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27 May 2012


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billy T

Congratulations to the students and mentors as well. A worthy endeavor. Who knows what they will accomplish.

George Rebane

billyT 302pm - Thank you for the good words. And also for the link about the German youth. Though I've heard about his feat, I can't find a technical reference that describes his solution. Help!

Douglas Keachie

And to think all these guys probably gave it a shot!

The World'sGotTalent

Douglas Keachie

Curie is not a guy, BTW.


Was there anyone besides Keachie who didn't know Marie Curie, one of the most famous scientists of the late 19th and 20th century, was female?


George, no need to match kid with plans, but do you know what the seniors are planning on doing next year?

Douglas Keachie

Given our current state of science education, I thought it entirely possible that one of the students from the breakfast might be reading this, and might need to be clued in. I'm surprised that Greg did not take me to task for some of the scientists here who might not have undertaken the mathematical attempt? What is the common thread that makes for this group photo? Another good question for those less learned than GG, who of course knew the answer faster than Mike DeGrasse Tyson answered:

MDeGrasseTyson copy

You'll have to click on the image, and enlarge it to read the text of the math question he answered.

Douglas Keachie

Spoiler, who are those folks in the picture, and what brought them together?

George Rebane

Gregory 652pm - "match plans"?? Not sure I understand your question.


2nd try...

George, do you know what colleges the seniors who took the tech test are planning on attending? No need to identify which kid plans to go to what school.


If any of the techtest kids are reading this thread, Doug Keachie studied Anthropology at Cal, is a passable photographer, and has never, in the 12+ years I've been encountering what passes for his thoughts online, shown a talent for math or science. He does give great Photoshop.

George Rebane

Gregory 215pm - Apologies for being dense. When the 'survivors' stood to talk of college plans, the names that stick are UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, CalState San Luis Obispo, Univ Nevada, Reno, Swarthmore, Sierra College


Apologies for a less than straightforward sentence structure the first time around...Just as a minor correction, CalPoly SLO and Pomona are the two CalStates that are not a CalState :)

Not a bad list; even Sierra College, which is certainly OK and the biggest bargain. Swarthmore is an interesting choice, the #3 school in the nation for percentage of alumni with PhD's, just behind CalTech and Harvey Mudd.

Missing from the list are the heavyweights like CalTech, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, Yale and others. IIRC, only one kid from the class of 2007 went to an Ivy, Brown, and they were a legacy. It's reputedly hard to get into Stanford nowadays if you're Asian or Caucasian and from California (Cal benefits from this, one of the few admission meritocracies, by law), but if our local school system's performance matched their local reputation, there would be a lot more kids like your survivors going to more of the top schools.

George Rebane

Gregory 1127am - Agreed. And my mistake on calling a CalPoly campus one belonging to CalState, although I do understand that their relationship is a bit more than incestuous.

There also seem to be a number of what might be called 'stealth' colleges for engineering degrees - not well known, but with an excellent curriculum, teaching staff, and alumni out there making their mark inventing new things and starting exciting new companies. I think that the cost of going to 'heavyweight' institutions is bringing up this secondary market for tech education.


Nothing incestuous about it, the two polytechnic campuses are more focused on engineering, and have as far as I know always been Polytechnics. The one in Pomona is virtually next door to what used to be a huge General Dynamics facility. Might still be.

Outside of, a fairly limited engineering-only school, I'm not aware of any 'stealth' colleges that have a brick and mortar anchor. Can you elaborate?

Douglas Keachie

Well it is certainly good to see some of the students headed for the top 100 colleges, as those graduates are the only ones who have ever made teachers who have made a different in test scores, when they become teachers. How much effort is put towards getting these bright people by your STEM group to get them to go into teaching?

Greg gives middl'n good propwash, but as far as general respect for his fellow humans, not so much.

George Rebane

Gregory 539pm - 'stealth' is my word and fairly egocentric since I have only heard about a few of them. For example one of my grandson's, graduating with top marks, is going to Montana State University that is reputed to have an excellent engineering program (especially in computer science).

This assessment reaches back a couple of decades when my VP of Engineering, an outstanding electronics engineer among other things, was a graduate of some small Arizona technical college that now escapes me. His description of their curriculum and program of study blew me away. He made me aware of a number of such colleges whose graduates were successful hires in aerospace companies as related by colleagues who ran them. I hope that such schools are doing well, we need them in today's politically correct climate of student self-adulation über alles.

