Rauner Joins in the Sham

Thanks to a heads up–Bruce Rauner gets in the sham on CPS teacher ACT Scores


I have sat in a CPS math class and watched division being taught incorrectly. I have seen the standardized test scores of CPS teachers that indicate many of them aren’t even capable of scoring 21 on the ACT, the absolute minimum score needed to be ready for college. How can we believe that these teachers can prepare our children for success?


What Rauner leaves out is that the highest average ACT score in the report I cited below is for Non-Chicago inexperienced teachers who had a mean ACT score of just over 22.   ACT argues that around 21 (they don’t say that exactly so Rauner is talking outside of any expertise he thinks he has on the subject) is what a student needs to be predicted to do well in college.  That’s generally true, but to give you a sense, Illinois State (a large producer of teachers in Illinois) has a 24 mean ACT score and 22 is the 25th percentile for students on the composite.  That means 1/4 of the students get 22 or below and still attend ISU.  Disproportionately those students have a tougher time, but they do succeed in fairly high numbers as well.  The ACT and SAT are not measures of intelligence or ability.  They are measures of knowledge that is likely to make you more successful in college.  They are predictors of your performance in college and reasonably good ones.  However, they are not the only predictors nor or they a measure of innate ability.  What you want to know about a teacher isn’t how well they are prepared for college–you want to know how well college prepared them for teaching.

Of course, if we want to make teaching more attractive to those with higher ACTs there’s a simple way to do so.  Increase pay and improve working conditions. 


Rauner then offers his ways to improve education in the city:

1) Expand Teach for America in Chicago, where we are able to recruit the nation’s best and brightest to the teaching profession here.

Currently they make up less than 5 percent if I recall correctly. Even if you increase this the pool is limited. If you want to improve the pipeline of teachers, you need elite institutions to produce more and better teachers in their teacher education programs.  Teach for America is okay, but not sufficient.


2) Increase the number of campuses run by charter school organizations that have proven their ability to provide children a great education: Noble, Chicago International Charter School, UNO, KIPP and Learn Charter Schools.


Of coruse, this makes no sense based on Rauner’s fetish for standardized test scores.  The charters don’t perform much better though there is some evidence there may be higher graduation rates which is probably more a function of parental effort than anything else.

3) Recruit the best, proven, most innovative charter and school management organizations from around the country to come to Chicago and open campuses here.

Again, what’s the purpose of this?  There doesn’t appear to be much of an improvement in performance.

4) Install a rigorous new school accountability system of consistent, frequent, objective testing in every grade so parents can effectively compare schools and judge which ones are preparing students for long-term success.

Standardized testing tells more about the students’ living conditions than the educational quality of instruction.  The District’s adoption of Danielson Framework is a good step towards a more uniform evaluation of teachers, but standardized testing is very limited in evaluating a teacher or school’s teaching quality.  Current systems tend to look at student averages class or building wide and not at individual performance changes.  For over 15 years we have known such use of standardized tests is not reliable from year to year due to natural variance in classes.  Students are not randomly assigned and so the data are far harder to analyze than simply through averaging or analysis on averages.  Beyond this, especially in elementary grades, the sample size per year is simply too small for an effective sample. 

5) Enable parents to select among the best schools by changing the way CPS financial resources are spent, not parsing it to schools directly but instead allocating funds directly to students so their parents can use that money to choose the right school for their child. By breaking up the CPS monopoly, we can dramatically improve our schools and provide a quality education for every child in Chicago.


The problem is that we have charters already and they are showing little promise and this assumes involved parents which is one of the core problems in the first place. 

There’s little evidence that competition improves school in the sense of a market.  The problems with education are solved by some magic elixir of market unicorn dust that makes poverty and despair go away.  The United States performs better than every other country on international testing when compared to countries with poverty levels similar to a school district’s poverty level.  The problem is we can only really compare ourselves to Mexico in terms of high poverty districts.