Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Feudal Prince Marty And His Amazing Statistical Technicolor Dreamcoat

If the lottery is a tax on people who can't do statistics, Marty Chávez would make a great lottery director.

Jack King at the Journal
has a great little story of Feudal Prince Marty's gloating over test results for AIMS (Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science) 11th graders versus those for APS high school juniors.
In a letter this month to the Journal, Chávez said AIMS's scores on the state Standards-Based Assessment tests given last March were "stunning."

"Eighty-one percent of AIMS students scored at the proficient or higher level in reading, while only 59 percent of all APS students ranked proficient or higher," the letter said. "Fifty percent of all AIMS students scored at the proficient or higher mathematics level while 44 percent of all APS students scored proficient or higher."

The letter continued, "There is no mystery (emphasis mine) here. Highly qualified, unselfish and dedicated staff, high performance expectations, committed parents, motivated students and a competent administrative staff and board that demand accountability at all levels are the ingredients for academic success from our students."
And there's no mystery, Marty, when you have 32, as you note, "motivated students", willingly attending an "Institute for Math/Science" scoring better overall on standardized tests than 4,526 APS 11th graders with wide-ranging "motivations", many of which do not include college, math, science or anything past struggling to graduate high school. How many identified "Special Education" students took the SBA at AIMS Marty? How many "English Language Learners"?

Oh wait, here is the overall data from the NM PED. First of all, it's confusing because the numbers don't match. Must have been some non-11th graders tested. Or maybe this isn't about the numbers, statistics or anything real. Maybe, just maybe, it's about preying on those equally poor at statistics who can be bullshitted by shameful statistical rigging followed by marketing blather about "dedicated staff...and demand accountability...".

Don't try to bullshit a bullshitter, dear Feudal Prince. I teach "Gifted" students. I teach at a school with almost 25% of the student body considered "Gifted". Guess what? Our test scores are higher than many similar schools with identical socio-economic/ethnic demographics. Obviously it's just gotta be because of the "dedicated staff...and demand accountability...." yadda-yadda-yadda!

Frankly, it's just gotta be because I'm a "dedicated teacher" and teachers at those other schools aren't dedicated and, honestly, suck. That must be true because my school scores are higher than those schools. What schools? Why, the schools with lower scores, obviously! How do we know the teachers suck? Duh? Because the test scores are lower!

Teaching Statistically Warped Samples of Smart/Motivated Students + Standardized Testing
= Political Profit!

Teaching Non-Distorted Statistical Samples + Standardized Testing
= Professional Shame and Ignominy!

That's easy addition there, Marty. Maybe you and I should go into selling hedge funds together. I hear it's an even better way to make tons of money bullshitting people who can't do math. We can probably use your slick web site and associated documents as a "prospectus". We'll just switch the words "rigorous academic curriculum" with "unending profits even in down markets".

P.S.: To those who think President-Elect Obama will sweep "No Child Left Behind" away instantaneously with a magic wand, consider how Feudal Prince Marty, a "Democrat", is using NCLB as a political tool. NCLB ain't going away, folks, not as long as the bullshit artists are painting pretty pictures with the numbers.

P.P.S.: A big shout-out to Early College Academy Principal Scott Elder, who summed up the testing scam better than I ever could in describing why his school's scores are better than APS:

"You have students who have self-selected to come here. You have engaged students and parents involved in their children's education. Our curriculum is more career-driven, there's more emphasis on math and science, we don't have a lot of electives and all those electives are academic subjects,"
Well done, sir. Well done.
Your honesty and insight is very much appreciated by those of us teaching at those sucky, horrible, awful regular 'ol APS schools.


John Fleck said...

Scot - I'm concerned that you're holding back here a little. Tell us what you *really* think.

barbwire said...

Wow, just wow.

Anonymous said...

Making a Profit off Kids.
Over the last few years, 23 states across the country have added more than 11.3 million reading and math tests to their school curricula in order to keep up with the requirements of the federal NCLB law. Michigan alone has tacked on more than i million new tests; New York more than 1.7 million. While most of the overpaid "experts" debate whether increased testing helps kids learn more, most agree that it does mean big bucks for the testing companies. The school testing and testing services industry (which includes tutoring, test prep courses and the tess themselves) is now a 2.3 billion a year enterprise, with just five companies controlling 90% of the statewide testing revenue. Even Neil Bush has his own testing company. How much do you want to bet the testing companies get a bailout before one school does?

Anonymous said...

Scot, nice to know there are others out there who aren't fooled by Marty's deceptions and his pet project, AIMS.

There is so much corruption,
nonaccountability, and lack of common sense in the AIMS "underworld" (also know as the key players/AIMS board members).

Mayor Marty's "pet project" of a Math/Science Charter school looked great on paper. AIMS has been run like a bad start up business.
But Mayor Marty would have the good people believe otherwise, using the media to plug his greatness (too many to mention).
Unselfish staff? Ha.. A Director who has the social skills of a bully. A Director who doesn't seek parent input and will avoid it to the death.
Professional administrative staff? Ha,ha. that's why there's been money issues. NO accountability.
And the APS board? They are puppets and Mayor Marty is the puppet-master.
It's amazing that Charter schools are popping up all around us. If the Gov, the Mayor, the council, and the board really cared about the kids and not their political careers, then their focus would be on having school systems that would give the teachers the resources and pay to actually teach the kids, who ARE the future. Their focus would be on giving kids equal opportunity to learn regardless what area of town they live in.

New Mayor, new City Council, new APS board = future success