Archives for category: Class size

Lisa Schencker of the Salt Lake Tribune reported that class sizes are rising in the state, despite an official low number. She realized that the official number of 22.8 students per class was misleading. The Tribune invited readers to write and identify large classes.

 

The Tribune asked readers last week to help us find the state’s largest classes. The Tribune received more than 100 responses via email, Facebook and Twitter — mostly from teachers.

 

One teacher in the Granite district said she had 52 students in her Utah Studies class for seventh-graders last year. A parent reported 43 students in her son’s Granite district honors English class last year. A Canyons foreign language teacher said she now has 42 students in one of her classes. A Logan School District teacher reported 56 students in one of her classes.

 

“The classes of 40 and 38 are frequently interrupted with management and behavioral issues, not enough computers in the same lab, etc.,” wrote Shelly Edmonds, a teacher at Hillcrest High, who noted she has one class with 40 kids this year.

 

Hillcrest High Advanced Placement Literature teacher Katie Bullock said she has 39 kids in one class and 100 AP Literature students overall.

 

“Try grading the amount of writing that takes place every week in an AP Lit course (or should take place … which doesn’t … because I can’t humanly keep up …),” she wrote.

 

 

Nevada is giving more than $1 Billion in tax breaks to woo automaker Tesla to build a huge factory to produce electric batteries.

The deal is controversial but not among Nevada legislators, who expect it to produce economic benefits and 6,500 jobs.

Education also produces economic benefits and jobs, but legislators don’t mind underfunding their schools, increasing class sizes, and short changing the next generation of Nevadans.

The Néw York Times says that Nevada is paying about $200,000 for each job that might be created.

Did Tesla really need the tax break to locate in Nevada?

“Richard Florida, a global research professor at New York University and a frequent critic of development incentives, said the factory would probably have been built in Nevada even without the generous subsidy.

“They had the site picked out; they started on it,” he said in an email. Companies like Tesla “exploit that information asymmetry,” creating uncertainty in a potential host state, he said. “They know where they want to locate, and then essentially game the process to get incentives from states. It is wasteful and it should be banned.”

Angie Sullivan, a teacher in Nevada who keeps me informed, sent out this Roseanne Barr video as a reaction to the Tesla handout: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0hmfBtk0WaE

This is the most absurd “report” yet. This organization says that the U.S. does not have an “efficient” school system. Finland has the most efficient school system. What can we do to become more efficient? Cut teachers’ salaries and increase class size.

Funny, when I visited Finland in 2011, I saw many classes, none larger than 16. Teachers’ pay is equivalent to U.S. pay.

“The Efficiency Index –which education systems deliver the best value for money? was released today.

US ranks nineteenth out of thirty countries in new ranking of education system efficiency

Released 19.01 EDT Thursday September 4 2014

The US ranks in the bottom half of a new international comparison of the efficiency of education systems across OECD countries – lower than Japan, Korea and many northern European countries.

The Efficiency Index –which education systems deliver the best value for money?, commissioned by GEMS Education Solutions, is the first comprehensive international analysis that looks at how efficiently education budgets are allocated in each country.

It ranks 30 OECD countries based on their expenditure on teacher costs, which account for 80 per cent of education budgets, and the pupil outcomes they achieve. In this way, it calculates which system generates the greatest educational return for each dollar invested.

The report is written by Professor Peter Dolton, Professor of Economics at Sussex University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics; Dr Oscar Marcenaro Gutie�rrez, Associate Professor at the University of Ma�laga; and Adam Still, Education Finance and Development Specialist at GEMS Education Solutions.

The index ranks Finland as the most efficient country in the OECD. According to the index’s econometric model, which calculates the proven statistical link between teacher salaries or class size and PISA scores, the US could match Finland high PISA’s results and still make efficiency savings by increasing class sizes and making a modest cut in teacher salaries. It finds that these results could be achieved even if the US was to increase its pupil/teacher ratio by 10 per cent.

