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.
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
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”
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
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?.
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