Tuesday, November 09, 2010

California School Achievement-


By Peter Schrag
John Mockler has rarely been timid in his opinions about education policy. But he’s never been more in-your-face than in his blasts at what he’s been calling “the California Schools Suck Industry” and the “statistical pornography” of the business groups, foundations, politicians and journalists who are its principal members.
Late last month, in a teleconference run by Steve Rees and his School Wise Press, he went at it again, contending, with a fusillade of numbers, that California schools were doing a lot better than most of us were being told. They were not categorically failing, were not deeply flawed, and that anyone who claimed otherwise was peddling “drivel.”  
Mockler probably has more “formers” strung after his name than anyone in California education: former school lobbyist and consultant to unions and school districts, former executive director of the state Board of Education; former interim secretary of education; author of Proposition 98, the state’s minimum school funding law, and on.
But in what he sometimes insists is his retirement, he’s also become the chief critic and tormentor of the retailers of the conventional wisdom and accompanying rhetoric about failing schools.
At a time when there seems ever more unquestioning acceptance of that conventional wisdom, both in California and nationally, and when a film like Davis Guggenheim’s public school bashing film “Waiting for Superman” becomes a media favorite, Mockler’s loud demurrer becomes more important than ever.

Among Mockler’s particulars:
*Schools whose test scores put them in the first decile – the bottom tenth -- on the stat’s Academic Performance Index (API) in 2009 would have ranked in the fifth decile in 1999. In 1999, 31 percent of the state’s schools scored 700 or above on the API; in 2009 77 percent did. In the same period, schools scoring 500 or below declined from 29 percent to less than 3 percent.
*Between 2003 and 2010 the percentage of students who read at proficient or advanced levels increased from 35 percent to 52 percent; for Latino students, the gain was from 20 to 40 percent; for African Americans, the gain was from 22 to 39 percent. Math scores showed similar gains.ltant to unions and school districts, former executive director of the state Board of Education; former interim secretary of education; author of Proposition 98, the state’s minimum school funding law, and on.
Read the entire post at California Progress Report. http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/?q=node/8363


The report is well worth reading and considering.  Mockler presided over California schools during some of the most turbulent times.  He remains an advocate of test based accountability and California STAR testing.

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