Alternatively, if it were more efficient, the US could match Finland’s PISA results and still reduce teacher salaries by 4.7 per cent from the US average teacher salary of $41,460 to $39,520. The index argues that the US should consider addressing both teacher salary and class sizes to improve its education efficiency. As the largest country in the OECD, its overall education spend is five times that of any other country in the study and its teacher salaries are comparatively high.

The report stops short of advocating particular changes to salaries or class size in each country. It makes clear that there may be labour market, cultural, economic or political reasons why this ‘maximum’ efficiency is not possible without negative consequences. The authors have not examined the practical impact of such changes in each country. However, by showing how far countries fall short of the OECD’s most efficient system, the index provides an instructive point of comparison when Governments are allocating budgets.

The report groups the countries according to their efficiency:

1. Elite Performers: Finland, Japan and Korea score very well in both the efficiency and quality stakes.

2. Efficient and Effective: Australia, Czech Republic, New Zealand and Slovenia are all performing relatively well on efficiency and producing high PISA scores.

3. More Effective than Efficient: Overspending (too high salaries) or bloated (too many teachers): Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland. These countries perform better in terms of quality than efficiency. This may be because their system generates other outcomes that aren’t captured by PISA rankings. Alternatively, it may be because their systems are over-resourced beyond the threshold required to achieve high educational outcomes.

4. More Efficient than Effective: Underspending or underperforming: Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Sweden, UK and USA. These countries are more efficient than educationally effective. This could be because they have resource constraints that prevent them from improving quality such as low salaries may prevent the recruitment of highly skilled teachers. Alternatively, if extensive resources are already being spent, it could that the education system is flawed – and that policy changes, rather than additional resources, would improve education outcomes.

5. Inefficient and Ineffective: Brazil, Chile, Greece, Indonesia, Turkey These systems are inefficient and at the same time fail to produce good pupil outcomes.

The report finds that changes to teacher salary and pupil teacher ratio can improve efficiency because, out of 63 different inputs into the education system – from teaching materials to infrastructure – these were the only two that had a statistically significant impact on pupils’ PISA scores.

This is a powerful insight for policy makers since, unlike a child’s socio-economic background, parental support, or a child’s aspirations, governments have the policy levers to change both teacher salary and class sizes.

The report acknowledges that some countries, such as Switzerland and Germany, which both spend lavishly on their education system and achieve good results, may choose to pursue policies in which educational efficiency is not their priority. For instance, they may feel that PISA does not capture all the student outcomes that their system is aiming for.

Together, the 30 OECD countries in the study spent $2.2 trillion dollars on their education systems each year, and the average proportion of GDP that countries spend on education has been rising for decades. In an environment where state education budgets are likely to continue to be stretched and face competition from other spending priorities, the Efficiency Index sheds light on the effectiveness of the spending choices that policy-makers are currently making.

KEY FINDINGS:

Over the last 15 years Finland’s education system has been the most efficient in the OECD. Other high performers include Korea, Japan and Hungary and the Czech Republic. In contrast, Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy exhibit low efficiency.

Excellent outcomes are still possible with relatively large class sizes – despite a focus on reducing class-sizes in many western education systems. Finland and Korea, the two countries studied with the most efficient education systems, achieve good results, have relatively large class sizes – the 3rd and 5th largest of the OECD countries – and pay teachers moderate wages.

The US is in the bottom third of the efficiency index. As the biggest OECD country, it has an overall education spend five times higher than any other country in the study and pays very high teachers salaries.

Countries can be inefficient if they both underpay or overpay teachers. Some countries such as Indonesia and Brazil are inefficient because their low teachers pay makes it hard to recruit and retain high-calibre individuals into the profession. Modest extra expenditure would result in significantly better educational outcomes. Equally, higher salaries given to teachers who are already achieving excellence, such as those paid in Switzerland and Germany, may fail to increase performance and therefore harm efficiency.

In general those countries that demonstrate high efficiency also attain high educational outcomes. Five out of the top ten countries in the Efficiency Index are also in the PISA top ten.

Chris Kirk, Chief Executive, GEMS Education Solutions:

“GEMS Education Solutions commissioned the efficiency index to inform the debate about which items of educational expenditure are likely to make the greatest impact on the attainment of children.

