The Case of the Disappearing Data

Louisiana’s Nancy Drew gets her hands on those elusive ACT scores…

Nancy_Drew_80_211EduShyster: Let’s get right to the question that’s on all of our minds. Is that John White as handsome as he looks in his pictures?

Mercedes Schneider: Well, it depends on how you define handsome. I personally find honesty to be an attractive trait…

EduShyster: You broke a big story over the weekend. Somehow you managed to get your hands on Louisiana’s 2014 ACT scores, which the state Department of Education didn’t seem to want to release. What do the numbers tell you?

Schneider: They’re terrible. I go over them in more detail here, but what you need to know is that the composite ACT score for the schools in New Orleans’ Recovery School District dropped from the year before, and that for individual high schools the scores are in the 13, 14 and 15 range. For comparison’s sake, to get into Louisiana State one needs an ACT score of 22—a minimum of 19 in math and an 18 in English. But what really stands out to me is that the students in New Orleans who took the ACT in 2014 were in 3rd grade when Katrina hit. Even if you have students who didn’t return to the city for two years, that means they’ve been attending these charter schools since 5th grade. That’s how long they’ve been subject to this experiment. You look at these numbers and it’s clear why John White didn’t want them to be made public. Continue reading →

Career Tests for Kids: Pass the Crayons

This kindergartner cries upon learning that she has failed her career test and is qualified to work only as a school turnaround artist, a field in which she can operate free of the burden of success or failure.

News that the ACT is developing a cool new career test for kindergartners was met with predictable scorn and outrage by the anti-testing crew. While the spectacle of kiddies clutching crayons and coloring in bubbles to correspond with their career interests was apparently too much for the no test brigade, the EduShyster gives the idea a 36, a perfect score by ACT standards.

Why does EduShyster love the idea so much? A) Our youngsters are being taught the important skill of coloring inside the bubble, one that they will put to use on infinite occasions during the next 13 years B) career decisions, much like the proclivity for white collar crime, are genetically determined and this test will simply help us identify what jobs are in Johnnie’s genes C) this test will give us a cool new way to evaluate the performance of Johnnie’s teacher and help her transition to a new career if necessary D) this test teaches kids how important it is to share, as in: by introducing a career test for kindergarteners, ACT made an aggressive move to capture market share among young test takers. E) the test is so easy that even a pineapple can take it, after which the remaining kindergartners may dine on said pineapple’s rings.

Besides, everyone knows that most children have already formed strong career preferences by the age of 3. (The young EduShyster had already begun training for a job involving cake eating, sandboxes and anything having to do with bathrooms). Continue reading →