Lower Merion School District Spends; Places 8th falling 7th

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bobguzzardi's picture
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Looking away, Lower Merion may not be the vaunted education engine many seem to think justify spending more than almost any of the other 503 school districts and, like so much else in Lower Merion, expenditures have not resulted in the promised performance. Generally, it is thought that parental engagement in a child's education and quality of teachers are the two most important factors in education performance. Construction does not even seem to get to the radar screen.

Lower Merion School District does not publish other performance standards such as Advanced Placement statististics, college acceptance statistices or similar data that I am aware of. If that data is published, please let me know.

  Conestoga High School        Source website

Bragging Rights: PSSA Results Rank Tredyffrin Easttown School District Third in the State Posted on April 14th, 2012  by Pattye Benson

In the Top 15 school districts category in Pennsylvania, Allegheny County was the number one county with six school districts represented followed by Chester County with three school districts (Unionville-Chadds Ford, T/E and Great Valley), Delaware County with two school districts (Radnor and Wallingford-Swarthmore) and Montgomery County with two school districts (Lower Merion and Lower Moreland).

For 2012 rankings, Upper St. Clair School Districts holds onto its first place title for the eighth year in a row, with Tredyffrin Easttown Township School District dropping to third place and Unionville-Chadds Ford School District taking second place. Radnor Township School District stays in fourth place, Lower Merion drops down a level to eighth and Great Valley School District drops from 13th to 14th place.

READ MORE Community Matters April 14th 2012

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dmuth's picture
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thanks  Performance has not improved in fifteen  years and yet costs have dramatically increased.

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I hate these rankings.  The PSSA is a terrible test and our kids spend way too much time prepping for it.  One of my kids flips back and forth, season to season, between the 23rd percentile and the 95th percentile - on the same test!  Such a waste.  My dream is that the LMSD decides to take a stand and say no to these tests.  Just do what is right for the kids.  So much of our money comes from local taxes, we could definately afford to go rougue and loose federal funding (maybe not state funding??). 

Some good news: I recently watched the State Technology Students Association championships and saw the WV middle school totally crush the other teams.  They are a powerhouse. 

 

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How would you measure student learning performance?

 

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Southeastern Pennsylvania's best school districts based on PSSA test scores.

The BusinessJournal/Business Times’ formula took into account three years of scores in the various subject areas.

To see a slideshow on how each Philadelphia-area district ranks, click here.(62 photos)

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re testing: Check out this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

It is about Finnish schools, and their success is based on international test results.  Here is the part about testing:  

Sahlberg knows what Americans like to talk about when it comes to education, because he's become their go-to guy in Finland. The son of two teachers, he grew up in a Finnish school. He taught mathematics and physics in a junior high school in Helsinki, worked his way through a variety of positions in the Finnish Ministry of Education, and spent years as an education expert at the OECD, the World Bank, and other international organizations.

Now, in addition to his other duties, Sahlberg hosts about a hundred visits a year by foreign educators, including many Americans, who want to know the secret of Finland's success. Sahlberg's new book is partly an attempt to help answer the questions he always gets asked.

From his point of view, Americans are consistently obsessed with certain questions: How can you keep track of students' performance if you don't test them constantly? How can you improve teaching if you have no accountability for bad teachers or merit pay for good teachers? How do you foster competition and engage the private sector? How do you provide school choice?

The answers Finland provides seem to run counter to just about everything America's school reformers are trying to do.

For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.

Instead, the public school system's teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.

As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. "There's no word for accountability in Finnish," he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. "Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted."

But here is my favorite part:

Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.

I cant see the US ever getting to that mentality.

 

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Finland’s highly developed teacher preparation program is the centerpiece of its school reform strategy. Only eight universities are permitted to prepare teachers, and admission to these elite teacher education programs is highly competitive: only one of every ten applicants is accepted. There are no alternative ways to earn a teaching license. Those who are accepted have already taken required high school courses in physics, chemistry, philosophy, music, and at least two foreign languages. Future teachers have a strong academic education for three years, then enter a two-year master’s degree program. Subject-matter teachers earn their master’s degree from the university’s academic departments, not—in contrast to the US—the department of teacher education, or in special schools for teacher education. Every candidate prepares to teach all kinds of students, including students with disabilities and other special needs. Every teacher must complete an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in education.

Because entry into teaching is difficult and the training is rigorous, teaching is a respected and prestigious profession in Finland. So selective and demanding is the process that virtually every teacher is well prepared. Sahlberg writes that teachers enter the profession with a sense of moral mission and the only reasons they might leave would be “if they were to lose their professional autonomy” or if “a merit-based compensation policy [tied to test scores] were imposed.” Meanwhile, the United States is now doing to its teachers what Finnish teachers would find professionally reprehensible: judging their worth by the test scores of their students.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/08/schools-we-can-envy/?pagination=false

This is from the first part of a two-part series in the New York Review of Books by Diane Ravitch.  Both articles are worth reading.    We live in a culture that doesn't put much value on education and the result is schools that are more like prisons, where a child's natural curiosity is snuffed out at an early age and teaching as a profession is greatly devalued.     