It allows us to see which systems around the world produce the best results per pound, providing a data driven analysis that can inform policy choices. It clearly shows that some countries spend their available resources more efficiently than others.

“At a time at which many countries are struggling with tight public budgets. It also sends an important message to poorer countries that significant educational improvement is possible even with limited investment.”

Anthony Cody was not heartened by Marc Tucker’s vision of a new accountability system with fewer tests. In this post, he explains why. If ever there was a need for close reading, he believes, this is it.

Cody writes:

“Tucker’s plan is confusing. In a proposal in which accountability remains closely tied to a set of high stakes tests, Tucker cites the “Failure of Test-based Accountability,” and eloquently documents how this approach doomed NCLB.

“Tucker speaks about the professionalization of teaching, and points out how teaching has been ravaged by constant pressure to prepare for annual tests. But his proposal still seems wedded to several very questionable premises.

“First, while he blames policymakers for the situation, he seems to accept that the struggles faced by our schools are at least partly due to the inadequacy of America’s teachers. I know of no objective evidence that would support this indictment.

“Second, he argues that fewer, “higher quality” tests will somehow rescue us from their oppressive qualities. He also suggests, as did Duncan in 2010, that we can escape the “narrowing of the curriculum” by expanding the subject matter that would be tested.

“It is worth noting that many of the Asian countries that do so well on international test contests likewise have fewer tests. This chart shows that Shanghai, Japan and Korea all have only three big tests during the K12 years. However, because these tests have such huge stakes attached to them, the entire system revolves around them, and students’ lives and family incomes are spent on constant test preparation, in and out of school.

“Third, and this is the most fundamental problem, is that Tucker suggests that the economic future of our students will only be guaranteed if we educate them better. Tucker writes:

“Outsourcing of manufacturing and services to countries with much lower labor costs has combined with galloping automation to eliminate an ever-growing number of low-skilled and semi-skilled jobs and jobs involving routine work.

“The result is that a large and growing proportion of young people leaving high school with just the basic skills can no longer look forward to a comfortable life in the middle class, but will more likely face a future of economic struggle.

“This does not represent a decline from some standard that high school graduates used to meet. It is as high as any standard the United States has ever met. And it is wholly inadequate now. It turns out, then, that we are now holding teachers accountable for student performance we never expected before, a kind and quality of performance for which the present education system was never designed. That is manifestly unfair.”

“Tucker then repeats what has become the basic dogma of education reform. The economy of the 21st century demands our students be educated to much higher levels so we can effectively compete with our international rivals. Education — and ever better education to ever higher standards — is the key to restoring the middle class.”

But Cody objects:

“I do not believe the economy of the 21st century is waiting for some more highly educated generation, at which time middle class jobs will materialize out of thin air.

“Corporations are engaged in a systemic drive to cut the number of employees at all levels. When Microsoft laid off 18,000 skilled workers, executives made it clear that expenses – meaning employees, must be minimized. Profits require that production be lean. There is no real shortage of people with STEM degrees.

“On the whole, it is still an advantage for an individual to be well educated. But the idea that education is some sort of limiting factor on our economic growth is nonsense. And the idea that the future of current and future graduates will be greatly improved if they are better educated is likewise highly suspect.

“Bill Gates recently acknowledged in an interview at the American Enterprise Institute, “capitalism in general, over time, will create more inequality and technology, over time, will reduce demand for jobs particularly at the lower end of the skill set.”

“This is the future we face until there is a fundamental economic realignment. Fewer jobs. Continued inequality and greater concentration of wealth.”

Cody argues for a different vision, in which accountability goes far beyond teachers and schools:

“For far too long educators have accepted the flagellations of one accountability system after another, and time has come to say “enough.”

“We need to learn (and teach) the real lesson of NCLB – and now the Common Core. The problem with NCLB was not with the *number* of tests, nor with when the tests were given, nor with the subject matter on the tests, or the format of the tests, or the standards to which the tests were aligned.

