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Gates Paying Murdoch For System To Track U.S. Kids' School Progress

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the now-where-were-we? dept.

Education 182

theodp writes "Discussing U.S. education in his 2012 Annual Letter, Bill Gates notes the importance of 'tools and services [that] have the added benefit of providing amazing visibility into how each individual student is progressing, and generating lots of useful data that teachers can use to improve their own effectiveness.' Well, Bill is certainly putting his millions where his mouth is. The Gates Foundation has ponied up $76.5 million for a controversial student data tracking initiative that's engaged Rupert Murdoch's Wireless Generation to 'build the open software that will allow states to access a shared, performance-driven marketplace of free and premium tools and content.' If you live in CO, IL, NC, NY, MA, LA, GA, or DE, it's coming soon to a public school near you."

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Shitstorm inc. (3, Interesting)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857379)

Through a bug it will track their physical location, everything they say, and what websites they visit. And their parents while at it.

Re:Shitstorm inc. (4, Informative)

stewart4t2 (1443697) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857405)

I do believe that's counted as a feature.

Re:Shitstorm inc. (4, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857759)

Through a bug it will track their physical location, everything they say, and what websites they visit. And their parents while at it.

That's what Facebook is for.

Re:Shitstorm inc. (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858887)

Hmmm, well this could be the start of something big. Companies could pick who to own by financing their educations, who to move to the front lines, and who is best suited as an organ donor. Companies could also aid only those who agree with their agendas. Combined with some genetic engineering, there's great opportunity for corporate optimizations here... or a script for a sci-fi movie/series??

(I release any interest I have in this idea for free use by any filmmaker not connected with Comcast)

We should already have this. (5, Insightful)

tidepool (137349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857411)

Is it just me, or shouldn't we already have this by hiring competent, caring, understanding educators in the first place? Computer software to track an individuals 'performance' (Ie; a 'quantitative thing') is yet another step in the ass-backwardness of the modern educational system.

Why do we always forget that while test scores are important, they are FAR from the deterministic quality on which to judge an individuals intelligence or desire to learn?

We have not created successful AI; The human mind stuck inside a quality educator, no matter the level, cannot be boiled down to algorithms and pure statical data-sets.

But oh how we try. *sigh*.

Re:We should already have this. (4, Informative)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857481)

We did already have this. It was called report cards, and when I was in K-12 school, it got sent home on paper with me once every six weeks so my parents could look at it and see how I was doing and if necessary ground me for not paying attention in school.

Re:We should already have this. (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857591)

We did already have this. It was called report cards, and when I was in K-12 school, it got sent home on paper with me once every six weeks so my parents could look at it and see how I was doing and if necessary ground me for not paying attention in school.

With grade inflation its no longer meaningful. Also its a pretty good form of "stealth ageism". For example I'm old enough (get off my F-ing lawn) that I worked extremely hard to get a B+ in quantitative chemical analysis, lets just say it was long enough ago that we had an admittedly old even in that era apple II for a lab computer for potentiometric electrochemical analysis. Back in ye olden days, a B+ was a pretty strong effort and looks good on my transcript and believe it or not probably curved me up to around the top quartile of the class, I always was a superior chemist even in one of my weaker areas. Compared to a young whipper snapper where as long as you pay the registration office and show up, you're guaranteed an easy "A", that B+ makes me look like the class moron. And that is "stealth ageism" because my numbers make me appear dumber than your average young 4.0 student, but I actually did what would in modern terms be relatively high "A" level work not merely a B+. To figure out I'm a moron you should have to read /., not compare a decades old grades transcript with a modern hyper-inflated grade transcript.

I've seen this effect with my kids. I used to get the full spectrum of D in gym up to A+ in science, but they only get wishy washy word grades now in grade school, like a checkmark for one of these three "Have not begun this topic" "making progress on this topic" "mastered this topic". I'm told there was a slightly earlier era a decade ago where they exclusively gave out A grade, it was just curved to A- for the morons, plain A for the masses, and A+ for the elite.

The Ballad of Barack Obama (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857673)

A foolish young man of the Negro Persuasion

Devoted his life to become a Caucasian

He stopped eating pork, he stopped eating greens,

He traded his dashiki for some Jordache jeans

He learned to play golf, an' he got a good score,

Now he says to himself,

I AIN'T NO NIGGER NO MORE.

American public: "I don't understand you. Could you please speak more clearly?"

Barack Obama: "Mercedeeeez Beeeennnnnzzz!"

Re:The Ballad of Barack Obama (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857701)

Racism....very sad...

Re:The Ballad of Barack Obama (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857781)

The hallmark of a weak mind.

Re:The Ballad of Barack Obama (0)

blackpeoplemeet (2563129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857803)

Is you is, or is you ain't, a black people?

Re:The Ballad of Barack Obama (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858605)

it's the lyrics to a song, putz.

Re:The Ballad of Barack Obama (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857813)

FZ lives on baby!!

