HB 1055

To: Members of the House Education and Labor Committees, Senate Education Committee
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: HB 1055, SB1282

Please DO NOT support HB 1055 (SB 1282) (repealing the administration of a norm-referenced test).

The text of the bill includes:
"SECTION 1. The recent implementation of the common core
2 state standards initiative led by the National Governors
3 Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief
4 State School Officers, has resulted in a set of common core
S state standards in English language arts and mathematics that
6 have been developed by teachers, school administrators, and
7 experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare
8 students for college and the workforce. These standards define
9 the knowledge and skills students should possess within their K-
10 12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able
11 to succeed in entry—level, credit-bearing academic college
12 courses and in workforce training programs. Therefore, the
13 administration of nationally norm—referenced tests is no longer
14 necessary."

Note how much this resembles what DOE administrators said about the Final Report of the Hawaii State Commission on Performance Standards (the Blue Book), which the PREL compiled at a cost of over $250,000, and the DOE abandoned after four years, after floundering and failing to develop practical tests based on unnecessary or vague or contradictory "standards".

The Bill further says:
(Page 1)
18 The board of education has adopted the common core state
(Page 2)
1 standards and Hawaii is a governing member of the SMARTER
2 Balanced Assessment Consortium that will be developing and
3 implementing a summative assessment
in grades 3 through 8 and
4 high school in English language arts and mathematics that will
5 provide comparable achievement standards
across all of the
6 states that are members of the Consortium.

As the bill indicates, the alternative assessment does not yet exist.

The Hawaii DOE operates one of the worst school systems in the US, as measured by standardized tests. For years, DOE officials told the people of Hawaii that Hawaii students scored "above average" on Math. In 1990 Hawaii schools participated in the NAEP and we learned that DOE instruction generated a level of performance that put Hawaii in the national cellar. Standardized assessment is to system administrators and Professors of Education what sunlight is to vampires. Please do not eliminate one of the few means by which taxpayers and parents may assess DOE performance.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

To: House Education and Labor Committee members
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re HB 1540

Please DO NOT support HB 1540 (lowering the time uncertified teachers may work in the DOE).
The "standards" advanced by the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board have no relation to teacher or student performance. The Teacher Standards Board requires College of Education credentials. College of Education credits add nothing to teacher performance. Please read Robert Holland's Policy Review article "How to Build a Better Teacher".

In the 1990 Brookings Institute study of school performance (Chubb and Moe, Politics, Markets, and America's Schools), the authors found that the strongest predictor of school performance, after parent SES, was a composite variable the authors called "the degree of institutional autonomy". That is, the more people above the principal telling the principal how to do her job, the worse a school performed. One key element of control the authors recommend that authorities give to principals is the power of a principal to choose her team. For this reason, they opposed policies which limit teacher employment to College of Education graduates, which current Teacher Standards Board standards require.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

To: Senate Education Committee
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: SB 810

The text asserts:...
(page 2)
6 ......According to the Georgetown
7 University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2018
8 sixty-five per cent of Hawaii's jobs will require postsecondary
9 education and training beyond high school. Despite these
10 trends, Hawaii ranks forty-first in the nation in the percentage
11 of recent high school graduates who attend college. Even among
12 Hawaii's students who do go on to attend college, many are
13 academically unprepared and require remediation.

Against this, please consider:...

"The Great College Degree scam"
First, the push to increase the number of college graduates seems horribly misguided from a strict economic/vocational perspective. It is precisely that perspective that is emphasized by those, starting with President Obama, who insist that we need to have more college graduates.

Second, the data suggest a horrible decline in the productivity of American education in that the “inputs” used to achieve any given human capital (occupational) outcome have expanded enormously. More simply, it takes 18 years of schooling (including kindergarten and the typical fifth year of college to get a bachelor’s degree) for persons to get an education to do jobs that a generation or two ago people did with 12-13 years of education (graduating more often from college in four years and sometimes skipping kindergarten).

Third, a sharp rise in the dependency ratio—those too old or too young to work relative to the work age population is coming because of the aging of the American population. This means we need to increase employment participation in younger ages (e.g., 18 to 23) where participation is low today because of the rising college participation rate. The falling productivity of American education is aggravating a serious problem—a shortage of workers to sustain a growing population of those unable to care for themselves.

Fourth, all of this supports the notion that credential inflation arises from a perceived need by individuals to demonstrate potential employment competence through a piece of paper, i.e. a college diploma. Employers are using education as a screening and signaling device, at a low cost directly to them (although not costless because of the taxes they pay to sustain much of this), but at a high cost to the prospective employees and to society as a whole.

Fifth, this shows that the current problem of college student employability is not a new, and merely temporary, problem.

Lastly, I am saddened that this is happening. Many of those advocating more access are well meaning and have pure motives, but they are ignorant of the evidence. But higher education is all about facts, knowledge—learning how the world works and disseminating that information to others. Some in higher education KNOW about all of this and are keeping quiet about it because of their own self-interest. We are deceiving our young population to mindlessly pursue college degrees when very often that is advice that is increasingly questionable.
"From Wall Street to Wal-Mart: The Great College Degree Scam"

Executive Summary
Colleges and universities are turning out graduates faster than America’s labor markets are creating jobs that traditionally have been reserved for those with degrees. More than one-third of current working graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, and the proportion appears to be rising rapidly. Many of them are better described as "underemployed" rather than "gainfully employed." Indeed, 60 percent of the increased college graduate population between 1992 and 2008 ended up in these lower skill jobs, raising real questions about the desirability of pushing to increase the proportion of Americans attending and graduating from four year colleges and universities. This, along with other evidence on the negative relationship between government higher education spending and economic growth, suggests we may have significantly "over invested" public funds in colleges and universities.
Please also read Ivar Berg, Education and Jobs; The Great Training Robbery.

It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute. State (government, generally) provision of History, Civics, and Economics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers and broadcast new media would be. Most of the world's work is grunt work and most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom.

Please do not support this bill.

Update. I was late, due to an appointment with the vet, and delivered the testimony to the Senate hearing after the committee's decisionmaking. I presented the testimony on HB 1540. As recently as three years ago I would have rescheduled the vet appointment, but since legislators pay no attention to what I say, my cats have a higher priority than the lives of 170,000 children.
Update. Added link to Holland's Policy Review article. Added link to Brookings study by Chubb and Moe (1990).

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