Copyright © 2020-2021 V. Spencer
Updated Feb. 24, 2021
What is ACT Readiness - Why is Management Important - Actions Needed To Recover Education - What Makes A Teacher Successful? - Excellent Learning Tools For Teachers And Students - The special talent where one can become most successful - Top Ranked Public Schools - Schools!!! Focus on the right objectives please! - Match teachers to the profession and train them better for the future! - The black&white, and rich&poor problems are very old and festering. Why doesn't the government help them by significantly improving our public education to enable the poor to get better jobs? - Old management techniques from 1875 have been hurting us. - Who sets the standards? And who meets the standards? Are they totally independent? - Cut Scores vs. Grades - US News: Best High Schools in the USA -
The Big Picture
What kind of leadership do we have if we don't even know who our best three international competitors are, what results and plans they have that could be superior to what we do? So far, we are progressing toward becoming the worst in public education. I am certain that some people at all levels may feel that other countries do not matter. Most high school graduates end up in the workforce of all industries. Most of our companies compete in the USA and in other countries against the products of other nations. Do the products' and services' quality, design appeal, profitability and national income depend on the workforces' high school education in the country where they are designed and made? Absolutely. We used to dominate almost all industries more than 50 years ago. But then many other nations' high schools started passing our high schools, and we started losing entire industries, like heavy machinery, TV, radio and electronics and others. We claimed that lower labor costs was the reason for losing. My job took me to many countries, every quarter back then. They automated manufacturing faster than we did. The result is that the level of high school graduates is very important in creating a better workforce. Our public education does not care about that to this day, and we will keep declining until they do.
In any activity, if your organization wants to be excellent, it cannot ignore those countries who do a better job than your organization anywhere on the face of this earth. On the other hand, if your organization is doing poorly, then the best three organizations in a similar line of work, will be your best guide. If your organization is doing a medium to poor job, and you are not interested in how the best achieve their results, you will be out of business, or if one is subsidized, like public education is you will just continue to keep doing a poor job. It will cost us many billions every yea rand our children will become unemployable. Today, 70-80% of high school graduates are unemployable. If we do not improve quickly, that number almost all high school graduates and about 30 million in the national workforce will become unemployable by 2025. There will be many unbelievers plus many who will want to pocket our tax dollars as long as it is possible. Our public education does not compare its national test results to the test results of the top three best nations in public education. The schools are to satisfy the employers' needs with their graduates. But public education decides all the standards in individual states, some important decisions on the local school board level, saying that "the best advice about the education of our children comes from the local elected people." Do you know where that statement came from? It came from 1875, when only agriculture and local trade was dominant. We have 14,000 school districts nationally TODAY. How can a GOOD IDEA THAT FIT THE ONE DOMINANT INDUSTRY SO WELL IN THE LATE 1800s BECOME DESTRUCTIVE OVER 100 YEARS? It happened because the political leadership is not recognizing until now that our world became much more complex requiring much more educated and uniform decisions in education than what school boards can provide. Why would our nation become more competitive if each of fifty states had a different curriculum, different high school graduation requirements, teacher training curriculum, different tests for the same subjects, instead of setting identical national standards? We just became the worst among all industrialized countries in high school mathematics. Why can't we see in political and education management that this philosophy is not going to make us the best, but it can make us the worst among the industrialized countries? Education is vital, BUT ITS APPLICATION IS VERY POOR IN PUBLIC EDUCATION. THIS SUGGESTS LACK OF MOTIVATION TO LEARN AS A RESULT OF BORING CLASSROOMS. In less than 25 years thereafter, additional technologies and many new industries started forming at an accelerating rate. We went from the horse and buggy to the moon, with similarly huge changes in more than a thousand sciences, that kept changing the way employers worked. We went from local sales and service and became one of the largest international traders worldwide competing with other international organizations' sales and services. Employers, with few exceptions, often complained to governors about the high schools not producing well-enough educated children BECAUSE THOSE WHO GRADUATE, END UP IN THE WORKFORCE FOR ALL COMPANIES IN ALL INDUSTRIES, SELLING AND SERVICING THEIR PRODUCTS INTERNATIONALLY. IT IS THIS WORKFORCE THAT MAKES AND SUPPORTS ALL THEIR PRODUCTS INTERNATIONALLY. COUNTRIES THAT GRADUATE STUDENTS FROM HIGH SCHOOL POORLY TRAINED, INCREASE POVERTY AND THEIR NATIONAL INCOME DECLINES. OUR POVERTY IS ONE OF THE HIGHEST, AND OUR NATIONAL INCOME HAS BEEN DECLINING FOR ABOUT 12 YEARS FROM 12-14% TO 3-4% necessitating our national debt to rise to $30 TRILLION!!! The interest we pay on that debt is about $7 TRILLION included in the $30 TRILLION, that we lose because other countries win more business with better profit margins than we do. It is the workforce in every country that creates and makes the products. A better educated workforce