It will morph into Conformity Monitoring (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858037)

Marks will not be awarded for raw intelligence in math, chem and the hard sciences. It will turn into a sheeple score. How well you fit in as a corporate cog. Shut up, don't rock the boat, kiss the whip that beats you. How compliant you are. How much abuse and corruption you can endure, without blowing the whistle. How well can you turn your head away from the deaths at Foxconn. How well can you spin death, corruption, pollution in the media.

All you shit disturbers here on slashdot would have been marked and seperated out long before you every reached the second grade.

Jobs and Wozniak would never be hired by the Modern Apple HR department.

The kids that instintively say Hell No to the brutal psyops that marks industrial schooling, the Einstiens, the gentle geniuses, the shy creative types, everyone who was marked, scarred and terrorize by the years of indoctrination called education.

Public school is an awful place. To do well in it, 'WELL' being defined by Murdoch and Gates, that to me is some kind of new and awfull hell. Evil of a brand new kind. Evil worthy of a new word.

To everyone out there still in school, you have my deepest sympathy and greatest support. I cannot even imagine how awful and soul destroying it is now.

Re:It will morph into Conformity Monitoring (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858155)

Your post is 100% true, not hyperbole. When I was 13 years old my friends and I redesigned the logo of our public junior high school into a hammer and sickle to protest the strict dress code. Later in high school, I was in the rock band. Since nobody bothered to vet our lyrics, we played The Anti-Nowhere League's So What [sing365.com] uncensored during a lunchtime concert at school.

Now, go to any college. At an intersection, the light will be red, but there will be no traffic in sight. They will all just stand there like sheep, even though they could walk across the intersection without any risk, just because the light is red.

Re:It will morph into Conformity Monitoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858517)

just because the light is red

I stand at them because it is the law. I do not not j-walk because 'i can get away with it'. That is my choice. Yet you do not respect it and call me sheep for doing it.

To disregard the law is just going to produce douchebags. In the late 70s New York city was a hell hole. A place where you did not go out at night. A place where even going to the park could get you a knife in the gut. Then they did something magical. They enforced the 'petty' laws, they got the officers out of their cars. Now New York is much more safe. The idea is if you ignore the small laws the big ones do not seem such a big of deal to break.

It is why with most minor laws you get a 'warning'. Basically just a 'heads up we are watching you so do not do stupid things'. Even though 99.999% of the time they are not watching.

You call them sheep. I call them law abiding citizens. Is that such a bad thing? I can respect someone who breaks the law to show the law is dumb. But you sound more like 'i break the law because I can' sort of fellow. You then want others to join you so you do not feel like an ass doing it. Or as my father used to tell me 'act like an ass get treated like one'.

Or let me ask you this. Where is the cut off for 'dumb' laws? When does it start to become 'serious' and 'should not do that'? Which ones are you free to ignore and which ones must you keep up with? You will find that list a very grey one.

Let me demonstrate...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj0mtxXEGE8 [youtube.com]

Re:It will morph into Conformity Monitoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858557)

True, rounding up a large percentage of the population for and putting them in prison will vastly improve the traffic situation.

Re:It will morph into Conformity Monitoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858609)

You were a "rebel" as a teenage? Wow, that's amazing; I was one too! What are the odds of that!

Re:It will morph into Conformity Monitoring (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858469)

Public school has already been that way for decades. There is no monitoring of how the teachers arrive at a students grade. It's heavily dependent on how much they like the student or how well the student conforms to their ideas of what should be rewarded. They don't even return graded work any longer since it might be used by next years class to "cheat".

Re:We should already have this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858107)

An apple II, eh?

When you get down off that high horse of yours, I'll be sure and remind you that you're not that old.

Re:We should already have this. (2)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858533)

Funny that, most class averages I've seen hover in the C- to C+ range. Then again, I'm not in the US, so perhaps our own education system is not as bad as I thought.

Re:We should already have this. (3, Informative)

JosephTX (2521572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858573)

This is the common sentiment among older generations, yet younger generations regularly score higher on tests that previous generations have taken; kids today have to learn alot more than you did, so you'll have to forgive your kid for not knowing how to use a slide-rule since he's busy learning calculus instead. If you think kids today are "lazy" or have it too easy because they aren't doing the lab exercises you're talking about, that's because they're too busy learning about the various discoveries in chemistry and biology since your days in school to waste a whole day on a pointless lab demonstration. Not ALL teenagers are the delinquents the previous generation hears about on the news. Also, most kids in my high school DIDN'T get A's; even though everyone SAID they got A's, just looking at the roster showed most ended up with B's or C's, and even so, "the masses" were in non-honors classes, where an A isn't given as much credit as an A in an Honors class. So Gym class today is pointless and an obligatory A. Don't like it? Your kid shouldn't even be in Gym class to begin with; sign him up for a computer science class instead. The only one at blame for that is you. It seems generally-accepted for your generation to criticize your children's generation (except your kids! they're angels), but guess what? your parents' generation did the same thing. And my generation will do the same thing. And who, exactly, will be the ones doing this criticizing? "The masses" who lack such basic skills like self-judgment or humility. The same not-so-intelligent type of person you complain about, and the same type of person you've shown yourself to be.

