Friday, February 23, 2018

The AP Data John White Did Not Want Us to See

Below are the latest rankings of states using AP scores, recently released by the College Board. This agency administers the Advanced Placement courses used by many of our schools.

Each year John White puts out a press release claiming great success in Louisiana student performance on AP tests over the previous year. The state even pays the fee for students to take the AP tests and gives schools extra points on their performance scores based on students taking AP courses. So each year there is an automatic increase in students taking AP courses. The only problem is that these courses are pretty much worthless unless the student scores at a level of 3 or better. Students who do not score at this level or higher do not get college credit for the course. The chart from the College Board on the state rankings on the latest results shows that Louisiana ranks second to last in the nation in students scoring at level 3 or higher! (Click on the figure to magnify it)

Juking the stats

Press releases from the LDOE about alleged success on AP tests is just one other example of "juking the stats". That's an expression reporters have used to point out how some school reformers often try to rig the data or report data in a way that presents a false picture of the real achievement of school reform.

Juking the stats also includes hiding the true passing scores on state tests (LEAP and EOC tests) by reporting only scale scores that look pretty good while the students statewide are averaging only a little above 40% on the percentage of questions the students answered correctly.

Another way of juking the stats is to pressure school counselors to register almost all graduates of a school as accepted applicants to college. Here's the thing: Some colleges have entrance requirements that would exclude many of our high school graduates because they are not truly qualified to succeed in college. But there are many fly-by-night colleges thet will accept almost anyone. So just getting kids accepted to college is extremely easy if you fill out the correct forms. But none if this means that all these "accepted" students will actually attend college. It is very sad that many of our students who are given worthless diplomas never attend or flunk out their first semester of college. Readers of this blog know that I believe that our current practice of pretending to prepare all students for college is a cruel hoax on our taxpayers, parents and particularly the students!

TFA corps member and experienced teacher exposes fraudulent claims

Here is a blog post from Gary Rubinstein that revues the true performance of Louisiana students on AP tests. The chart above shows that Louisiana has actually slipped lower in performance from the 2016 year.


Superintendent White is a failure using the very measures of success that he used to claim that Louisiana schools were failing before he took over our schools.

John White thought he could bully teachers to produce higher student test scores and send more of our kids to college. Our students are not progressing because the new Common Core based curriculum and the associated tests are not valid. He has failed miserably using the very standards he has used to criticize us before he took over. Juking the stats is a poor substitute for the real education our students so desperately need.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

The School Reform We Really Need


The terrible mass murder of children and teachers yesterday in a Florida school may be a warning sign that our schools are lacking in vital instruction that many children need most. It is ironic that the Federal law titled “No Child Left Behind” and its successor law; “Every Student Succeeds” may actually be leaving large numbers of students behind and preventing thousands from succeeding. Maybe nothing could have helped prevent a deranged expelled student from committing this latest atrocity. But is it possible that education policy makers have ignored some of the most needed reforms that could actually save and redirect some of our misguided students?

Louisiana schools and the schools in most other states have been in a constant state of reform since the 90’s.  The Nation at Risk Report of 1983 told us that our schools were failures in educating our children to compete with other countries.  So our policy makers have set about adopting school reforms that are based mostly on wishful thinking rather than real education principles.

Governors, legislators, Congresspersons, and various self-appointed high profile education reformers have focused mostly on an attempt to push all students through a poorly designed college prep curriculum.  Contrary to all evidence indicating that students vary greatly in their interests, talents and abilities, our reforms assume that all students can and should be taught the exact same academic concepts in English, math, science and social studies in lock step. The prescribed academic material in those subjects is measured by standardized testing. Those test scores of students are used to rate schools and teachers but not so much for determining the progress and needs of students from one grade level to the next.

Social science and even DNA data tells us that children enter school with a wonderful variety of abilities and interests other than just academics. Yet almost nothing is done in grades K though 8 to identify each student’s unique talents and interests. The regimentation of our new curriculum does not allow for real individualization of instruction.

