Today, ‘Pi Day’, Is A Good Time To Stare At ‘Prospect Mountain High School’, Alton, N.H., NECAP Math Scores And Ponder.

20120214-piday-3Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.



Anura Guruge

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Prospect Mountain NECAP scores from the NH State Dept. of Education Website. Click to ENLARGE. Get your own original copy from:

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Alton Central Math NECAP from 3 years ago for Grade 8. Again from NH State. Use same link as shown above. Click to ENLARGE.

Alton Central Math NECAP from 3 years ago for Grade 8. Again from NH State. Use same link as shown above. Click to ENLARGE.

I just happened to see the ‘Prospect Mountain High School’ (PMHC) NECAP scores for Math in the newspaper yesterday. My immediate reaction was that this was a ‘typo’ and it could NOT be as stated. So early this morning, around 12:50 am, after I had finished translating some Pope John XXIII quotes from their original Italian into ‘my English’ I went in search of the raw NECAP data for 2014-2013 from the State.

Easy enough to find. Wow. Sure enough, there was NO mistake. Only 36% of the PHMC kids made ‘Level 3’ — Proficient. NONE made ‘Level 4’ — Proficient with Distinction. WOW. This is when it gets really scary. That 36% is ‘better’ than the State average, though across the State 3% make ‘Level 4’ whereas PHMC has none.

But given my computer background, it got me thinking. Though it was getting late (and close to my bedtime) I wanted to see how SOME of these kids had fared 3 years earlier when they were in Grade 8. Yes, I know I should have pulled up both Barnstead and Alton, but I just do this for the heck of it — so I only just pulled up the Alton Central (ACS), Grade 8 scores for ‘2011 – 2010’. Well some of these kids who where in ACS 2010 — 2011 and took that test should have been at PMHC last year — and taking the PMHC NECAP. Wow. The ACS scores are pretty good!

Yes, given that I am not a total moron (as the ACS School Board likes to refer to me) but just a partial one, I do appreciate that 8th grade math is different from 11th grade math. [Yes, just for the record, though I have a healthy contempt for formal education, I did do ‘Advanced’ & ‘Pure’ math for my Master’s (and that was not at some rinky dink online College) but at the ‘University of London‘, London, U.K. (and yes, thank you, I did get a Master’s (with the Mark of Distinction) in 1979.] To me it would appear that there is something wrong.

Yes, I fully agree with ‘Fitz’ that ‘TEST THAT MEANS NOTHING …‘. Halleluiah.

I am delighted to see that N.H. is considering legislation to BAN any and all testing in schools for 2 years. Halleluiah.

It is what the kids know HOW TO DO what matters.

I don’t believe in formal education THOUGH I fully understand that I would not be sitting here IF not for the AMAZING formal education that I did receive — the most and the best of it in Ceylon, in crowded, ill-equipped classrooms with 60 kids per class. But then again I recall that IBM, my first (and most formative) employer, did NOT require a degree from me — though they found me at an University. There job offer to me in 1973, when I was in my 2nd year, was ‘unconditional‘ — i.e., I could start working for them then and there without a degree! So, they too didn’t put much stock in whether I finished my ‘basic’ higher education (though four years later, not only did they pay for me to get a Master’s, but also gave me a day and a half off each week to attend classes, which really didn’t make much difference because I put in huge amounts of hours each week because I loved what I was doing — and all the time I also spent, at IBM, drinking, playing cricket, shooting, setting up an archery club and playing with model trains!

I like to learn things on my own and my own pace. Though I went to University, twice, the first time around I did not attend many classes — attending classes not mandatory in the British system of those bygone days. For a start, on principle, I would not attend any classes that started before 11 am — UNLESS they were on the theory of computer programming. Those I attended because they interested me. I used my 3 years mainly to party and to use all the resources at my disposal — computers, more computers, physics labs and a library. I did my own thing and scraped by the annual exams, in June, to pass through to the next year — and get my first degree, B. Sc. (Hons.) in Computer Technology. I must have been doing something right if IBM offered me a job in my 2nd year — all because they had heard from a number of lecturers that there was a long-haired, semi-wild, moron who wrote code and helped postgrads debug their programs. While at IBM, with the blessing of management, I spent 60% of my time doing MY OWN thing. I learnt everything that carried me over for the next 20 years of my life during those 5 years at IBM — doing my own thing! Hence my disdain for formal education. Ditto with astronomy, ditto with popes. I prefer to learn things on my own.

But, I am a moron and I would NOT want anybody else to end up with the hard life I have endured. So maybe formal education and testing must have a place. Yes, both my older kids have degrees (from reputable universities) and my eldest daughter has her Master’s. But, I never once asked them or talked to them about going to College. That was their choice — influenced by their mother. Ditto for the two younger kids. I would never pressurize them into going to College. If they don’t want to go to College that would be fine with me. So, I am with ‘Fitz’ and the NH legislature. We can do without testing — as long as we are all cool with our kids not going to College. [Yes, I will confess, that I have taught Higher Education too — but I wasn’t thinking. When I realized what I was doing I promptly quit!]

Anyway, my deed is done. Must move on. Popes beckon.

Bottom line, while I fully concur with ‘Fitz’ that (to paraphrase) ‘tests mean nothing’, I still have a nagging feeling that something is wrong, very wrong, with the NECAP Math scores I am seeing.

Maybe the teachers and kids are just NOT getting enough pie.

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