Archives for category: Accountability

Alex Pareene does a demolition job on almost the entire staff of the New York Times’ opinion page.

That page is the most valuable space in American journalism today, yet several of the regulars seem to have grown stale and lazy, recycling opinions based on little more than gossip they heard at the latest high-powered cocktail party or something that Bill Gates–who knows everything–may have said in the last few weeks or months.

Pareene singles out David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, and Thomas Friedman for his special scorn.

I must say I appreciate Paul Krugman, a Nobel-prize winning economist who pays close attention to the growing inequality in our nation.

And Charles Blow often has original contributions.

But Pareene’s beef is that the columnists he singles out have grown stale and boring.

Opinion columnists are expected to have an opinion on everything, even topics about which they are woefully uninformed.

Since they write so often, they don’t have time to do research and they are too self-confident to check with other knowledgeable sources, so they just echo conventional wisdom.

Not a one of the columnists singled out by Pareene has even the slightest understanding of American education or the issues that are now creating upheaval and chaos in our nation’s schools.

Maybe they just don’t care.

It is not as if education is an unimportant issue. It’s just that to the Times’ opinion writers, it doesn’t matter, even though it will have a huge impact on our future.

No one can know everything about everything. The Times should eliminate tenure for their opinion writers and recycle them, perhaps with Write for America temps.

At least, they would have some fresh ideas and opinions. And in a few months, or a year, they would be gone.

 

Wendy Davis is running for Governor of Texas. She is going after the testing industry, which spends big-time for lobbyists to make sure that no child is left untested, even children in pre-school.

From: Wendy Davis for Governor
Date: April 22, 2014 at 8:34:08 AM
Subject: Davis Campaign Files Open Records Request on Abbott and Testing Industry
Reply-To: press@wendydavistexas.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2014
Contact: Rebecca Acuña: (956) 206-5853
Wendy R. Davis for Governor Campaign

Davis Campaign Files Open Records Request on Abbott and Testing Industry

“Greg Abbott’s so-called education plan is nothing but a big wet kiss to Texas’ standardized testing industry,” said communications director Zac Petkanas.

Fort Worth, TX: Greg Abbott’s education plan calls for imposing high-stakes standardized tests onto four year olds in pre-K and ties those test results to education funding. The Wendy Davis Campaign yesterday filed an open records request seeking any communication between the Office of the Attorney General and companies tied to the standardized testing industry.

The open records request asked for the prompt production of the following information (regardless of physical form and including but not limited to invoices, receipts, billing statements, e-mails, letters, memoranda, agendas, calendars, schedules, faxes, fax cover sheets, phone calls, phone messages, etc..) held by the Office of the Attorney General:

1. Any and all communications between Attorney General Greg Abbott and /or the Office of the Attorney General and agents NCS Pearson, Inc., Pearson, Inc. or Pearson Education

2. Any and all TPIA requests and responsive documents mentioning “NCS Pearson, Inc.”, “Pearson, Inc.”, or “Pearson Education” since January 2013.”

“Greg Abbott’s so-called education plan is nothing but a big wet kiss to Texas’ standardized testing industry,” said communications director Zac Petkanas. “His plan imposes standardized tests onto four year olds in order to pick and choose who gets access to a quality education and who does not. In the interest of transparency, Greg Abbott should make all communication between his office and representatives of the standardized testing industry public. Texans deserve to know how the testing industry is influencing Greg Abbott’s controversial pre-k plan.”

