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School Life: Live From Snack Time

We've seen versions of this kind of thing before, including FOUND, but still... HuffPost has a bunch of good ones. 

Thompson: How Houston's Test and Punish Policies Fail

As the normative test, sort, and punish approach to reform continues to fail, I often recall Houston's Apollo 20 experiment, designed to bring "No Excuses" charter school methods to neighborhood schools. Its output-driven, reward and punish policies failed.  It was incredibly expensive, costing $52 million and it didn't increase reading scores. Intensive math tutoring produced test score gains in that subject. The only real success was due to the old-fashioned, win-win, input-driven method of hiring more counselors.

The Texas Observer's Patrick Michels, in Politico's Houston's Learning Curve, surveys the failures and successes of Superintendent Terry Grier and Houston schools, and he reveals a pattern that is even more bifurcated than I'd anticipated.  Michels finds no evidence that Grier's test-driven accountability has benefitted students, but he describes the great success of constructive programs that build on kids' strengths and provide them more opportunities.

Michels describes Grier as "a data-driven risk-taker who’s part task-master, part cheerleader [who] said he’s not about to give up, even after six long years at HISD’s helm." Under Grier, 900 teachers have been exited using an evaluation system that holds teachers accountable for test score growth. Moreover, his value-added pay for performance plan has cost Houston $136 million in bonuses in the last three years.

If Grier is correct and test score growth is valid for holding individuals accountable, then surely he also should be fired. NAEP reading scores have barely increased since 2002, and remain below the average of major urban areas.  In the all-important metric of 8th grade reading, Houston has been flat since 2007, even as other major urban districts increased those scores. Plus, Education Week's Stephen Sawchuk reports that Grier now seeks to cut "the $14 million bonus-pay program to just $2 million, a far cry away from the $40 million a year it once gave out."

With the help of local philanthropies, however, Houston has introduced a wide range of humane, holistic, and effective programs. Michels starts with Las Americas Newcomer School, which is "on paper a failing school." It offers group therapy and social workers who help immigrants "navigate bureaucratic barriers—like proof of residency or vaccination records." He then describes outstanding early education programs that are ready to be scaled up, such as  the Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood, and Project Grad which has provided counseling and helped more than 7,600 students go to college.

Michels' analysis is very consistent was Bruce Katz's and Jennifer Bradley's The Metropolitan Revolution, which described Houston's Neighborhood Centers. This $675 million nonprofit is one reason why "'If you're poor, you want to be poor in Houston, because there is a ladder there.'" Children who attended the Neighborhood Centers' Head Start program produce higher test scores - as high as 94% proficient in 3rd grade reading.    

Michels also reports that Houston Education Research Consortium, which partners with Rice University and is funded with a startup grant from the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, "gives researchers direct access to district data to study which programs work best, and why, and what to do about it." Its director, Ruth Lopez Turley, led the team that reviewed Apollo 20. It agreed with the program's chief advocate, Roland Fryer, that the math tutoring showed results but doubted that the score increases were sustainable."

Turley seeks to reach "students whose families must move often mid-year, who can’t always make it to school, or don’t have a stable place to sleep at night—all the factors that interrupt education in poor urban schools."

Also, Michels cites Peter Beard, of the Greater Houston Partnership, who praises Houston's work on STEM education and technical training, but who says, “At the end of the day, you need to show up on time, you need to have the right mindset for work and you probably need to read, write and understand science." In other words, test scores might be important, but it is the immeasurable social and emotional factors that really matter.

Finally, I was struck by the promise of Houston programs that did not just remediate but built on students' strengths. And, that raises a key question for Houston and for reformers. What if we shifted the focus from the weaknesses of students and teachers to a commitment to building on the positive? Grier's test and punish policies have already failed and been downsized. Of course, I would like to hear an open acknowledgement that test-driven reform was a dead end. But, mostly likely, systems will just let data-driven accountability quietly shrivel and die. Then, we can commit to the types of  Win Win policies that have a real chance of helping poor children of color. - JT(@drjohnthompson) 

Report: Probationary Periods, Seniority Layoffs, & Expedited Removal

There's a new report on tenure and layoff policies from ECS that's out now (Vergara and the complexities of teacher employment policies) noting that 32 states have a probationary period of three years, 10 states "explicitly prohibit the use of seniority in layoff decisions," but another 11 states "require seniority to be the primary factor in those decisions."

According to the report, Minnesota and California are "considering bills to minimize the influence of seniority in layoff decisions."

Meanwhile, California and a few other states like Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Florida "have taken steps to expedite the dismissal process and reduce the time and expense associated with dismissal."

