It started with a tweet from Commissioner Frazier (https://twitter.com/RobinBFrazier1) about the GOP Legislative Breakfast last month:
I, of course, was a bit skeptical.
The Nations Report Card (http://nationsreportcard.gov/) is the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It is NOT really a report card. It’s data. It is this data that various groups and organizations use to make their independent rankings.
Education Week used this data and other criteria to rank Maryland schools first in the nation in their Quality Counts report cards (http://www.edweek.org/ew/qc/2013/state_report_cards.html). The criteria used is explained on their website. Factors include Chance for Success, K-12 Achievement, Standards, Assessments, & Accountability, The Teaching Profession, School Finances and Transitions & Alignments.
So, I wrote Delegate Stocksdale’s office to see just where this C+ grade was coming from. The link she provided was http://www.alec.org/docs/17thReportCard/Maryland.pdf. It gives Maryland a C-.
So, not only did Commissioner Frazier get the source wrong, she got the grade wrong. I guess that’s an F for her.
Anyway, this report contains some interesting data. It ranks student performance at 20th in the nation. Why so low? The fine print clarifies that the performance ranking is based only on low-income students, not all students. Yes, we certainly need to work to raise the performance of our low-income students, but Maryland’s overall performance is much higher.
The rest of the C- grade is based on State Academic Standards, Charter Schools, Private School Choice programs, Teacher Qualities and Policies, and Online Learning. Each organization making rankings is free to choose whatever criteria it wants, and we need to make the effort to know what the organization is about. In other words, what’s their agenda?
Well, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) creates model legislation focusing on “Limited Government, Free Markets and Federalism” – http://www.alec.org/about-alec/. It is not an organization focused on education, but on conservative policy-making at the state level.
I also think naming its report the “National Education Report Card” causes it to be easily confused with the Nations Report Card. Even Commissioner Frazier did it!