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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Live Streaming - Rock Hill vs. Northwestern

Written by Dennis Milligan
Wednesday, October 31, 2007 combines forces with CN2 of Comporium Cable in Rock
Hill to live-stream one of the biggest high school rivalries in our area.

Rock HiIl and Northwestern will go head to head at District Three
Stadium in Rock Hill Friday at 8:00PM. We'll have the game live, on the

It will be the 43rd edition of this big game. Rock Hill holds a slight
22-20 edge in the series. Northwestern is ranked #4 in the State in Class 4A
with a 9-1 record.

The Rock Hill Bearcats have struggled this season and it would make
their season if they could upset the Trojans.

You'll be able to watch the game, via live streaming, right here on
Friday night starting at 8:00.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

If You Want Good High School Grades, Move to Texas

By Jay Mathews

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; 9:35 AM
Ten years ago, I had the good fortune to win the confidence of two energetic
teachers, Cliff Gill and Don Phillips at Mamaroneck High School in
Westchester County, N.Y. They told me exactly how they assessed their

Gill, a math teacher, was tough. If a student missed two homework
assignments, five points were subtracted from the student's 100-point report
card grade. A third missed assignment meant another five points off.
Everyone at that school knew how hard it was to get an A in Mr. Gill's

Phillips, a social studies teacher, was easy. He called himself the Great
Grade Inflator. If a student with poor writing skills did his best on a
paper, Phillips was inclined to give the student just as high a grade as a
top student who turned in college-quality work. About 90 percent of the
grades in Phillips's history courses were 90 or above on that 100-point

No one asked Phillips to raise his standards. No one asked Gill to ease up.
Grading at Mamaroneck High, as at most of the public high schools I have
visited, is considered the teacher's prerogative, a matter of academic
freedom. A teacher who gives many F's may be pressured to raise some of
those grades to keep parents happy, but that is about as far as principals
will go in interfering with teachers' assessment decisions.

Robert M. Hartranft, a retired nuclear engineer in Simsbury, Conn., does not
like this at all. He cannot understand why public school administrators, who
so often declare their commitment to equal treatment of every student, put
up with such outrageous and inexplicable variation in what remains the most
important assessments their students get--grades on report cards.

Self-appointed education pundits like me spend much of our time talking
about the standardized tests that are the basis for rating of schools under
the No Child Left Behind law. But those test scores arguably have little
impact on student lives. The scores don't count on their report cards.

Report card grades, on the other hand, can bring real pain. One of my
friends has a child who last year passed the state tests for his grade with
ease, but was told he had to repeat the year because his report card was so
bad. SAT and ACT test scores have an impact on the college chances of
students who apply to the most selective colleges, but 90 percent of
colleges judge their applicants largely by classroom grades.

Hartranft, using College Board data, has produced some fascinating charts
showing that grading standards not only vary from one classroom to the next,
but among states. According to College Board surveys of members of the 2007
senior class who took the SAT, only 29 percent of students in Connecticut
and Massachusetts had A-plus, A or A-minus averages, while 38 percent of
students in New York and New Jersey, 39 percent in Virginia, 40 percent in
California, 42 percent in Florida and a breath-taking 49 percent in Texas
had grade point averages that high. In the United States as a whole, 43
percent of seniors who took the SAT reported A-plus, A or A-minus averages.

Remember, this is NOT the percentage of A students among ALL seniors, just
those applying for college and taking the SAT. Most of the studies I have
seen show that far more high school students have B averages than A
averages, but there is no question that average grades have climbed in the
last few decades and that consistency in grading is hard to find. A College
Board spokeswoman agreed that grade inflation is real, but cautioned that
Hartranft's data needs more analysis because he is comparing states with
different SAT-taking rates.

