With the governor visiting, Montgomery County school officials might have been tempted to throw up some slides showing rising test scores or burgeoning Advanced Placement participation.
Instead, school leaders spoke candidly yesterday about the seemingly insoluble problem of getting students from some minority groups to succeed in advanced math courses.Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) listened as school officials gave a PowerPoint presentation showing three schools, one each from affluent, middle-class and low-income neighborhoods, all with moribund math achievement among blacks and Hispanics.
It's not the schools; it's the bad instruction. Bad instruction that is present in most schools. Some kids just tolerate whole language and fuzzy math better than others. These are the smart kids who will succeed despite the instruction. The rest of the kids not so much.
Montgomery school officials were showing off M-Stat, their version of a celebrated initiative that uses statistics and computers to identify and analyze problems. The school system is among the first in the nation to adopt a variant of CompStat, the New York City police program that analyzes crime trends. The "Stat" concept has drawn notice not only for its success but also for encouraging lively -- and occasionally sharp -- exchanges among top brass.
Do you really need a computer to analyze and identify the problem? It's right in front of your face.
"M-Stat is really designed to focus on, 'Where do we have achievement gaps, and what are we going to do about them?' " said Donald H. Kress, chief school performance officer for the Montgomery schools.
Problem is they don't know what to do about the achievement gaps. Or, at least, they don't want to change what they are presently doing.
Ideally, the meetings stir revelations. Yesterday's session, for example, left participants with the disquieting fact that black and Hispanic students aren't reaping the benefits of attending high-performing schools in affluent communities.
One principal, representing a middle-class neighborhood, predicted that her minority math data would "flat-line" this year because the school is focusing on other reforms. In the often sugarcoated world of public education, that was a bold admission.
Finally, a truthful article on education from WaPo. I'm shocked.