Here’s what the Texas press corps has said about Greg Abbott’s plan to impose standardized testing onto 4 year olds:
“The $118 million Abbott plan calls for lawmakers to require school districts with preK programs to administer assessments at the beginning and end of the school year in an effort to measure the quality of such programs. One of those assessments referenced in Abbott’s plan is standardized testing.” –Corpus Christi Caller-Times

“One of the candidates’ biggest slug-fests over Pre-K has focused on Abbott’s call for assessing what these four-year olds have learned and how that would be done. A paragraph in Abbott’s 22- page plan says standardized testing is one way of doing that.” — KERA

“Abbott also proposes that school districts meet a “gold standard” as an incentive for funding. That involves measurement, which is another way of saying testing” – Corpus Christi Caller-Times

“That would include testing and other measurements to ensure that instruction in those classes is effective.” –Dallas Morning News
“Sabo also cautioned against placing too much emphasis on testing for such young children.’ The last thing Texas needs is Baby STAAR.’”– Austin American Statesman

“Districts being funded by the state would also be required to test each pre-K student for benchmarks.” – Texas Public Radio

“Abbott’s plan would grant an additional $1500 per pre-k student in districts that agree to meet new “gold” standards, a determination that would be made through testing and other assessments.” – KUT

###

After years of enacting reform after reform, and after years of defunding the public schools, Oklahoma legislators are stepping back and thinking twice  what they have wrought.

It is not pretty.

They passed a law saying that third graders would be held back if they didn’t pass a test, but they are rethinking that.

They adopted the Common Core standards, but they are rethinking that.

They adopted A-F school grades, but they are rethinking that.

Imagine that.

A legislature wondering if they did the right thing and taking another look.

Let’s hope it is true.

Let’s hope they are asking themselves whether they are really qualified to tell educators how to do their jobs.

Maybe they should hire well-qualified teachers, set reasonable standards, and let the teachers teach.

And while they are at it, fund the schools so they can offer the arts, foreign languages, history, civics, science, physical education, libraries, a school nurse, a counselor, and the other services and programs that schools and students need.

Chiara Duggan, a teacher in Ohio and regular contributor to our blog’s discussion, writes the following, which is a great example of educating the public:

 

I did two full days of community discussion on our local schools this week. It’s amazing how many new ed reform mandates they have, just this year.

School grading system, A-F (replaces the old grading system) teacher grading system, Third Grade Reading Guarantee and of course the CC.

That’s with millions of cuts in state funding. Next year they lose state (personal) property tax funding, because it’s been zeroed.

No one could do all these things (well) with less funding at the same time. No one. They’re drowning. My sense was they’ve been in this reform system for so long (more than a decade now) that they don’t even recognize how ludicrous the demands sound to an “outsider”.

They need more forums to explain this to the public. The members of the “business community” who were in attendance got it immediately.

Paul Thomas follows Anthony Cody’s previously cited post by describing the unrelenting attack on teachers, which has intensified with the use of statistically inappropriate measures.

He writes:

“As Cody notes above, however, simultaneously political leaders, the media, and the public claim that teachers are the most valuable part of any student’s learning (a factually untrue claim), but that high-poverty and minority students can be taught by those without any degree or experience in education (Teach for America) and that career teachers no longer deserve their profession—no tenure, no professional wages, no autonomy, no voice in what or how they teach.

And while the media and political leaders maintain these contradictory narratives and support these contradictory policies, value-added methods (VAM) of evaluating and compensating U.S. public teachers are being adopted, again simultaneously, as the research base repeatedly reveals that VAM is yet another flawed use of high-stake accountability and testing.”

Thomas cites review after review to demonstrate that VAM is inaccurate and deeply flawed. Yet the evidence is ignored and VAM is being used as a political weapon by the odd bedfellows of the Obama administration and rightwing governors as well as some Democratic governors, like Andrew Cuomo of New York and Dannell Malloy of Connecticut, to attack teachers. President Obama made a point of praising the Chetty study in his 2012 State of the Union address, not waiting for the many reviews that showed the error of measuring teacher quality by test scores.

Thomas writes:

“The rhetoric about valuing teachers rings hollow more and more as teaching continues to be dismantled and teachers continue to be devalued by misguided commitments to VAM and other efforts to reduce teaching to a service industry.

“VAM as reform policy, like NCLB, is sham-science being used to serve a corporate need for cheap and interchangeable labor. VAM, ironically, proves that evidence does not matter in education policy.”