Re:We should already have this. (3, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858891)

This is the common sentiment among older generations, yet younger generations regularly score higher on tests that previous generations have taken

[Citation needed]

kids today have to learn alot more than you did

Like that "alot" isn't a word?

they aren't doing the lab exercises you're talking about, that's because they're too busy learning about the various discoveries in chemistry and biology since your days in school to waste a whole day on a pointless lab demonstration.

You mean watching videos of a cartoon character doing it rather than learning how to do it themselves?

Re:We should already have this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858705)

Ha. D in gym? The only way you can get a D in gym nowadays in my public school system is to not bring your gym clothes to change into. As long as you look like you're trying to play soccer or whatever and not disrupting the class TOO much they give you an A because not everyone is good a sports therefore you get an A for effort. Except not everybody's good at chemistry, or math, or history either. If you're not good at something you shouldn't get a good grade...

Re:We should already have this. (1)

Zibodiz (2160038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858827)

I was homeschooled K-12, and when I was entering 10th grade, we went to a computer sale held by our local high school. They were selling all of the computers that had just been replaced with iMacs. The apples were all Apple II's & Lisa's. There was one Macintosh 128k that had like $250 on it (they obviously thought it was the best thing there). The PCs (there were only a few) had 286s. I'm only in my 20s.
That having been said, one of the three reasons my parents homeschooled my sister and I is because of the idiotic grading system. At the time, we lived in Washington (State), and the local school made the papers for actually writing the test answers onto the chalkboard/whiteboard/whatever during the exams. Everyone always got A's there. In fact, when the school graduation issue released in the paper, they printed their GPA along with their name, photo, et al. The worst GPA was a 3.6, and over half the class were 4.0's.
Btw, my dad was an editor for the local paper at the time, hence we always had the inside scoop on the goings-on. About 4 years later, we moved to Wyoming because of the high crime rate. The papers here don't publish student GPAs, so I have no point of reference for whether our schools are better or worse, but at least my dad hasn't done a writeup on teachers cheating for their students.

Re:We should already have this. (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858583)

I see you used the plural form of "parents". This was once the norm, but that was destroyed by big media (who shaped expectations and opinions), big government (who decided that welfare programs should reward irresponsible breeding), and the religious establishment (who decided that they really just want the collection plate filled).

Re:We should already have this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857495)

Yes, of course we should. But my favorite quote on this subject was when a group of parents were commiserating about the quality of teachers in their school, one of them said "We're talking about El Ed majors. Don't you remember them when you where in college? El Ed majors!"

Not that all are bad; I've known some very good teachers, and we lobbied with the Principal to get our children into their classrooms. But they were the exception.

Re:We should already have this. (1, Funny)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857519)

Not that all are bad; I've known some very good teachers, and we lobbied with the Principal to get our children into their classrooms

You're a bunch of bastards for denying the other children the good teachers.

Re:We should already have this. (3, Insightful)

tidepool (137349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857525)

Not that all are bad; I've known some very good teachers, and we lobbied with the Principal to get our children into their classrooms. But they were the exception.

Honestly, and this is just a general assumption (although, I'm sure there is plenty of truth in it):

They are exceptions because the field pays so LITTLE and seems to be quite hard. (Not the teaching, mind you, but the 'beat down' one gets from Government, Parents, School boards, etc).

Imagine $76 million dollars to fund MORE / 'Better' teachers? Willing to bet it does more to help the overall economy & education (current AND future, in the same price tag) than buying some silly software that's going to show us that we don't truly care anymore.

Re:We should already have this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857623)

Elementary and middle school, not sure. But high school? I don't know how teachers can deal with 150 students. (5 periods times 30 students per period,) Maybe 150 is a bit high, but let's assume 100 to 125 students per teacher. How are they to assign any meaningful work? When do they grade, outside their paid hours?

If only we could decrease class sizes to 17 students per teacher, with the exception of some subjects. Maybe this in conjunction with two prep periods standard instead of one. Example: a teacher teaching 4 periods of 20 students per period.

Compare high school homework with the work given in upper-level college classes. While fact learning is important, it's probably better to teach them how to think as opposed to what to think.

The other problem is time. Do students have enough time to do all the (proposed) homework assigned? At least with college, you only have a few classes to focus on, with most of the day off (unless you work). I don't know a good solution for this other than perhaps a 4 day school week or perhaps a 9 day fortnight.

Re:We should already have this. (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857643)

Imagine $76 million dollars to fund MORE / 'Better' teachers? Willing to bet it does more to help the overall economy & education (current AND future, in the same price tag) than buying some silly software that's going to show us that we don't truly care anymore.

I don't think it would have much effect.

