CURMUDGUCATION: Artificial Stupidity

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Artificial Stupidity

Facebook absolutely insist on showing me “top stories.” Every time I open the Facebook page, I have to manually switch back to “most recent,” because even though the Facebook Artificial Smartitude Software thinks it knows what I most want to see, it can’t figure out that I want to see the “most recent” feed. Mostly because the Facebook software is consistently wrong about what I will consider Top News.

Meanwhile, my Outlook mail software has decided that I should now have the option of Focused, an email listing that lists my emails according to… well, that’s not clear, but it seems to think it is “helping” me. It is not. The Artificial Smartitude Software seems to work roughly as well as rolling dice to decide the ranking of each e-mail. This is not helpful.

I pay attention to these sorts of features because we can’t afford to ignore new advances in artificial intelligence, because a whole lot of people think that AI is the future of education, that computerized artificial intelligence will do a super-duper job directing the education of tiny humans, eclipsing the lame performance of old-school meat-based biological intelligence.

Take, for instance, this recent profile in Smithsonian, which is basically a puff piece to promote a meat-based biological intelligence unit named Joseph Qualls. Now-Dr Qualls (because getting meat-based biological intelligence degrees is apparently not a waste of time just yet) started his AI business back when he was a lonely BS just out of college, and he has grown the business into…. well, I’m not sure, but apparently he used AI to help train soldiers in Afghanistan among other things.

To his credit, Qualls in his interview correctly notes one of the hugest issues of AI in education or anywhere else– What if the AI’s wrong? Yes, that’s a big question. It’s a “Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln” question. It’s such a big question that Quall notes that much AI research is not driven by academics, but by lawyers who want to know how the decisions are made so they can avoid lawsuits. So, hey, it’s super-encouraging to know that lawyers are so involved in developing AI. Yikes.

Still, Qualls sees this rather huge question as just a bump in the road, particularly for education.

With education, what’s going to happen, you’re still going to have monitoring. You’re going to have teachers who will be monitoring data. They’ll become more data scientists who understand the AI and can evaluate the data about how students are learning.

You’re going to need someone who’s an expert watching the data and watching the student. There will need to be a human in the loop for some time, maybe for at least 20 years. But I could be completely wrong. Technology moves so fast these days.

So neither the sage on the stage or the guide on the side, but more of a stalker in the closet, watching the data run across the screen while also keeping an eye on the students, and checking everyone’s work in the process. But only for the next couple of decades or so; after that, we’ll be able to get the meat widgets completely out of education. College freshmen take note– it’s not too late to change your major to something other than education.

Where Qualls’ confidence comes form is unsure, since a few paragraphs earlier, he said this:

One of the great engineering challenges now is reverse engineering the human brain. You get in and then you see just how complex the brain is. As engineers, when we look at the mechanics of it, we start to realize that there is no AI system that even comes close to the human brain and what it can do.

We’re looking at the human brain and asking why humans make the decisions they do to see if that can help us understand why AI makes a decision based on a probability matrix. And we’re still no closer.

I took my first computer programming course in 1978; our professor was exceedingly clear on one point– computers are stupid. They are fast, and they are tireless, and if you tell them to do something stupid or wrong, they will do it swiftly and relentlessly, but they will not correct for your stupid mistake. They do not think; they only do what they’re told, as long as you can translate what you want into a series of things they can do.

Much of what is pitched as AI is really the same old kind of stupid, but AI does not simply mean “anything done by a computer program.” When a personalized learning advocate pitches an AI-driven program, they’re just pitching a huge (or not so huge) library of exercises curated by a piece of software with a complex (or not so complex) set of rules for sequencing those exercises. There is nothing intelligent about it– it is just as stupid as stupid can be but, but implemented by a stupid machine that is swift and relentless. But that software-driven machine is the opposite of intelligence. It is the bureaucratic clerk who insists that you can’t have the material signed out because you left one line on the 188R-23/Q form unfilled.

There are huge issues in directing the education of a tiny human; that is why, historically, we have been careful about who gets to do it. And the issues are not just those of intelligence, but of morals and ethics as well.

