Students in the United States on average scored higher in 2011 than in 2001 on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). U.S. students also displayed improved results on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). However, much like the 2011 NAEP vocabulary results, underlying issues are evident within test scores as illustrated through the following graphs:
4th Grade Reading Scores by Percentage of Students in Public School Eligible Free or Reduced-Priced Lunch (PIRLS):
4th Grade Science Scores by Percentage of Students in Public School Eligible Free or Reduced-Priced Lunch (TIMSS):
8th Grade Science Scores by Percentage of Students in Public School Eligible Free or Reduced-Priced Lunch (TIMSS):
4th Grade Math Scores by Percentage of Students in Public School Eligible Free or Reduced-Priced Lunch (TIMSS):
8th Grade Math Scores by Percentage of Students in Public School Eligible Free or Reduced-Priced Lunch (TIMSS):
Until policymakers examine and create effective solutions to issues surrounding pre-tax income disparities and rebuild our cities’ infrastructure and social programs through investment, advantaged students will continue to have an edge over disadvantaged students on state and national tests.
From The New York Times:
MIAMI — Rick Scott, businessman turned politician, campaigned for governor in 2010 with promises to run Florida like a successful business — more efficiency, lower costs, less hand-wringing and measurable results.
He meant higher education, too, but until recently that meant mostly shrinking budgets.
Now, looking for more value on the remaining dollars, Governor Scott and Republican lawmakers are prodding Florida’s 12 state universities to find ways to steer students toward majors that are in demand in the job market.
The message from Tallahassee could not be blunter: Give us engineers, scientists, health care specialists and technology experts. Do not worry so much about historians, philosophers, anthropologists and English majors.
To nudge students toward job-friendly degrees, the governor’s task force on higher education suggested recently that university tuition rates be frozen for three years for majors in “strategic areas,” which would vary depending on supply and demand. An undergraduate student would pay less for a degree in engineering or biotechnology — whose classes are among the most expensive for universities — than for a degree in history or psychology. State financing, which has dropped drastically in the past five years, would be expected to make up the tuition gap.
At the same time, Mr. Scott wants the state’s 28 colleges (formerly called community colleges) to offer some of their four-year degrees for $10,000. That amount is $3,000 or so less than the typical cost.
Of course many students majoring in history, English and other liberal art studies are also secondary education majors. This proposal isn’t new as Congressman Mike Coffman proposed something similar in August. This is a very damaging proposal that will deter post-secondary students from seeing education as a viable field to eventually off-set loan costs. Even if not enacted or acted upon, the spectre of such a proposal is very harmful to the profession.
There’s a greater need to examine broadly all the causes to professional deescalation; society is at a crossroads where valuing education as a prestigious and favorable profession is yet again in question (similar to the 1970s and early 1980s). Policies that devalue the profession as not as important when compared to other fields is NOT a good message to send. Education major students deserve to enjoy incentives; these individuals will have to see some positive signs for future employment opportunities or else they will leave the field.
The current job market for recent graduates is fraught with unknowns. Most grads see this time as a time of fear, hope and despair. For those who majored in education, employment prospects in the field are especially dire. Preservice teachers who have journeyed through four years of courses, field placements and certification processes 0nly to see part-time work or the unemployment line must be especially frustrated. Unfortunately, undergrads who majored in education were met with the worse state and local government hiring (education jobs included) since the Great Depression. The chart below was borrowed from Calculated Risk:
35% of education majors who graduated were in part-time positions in 2009. Nearly 13% of those individuals had to work multiple part-time jobs. For the 11% who never entered the field, below is a chart detailing the reasons:
Over 68% of education majors who graduated in 2008 took out loans. Loans totaled on average to $24,000. How those individuals will fulfill their loan obligations in part-time roles beats me. Moreover, current undergraduates face insurmountable post-secondary education costs. Rising college costs will undoubtedly influence future field enrollment especially when undergrads need to eventually find well-paying jobs to satisfy their loans. Below is a chart borrowed from Brad DeLong illustrating the rapid rise in education costs:
Finally teaching salaries will not reflect true wage erosion when average teaching salary numbers are released in 2013. School districts generally are not hiring and tenured teachers (who are not close to retirement) are not leaving the field. The net effect will be veteran teachers propping up average salary data as fewer preservice teachers are hired nationally. In short, the employment outlook in education stinks.