"Because there are no effective standards," Hartranft told me, "local grades
and local GPAs are a crazy-quilt of numerical values and systems, with
variations by year (usually grade inflation), by school (New England schools
generally grade lower than average, some much lower), by course (usually
math and science low, art and music high), by track (the honors premium is
always arbitrary and usually too small), by course (usually math and science
low, art and music high) and by teacher (an easy-grading Mr. Y and a
tough-grading Ms. X seem to teach at every school)."

He said it was vital to understand the problems these variations create.
"Students may struggle with choosing between challenging courses with low
grades or easy courses with high grades," he said. "Admissions officers and
scholarship committee members may misunderstand the actual performance
presented on the transcript, either making no adjustment at all or
misestimating the appropriate adjustments. Expensive, time-consuming,
standardized subject and year tests may overwhelm the full-year course
grades in assessments."

Hartranft was first drawn to this issue 10 years ago, about the same time
Phillips and Gill were explaining to me their yin-and-yang grading
techniques. He became acquainted with other parents at Simsbury High School
who determined that the school was grading its students very low when
compared to other Connecticut high schools, and to American high schools in
general. They complained about what this was doing to their children's
chances for scholarships, regional academic honors and admission to their
first-choice colleges.

When Hartranft began working on the problem in the summer of 2000, he
noticed that SAT averages illumined different grading standards. For
instance, Connecticut students who graduated in 2007 and reported an A-minus
grade point average had an average math and reading score on the SAT of
1146. Texas students with that same grade point average had a SAT math and
reading score of 1039. Why couldn't high schools that grade low add to their
student transcripts and send to colleges a conversion chart showing how much
higher the grades would be if they were pegged to a national standard based
on SAT scores?

Simsbury High has been doing just that since 2003. But Hartranft and other
people pushing the issue have had less luck persuading neighboring districts
to do the same. Some of the high school educators they have approached have
complained that their conversion chart is too hard to understand and might
frustrate rather than impress college admissions officers.

Some researchers have been trying to educate school systems on this topic
recently. Philip M. Sadler of Harvard and Robert H. Tai of the University of
Virginia report in the latest issue of the College and University Journal
that high schools would provide a fairer and more consistent assessment of
science courses--about which Sadler and Tai have a unique collection of
data--if they added half of a grade point for an honors course, one point
for an Advanced Placement course and two points for passing an AP exam.

Grading expert Ken O'Connor's book "A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for
Broken Grades," published this year by the Educational Testing Service,
argues for clear performance standards that each teacher and school would
follow. He also recommends against grading on the curve, grading on
attendance, grading on group work and several other common practices that
help make report cards so confusing and so different.

Unfortunately, Sadler, Tai and O'Connor do not explain how frustrated
parents such as Hartranft can persuade their schools to do any of these
things. In Montgomery County, the school system attempted some grading
reforms a few years ago--including reducing the influence of homework on
grading decisions--and sparked a huge controversy that is likely to keep
that school board from endorsing anything like Hartranft's plan any time

My view is that despite these egregious inconsistencies, students' grade
point averages in the end almost always reflect their high school work
accurately enough to let colleges and scholarship committees reach fair
decisions, particularly with SAT and ACT scores to provide national
comparisons. But I share Hartranft's frustration with a system that forces
students to accept assessment schemes as radically different as Gill's and
Phillips's. Simsbury school district Superintendent Diane Ullman said she
agrees and is working to standardize teacher grading in each subject,
perhaps even having all of them give the same final exam.

Just being a teenager is enough to drive anyone over the edge. We ought to
look for a way to persuade teachers to surrender some of their independence
in this area in order to ease their students' psychic burdens so they can
devote their energies to studying and not to figuring out how to be one kind
of student in their math teacher's class and an entirely different person in
social studies.

Could this be the start of a beautiful relationship?

MARK SANFORD didn't find the $200 million in savings he was looking for when he met last week with state education officials to talk about a budget shortfall he expects to have to deal with soon. But he might have found something far more important: a partner who can work with him to actually improve our schools.

