[xmca] testing and reform -- see Berliner article

From: Peg Griffin (Peg.Griffin@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Fri Aug 19 2005 - 09:13:31 PDT

David Berliner's AERA talk is now available through the TC Record.
It seems apropos a few different xmca threads.
It begins like this:
"Over the last three years I have co-authored three reports about the
effects of high-stakes testing on curriculum, instruction, school personnel,
and student achievement (Amrein & Berliner, 2002; Nichols & Berliner, 2005;
Nichols, Glass & Berliner, 2005). They were all depressing. My co-authors
and I found high-stakes testing programs in most states ineffective in
achieving their intended purposes, and causing severe unintended negative
effects, as well. We believe that the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
law is a near perfect case of political spectacle (Smith, 2004), much more
theater than substance. Our collectively gloomy conclusions led me to wonder
what would really improve the schools that are not now succeeding, for
despite the claims of many school critics, only some of America's schools
are not now succeeding (Berliner, 2004)."

And here is the abstract:
"This analysis is about the role of poverty in school reform. Data from a
number of sources are used to make five points. First, that poverty in the
US is greater and of longer duration than in other rich nations. Second,
that poverty, particularly among urban minorities, is associated with
academic performance that is well below international means on a number of
different international assessments. Scores of poor students are also
considerably below the scores achieved by white middle class American
students. Third, that poverty restricts the expression of genetic talent at
the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Among the lowest social classes
environmental factors, particularly family and neighborhood influences, not
genetics, is strongly associated with academic performance. Among middle
class students it is genetic factors, not family and neighborhood factors,
that most influences academic performance. Fourth, compared to middle-class
children, severe medical problems affect impoverished youth. This limits
their school achievement as well as their life chances. Data on the negative
effect of impoverished neighborhoods on the youth who reside there is also
presented. Fifth, and of greatest interest, is that small reductions in
family poverty lead to increases in positive school behavior and better
academic performance. It is argued that poverty places severe limits on what
can be accomplished through school reform efforts, particularly those
associated with the federal No Child Left Behind law. The data presented in
this study suggest that the most powerful policy for improving our nations'
school achievement is a reduction in family and youth poverty."

Peg G.
329 A Cloverdale Rd.
Montgomery, AL 36104
Affiliation: Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition

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