“Teachers are concerned about salaries as part of their exchange relationship with a school district. In exchange for their services to the school district, teachers receive salaries, and these salaries dictate, at least for some teachers, the quality of life enjoyed by these individuals as consumers in the marketplace. Beyond issues of consumption enjoyed by teachers as employees, salaries received by most teachers represent a source of psychic fulfillment relative to their perceptions of self worth both as an employee and as an individual”–Young, Delli, Miller-Smith & Buster, 2004.
Starting teacher salaries are starting to lag other starting salaries in other fields like computer sciences, math and physical sciences and business management. The chart below details starting teacher salaries compared to other occupations in 2009:
Individuals who choose to teach over other professions may be doing so at a consider financial cost as teacher salaries have been in decline during the past three years. It is important to note that between 1978-1979, public elemenatary and secondary school teacher salaries fell over 3%, followed by a 6% drop the following year before picking up again in 1982. The question at large is how bad will the next leg down in teacher salaries be in 2013? So far there’s been nearly a 2.5% drop between 2011-2012. Below is a chart illustrating estimated wage erosion over the past three years for elementary and secondary public school teachers:
I expect gender shifts within occupations to take place during this period of decline. Gender distribution across occupations are interesting when looking at 2008 graduates. More women are entering the fields of education and healthcare than men while male graduates are outnumbering their counterparts in the fields of business and engineering. Wages in occupations that have a higher percentage of female workers have been found to drop relative to wages in similarly skills jobs that hold high male employment. This will be important to keep an eye on when it comes to future employment in education. Below is a chart detailing the percentage distribution of 2007-2008 first time bachelor’s degree recipients by selected fields and gender:
Similar to the 1970s and early 1980s, low teacher salaries will most likely lead to professional deescalation. Although there will be individuals who will remain loyal to their aspirations of becoming a teacher, there will be others who view the field of education as noble yet unstable.
Looking ahead, local school boards and collective bargaining units need to keep frontloading salary structures in mind to offer higher wage returns to novice teachers which will help off-set entry level wage decline and attract quality entry level teachers. Experienced teachers may be tempted to backload their salary structures especially as more college graduates who majored in education are forced into part-time teaching jobs and fewer school districts are opening new positions. This will continue to drive down novice teacher salaries. In the end, even novice teachers as professionals and consumers expect to enjoy at least a moderate level of comfort; school districts will need to pay a prevailing wage relative to other occupations in order to attract quality.
I will be presenting today to Morris County Middle and Elementary School Administrators in New Jersey.
Presentation:“Creating Holistic Educational Change Amid Decline”
The National Center for Education Statistics released 2011 vocabulary results from the NAEP reading assessments for Grades 4, 8 and 12. The results are an affirmation of many of the current worries behind using state test scores to define teacher effectiveness. Student demographics like socioeconomic status and parents’ educational attainment along with previous achievement matter. The 2011 test found that fourth and eighth grade students who were eligible for free or reduced lunch scored lower than students who were not eligible. In all three grade levels, students with disabilities scored lower on average in vocabulary than unclassified students. English language learners (ELL) also scored lower than non-ELL students in all three grade levels. The full report can be found here.