The first glimmer appeared when Education Superintendent Jim Rex mentioned a mentor program he hopes will draw new teachers to poor schools. Why couldn't we accomplish the same thing by giving those $7,500 bonuses for National Board certification only to teachers in critical need subjects or schools, the governor asked?

"I wouldn't disagree with that," Dr. Rex replied.

Gov. Sanford: "But would you propose it?"

"I think we have an obligation to the teachers who are already in the program. But new teachers — I would not disagree."

"But would you propose it?"

Dr. Rex: "Yes. I think I could."

This was the first direct public exchange between the men who personify the opposing sides of the voucher debate that has paralyzed our state. And while many of us had seen the potential for a partnership across a broad swath of issues, the governor seemed a bit surprised at the superintendent's response, as if he believed all that partisan, "you're on my team or not" nonsense that permeates our political discourse.

Then an amazing thing happened. When he moved on to school district consolidation, which the superintendent likewise endorsed — although with a less heavy-handed approach of offering incentives and removing disincentives and accepting functional but not political consolidation if necessary — Gov. Sanford started sounding like someone who understands coalition- and consensus-building.

"What is important is that we have proponents," he said. "You've got a lot more levers to pull (among educators).... I need your help."

Dr. Rex: "You'll have my help. I might disagree on the strategy.... I feel at least the same amount of urgency as you do."

There were disagreements during the two-hour meeting, to be sure — over privatizing the bus system, over whether to make 4K available to poor kids statewide or just in the districts that sued the state, over Dr. Rex's plan to drop social studies from the PACT.

But most of the back-and-forth followed that same pattern: The governor throws out what he considers a provocative idea, an idea the Legislature has ignored or rejected, and the superintendent reacts warmly, occasionally even enthusiastically.

Charter schools? "I hope y'all know this — I'm a big supporter of public charter schools.... So you'll see recommendations (in an upcoming school funding proposal) for funding and facilities of charter schools."

Funding the child rather than the school? Too early to spell out a plan, what with his school funding task force a few weeks away from releasing that report, but "we know certain elements" will be addressed, among them having funding follow the child from school to school and a simpler, more transparent funding system.

Impact fees so newcomers pay to build the new schools rather than longtime residents who don't want the new residents to begin with? "Well, I'm tempted to give you a standing ovation."

When Dr. Rex mentioned his concern about schools getting too large and his desire to encourage smaller schools, Gov. Sanford chimed in: "I completely agree with you."

The neighborhood school discussion illustrated why Gov. Sanford needs Dr. Rex's help. "Our frustration — we put that idea out there and nothing happened," he said. Why, we even had a press conference, the governor said to the man who is pushing his own education agenda by (so far) holding more than a dozen town hall meetings across the state, meeting one-on-one with dozens of legislators (many in their districts), speaking weekly to multiple civic clubs, churches and conferences and holding more than 100 meetings with education groups, who support him but have traditionally opposed many of the reforms he's pushing.

If Dr. Rex was going out of his way to point out areas of agreement, Gov. Sanford was going out of his way to avoid areas of disagreement. He even tried to brush aside the elephant in the room, saying they could agree to disagree on private school choice. But his staff pressed the issue, with chief of staff Tom Davis asking about such "middle-ground" ideas as vouchers for special needs kids or means-tested vouchers.

When Dr. Rex explained that his main concern is that any school that receives tax dollars should be held to the same accountability standards as public schools and required to admit all applicants, just like public schools, the governor saw an opening: "If those two requirements were met, would you agree?"

"I'd be willing to talk about it," the superintendent said. That was his clearest hedge, but rather than point that out, the governor's most aggressive voucher advocate, Scott English, immediately changed the subject. The main issue with choice, he said, isn't about private schools; it's about public schools. Then the governor made a point of saying he had vetoed Dr. Rex's public school choice not over the idea but over "the mechanics."

If Dr. Rex's voucher answer sounded cagey, the governor's veto explanation sounded disingenuous. But the superintendent let that pass. "Let's agree on where there's common ground, and push forward on it," he said.