Many of our students of today lack a secure and productive home environment. In Louisiana, a large portion (about 40%) of our students are growing up in an extremely deprived environment, often lacking proper nutrition, health care, and most importantly lacking a secure nurturing home life. A huge proportion of students have only one parent and lack positive role models in their lives. Our current school reform efforts have purposely ignored these challenges and assumed that a standardized college prep curriculum would cure all ills. This was a serious miscalculation. Our current reforms are failing the students that need the most help.

In Louisiana, our official accountability policy requires teachers to teach the exact same material to all students at each grade level, regardless of their real progress level. Our plan recently adopted by BESE allows and encourages almost all students to be passed to the next grade each year even if they fail all their tests. That plan instructs teachers to teach remediation and new material all at the same time. It is assumed that formal education alone can close the gaps in student performance and somehow produce college prep for all. This plan is a failure and neglects many thousands of students.

When dozens of schools in the New Orleans school system were taken over by the state as part of education reform, thousands of experienced teachers were fired and cast aside. They were replaced by well meaning, young untrained college graduates who had no real preparation as teachers. These young people were mostly white and came from wealthy backgrounds. These replacements for the experienced teachers could not be role models because they came from a different world. In two or three years most of them returned to their privileged worlds and never made a real difference in student’s lives.

So contrary to the current reform trends, much more needs to be done to train and hire teachers of color particularly for schools serving mostly African American students. Also, it would help to encourage highly respected black men to serve as teachers for the many black male students who have no positive role models. All children need great role models.

There also need to be real efforts to identify the special abilities and interests of our students. They are not all destined to succeed in college no matter how much our leaders wish it. We have already proven that the majority of our students will not attend college just based on wishful thinking.  As my previous post explains, it is a cruel hoax to continue graduating students who are functionally illiterate. Worthless diplomas are one of the results of the current school reform. Thousands of kids are not qualifying for TOPS and their parents, who could not provide them proper food and shelter, certainly cannot afford college tuition!

The common core based curriculum that has been forced on all children is not relevant for even half of our students. Students who regularly average just above 40% correct answers on their state tests are certainly not mastering anything. Many of these kids would be much better off learning practical math and vocational subjects than the highly irrelevant math and English being pushed upon all students.

Finally, instead of constantly drilling students for irrelevant tests, why can’t we allow dedicated teachers and guidance counselors time to talk to students about setting a course for a rewarding future. The coursework for those futures should include intensive training in the use of modern tools used in modern highly paid trades. Germany does this, and has the most advanced manufacturing economy in the world while American manufacturing is dying. Every kid who really wants to take college prep courses should be allowed to do so, but no course should be watered down (as we do now) to pretend that all students are college prep.

Oh, and what can we expect our elected “leaders” to do about school shootings?
Instead of banning assault weapons, my guess is that the gun lobby is going to propose that the way to stop school shootings is to train and arm all children in the use of assault weapons as soon as they can walk. Every kid and teacher could then be handed a gun each day as they enter school so that they could be ready to shoot it out with any school invader. This is insane!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Conversion tables for the 2017 LEAP tests

The following table should be useful for principals, teachers and parents in preparing for the Spring 2018 LEAP tests. Scale scores and conversion factors change very little from year to year, so we can expect similar results for this Spring. (Take particular note of the average scores for all tested students)

In addition, a public records request I made to the Louisiana Department of Education produced records confirming that approximately 25% of all test takers in 2016 failed both their ELA and math tests. The all test taker average produced slightly lower scale scores in 2017 compared to 2016 for 3 out of 4 ELA and math tests. This report also includes cut score conversions for Social Studies and Science.
Michael Deshotels

2017 Cut Score Conversions for LEAP

English scale scores range from 650 to 850, with zero correct answers producing 650 points and 100 % correct answers producing 850 points. The min. passing score is known as the cut score.

ELA Grade 3: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 31% correct answers
The av. Gr. 3 ELA score for all tested students in 2017 was 743 = 41% correct ans.

ELA Grade 4: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 25% correct answers
The av. Gr. 4 ELA score for all tested students in 2017 was 744 = 35% correct ans.