We can see these issues being played out on other AI fronts. One of the huge hurdles of self-driven cars are moral questions– sooner or later a self-driven car is going to have to decide who lives and who dies. And as an AP story noted just last week, self-driven car software also struggles with how to interact with meat-based biological intelligence units. The car software wants a set of rules to follow all the time, every time, but meat units have their own sets of exceptions and rules for special occasions etc etc etc. But to understand and measure and deal and employ all those “rules,” one has to have actual intelligence, not simply a slavish, tireless devotion to whatever rules someone programmed into you. And that remains a huge challenge for Artificial So-called-intelligence. Here are two quotes from the AP story:

“There’s an endless list of these cases where we as humans know the context, we know when to bend the rules and when to break the rules,” says Raj Rajkumar, a computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who leads the school’s autonomous car research.

“Driverless cars are very rule-based, and they don’t understand social graces,” says Missy Cummings, director of Duke University’s Humans and Autonomy Lab.

In other words, computers are stupid.

It makes sense that Personalized Learning mavens would champion the Artificial Stupidity approach to education, because what they call education is really training, and training of the simplest kind, in which a complicated task is broken down into a series of simper tasks and then executed in order without any attention to what sort of whole they add up to. Software-directed education is simply that exact same principle applied to the “task” of teaching. And like the self-driven car fans who talk about how we need to change the roads and the markings and the other cars on the highways so that the self-driven car can work, software-driven education ends up being a “This will work well if you change the task to what we can do instead of what you want to do.” You may think you can’t build a house with this stapler– but what if you built the house out of paper! Huh?! Don’t tell me you’re so stuck in a rut with the status quo that you can’t see how awesome it would be!

So, they don’t really understand learning. they don’t really understand teaching, and they don’t really understand what computers can and cannot do– outside of that, AI-directed Personalized Learning Fans are totally on to something.

And still, nobody is answering the question– what if the AI is wrong?

What if, as Qualls posits, an AI decides that this budding artist is really supposed to be a math whiz? What if the AI completely mistakes what this tiny human is interested in or motivated by? What if the AI doesn’t understand enough about the tiny human’s emotional state and psychological well-being to avoid assigning tasks that are damaging? What if the AI encounters a child who is a smarter and more divergent thinker than the meat widget who wrote the software in the first place? What id we decide that we want education to involve deeper understanding and more complicated tasks, but we’re stuck with AI that is unable to assess or respond intelligently to any sort of written expression (because, despite corporate assurances to the contrary, the industry has not produced essay-assessment software that is worth a dime, because assessing writing is hard, and computers are stupid)?

And what if it turns out (and how else could it turn out) that the AI is unable to establish the kind of personal relationship with a student that is central to education, particularly the education of tiny humans?

And what, as is no doubt the case with my Top Stories on Facebook, the AI is also tasked with following someone else’s agenda, like an advertiser’s or even political leader’s?

All around us there are examples, demonstrations from the internet to the interstate of how hugely AI is not up to the task. True-believing technocrats keep insisting that any day now we will have the software that can accomplish all these magical things, and yet here I sit, still rebooting some piece of equipment in my house on an almost-daily basis because my computer and my router and my isp and various other devices are all too stupid to talk to each other consistently. My students don’t know programming or intricacies of certain software that they use, but they all know that Step #1 with a computer problem is to reboot your device because that is the one computer activity that they all practice on a very regular basis.

Maybe someday actual AI will be a Thing, and then we can have a whole other conversation about what the virtues of replacing meat-based biological intelligence with machine-based intelligence may or may not be. But we are almost there in the sense that the moon landings put us one step closer to visiting Alpha Centauri. In the meantime, beware of vendors bearing AI, because what they are selling is a stupid, swift, relentless worker who is really not up to the task.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Artificial Stupidity

Mother’s Day: Sometimes it’s not just about one’s own mother

Jeff and Betty Lou cropped

The writer pictured here with his aunt, Betty Lou Salisbury, at a family wedding outside Atlanta, GA in 1995.

Here’s to strong women in my life.

Some who were mothers.

Some who were not.

Some who mothered me.

Some who did not.

But each one taught me, willed me, genetically endowed me with what I call the three Ps of patience, persistence and perseverance.

Mary Adelaide Robinson-Hood – my maternal great-great grandmother who died in NW Michigan just weeks after giving birth to her daughter Violet. Leaving Violet to be raised by her father Dr John J Hood who a few short years later would die from pneumonia in Mancelona MI, falling ill after making a winter housecall and walking home in a snowstorm after his horse and carriage got stuck in a drift.

