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Gates Paying Murdoch For System To Track U.S. Kids' School Progress 182

Posted by timothy
from the now-where-were-we? dept.
theodp writes "Discussing U.S. education in his 2012 Annual Letter, Bill Gates notes the importance of 'tools and services [that] have the added benefit of providing amazing visibility into how each individual student is progressing, and generating lots of useful data that teachers can use to improve their own effectiveness.' Well, Bill is certainly putting his millions where his mouth is. The Gates Foundation has ponied up $76.5 million for a controversial student data tracking initiative that's engaged Rupert Murdoch's Wireless Generation to 'build the open software that will allow states to access a shared, performance-driven marketplace of free and premium tools and content.' If you live in CO, IL, NC, NY, MA, LA, GA, or DE, it's coming soon to a public school near you."
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Gates Paying Murdoch For System To Track U.S. Kids' School Progress

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  • Shitstorm inc. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by durrr (1316311) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:29AM (#38857379)
    Through a bug it will track their physical location, everything they say, and what websites they visit. And their parents while at it.
    • Re:Shitstorm inc. (Score:4, Informative)

      by stewart4t2 (1443697) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:35AM (#38857405)
      I do believe that's counted as a feature.
    • Re:Shitstorm inc. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:31PM (#38857759)

      Through a bug it will track their physical location, everything they say, and what websites they visit. And their parents while at it.

      That's what Facebook is for.

    • by camperslo (704715)

      Hmmm, well this could be the start of something big. Companies could pick who to own by financing their educations, who to move to the front lines, and who is best suited as an organ donor. Companies could also aid only those who agree with their agendas. Combined with some genetic engineering, there's great opportunity for corporate optimizations here... or a script for a sci-fi movie/series??

      (I release any interest I have in this idea for free use by any filmmaker not connected with Comcast)

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      "Shitstorm Incorporated" will be the name of the company?

  • by tidepool (137349) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:36AM (#38857411)

    Is it just me, or shouldn't we already have this by hiring competent, caring, understanding educators in the first place? Computer software to track an individuals 'performance' (Ie; a 'quantitative thing') is yet another step in the ass-backwardness of the modern educational system.

    Why do we always forget that while test scores are important, they are FAR from the deterministic quality on which to judge an individuals intelligence or desire to learn?

    We have not created successful AI; The human mind stuck inside a quality educator, no matter the level, cannot be boiled down to algorithms and pure statical data-sets.

    But oh how we try. *sigh*.

    • by sandytaru (1158959) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:46AM (#38857481) Journal
      We did already have this. It was called report cards, and when I was in K-12 school, it got sent home on paper with me once every six weeks so my parents could look at it and see how I was doing and if necessary ground me for not paying attention in school.
      • by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:00PM (#38857591)

        We did already have this. It was called report cards, and when I was in K-12 school, it got sent home on paper with me once every six weeks so my parents could look at it and see how I was doing and if necessary ground me for not paying attention in school.

        With grade inflation its no longer meaningful. Also its a pretty good form of "stealth ageism". For example I'm old enough (get off my F-ing lawn) that I worked extremely hard to get a B+ in quantitative chemical analysis, lets just say it was long enough ago that we had an admittedly old even in that era apple II for a lab computer for potentiometric electrochemical analysis. Back in ye olden days, a B+ was a pretty strong effort and looks good on my transcript and believe it or not probably curved me up to around the top quartile of the class, I always was a superior chemist even in one of my weaker areas. Compared to a young whipper snapper where as long as you pay the registration office and show up, you're guaranteed an easy "A", that B+ makes me look like the class moron. And that is "stealth ageism" because my numbers make me appear dumber than your average young 4.0 student, but I actually did what would in modern terms be relatively high "A" level work not merely a B+. To figure out I'm a moron you should have to read /., not compare a decades old grades transcript with a modern hyper-inflated grade transcript.