Meanwhile a Wisconsin lawmaker just slipped a provision into a budget bill that would appear to dramatically lower the certification requirements for core subject teachers

Quotes: Rhee, Klein, & Ravitch Are *All* Wrong, Says Mehta

Quotes2Rhee and Klein are right... that the culture of bureaucratic districts tends to produce a compliance mentality that we need to escape. But they are too comfortable with simplistic external assessments and too focused on developing increasingly intricate test-based teacher evaluation systems. Conversely, Ravitch is right about the corrosive effects of testing but is not honest enough about the failings of the current and past systems and the real changes that would be needed to generate improvement at scale.

-- Excerpt from new Jal Mehta book via Salon.

People: Grant Wiggins, RIP

Educator Grant Wiggins passed away at age 64, and Edutopia and others have written about his contributions to education. Here's a writeup from EdWeek. There's also lots of Twitter traffic at @grantwiggins

Morning Video: Evanston High School Reduces AP Barriers To Increase Minority Participation

 

This PBSNewsHour segment shows how Evanston Township High School has been trying to recruit minority students into honors and AP courses in part by diminishing the focus on 8th grade test scores. As a result, black and Latino enrollment and test taking are both way up. Watch above or click the link to read the transcript.  Other video options: Why the Dutch start sex ed in kindergarten (PBS), ‘Glen’s Village’ (Philly Notebook).

AM News: The Condition Of Education Is Poor (But Still Graduated High School)

Key Numbers From a Report to Congress on US Education AP: More U.S. school-age kids live in poverty and need English-language services, according to a report released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. Enrollment in public schools is up, including in charter schools that have grown in popularity. At the same time, smaller numbers of children attend private schools. Fewer students are dropping out of high school. 

American Kids Are Poorer Than They Were Decades Ago, Education Report Shows HuffPost: Childhood poverty has risen for every major racial group since 2008, according to the report. Childhood poverty in 2013 ranged from 39 percent for blacks and 36 percent for American Indians and Alaska natives, to 13 percent for whites and Asians. The report had few bright spots. It said the achievement gap between blacks and whites ages 25 to 29 who had attained at least a high school degree had narrowed considerably. School crime, the report says, continued its 20-year decline.

Education Leaders Fear Christie Will Pull Back on Common Core Support WSJ: Mr. Christie appointed an expert commission last year to study testing and the Common Core, and its report is due July 31. Several educators questioned why he would give an address on the standards before the commission’s report is complete.

Hundreds of NJ Students Fail Grad Test and Earn Diploma by Appeal WNYC: New Jersey created its appeals process in 2010 when the state introduced the alternative high school graduation exam, which is more rigorous than the previous test. Close to 2,000 seniors failed. Instead of telling them at the last minute that they wouldn’t graduate, the state began allowing students to appeal the graduation requirements by submitting samples of their classwork.

De Blasio defends parent input under city’s mayoral control structure Chalkbeat: "I think our current approach is working and I think it’s very inclusive,” de Blasio told reporters between meetings with state leaders in Albany. “I do think there’s many good and constructive ways to hear the voices of parents, and we’re doing that right now.”

More news below (and throughout the  day at @alexanderrusso).

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Quotes: Teachers Respond To Chiefs/Scholastic Survey

Quotes2Is it possible to speak honestly about barriers to student achievement and ignore all school factors when doing so? No, it isn’t. 

-- State teachers of the year Jessica Waters, Lee-Ann Stephens, and Tom Rademacher in the Washington Post (What happens in school matters)

Pictures: Mugshots Help Combat Racial Stereotypes

image from i.huffpost.com

This series of mugshots (via HuffPost) is intended to raise awareness about racial stereotypes, which seems all the more timely given that recent study showing teachers -- black and white -- tend to give harsher punishments to students with black-sounding names (see today's morning news roundup).

Morning Video: Spring Testing Season Recap From PBS

Watch John Merrow and Motoko Rich discuss this past spring's Common Core testing season above, or read the transcript here. Merrow notes that Jersey City -- not a white suburban district -- had enough opt outs that it failed to reach 95 percent, which if confirmed would be the first such district I've heard about. Or maybe Albuquerque NM also?

A News: NY Picks Compromise School Chief

Former Tampa Schools Boss MaryEllen Elia Named N.Y. K-12 Chief EdWeek: The former superintendent of Florida's Hillsborough County schools is poised to become New York state's next K-12 commissioner, according to reports. See also NYT: MaryEllen Elia Named New York State Education Commissioner, WNYC: Former Florida Chief Named NY State Education Commish, ChalkbeatNY: Elia promises to ‘communicate’ as state ed policy faces new tests.