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and State Commissioner of Education John King spoke at the Wagner School at New York University. This comment came from a graduate student at that institution. Her insight was so on target that I thought I would share it.

She writes:

“I am an NYU Wagner graduate and a public school parent. I was unable to attend Commissioner King’s speech and Secretary Duncan’s appearance. I hope a bright Wagner student asked how two men entrusted with our children’s education could miss so many of the fundamentals taught at the Wagner School. A Wagner education includes the analysis of case studies. If they are not already doing so, I hope Wagner students will soon be studying the Common Core as an overwhelming failure and as an example of what not to do in order to create change. The Federal Government and New York State have set shining examples of top-down management at its worst. Instead of building support from stakeholders, parents and teachers have been alienated and demoralized. Instead of valuing each and every student, Commissioner King and Secretary Duncan have sought to rank and sort students into losers and winners. Instead of fostering collaboration, competition and the survival of the fittest are their goals. Great leaders possess large quantities of humility. King and Duncan exemplify hubris.”

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State  Legislature passed a budget bill that allows charters to have free space inside public schools, even though the charters are private corporations. Not only that, the charters that are already located inside public schools may expand as much as they want, pushing public school children out of their buildings. In some cases, the charters will push out programs for students with profound disabilities to make way for a larger, highly privileged charter school.  If the charters rent private space, the city is obliged to pay their rent. All this, despite the fact that many charters have billionaires on their private boards of directors. Today, leaders of New York City parent organizations and community councils rallied on the steps of the New York Public Library, then marched to the office of Governor Cuomo.

 

The Governor should remember–this being an election year–that there are 1.1 million children in New York City who attend public schools. There are 60,000 children who attend charter schools. Parents will remember in August what Governor Cuomo did in April.

 

 
For immediate release
April 10, 2014

Noah E. Gotbaum: 917-658-3213; noah@gotbaum.com
Rashidah White: 646-229-1610; white.rashidah@gmail.com
Electeds and Parent Leaders Representing 1.5M NYC Public School Parents Say “All NYC Kids Matter”
Rally Against the Governor’s Giveaway of Public Space To Hedge-fund Backed Charters
This afternoon, in an unprecedented show of unity, elected officials, including State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman of Manhattan and Council Member Danny Dromm, chair of the Council Education Committee, Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP NY State Conference, and hundreds of parents and children from across the five boroughs filled the steps of the New York Public Library to say that all kids matter, and that the privileged few who attend charter schools should not be allowed to hijack space in our already overcrowded public schools. Then they marched to Governor Cuomo’s office where children present his representative with a large signed post-card, with counterfeit dollar bills attached, to symbolize how he has enabled his wealthy contributors in the charter lobby to engineer a hostile takeover of our public schools, over the needs of NYC’s 1.1 million public school children.

 
Said Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, “It would be a mistake for Albany to force the City to provide public space for all charters or else require the DOE to pay charter rent for private space. Our City doesn’t benefit from Albany’s meddling; it can only breed resentment and the vast majority of New Yorkers will not stand for it. If Albany truly wanted to be helpful, it would make funding available to alleviate overcrowding and support class size reduction. In too many Manhattan school districts, pre-k seats have been eliminated to make room for kindergarten seats; and, year after year, class sizes continue to rise. New York City must have the ability to determine best uses for our public school buildings without intervention from Albany.”

 
“Governor Cuomo’s education budget is unfair to New York City schools,” said NYC Council Education Chairperson Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “Giving privately operated charter school students preference for space and more per pupil public funding than public school students if the city is forced to pay their rent is totally unjust. Forcing co-locations in favor of privately run charter schools and forcing out public schools creates a logistical nightmare that begs the question about where will our public school students go. We stand united against gubernatorial control of our schools.”
“Despite school leaders’ best efforts and the best intentions of the Department of Education, a co-location disadvantages students from both schools by forcing them to share already-overburdened resources,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas of Queens. “I applaud the dedicated efforts of community parents, teachers, and students in working towards a vision that will benefit every New York student with fair and equal access to a quality education.”