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Agreed with Mo and Hugh.

I have posted about lower test scores in LM compared to Radnor and Conestoga only because people have been conditioned into checking them out when looking for a new home/neighborhood.

Given my own underwhelming SAT scores, I dreaded standardized tests. I would have been much better off in a system like Finland as opposed to one that focused so much on testing - and no doubt the testing works against those in school district with fewer resources.

What I really like about what Finland is doing is focusing on equal opportunity.

As long as public schools are funded by local property taxes, there will never be equal opportunity as schools in poor municipalities can't keep up.

The only answer is to collect property taxes on a state level and divvy them out to school districts across the state on an equal level.

No doubt this is how a small country like Finland does it, and there is no reason states can't do this - and then you can address teaching and testing methods.

However, what are the odds of residents of wealthy schools districts agreeing to have fewer tax dollars for their school districts so those in poorer areas can offer an equal education?

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Are Lower Merion's teachers as well prepared as Finland's teachers?

Are Finland's teachers as well paid as Lower Merion's teachers?

Do Finland's schools cost as much as Lower Merion School District?

Let us see what we can find.

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Are Lower Merion's teachers as well prepared as Finland's teachers?

Are Finland's teachers as well paid as Lower Merion's teachers?

Do Finland's schools cost as much as Lower Merion School District?

Oh, what a good idea. For real, let's do it. Bob G, are you prepared to accept whatever the results tell us? Or is your opinion pre-formed (presumably that Lower Merion teachers make too much), and unswayable by facts?

 

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If I knew the answer, I wouldn't ask the question.

 

 

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Finland spends far less per student than Lower Merion Pennsylvania spends $26,000,000 tax payer dollars a year on the government K-12 schools alone.

  "After all this hard work, the rewards are generous, but not necessarily financially so. Teachers earn a generous $45 to $50 per hour for elementary school, $75 to $80 for secondary school. Yet some far lower-performing nations such as Spain and Germany pay teachers more. Instead, Finnish teachers enjoy immense independence. Allowed to design their own lesson plans and choose their own textbooks (following loose national guidelines), Finnish teachers regard their work as creative and self-expressive."  READ MORE  The Finnish Miracle  HankPellisier and Here The Finnish Model 2008 Bassett

Pennsylvania More Spending More Staff Fewer Students ...and performance by any measure, not any better, is it?There are those who think if more spending were focused in the classroom, even increasing teacher salaries, the performance would be better. Oddly, many teachers opt to teach in nonunion schools even when pay is less. KIPP schools allow nontraditional accreditation and the results are as good if not better than traditional government run bureaucratic monopoly. Finland seems to have avoided the stultification of bureaucratic and union monopoly control.

                     2000           2009              Change

Enrollment    1,814,311   1,787,351      -26,960

Total Staff     231,770      264,697          32,927    Link to Source

 Finland's population is about 5.5 million and 600.000 students and Pennsylvania's population 12, 742, 866 approximately

 

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I strongly agree that these ratings leave a whole lot to be desired. They have turned into an all-out arms race, especially for affluent school districts. And this is all fueled mainly and directly by the parents.

I am not against offering a super-high quality education, for reasons that can be debated elsewhere.  However, the incremental costs of moving into, or staying in the top 1% or the top ten schools in the entire state, are those costs really worth it?  Is a kid's future really going to suffer in any tangible way if the school is in the top 20 as opposed to top 10, or the top 10% as opposed to the top 1%. No, in my opinion.

On a related topic, if you want to endless, child like arguing and comparisons (by adult parents) on how school districts compare to each other, especially the affluent, elite ones in the local area and region, take a look at the Pennslyvania forums on city-data.com. 

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What accounts for the difference in ranking between Harriton  High and Lower Merion given that they are both in same school district with same administrators, same demographics, same teacher pool, same amount of money spent per pupil.

 It seems money correlates only loosely with performance. What do you think?

US News and World Report gave Lower Merion High School  and Harriton high marks based on several metrics.  Ardmore-Wynnewood-Merion Patch May 11, 2012     U.S. News and World Report has once again ranked Lower Merion High School and Harriton High School among the state and the nation's best schools.

 

Lower Merion is ranked as the 16th best high school in the state, and nationally, is ranked 835th. Harriton is ranked 28th best in Pennsylvania and 1,131st in the nation in the new poll, posted here on the US News Website. 

The rankings are determined by a number of factors including: teacher to student ratio (Lower Merion's is 11:1), college readiness and math and reading proficiency of students (based on standardized test results).

 

In case you're wondering how other local high schools stack up:

  • Conestoga High School: 3rd in the state
  • Radnor High School: 6th in the state
  • Great Valley High School: 12th in the state
  • Phoenixville High School: 25th in the state

The top ranked high school in the nation is in Dallas, Texas. Click here to see the entire US News list of nationally ranked high schools.

 

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