        I've seen this effect with my kids. I used to get the full spectrum of D in gym up to A+ in science, but they only get wishy washy word grades now in grade school, like a checkmark for one of these three "Have not begun this topic" "making progress on this topic" "mastered this topic". I'm told there was a slightly earlier era a decade ago where they exclusively gave out A grade, it was just curved to A- for the morons, plain A for the masses, and A+ for the elite.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2012 @01:02PM (#38858037)

          Marks will not be awarded for raw intelligence in math, chem and the hard sciences. It will turn into a sheeple score. How well you fit in as a corporate cog. Shut up, don't rock the boat, kiss the whip that beats you. How compliant you are. How much abuse and corruption you can endure, without blowing the whistle. How well can you turn your head away from the deaths at Foxconn. How well can you spin death, corruption, pollution in the media.

          All you shit disturbers here on slashdot would have been marked and seperated out long before you every reached the second grade.

          Jobs and Wozniak would never be hired by the Modern Apple HR department.

          The kids that instintively say Hell No to the brutal psyops that marks industrial schooling, the Einstiens, the gentle geniuses, the shy creative types, everyone who was marked, scarred and terrorize by the years of indoctrination called education.

          Public school is an awful place. To do well in it, 'WELL' being defined by Murdoch and Gates, that to me is some kind of new and awfull hell. Evil of a brand new kind. Evil worthy of a new word.

          To everyone out there still in school, you have my deepest sympathy and greatest support. I cannot even imagine how awful and soul destroying it is now.

          • Public school has already been that way for decades. There is no monitoring of how the teachers arrive at a students grade. It's heavily dependent on how much they like the student or how well the student conforms to their ideas of what should be rewarded. They don't even return graded work any longer since it might be used by next years class to "cheat".

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Actually tests are pretty much uniform measures of knowledge gained. Of course it will significantly bias grades to those who are good at tests. I was one of those study the night before after bludging through the whole term to pass to get a higher grade start studying two nights before the exam. Write down answers for example questions and done. Essay and projects are just so annoying, especially when their original intent was as a learning tool rather than a grading tool. I gather from Gates funding pref

            • by swalve (1980968)
              Group projects are worthless unless the subject being taught is group projects. The only people who like them are the ones who sponge off the work of the rest of the group.
              • by rtb61 (674572)

                To be fair the other people who like them, are the ones that stress out at exams and fail due to mind block (fear of failure leads to failure) and of course the communicators, those that like to have meetings, do presentations and often do more than their fair share of work.

                There are a few slack and idlers but they are of course the narcissists and psychopaths, these genetically deficient individuals have to go to school as well, otherwise how would school bullies graduate to be law enforcement (versus p

        • by Nemyst (1383049)

          Funny that, most class averages I've seen hover in the C- to C+ range. Then again, I'm not in the US, so perhaps our own education system is not as bad as I thought.

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Well, a lot of systems force a normal distribution on everything where the average will get C on an A-F scale, but it's not without side effects. I went to a rather prestigious study, like only the top 5-10% students would be qualified to get in. For classes that we shared with other studies like math classes we'd pretty much all get As and Bs, and the trend mostly stayed in other classes too because it was silly to say this was a D or E grade project even if you were slightly worse than all the other reall

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JosephTX (2521572)
          This is the common sentiment among older generations, yet younger generations regularly score higher on tests that previous generations have taken; kids today have to learn alot more than you did, so you'll have to forgive your kid for not knowing how to use a slide-rule since he's busy learning calculus instead. If you think kids today are "lazy" or have it too easy because they aren't doing the lab exercises you're talking about, that's because they're too busy learning about the various discoveries in ch
          • by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @03:20PM (#38858891) Homepage Journal

            This is the common sentiment among older generations, yet younger generations regularly score higher on tests that previous generations have taken

            [Citation needed]

            kids today have to learn alot more than you did

            Like that "alot" isn't a word?

            they aren't doing the lab exercises you're talking about, that's because they're too busy learning about the various discoveries in chemistry and biology since your days in school to waste a whole day on a pointless lab demonstration.

            You mean watching videos of a cartoon character doing it rather than learning how to do it themselves?

      • by El Torico (732160)
        I see you used the plural form of "parents". This was once the norm, but that was destroyed by big media (who shaped expectations and opinions), big government (who decided that welfare programs should reward irresponsible breeding), and the religious establishment (who decided that they really just want the collection plate filled).
    • Is it just me, or shouldn't we already have this by hiring competent, caring, understanding educators in the first place?

      Years before my son reached Middle School, I looked high and low for these people; turns out the only place I was able to find them in Houston was in a private school, being paid what they should be paid.