 
John Fielder of Community Education Council in District 7 in the Bronx said, “The new charter law is absolutely disgraceful. Our public schools are losing classrooms and programs right and left because of co-locations. PS 162 in District 7 had one of the best music programs in the Bronx; now with the charter school being forced into the building it may lose that program. I say, let charters pay for their own buildings because they can afford it, instead of hurting the education of our public school kids.’

 
According to Lisa Donlan, President of the Community Education Council in District 1 in Manhattan, “Parents, educators, students and community members are coming together to send a strong message to Governor Cuomo: these are our public schools , and we will not allow the Governor to bully us and hijack them to satisfy private interests. The Governor needs to improve opportunities for ALL students, not for the small number who are already protected by wealthy special interests. He could start by addressing the fact that makes our state’s schools the most segregated in the country, with NYC charter schools the most segregated of all.”

 
“Perhaps we should thank Gov. Cuomo for finally uniting 1.1 million families across all five boroughs. To minimize co-locations in New York City’s public schools, we stand as many…we stand as one,” said Deborah Alexander, a member of Community Education Council in District 30 in Queens.

 
Miriam Aristy-Farer, President of Community Education Council 6 in Upper Manhattan said, “To ignore what the state owes the public school children from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was wrong. To further fuel the divide in our city by giving more funding and power to charters was not only short sighted but foolish. To then allow these same charter lobbyists to flood parents’ mailboxes with propaganda, saying we should thank the Governor, is particularly outrageous.”

 
“Traditional public schools will now suffer even greater financial strains, thanks to the NY legislature and Governor Cuomo mandating NYC pay rent for all charter schools. I appreciate charter schools and the competition they create for better schools. I just wish we had more safeguards in place to ensure charters retain all students, especially those with disabilities. Far too many charters counsel students out of the school. The charters “cream” the high performing and less costly students while the local zoned public schools absorb the costs of providing services to the students with the most needs,” pointed out Mike Reilly, Community Education Council member from District 31 on Staten Island.

 
Noah E. Gotbaum, Vice President of Community Education Council District 3 in Harlem and the Upper West side said, “12,000 New York City public school students have traded classrooms for rat-infested trailers, almost half a million of our children sit in schools above capacity, and all 1.1 million face class sizes at levels not seen in decades. So why have Governor Cuomo and the Senate Coalition leadership given unregulated expansion rights to all new and existing charters, and handed over control of our public school buildings to the charter school lobby, while defunding the 94% of kids in public schools? Because the hedge fund-driven charter lobby told them to.”

 
“During the Bloomberg years, our communities had a difficult time communicating the educational needs of our schools to the disconnected educrats in Tweed. Now the people making decisions are in Albany and even more removed from direct input from the stakeholders. What does a state charter school authorizer know about my Brooklyn neighborhood!? NOTHING! And now these folks are in charge! Is this any way to run a school system? As we say in Brooklyn, you bet it ain’t!” said David Goldsmith, President of the Community Education Council 13 in Brooklyn.

 
Andy Lachman of Parent Leaders of the Upper East Side said: “For the majority of NYC public school children this budget spells D-O-O-M. It dooms public education and puts control of education in the hands of private citizens and corporations. It will mean less funding for public schools and larger class sizes in an already overcrowded system. It will mean fewer essential services, and less space for art and physical education, already lacking in too many schools.”

 
Rashidah White of Community Education Council in District 5 in Central Harlem said, “In the national competition to “Race to the Top”, Albany legislatures have not only neglected to provide standard state regulated learning environments for some of our country’s most needy public school children, but their decision last week leaves them ill equipped to even enter the race at all. The parceling off of NY State’s constitutional obligation to provide equitable education to all students and the funneling off of public resources to corporate backed charters is wholly unconstitutional and must be reexamined.”