ELA Grade 5: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 25.5% correct answers
The av. Gr. 5 ELA score for tested students in 2017 was 742 = 35% correct ans.

ELA Grade 6: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 29% correct answers
The av. Gr. 6 ELA score for all tested students in 2017 was 738 = 37.5% cor. ans.

ELA Grade 7: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 32% correct answers
The av. Gr. 7 ELA score for all tested students in 2017 was 741 = 42% cor. ans.

ELA Grade 8: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 34% correct answers
The av. Gr. 8 ELA score for all tested students in 2017 was 744 = 45% cor. ans.

The average minimum passing score (cut score) for all 2017 ELA tests = 29%

Math scale scores range from 650 to 850, with zero correct answers producing 650 points and 100% correct answers producing 850 points. The min. passing score is known as the cut score.

Math Grade 3: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 39% correct answers
The av. Gr. 3 Math score for all tested students in 2017 was 743 = 50% cor. ans.

Math Grade 4: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 39% correct answers
The av. Gr. 4 Math score for all tested students in 2017 was 740 = 50% cor. ans.

Math Grade 5: min passing score = 725 scale score = 33% correct answers
The av. Gr. 5 Math score for all tested students in 2017 was 736 = 41% cor. ans.

Math Grade 6: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 33% correct answers
The av. Gr. 6 Math score for all tested students in 2017 was 732 = 36% cor. ans.

Math Grade 7: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 26% correct answers
The av. Gr. 7 Math score for all tested students in 2017 was 732 = 32% cor. ans.

Math Grade 8: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 26% correct answers
The av. Gr. 8 Math score for all tested students in 2017 was 728 = 28% cor. ans.

The average minimum passing score (cut score) for 2017 Math tests = 33%

 Social studies scale scores range from 650 to 850, with zero correct answers producing 650 points and 100% correct answers producing 850 points. The min. passing score = cut score.

Soc. Studies Gr 3: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 46% correct answers
The av. Gr. 3 Soc. Studies score for all tested students in 2017 was 721 = 44%

Soc. Studies Gr. 4: min passing score = 725 scale score = 44% correct answers
The av. Gr. 4 Soc. Studies score for all tested students in 2017 was 721 = 42%

Soc. Studies Gr. 5: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 35% correct answers
The av. Gr. 5 Soc. Studies score for all tested students in 2017 was 716 = 31%

Soc. Studies Gr. 6: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 41% correct answers
The av. Gr. 6 Soc. Studies score for all tested students in 2017 was 720 = 39%

Soc. Studies Gr. 7: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 32% correct answers
The av. Gr. 7 Soc. Studies score for all tested students in 2017 was 726 = 33%

Soc. Studies Gr. 8: min. passing score = 725 scale score = 44% correct answers
The av. Gr. 8 Soc. Studies score for all tested students in 2017 was 732 = 48.5%

The average min. passing score (cut score) for 2017 Soc. Studies tests = 40%

Science scale scores range from 100 to 500, with zero correct answers producing 100 points and 100% correct answers producing 500 points. The min. passing score is known as the cut score.

Science Gr. 3: min. passing score = 293 scale score = 57% correct answers
The av. Gr. 3 Science score for all tested students in 2017 was 308 = 64%

Science Gr. 4: min. passing score = 308 scale score = 59% correct answers
The av. Gr. 4 Science score for all tested students in 2017 was 322 = 65%

Science Gr. 5: min. passing score =292 scale score = 52% correct answers
The av. Gr. 5 Science score for all tested students in 2017 was 302 = 56%

Science Gr. 6: min. passing score = 295 scale score = 48% correct answers
The av. Gr. 6 Science score for all tested students in 2017 was 308 = 54%

Science Gr. 7: min. passing score = 304 scale score = 50% correct answers
The av. Gr. 7 Science score for all tested students in 2017 was 318 = 57%

Science Gr. 8: min. passing score = 305 scale score = 59% correct answers
The av. Gr. 8 Science score for all tested students in 2017 was 313 = 63%
The average minimum passing score (cut score) for 2017science tests = 54%