Half your budget goes to overhead and management right off the top. Darn near a 1:2 administrator / teacher ratio where I live, and administrators get paid more for doing basically nothing productive, and physical plant overhead is quite expensive (imagine what it would cost to rent an office building the size of a school per year). Then lets assume the average teacher pulls down $50K. Yes I'm well aware that their salary model is different than, say, private sector IT, so a newbie teacher starts out at $20K and gets a 5K raise every year for the rest of their career, whereas a IT dude gets $50K the first year and then gets a pay raise a little smaller than inflation for the rest of his career. Back to topic. It does nothing to hire one teacher for one year if they just get downsized next year, so lets pay them for 20 years to have a real, generational effect.

Thats 76M / 2 (half to overhead) / 50 (thousand bucks per teacher per year) / 20 years = no calculator necessary about 38 teachers for twenty years. So across a dozen states you just hired about one (big) elementary school, or perhaps an average sized middle school. Eh.

Re:We should already have this. (5, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857699)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/education/from-finland-an-intriguing-school-reform-model.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print [nytimes.com]

"The fact that we have more race, ethnicity and economic heterogeneity, and we have this huge problem of poverty, should not mean we don't want qualified teachers - the strategies become even more important," Dr. Darling-Hammond said. "Thirty years ago, Finland's education system was a mess. It was quite mediocre, very inequitable. It had a lot of features our system has: very top-down testing, extensive tracking, highly variable teachers, and they managed to reboot the whole system."

Singapore and South Korea do about as well as Finland but with a different approach - the students do a lot more work, have more pressure and I think they have a higher student to teacher ratio (more expensive directly for the State). FWIW I think I'd prefer to be a Finnish student than a Singaporean student. The former apparently enjoy the process of being educated more.

Re:We should already have this. (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858007)

Agh, I mean the Singapore and South Korea way is cheaper directly for the state: fewer high quality teachers required.

Re:We should already have this. (2)

Peristaltic (650487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857613)

Is it just me, or shouldn't we already have this by hiring competent, caring, understanding educators in the first place?

Years before my son reached Middle School, I looked high and low for these people; turns out the only place I was able to find them in Houston was in a private school, being paid what they should be paid.

While there are a few great teachers scattered randomly throughout HISD, many find themselves, for the most part, saddled with a ridiculous bureaucracy and large class sizes- there's much more to it than finding great teachers. The result is, I spend almost more than I can afford to send my son to a private school.

Re:We should already have this. (3, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857743)

You did the right thing though. The main problem here is that many parents cannot afford to bypass a broken educational system, which in the long run hurts everybody.

Re:We should already have this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858379)

You do realize almost all private schools pay teachers far less than public schools. Teachers go to private schools either because of the environment (the school can kick out troublemakers and low performing students) or because they do not have a teaching license and thus are not eligible to work in public schools.

Re:We should already have this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858601)

Prison guards are well paid too

Re:We should already have this. (5, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858263)

Is it just me, or shouldn't we already have this by hiring competent, caring, understanding educators in the first place?

I know one of those - a special ed teacher. She truly loves her kids and and does whatever she can to help them; but she is caught in system that says she *must* teach the same curriculum as for regular ed kids. Never mind that her kids, after a week of teaching them the color red, forget what it is as soon as they learn blue; she must teach a specified curriculum. The kids do not have to learn it, she must however prove she exposed them to each part of it. So, instead of being taught skills they can use in life they sit through lessons that they'll never remember. She tries hard to make them interesting and appropriate, but it is frustrating. I would not be surprised when she qualifies for retirement she decides to quit and do something else; not because she doesn't like teaching or isn't good at it but the system seems to be designed to make it a miserable experience. Add in pay cuts despite signing a contract at the start of the year and parents who expect 24 by 7 availability (she gets emails on Christmas and New Years Day) and it's no wonder teachers leave the profession or simply give up and coast to retirement.

We truly do not value education; and in the end get what we deserve.

Re:We should already have this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858577)

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
  Albert Einstein

Re:We should already have this. (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858899)

Yes, the ass-backwardness of the modern educational system... Tracking performance through metrics... like grades. Education is not art. It's passing down to the next generation what is already known. Since there is a way to measure it, it should be measured. Measurements don't exist because they are fun or cool or turn somebody on. They exist because they are informative.

Murdoch Political Agenda (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857439)

What really worries me is Murdoch's general push into the field of education. The man has already succeeded in indoctrinating an entire generation of adult Republicans into his own twisted version -- a version that has neither served conservatism nor America well. Is he going to start with the children now?

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857487)

Is you is, or is you ain't, a black people?

http://www.blackpeoplemeet.com/ [blackpeoplemeet.com]

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (4, Informative)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857595)

Murdoch is scum. The only thing he cares about is power. He is completely fine with hurting lots of people if that increases his power.

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857647)

It's not just the republicans that have been effected. Murdoch has been aiming to make the republicans and democrats two sides of the same coin, one using the stick and the other the carrot. The only candidate even running for president that doesn't entertain lobbyists (ie: raises his own campaign funding, isn't bought and paid for like the rest) is Ron Paul - and the bulk of the population believes him to be insane due to the crap Murdoch generates about him specifically because he can't be bought. Frankly, the country DESERVES another holocaust if Ron Paul isn't elected - and this time one with technological oversight to such a penetrating degree that NONE of the retards are missed, we don't need a WW4 afterall.

HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858041)

That's right! Kill everyone who doesn't vote for Ron Paul! Brilliant.

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (3, Insightful)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858327)

and the bulk of the population believes him to be insane due to the crap Murdoch generates about him specifically because he can't be bought.

No, the majority find Ron Paul insane for his work on a racist newsletter and his advocacy of the gold standard, neither of which has anything to do with Murdoch.

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (0)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858389)

Because Murdoch is a Jew, therefore criticizing his actions is generally considred anti-semitic.

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (3, Informative)

steelframe (590694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858675)

Murdoch is Catholic, unless you read Stormfront or Ron Paul newsletters.

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858931)

Not only is he a Catholic, his political activism is largely in line with modern Catholic establishment.

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858771)

So making anti-black statements and demanding a gold standard are somehow a criticism of Murdoch?

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (1)

orono2011 (2563131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857889)

owa great

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858297)

Agreed. But what I really want to know, is Gates paying Murdock with trash bags? [youtube.com] I sure hope B.A. doesn't hear about this.

Re:Murdoch Political Agenda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858341)

Is he going to start with the children now?

You are kidding right? Murdoch started by going after the children. Anyone remember the FOX network back in the day? All it played was cartoons and sitcom reruns targeted towards kids. Even today sunday night on FOX is all cartoons, all of which I'm sure Murdoch despises.

I guess smoke and mirrors trick worked.

This looks like a good idea? (4, Insightful)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857465)

Am I missing something? This sounds like a good idea except for that Newscorp is involved. Besides that, what is wrong with this? Heck, I'm even wondering if anonymous, averaged data per school would be publicly available to see how schools are doing.

It just seems like this is the sort of thing that should have a glaring hole in it.

Re:This looks like a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857503)

we already have the anonymous, average data per school. it's a big business, too

Re:This looks like a good idea? (2, Informative)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857583)

From experience made in the field of learning metrics, this usually produces teaching that increases test scores, but fails real the learning goals, i.e. producing insights and capabilities. This is well known. Looks like Gates failed to do any real research on the subject. Not a surprise and in line with his usual level of "insight". The only thing Gates can do well is amoral and borderline criminal business practices.

Re:This looks like a good idea? (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857951)

[use of metrics] usually produces teaching that increases test scores, but fails real the learning goals, i.e. producing insights and capabilities.

Are you saying that it fails on the measure of "how much insight and capability was produced"? What kind of measure is that, and how is it collected? Would you even call it a "metric" ?

Re:This looks like a good idea? (3, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858545)

Nice way of conflating your dislike of closed-source software and Microsoft in general with what Gates can do outside of said corporation.

Why was this even modded informative to begin with? You can disagree with someone without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

Re:This looks like a good idea? (3, Insightful)

mvar (1386987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858395)

Most of us suspect what the future regarding personal privacy will be like. This tracking system, while at first it sounds like a very convenient way for teachers to easily access their students grades and know their weak and strong points, it is more of "another brick" in a structure that will gradually and - with the aid of other similar tracking systems and laws - eventually evolve in some Orwellian (big brother) system where all your personal history from your earliest years (your school grades, your sociality, your behavior, your political beliefs, your health records etc) will be in a single file for anyone (employers, insurance companies, the law etc) to access.

Re:This looks like a good idea? (3, Interesting)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858569)

There is no need to worry.

Newscorp agents will carefully monitor student feedback ..... by hacking their voicemail accounts on their cellphones.

Why Fox / newcorp and not NBC / comcast? (3, Interesting)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857489)

Or is MS no longer part of MSNBC?

Re:Why Fox / newcorp and not NBC / comcast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857941)

because gates doesn't need to care about moving money from one of his pockets to another..

Re:Why Fox / newcorp and not NBC / comcast? (3, Insightful)

Attack DAWWG (997171) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858081)

Because News Corp. already has an extensive background in surveillance.

And a long, successful background in indoctrination, for that matter.

Re:Why Fox / newcorp and not NBC / comcast? (1)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858211)

MS has been out of MSNBC for quite a while. I'm on my phone or I'd link you to the MSNBC wikipedia article, but it says when they got out there.

Great way to collect unsullied data... (4, Funny)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857497)

...give the job to someone well versed in wiretapping.

Who will the customers be? (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857505)

The obvious assumption when you're dealing with a known criminal organization is that they'll put all this effort into gathering information in order to sell it. The problem is, who will the customers be?

So... you package up a spam list of all the students who flunked financial literacy 101 and sell it to the car dealers, Realtors(tm), and mortgage brokers, "come and get em!". But they don't need the leads, because its all cross fertilized. The customers at the rent-a-center are the customers at the payday loan store are the customers at the subprime mortgage dealer are the customers at McDonalds are the customers at Walmart. They already know who these guys are.