“The problem with NCLB was that it was based on a false premise, that somehow tests can be used to pressure schools into delivering equitable outcomes for students. This approach did not work, and as we are seeing with Common Core, will not work, no matter how many ways you tinker with the tests.

“The idea that our education system holds the key to our economic future is a seductive one for educators. It makes us seem so important, and can be used to argue for investments in our schools. But this idea carries a price, because if we accept that our economic future depends on our schools, real action to address fundamental economic problems can be deferred. We can pretend that somehow we are securing the future of the middle class by sending everyone to preschool – meanwhile the actual middle class is in a shambles, and college students are graduating in debt and insecure.

“The entire exercise is a monumental distraction, and anyone who engages in this sort of tinkering has bought into a shell game, a manipulation of public attention away from real sources of inequity.”

Cody says:

“We need some accountability for children’s lives, for their bellies being full, for safe homes and neighborhoods, and for their futures when they graduate. Once there is a healthy ecosystem for them to grow in, and graduate into, the inequities we see in education will shrink dramatically. But that requires much broader economic and social change — change that neither policymakers or central planners like Tucker are prepared to call for.”

Just remember: It’s all about the kids.

Just remember: The children are our future.

In Detroit, where they enroll thousands of children who need a great education, the state-appointed emergency manager has decided to save money by increasing class size to 43. Students will not get individual attention. Students will not get the support they need. Teachers will spend time on crowd control instead of instruction.

Governor Snyder cut corporate taxes.

It’s all about the children.

You are invited to a major event honoring Leonie Haimson, a brilliant, fearless leader. Please make plans to attend and meet her and other allies in the fight for better education! Haimson led the fight to block inBloom from gaining access to the confidential records of millions of children. Thanks to her leadership, inBloom went out of business even though it was backed by the Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and Rupert Murdoch’s Corporation. One principled woman defended the privacy rights of children and families, and she won! She showed all of us the power of one person.

Join Parents Across America at its first annual Parent Voice Award Dinner honoring PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, leader of New York City-based Class Size Matters in DC on July 28.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/paa-parent-voice-award-dinner-honoring-leonie-haimson-tickets-11831617687?aff=es2

This year, Leonie nearly single-handedly organized parents around the U.S. to oppose the impending commercialization of student information by the inBloom company, which ultimately went out of business after every state on its original clientele list pulled out of the program. Leonie is also the founder of NYC-based Class Size Matters, a group dedicated to promoting smaller class size – a proven, effective school reform strategy. Leonie started the New York Public School Parents’ Blog and has been a leader in challenging school privatization, misuse and over use of standardized tests, and, most recently, the threat to student data privacy.

The 2014 PAA Parent Voice Award Dinner is being hosted by the National Education Association at their headquarters in Washington, DC.

Tickets will include cocktails and a buffet dinner — and are only $20!

Proceeds from the dinner will support PAA’s programs and the work of our chapters around the U.S.

The registration form also includes an option for those unable to attend who would like to make a fully tax-deductible contribution to PAA in honor of Leonie, or anyone who can attend and would like to make a tax-deductible donation to PAA over and above the cost of the ticket.

Thank you!

A report by the nonpartisan Independent Budget Office in New York City has found that the New York City public schools are experiencing extensive overcrowding, even as federal and state funding has diminished.

 

Nearly 450,000 students were enrolled in overcrowded buildings, defined as those at greater than 102.5 percent capacity, in the 2012-13 school year, the most recent covered by the report from the agency, the Independent Budget Office. The average class size is rising, too, particularly in the lower grades: The average elementary and middle school class had 25.5 children, up from 24.6 just two years before. This was true even as the total number of students in traditional and charter schools has hovered around 1.1 million for more than a decade, and as the city has created tens of thousands of new seats. Advocates have fought for years to get the city to use more state aid, known as Contracts for Excellence money, to reduce class sizes. Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, an advocacy group, said the problem of overcrowding persisted for several reasons. First, she said, the city has been in the habit of placing more than one school into the same building — known as co-location — which leads to classrooms’ being converted into administrative offices or specialty spaces. Also, she said, the number of teachers has dropped — a topic the Independent Budget Office report also touched upon. The report said the ranks of general education teachers declined by about 2,300 between 2010 and 2013, but it noted that the number of special education teachers rose by about 1,400 in the same period. Ms. Haimson said more than 330,000 students were in classes of 30 or more last year. “That really shows how extreme the situation has become,” she said.

