Worst Colleges in America

Jason Rosenhouse links this excellent feature from Radar entitled America’s Worst Colleges.

My favorite? The review of Liberty university.

Notable Course: Christian Womanhood IV. Because keeping your mouth shut is too rich a subject for just three levels of study.

Raw Data: Ranked in the lowest “fourth tier” by U.S. News & World Report and awarded ho-hum grades for academics, social life, and campus attractiveness by its students, Liberty proudly accepts 94 percent of applicants. Low SAT scores do not appear to be an obstacle. On the plus side, the debate team won the national championship last year.

School Pride: “The mountains and all are beautiful. It’s right near the Wal-Mart, too,” writes a student on Campus Dirt. “The College Republicans are the best!!!!” gushes another enthusiastic reviewer. A third warns prospectives to “Be ready for an AWESOME spiritual experience at the finest Christian university in America! Be prepared to follow the high standards and rules they have set forth, it will be worth it!”

Fun Fact: Kudos to Falwell for naming the fervently anti-gay university’s football team the Flames.

Ha! Reading some of the other reviews, one wonders how these places exist – and manage to get 20k a year out of people. Then one realizes that a significant number of people who are running our country today were “educated” at Liberty.

Damn. Now the article doesn’t seem nearly as funny. More sickly disturbing than funny.

Also, one wonders, no mention of George Mason? It’s a commuter-school extraordinaire – home of the Mercatus Center and source of anti-science policy cranks for your Republican of choice. Whenever you need some problem to be labeled “no problem”, just call George Mason.

Is it economics they want taught or religion?

The Wall Street Journal comments on some select results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing which this year included some questions on economics.

Pop quiz. Which has been most important in reducing poverty over time: a) taxes, b) economic growth, c) international trade, or d) government regulation?

Now this is an interesting question, does it have a simple answer? Here’s what the WSJ says.
Continue reading “Is it economics they want taught or religion?”

The NYT gets it right on No Child Left Behind

After yesterdays pathetic article from the WaPo suggesting that scores were “up” (whatever that means under the moronic patchwork that evolved under the law) it was nice to see the NYT get it right. Their article exposes the joke of state standardized testing in response to the law, and further demonstrates how meaningless standardized testing is as a way to reform schools.

The law requires that all students be brought to proficiency by 2014, but lets each state set its own proficiency standards and choose its own tests to measure achievement.

In essence, the report issued today creates a common yardstick of proficiency, by examining the minimum proficiency score on each state’s tests of reading and math and then determining what the equivalent score would be on the math and reading components of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The results illustrated starkly that some states’ standard for proficiency are much lower than others’.

For example, an eighth grader in Tennessee can meet that state’s standards for math proficiency with a state test score that is the equivalent of a 230 on the national test. But in Missouri, an eighth grader would need the equivalent of a 311.

And while a Mississippi fourth grader can meet the state’s reading proficiency standard with a state score that corresponds to a 161 on the national test, a Massachusetts fourth grader would need the equivalent of a 234. Such score differences represent a gap of several grade levels.

In some cases, the differences between one state’s proficiency standards and another’s were more than twice as large as the national gap between minority and white students’ reading levels, which averages about 30 points on the national assessment test, according to Grover J. Whitehurst. Mr. Whitehurst is the director of the education department’s Institute of Education Sciences; he and the Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, spoke to reporters about the report by telephone on Wednesday.

NCLB is a joke, and based on this administrations track record on, well, everything, no one should be surprised. What is most shameful about this whole debacle of a law, is the cynical use of education as a political tool. The architects of this policy had to know that the results in Texas were a scam, but that didn’t stop them from pushing it nationally to create a false statistical bump in test scores that they could use to claim a victory in education reform.