools that teach many of our minority and low-income children," said Amber Arellano, executive director of Education Trust-Midwest, Michigan̢۪s only statewide education policy, research and advocacy organization focused on what̢۪s best for students. . . .
--Education Trust Midwest press release

by Mindy Nathan

I have SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!! Here are just a few:

1) What happens to the "data" when it is broken out simply by school buildings, espcially those whole buildings that happen to be located in high poverty areas? In other words, what is the gain in identifying the "subgroups," when it is highly likely that those whole schools full of children did poorly on these tests?

2) Of the students who did not show high achievement, did they not only not have something to eat on the day of the test -- what about their nutrition for the prior month? Year? Years???? What was their mom's nutrition like during her pregnancy?

3) How much lead is in the pipes and/or paint of their homes? That is, if they have homes. And was there lead in the pipes and/or paint in the houses these kids lived in when they were little?

4) How much money do their teachers spend, out of their own pockets, feeding and clothing these kids? Probably not enough to raise their test scores.

5) How important, really, is science, when your electricity and phones are being turned off because your families can't afford to pay for them? Does it really matter if you know exactly what a kilowatt is?

6) How important, really, is science, when I have to walk by empty, abandoned homes in my neighborhood, and I can't sleep at night because of all the gun noise? And what good is science, really, when the numbers nationally keep saying that violent crime is going down, and the police don't come when we call them anyway?

7) How important, really, is science, when daily I have to deal with the fact that my dad is locked up for life, and my older brother and cousin were shot the week before the test? I am learning a lot of science in the hospital from all the doctors that come in to talk to my brother about his injuries, that include a colostomy bag and a bile bag. I'm learning way more anatomy than the test says I should know....oh, but those questions weren't on my test that day.

8) So why is it that the teachers are being held responsible for a failed economy, failed city services, failed gun policies, failed supports for families in real need? Why is it that only the TEACHERS are accountable for all the failures that surround and do daily harm to these kids?

9) And so what do these "test scores" really test, anyway? To the extent that these numbers tell you anything about the real lives of real kids, can someone please explain to me how these are of value? For all of the years that this nonsensical testing has been going on, the neighborhoods of the kids that are attached to these scores have gotten worse, not better. So please, someone, tell me: How does this help the kids who need help the most?

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.