OK so see I never took any automotive classes, so you assume you can screw me over at the stealership. What you don't know is I spent a summer helping a great-uncle rebuild a 1930's diesel tractor, helped weld a homemade lake-pier together which is still standing a quarter century later, etc ... The idea that a "college bound" student like myself would attend a votech class was unthinkable in that era, and probably today... in fact all of our suburban students are supposed to go to college to make the bankers who provider the loans rich, so I don't think shop class attendance is going to be relevant or useful data. In a way, this is great, because it encourages people to teach themselves, not attend a class. I certainly did not learn how to replace brake rotors and pads in a classroom, that's for sure.

And the rest of the data? Donno. Maybe I'm low on caffeine but I donno who can profit off the knowledge that I aced everything in 2nd year chem aka introductory o-chem or that I didn't do so well in 9th grade history because I was bored to tears (well not literally, but darn close).

Re:Who will the customers be? (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857599)

You collect data in order to determine the general trend. Nobody expects it to predict each and every thing you do exactly. Hence, even though you bucked the trend and learned something on your own, the data collector is still justified in making the prediction that you can only know what you were formally taught because in 99% of the cases this will be true. If you learn on your own, think for yourself, or otherwise do something you're not supposed to be doing, you're the exception and the companies who buy data to predict your behaviour don't care about you anyway because you're not the sucker they're looking for.

Re:Who will the customers be? (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857727)

Considering that Google thought I was an 18-24 year old male when I am well above that age range and most definitely a female, I'm not too worried about my demographics being out there for the world to see.

Re:Who will the customers be? (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857801)

Considering that Google thought I was an 18-24 year old male when I am well above that age range and most definitely a female, I'm not too worried about my demographics being out there for the world to see.

Artificial Stupidity at work ;-)

Really the only human mental "skill" that machines can emulate well.

Re:Who will the customers be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858045)

This is Slashdot. I think we trust Google on this.

Re:Who will the customers be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858207)

Re:Who will the customers be? (2)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858233)

Sure about that? Google might know something you don't. Google knows everything.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complete_androgen_insensitivity_syndrome [wikipedia.org]

As for the age, maybe your parents are hiding the truth. You could be the result of a secret pregnancy and birth, intended to cover up the fact that your older sibling went missing.

Re:Who will the customers be? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857735)

the data collector is still justified in making the prediction that you can only know what you were formally taught because in 99% of the cases this will be true

I would disagree in that everything that is not compulsory is forbidden and everything that is not forbidden is compulsory and mistargeting of ads is too likely.

In my example, all kids in my suburban school are supposed to go to college, therefore standards were pretty high, and we were almost all unable to attend shop class or at least strongly discouraged. When I signed up for a CAD intro class you'd think I grew a second head, the way my advisor/counselor reacted. Yet we wrenched on our cars in our spare time; we had to if we wanted to be able to afford wheels. Using this educational data, you'd think no one graduated by my school system in at least the past 30 years knows anything about cars, you'd be very wrong. Similar for cooking; I was forbidden to take cooking classes, have to take geology instead. That does not mean no one in my entire district for more than a generation can cook.

That closely ties to the mistargeting problem. Auto shop and cooking class were where disciplinary problems were sent to keep the academic classes orderly until the problems either straighten out and fly right, or drop out. You're far more likely to sell brass knuckles and weed pee test passing substances to A+ automotive shop class kids than socket sets or breaker bars. I hope the people buying the sales lists understand this little problem. The percentage of students in shop class / cooking class accurately reflects soft drug addiction rates and other mental issues, nothing to do with the possible sales rates for car repair and gourmet cooking spices. For all practical purposes, the number of kids who took geology approaches 100%, but the number of people in the geological hammer market in my community approaches zero.

Re:Who will the customers be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858913)

What you don't know is I spent a summer helping a great-uncle rebuild a 1930's diesel tractor, helped weld a homemade lake-pier together which is still standing a quarter century later, etc ..

they know now! should have used ac!

Nothing Good can come out of a Murdoch Venture (5, Insightful)

dryriver (1010635) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857515)

This man and his sprawling NewsCorp media empire have almost single-handedly ruined/corrupted objective journalism, and done so across multiple countries where NewsCorp is active. Nothing good can come from allowing Rupert Murdoch anywhere near schools and educational institutions. His signature reckless profiteering and lack of a conscience/values will likely corrupt the education process, too, not enhance it. I can't believe that Bill Gates is teaming up with Murdoch... I was under the impression that Bill had gone all "good guy philanthropist". Maybe I was wrong about that... But seriously, no venture owned by Rupert Murdoch should be allowed within a mile or so of a school, or of any other institution frequented by kids. This man will just try to spread his twisted, f^cked up neocon-ultra-jingo-conservative values to school children, given the chance. Don't do it, Bill. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, its not worth collaborating with this news-bully/snakeoil salesman/jingoist warmonger. Simply... don't... do it!

Re:Nothing Good can come out of a Murdoch Venture (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858249)

Maybe that *is* what he is trying to accomplish by throwing in with him.

and yet education level goes downhill (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857523)

All the amazing tools and yet education level goes downhill. Why is that? Because the most important tool of education is metaphorical belt, ominously hanging on the metaphorical wall: if you are slackin', you' get the smackin'.