      While there are a few great teachers scattered randomly throughout HISD, many find themselves, for the most part, saddled with a ridiculous bureaucracy and large class sizes- there's much more to it than finding great teachers. The result is, I spend almost more than I can afford to send my son to a privat

    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @01:31PM (#38858263)

      Is it just me, or shouldn't we already have this by hiring competent, caring, understanding educators in the first place?

      I know one of those - a special ed teacher. She truly loves her kids and and does whatever she can to help them; but she is caught in system that says she *must* teach the same curriculum as for regular ed kids. Never mind that her kids, after a week of teaching them the color red, forget what it is as soon as they learn blue; she must teach a specified curriculum. The kids do not have to learn it, she must however prove she exposed them to each part of it. So, instead of being taught skills they can use in life they sit through lessons that they'll never remember. She tries hard to make them interesting and appropriate, but it is frustrating. I would not be surprised when she qualifies for retirement she decides to quit and do something else; not because she doesn't like teaching or isn't good at it but the system seems to be designed to make it a miserable experience. Add in pay cuts despite signing a contract at the start of the year and parents who expect 24 by 7 availability (she gets emails on Christmas and New Years Day) and it's no wonder teachers leave the profession or simply give up and coast to retirement.

      We truly do not value education; and in the end get what we deserve.

      • > Is it just me, or shouldn't we already have this by hiring competent, caring, understanding educators in the first place?

        No, it's just you. The elite think that spending $5-6k per student per year is good enough for the masses. They however spend over $20k per year to educate their children at private schools with low, low student class sizes and lot of extras. The average good teacher makes it about 5-years before burnout. Anecdotally, I know a really good teacher that just left at the 5-year
        • by swalve (1980968)
          $5000 for a classroom of 30 students is $150,000 a year. If the teacher gets $50,000, where does the other $100,000 go? Every year?
          • $5000 for a classroom of 30 students is $150,000 a year. If the teacher gets $50,000, where does the other $100,000 go? Every year?

            That's per class - say seven classes per day with 4 different teachers (at more like 30k/year if they are lucky) and you have 30K left for staff/supplies/maintenance/etc. Not really that much.

      • "We truly do not value education; and in the end get what we deserve."

        Our children are not getting the education they need because we do not put enough emphasis on them getting it.

    • by superwiz (655733)
      Yes, the ass-backwardness of the modern educational system... Tracking performance through metrics... like grades. Education is not art. It's passing down to the next generation what is already known. Since there is a way to measure it, it should be measured. Measurements don't exist because they are fun or cool or turn somebody on. They exist because they are informative.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:39AM (#38857439)

    What really worries me is Murdoch's general push into the field of education. The man has already succeeded in indoctrinating an entire generation of adult Republicans into his own twisted version -- a version that has neither served conservatism nor America well. Is he going to start with the children now?

    • by gweihir (88907) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:01PM (#38857595)

      Murdoch is scum. The only thing he cares about is power. He is completely fine with hurting lots of people if that increases his power.

  • by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:44AM (#38857465)

    Am I missing something? This sounds like a good idea except for that Newscorp is involved. Besides that, what is wrong with this? Heck, I'm even wondering if anonymous, averaged data per school would be publicly available to see how schools are doing.

    It just seems like this is the sort of thing that should have a glaring hole in it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gweihir (88907)

      From experience made in the field of learning metrics, this usually produces teaching that increases test scores, but fails real the learning goals, i.e. producing insights and capabilities. This is well known. Looks like Gates failed to do any real research on the subject. Not a surprise and in line with his usual level of "insight". The only thing Gates can do well is amoral and borderline criminal business practices.

      • by ljw1004 (764174)

        [use of metrics] usually produces teaching that increases test scores, but fails real the learning goals, i.e. producing insights and capabilities.

        Are you saying that it fails on the measure of "how much insight and capability was produced"? What kind of measure is that, and how is it collected? Would you even call it a "metric" ?

        • by gweihir (88907)

          Are you saying that it fails on the measure of "how much insight and capability was produced"? What kind of measure is that, and how is it collected? Would you even call it a "metric" ?

          That is the whole point. There are no useful known metrics and it looks like there cannot be. In such a situation, metrics always make matters worse. Even a randomized approach usually is better (i.e. produce the data in a random fashion without input from the object to be evaluated).