will make a better product in both quality and profit margins. I find several things very disturbing about our public education that I will describe here. But one is that the international high performers know everything about our public education, but we know nothing about theirs, and we just keep falling behind. The wealthy are immune to this problem. They can send their children to the best private schools. But the poverty at home is growing fast because impoverished people believe that the public schools are telling them the truth. We pay one of the highest amounts per student in the world, and we are on the bottom of the industrialized countries in high school math! We have three gigantic new technologies coming in 2023, that will cause job losses in the tens of millions for two things for which our political and education leaders can take a bow. One is our low quality public education. The other is the black/white problem that we could not solve in a hundred years, BECAUSE WE DID NOT WANT TO SOLVE IT. As a result, our poverty is growing at a high rate. Education was and is the problem creating the situation. Two such problems could destroy our nation within a handful of years unless we raise the education standards. Public education blames everything other than themselves, like parents, children not wanting to learn. They are wrong. I attended a total of 29 high school science and math courses at random since 2012 in ten states. I was shocked because all were boring. This is not a teacher or principal or parental problem. It is a problem of the lower and lower standards that public education sets for teachers and students alike. It is a problem of the public not being informed truthfully until it is too late. You read and decide if what I am writing here is true. If it is, we the public must act because no one in our political leadership, like governors have not done anything to raise ACT and SAT scores. THAT IS WHAT COUNTS. It is not enough for public education and political leadership to claim that they care about our children. The results tell you if they do care or not or they have no idea what to do.
We have two annual national tests in the USA, the ACT, and the SAT. These two annual tests or their results THE INDIVIDUAL STATES CANNOT CHANGE. It is unfortunate that I have to say this because there is work within education that is not focused on improving our children's education, but it is focused only on how to graduate more students, whose knowledge is not enough to be employed. How many such graduates? 75-84% are not even ACT Ready, that represents 59-61% subject knowledge on four benchmark subjects only. In black students' schools, the percentage of those graduates who are not ready can be above 90% in many cases. And we graduate them with a diploma for a few months of happiness so that they will be without a legal job for a lifetime. Somehow it feels like such practices ARE NOT what our founding fathers had in mind and neither do the state constitutions nor the objectives of these education systems have perpetually. We will cover some examples below.
The states have tests that they can "modify to make the results look better with cut scores". Click here for a description of Cut Scores. After you read it ask yourself, what is more important, to improve the grades of students under the old simple A-F grading system, or the incredibly confusing new system that can hide a multitude of sins that costs the state a couple of hundred million dollars? They use the state test results to graduate children from high school. Why is that necessary? Because "education is covered by, or defaulted to the states?" Or because the "US Constitution did not include education?" Around 1786 when the constitution was approved for the US with the thirteen original states, there were many other more important things to deal with, and education was at its infancy. The US Constitution was amended 27 times or so thereafter, but not for education. IS THE INDIVIDUAL STATE'S RIGHT TO INDEPENDENT, INDIVIDUAL STATE CONTROLLED EDUCATION PRODUCING BETTER RESULTS? NO, IT DOES NOT. IT PRODUCES A VERY BROAD VARIATION OF RESULTS FROM STATES WORSE THAN TENNESSEE OR ALASKA TO BETTER THAN AVERAGE PERFORMANCE IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES, LIKE MASSACHUSETTS OR CONNECTICUT. THE AVERAGE OF ALL STATES POOR AT AVERAGE ACT SCORE OF ALL STATES CLOSE TO 21. ACT 21 IS REPRESENTED AS A VERY GOOD TARGET BY THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS TO LOOK GOOD TO THE PUBLIC. IT ACTUALLY REPRESENTS HIGH SCHOOL SUBJECT KNOWLEDGE IN THE 59-61%, AND THAT IS FAR FROM BEING ENOUGH. That is not going to be an employable level even at minimum wage levels by 2024. It makes the state results poor with only a few exceptions. Is this costing us less? No. It costs us 50 times more covering all states. Another example: When your employee turnover is at a very high number like 30% at the state department of education, it is a management problem at the top or close to the top that is causing it. The minimum cost of employee turnover is the annual total cost of the employee with benefits. If the 30% represents 400 people, and the average annual salary with benefits is $60,000, the expense of that turnover is $24 million. Why do we hire or elect people who don't have enough management training and experience to recognize such problems early? The investment per employee to test for a match to the job would cost $500. Using such services would save many millions of dollars. There are groups of psychologists that provide pretesting service to avoid such problems. Our public education does not believe in many things that are appropriate management practices. But the poor results in many of our states, and no action taken by the governors to correct public education performance, is not a job well done. It is the duty of elected officials to do a good job for the public when elected. But unfortunately management oversight in political and education leadership does not appear to exist. That in turn results in poor education for our children.
