When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Marc Eisen:

Lake Wobegon has nothing on the UW-Madison School of Education. All of the children in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town are “above average.” Well, in the School of Education they’re all A students.
The 1,400 or so kids in the teacher-training department soared to a dizzying 3.91 grade point average on a four-point scale in the spring 2009 semester.
This was par for the course, so to speak. The eight departments in Education (see below) had an aggregate 3.69 grade point average, next to Pharmacy the highest among the UW’s schools. Scrolling through the Registrar’s online grade records is a discombobulating experience, if you hold to an old-school belief that average kids get C’s and only the really high performers score A’s.
Much like a modern-day middle school honors assembly, everybody’s a winner at the UW School of Education. In its Department of Curriculum and Instruction (that’s the teacher-training program), 96% of the undergraduates who received letter grades collected A’s and a handful of A/B’s. No fluke, another survey taken 12 years ago found almost exactly the same percentage.
A host of questions are prompted by the appearance of such brilliance. Can all these apprentice teachers really be that smart? Is there no difference in their abilities? Why do the grades of education majors far outstrip the grades of students in the physical sciences and mathematics? (Take a look at the chart below.)

The UW-Madison School of Education has no small amount of influence on the Madison School District.

Madison 2020 Referendum Climate: Taxpayers decide some states aren’t worth it

Ben Eisen and Laura Kusisto: The average property tax bill in the U.S. in 2018 was about $3,500, according to Attom Data Solutions, a real-estate data firm. But many residents in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California had been deducting well over $10,000 a year. In Westchester County, N.Y., the average property-tax bill was … Continue reading Madison 2020 Referendum Climate: Taxpayers decide some states aren’t worth it

“As a Teacher, I Was Complicit in Grade Inflation. Our Low Expectations Hurt Students We Were Supposed to Help”

Emily Langhorne: n November, NPR uncovered a graduation scandal at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., where half the graduates missed more than 90 days of school. Administrators pressured teachers to pass failing students, including those whom teachers had barely seen. Policy wonks have had a field day with the report, adding graduation scandals to … Continue reading “As a Teacher, I Was Complicit in Grade Inflation. Our Low Expectations Hurt Students We Were Supposed to Help”

Crisis in the classroom: New Indiana teachers repeatedly failing state exams

Bob Segall, via a kind reader: In the past three years, thousands of new, would-be Indiana teachers have failed the state’s CORE content area assessment exams. The tests, which are each designed to evaluate teacher knowledge in a very specific subject area, are a prerequisite for new teachers to obtain their Indiana state teaching license. … Continue reading Crisis in the classroom: New Indiana teachers repeatedly failing state exams

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: How Big Deficits Became the Norm?

David Wessel

Big budget deficits haven’t always been with us.
From the end of the Eisenhower years through the Carter presidency, the deficit averaged a modest 1.4% of the nation’s economic output. The budget was nearly balanced in seven of the 20 years from 1960 to 1979. And, as Bill Clinton reminds at every opportunity, the U.S. government was in surplus for four years at the end of his presidency.
In January 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected annual surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion over the following 10 years. Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman at the time, worried out loud about the consequences of paying off the federal debt, such as the possibility that the government might invest its surpluses in corporate stock and meddle in management.

Grade Inflation: Who Really Failed?

Scott Jaschik:

Dominique G. Homberger won’t apologize for setting high expectations for her students.
The biology professor at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge gives brief quizzes at the beginning of every class, to assure attendance and to make sure students are doing the reading. On her tests, she doesn’t use a curve, as she believes that students must achieve mastery of the subject matter, not just achieve more mastery than the worst students in the course. For multiple choice questions, she gives 10 possible answers, not the expected 4, as she doesn’t want students to get very far with guessing.
Students in introductory biology don’t need to worry about meeting her standards anymore. LSU removed her from teaching, mid-semester, and raised the grades of students in the class. In so doing, the university’s administration has set off a debate about grade inflation, due process and a professor’s right to set standards in her own course.
To Homberger and her supporters, the university’s action has violated principles of academic freedom and weakened the faculty.

Related: Marc Eisen: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.

Germany’s mediocre universities

The Economist:

THE IG FARBEN building in Frankfurt has a history. This is where Zyklon B gas, used at Auschwitz, was invented and Dwight Eisenhower later worked. Now it is part of an €1.8 billion ($2.5 billion) building project at Frankfurt’s Goethe University. Not for Goethe’s 35,000 students the grotty campuses of others: the “House of Finance” has a marble floor inspired by Raphael’s fresco “The School of Athens.”
Thousands of less coddled students recently staged protests across Germany against their conditions. “Back education, not banks”, demanded protesters fed up with overcrowded lecture halls, crumbling campuses, tuition fees and a chaotic conversion from the traditional diploma to a European two-tier degree system.
German universities are underfunded by international standards (see chart). Professors juggle scores of students; at top American universities they nurture a handful. In switching to the bachelors-masters degrees prescribed by Europe’s standardising “Bologna process”, many universities tried to cram bachelors degrees into just six terms. Only six German universities are among the top 100 in the Shanghai rankings (Munich is highest, at 55th). Just 21% of each age cohort gets a degree; the OECD average is 37%.

Chinese Medicine for American Schools

Nicholas Kristof follows up Marc Eisen’s recent words on a world of competition for our children: But the investments in China’s modernization that are most impressive of all are in human capital. The blunt fact is that many young Chinese in cities like Shanghai or Beijing get a better elementary and high school education than … Continue reading Chinese Medicine for American Schools