          In many areas metrics just hurt and common sense is the only substitute. Of course that requires personal integrity as well and explains why Americans are so fond of metrics.

      • by Nemyst (1383049) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @02:11PM (#38858545) Homepage

        Nice way of conflating your dislike of closed-source software and Microsoft in general with what Gates can do outside of said corporation.

        Why was this even modded informative to begin with? You can disagree with someone without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

        • by gweihir (88907)

          It is not "ad hominem" if founded on facts. Have you looked at Microsoft software and in particular Gate's "visions" in comparison to others? He is absolutely clueless.

          As to the moderation, you are going "ad hominem" on the moderators instead of accepting their judgement.

    • by mvar (1386987) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @01:49PM (#38858395)
      Most of us suspect what the future regarding personal privacy will be like. This tracking system, while at first it sounds like a very convenient way for teachers to easily access their students grades and know their weak and strong points, it is more of "another brick" in a structure that will gradually and - with the aid of other similar tracking systems and laws - eventually evolve in some Orwellian (big brother) system where all your personal history from your earliest years (your school grades, your sociality, your behavior, your political beliefs, your health records etc) will be in a single file for anyone (employers, insurance companies, the law etc) to access.
    • by failedlogic (627314) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @02:16PM (#38858569)

      There is no need to worry.

      Newscorp agents will carefully monitor student feedback ..... by hacking their voicemail accounts on their cellphones.

    • If any Americans were ever aware of the shit that his papers were pulling on the other side of the pond, they've forgotten it by now.

      I'd have thought Bill Gates (or whoever advises him on PR) had more sense than to get involved with such a despicable fucking rat-bastard, but apparently not.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:48AM (#38857489)

    Or is MS no longer part of MSNBC?

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:48AM (#38857497)

    ...give the job to someone well versed in wiretapping.

  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:49AM (#38857505)

    The obvious assumption when you're dealing with a known criminal organization is that they'll put all this effort into gathering information in order to sell it. The problem is, who will the customers be?

    So... you package up a spam list of all the students who flunked financial literacy 101 and sell it to the car dealers, Realtors(tm), and mortgage brokers, "come and get em!". But they don't need the leads, because its all cross fertilized. The customers at the rent-a-center are the customers at the payday loan store are the customers at the subprime mortgage dealer are the customers at McDonalds are the customers at Walmart. They already know who these guys are.

    OK so see I never took any automotive classes, so you assume you can screw me over at the stealership. What you don't know is I spent a summer helping a great-uncle rebuild a 1930's diesel tractor, helped weld a homemade lake-pier together which is still standing a quarter century later, etc ... The idea that a "college bound" student like myself would attend a votech class was unthinkable in that era, and probably today... in fact all of our suburban students are supposed to go to college to make the bankers who provider the loans rich, so I don't think shop class attendance is going to be relevant or useful data. In a way, this is great, because it encourages people to teach themselves, not attend a class. I certainly did not learn how to replace brake rotors and pads in a classroom, that's for sure.

    And the rest of the data? Donno. Maybe I'm low on caffeine but I donno who can profit off the knowledge that I aced everything in 2nd year chem aka introductory o-chem or that I didn't do so well in 9th grade history because I was bored to tears (well not literally, but darn close).

    • by Chemisor (97276)

      You collect data in order to determine the general trend. Nobody expects it to predict each and every thing you do exactly. Hence, even though you bucked the trend and learned something on your own, the data collector is still justified in making the prediction that you can only know what you were formally taught because in 99% of the cases this will be true. If you learn on your own, think for yourself, or otherwise do something you're not supposed to be doing, you're the exception and the companies who bu

      • Considering that Google thought I was an 18-24 year old male when I am well above that age range and most definitely a female, I'm not too worried about my demographics being out there for the world to see.
        • by gweihir (88907)

          Considering that Google thought I was an 18-24 year old male when I am well above that age range and most definitely a female, I'm not too worried about my demographics being out there for the world to see.

          Artificial Stupidity at work ;-)

          Really the only human mental "skill" that machines can emulate well.