 

The number of homeless children increased from 66,000 to 77,000. The number of principals soared as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg closed 102 schools and replaced them with 432  small schools, each of which has its own principal and administrative staff.

Leonie Haimson of ClassSizeMatters calls on NYC parents and concerned citizens to attend public hearings about allocation of money.

Starting Tuesday of this week, the NYC Department of Education will hold mandated hearings in each borough on the use of more than $500 million in state Contracts for Excellence funds – which, according to state law, is supposed to include a plan to reduce class size.

Right now, class sizes in the early grades are the largest in 15 years, despite the fact that smaller classes are the top priority of parents in the DOE’s own surveys, and the constitutional right of NYC students, according to the state’s highest court.

Yet instead of allocating specific dollars for this purpose, the DOE has left it up to principals to decide which among five programs they would like to spend these funds. To make things worse, in an Orwellian bit of doublespeak, the DOE will allow principals to spend these funds not to lower class size – but if they merely claim that they will be used to minimize class size increases.

Please attend these hearings and speak out; more information and a schedule is here, and a petition you can sign is here.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
212-674-7320
leonie@classsizematters.org
http://www.classsizematters.org

http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com

Parent leaders from across Néw York City are rallying tomorrow at 4 pm to protest Governor Cuomo’s deal to give more space, more money, and free rent to the charters that enroll 6% of the children in the city’s schools. This giveaway to billionaire-funded charters occurs at the same time that many public are overcrowded, and class size is at its highest point in 15 years.

BREAKING:

Rally at NY Public Library and March On Governor Cuomo’s Office Tomorrow to Draw Hundreds of Outraged Parents from All Over City

Elected Parent Leaders from Citywide and Community Education Councils Across five boroughs Unite Against Gov. Cuomo’s Attacks on Public Education and Demand Fair Treatment of Public School Students

In an unprecedented show of unity, elected parent leaders and public education advocates from all five boroughs will gather to say all kids matter and to protest the selling off of public school buildings by Governor Cuomo and the State Senate leaders to the charter school lobby, by giving preferential rights and funding to the 6% of New York City students in charter schools while the needs of 1.1 million public school students remain unmet.

WHEN: Thursday, April 10, at 4 PM.

WHERE: Steps of the NY Public Library, Fifth Ave. at 41st Street. Following the rally participants will march to the Governor’s Office at 633 Third Avenue at 40th Street.

VISUALS: Parents, advocates, and students holding balloons, signs and flashing fake money.

WHO: Council Education Chair Danny Dromm, State Senator Bill Perkins, NAACP Head Hazel Dukes, former Council Education Chair Robert Jackson, other Council Members, parents, advocates and students, led by Community Education Councils and Citywide Councils from all five boroughs, elected by parents to represent their 1.1 million public school children.

WHAT: Community Education Council members, parents, advocates, and students, educators and elected officials protest how Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders are creating a two-tiered education system, in which the charter school lobby will now be given veto power over New York City’s public school buildings, and any new or expanding charter will be provided free on-demand public school space or private accommodations paid for by the city. Meanwhile, public school students – a majority of whom sit in overcrowded classrooms, buildings and trailers – have no such rights, and still wait for the equitable funding from the State as promised by the state’s highest court in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision.

Co-sponsored by Citywide and Community Education Councils; Alliance for Quality Education (AQE); Brooklyn New School PAC; Change the Stakes; Class Size Matters; ICOPE (Independent Commission on Public Education); MORE; New York Communities for Change (NYCC); New York Lawyers for Public Interest; NYCORE; NYCpublic.org; ParentVoicesNY; Parent Leaders of Upper Eastside Schools (PLUS); Partnership for Student Advocacy; Teachers Unite; Time Out from Testing, WAGPOPS (list in formation)

The most famous line ever written by John Dewey was this:

“What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.”

