New Mexico AYP 2011: Okay We’re All “Failing”…So What?

Honestly, I’ve tired of it all when it comes to AYP, SBA, PED & IMR (Inane Media Reaction).  What is left to “investigate” when 99.999% of the media sources will have “New Mexico Schools Get an F” as a hook, and those now in charge of NM PED will do nothing to “inform” anybody because doing so would get in the way of their jihadist screams of “REFORM!!!!”?

What’s the point of going through all the data, finding out something closer to the “real story” and prattling on about it to an audience roughly the size of “open mic” night at an improv club?

Not that this fact has stopped me for about five years now…but we all have a point, I guess.  And that point, for me, is 2011.  I’m done caring about ANYTHING pertaining to how test scores are interpreted, in the political/media sense. Stupid me, I still do want to look at how my individual students did, see where I might tweak this and that, dovetail a few of those ideas into the goulash of next school year.  But I think I’m going to limit the stupidity to that from this point forward.

Sorry to those in the improv club audience…but, just before I permanently go under that testing rock, I will take a quick gander (just a tiny peek) around and see if anything funny sticks out with this year’s scores.  You know, funny as in “I want to sharpen  a #2 pencil and jab myself in the eye with it (being sure to jab the entire circle of the eye…heavy and dark)”.

  • NM PED headlines its AYP news release “New Mexico’s AYP Rankings Signal the Need for Reform”.  It is quite probable this headline was written by sorta-kinda Secretary Hanna Skandera and crew sometime in early February. At the latest.  The glee contained therein is quite palpable.  New regime schadenfreude is the best, ain’t it Hanna?
  • APS Superintendent Winston Brooks has pointed out that, on top of the annual jump in required proficiency this year, the “cut scores” determining what constitutes “proficient” went up.  Exactly zero people not directly involved directly in K-12 education care about this.  Those who do care might find it somewhat interesting that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan brought up cut score shenanigans (i.e. state-mandated lowering) a few days ago and accused it of being just as shady as the rampant cheating found in Atlanta.  Again, nobody outside K-12 cares about this…”cheating” means something…”cut scores” mean zzzzzzzzzzzz.
  • If you look around the country, almost every media report on test scores makes reference to the cheating scandal. Notably, New Mexico media does not do so…most probably because the scores are so awful.  Unless we’re also really bad at cheating in New Mexico.
  • Taking middle schools as an example, the 2011-2012 data point along the road to “100% by 2014” required a 11% jump in Reading (62% to 73%) and a whopping 15% in Math (48% to 63%).  Again…nobody cares.
  • Okay…enough generalities…let’s look at silliness on a more specific scale.
  • My school, Jefferson Middle School (#1 on your scorecard and in your heart), did just about the same as last year. Small decreases that may very well have to do with the rise in those “cut scores” nobody cares about.  Yawn.
  • Zero APS middle and high schools made scores.  Fascinating.
  • Taft MS, surprisingly, made scores in EVERY area sans one, but almost all of those “YES” categories were due to the “Safe Harbor Provision” that grants “YES” to schools who were so incredibly awful the year before that they can improve 10% or more and still not be anywhere close to a true “YES”.   In other words…if you’re pretty sure you’re gonna fail, it pays to fail horribly one year and play the statistical kiss shot.  No, I’m not making that up.
  • None of the glorious APS charters that “Met” standards had anything close to a statistically significant number of students in all subgroups.  Which means they got free rides in groups that often don’t do well (e.g., “students with disabilities”).  I know..I’ve made the same point every year since this crap began.
  • Here’s a good one:  Albuquerque’s “Career Academic and Technical Academy” (aren’t they running out of names for these places?) “Met” standards “all around”.  Naturally, having only 15 students tested was a help…but even better is that the school was given “Safe Harbor” in Math, despite having only 13.33% of their 15 tested students showing proficiency in the subject.  In other words, in 2010 the school had 3% or fewer of its students proficient in Math.   And, sho’ nuf’, they did.  Great work “Career Academic and Technical Academy”!!!  “<2.00%”  Whoo-hoo!
  • A school called the “Public Academy for Performing Arts” passed in Reading and failed in Math, while a school called “Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science”  passed in both areas.   Who ‘da thunk it?
  • Needless to say, neither of those just mentioned charters had NEARLY enough Special Education students to have them statistically count.  Needless to say.
Really, I think our work is done here.  No 15,000 word screed about the unfairness of it all, the imbecility of the “system” or any of that.  Just do me a favor, and knock on this rock I’m crawling under when all this testing mania is over.  It’s gonna take me a few weeks of quiet rock time just to get the squawks of “REFORM!!!!!!…REFORM…REFORM!!!111!!!!!1” out of my head.

P.S.:  For those who want to plow through the PED reports, the plowing is made muddier this year by the Department’s decision to identically label the “accountability letter”, which is the dumb thing schools/parents get that informs via single testing buzzwords (e.g., “Restructuring 2”),  and the “accountability report” which has all the numbers on it.  So you click on one guessing it will be the “right” one, and half the time you’re wrong…happy plowing.


3 thoughts on “New Mexico AYP 2011: Okay We’re All “Failing”…So What?

  1. “Imagine,” said a public school teacher in New York City, who asked that I not use his name, “going to work each day knowing a great deal of what you are doing is fraudulent, knowing in no way are you preparing your students for life in an ever more brutal world, knowing that if you don’t continue along your scripted test prep course and indeed get better at it you will be out of a job. Up until very recently, the principal of a school was something like the conductor of an orchestra: a person who had deep experience and knowledge of the part and place of every member and every instrument. In the past 10 years we’ve had the emergence of both [Mayor] Mike Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy and Eli Broad’s Superintendents Academy, both created exclusively to produce instant principals and superintendents who model themselves after CEOs. How is this kind of thing even legal? How are such ‘academies’ accredited? What quality of leader needs a ‘leadership academy’? What kind of society would allow such people to run their children’s schools? The high-stakes tests may be worthless as pedagogy but they are a brilliant mechanism for undermining the school systems, instilling fear and creating a rationale for corporate takeover. There is something grotesque about the fact the education reform is being led not by educators but by financers and speculators and billionaires.”

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