De Blasio Okays Second Batch of School Experiments WNYC: Dozens more schools will join an initiative by Mayor Bill de Blasio meant to encourage school-based innovations, such as staggering teacher work schedules to lengthen the school day or breaking class size rules to offer larger seminars in some settings and small-group instruction in others. 

In Prince George's County, No Consensus On Tax Increase For Schools WAMU: Some older, more conservative voters are lining up against the proposal, while younger families, particularly minorities, say the extra money is crucial.

LAUSD board considers better marketing as it tackles declining enrollment KPCC: At the board's Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, members recommended a new marketing campaign to attract and keep more students. The effort could include public television segments, neighborhood door-knocking and promotions of magnet schools focusing on science or art and dual-language programs, such as Spanish, Korean and Mandarin. 

New Mexico fights to get out of last place with aggressive policies that some educators worry could harm students Hechinger Report: Despite concerns the technology would trip them up, the students appeared to navigate the computer-based test with ease – marking questions they wanted to come back to later, for example. It was the math that seemed to give them trouble. Their enthusiastic first-year teacher had used the Common Core standards to guide what he’d taught the students all year, but the content of the sample exam, which required dragging and dropping algebraic expressions into boxes and filling in blank boxes with equations, was proving challenging.

Teachers Of All Races Are More Likely To Punish Black Students HuffPost: Not because of overt racism. Rather, harsher discipline might be the result of unconscious partiality to the white student, a phenomenon called “implicit bias” by psychologists. The study also finds that the bias might be just as likely to come from a black teacher as a white one. 

Pre-K Politics Five Thirty Eight: Suburban voters are less likely to support publicly funded pre-K programs. Minority voters, renters and those who are poor or live in a dense urban neighborhood, on the other hand, are likely to support pre-K expansion.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

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Maps: School Security Guards Are Generally Poorly Trained & Supervised

 

image from www.revealnews.orgThere are more security guards than law enforcement officers, reports Reveal (the Center for Investigative Reporting), and many school districts use the guards as a low-cost alternative to sworn law enforcement officers.  Yet the guards are often poorly trained and supervised, and only 12 states require reports when they use their weapons.  It's harder in many states to become a manicurist than to get a guard card and authority to carry a weapon and work in  a school.

Update: Panorama Unveils Teacher Survey (To Help Evaluate Principals)

Wide-deskThe idea that quick, candid surveys can be useful in schools and classrooms isn't new at this point. They've been popularized since a few years ago when it was reported that students' views of teachers correlated with teachers' abilities to improve student achievement.

But now one of the outfits that works on these kinds of things is taking it a step further -- or deepening the approach, you might say -- by developing quick and dirty survey instruments for administrators to ask teachers.

The new Panorama Teacher Survey is mean to help administrators understand what teachers are thinking and how they're doing. They can be used diagnostically, or for schools where teachers help evaluate principals. They're faster and cheaper than a big Gallup kind of poll.  Their competition is the New Teacher Center's TELL Survey.  

"We're piloting with a number of schools right now and over 50 schools have already started using the free teacher survey platform since we launched," says Panorama's Jack McDermott. Meantime, the Student Survey has been "accessed by over 4,000 educators worldwide" and has been "district-wide in several of the largest districts in country and has been approved by several states for use in evaluation measures."

Related posts: Yeah, But What's Your Panorama™ Score? (2012), State of the Art: Grading Teachers, With [Survey] Data From Class (NYT 2014)

Quotes: "I Was Ferris Bueller."

Quotes2I had a great time in high school. I was Ferris Bueller.

- Rocker Alice Cooper, who performed iconic 1972 song School's Out" Forever (Deadspin via ChalkbeatNY)

 

Morning Video: "Best Kept Secret" (Top-Rated on Netflix)

Topping Vox's list of The 19 best-reviewed movies on Netflix right now is "Best Kept Secret."  "The [2013] film tracks Janet Mino, a Newark public school special education teacher whose class of teen boys on the autism spectrum is about to graduate into a world loath to give them a chance." Check out the trailer above. Or watch a parent talk about becoming a Common Core activist (via NBC News).

AM News: Summer Of Choice?

Teacher Union Legal Opposition to School Choice Stumbles in Florida, Louisiana EdWeek: On Friday, a Louisiana district judge rejected the state teachers' union argument that the way Louisiana funded some charter schools was unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile on Monday, a Florida judge dismissed a union-backed lawsuit challenging that state's tax-credit scholarship program because the plaintiffs couldn't prove they were harmed by the law and therefore didn't have grounds to sue.