 
Kemala Karmen of the group NYCpublic said, “The voters of New York City gave Bill de Blasio an overwhelming mandate to charge charter schools rent. Now Andrew Cuomo, who seems to take his marching orders from the wealthy hedge-funders who donate to his campaign, has reversed that popular mandate to make the city pay charter rent. This is outrageous and undemocratic. Every single public school child in New York City is a potential victim of this budget. Lock up your teachers and your guidance counselors, because the city may have to lay them off to pay for the leases of well-financed charters.”

 
Ellen McHugh, member of the Citywide Council on Special Education said, “Please Governor Cuomo, be a Governor for every child. If you want to be a champion of education, see to it that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement is implemented. Don’t abandon the most vulnerable 109 students with special needs at PS 811, who will be evicted by the charter school for the sake of a favored few. Where will these students go? To a Success Academy, which refuses to enroll disabled children? I don’t think so.”

 
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters said, “ While the Governor claims he is the ‘students lobbyist’ his new budget favors the pet charter schools of his contributors while cheating 1.1 million public school children out of space and resources, at a time when our schools are already hugely overcrowded and our class sizes the largest in fifteen years. Kudos to our elected officials and the parents elected to serve on Community Education Councils, for speaking out against this unfair and damaging mandate, and insisting that all NYC kids matter, not just a privileged few.”
###

A study of charter schools by the League of Women Voters in Florida found that they spend more on administration than public schools and they don’t get better academic results.

“In Hillsborough, three charter schools that have opened since 2011 are owned by Charter Schools USA, a for-profit corporation, and these three alone enroll more than 20 percent of all charter students. In 2011, Woodmont Charter School, one of these three, expended 44 percent of its total revenue on instruction and 42 percent on management fees and leases.

“By contrast, traditional Hillsborough County schools spend at least 86 percent of revenue on instruction. Woodmont had FCAT scores of D for 2012 and F for 2013, and this is not unusual, since charter schools composed 50 percent of all F-rated Florida schools in 2011. Meanwhile, the six traditional public elementary schools and one middle school within 1 mile of Woodmont all have higher FCAT scores.

“Sadly, the traditional public schools are losing students, and thus public dollars, to the “choice” school that advertises a superior alternative. Neither the charter nor traditional public school students are benefiting, creating a lose/lose scenario.”

I encountered this article on Twitter, and a reader was kind enough to forward it in the comments section.

 
http://ow.ly/vcl92

 

I Just Want to Teach…..Not Give Useless Tests: The Current Plight of Alabama’s Hoover City School Teachers
Part One: Changes in the Elementary Program
by Deborah G. Camp, Ph.D

 

K-5 teachers at Hoover City Schools began the 2013-2014 with not only a classroom of new students but with new central office administrators espousing Draconian practices and attitudes, especially with regard to the use of what they call “formative assessments.” Prior to this year, an elementary assessment schedule had been in place for several years and had been constantly tweaked to provide the most bang for the amount of time taken for classroom-based assessments to avoid wasting precious instructional time that can never be replaced. . The assessments consisted of interview-type instruments that were administered individually by teachers since research indicates these type tests to be superior with regards to getting the most valuable information from students especially the youngest ones. Some math assessments consisted of a sample of paper-and-pencil computation problems so teachers could study student errors to diagnose how children may be thinking. A quick-scoring oral language assessment had been added at the lower grades since teachers reported that this area of the language arts seemed to be a trouble spot with many students.
At kindergarten teachers’ requests two years ago, the amount of testing at the beginning of the year had been significantly reduced so that teachers could better acclimate children to this thing we call school rather than wasting those valuable first weeks of school individually administering assessments. Only those students whose teachers’ judgments caused them to suspect serious learning problems were assessed early in the school year. Otherwise, classroom-based assessments began in the middle of the year, giving children time to adjust to kindergarten and teachers time to observe the children as they went about their classroom activities.