"You've got our commitment to work with you on that," Gov. Sanford said.

There are lots of details to be worked out and promises to be followed through on before the partnership materializes. But this exchange is a positive start, which left both sides optimistic. As Mr. English observed to me afterwards, there's no way the Legislature could reject it if these two stood up together and proposed a district consolidation plan. Or, I would add, pretty much any plan.

Ms. Scoppe can be reached at or at (803) 771-8571.

© 2007 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

York 3 2007 State Report Card - No Child Left Behind - Adequate Yearly Progress

Objectives Not MetComplianceStudentPercentGraduation orAYP
Objective(s) MetObjectivesIndexPerformanceTestedAttendance Rate
27103773Not MetMetMetNot Met
Percent Attendance
2005200620073yr Average
Percent Graduation
2005200620073yr Average
York 3 District Level NCLB AYP Data
School NameNCLB AYP Summary
Belleview Elementary19 out of 19 Objectives Met, Met AYP
Castle Heights Middle20 out of 27 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Ebenezer Avenue Elementary17 out of 17 Objectives Met, Met AYP
Ebinport Elementary17 out of 17 Objectives Met, Met AYP
Finley Road Elementary16 out of 17 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Independence Elementary15 out of 19 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Lesslie Elementary20 out of 21 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Mount Gallant Elementary19 out of 21 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Northside Elementary15 out of 17 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Northwestern High18 out of 21 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Oakdale Elementary19 out of 19 Objectives Met, Met AYP
Old Pointe Elementary20 out of 21 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Rawlinson Road Middle15 out of 21 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Richmond Drive Elementary19 out of 19 Objectives Met, Met AYP
Rock Hill High14 out of 21 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
Rosewood Elementary21 out of 21 Objectives Met, Met AYP
Saluda Trail Middle15 out of 21 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
South Pointe High9 out of 12 Objectives Met, I/S AYP
Sunset Park Elementary11 out of 17 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
The Children's School at Sylvia Circle13 out of 17 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
The Childrens Attention Home2 out of 5 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
W C Sullivan Middle21 out of 29 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP
York Road Elementary17 out of 19 Objectives Met, Not Met AYP

Schools can't be panacea for all our problems

It's time to address causes of poverty and stop overselling private school

Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - 2:00 am

By Paul Thomas

The Center on Education Policy has released its October 2007 research
report, "Are Private High Schools Better Academically Than Public High
Schools?" The answer drawn from data collected over 12 years concerning
low-income urban students in both public and private high schools suggests

This study by a nonpartisan center is significant since the researchers
considered a much wider range of factors when comparing public and private
schools than other studies addressing a similar question, although the U. S.
Department of Education reached this conclusion in a study released July
2006. The four major assertions made by the CEP study include (available at

a.. "Students attending independent private high schools, most types of
parochial high schools, and public high schools of choice performed no
better on achievement tests in math, reading, science, and history than
their counterparts in traditional public high schools."

a.. "Students who had attended any type of private high school ended up no
more likely to attend college than their counterparts at traditional public
high schools."

a.. "Young adults who had attended any type of private high school ended up
with no more job satisfaction at age 26 than young adults who had attended
traditional public high schools."

a.. "Young adults who had attended any type of private high school ended up
no more engaged in civic activities at age 26 than young adults who had
attended traditional public high schools."
These findings reveal that academic achievement and some variables in life
after school are essentially the same whether a low-income student attends
public or private schools, but that other factors in the students' home
lives do seem to influence heavily both academic achievement and life beyond
school. The common perception that private schools far outperform
traditional public schools is no more than Urban Legend.

That false perception probably grows from the likelihood that private
schools attract a population of students, both affluent and low-income, that
have the family characteristics that correlate highly with strong student
achievement; thus, private schools may tend to house those students
disproportionately when compared to public schools, but the schools
themselves do not cause those differences.