        • by r00t (33219)

          Sure about that? Google might know something you don't. Google knows everything.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complete_androgen_insensitivity_syndrome [wikipedia.org]

          As for the age, maybe your parents are hiding the truth. You could be the result of a secret pregnancy and birth, intended to cover up the fact that your older sibling went missing.

        • Who are we going to believe? A 20 year old boy or Google?

          The Google has judged, welcome to the male gender. It is much like the dark side without the cookies.

          • It's my own fault for hanging around Slashdot, computer part stores, and video game websites all the time. Apparently things like Bath & Body Works and Lane Bryant don't cancel it out.
            • by vlm (69642)

              It's my own fault for hanging around Slashdot, computer part stores, and video game websites all the time. Apparently things like Bath & Body Works and Lane Bryant don't cancel it out.

              As if a (formerly) "18-24 year old male" like myself didn't shop constantly at BBW and LB (and other "girly" places) for girlfriend gifts. I probably blew more money at BBW than compusa back in the day, a rather substantial sum of money. Think about it, what is a teenage boys greatest motivator, and which store on average is more likely to get him some, autozone or BBW? Well thats enough GOOG apologetics for now, but I had to literally LOL at your claim that being a big BBW customer somehow proves the e

      • by vlm (69642)

        the data collector is still justified in making the prediction that you can only know what you were formally taught because in 99% of the cases this will be true

        I would disagree in that everything that is not compulsory is forbidden and everything that is not forbidden is compulsory and mistargeting of ads is too likely.

        In my example, all kids in my suburban school are supposed to go to college, therefore standards were pretty high, and we were almost all unable to attend shop class or at least strongly discouraged. When I signed up for a CAD intro class you'd think I grew a second head, the way my advisor/counselor reacted. Yet we wrenched on our cars in our spa

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:50AM (#38857515)
    This man and his sprawling NewsCorp media empire have almost single-handedly ruined/corrupted objective journalism, and done so across multiple countries where NewsCorp is active. Nothing good can come from allowing Rupert Murdoch anywhere near schools and educational institutions. His signature reckless profiteering and lack of a conscience/values will likely corrupt the education process, too, not enhance it. I can't believe that Bill Gates is teaming up with Murdoch... I was under the impression that Bill had gone all "good guy philanthropist". Maybe I was wrong about that... But seriously, no venture owned by Rupert Murdoch should be allowed within a mile or so of a school, or of any other institution frequented by kids. This man will just try to spread his twisted, f^cked up neocon-ultra-jingo-conservative values to school children, given the chance. Don't do it, Bill. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, its not worth collaborating with this news-bully/snakeoil salesman/jingoist warmonger. Simply... don't... do it!
    • Maybe that *is* what he is trying to accomplish by throwing in with him.
    • This man and his sprawling NewsCorp media empire have almost single-handedly ruined/corrupted objective journalism, and done so across multiple countries where NewsCorp is active.

      How can that be true? The BBC is as objective as ever. [thisislondon.co.uk]
      The idea the Murdoch has corrupted the entire media is silly [nationalreview.com]

      This man will just try to spread his twisted, f^cked up neocon-ultra-jingo-conservative values to school children, given the chance.

      You apparently missed the part where it states this is about software to track student performance, not curriculum or instructional materials?
      But I can understand your concern - no schools should permit any deviation from "progressive [nationalreview.com]" messages and practices, or "progressive" programs like racist [nationalreview.com] curriculum [tucsoncitizen.com].

  • All the amazing tools and yet education level goes downhill. Why is that? Because the most important tool of education is metaphorical belt, ominously hanging on the metaphorical wall: if you are slackin', you' get the smackin'.

    And the presence of father. Not the father "figure", but the real father (who does the metaphorical smacking).

    If you have this, you don't need tools, just keep giving the homework and tests.

    Give parents full autonomy of their kids. Sure few families will horrendously abuse their kids

  • This is dangerous (Score:5, Informative)

    by gweihir (88907) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:55AM (#38857541)

    Learning is an individual process. Strong focus on "metrics" hinders progress and produces educated morons that can score high on tests but cannot do anything else well and do not have any real understanding on how things work. One reason is that the metrics typically used strongly promote learning facts without understanding them. The only place such people can perform well is on bureaucracies, i.e. in jobs where their main task is to decrease the performance of others. This technology allows even better implementation of that fallacy.

