California gets waiver for Common Core field tests without penalties EdSource Today: California will not face penalties or multimillion-dollar fines from the federal government for giving all students a preliminary test on the new Common Core standards, instead of on the old state standards that California has abandoned.
Teach for America tests out more training WPost: Teach for America, which places thousands of freshly minted college graduates in teaching jobs in some of the toughest schools in the country, is rethinking its training program in light of complaints from its own members that they need more preparation for the classroom.
Shaking Up the Classroom Wall Street Journal: Instead, in the “Content Level 7″ room at Washington Elementary, 10 students, ages 11 to 14, gather around teacher Nelly Lopez for help in writing essays. Eight sit at computers, plowing through a lesson on sentence structure, while a dozen advanced ...
AFT Says It Will No Longer Accept Gates Funding TeacherBeat: AFT will no longer take money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the union says.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).
At the risk of making a mountain out of a molehill, here's what I've been able to dig up since yesterday on the topic of parents' rights to opt children out of standardized testing, which I'd thought was pretty well-established (like field trips and sex ed) but is apparently not at all.
Officially, at least, states are required to test everyone who's at school on testing days (for civil rights reasons) and most states don't formally allow parents to opt out. That seems to be the basis upon which Illinois state officials have been telling Chicago parents that they can't just sign a form.
However, parents in most places seem to have figured out other ways -- religious exemptions and/or keeping kids out of school -- to avoid having their children tested if that is their wish.
Districts and administrators sometimes urge parents to reconsider or even in a handful of cases suggest scary effects if parents opt out, but they're bluffing. "We have yet to see a public school attempt to stop opt out when parents push back," notes United Opt Out's Peggy Robertson. "The school district always back down." Testing opponents sometimes try and pressure parents to join them, too (see previous post).
See below for very helpful details from Fairtest, NCSL, United Opt Out, and ECS. Tell CCSSO and USDOE to get over their Mardi Gras hangovers and email me back.
Parents are considered something close to the ultimate authority in most school situations, and can opt their children out of all sorts of things including sex ed, recess, and immunizations. They can take their kids out of school (within limits).
It hasn't always been the case, but in many states, they can now opt their children out of public education entirely, and homeschool.
But apparently the parental prerogative is not universal when it comes to standardized testing in Illinois, where the latest wrinkle in the opt out efforts of a relative handful of Chicago parents is the determination that they can't just sign a note or fill out a form.
Read on for more details -- and some questions.
States Look to Curb Standardized Testing WSJ: In recent months, officials in Missouri have cut back on allocated testing time while New York capped it. Connecticut agreed to let districts delay, for a year, linking teacher evaluations to state test scores. Tennessee officials rescinded a plan to deny teacher licenses based, in part, on their students' growth on state tests. Meanwhile, 179 bills related to K-12 testing—a number of them seeking to curb it—have been introduced in statehouses nationwide this legislative session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which hadn't tracked such bills so comprehensively until this year.
Revamped Teacher-Dismissal Bill Introduced In Calif. TeacherBeat: California lawmakers have, for a third time, introduced a measure to streamline teacher dismissal for malfeasance.
D.C. mulling Common Core test switch Washington Post: The District is slated to begin administering new tests next year that aim to gauge students’ performance on the Common Core State Standards, new national academic guidelines that are designed to promote critical thinking instead of rote memorization.
Snow days are adding up at Washington area schools this winter Washington Post: With a series of storms and cold snaps during the winter of 2013-2014, snow days at the region’s schools have been piling up. The snowstorm that began early Monday morning has led the region’s school systems to cancel school again, and school closures are approaching -- or in some cases passing -- the closures during the 2009-2010 winter, when the area was hit with “Snowmageddon.”
Teaching students how to combat traumas of poverty on the yoga mat PBS NewsHour: At Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto, Calif., 7th graders are learning yoga as a way to cope with the stress of life in a community rife with homelessness, shootings and gang war trauma. By teaching these children to pay close attention to their breathing and movements, Stanford University researchers are hoping they will focus better in school and beyond. Jeffrey Brown reports.
More news throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee seeks to keep waiver from No Child Left Behind law The Oregonian: Jay Inslee says he had a productive meeting with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sunday to discuss options to preserve the state's waiver from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
When Grownups Take the SAT The New Yorker: Since Kaplan set up shop, test-prep tutoring has come out of the basement. It’s now a billion-dollar industry whose primary product is heartache: college admission is, after all, a zero-sum game.
As High Schoolers Wait For College Notices, D.C. Fights To Get Students To Apply WAMU: Thousands of high school seniors across our region are waiting to hear if they've gotten into the colleges of their choice, but in the District, D.C. public schools are making a big push to get students — especially those from low-income backgrounds — ready for higher education.
Charters' desire for closed schools will be a difficult sell for CPS and city Chicago Tribune: The growing charter movement is one logical use for the 43 recently vacated CPS school buildings, but the district promised during the painful process of closing schools last year that it would not allow privately run charters into the buildings. CPS said it had nothing to do with Legacy's proposal.
After years of talk, MPS takes decisive action on the achievement gap MinnPost: When the announcement was made at the Minneapolis School Board’s February meeting that an office was being created to focus specifically on the welfare of black boys there was polite applause and a palpable wave of Minnesota Nice discomfort.