The two exceptions in the study did identify higher SAT scores from private
schooling, which led to private school students having an advantage when
applying to elite colleges, and higher achievement in a very few Catholic
private schools (ones "run by holy orders").

From this study, we must begin to reconsider some of our public discourse
about schools, about accountability and about school reform. First, these
conclusions and others that show little to no difference between public and
private schooling when other factors are held constant should silence the
call for vouchers, school choice and privatization as avenues to addressing
weaknesses in our school system and low student achievement. It may be
perfectly valid to consider school choice, vouchers and privatizing schools
for other reasons, but not to improve schools.

Next, these findings, along with other research addressing the negative
impacts of poverty (see, should help
us shift our primary focus of blaming schools for failing to address
problems that are not caused by the schools, but brought into the schools
from the larger society, to looking for ways to address that poverty in the
homes of students.

While we must continue to reform our schools and seek ways to prepare better
our students for their lives after school, we must also stop expecting
schools to perform miracles. Schools are but one social mechanism to address
the ill effects of poverty on the lives of children, but we spend most of
our time and money acting as if they are the only mechanism.

The reality of schools is that we are daily asking far too much of schools
and far too little of the students who show up each day in our classrooms.

It is too much to ask schools to be the panacea for the failures of our free
and wealthy society.

It is too little to ask our students to complete worksheets -- worksheets
designed to prepare children for tests. And why so many tests? Because no
one trusts the schools and teachers who are being asked to save the children
while also being blamed for problems they did not cause.

As the CEP report states, "This suggests that the private school advantage
is a chimera; it merely shows that private schools contain a larger
proportion of children whose parents have characteristics that contribute to
learning than do public schools." Thus we must shift our focus away from the
coincidences of schooling and address the causes of poverty in our larger

a.. The Greenville News 305 S. Main St., PO Box 1688, Greenville, SC 29602
Phone (864) 298-4100, (800) 800-5116 Subscription services (800) 736-7136

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Does Bill Gates Read Business Week?

In case he doesn't, will someone email him the link to this article, another in a long line of articles that debunks Gates's, Broad's, and the Business Roundtable's propaganda campaign aimed at generating an oversupply of cheap engineers and scientists, while simultaneously taking over the American high school curriculum.

by Vivek Wadhwa
Political leaders, tech executives, and academics often claim that the U.S. is falling behind in math and science education. They cite poor test results, declining international rankings, and decreasing enrollment in the hard sciences. They urge us to improve our education system and to graduate more engineers and scientists to keep pace with countries such as India and China. Yet a new report by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, tells a different story. The report disproves many confident pronouncements about the alleged weaknesses and failures of the U.S. education system. This data will certainly be examined by both sides in the debate over highly skilled workers and immigration (, 10/10/07).
The argument by Microsoft (
MSFT), Google (GOOG), Intel (INTC), and others is that there are not enough tech workers in the U.S. The authors of the report, the Urban Institute's Hal Salzman and Georgetown University professor Lindsay Lowell, show that math, science, and reading test scores at the primary and secondary level have increased over the past two decades, and U.S. students are now close to the top of international rankings. Perhaps just as surprising, the report finds that our education system actually produces more science and engineering graduates than the market demands.

Junior Scientists on the Rise
These findings go against what has been the dominant position about our education system and our science and engineering workforce. Consider reports on national competitiveness that policymakers often turn to, such reports as the 2005
"Rising Above the Gathering Storm" by the National Academy of Sciences. This report says the U.S. is in dire straits because of poor math and science preparation. The report points to declining test scores, fewer students taking math and science courses, and low-quality curriculums and teacher preparation in K-12 education compared to other countries. The call has been taken up by some of the most prominent people in business and politics. Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, said at an education summit in 2005, "In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind." President George W. Bush addressed the issue in his 2006 State of the Union address. "We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations," he said.