    The only way to improve education is by improving the teachers. And, yes, that means firing bad and mediocre teachers and hiring good ones. Of course they will be more expensive and will need significant freedom to teach as they see fit, i.e. no parent influence. (A single moron parent can ruin a whole course if they are given influence....) Nothing of that sort seems likely to happen in a country so backwards that evolution is actually a disputed subject.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Agreed. The problem, to the extent that schools can fix it, is with teachers. Fix or fire the bad ones, improve and hire better ones. But somebody has to make an assessment of how effective the teachers are and there need to be tools for that.

      Excessive focus on individual students, ironically, detracts from the ability of states, districts and administrations to run schools that do the best possible job for students.

    • by r00t (33219)

      And how do you identify bad teachers? Testing! Without testing, bad teachers hide in a cloud of bullshit.

      Testing also serves as a less-biased way to grade the students. Teachers give better grades to attractive students, but the tests are blind to such things. Standard tests solve the grade inflation problem.

      Why blame testing when the metrics promote facts without understanding? Teachers make that error too. Test designers don't always make that error. Either way, it's just a matter of quality.

      • by gweihir (88907)

        Fail. Only good teachers can reliably identify good teachers. Testing just produces the same bad results, but with a longer impact time. I do understand that with the fundamentally broken legal system in the US, nobody is willing to go by opinions anymore for fear of being sued, but it really is the only way. Come to think of it, maybe this whole thing is just one more symptom of the decline of the US.

      • by nahdude812 (88157) *

        Standard tests solve the grade inflation problem

        This is completely untrue. In fact, it worsens the problem. Standardized testing leads to teaching for the test. Teachers whose students do well on standardized tests focus superficially on the material that will be tested and gloss over the ancillary knowledge. Meanwhile teachers who focus on making sure the students really understand the subject matter will have kids who test less well. Plus standardized testing is re-evaluated year after year, and changed according to areas where the student body at

  • Rupert Murdoch? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy (217807) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @11:57AM (#38857571)

    Wait, wait...isn't this the same guy who had another company that got into really deep hot water by hacking into people's phones and otherwise massively abusing their privacy? As in shut-the-company-down, pay-out-millions-to-the-victims, and some-just-got-arrested bad?

    There IS a place for technology in schools, absolutely, and if you're at all familiar with schools the level of useless redundant work that goes on drives you nuts. Every year it ticks me off that I have to fill out 50 pages of nonsense information to tell the school what they already know. That said, you know who you don't give the job of modernizing it to? Someone with a track record of abusing the hell out of people's privacy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by locketine (1101453)
      or a penchant for misleading the public into believing falsehoods that promote his own personal desires. Even if they manage to collect accurate data I could definitely see Rupert manipulating the data or how it's interpreted to tell the public his own narrative of what needs to be changed in education.
  • by superwiz (655733)
    Teachers are so opposed to performance metrics that it's impossible to tell if a B in Colorado is better or worse than an C+ Vermont.
    • There have been standardized tests in elementary through high schools for at least 30 years. Back then they were treated as they should be: a useful data point in determining how well students/teachers were performing, but not the end-all-be-all of the education system.

      In the last 15 years, the number of standardized tests for kids, paperwork and mandatory training for teachers has increased so much that students are spending almost an additional month of the year away from the classroom because of it. Clas

      • by superwiz (655733)

        There have been standardized tests in elementary through high schools for at least 30 years.

        Ok, and now we have the means to have more fine-grained information.

        Trying to judge a teacher solely on metrics is as stupid as trying to judge a programmer on lines-of-code per day

        Depends on the metrics. Just like you CAN judge a programmer on some metrics. There are good metrics for judging teachers' performance. And, no, teacher's salary is not a good metric. It says nothing about how well they perform their job.

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:36PM (#38857793)

    There is an effort to collapse or split education into haves and have-nots in the US. Its been really going on since Integration in the US. For decades before Integration, there were policies of "Dual Schools" in the US. That's happening again, and it's going to take legislators to stop it. The only way I can see it happening is massive over haul of the Public education system and forced closure of private education systems. There is a concerted effort by the conservative power elite in the USA to splinter and collapse universal schooling. The only way is to outlaw non-state sanctioned schooling so the wealthy are forced to participate in the public schooling system.