One Man's Millions Turn a Community Around in Florida NYT: Two decades ago, Harris Rosen, who grew up poor on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and became wealthy in the Florida hotel business, decided to shepherd part of his fortune into a troubled community with the melodious…

How student debt became a presidential campaign issue Washington Post: The $1.3 trillion burden of student debt is becoming an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign as candidates court the millions of Americans grappling with the high cost of college.

Six of the nation’s largest school districts dump polystyrene trays Washington Post: Six of the largest U.S. school districts have pooled their collective purchasing power to make significant changes to school lunch, and they’re starting by jettisoning the polystyrene tray.The Urban School Food Alliance, a coalition that includes the school systems of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, has commissioned a school lunch dish that is made from recycled newsprint and can be turned into compost after use

Fairfax approves final $2.6 billion schools budget Washington Post: The Fairfax County School Board passed a final $2.6 billion budget Thursday night that includes pay raises for teachers, funding for full-day Mondays for elementary schools and later high school start times.

Houston Leaders Propose Slashing Bonus-Pay Program for Teachers Teacher Beat: Houston leaders are considering cutting the district's much-watched performance-pay program for educators and redirecting the funds into regular base-pay raises. The proposal could reduce the $14 million bonus-pay program to just $2 million, a far cry away from the $40 million a year it once gave out.

Regents narrow their choices for New York’s next education chief ChalkbeatNY: In contention are a mix of superintendents from inside and outside New York state, according to multiple sources. Two of the final candidates, though not the only two, are Christopher Koch, Illinois’s longtime superintendent who stepped down in April, and Dan White, a superintendent for a Western New York region that serves suburban districts.

Maligned Study on Gay Unions Is Shaking Trust NYT: The questioned findings, published in December in Science, have shaken not only political scientists but also public trust in the way the scientific establishment vets new findings.

Chicago school board to consider charter relocations, renewals WBEZ Chicago: In one case, Rowe Elementary would move into the old Peabody elementary school, a building shuttered during the 2013 mass closings. The district no longer owns the Peabody building. If it approves the move, the district would have to provide the public charter school with extra money to cover rent and maintenance costs at Peabody.

Photos Capture The Joy On Playgrounds Around The World NPR: From the U.K. to Kenya to the West Bank, photographer James Mollison exposes not only inequalities among rich and poor countries, but also the intimate moments that unfold during recess.

How to hook young people on math and science? Robots PBS: We have a smaller percentage of our kids becoming scientists and engineers than many countries in the developing world. And when you look at the data and see that China’s producing five or 600,000 engineers this year and we’ll produce one-tenth of that, it says, “How’re we gonna compete?”

Thompson: What Do We Mean When We Talk of Graduation Rates?

Graduation rates used to be incredibly easy to fabricate (almost as easy as attendance rates and even easier than jacking up proficiency rates) but I don't doubt they have become more reliable. I used to assume that the annual increase in graduation rates, and the equally ubiquitous decline in dropout rates, were half real and half bogus. Although graduation rates may be somewhat more reliable today, it is hard to see how they could ever function as a valid "output" accountability measure. (It also feels like "deja vu all over again" when reading Jay Mathews series on "passing kids on" in Washington D.C.) 

That being said, when John Hopkins' Robert Balfanz proclaims a big improvement in any metric, I reign in much of my skepticism.

We must acknowledge that increases in graduation rates may not mean that students are learning more about classroom subject matter. But, there is something more important at stake. More high school graduates mean that larger numbers of teens are learning something more important than the standards of instruction. They are learning to succeed. Conversely, they avoid the real world penalties attached to dropping out.

The Civic Enterprise and the Everyone Graduates Center, along with America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education released Building a Grad Nation 2014-2015 Update. It presents news that is probably somewhat too good to be true, and it certainly reads like a document that is a compromise highlighting the priorities of numerous advocates. But, the annual report makes a lot of sense and it points the way towards fruitful collaborations.

First, Building a Grad Nation is a reminder of the importance of perhaps the most overlooked issue in school improvement. When schools' Promoting Power (or the ability of students to advance into higher grades) goes up, students benefit. Of course, we must ask what we mean by promoting power. Real Promoting Power must be more than social promotion. It must be more than "credit recovery" tricks to make accountability stats look better.

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Morning Video: Can Chicago Reach Labor Deal Like LA Just Did?

Can Chicago teachers and the district come to agreement over a new contract like UTLA and LAUSD recently did? PBS affiliate WTTW interviews union president Karen Lewis. Or watch this HuffPost Live segement on desegregation efforts in Connecticut, one of the few states in the nation where there's been some improvement. 