Violet Mignon Hood-Knudson – my maternal great grandmother who died in NW Michigan less than a year after giving birth to her daughter Gladys. Violet was raised by a stepmother, a wonderful woman, Letta Caroline Andrews-Hood from the Detroit area.

Gladys Adelaide Knudson-Harwood – not only did she break the pattern but her patient, persistent and perseverant godly Spirit lives on in me today, at least I like to believe so. Widowed in 1962 at age 61, she managed to learn to drive, earn a retail sales job in Howell Michigan never having done either in her life – never drove a vehicle – never worked outside the home and lived an independent life and opened her house for to the end of her life in 1977 to countless relatives of mine including her own children and grandchildren over those years, who need a “port in a storm” as the expression goes. Penny Bain-Salisbury were taken in by her and loved and cared for and mothered from January to June 1969. There are no words to describe her many kindnesses. A dedicated volunteer in her church and various community groups and clubs. For years and years worked in the church nursery and would bring her own cloth diapers to church where once children were dropped off, she would change each and every child’s diapers using her own cloth diapers just so she could put the “clean” ones back on before parents picked up their youngsters. Then she’d take the soiled diapers home, wash them in her old ringer-washer, hang them on the line to dry, fold and stow them away for use the next week. I doubt anyone ever noticed and certainly to no acclaim for such a small kindness until the her pastor told that whole story at her funeral service.

Lucy Bates Rowe Kyle Salisbury – my paternal grandmother who was orphaned and came to Detroit alone as a teen-ager via Canada in the early 1900s from Great Crosby, Lancashire UK (near Liverpool) along with her siblings too one by one – several sisters and one brother – enrolled in a nurses training program, met a young doctor William Kyle, who before he died way too young, was the father of her first child Molly. Affectionately called by me, Grandma Huckleberry – for a reason which escapes me – or just “Lulie” too along with most everyone else in my family. Never lost her Liverpoodlian accent and could do a rough and tumble cockney accent that mystified me as a youngster. Separated (okay abandoned) by her husband, my grandfather Charles Gibson Salisbury (a “rotter” my aunt called him) who’d forced her to “send away” little Molly when they married and either drove off, alienated or in the case of my father “stole him away” from her at age 11, nonetheless she did the best she was able to raise 5 children and lost another in childbirth.

Ardith “Ardy” Elaine Harwood-Salisbury – my own mother – who in many respects silently, quietly and silently fought emotional demons much her adult life – perhaps through childhood too – married, eloped with parental permission, my father (who was almost 22) at too young an age – just 8 weeks past her 17th birthday and only one month out of high school. But she was determined. Stubborn. Headstrong. Willful. Obstinate. Witty. Intelligent. A brilliant vocalist, pianist and even played the flute too in her youth. Loved tennis and wished she’d had the opportunity to play as an adult. Oh, and golf. Loved to watch and no doubt wished she’d been afforded the opportunity to play. Oh and a gifted writer too. I suspect she longed to go off to college but was simply too timid, shy and prone to anxiety and panic and mood swings to ever have done such at thing in 1942. My parents struggled in their relationship to be sure. They waited 6 years before I arrived in 1948. Then it was not until 1956 until my brother was born. And finally they separated for a number of years until the divorce decree arrived, dates on my mother’s birthday, May 11, 1967. But you know, my mother – with help from my incredible brother and her own mother Gladys, just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Got a retail sales job. Managed to buy her own car. Sold our home and started fresh. Albeit several times over the year – what with being one-step-forward and two-steps-backward at times – even late in life moving away from Michigan to North Carolina where she began to rebuild her life, at after the age of 60 trained as a physical therapist’s assistance and after volunteering at a retirement community received a humanitarian & volunteer of the year award from a local TV station where she lived. Ironically the retirement community actually became her final stopover so to speak for the last few years of her life until she died at age 89 in 2014.

In more recent years though I would be remiss if I did not mention the strong women in my life as well.

