Posted by Charity on September 25th, 2008

I want to take a break from the election and the economy and focus on something else for a post.

In today’s Burlington Free Press, the results for the state science tests were published and Vermont students did not do well.

Bear in mind that these are the tests that were designed by Vermont teachers to correspond to the current curriculum guidelines in Vermont. It was supposed to alleviate teaching to the test and allow testing what was already being taught.

Let’s have a look at the schools my children would go to, if they were not homeschooled.

First up, Champlain Elementary in Burlington. Both of my school-aged children were there for grades K and 1, and grade 2 for the oldest. The test is given in grade 4. They are currently in grades 5 and 6, so my 5th grader would have taken this test last spring.

At Champlain, 60% of students were at or above standard. That breaks down to 84% of children who do NOT receive free or reduced lunch, but only 37% of children who do. (My kids do qualify for free or reduced lunch.)

Next, we have Edmunds Middle School, also in Burlington. My oldest would have started there this year, but would not take the test until grade 8, when the test is administered.

At Edmunds, a whopping 32% of students scored at or above standard proficiency. That breaks down to a pathetic 4% of free and reduced lunch children and 54% of their financially better off peers.

When they get to Burlington High School, they can expect that only 20% of students will pass the state science exam. That’s 3% of the F/R lunch kids and 28% of the rest.

Fortunately, I plan to homeschool all the way through.

My plan, God willing and kids cooperating, is to have all of my children spend their last two years of Homeschool High earning an associates degree from community college, or at least getting a few classes under their belt.

So why does this matter? I mean, besides the fact that a publicly funded institution is failing to do what it is designed to.

One of the leading reasons that people give for violating parents’ constitutional rights to privacy with excessive homeschooling regulations is the fear that the parents will not give their children an adequate science education.

That reason is not only given by the anti-Christian zealots, who do not want parents to be allowed to teach their children that God created the Earth, but even by seemingly sensible legislators right here in the great state of Vermont. I was personally told by the former chair of the Vermont Senate Education Committee that there needed to be oversight to make sure that children are receiving an education in subjects like science.

As a home school in Vermont, I must demonstrate yearly progress commensurate with age and ability in each subject area (which includes science) for each child in order to continue to operate my homeschool. Every year. For each child. In each of the six subject areas, prescribed by law. At the sole discretion of the state. Or I cannot homeschool any of my children.

Yet the public schools they would attend can fail to provide an adequate education, by their own standards, for 40% of 4th graders, 68% of 6th graders, and 80% of 11th graders and continue to operate without consequence. (According to the article, the science scores do not affect federal funding.)

I wonder when the state is going to hold the public schools – the state’s schools – to the same standard as it holds home schools.

I will not hold my breath.

2 Responses to “State Science (Double) Standards”

  1. I must demonstrate yearly progress commensurate with age and ability in each subject area (which includes science) for each child in order to continue to operate my homeschool.

    You should get a copy of the test the state gives and give it to your 5th grader to see how he does. I would hope it’s very well, and I’m not trying to be snarky, but I think that would be the only way to make the comparison in this post valid.

  2. The comparison in this post is completely valid – homeschools are expected to produce 100% results, public schools are not.

    I would love to have my kids take the NECAPS, but there is no way for that to happen unless they go to the school to do it, on the school’s timetable, and the school gets the results. I am not going to do that. Besides, I don’t have the prep materials as to what is on the test.

    I do have my kids take the CAT every year, which is normed, but that is not the test taken in Vermont, so it is comparing my kids to other kids in California, among other places, not here.

    They do quite well. Interestingly, if there is an area of weakness, I improve my teaching; I don’t complain about the unfairness of the test!