    • by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 29, 2012 @12:50PM (#38857927)

      You'd need to do something about districts and remove local budgeting and control of schools. Not saying I agree with you, but if you don't do that, then all you're doing is shuffling names around without actually changing anything. If you keep districts at "neighborhood" or "city" size, then you just end up replicating have/have-not based on real estate value. Which leads inevitably to lower property taxes and higher state or federal taxes, more bookkeeping, middlemen, and corruption, etc. Because taxes never reduce, that means the locals will have lots of extra money floating around, which leads to more corruption. So overall, you'd theoretically get standardized education, but probably at a lower level due to higher corruption, and the upper half would still have everything from simply caring about their kids school all the way up to private schools, so as a society I don't think we'd win because the rich would remain better off, but the median would drop. The absolute bottom of the barrel would do better, but they're just going into the prison industrial complex anyway, so I see little point in wasting educational resources on them, just what we need, smarter criminals. So in summary, I disagree with your method and your goals, each for different reasons.

      There is a concerted effort by the conservative power elite in the USA to splinter and collapse universal schooling

      No its a 1% vs 99% thing, and the 1% use anti-leftie PR when talking to the righties, and anti-rightie PR when talking to the lefties, to get both sides to do their bidding. Looks like you fell for it hook line and sinker.

    • Gates is also funding funding other billionaires' aligned initiatives [newschools.org] and bankrolling astrotufing-likened school advocacy [nytimes.com], raising concerns about undue influence [dissentmagazine.org] and even a call for eliminating the charitable giving tax deduction [huffingtonpost.com]. 'This year, governments may lose $50 billion because of tax deductions taken overwhelmingly by the rich for charitable givings intended primarily to enhance their status with their brethren or to attack the public sector,' writes David Morris. 'We can't stop the rich from using th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2012 @01:07PM (#38858083)

    The "problems" in education, IMO, are multifaceted. Slapping performance metrics on top of the way things are now is only going to demoralize everyone further.

    I find that teachers generally want to do well by their students. One problem is that some teachers have low or outdated content knowledge and,m accordingly, low or misplaced confidence. What is being done to "moderize" teachers? Or does that come after identifying which teachers are "bad" according to student performance on standardized tests?

    Techniques to improve teaching/learning is a moving target. Teachers are desperate for that magic pill by which every student will finally understand. Like New Math. Like using computers. Like using educational games. Frankly, students will be different. Each method will probably speak to a different set of students. The "panacea" may be in maximizing the number of techniques that can be used for reaching the most students. However, we would have to ask whether the standardized student tests are set up to be able to capture the learning gained.

    Also, teachers are not solely responsible for students' private lives. Maybe a student stressing over his parents' shit or being bullied. Some parents need to be involved in their kids' education and not stand by and "let" the school do the work. Learning takes some effort, so some students need to get the nonsense out of their heads enough to focus at least part of the time.

    School districts need to stop being accountants for the sake of their own careers.

    In US culture, everyone says they want a good educational system, yet it seems that things like money, sports, etc., receive a disproportionate amount of attention. And the role that religious nuttery and willful ignorance play serve to distract people from critical thinking skills.

    I'm sure there are other points I'm missing.

  • "I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record"

    Oh yeah? Well, don't get so distressed

    Did I happen to mention that I'm impressed?

  • by killfixx (148785) * on Sunday January 29, 2012 @01:23PM (#38858199) Journal

    This will end up becoming a metric of parental/economic efficacy.

    I'm a teacher. My students have diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The students from "better" situations, on average, perform better. The reverse is usually true also. Of course, there are always outliers, but we're talking averages.

    If this information was to be used to correct those out-of-school factors, that would be great. Unfortunately, they will most likely be used to punish under-performing teachers and districts.

  • I'm sure it will be Fair and Balanced and not lead to more teaching to the test.
  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why do we trust Bill Gates' judgment on anything related to public education? This is a man who grew up the son of a wealthy politician; he has no firsthand experience with what happens in public school. He is also a college dropout. An admittedly smart, successful man, but his life experience is so far removed from those of us who grew up as public school "consumers" that, frankly, I find him to be among the LEAST qualified people to be making judgment calls regarding public education. Add Rupert Murdo

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst

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