My wife Penny Bain-Salisbury‘s mother Carrie Ann Konopaski. As strong-willed a woman as one would ever encounter. Between Penny’s Polish/French Canadian mother and Scottish/English father it’s clearly where Penny derives her own willful nature. And I mean willful in the most positive sense. There was not an obstacle Carrie (“Ma” to me) couldn’t or wouldn’t overcome even if one might say the obstacle was partially if not wholly of her own making. She was a Pisces in terms of birth sign and they are known to either swim mildly, gently with the current or lash and flash and bash back and forth against it. But in either or any case or situation Carrie was a fighter. My imagination pictures her as a child as I have seen images of Shirley Temple in movies – stubborn, obstinate, almost defiant against all odds and forces, hands on hips, chin out, head slight tipped up and a stern expression as if to say, “Oh no you don’t world! Oh no you don’t!” I know that look. It runs in my family.

And my wife Penny Bain-Salisbury has donned the expression in any number of circumstances in her life from childhood marred by loss of her nuclear family at age 8 to myriad other obstacles in her life – personal, business, family. Nothing stops her. Nothing. Not once she’s made up her mind to the contrary. Fiercely loyal to family since as she says, “…at the end of the day, you may gain and lose friendships throughout your life, but your family is always going to be your family. They come first!”

Which brings me to my daughter Shelly Salisbury Whitley and my daughter-in-law Jill Buchanan Salisbury (whose own mother Judy Buchanan is a marvelous wife, mother and retired healthcare professional as is my daughter’s mother in-law Nancy Reed Whitley ) — so I would be utterly remiss if I didn’t mention how each of their mothers, Shelly and Jill’s, were so devoted and so dedicated and so determined that these two women become the best helpmates and partners and parents and persons they could be in their own lives. And they are and their children, my grandchildren are simply blessed – truth be told I am envious – to be in their loving care and instruction and guidance.

My own sister too, Jenny Salisbury Norvey I know by all accounts to be a devoted and dedicated mother to her two children and they are just as blessed to have her in their iives as is their father Larry.

Finally I’ll touch on – last but not least – the woman who while not being a mother herself – never gave birth to her own children – never even married – but who touched my life in so many ways as most mothers do – the best ones anyway – – my dear sweet Aunt Betty Lou Salisbury (pictured above with me a number of years ago) – a constant and present (especially the final years of her life when she came to Wayland to live) force in my life – she mothered me even when I didn’t realize I needed mothering. I miss her every single day. And she was then and remains now the most remarkable woman I’ve ever known. Devoted daughter who lived with and cared for Lulie all her adult life – “Rosie the Riveter” during WWII at the Willow Run bomber plant – music store manager – vocalist – model – world traveler – Newspaper Guild labor leader at the Detroit Times at a time when women rarely got so involved especially at the bargaining table – later worked at the NY Times’ in the business office – travel agent for Northwest Airlines for many years – visited every state in the US and numerous foreign countries – made friends literally all over the world – her holiday and birthday card list was a mile long. And she extended remarkable kindnesses to others without any expectation of a favor being returned almost literally to the end of her days.
One story  I will share in closing — not long before she died she longed to be able to return to NYC one last time to visit some of her favorite cafes and restaurants. One evening she was feeling especially melancholy and called up one in particular. She asked for a maitre’d she’d known who as it turned out was working even though it had been many years since she’d been there. She asked him all sorts of questions about how he was doing. How business was. And on and on. Then before she hung up she asked, “Who’s there tonight? I’d like to buy someone’s dinner. Look around for me. Do you see a person alone or a couple perhaps? I want to buy someone’s dinner. Really I do.”
He put down the phone and when he came back he replied that yes, in fact, there was a rather young couple who didn’t seem to quite fit the normal clientele. They might do, he explained. All right, Betty Lou said, I’ll buy their dinner. Take down my credit card information. But you’re not to tell them.

And he agreed.
She thought.

“Guess what Jeffrey?”
Weeks later Betty told me received a lovely card and note which she let me read, from a young lady who on behalf of herself and her husband were the recipients of Betty Lou’s kindness and she expressed in glowing remarks how much it meant to them as they were really splurging and the restaurant was not someplace they would normally dine.

Strong willed women. Each and everyone.
Their children and friends and family members and other loved ones were fortunate to come to know them one and all.

And I am the better person for sharing their gene pool and being in their lives. I am what I am because of each of them bestowing in some way shape or form the three Pillars of my life… Patience – Persistence – Perseverance.

Happy Mother’s Day to one and all of them and to you and your mothers too because sometime Mother’s Day is not just about one’s own mother.