 
All decisions about classroom tests from grades K to 5 were made collaboratively with the district curriculum director, principals, teacher leaders such as reading coaches and math facilitators, and teachers at large. The assessment schedule was revisited every summer based on teacher feedback. Sounds pretty fair, huh?
Well, elementary teachers and principals were told – not asked – that these teacher-administered and scored instruments would be replaced with computer-based assessments at each grade level: easyCBM for grades K-2 and Global Scholar for grades 3-5. Both tests would measure reading and math. At the first reading coach meeting, one reading coach commented that her teachers liked the results that the former interview assessments yielded. One of the new district administrators commented, “Well, those teachers can continue to give those tests in addition to easyCBM, but if I hear any complaining from them about it taking too much time away from instruction, they will incur my wrath.” Wow! Great way to build relationships and rapport.
Suddenly kindergarten children were herded into computer labs during the first few days and weeks of school and expected to not only manipulate a computer (regardless of whether they had any experience with technology or not) and push keys on an inanimate object that could not look into their eyes to see if they understood the question, whether they were timid, or whether they were too restless to perform such a task. Teachers were told the easyCBM for both reading and math would be administered mid-year and end-of-year as well with the strict warning that “Your students better benchmark on the mid-year administration or else.” Again, really? This is how district administrators are treating teachers?

 
On January 23, 2014, one first grade teacher expressed her frustration this way. “This is probably the most discouraged I have ever been as a teacher. Doing the ‘easy’CBM testing this week on 6/7 year olds has absolutely killed me and more importantly my precious children. They hated every minute and it DOES NOT measure anything worth looking at in my opinion. Simply getting them logged into it is not a DAP (developmentally appropriate practice) for K, 1, or 2nd graders. How did we get here? I feel like this is a bad dream and even though they say they won’t put emphasis on our test scores, I know they will. I have already started to see signs of that. I have never once been questioned about my teaching or any method of instruction. However, if things appear a certain way to others, that is when noise will start being made. I am just exhausted. I have a constant stomach ache right now and feel so much pressure it makes me want to stop teaching.”
Another kindergarten teacher commented that some of her students did not understand what to do at all at the beginning of the year, so they just sat there the entire time and stared at the monitor. She also commented that easyCBM is nothing more than DIBELS on the computer. Research conducted by many educators suggests DIBELS is just a big ol’ waste of time. A 2nd grade teacher made some general as well as specific comments, “We have a lack of leadership outside the schools, and no value is placed on teacher opinions as professionals. Central office administrators are losing sight of the children and what is or is not developmentally appropriate just for the sake of obtaining a score/number. Teachers are being asked to do more than is humanly possible in the school day. EasyCBM and Global Scholar are being used as performance indicators rather than as formative assessments intended to give us diagnostic information. We teachers have been ‘silenced’ and are unable to voice our thoughts, opinions, and ideas. The people making the decisions are distant from the classroom and don’t spend time in them or talking with us teachers. There has been a massive shift in philosophy in the system, and no one at central office has any early childhood or elementary degrees or experience.”

 
Here’s another kindergarten teacher’s take on easyCBM. “The overwhelming opinion is that it is horrible for young children, particularly kindergarten. The expectations are unrealistic, the questions are deliberately confusing, and asking 5-year olds to take it in a computer is ridiculous. For example, my class performed particularly low, so I re-administered the test using paper and pencil, and the results were immediately and drastically higher – even on bad questions. Taking the computer out of the mix made a big difference. One of my student’s parents reported that her child came home and said, ‘I’m not smart.’ When the mother probed further, the child said, ‘I took a test on the computer today and I didn’t know many of the answers.’ In one hour time period this test managed to damage the child’s self esteem and taint his view of school.”

