April 12, 2008

Organizational psychosis?

Yesterday's New York Times article on 'credit recovery' puts the Bloomberg-Klein years in New York in perspective, as one Manhattan principal explains:

I think that credit recovery and the related topic independent study is in lots of ways the dirty little secret of high schools. There's very little oversight and there are very few standards.

The NYC Department of Education said one decent thing in its defense (that the plural of anecdotes is not data), but it would be relatively easy to look at the students who earn credit through credit-recovery and look at other data about their achievement... that is, if the Department of Education will release information about it.

I see the same thing in Florida to a lesser degree, in Florida's calculation of graduation in a way that calls it a success when a student drops out of school and immediately enrolls in a GED program. That's why I am not celebrating Margaret Spellings's announcement that regulations to define graduation rates are in the works: the devil's in the details.

Even more broadly, there's something fundamentally at odds with reality to create a system that keeps ratcheting up pressure on both students and educators and then addresses one of the resulting problems in a facile way. When individuals experience a substantial gap between their experiences and reality, we term that experience psychosis (which I know is a broad range, and plenty of people have psychotic experiences such as hallucinations without being mentally ill).

There is no organizational term to capture a gap between what we would consider reality and institutionally recognized reality, but maybe there should be something akin to organizational psychosis. And at least according to the Times article, the credit recovery system is one likely candidate for that category.

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Posted in Education policy on April 12, 2008 6:36 AM |