Russ Steele

For a number of years I was a Lab Manager or Project Manager in an Engineering Lab in Sacramento. The electrical and mechanical engineers we hired from Cal Poly SLO were extra ordinary problem solvers. From day one on the job they new how to tackle a problem and solve it. I can say the same about the software engineers we hired from Sac State. The head of the Sac State Software Engineering Dept was former TRW Engineer who was tutored under Barry W. Boehm, TRW Professor of Software Engineering and Director, Center for Software Engineering, University of Southern California. We hired Sac State seniors as interns and particiapted in their senior project evaluations. They knew how to develop SW right out of the box, solving problems was at the top of their skill set. If I was doing a start up today, I would go looking for CalPoly Engineers and Sac State SW Engineering grads.


George, there have always been pockets of excellence here and there. University of Arizona in Tucson has always had a particularly strong aerospace engineering school; I've a half brother who got his degree there. Arizona State in the Phoenix area also has an engineering focus.

Keach, you threw a gratuitous first stone on 28 May 2012 at 10:21 PM. If you want to be treated with respect, act like an respectful human for a change.


"Well it is certainly good to see some of the students headed for the top 100 colleges, as those graduates are the only ones who have ever made teachers who have made a different in test scores, when they become teachers."

This statement by Keachie is par for his sarcastic course. Pure straw man sarcasm, since no one I know has ever written or thought such a thing. More to the point... A good student can find a good professor just about anywhere, and at least a few fellow quality students. In the few classes I took at CalState LA, I found the typical class to be less fast paced than a class at Harvey Mudd, and maybe 10% of the typical class to be as engaged as a student at Mudd. You can get a great education at a lesser school, but it's also easier to just go with the flow.

Only a small percentage of the college bound should be expected to want to go into teaching, but the best way for the best and brightest to be hired for K-12 is for schools not to hire so many of the worst and dullest.

"How much effort is put towards getting these bright people by your STEM group to get them to go into teaching?"

I should think none; let them learn something worthwhile before they decide what they'll do with it.

Douglas Keachie

Greg's got his blooper cannon a'runn'in. Date and time are an invite to an time wasting semi-snipe hunt, without simultaneously listing, the name of the the original George topic. Brevity with Clarity is not your strong point. Dirac did it better.

Douglas Keachie

One of the schools your may be thinking of might be:

My friend with the five 800's in HS who mentioned he wanted to be a high school teacher wound up his career here.

Russ Steele

Greg and Douglas,

Please Do NOT start one of your personal insult contests here, stick to the subject and leave your personal insults in the bit bucket. They just boor all the other RR readers who soon just stop reading your posts.

Douglas Keachie

**** "Well it is certainly good to see some of the students headed for the top 100 colleges, as those graduates are the only ones who have ever made teachers who have made a different in test scores, when they become teachers."

This statement by Keachie is par for his sarcastic course. Pure straw man sarcasm, since no one I know has ever written or thought such a thing. ****

Obviously Greg doesn't know enough people, and he did not read the reference I posted in the last six weeks or so, and so you all don't have to do a Greg semi-snipe hunt, here's the link again.. Go to page 9 and read read it and weep, Greg.

Douglas Keachie

Russ, you teach Greg some manners and I won't have to defend myself.

Douglas Keachie

"I should think none; let them learn something worthwhile before they decide what they'll do with it."

Who decides what is "worthwhile?" If they are smart enough to learn what you think is worthwhile, they are more than smart enough to consider all possible careers while doing the learning of "worthwhile" stuff.


Russ, mind your own business.

Keach, the students get to decide what is worthwhile, and the kids who excel at the techtest have already made different decisions than you did at their age.


Keach, there's nothing on page 9 of the NCTQ report (which I've been aware of since last December) remotely supporting, "students headed for the top 100 ... are the only ones who have ever made teachers who have made a different in test scores, when they become teachers."

It does say they are more likely to be effective, but that could just mean they are more likely to have been better students in high school, like the techtest survivors, and that was the reason they got into a top college.