PLEASE remember this: Old habits die hard. And the great majority of us dislike change. Both are basic human characteristics. BUT, change is a certainty. In many situations, you either change, or you "die." We waste a lot of money in public education and produce results that are too low. About 80% of our high school graduates MINIMUM will not be employable. WE ARE TOP SPENDERS AND BOTTOM PERFORMERS ALREADY. But we claim to provide "excellence for all children" and "world-class education". POOR PERFORMERS ALWAYS DEPEND ON POSITIVE STATEMENTS THAT ARE UNTRUE. TOO MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THEM. GOOD PERFORMERS HAVE NO NEED TO MANUFACTURE GOOD NEWS. THEIR ENTIRE RECORD IS GOOD NEWS. About 5% of our high schools are good, 95% ARE NOT. AVERAGE 25 ACT RESULTS ARE NO LONGER GOOD ENOUGH WHEN YOUR COMPETITORS ARE BETWEEN AVERAGE ACT 29 AND 34 EQUIVALENT. HOWEVER NO ONE, NOT EVEN THE GOVERNOR does anything about THE 95% UNEMPLOYABLE GRADUATES. We do not want to visit the high performing countries in education to find out how to solve the big problems and poor results we have. I am sorry but a governor's life must include not only glorious honors, being the most famous person who was voted in by all those people who don't know him. He spoke about fixing our poor education when he ran for office, like his predecessors. He did nothing about it exactly like his predecessors so far. We have some large school districts who do a poor job educating our children. But they have no respect for tax dollars. For example, school district central management having too many people is very common. Not just a few more than normal. How about 8 times normal, for decades! Could governors keep an eye on it and correct it? They should, but they do not. 80% of high school graduates are not even ACT Ready, a very low measure. Why can't a governor keep an eye on it and correct it? We seem to be under the impression in political and education management, that the manager who hires someone in politics or education does not need to know what that new employee needs to achieve and why. So, they hire a Ph.D. He/she is smart (true) and will know what to do. But if the hiring manager does not know what needs to be done in detail AND TO WHAT STANDARD, he/she can't even ask the right questions from the candidate. The local elected school board majority decides to hire the superintendent, who needs to be managing the entire school district. He has to know a lot more than the locally elected school board does. I would think that if a new superintendent had to take advice from the elected board members who knew less than the superintendent in 1875, this was not a problem. But today it is a huge problem. If you ask why, the answer from state management is that "we found that the best decision maker for a successful school is the locally elected school board." It made absolutely no sense, and I found out that this opinion ORIGINATED IN 1875!!! Amazing. What that tells you is that we have a lot of decision makers in public education who are missing a taco or two from the combination plate. I was stunned about what kind of expertise was managing our public education for more than 100 years!