AM News: Shorter, Combined PARCC Tests For Next Year

Board shortens Common Core-aligned tests known as PARCC Washington Post: The Common Core-aligned tests that made their debut in 11 states and the District this spring will be approximately 90 minutes shorter next year, a change that comes after parents, teachers and school administrators expressed frustration with the amount of time devoted to the new exams. See also AP (States move to reduce time spent on Common Core-based exam), EdWeek (PARCC Shortens Its Common-Core Test)

Kids Cheer, Officials Jeer As Computer Glitches Delay Testing In Virginia WAMU: School officials from across Virginia are scrambling to catch up after three days of computer problems that delayed standardized testing. See also Washington Post: Va. testing interrupted three times because of issues with Pearson system.

Republican Focus Group Shows Jeb Bush's Support for Common Core No Big Deal PK12: The focus group was asked if they thought the common core was important, and if they were bothered by Bush's position regarding the standards.

Poorest Students Often Miss Out on Gifted Classes Education Week: But with more than half of public school students now coming from low-income families and deepening concentrations of poverty in many communities, standard screening and pullout programs may not be enough to find and support the most vulnerable talented students. In response, more educators and researchers who work with gifted students are calling for another look at who is considered gifted and how schools can locate and support those students. See also HuffPost: African-Americans Who Attended Desegregated Schools Have Better Language Skills Years Later 

Ouch! Hedge funders stung by Obama, Clinton barbs CNBC: The American Federation of Teachers' president, Randi Weingarten, cited the kindergarten comparison in speeches this month, for example, and a group called the Hedge Clippers have targeted New York-area billionaires like Paul Singer, Bill Ackman and ...

Education Gaps Pose Looming Crisis for U.S. Economy National Journal: The fastest-growing segment of the workforce is also the least educated. That's a problem as employers struggle to fill high-skill jobs.

CPS Confirms Data Breach Impacting 4,000 Students NBC Chicago: The names and personal information of thousands of Chicago Public Schools students was inadvertently provided to five potential vendors earlier this year, district officials confirmed Tuesday.  

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

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Quotes: Common Core Tests Restore Some Strengths of 1990s Tests, Says Linda Darling-Hammond

Quotes2Before NCLB, Vermont, Indiana and Kentucky had students write in different genres and assessed their work. Connecticut and New York had multiday science activities... With Smarter Balanced, the performance tasks will only take about 180 minutes over one or two class periods. But they will be meaty tasks figuring out complex problems and asking students why they made a decision. This will begin to approach what some states were doing in the 1990s.

- Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond in USNews (Are New Common Core Tests Better Than Old Multiple-Choice Exams?)

Educators & Advocates Need Authentic Conversations About Race, Too

Some Fieldston parents and NY Magazine readers may be concerned about the progressive private school's racial awareness program described in this week's magazine (Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?), but not everyone's quite so bothered by the effort.  

As described in the magazine feature by Lisa Miller, the school asked elementary school kids to identify themselves by race and then separated them -- temporarily -- as part of a program to deepen the students' understanding of racism and differences. "It would foster interracial empathy by encouraging children to recognize differences without disrespect while teaching kids strategies, and the language, for navigating racial conflict."

The program is mandatory, and operates during the school day, and start with kids as young as eight. "In 45-minute sessions, children would talk about what it was like to be a member of that race; they would discuss what they had in common with each other and how they were different, how other people perceived them, rightly or wrongly, based on appearance. Disinhibited by the company of racially different peers, the children would, the school hoped, feel free to raise questions and make observations that in mixed company might be considered impolite."

Designed by Fieldston's Mariama Richards, the "affinity-group" program was meant to foster authentic conversation but it felt to some parents like a step backwards -- like segregation, like overkill. It wasn't a comfortable discussion in ethics class."This same parent who sends her children to Lower because she values diversity tends not to dwell on the fact that she has few close friends of color; that her neighborhood is almost entirely white; that her nanny or housecleaner or doorman has brown skin."

Racial and demographic diversity has long been a goal for progressive private schools, but mixing kids together is just a start. Efforts like these have been popping up in different places around the country.  (My progressive private alma mater, Chicago's Francis Parker, just hired a director of diversity who seems like she's going to push the envelope for ostensibly liberal parents.) Fort Greene's Community Roots, a diverse progressive charter school, asked mixed groups of parents to engage in group activities outside of school in order to promote understanding and deepen classroom diversity.