Salzman and Lowell found the reverse was true. Their report shows U.S. student performance has steadily improved over time in math, science, and reading. It also found enrollment in math and science courses is actually up. For example, in 1982 high school graduates earned 2.6 math credits and 2.2 science credits on average. By 1998, the average number of credits increased to 3.5 math and 3.2 science credits. The percent of students taking chemistry increased from 45% in 1990 to 55% in 1996 and 60% in 2004. Scores in national tests such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the SAT, and the ACT have also shown increases in math scores over the past two decades.

And the new report again went against the grain when it compared the U.S. to other countries. It found that over the past decade the U.S. has ranked a consistent second place in science. It also was far ahead of other nations in reading and literacy and other academic areas. In fact, the report found that the U.S. is one of only a few nations that has consistently shown improvement over time.

Why the sharp discrepancy? Salzman says that reports citing low U.S. international rankings often misinterpret the data. Review of the international rankings, which he says are all based on one of two tests, the Trends in International Mathematics & Science Study (TIMMS) or the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), show the U.S. is in a second-ranked group, not trailing the leading economies of the world as is commonly reported. In fact, the few countries that place higher than the U.S. are generally small nations, and few of these rank consistently high across all grades, subjects, and years tested. Moreover, he says, serious methodological flaws, such as different test populations, and other limitations preclude drawing any meaningful comparison of school systems between countries.

Enough Jobs for the Grads?
As far as our workforce is concerned, the new report showed that from 1985 to 2000 about 435,000 U.S. citizens and permanent residents a year graduated with bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. Over the same period, there were about 150,000 jobs added annually to the science and engineering workforce. These numbers don't include those retiring or leaving a profession but do indicate the size of the available talent pool. It seems that nearly two-thirds of bachelor's graduates and about a third of master's graduates take jobs in fields other than science and engineering.

Michael Teitelbaum, vice-president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which, among other things, works to improve science education, says this research highlights the troubling weaknesses in many conventional policy prescriptions. Proposals to increase the supply of scientists and engineers rapidly, without any objective evidence of comparably rapid growth in attractive career opportunities for such professionals, might actually be doing harm.

Shortages in Specific Skills
In previous columns, I have written about research my team at Duke University completed that shattered
common myths (, 7/10/06) about India and China graduating 12 times as many engineers as the U.S. We found that the U.S. graduated comparable numbers and was far ahead in quality. Our research also showed there were no engineer shortages (, 11/7/06) in the U.S., and companies weren't going offshore because of any deficiencies in U.S. workers.
So, there isn't a lack of interest in science and engineering in the U.S., or a
deficiency in the supply of engineers. However, there may sometimes be short-term shortages of engineers with specific technical skills in certain industry segments or in various parts of the country. The National Science Foundation data show that of the students who graduated from 1993 to 2001, 20% of the bachelor's holders went on to complete master's degrees in fields other than science and engineering and an additional 45% were working in other fields. Of those who completed master's degrees, 7% continued their education and 31% were working in fields other than science and engineering.

There isn't a problem with the capability of U.S. children. Even if there were a deficiency in math and science education, there are so many graduates today that there would be enough who are above average and fully qualified for the relatively small number of science and engineering jobs. Science and engineering graduates just don't see enough opportunity in these professions to continue further study or to take employment.

Creating Wider-Ranging Demand
With U.S. competitiveness at stake, we need to get our priorities straight. Education is really important, and a well-educated workforce is what will help the U.S. keep
its global edge. But emphasizing math and science education over humanities and social sciences may not be the best prescription for the U.S. We need our
children to receive a balanced and broad education. Perhaps we should focus
on creating demand for the many scientists and engineers we graduate. There are
many problems, from global warming to the development of alternative fuels to
cures for infectious diseases, that need to be solved. Rather than blaming our
schools, let's create exciting national programs that motivate our children to
help solve these problems.

Wadhwa is Wertheim Fellow at the Harvard Law School and executive in residence at Duke University. He is a tech entrepreneur who founded two technology companies. His research can be found at .

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