More to the point in one of the following pages:

"A highly energetic teacher who works twelve hours a day but doesn’t know enough about the subject is still unlikely to be effective."

Douglas Keachie

Actually Greg, there is a second post more directly supporting my contention, but it is late, and I'm going to bed.

"t does say they are more likely to be effective, but that could just mean they are more likely to have been better students in high school, like the techtest survivors, and that was the reason they got into a top college."

Which is pretty much what I had just said, where's the disagreement?


"Which is pretty much what I had just said, where's the disagreement?"

It is not at all what you said. George, perhaps you can referee:

Is the statement, (Keachie's paraphrase)
"students headed for the top 100 ... are the only ones who have ever made teachers who have made a different in test scores"

logically equivalent to (Gregory's paraphrase)
'students headed for the top 100 ... are more likely to be effective teachers'?

An actual representative quote from the piece itself is "A study of roughly 800 middle schoolers in California found that when a school had a larger percentage of teachers who graduated from one of the top 100 rated institutions in the nation, student achievement was higher.", and I think my paraphrase captured that well.

This illustrates an essential problem with discussions involving Keachie; for some reason, he misunderstands much of what he reads.

Russ Steele

I am sorry Greg it is my business as the SESF Executive Director, I do not want you and Douglas to take over a post that is suppose to be about TechTest and the students that took the test. Not your ability in insult each other. For god sake grow up! You two are suppose to be adults, not children on the 2nd grade play ground.

George Rebane

NPR this morning had a report on the thousands of high tech jobs in the country going wanting, especially in the computer sciences. They pointed out that the Univ of Washington's CS enrollments have been unchanged since 1999, and no more slots have opened up in the interval. UW is typical of the universities and colleges across the country.

What they didn't point out is that the fraction of students who can hack(sic) a technical degree is limited. And those students often seek an easier route to adulthood, or make poor decisions which deny them the opportunity to become STEM majors.


Russ, this isn't the SESF, and it isn't your business. All of my posts have both been accurate and most have been squarely on point. It's unfortunate that Keachie continues to muddy the waters.

In general, online, it doesn't work very well to make an off topic post to wag fingers. It becomes just another off topic post, and wagging fingers publicly invites the same.

Your own tone is wholly inappropriate and insulting.


George, re your 8:35,

Much of the problem is a failure of K-8 to teach children to both read effectively and basic arithmetic skills. Our own GVSD (not to mention Pleasant Valley SD and others) have done a poor job. Kids are not arriving at the 8th and 9th grades ready to master Algebra, and without that, real "STEM" will never be reached, not that it's enough. Geometry, more Algebra, Trig and Calculus, and in my dreams, probability and formal logic, needs to be understood before real "STEM" arrives.

Most parents expect their children are being taught effectively, relying on the experts who are spending vast sums of tax monies. I wouldn't be surprised to find the parents of successful TechTest takers have been filling in the gaps for years.

A fairly telling paragraph in the document that's been linked is as follows: "Since its inception, TFA [Teach for America] has placed a lot of weight on academic credentials. For instance, most of its teachers have graduated from selective colleges and have an average SAT score of 1,300, 261 points higher than the average SAT score of other aspiring teachers who pass the Praxis I, a basic skills test required of new teacher in most states."

A bit of simple math reveals the average SAT (M+V) of those who pass the Praxis I exam and become teachers is 1,039. In California, which I believe does not use the Praxis 1 and only requires the CBEST, it's probably lower.

Some interesting facts here:

Douglas Keachie

Greg seems to want it both ways. "Throw the bums out, but don't pay more." How do you think the bums came to be there in the first place?


Once again, Keachie constructs a straw man to knock down; that is a complete fabrication unsupported by any rational analysis of anything I've written.

I can either be quiet and let a falsehood stand, or respond and incur the wrath of Russ. It looks like I have chosen.

I think bad teachers should be sought out, remediated and, if unsuccessful, shown the door. Keachie thinks teacher salaries should be increased until better teachers start coming in the door. Using the numbers from the site I linked, secondary teachers in California are already *averaging* about $1850 a *week* in a job that's nearly impossible to be fired from; that's about a $93K per annum salary for the usual number of weeks worked in private industry, and I think $93K a year would be just fine for a full work year by folks who have real STEM and real English degrees indicative of SAT's averaging 300 points higher than the current teacher corps.