PLEASE LOOK AT THE FIRST CHART ABOVE WITH THE ACT SCORES SHOWING THE PERCENTAGE OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES WHO ARE NOT ACT READY IN KNOX COUNTY TENNESSEE, IN THE ENTIRE STATE OF TENNESSEE AND IN MORE THAN HALF THE USA, THE STATES THAT USE THE ACT AT END OF HIGH SCHOOL. THEY ARE NOT EVEN ACT READY. PLEASE READ BELOW WHAT ACT READINESS MEANS. THEN GO BACK AND LOOK AT THE CHART AGAIN TO SEE THAT THE GREAT MAJORITY OF CHILDREN WE GRADUATE ARE SO UNQUALIFIED THAT THERE IS NO WAY FOR THEM TO BE EMPLOYED EVEN IN THE LOWEST PAYING LEGAL JOB!! WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT WILL CREATE WHEN YOU COMBINE THAT WITH THE LONG-IGNORED BLACK/WHITE PROBLEM?! WE ARE FACING A WORSE SITUATION THAN WHAT OUR LEADERS THINK. WE MUST SOLVE THEM VERY FAST. In 2023, we will see the entry of three significant technologies that will leave us even further behind, if we do not act now and resolve all problems that we identified:
The “Logic In Using Cut Scores
The TCAP cut scores
After 2010 the states started to use something called "cut scores" to change the grading of state tests (called TCAP in Tennessee). The public school scores were very poor and declining. Cut scores are a relatively new way of changing test results.
The company that creates the test prepares it such that if 90-100% of the answers are correct, the score would be an "A". If 80-89% of the answers are correct then the score would be a "B" and so on, until the correct answers are less than 60%. At less than 60% the test result for the student would be a failing grade or an "F". That is the standard to which the test supplying organizations adhere.
It takes a simple effort to make this change. In the scoring module of the software that scores each answer in each test for any subject, there is a grade definition module the species what percentage of correct answers constitute what grade. For example a failing F grade is typically less than 60%. Practically any programmer could find where this grade definition module is, and simply change the "less than 60%" area to "less than 40%" or anything the state Department of Education decides.
Some states like Tennessee decided to redefine all grades, for example from a certain starting date, 52% correct answers will be redefined as a "B" and less than 30% correct answers will be an "F," with all grades adjusted accordingly. Tennessee made such a decision around 2011. Many other states did the same or similar thing. The ACTs and SATs are national tests and have not been scored ever to a lower standard to show higher grades, but became the indicator of our education districts' teaching our children less and less. Our states have done exactly that, to make their education performance look better to the public, and to focus on graduating 90% of the students as soon as possible. However, when the ACT is given close to the end of high school, it provides something called an "ACT Readiness" percentage that is based on a four-subject benchmark that represent what employers would need. "ACT Readiness" indicated lately that only 15-18% of those Tennessee students who graduated WITH A DIPLOMA from high school are prepared to be educated/trained for any job such that they can earn an income to support a family of four minimally. Even then robotics will replace most of them in five years.
Please note that every state and every school district can do what they want in the USA only. The school districts are guaranteed to receive the same amount of money as what they have received the prior year, minimum. The state can modify the right number of correct answers required for a letter grade every year if they wish with the "cut score" method, to make the poor test performance appear as much as 20-30% better. They dumb down the tests. That, in turn, dumbs down our children and the diplomas they earned. But the results are not consistent. The first test results of a new state test shows that the students don't know as many of the answers as they should. They are averaging an "F," and that looks very bad for the teachers and the school district and the state. So the state Education Department changes the scoring of the test.
It appears that the state could recognize what the problems are and solve it while being open to the public, who paid for all the state test "experiments." They decreased the number of correct answers required for one or more grades to make the scores look as if the school was doing a good job. They do not tell the parents about this adjustment, and this is what they call "Cut Scores." When the state education department changes a "B" grade from between 80-89% correct answers to anything less, like 52%, they actually dumb down the test as much as 20-30% by setting the percentage of correct answers lower than what the standard was, in one or more subjects.
There is no doubt that cut scores represent a very significant dumbing down of our children during the last few years. Not that it is a new method, because our education deteriorated for more than 50 years. That means that some in leadership have been doing their own magic on today's parents all along. If we are correct with all assumptions, we do not feel that it was appropriate to hide this huge dumbing down from the public, who pay for public education with their hard earned tax dollars. To lie to the public by telling them that we are doing very well, a B+ average in the TCAPs when that grade without the cut score method would be a big F, was not the right thing to do by JM, superintendent, in our opinion.
The New TNReady Cut Scores
Read here the final, approved document about cut scores. PLEASE TRY TO READ IT. Is this the magic plan to improve results? It is not, and it cannot be. Why? Because the problem does not require confusion to implement something that flat cannot work. Surely there are smart people among those who approved it. Did they ask the questions they should have?! No! They were good little boys and girls, fearing their future if the multi-billionaire with presidential ambitions will hurt them if they say anything that he does not like. Political decisions are not a good thing to manage anything efficiently to good results. Look at the promise at the end of this report. Unbelievable BS.
