28 responses to “Education Policy Proposal #2: Stop High School Transcript Fraud

  • Roger Sweeny

    Wow. I don’t agree with everything but that’s probably the most sensible thing I’ve ever read about high school.

  • educationrealist

    Thanks! What don’t you agree with? Did I get something wrong?

  • Roger Sweeny

    I didn’t think “squashing requests for more H1B visas” was relevant to a post about high school, though I can see how it fits with “Stop the flow of cheap labor at all education levels.” Also not sure how much that policy will motivate HS students (especially if that flow of cheap labor includes relatives or friends or co-ethnics).

    Otherwise, really really good. So much of educational rhetoric is about helping poor kids. But because the proposed remedies are based in fantasy rather than reality, they often wind up harming the people they are intended to help. I really appreciate that you care about those kids but are not willing to live in fantasyland.

    Repeating the catechism, “all children can learn [a rigorous college prep curriculum]” doesn’t just hurt the strivers by dumbing down courses. Perhaps more important, it hurts the slower and less interested, causing failure and psychological distress.

    I thought of the Reality Primer when I came upon this story on the Yahoo news feed. Most of the front page of the Sunday NY Post was covered by a picture of a recent NYC high school grad and the text, “She skipped class, didn’t take the final–yet a Queens high school let her graduate. One student’s stunning plea to the New York City education system that let her down: FAIL ME!”

    From the inside story: The Queens teacher who passed a high school student practically begging to be failed made a stunning admission Sunday — she did it because of the “tremendous amount of pressure” to just graduate kids. …

    “It was not an ideal situation,” McHale acknowledged to The Post at her Queens home. “If we don’t meet our academic goals, we are deemed failures as teachers. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on us as teachers.”

    “I thought it was in her best interest and the school’s best interest to pass her.” …

    The teacher said she believes that her student spoke out because “I think she felt a sense of, ‘Why isn’t the standard higher?’ But if we set the bar higher, we would be a failing school.”


    • educationrealist

      Oh, so just that one thing. I wanted to keep it away from just “stop illegal immigration” because immigrants have kids, they burden the schools, and so on.

      That article is so on point it may well have taken ballet.

    • Roger Sweeny

      Oops. I just found out that article is from the Monday NY Post. Sunday was the original student “plea” and the Sunday front page. The Monday article is promoted on the front page as, “Teacher: It’s just about schools looking good PASS ‘EM ALL” Which I thought was not a fair summary of the article.

    • Roger Sweeny

      For the second straight day, Yahoo brought me a “didn’t do assignments, skipped the final and passed anyway” story. A different fact situation with some different issues (and this time it’s the mother saying the kid shouldn’t pass).


    • jkoury

      I am concerned about H1Bs on behalf of those students who will have done everything right, only to be told after they have gotten that spiffy STEM degree that everyone said was their ticket to success, that they still don’t have job security in the slightest or even middle class wages with a bachelors. The idea of expanding skills-based immigration made sense when populations would be declining and boomers retiring, but this century so far hasn’t met expectation in the ways that require such immigration.

  • Jim

    We set unrealistic educational goals and then search for scapegoats -bad teachers, bad parents – when our goals are not met. But we can’t seem to break out of this insanity.

    • Roger Sweeny

      Saying the goals are unrealistic is like telling your girlfriend, “Yes, your ass looks big in those pants.”

      • vijay

        Not the same. Here , in Montgomery county, they have set some impossible goals for all children, including Algebra 1 by MS. If you say your pant does not fit you, at the most the girl friend is angry at you for a few days. Here, the school system is going through convolutions and increasing $/student continuously without ever attaining any goals. And, this is faor one of the best performing school districts.

      • Roger Sweeny

        I agree; it’s not exactly the same. The similarities I was going for were 1) people don’t want to hear it; they prefer a pleasant lie to this unpleasant truth, 2) they will feel you are a mean uncaring person for saying it, 3) they will get emotional, and thus 4) you open yourself up to (deliberate?) misinterpretation: “So you think I’m fat?” “So you think those kids don’t deserve an education?” “So you think we should give up?”

        Which brings me to similarity 5) most people think it’s better to lie and avoid unpleasantness. However, as you imply, ugly pants won’t ruin anyone’s life. But years of inappropriate schooling …

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  • vijay

    I have a comment on “Schools have dramatically increased access to college level courses, but test scores and demonstrated ability have barely budged.” Although not relevant to the argument “stop kneecapping schools”, the two outcomes, “Schools have dramatically increased access to AP” and “Test scores and demonstrated ability have barely budged.” are not related. Between 1990 and 2010,

    (1) high school population increased dramatically
    2013 16,601
    2012 17,047
    2011 16,613
    2010 16,574
    2009 16,445
    2008 16,715
    2007 17,082
    2006 17,149
    2005 17,354
    2004 16,791
    2003 17,062
    2002 16,374
    2001 16,059
    2000 15,770
    1999 15,916
    1998 15,584
    1997 15,793
    1996 15,309
    1995 14,963
    1994 14,616
    1993 13,522
    1992 13,219
    1991 13,010
    1990 12,719
    1989 12,786
    1988 13,093
    1987 13,647
    1986 13,912
    1985 13,979
    1984 13,777
    (2) the population became diverse compared to say 1977, when the previous peak was attained. Nearly 46% of the population became minority.

    The increase in availability of college level AP courses, and their impact on student scores is masked by the differences in population distribution; an increase in Non-Asian minority means average scores should have gone down; the fact that it stayed the same is, in some sense, a reflection on increased availability of college level classes. Hence, if they kneecap schools, average scores will go down.

    • anonymousskimmer

      I’m really curious if anyone can say how school districts adapt their budgets for population shifts shown in charts like this. Aren’t particular parts of funding based on the number of students? The base fluctuation in number of students seems to be 2-3% per year, and it seems not uncommon for up to 10% over 2-4 year period.

      I guess that the districts usually get a 5-7 year lead time in knowing the approximate number of students that they’ll get in kindergarten and 1st grade, and even more of a lead time for middle school and high school, but it still seems very difficult to adapt to a 10% shift over two years even if you know it’s coming (and this is averaged over all districts, the outliers have it even harder).

      And then what happens when an unexpected population shift occurs? Especially if, like earthquakes, the timing is unexpected but not the event? How much money can districts typically save for “rainy days”? Do teachers get temporarily laid off or made part time and then rehired later?

  • RationalExpressions

    As a fellow math teacher, at a Title I school to boot, all I can say is Amen!

    Alas, I and my colleagues can never share these views – we need our jobs. But we’re the ones who have to be with the sad souls who hate math, don’t understand math, but have half their day filled with math classes where they get to learn over and over that the state considers them deficient (my state has a 4 year math requirement, with the last class required to be at a level PAST algebra 2).

    A typical sophomore will be retaking algebra, taking geometry, and taking a math support class all at the same time. Half their day is math class! It is sad.

    And what really burns me is that those of us who know, those of us who care about the kids, are considered bad guys when we propose common sense proposals like yours to help them.

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  • collin237

    You’re saying to limit immigration because the immigrants are cheap? No, their employers are cheap! In today’s post-Capitalist world, there’s no more excuse for allowing employers to sort jobs and wages according to nationality!

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