 
The 3rd – 5th grade teachers have expressed frustration with the Global Scholar computer-based assessment and question the results it yields. The central office administrators have provided little information about “how the test works” or item specifications of the assessment, but yet again kids are herded into computer labs to take a test neither they nor their teachers know anything about. The teachers know the standards that are tested but have no idea how the test questions are structured.
One 3rd grade teacher stated, “I hate Global Scholar with every fiber of my being. The questions are completely ridiculous and not grade level appropriate. For example, my 3rd graders had questions about algebraic equations with variables. This is not even in our curriculum. These questions basically stress these kids out because they have no clue what they are asking. How is that really assessing what they know? They don’t even learn it at this grade level! They ‘say’ the reading passages adjust to their reading level based on their answers. Well, I have a student who can barely read her name and she gets the same degree of difficulty and length passages as my kiddo reading on a 6th grade level. She doesn’t even read it! She looks long enough to keep it from kicking her out and then guesses. These are not appropriate for her to even be reading! And it frustrates her! The Fountas and Pinell Assessment is MUCH more accurate for me to ‘find their reading level.’ I just hate the whole testing thing! Every bit of it. These poor babies are just trying to do the best they can every day and we have to make them sit down and take hours long tests and tell them ‘just do the best you can.’ When in fact, some of their bests aren’t good enough. I think it’s another one of these one-size-fits-all tests that does not reflect true student performance. And to be completely honest, my kids do not take the computer assessments as seriously as paper and pencil ones. They just start clicking!!”

 
Another 3rd grade teacher said, “When I gave the test in the fall I was appalled at the level of the questions as reported by the students after the test. I knew the chances of my children performing well was slim. Several of my students who struggle (based on what I know and how I assess) scored in the high average range so I knew they guessed really well. Also, one of my students who is in the enrichment program and scored the highest score in 2nd grade when being screened for enrichment scored in the below average range. This is clearly an example of her freezing up and the test not looking at her as a whole. The ONE thing that I can say about Global Scholar that is somewhat positive is it does allow for some critical thinking and reasoning in the multiple choice answers. Many of the questions included two completely unrealistic answers so if the kids were able think logically about the question they had a better chance of succeeding. On the winter assessment my students performed a little more true to what I was seeing. I would like to think that this was because they have been taught to think and spent more time thinking about the questions! Or it could be because I told them before we went in that many of the questions would have unrealistic answers and for the students to eliminate them first! Having said all that, I obviously put very little stock in what those scores say. The number attached to the child tells me nothing about what that child knows/doesn’t know, and/or what that child is capable of.”

 
To add insult to injury, the central office administrators have been meeting with teachers and administrators to share the growth students have made on the easyCBM and Global Scholar since the beginning of the year. Any college measurement and evaluation course will teach you to NEVER judge student performance on merely one test or indicator but consider multiple measures, including, yes, teacher judgement. But obviously Hoover does not believe teachers have enough sense to determine on their own how well students are performing.
On March 4th, the central office administrators met with the elementary teachers to publicly share each school’s grade level scores on either the easyCBM or Global Scholar. The scores were shared in a PowerPoint, so teachers knew which teams’ students across the district scored well or not. You won’t believe this…..the teachers whose students had shown the most progress from fall to spring were given candy. Cadbury Easter egg because those schools did “EGGsactly what they were supposed to do,” said the curriculum administrators. One teacher reported, “In 20 years of teaching I have never been made to feel so small!! I am just sick to my stomach. I sent my husband a text and told him he had to find a way for me to leave because I cannot be a part of this!!” Only the candy teachers were identified by school and grade level. The rest of the scores were shown by grade level and if there was growth made and if it was enough growth. 4th grade was just barely on the edge of staying in the “high average” category.
Another teacher commented, “There were LOTS of people there, and I know many who felt the same as I did. And I was already prepared to turn down the candy should I or my school had been one of the ‘most improved’ schools. Lots of people are upset and contacting each other besides me. As I was looking around the room I kept thinking that I wasn’t the minority in the room. So many teachers in there that I have taught with and respect and feel and share the same thoughts. It was just so belittling!”