The “Other” Photo Illustrator – Tonnesen’s Contemporary, L. Goddard

[Update: 12/6/2012: The portrait at right is of Leonora Woolfenden. It belonged to the late Betty Lou Salisbury, daughter of Woolfenden’s first cousin, Lucy Bate Rowe Salisbury, whose granddaughter, Elissa Ball Hamlin, found it this week among the family heirlooms. She photographed it and emailed the image to her cousin, Jeff Salisbury, who forwarded it to me. At some point, Betty Lou Salisbury added important identifying information to the back of the portrait. What she wrote further confirms that the woman who began life as Nora Hudson became Leonora Woolfenden, known both for her work at the James Arthur Studio in Detroit and as the woman behind the acclaimed illustration art pseudonym “L. Goddard.” Salisbury’s message, so helpful to today’s collectors, states: “Nora Hudson Goddard Wolfenden; Chosen one of the ten most Beautiful Women in the world – Photographic Convention- Paris 1910 (I think). James Arthur – PhotographerDetroit and ‘friend’.” Many thanks to Elissa Ball Hamlin and Jeff Salisbury for providing this image and its accompanying information!

The prints signed L. Goddard are probably the best known examples of the technique of photo illustration produced during the Golden Age of Illustration, about 1900-1940. In fact, it was because I was familiar with L. Goddard’s art, reportedly a collaboration between Detroit-based photographer Leonora Woolfenden (1877 – 1955) and Chicago-based artist Rudolph Ingerle (1879 – 1950), that I first began to wonder if some works by artist R. Atkinson Fox (1860 – 1935) might have resulted from a similar collaboration with photographer Beatrice Tonnesen.

[slidepress gallery=’goddard’]

Of course, since then, we’ve learned that, not only did Fox sometimes paint from Tonnesen’s photos, Tonnesen, herself, sometimes painted from them. And so, over the years, I’ve found myself wondering to what extent the same was true of Woolfenden. An advertising blurb found on one 1920’s calendar does indicate that she sometimes painted from her photographs, but it is unclear as to which works she painted or what signature she used. Collectors have been frustrated by a lack of information about how and where she worked, as well as about her personal life. Though Rudolph Ingerle’s life and career as a Chicago- based landscape artist was well-documented, little was known about Woolfenden, except that she worked with the James Arthur Studio in Detroit for decades, becoming instrumental in its continued success following the death of James Arthur in 1912.

Awhile ago, I spied a Tonnesen model in a print by Goddard and it re-awakened my curiosity about Leonora Woolfenden. Did the model commute between Detroit and Chicago, I wondered? Did Woolfenden? So, over the past year, I’ve been trying to track Woolfenden on and other online archives. To make a very long search into a (relatively) short story, here are the highlights of what I found: (Note the many variations on her first and last names which complicate matters!)

In the 1900 US Census, Lenore Goddard , born November 4, 1877, can be found living with her widowed mother, Mary Jane, age 46, and her brother Walter, age 11, in Detroit. Lenore listed her occupation as “artist.” A 1901 city directory indicates her employer was “James Arthur.” (The spelling of “Lenore” is my best guess after viewing the original record. It might also say “Lenor” or “Lenora.”)

The 1910 US Census finds Lenora married to George R. Wolfenden and living in Detroit. She lists her occupation as “artist” employed by “photographer,” and states she was born in England.

The 1920 census lists her as Leanore G. Woolfenden, still living in Detroit, but divorced from George. Her occupation is listed as “Commercial Artist.” Interestingly, she lists her age as “40.” The 1920 Detroit City Directory lists her as Mrs. Eleanora G. Woolfenden, department manager at the Arthur Studio.

By 1930, again as indicated by the census, she had moved to Highland Park, Michigan. She is listed as Leonora G. Woolfenden, age 52. She lists her occupation as “Artist” and states she came to the US from England in 1887.

The 1940 US Census finds her living in Chicago! She is listed as Lenora Woolfenden, a 62-year-old divorcee, born in England. Her occupation is listed as “saleslady” and her field as “cosmetic wholesale manufacturers.” Woolfenden is listed as the head of household, living with her “partner”, Irene Shaw,” age 30, a “retail mail order buyer.” Respondents in the 1940 census were asked to state where they lived in 1935. She replied that she had been at the same address in Chicago. So, we now know that she left the Detroit area for Chicago sometime between 1930 and 1935.