See also this CNN segment featuring concerned parents:

 
ctn pkg carroll race experiments classrooms_00005030
 
"One of New York City's most elite and progressive elementary schools is conducting an experiment on race by separating students. CNN's Jason Carroll reports."

The reaction so far to the article has been generally supportive of the effort at Fieldston:

Education writer Dana Goldstein, now at The Marshall Project, noted on Twitter that the piece "perfectly captures moment in which young(ish) progressive educators confront parents who hold old notions of "colorblindness." Once unusual, racial awareness programs (the invisible white backpack, etc.) are more commonly part of college than they used to be. "My demographic wouldn't be shocked if our kids were separated by race and asked to discuss it in "safe space," noted Goldstein. "We've been there."

Over at Vox, Jenée Desmond-Harris's post (Why a New York City school's idea to (temporarily) separate kids by race is smart) lists the many advantages of the Fieldston program, especially teaching the lessons that "ignoring race and racism doesn't make these things go away, and that white people have a racial identity, too."

Not everyone is a big fan of the approach being taken, however.  Responding to the earlier NYT piece written by Kyle Spencer, New America's Connor Williams wrote a post titled The Limits of Talking About Privilege to Teenagers

NYT editor Amy Virshup thought that the NY Magazine story might not offer much that readers hadn't already learned. "But @KyleYSpencer story on same topic ran in Feb., w/pix of real kids, not models. What's new?"

The issue of overkill -- not so much on the issue but perhaps the controversy at this particular school -- is also the focus of a recent blog post I wrote over at The Grade:  Another Story About Fieldston’s Controversial Racial Awareness Program.  

One thing I'd add is that it's not just kids who need more and better racial awareness programs but also educators and advocates.  Teachers -- predominantly white and middle class -- need space and time to talk about and understand not only their students' backgrounds but also their own.  And advocates -- reformers and critics alike, also predominantly white and college-educated -- would do well with more of the same.

Making sure that conference panels and speakers and attendees are more diverse is one step, as is engaging more diverse groups of stakeholders (not just mobilizing them). Panels about racial awareness or race-focused issues are good, too.  But what about taking it one step further and doing a version of what Fieldston is doing and let adults engaged in education talk together in affinity groups and have some authentic conversations, too?  I could see PIE, or TFA, or maybe the Shanker Institute or Century Foundation doing something like this. Or maybe it's already happening and I just haven't heard about it.

Morning Video: Angry Minnesotan

Watch Minnesota Gov. Dayton sending legislation back to the statehouse for more education funding, above, via MinnPost, or click here to meet a parent who's become an anti-Common Core activist, via NBC News. I'll post the Moskowitz/Ripley talk from yesterday as soon as I see it.

AM News: VA Testing Interruptions, LA Board Member Changes

Va. testing interrupted three times because of issues with Pearson system Washington Post: Pearson said the company was the target of a cyberattack on May 13 that caused problems with the testing system. On May 14, a computer server became overloaded, leading to further disruptions. As a result of both incidents, 374 students across the state will have to retake exams.

L.A. school board seat is a pivotal win for charter school movement LA Times: Rodriguez's victory suggests that charter supporters are an emerging political force in future board elections, analysts say, not only in Los Angeles but in districts nationwide.

See also LA Daily News: Costly LAUSD board campaign ends with no net gain for teachers union, charter school advocates, KPCC LA: New LAUSD board to take on persistent problems, LA School Report: Changes in faces but not balance.

See also: Watchdog.org: Union-backed candidates win big in Philadelphia primary election.

Minnesota Heads to Special Session Over Education Aid, Joining Washington St. State EdWatch: The Minnesota legislature is heading to a special session over education funding, after Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a spending bill that he said was inadequate. See also MinnPost: Despite Dayton's angry rhetoric, advocates see a potential roadmap out of the early-ed impasse.

Eva Moskowitz calls out schools chancellor for not visiting Success schools ChalkbeatNY: “It’s interesting to me that the chancellor of the city of New York, who I know quite well, Carmen Fariña, has literally been in our building about a dozen times and has never come to our floor,” Moskowitz said. See also: Amid debate to raise cap, a charter school authorizer rejects all applicants.

