Franklin (MA) School Committee Blog

The pieces below represent the views of the individual authors, not the committee as a whole.

Archive for March 24th, 2010

Texas textbook changes no threat to Franklin

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 24, 2010

I received an e-mail earlier in the week concerning efforts to revise textbooks in Texas and the alleged whitewashing of history by the Texas Board of Education (click here for details on what is happening there). One writer described the Texas efforts as follows: “As the state goes through the once-in-a-decade process of rewriting the standards for its textbooks, [an activist bloc] is using its clout to infuse them with ultraconservative ideals. Among other things, they aim to rehabilitate Joseph McCarthy, bring global-warming denial into science class, and downplay the contributions of the civil rights movement.” Given the level of interest in the topic, I thought it would share my response:

That link was certainly interesting reading,  but I truly do not see those issues arising here in Franklin.  The Massachusetts curriculum frameworks are some of the toughest and most respected in the country, and I do not see them moving in the direction of Texas in our lifetimes.  In fact, even the recent efforts to develop national curriculum standards have not been well received by our state board of education (I understand that Texas did not participate).  In fact, this was in a Globe article from last week:  “The Patrick administration will not adopt national academic standards if they are lower than those established in Massachusetts, long championed as having among the most rigorous expectations, according to the state’s education secretary.” (Click here for the full article).

Also, readers should take comfort in the fact that the Franklin School Committee has a policy to deal with complaints about instructional materials in our schools.  You can find a copy of the policy by clicking here.  As stated in the policy, ” books and other reading matter will be chosen for value of interest and enlightenment of all students in the community. A book will not be excluded because of the race, gender orientation, nationality, political, or religious values of the writer or of its style and language. Every effort will be made to provide materials that present all points of view concerning the international, national, and local problems and issues of our times.  Books and other reading matter of sound factual authority will not be prescribed or removed from library shelves or classrooms because of partisan doctrinal approval or disapproval.”

Finally, a few years ago I wrote a blog piece about similar efforts in Pennsylvania (the details from the blog with links to the case materials and documentary can be viewed by clicking here). The tussle over these emotional issues resulted in a very interesting trial in federal court in Pennsylvania.    In the case decision, the judge ruled that introducing intelligent design was unconstitutional, and I believe that some of the Texas changes would fall into a similar category. PBS’s NOVA produced a two hour special on the case – entitled Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial — which aired for the first time on November 13, 2007. You can view the show online by clicking here. PBS has a website devoted to the topic which can be viewed by clicking here

Posted in Policy | Leave a Comment »

Massachusetts 4th and 8th graders rank first in reading on 2009 NAEP exam

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 24, 2010

Massachusetts 4th graders ranked first and 8th graders tied for first on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading exam in 2009, marking the third time in a row that the state’s students outscored their peers nationwide. According to results of the 2009 NAEP exam, the state’s 4th graders scored an average of 234 on the reading assessment, well above the national average of 220 and first in the nation. At grade 8, Massachusetts students achieved the highest average of 274, which exceeded the national average of 262 and tied for first with five other high performing states: New Jersey (273); Connecticut and Vermont (272); and New Hampshire and Pennsylvania (271).

“Education is our calling card around the world,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “I couldn’t be more proud of our students, teachers, and school administrators whose dedication and hard work made this remarkable achievement possible.”

NAEP, also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in core subjects. NAEP assesses a representative sample of students in all 50 states and reports state-level results at grades 4 and 8. In Massachusetts, 3,900 students at grade 4 and 3,600 students at grade 8 were randomly selected to participate in the NAEP reading assessment. The NAEP reading scale ranges from 0 to 500.

“These remarkable results are further proof that engaged students and talented teachers can produce and sustain high levels of achievement,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville. “Now, we must accelerate our efforts to help every student reach proficiency and higher.”

Other results for Massachusetts students included:

Grade 4 Reading:

•    47 percent of all Massachusetts students scored Proficient or above, significantly more than the national average of 32 percent.

•    The performance of the state’s four largest racial/ethnic groups remained the same in 2009. White students scored on average 241, compared to 216 for African American students, 211 for Hispanic students, and 241 for Asian students.

•    56 percent of white students scored Proficient or higher, as did 23 percent of African American students, 20 percent of Hispanic students, and 56 percent of Asian students.

•    Female students (average scaled score of 236) continue to outperform male students (231) in reading. Fifty percent of female students and 45 percent of male students scored Proficient or above.

•    In 2009, the performance of students with disabilities (average scaled score of 211), English language learners (198), and students eligible for free or reduced price lunch (215) was flat since the last administration in 2007.

 

Grade 8 Reading:

•    43 percent of all Massachusetts students scored Proficient or above, significantly more than the national average of 30 percent.

•    The performance of the state’s four largest racial/ethnic groups remained the same in 2009. White students scored on average 279, compared to 251 for African American students, 250 for Hispanic students, and 281 for Asian students.

•    49 percent of white students scored Proficient or higher, as did 17 percent of African American students, 17 percent of Hispanic students, and 50 percent of Asian students.

•    Female students at grade 8 outperformed male students both in terms of average scaled scores (279 to 269) and the percent scoring Proficient or above (49 percent to 37 percent).

•    The performance of students with disabilities (average scaled score of 251), English language learners (217), and students eligible for free or reduced price lunch (254) did not change significantly between 2007 and 2009.

Additional information on NAEP is available on the Nation’s Report Card which can be viewed by clicking here.

Posted in Community Relations | Leave a Comment »

 
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