Juking* the stats: Maryland educrats reduce suspensions . . . and probably make schools more dangerous

Liz Bowie, education reporter for the Sun wrote two weeks ago:
I thought I would leave this good news item for everyone . . . school suspensions [in Maryland have] dropped significantly . . . by 12 percent from the prior year and fell to the lowest point in more than a decade
Unfortunately, Ms. Bowie buried the lede:

school superintendents, such as Andres Alonso in the city, have simply ordered principals to lower suspensions for certain offenses. School systems have stopped suspending students for being truant, for instance.

She should have put scare quotes around the word "trend" in her headline. Redefining criteria for suspensions does not signify a change in student behavior. If this story reveals any trend, it is a rise in the credulousness of Sun paper reporters.

The story also hints at another likely trend: Maryland schools are probably becoming more dangerous because of stat-juking educrats trying to make their suspension statistics look "good".

UPDATE: Ordinary parents and teachers don't seem to be fooled. Here are reader reactions from the first four comments to Bowie's post:
Do any of these agencies expect anyone to accept these statistics at face value?

Actually, what I have noticed in Harford County is that children are not getting reprimanded for things that should be.. Like young boys assaulting young girls both verbally and physically and nothing being done about it.

I've seen some administrators take offenses that are hand book - suspension offenses and provide a slap on the wrist, even when the child has a series of such bad behaviors.

Does anybody believe this crap? Suspensions are down because principals and asst principals are under intense scrutiny and suspension stats happen to be a HUGE topic of discussion during evaluation conferences.
*Cedric Daniels, the virtuous police officer from "The Wire", puts the term in context.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog has been posted at Education headlines Examiner http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-673-Education-Headlines-Examiner~y2010m1d19-Carnival-of-Educators-Frowns-and-funnies