Our frequent commenter KrazyTA has been exploring what our leading reformers–who see themselves as our best and wisest educational visionaries–want for their own children. After Bill Gates spoke to the teachers at the annual conference of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to explain why the Common Core was absolutely necessary and was the key to teachers’ creativity, KrazyTA inquired into the practices at the elite Lakeside School in Seattle, where Bill was a student and where his own children are enrolled.

This is what he found:

“Strangely, when I went to the Lakeside School website—you know, where Bill Gates and his children went/go to school—I found not a single mention of Common Core, standardization and electric plugs. Not to mention that they weren’t coupled with terms like “innovation” and “teaching.”

“Worse yet, not a single mention of how “college and career readiness” has been lacking there up until now either. Am I missing something? Anyway, let’s see what sort of institution crippled Mr. Bill Gates.

“Let’s start with “About Lakeside.”

First, their mission statement:

[start quote]

“The mission of Lakeside School is to develop in intellectually capable young people the creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits needed to contribute wisdom, compassion, and leadership to a global society. We provide a rigorous and dynamic academic program through which effective educators lead students to take responsibility for learning.

“We are committed to sustaining a school in which individuals representing diverse cultures and experiences instruct one another in the meaning and value of community and in the joy and importance of lifelong learning.

[end quote]

Second, “Mission Focus”:

[start quote]

“Lakeside School fosters the development of citizens capable of and committed to interacting compassionately, ethically, and successfully with diverse peoples and cultures to create a more humane, sustainable global society. This focus transforms our learning and our work together.

[end quote]

Link: http://www.lakesideschool.org/podium/default.aspx?t=120812

“Academics Overview” with the subtitle “A Commitment to Excellence”:

[start quote]

“Lakeside’s 5th- to 12th-grade student-centered academic program focuses on the relationships between talented students and capable and caring teachers. We develop and nurture students’ passions and abilities and ensure every student feels known.

“The cultural and economic diversity of our community, the teaching styles, and the approaches to learning are all essential to Lakeside academics. We believe that in today’s global world, our students need to know more than one culture, one history, and one language.

“Each student’s curiosities and capabilities lead them to unique academic challenges that are sustained through a culture of support and encouragement. All students will find opportunities to discover and develop a passion; to hone the skills of writing, thinking, and speaking; and to interact with the world both on and off campus. Lakeside trusts that each student has effective ideas about how to maximize his or her own education, and that they will positively contribute to our vibrant learning community.

[end quote]

Link: http://www.lakesideschool.org/podium/default.aspx?t=120814

“Let’s switch gears—or at least websites. Even more strangely, I found that stuff like class size matters:

[start quote]

“Finally, I had great relationships with my teachers here at Lakeside. Classes were small. You got to know the teachers. They got to know you. And the relationships that come from that really make a difference…

[end quote]

“More of this nonsense [?] can be found in the link below, like the fact that Lakeside School has a student/teacher ration of 9:1 and average class size of 16.

Link: http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/bill-gates-tells-us-why-his-high-school-was-a-great-learning-environment/

“Well, I could on and on but I fear we need to rescue the little tykes in the Gates family from such horrors as, well, feast your eyes on this bit of barbarity regarding the Study Year Abroad:

[start quote]

“Since 1964, School Year Abroad has sent high school juniors and seniors to study abroad in distinctive cities and towns throughout Europe and Asia where their safety and security is a priority. Widely considered the ‘gold standard’ of high school study abroad programs, SYA’s rigorous academic curriculum, paired with complementary educational travel and varied extracurricular activities, ensure students are in an optimal position to return to their home schools or proceed to college.

[end quote]

Link: http://www.sya.org/s/833/index.aspx?sid=833&gid=1&pgid=1001

“Nuff said. Will you be joining Eva M and the pro-charterite/privatizer commenters on this blog for the upcoming “Save the Children of the Poor Millionaires & Billionaires Rally: A New Civil Rights Movement For The Truly Downtrodden” — catered, don’t you worry, by Wolfgang Puck.

I hope the above will put you at ease.”

😎

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