 

 

One teacher commented that the presentation was “creepy. She (the curriculum administrator) was like a preacher. She’d get really loud and then whisper. This was done to make people laugh and people were encouraged to clap. She said she was very concerned about 4th grade. I do love those darn Cadbury mini eggs though. I guess I should stop and grab some candy for my class for when they do well on an assessment since we’ve time traveled back to 1982.”

 

 

Stay tuned for Part 2: Changes in the Secondary Program

 

 

Deborah Camp served in public education for 30 years in Alabama before recently retiring. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama, and a master’s degree in elementary education, an Educational Leadership certificate, and a doctorate in Early Childhood Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her work experience includes 17 years of teaching assignments in special education, elementary, middle school, and reading specialist in Jefferson County Board of Education and Hoover City Schools. She served as the district director of curriculum and instruction in Hoover for 13 years. She was selected as the Alabama Elementary State Teacher of the Year in 1998 and inducted into the Jacksonville State University Teacher Hall of Fame, Middle School Division, in 1999. In 1997 she obtained National Board Certification in English Language Arts/Early Adolescence and was one of the first 25 teachers in the state to earn National Board certification and was one of the first 900 teachers in the nation. She has conducted workshops on numerous topics in education at the local, state, national, and international level. She has authored several professional articles and books. Although retired, she continues to advocate for fair work conditions for teachers and equitable education for all children.

 

Dr. Camp is also a proud Alabama BAT. Find out more about the BadAss Teachers at http://www.badassteacher.org

 

Stephen Dyer, a former legislator, explains here why charters in Ohio are very different from those in some other states.

The question he does not address is whether charters in other states operate as secretively and non-transparently as those in Ohio. Don’t expect to get an answer from the Obama administrations’ Department of Education, which loves the charter industry. We will have to wait for an enterprising researcher or journalist to dig deep and investigate.

Charters in Ohio collect $900 million yearly from taxpayers, but there are important questions they will not answer.

Dyer writes:

“Now it is true that sometimes it’s tough to get information out of traditional public schools. As a former reporter, I remember many rounds I’d go with districts about whether I could get information. But I never remember failing to receive this kind of information:

“Who runs the building?

“Who is that person’s supervisor?

“Who is the management company in charge?

“How does one contact the school board?

“When does the board meet?

“Only 1 in 4 Ohio Charter Schools answered these five basic questions. That’s right. Only 1 in 4 Charters told members of the public, who pay $900 million a year for these schools, when the school board meets. And these schools are called “public schools” throughout the Ohio Revised Code. Perhaps this is why courts around the country are finding that Charter Schools aren’t actually public schools? Because they act like private schools?

“Look, Ohio taxpayers fork over $900 million a year for Charter Schools. They deserve to know how that money is being spent. Because they would be able to find the answers to these five questions on every single traditional public school website. You wouldn’t have to set up phone banks to find out the answers to these basic five questions, the way the Akron Beacon Journal did for Charters.

“Can you imagine if the Beacon called Akron Public Schools and they refused to tell them who the Superintendent was, or when the board met, or how to contact the board? I mean, that is just beyond imagination, right? But Charters, we are told, are just as public a school as APS. So why do they operate under such a shadow?

“Ohio’s Charter School system is a disaster. It needs serious overhaul.

“Ohio’s Charter Schools take far more kids from school districts that outperform the Charter than the other way round. They spend nearly 3 times as much on administration than the average school district. They spend more per pupil overall than traditional school districts. And because the state pays about twice as much per pupil for the typical Charter School kid than the typical traditional public school kid, kids not in Charters get several hundred dollars less in state revenue than the state says they need. So what’s the bottom line for Ohio’s Charter Schools in comparison with traditional public schools, overall?

“They perform far worse academically

“They cost the state far more

“They spend more per pupil

“They spend far more on administration

“They are far less transparent”

Why is this situation possible? Two reasons: charter lobbyists make large campaign contributions to politicians, especially Republicans. They are not public schools, and need not be transparent or accountable.

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