And the presence of father. Not the father "figure", but the real father (who does the metaphorical smacking).

If you have this, you don't need tools, just keep giving the homework and tests.

Give parents full autonomy of their kids. Sure few families will horrendously abuse their kids, but millions of families will get an opportunity to make a better next generation: less antisocial, more productive.

Re:and yet education level goes downhill (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857581)

I feel the state should jail parents who spank children, but I also think that children should be held accountable for their actions. Autonomy of parents is not what we need, parents are the problem. We had that generation. They grew up and gave us this nightmare.

End spanking of children forever, but still punish them if they do wrong. Spanking children is child abuse. Good parenting is not. I've seen kids who were beaten their whole lives turn into sociopath nightmares of adults. It doesn't help, it makes things worse.

Re:and yet education level goes downhill (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857697)

Indeed. Violence stunts emotional growth and significantly increases the odds of latent psychopaths turning into active ones. This is a real problem and latent psychopaths are not that rare.

There are other forms of punishments, that together with rewards do work well. Of course they require a bit of insight into human nature. Seems that there are still primitives among us that do not have this insight.

I am fully aboard with jailing parents that use violence against their children. Nothing good comes from it and violence begets more violence.

you prefer psychological abuse (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858331)

Psychologically abusive parents produce some pretty fucked up children.

Physical punishment is simple. It happens, and you move on. There isn't continuing manipulative nastyness.

Physical punishment methods can be taught to nearly anybody. The critical idea is that the age of the child determines how long of a badness-to-punishment delay is allowable; a baby will fail to associate misbehavior with punishment if a tiny fraction of a second has passed. Also, avoid head impact.

There, now you know the two important rules. You can stop the psychological abuse.

This is dangerous (5, Informative)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857541)

Learning is an individual process. Strong focus on "metrics" hinders progress and produces educated morons that can score high on tests but cannot do anything else well and do not have any real understanding on how things work. One reason is that the metrics typically used strongly promote learning facts without understanding them. The only place such people can perform well is on bureaucracies, i.e. in jobs where their main task is to decrease the performance of others. This technology allows even better implementation of that fallacy.

The only way to improve education is by improving the teachers. And, yes, that means firing bad and mediocre teachers and hiring good ones. Of course they will be more expensive and will need significant freedom to teach as they see fit, i.e. no parent influence. (A single moron parent can ruin a whole course if they are given influence....) Nothing of that sort seems likely to happen in a country so backwards that evolution is actually a disputed subject.

Re:This is dangerous (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857853)

Agreed. The problem, to the extent that schools can fix it, is with teachers. Fix or fire the bad ones, improve and hire better ones. But somebody has to make an assessment of how effective the teachers are and there need to be tools for that.

Excessive focus on individual students, ironically, detracts from the ability of states, districts and administrations to run schools that do the best possible job for students.

Re:This is dangerous (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858413)

And how do you identify bad teachers? Testing! Without testing, bad teachers hide in a cloud of bullshit.

Testing also serves as a less-biased way to grade the students. Teachers give better grades to attractive students, but the tests are blind to such things. Standard tests solve the grade inflation problem.

Why blame testing when the metrics promote facts without understanding? Teachers make that error too. Test designers don't always make that error. Either way, it's just a matter of quality.

Rupert Murdoch? (4, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857571)

Wait, wait...isn't this the same guy who had another company that got into really deep hot water by hacking into people's phones and otherwise massively abusing their privacy? As in shut-the-company-down, pay-out-millions-to-the-victims, and some-just-got-arrested bad?

There IS a place for technology in schools, absolutely, and if you're at all familiar with schools the level of useless redundant work that goes on drives you nuts. Every year it ticks me off that I have to fill out 50 pages of nonsense information to tell the school what they already know. That said, you know who you don't give the job of modernizing it to? Someone with a track record of abusing the hell out of people's privacy.

Re:Rupert Murdoch? (3, Insightful)

locketine (1101453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857703)

or a penchant for misleading the public into believing falsehoods that promote his own personal desires. Even if they manage to collect accurate data I could definitely see Rupert manipulating the data or how it's interpreted to tell the public his own narrative of what needs to be changed in education.

well, somebody should (1, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857717)

Teachers are so opposed to performance metrics that it's impossible to tell if a B in Colorado is better or worse than an C+ Vermont.

In what parallel Universe (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857753)

Does Bill Gates pay immoral propagandist Rupert Murdoch to produce software?

Re:In what parallel Universe (1)

Noitatsidem (1701520) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858657)

I know, I know! This one, this one! Crap, that's not good...

There is an effort to collapse public education. (3, Interesting)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857793)

There is an effort to collapse or split education into haves and have-nots in the US. Its been really going on since Integration in the US. For decades before Integration, there were policies of "Dual Schools" in the US. That's happening again, and it's going to take legislators to stop it. The only way I can see it happening is massive over haul of the Public education system and forced closure of private education systems. There is a concerted effort by the conservative power elite in the USA to splinter and collapse universal schooling. The only way is to outlaw non-state sanctioned schooling so the wealthy are forced to participate in the public schooling system.

