The DeHavilland Blog

Friday, August 22, 2008

A different world

Over the past forty years, we've seen a tremendous increase in school funding. According to the USDE, the growth in per-pupil spending, in real dollars, increased from $3400 in 1965 to $8997 in 2002:

The latest figures (not adjusted to 2002 real dollars like the numbers above): median per-pupil spending of $10,173 in FY2006.

I've shown the chart before, but it's worth re-posting to make the point that in all likelihood, the days of large annual increases in per-pupil funding have come to and end. We've all seen what's happening to school funding in the short term due to lower tax revenues (particularly property taxes) and higher costs for fuel, food, and healthcare.

And we all know what's coming down the pike in terms of medicare and social security obligations:

Given that, it continues to surprise me that those in the education industry haven't been more vocal about community/school partnerships. There's certainly been a great cry for increased funding, and the folks in the education foundation world have been asked to greatly increase their efforts. But where's the cry for a collaborative approach to tackling the problem? There's a great opportunity for relieving the resource pressures placed on schools, and great potential for improved outcomes.

So when do we admit we're in a different world and respond accordingly?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

USA Today: 75% of ACT test-takers will require remedial help

Just saw in USA Today that of those who took the ACT, 3 out of 4 will require remedial help in one or more classes if they go to college.

According to the article:

ACT scores continue to show huge gaps remain between the preparation students receive in high school and what they need to succeed in college. Only 22% met a benchmark score for college readiness in all four subjects — English, math, reading and science. That's a one-percentage-point decline from last year.

On three of the subject tests, the proportions earning scores that indicate college readiness were identical to a year ago — math (43 percent), reading (53 percent) and science (28 percent). The proportion showing college readiness in English fell one point to 68%.

Note that these numbers should actually be lower for the entire student population: in states where all students are required to take the ACT, it takes place in the junior or senior year of high school after many of the dropouts have already left. Factoring those students in would result in lower numbers here.

Education Olympics

In the past few years, I've heard several people wonder aloud why people don't get more worked up about our educational shortcomings - "after all, if we came in 24th in an Olympic event, people would be outraged!"

The Fordham Foundation ran with this, and have been holding an Education Olympics parallel to the real thing. It's done with a sense of fun while still sharing some important international comparisons. My only gripe is that they seem to be sharing it through their own established channels - preaching to the choir, in other words, and not highlighting the contrasting performances with the public at large.

That aside, it's a good campaign, and it introduced me to a stat I had not seen before. In the PISA category of explaining phenomena scientifically - applying their knowledge of science to a situation - both males and females placed 32nd among participating countries.

For a country that plans on building its future in STEM-related industries, this isn't a good sign...