‘Opt Out’ Becomes Anti-Test Rallying Cry in New York State NYT: A small, if vocal, movement urging parents to have their children sit out standardized exams took off this year, maturing from scattered displays of disobedience into a widespread rebuke. See also NBC News: Anti-Common Core Activist Talks Homework

Spending on School Security Rises WSJ: According to the survey of about 1,400 public schools around the country, 75% reported using one or more security cameras, up from 61% in 2009-2010. Similarly, 82% of schools said that electronic notification systems, which alert parents about a school emergency, were in place, up from 63% four years earlier. Meanwhile, 65% of schools reported at least one violent incident during the 2013-2014 year, down from 74%. See also AP: Survey Finds US Schools Ramping up Safety Measures.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

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Thompson: Stand for Children Reports that Testing is Oklahoma Teachers' Top Concern

Oklahoma's underfunded schools had plenty of problems before funding was cut 23%, the most of any state. This year we'll face more cuts and Oklahoma teachers, already ranked 49th nationally in salaries, will probably face another year without a raise.  It is no surprise that the state has a shortage of 1000 teachers, and 40% of new teachers leave the profession or Oklahoma within five years.

Neither should it be a surprise that the Tulsa World's Nora Habib, in Report Says Oklahoma Teachers' Greatest Concern Is Testing, reports that Oklahoma teachers are frustrated  by "overcrowded classrooms, changing reforms, decreased classroom autonomy and a lack of representation in policy discussions."

But, guess what Stand for Children learned in a "Listening Tour" and from focus groups with 81 teachers from across the state? Stand learned that "testing was the issue of greatest concern for teachers." Teachers also believe "reforms written from a 'one size fits all' approach ... ultimately doom any practical implementation."

The section on the concern that gained the most attention began with representative teachers' statements such as, "So much time has been consumed with testing, over testing, to the point kids have lost all motivation for the test that really matters.” It closes with the protest, “The whole focus is on testing and not learning... there’s no passion for learning.”

Stand's most watched conclusion involved the TLE evaluation system (which was adopted in an effort to win a Race to the Top federal grant.) Teachers recognize the problems with all practical policy solutions for evaluating teachers. Stand concludes that the benefits of peer evaluations seemed to outweigh their concerns because they "instigated more interaction and collaboration among teachers." 

The report also concludes, “Teachers believe tying teacher evaluations to student test scores should be delayed until student assessments can be aligned to newly written standards that would better reflect a teacher’s role in student growth.”

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Chart: State Teachers Of Year Prioritize Out-Of-School Factors

Screen shot 2015-05-20 at 10.24.03 AM

Two of the top three issues raised by teachers surveyed about obstacles to learning are non-school/classroom factors, according to this Scholastic chart.  The other is early learning. 

Live Event: Don't Miss Today's NY Ideas Panels On Race & "Invisible Children"

 

Maybe like me you missed this morning's #NYIdeas half hour chat with Eva Moskowitz and Amanda Ripley (was it any good?). Maybe (like me) you didn't make it to last night's invite-only roundtable dinner at the High Line Hotel including guests like Partnership for Education Justice's Campbell Brown, TC's Susan Fuhrman, Walton's Bruno Manno, Harvard's Martin West.

But all is not lost.  There are other education-related segments to come during today's event hosted by AtlanticLIVE and the Aspen Institute. And, assuming the video embed code works right, you can watch it all above (or click the link if not).

For example, there's Ta-Nehesi Coates and Michele Norris talking about race at 1:55 and a segment on "Seeing New York’s Invisible Children" at 2:40 featuring Andrea Elliott, Author and Investigative Reporter, The New York Times Faith Hester, Humanities Teacher, and Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts.

The Atlantic is big into live events these days, including next month's Education Summit in DC June 15.  It is going to feature folks like Peg Tyre, Author of The Good School, and Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools, 

This year's event is being sponsored in part by the Walton Family Foundation, and has also been sponsored by the AFT and others.  Over at The Grade, I wrote about the challenges for media outlets doing events that are sponsored by advocates on one side or the other: When Media Organizations Take Outside Funding for Events - But Not News Coverage. The Atlantic Magazine doesn't receive outside funding for its education coverage, far as I've been able to determine, and Inside Philanthropy's David Callahan notes that it would be cumbersome and perhaps unnecessary for the magazine to disclose event funding with its non-funded education writing. 

Meantime, I'm told that the Ripley/Moskowitz segment is going to be posted within 24 hours, so look for it tomorrow AM.

AM News: Seattle Teachers Strike, Reform Victory/Defeat In Los Angeles

Thousands Of Seattle Teachers Strike Over Pay, Class Size Reuters: Thousands of Seattle teachers walked out of class on Tuesday to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes, marking the largest one-day strike in a series of rolling protests by educators in Washington state over public school funding.

Two challengers, one incumbent, finish first in L.A. Board of Education races  LA Times: In all, outside groups have poured in $5.1 million, compared with under $1 million spent by campaigns controlled by the candidates, according to reports filed through Monday. The contest drawing the most attention and the most dollars was the Kayser/Rodriguez race [which Rodriguez appears to have won]. Kayser was backed by the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which spent more than $1 million to keep him in office. Rodriguez co-founded an organization that operates charter schools, and bedinefited from strong support by a group representing charters.