2011 NAEP Vocabulary Results:
Among fourth-graders who scored below the 25th percentile on the vocabulary scale (i.e., below a score of 193) in 2011
73% were eligible for free/ reduced-price school lunch
24% were English language learners
Among fourth-graders who scored above the 75th percentile on the vocabulary scale (i.e., above a score of 245) in 2011
24% were eligible for free/ reduced-price school lunch
2% were English language learners
Among eighth-graders who scored below the 25th percentile on the vocabulary scale (i.e., below a score of 241) in 2011
68% were eligible for free/ reduced-price school lunch
Among eighth-graders who scored above the 75th percentile on the vocabulary scale (i.e., above a score of 291) in 2011
21% were eligible for free/ reduced-price school lunch
Among twelfth-graders who scored below the 25th percentile on the vocabulary scale (i.e., below a score of 268) in 2009
- 31% reported at least one parent graduated from college
Among twelfth-graders who scored above the 75th percentile on the vocabulary scale (i.e., above a score of 327) in 2009
- 70% reported at least one parent graduated from college
From The New York Times:
In an effort to encourage collaboration between charter schools and traditional neighborhood schools, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $25 million in grants to seven cities.
The Gates Foundation, which is one of the largest philanthropic players in public education, was scheduled to announce the grants on Wednesday to Boston, Denver, Hartford, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Spring Branch, Tex.
Relationships between traditional public schools and charters, which are publicly financed but privately operated, are often fraught, with neighborhood schools seeing charters as rivals for money and the most motivated students.
Charter schools, which have been operating in the United States for two decades and now educate about two million children across the country, were originally conceived as places to experiment with new ideas in education that could be transferred to their traditional counterparts. But that transfer has not often taken place smoothly.
“It took Microsoft and Apple 10 years to learn to talk,” said Don Shalvey, a deputy director at the Gates Foundation who focuses on college readiness. “So it’s not surprising that it took a little bit longer for charters and other public schools. It’s pretty clear there is more common ground than battleground.”
The grants will support a variety of projects in the seven cities, which are among 16 that have signed district-charter collaboration compacts with the Gates Foundation over the last two years.
First, someone needs to tell Don Shalvey that the politics between Microsoft and Apple are not the politics that comprise the charter/public school debate. School systems do not produce fixed products. Instead, they educate dynamic and complex individuals. Flooding the educational marketplace with money to smooth over interrelated contexts and conditions really neglects the fragility behind subsystems that make up the charter/public school debate. The idea to fuel hybrid charter/public school system expansion with short-term philanthropic funding in urban environments exhibits a certain level of naivety concerning the stability within these systems.
Urban public school systems that face declining enrollments face the need for consolidation and investment in existing schools and infrastructure. Second, the use of private grants exacerbate competition and conflict where mobilized interests use resources to challenge existing status quo systems and structures by redefining issues and creating solutions to benefit new constituencies at the expense of traditional constituents. Consequently, national and local politics have eroded the credibility of urban public school systems and have widened the historical disconnect between charter and public school systems especially in poor neighborhoods and racially diverse communities.
The drive to enact charter school expansion within the big-city school districts required the divisive and damaging political tactic of shifting public attitudes towards the traditional public school systems, casting these systems as failures and harmful to children and taxpayers alike. Additionally, urban public schools were pitted against their charter school rivals in competition for scarce resources which included students. The systemic change to allow schools to freely recruit students, while advocating parents to to choose schools without regard to district boundaries has prolonged and heightened the need for urban public school districts to enact retrenchment policies and has placed significant doubt in public schools’ ability to functions as organizations with dwindling enrollments and revenue streams.
As Chris Dillow points out, organizations typically are fragile systems that struggle through macro shock. Penetrating changes have the potential not only to disrupt but to significantly alter micro arenas. Urban public school officials have to prepare for further enrollment loss as policymakers and investors push to create big-city public/charter school systems. Public school leaders that cut the wrong programs or did not cut enough could spur the loss of additional students, resources and trigger inevitable dissolution. This threat to public school educators, let alone private funding, will do little to help the interactions and relationships between the big city charter and public school debate. Instead, private investors like Bill Gates need to invest in existing urban public schools to build organizational capacity in an effort promote quality instruction, equitable student demographic distributions and reverse enrollment decline. In turn, urban school district officials need to close detiorating and unsuccessful schools.