To manage a group of people to ACHIEVE better results, each of them needs to understand what their monthly objectives are, and change the way they have been working every day before. Expert guidance by someone who knows what he/she is doing IS VERY IMPORTANT AT THE START.
Are cut scores the most important tool to improve our poor education system? We don't think so. ABSOLUTELY NOT. IT HELPS THE DUMBING DOWN OF THE POPULATION WITH SEVERAL OTHER CHOICE "PROGRAMS" THAT ALL AID THE DUMBING DOWN OF OUR CHILDREN.
THE BIG PROBLEM IS: the schools are not improving, and the grades are likely to keep dropping as before. The state education department dumbs down the state test scores more, and the grades magically increase! The state has done it before, the public only noticed that the grades improved, and no one notices that the children are graduating with less knowledge and they are becoming unemployable. But the day is coming when this correction by cut scores will give everyone an "A", even if they have not a single correct answer on a test.
The state can do that any time.
ARE WE GETTING OUR MONEY'S WORTH FROM THE TENNESSEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS?
URGENT ACTIONS NEEDED
Provide a $100,000 financial incentive for each of the top ten high school principals in the state who exceeded 10% ACT growth, and recognition plaques to teachers and all principals who exceed a 10% higher GPA than the prior year's GPA, or more than 3.5 GPA, whichever is lower. Do not dismiss the power of incentives. In Dubai plus two other countries, a single $1,000,000 annual incentive to the best teacher brought fantastic results for 2018 and 2019.
Graduate only those who are ACT Ready, keep those IN HIGH SCHOOL who are not, for up to two more years. BY 2025 WE HAVE TO TRANSITION TO STEM ACT READINESS, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WILL INCREASE JOB SURVIVAL.
Keep a voting-public record of all elected school district board members on all votes that would reduce spending or (or except for those that) increase education results. Locally elected school district boards of education do not and cannot contribute to improving our education system. Their voting majority does not have enough know-how. Appointed boards can be very helpful (e.g., in the form of US Public schools is one called a "charter school").
K-12 Education MUST BE INTERNATIONALLY COMPETITIVE because high school graduates feed the workforce of all American companies from design to manufacturing. The quality and price of our products depend on the training of the workforce. We have to compete internationally with our products, and as our high school education declined compared to other countries, our profit margins declined, and so did our national income from about 14% to 4%. We are one of the top spenders in the world per student, but we dropped to the bottom of the industrialized countries in performance. We decide K-12 curriculum and depth of subjects within it, teacher qualification criteria, teacher training curriculum competitiveness require very well qualified people on the national level. We delegated everything under education to the states, who delegated almost all decision-making to the more than 14,000 school districts' elected school boards. There are several big problems here. One is enormous duplication of staff, and all of them not the best in the country. Most of them would not understand what we are talking about here. A very flat large organization that depends on locally elected boards cannot have the right management know-how to be successful with the existing prerequisites and experience. And the explanation in its favor that the best advice for how education needs to be improving comes only from the local population probably worked 150 years ago, but today it can only fail. Just look at the record we have documented here. What is most dangerous for the nation is the fact that no correction has taken place in the last 100 years in everything relating to education: management structure and methodology, standards in every job, performance and spending management, employee competence and level of performance internationally in a competitive world.
Public schools dominate about 80% of the K-12 education in every country. That makes them a "monopoly". A monopoly can control the country to ensure that no other type of school system can enter the country. A monopoly does not have to do an excellent job of staying in control. They can be doing a poor job in most schools as education is in the USA. They promote themselves to the public as a school that is much better than they really are. Understand ACT or SAT scores so that you can understand how well they are doing. Do not trust the state test scores because most have been dumbed down. They say bad things about any other different school, even if they are much better at educating your child. We will tell you more here. Be single-minded about the school for your child. Care only about how well educated their students are by comparing ACT, SAT or NAEP (primary school test) scores. Or find out which is the best high school is with ACT scores, and ask the principal about which primary school is best.
URGENT ACTIONS NEEDED IN OUR SCHOOLS
Copyright(c) 2008-2021 V. Spencer
This is a work in progress.