Re:There is an effort to collapse public education (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857927)

You'd need to do something about districts and remove local budgeting and control of schools. Not saying I agree with you, but if you don't do that, then all you're doing is shuffling names around without actually changing anything. If you keep districts at "neighborhood" or "city" size, then you just end up replicating have/have-not based on real estate value. Which leads inevitably to lower property taxes and higher state or federal taxes, more bookkeeping, middlemen, and corruption, etc. Because taxes never reduce, that means the locals will have lots of extra money floating around, which leads to more corruption. So overall, you'd theoretically get standardized education, but probably at a lower level due to higher corruption, and the upper half would still have everything from simply caring about their kids school all the way up to private schools, so as a society I don't think we'd win because the rich would remain better off, but the median would drop. The absolute bottom of the barrel would do better, but they're just going into the prison industrial complex anyway, so I see little point in wasting educational resources on them, just what we need, smarter criminals. So in summary, I disagree with your method and your goals, each for different reasons.

There is a concerted effort by the conservative power elite in the USA to splinter and collapse universal schooling

No its a 1% vs 99% thing, and the 1% use anti-leftie PR when talking to the righties, and anti-rightie PR when talking to the lefties, to get both sides to do their bidding. Looks like you fell for it hook line and sinker.

Re:There is an effort to collapse public education (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858229)

Agreed. There is no such thing as concerted effort by the "power elite". There are just lots of little groups with a lot of money each, each trying to independently do what is best for them. Because of this, they start acting in similar ways which looks appears in concert, but is really not.

It is a bit sad too. If there was a central power, at least there would be a way of fixing things simply. Instead its like trying to fix Medusa.

Gates + Open Software = Anathema (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#38857893)

n/t

Murdoch's secret? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38857973)

Call student's voicemail provider

Enter 1234, 1111, or any of the other top dozen garage door codes.

Extract messages

...

Profit!

I work in education indirectly. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858083)

The "problems" in education, IMO, are multifaceted. Slapping performance metrics on top of the way things are now is only going to demoralize everyone further.

I find that teachers generally want to do well by their students. One problem is that some teachers have low or outdated content knowledge and,m accordingly, low or misplaced confidence. What is being done to "moderize" teachers? Or does that come after identifying which teachers are "bad" according to student performance on standardized tests?

Techniques to improve teaching/learning is a moving target. Teachers are desperate for that magic pill by which every student will finally understand. Like New Math. Like using computers. Like using educational games. Frankly, students will be different. Each method will probably speak to a different set of students. The "panacea" may be in maximizing the number of techniques that can be used for reaching the most students. However, we would have to ask whether the standardized student tests are set up to be able to capture the learning gained.

Also, teachers are not solely responsible for students' private lives. Maybe a student stressing over his parents' shit or being bullied. Some parents need to be involved in their kids' education and not stand by and "let" the school do the work. Learning takes some effort, so some students need to get the nonsense out of their heads enough to focus at least part of the time.

School districts need to stop being accountants for the sake of their own careers.

In US culture, everyone says they want a good educational system, yet it seems that things like money, sports, etc., receive a disproportionate amount of attention. And the role that religious nuttery and willful ignorance play serve to distract people from critical thinking skills.

I'm sure there are other points I'm missing.

How is this any different than what Google does? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858177)

Android heavily tracks people with the built-in Google spyware.

Chrome's reroutes all traffic through Google's servers and the EULA gives Google a nonexclusive right to display and distribute every bit of content transmitted through the browser.

But lets not just hit Google .... what about telcos? They track everything users do in their networks.

So how is this any different?

Cue the Violent Femmes . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858193)

"I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record"

Oh yeah? Well, don't get so distressed

Did I happen to mention that I'm impressed?

Socio-economic Metric (4, Insightful)

killfixx (148785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858199)

This will end up becoming a metric of parental/economic efficacy.

I'm a teacher. My students have diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The students from "better" situations, on average, perform better. The reverse is usually true also. Of course, there are always outliers, but we're talking averages.

If this information was to be used to correct those out-of-school factors, that would be great. Unfortunately, they will most likely be used to punish under-performing teachers and districts.

Fair and Balanced ® (1)

xs650 (741277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38858351)

I'm sure it will be Fair and Balanced and not lead to more teaching to the test.

Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858415)

Why do we trust Bill Gates' judgment on anything related to public education? This is a man who grew up the son of a wealthy politician; he has no firsthand experience with what happens in public school. He is also a college dropout. An admittedly smart, successful man, but his life experience is so far removed from those of us who grew up as public school "consumers" that, frankly, I find him to be among the LEAST qualified people to be making judgment calls regarding public education. Add Rupert Murdoch's unabashed doctrine of extremist right-wing nonsense (which includes anti-intellectualism and teacher-bashing) and we end up with an even bigger problem on our hands.

New education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38858639)

The real education here is to get the kids used to being tracked in detail by the corporations, um, for marketing purposes.

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