David Safier 
Member since Apr 11, 2011


Recent Comments

Re: “They've Improved The State's School Grading System. Now It Tells Us Even Less Than It Used To.

John, it's a rare pleasure to find us agreeing both in our analysis of the grading system and our conclusion that it is flawed. I acknowledge you were trying to make the system more equitable, something I advocated for. I think the failures of the system which you acknowledge indicate that it cannot be "fixed." State grades, in my opinion, are a bad idea. We seem to agree on that.

I would say the same thing about high stakes tests, and have frequently. They have caused more harm than good, and I cannot imagine a way to fix their flaws. We could learn as much from standardized tests without the "high stakes" component administered, say, once in elementary, middle school and high school, as a general way to assess how students are doing in their basic math and reading skills. It could be something like a statewide version of the NAEP test, which could be given to either a sampling of students or to every student in certain grades. I'm not sure I like that alternative, but it certainly beats the system we have now.

Thanks for the redo of your table. I understand it now. It will be interesting to see how those numbers change. I would bet good money that the growth at Ochoa and Holladay will stall or reverse over the next few years. I think both Gale and Sam Hughes will go back up to where they were unless their student populations have shifted to include more struggling students.

11 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by David Safier on 11/23/2019 at 10:19 AM

Re: “They've Improved The State's School Grading System. Now It Tells Us Even Less Than It Used To.

John, I'm sure you understand everything in your two comments. I have to admit, I don't. Which tells me, a wonk who is deep into the state grade process, like yourself, can glean a great deal of information from the grades. But that's not the purpose of the A-F system. It's to give regular folks a way to see how schools are doing without having to understand all the data. Most people will see the B grades earned by the four schools I discussed and imagine the student achievement at the schools is more-or-less the same. Obviously that's not true.

I have a related question. If Ochoa and Holladay slip a few percentage points in their passing rates next year, I expect they'll both drop to a C. I'd say that's likely for both schools -- if not next year, then in the years following. A big jump like theirs is likely to be balanced out with at least a slight dip in later years. And yet, for all intents and purposes, their students will be at close to the same level of achievement. People will say, "Looks like those schools aren't as good as they were the year before," even though the change related to the quality of teaching and student achievement as measured on AZMerit hasn't changed significantly.

Neither the high stakes tests nor the state grades have fulfilled their stated purpose, yet they cost the state a great deal of money, and they cost our teachers and students a great deal of time, effort and stress. Put the tests and state grades to a cost-benefit analysis, and both have costs far higher than their benefits.

11 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 11/22/2019 at 3:29 PM

Re: “Wilmington, Tulsa, Orangeburg And The Blackout of Black History

Jack Bass. Thank you for your comment. I'm a member of the Museum of African-American history. Though my yearly dues don't give me any cache, I certainly will write to the museum and see if I can find more information about why the Orangeburg Massacre isn't included in any of the exhibits.

For readers of these comments: I looked up reviews of Mr. Bass's book and see it was reviewed favorably at the time of publication in the likes of the Kirkus Review and the New York Times.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by David Safier on 11/11/2019 at 9:27 PM

Re: “The Koch Network's New K-12 Pose: "Let's All Be Friends!"

A few comments.

To clarify what Elizabeth Warren has proposed: She wants to eliminate the federal grants for expanding charter schools. She advocates for quadrupling Title 1 funds for schools with lots of low income students. That includes charter schools. She also wants to get rid of for-profit charters and management organizations which run some charters. None of this will end charter schools, especially since federal money only accounts for about 10 percent of K-12 funding.

As for Libertarians and education, the first thing that must be said is all Libertarians are not alike, just like all progressives and conservatives are not alike. But the Koch brand of Libertarianism has been for charters and vouchers to act as a transition to a time when no public money goes into K-12 education. Whether anyone in the Koch Network would say that today, that's the position underlying their ideas about K-12 education.

27 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 10/24/2019 at 2:45 PM

Re: “Democrat Kathy Hoffman Is Arizona Republicans' Enemy Number One

A note to "Q.E.D., again": I don't agree with you on most occasions, and I wish you would settle on a handle so it's clear who is commenting. On the other hand, anyone who got my John Milton reference and could link it to Cromwell and the Puritans is at least a little all right in my book. However, in response, if I felt I had to agree with the politics or religious leanings of every writer, artist and musician I admire, I would be in serious trouble. Milton's sonnet stands on its own merits.

9 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 10/21/2019 at 1:26 PM

Re: “The Star Gets It Right About Pima County Standardized Test Scores

Debbie T, could children in various areas of Tucson take a bus directly to a school in the Foothills or another neighboring district? I doubt it could be done easily. It's really dependent on parents having the desire, the transportation and the time to ferry their kids to another district. All those, and the knowledge that children can go to out of district schools (not everyone knows that), favor parents with a high level of education and a good income.

37 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 10/10/2019 at 1:16 PM

Re: “The Star Gets It Right About Pima County Standardized Test Scores

Don Betson, you might consider giving my post another read-through. What you way in your second paragraph is the point I made in the post. We agree.

37 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 10/09/2019 at 3:51 PM

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