With the discovery of Woolfenden’s apparent retirement from the field of art, the only thing left, I thought, was to determine her date and place of death. But that’s where things got interesting! I found a California death record for Leonora H. Woolfenden, who died April 25, 1955. The record states she was born November 4, 1877 in a country other than the US. Her mother’s maiden name was Watkins and her dad’s surname was Hudson! Throughout my research, her mother’s maiden name had been listed as either Watkin or Watkins, and Woolfenden’s birth date was consistent. So, this had to be the right Leonora Woolfenden. But where did this “Hudson” person come in? And, if Woofenden’s maiden name was Hudson, where did Goddard come in?

Enter Jeffrey and Penny Salisbury and their family tree on! Using the Hudson name in my searches, I located a birth record in England. A “Nora Florence Weate Hudson” was born in Aston, Lancashire England to Mary Jane Watkin and John Hudson on November 4, 1877. Using that information, I found the Salisbury’s family tree. Nora Hudson was listed, and her parents were listed as Mary Jane and Richard Goddard!

Since then, I’ve talked and emailed with Jeff Salisbury. He confirmed that family lore has it that Nora became a successful artist in Detroit. That pretty much confirmed, for me, that Nora Hudson and the Leonora Woolfenden of L. Goddard fame were one and the same. It seems that, shortly after Nora’s birth, her mother left for the United States, leaving Nora with her maternal grandmother. What became of her father is not known, but Nora’s mother eventually married Richard Goddard, brought Nora to the US, and settled in the Detroit area. Nora, at some point, apparently, became Leonora – the name does turn up in family documents – although details of the change are not known. Nor did the family know of Leonora’s marriage to George Woolfenden, or of her work as L. Goddard.

Jeff has incorporated this new information into his family tree, and has shared some family stories with me, for which I am very grateful. Here’s an account of one family member’s recollections of “Nora.”

“I remember Nora driving up to our house on 13th Street in Detroit in a big chauffeured car – bringing us Christmas presents…We had a dog named Jack – wire hair terrier. Nora had Gladys bring Jack and she took pictures for advertising purposes…At the time Nora worked for the Arthur Studios in Detroit.”

L. Goddard produced beautiful art prints for calendars and other items of home décor from roughly the 1910s through the mid-1930s. Goddard’s subjects, like Tonnesen’s, included happy families, beautiful flappers, and Indian maidens. In addition, Goddard produced images of exotic Egyptian scenes, and pirates and gypsies. The slideshow at upper right shows a small sampling of Goddard’s work.

© 2012 Lois Emerson

CURMUDGUCATION: Progressive: The Trouble with Ranking Schools

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Progressive: The Trouble with Ranking Schools

For a while now I’ve been a “Progressive Fellow in Education” (which is different from being, say, a charming fellow in the low brass section) and I write regularly for them as part of a group of twelve education writers. If you aren’t reading the Fellows regularly, you should be.

Anyway, I’m going to try to entice you over there by offering the lead to my latest piece, because I think it’s important that we all keep our heads on straight every time some new List of Schools comes out. So here we go–

Every time U.S. News and World Report issues its Best High School Rankings Index, I think of basketball. Here’s why. If you look at the CBS Sports list of top-ranking high school basketball teamsin Pennsylvania, of the top twelve ranking programs only one is a public school. The rest include charter schools, Catholic schools, one private academy, and a Quaker boarding school.

I see two possible explanations for the lack of public schools: either those private schools know some important secrets about coaching basketball, or they benefit from being able to recruit and select the best players for their teams. I’m betting it’s the latter.
So when U.S. News announces that charters are marching up the rankings list, it’s pretty important to take a peek at just how those schools are assessed.

The selection method is a curious one, based on a series of hurdles. First, the school must show that it performed “better than expected” on the Big Standardized Test for its state (e.g. PARCC or SBA). “Better than expected” is based on a statistical model developed to look at genetic trends in cattle. I kid you not. It compares actual test results with an ideal alternative universe. If the real universe student does better than what the model predicts, the model assumes that’s because the teacher and school did something right.The technique has been criticized by statisticians and educators alike, but it remains the first hurdle that a U.S. News Super School must jump. (There is one loophole—all schools that score in the top 10 percent for their state automatically qualify, whether they beat expectations or not.)

You can read the rest of the article here…

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Progressive: The Trouble with Ranking Schools