Starr, former Montgomery County superintendent, takes association job Washington Post: Montgomery County’s former schools superintendent has taken a job as chief executive officer for an Arlington-based professional association for educators.Joshua P. Starr, who resigned in February amid reports that he did not have the support he needed to win another four-year contract in Maryland’s largest school system, will take over June 8 at PDK International. See also District Dossier: Former Superintendent Joshua Starr to Lead Phi Delta Kappa International

Montgomery school board to appoint interim superintendent, pause search Washington Post: The Montgomery County school board has suspended its national search for a new superintendent and plans to meet Wednesday to appoint an interim schools chief for next school year, just days after a leading candidate suddenly pulled out of the running. See also WAMU: For Now, Montgomery County Schools Chief Is Expected To Be A One-Year Job

Thousands of Scorers Take On the Common-Core Tests EdWeek: Twelve million students are taking either the PARCC or the Smarter Balanced assessments in 29 states and the District of Columbia this school year. Forty-two thousan people will be scoring 109 million student responses to questions on the two exams, which were designed by two groups of states... Pearson, which is training scorers for PARCC states, as well as administering and scoring the test, permitted a rare visit to one of its 13 regional scoring centers, in a nondescript brick office building outside Columbus.

Poverty, family stress are thwarting student success, top teachers say Washington Post: The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems. The survey, to be released Wednesday by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc., polled the 56 Teachers of the Year, a small but elite group of educators considered among the country’s best, on a range of issues affecting public education.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Seattle Teachers Strike, Reform Victory/Defeat In Los Angeles" »

Quotes: FairTest Declares Spring 2015 Victory

Quotes2The end of the 2014-2015 school year is drawing near, but the movement to roll back standardized exam overkill has not slowed for a moment... The pressure from grassroots testing reformers is forcing policymakers to debate proposals to reduce testing overuse, eliminate some high-stakes consequences and stop penalizing students who opt out.  

-- FairTest's Bob Schaeffer in his weekly email.

Morning Video: Head Start At 50 Years (Plus Alternative Options)

 

"Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson announced the creation of Head Start, the early education program designed to support the needs of low-income children and get them ready for elementary school. The NewsHour’s April Brown explores the legacy and efficacy of the iconic program." via PBS NewsHour. Or, watch this story about a girl being dragged behind a school bus (she's recovering), or Stephen Colbert's Wake Forest hilarious/insightful commencement speech.

AM News: NYC's Three-Year Mayoral Control Extension, LA's High Money/Low Turnout Election

NY Assembly Votes to Extend NYC's Local Control of Schools WNYC: The mayor of New York City has controlled city schools since 2002, but the law governing the policy expires this year. De Blasio, a Democrat, has called for permanent mayoral control, an idea all but abandoned in Albany, where the Assembly now joins Cuomo in endorsing a three-year extension.

Low voter turnout could give teachers union-backed candidates edge in LAUSD election LA Daily News: Fewer than 13 percent of voters are expected to cast ballots on an election day that includes a closely watched City Council seat runoff. The low turnout could mean the 35,000-member union's votes, phone calls and precinct walking could hold more value than the nearly $3. See also KPCC LA: How PACs are impacting school board elections in LA, LA School Report: Low turnout — maybe a record — expected for 3 LAUSD board races.

Camden's Takeover by Outsiders Rankles the Grass Roots AP: The schools, the police department and even the libraries have been taken over by the state or county governments in rescue attempts, meaning key municipal agencies and functions are not directly accountable directly to voters and potentially setting the city up for a future without experienced leaders. Among other plans, a major push is on to bring in new types of schools, including some run by charter-school operators. Sean Brown, now a Rutgers public-policy graduate student, was an appointed member of the school board in 2012. Now, Brown is running a petition drive to try to have an elected school board return.

Sen. Rand Paul, Presidential Candidate, Not Opposed to National Testing PoliticsK12: That education made it into the 10-minute Meet the Press interview at all is a big deal, and bodes well for education as an issue in the 2016 election cycle.

For some parents, search for better schools could lead to jail Seattle Times: On the rise are cases in which families living in districts with failing schools have been accused of “stealing an education” and have been fined for lying about where they live on official district documents. Others have been criminally charged and, in some cases, jailed.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: NYC's Three-Year Mayoral Control Extension, LA's High Money/Low Turnout Election" »

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.