Tuesday, December 08, 2009

DPS: Worst Test Scores Ever

The Detroit Public Schools posted the worst scores on record in the most recent test of students in large central U.S. cities.  The test for urban districts is part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test given to school districts nationwide.

Please allow me to repeat this so that it truly sinks in: the Detroit Public Schools posted worst scores on record.

This is nothing, if not frustrating.  Unfortunately, however, I have to admit that I was not surprised when I heard this news.

Over the years, I have heard teachers demand that they should receive some of the highest pay and benefits in the nation while insisting that they have absolutely no responsibility for how their students perform.

Over the years, I have heard parents talk about their children's school as if it were a daycare center rather than one of the most important places that they will ever enter.

Over the years, I have heard students talk about the Detroit Public Schools as if it were either a social event or simply a place to hide at.

The news that the Detroit Public Schools posted the worst test schools on record is frustrating, but not surprising.  The full magnitude of this can be summarized by a quote from Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council on Great City Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of urban school districts.

There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such low numbers.  They are barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers.

The news that the Detroit Public Schools posted the worst test schools on record is frustrating, but not surprising.  For anyone who is interested in reading more about this story, it is available at Crain's Detroit Business.


  1. Frank, I work in an urban school district. (OKC Schools) Admittedly, we don't have nearly as severe problems as DPS, but there are similarities. I am a school nurse rather than a teacher, so I am kind of on the outside looking in.

    My observation is this: just like any other workplace there are some bad apples. For the most part, though, the teachers I see are extremely dedicated, very hard working, and very discouraged that they can't do more to help their pupils. Their creative arms have been tied however, by limiting them to teaching one type of program, no exceptions. They are forced to "teach to the test" rather than teach the students to become independent thinkers who are able to figure out problems on their own.

    Combined with parents who, for example, don't even care enough to show up for conferences, prevents students from learning or caring to achieve.

    I wish the people in power could spend some time teaching in the schools to see what is really happening. It may enable them to make the changes that are needed to enable some improvement in the system.

    Just my humble opinion! :-)


  2. Hey Stella,

    Thanks for chiming in. I love the feedback.

    The DPS case, in my opinion, is unique because it wasn't merely a case of low test scores. This is the lowest scores in the almost 40 year history of this test. That's big.

    Lots of public schools have issues, but DPS has them on a whole new level. In my opinion, it just shows the shear magnitude of the problem.

    Thanks for commenting,