We'd have more kids excelling in the TechTest, too.

Douglas Keachie

During the typical 9.5 months work year, most teachers wind up taking home work and working late at school, dances and parents nights and football games, etc.,, which more than makes up for the "usual number of weeks worked in private industry." I have on several occasions listed a link to a plan that fairly evaluates teachers. GG has yet to come up with a plan other than what is effectively, "look at test scores, and show the losers the door, the sooner the better." His corollary seems to be, "Don't raise salaries until all teachers are producing test scores above average, or the Twelveth of Never, which ever occurs second." As soon as private industry matches the once a year hiring pattern for full salaried teaching positions, let's talk. Otherwise teaching is far riskier than most professions.

Douglas Keachie

Districts, BTW, do not have to fire you, as they can make your life miserable until you decide to quit.

At the time I took the SAT and got 697 and 621 English and math, I was given a chart that said I was well above the 90%tile of all taking the test. Greg has set his sights on scores that would take in less than 1% of the college graduates nation wide. California needs a few more teachers than that, and there is no way in heck that is level he is going to get, to fill California's need for 300,000 teachers. In the country as a whole the top one % would be 3 million people, and only if all of California's share of those top smartees went into teaching, you would not have enough. In short, Greg goes for the impossible, do the math!

"Steady Teacher Attrition

But let's go back and look at the claims made by California's schools chief to see if there really might be a teacher shortage on the horizon in this bellwether state. Events in California are often a harbinger for things to come elsewhere.

O'Connell cited a report from the nonprofit Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (CFTL). As California struggles to provide a robust student and teacher data collection and reporting system, groups like the CFTL provide data that point to trends in the state. The CFTL teamed with the California State University and University of California to prepare a report, California's Teaching Force 2010: Key Issues and Trends. The report cites some facts that point to a looming teacher shortage:

In 2009-2010, 32 percent of the workforce was over fifty years of age, placing about a third of teachers on track for retirement in the next ten years.
The number of new teachers hired has dropped 50 percent in the past two years.
The number of enrollees in teacher preparation colleges dropped from 75,000 to 45,000 from 2001-2002 to 2007-2008.
The number of teaching credentials issued declined by 35 percent since 2004.

In addition, the report notes that whereas student enrollment had decreased in recent years, it is projected to grow by more than 230,000 by 2018-2019."


Douglas Keachie

Under the new scoring system with 2400 being the new perfect score, a 650 (1/2 of 1300, old style), would be a 1950 which checks in at 81 percentile in the most recent test go round. So Greg's request is not as extreme as I thought.

George Rebane

For the record, in my and related fields I'm not aware of professional high tech jobs that a) are 8 to 5 efforts, and b) secure (at least anywhere near as secure as teaching jobs). Unless you are developing and/or 'own' the core intellectual property your company requires for revenues, you are continually on the block. And the more you get paid, the more cross-hairs you have on your belly.


George, there are large company turn the crank jobs that are essentially 8 to 5. Get there on time, leave on time. I turned down work at Northrop once, a job helping design the guidance section of gizmo that would travel from point A to point B at which time an event would occur, and part of the reason was, when in the office meeting the folks I'd be working with, they were joking about how little they worked. Instead I zipped off to Santa Barbara for less money to work for a company making gizmos for the ARPAnet and people weren't joking about how little they were working.

Otherwise, you are of course, on the money. Teachers want the high pay of the hard technologies but not the selectivity and instability. Imagine, having to worry once a year that you might get axed because of the birthrate between 5 and 18 years ago!

Regarding the 1300 SAT average I threw out, that's the Teach for America average, it is indeed the old M+V measurement, and it is demonstrably possible.

Finally, I note Keachie didn't try to justify his mischaracterization of the NCTQ's statements when faced with my challenge of <31 May 2012 at 12:53 AM>; it is Keachie's habit to misquote things to make them sound ridiculous, and the NCTQ did not claim attending one of the 100 top colleges in order to produce good results in the classroom.

In short, if you want K-12 education to result in high school graduates, some of which, like the techtest survivors, are bound for college success, hire people to teach who graduated from high school knowing what they needed to know to succeed in a good college. This isn't rocket science.

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