Public schools recruiting international high schoolers USA Today: Newcomb is one of a number of school districts -- both public and private -- quietly taking advantage of a growing interest in an American education by cash-ready international students. Federal statistics show that the number of international high schoolers arriving in the USA on F-1 visas has jumped from about 6,500 in 2007 to 65,000 in 2012.
More news below (and throughout the day via @alexanderrusso).
I plead guilty to not being militant enough in resisting NCLB-type testing. Had teachers put up a real fight, including "sick-outs" on testing day, they could not have fired us all, and our students would not have had to endure more than a decade of bubble-in malpractice.
The Tulsa World's Kim Archer, in Parents Opting Kids Out of State Testing Could Put Schools in a Bind, points to a way for teachers to atone for our timidity. The state of Oklahoma has joined Chicago, New York City (under Mike Bloomberg), and others in attempting to intimidate parents into dropping their protests against high-stakes testing. Archer explains the reason, "If test participation dips below 90 percent, the district receives an automatic F, according to the A-F school grade law."
School systems often make herculean efforts to test 95% of students, which is the required minimum for each test. If only one or two students per class were to boycott bubble-in testing, the entire system would collapse. They can't give every school an "F," can they?
Of course, we would have to be strategic and we would have to put student welfare first. We could not expect many parents to opt their 3rd graders out of tests required to pass to 4th grade. Neither could we ask high school students to boycott End of Instruction tests, until they passed the minimum number required to graduate. Except in the inner city, most students pass the prerequisite four tests by their junior year. If they boycott the rest, the A-F Report Card scheme would crater.
Teachers, of course, need to be more than fans, cheering on students and parents who opt out. I would start a legal defense fund to challenge high-stakes testing abuses. Whenever a student is denied a high school diploma due to failing Common Core or "Common Core-type" graduation exams, for instance, if he has not had an appropriate amount of Common Core or Common Core-type instruction, we should litigate for that student.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
My new column for Scholastic Administrator proposes that the Obama administration undertake an audit and establish some testing guidelines for states and district to work with -- not a mandate, just some parameters.
Why bother? Earlier this year, I noted that for all the hullabaloo surrounding overtesting we didn't really know all that much about test proliferation beyond anecdotal reports and isolated (and sometimes hyperbolic) media accounts. There is no national data that I've found. FairTest doesn't track this information comprehensively.
Some parents and teachers seemed to feel like there was way more testing than in the past. Some were just objecting to new, harder tests or to new, controversial uses of the test results (to rate teachers not just schools or kids).
Last week, Teach Plus took a stab at answering some of the questions about test proliferation and variations among districts and states. Even with findings revised to reflect changes in Chicago, there were clearly large differences among districts in terms of how much testing and time were involved -- and large differences between official time for administration and teachers' accounts even before test prep time was included.
Of course, the USDE has its hands full with test-related issues over which it has more direct control than whatever add-ons states and districts have layered onto federal requirements. The Secretary has given out 5 "double-test" waivers (CT, MS, MT, SD, VT) and has another 10 under review (CA, IA, IL, IA, KS, MD, MA, NV, OR, WA). Three states (ID, MT, and SD) are going to use their new field test assessments. Connecticut is going to use the field test assessments for 90 percent of districts. California is going to use them for elementary school accountability.
But I still think that it'd be a good idea for someone to take a national snapshot of where we are on the testing burden front. Right now, the whole discussion is happening in the absence of consistent and reliable data. Image via @scholasticadms *Fixed link - thanks, KL
EdSource’s Kathryn Baron, in NCLB Co-author Says He Never Anticipated Federal Law Would Force Testing Obsession, reports that Rep. George Miller, an architect of No Child Left Behind, says that he did not intend to create “what some have charged is a simplistic ‘drill and kill’ approach that subverts real instruction.”
Miller claims that the most important part of the law was reporting data on the outcomes of each demographic group. This “turned out to be a firestorm.”
No! The reporting of disaggregated test score data was a win-win policy welcomed by all types of stakeholders. It was the high-stakes testing that educators oppose.
Miller undercuts his professions of innocence to dumbing down teaching and learning. He says that “there were people who believed that drill and kill could lead to learning. And there were people who were drilling and killing and saying ‘This is absolutely wrong. But that was the policy’.”
Miller still seems oblivious to the damage done by creating the utopian goal of 100% proficiency for all students by 2014. And, again, he blames school systems for responding in ways that he should have known were predictable.
So far, at least, I've come up with a measly handful of things that President Obama could propose and implement without Congressional approval -- neither of which is likely to get mentioned tonight or done anytime soon.
But they're good ideas -- take a look, White House speechwriters! -- and others have lots of ideas. They're not going to happen, either -- and hey, it's possible that something could come out of tonight's speech. Unlikely, but possible.
Herewith, 4 Russo recommendations (none of them really my ideas) for actions Obama could take on the education front in his speech tonight, related to high-intensity tutoring, charter school diversity, an audit of testing, and a renewed call for equitable teacher distribution (Vergara!).
Image: The Dialectic, via Wired
Philadelphia Principals Fired Over Cheating NYT: Three principals were fired last week after an investigation into test cheating that has implicated about 140 teachers and administrators, a spokesman for the Philadelphia school district said.
Cheating Probe Roils Philadelphia School System WSJ: Nearly 140 teachers and administrators in Philadelphia public schools have been implicated in one of the nation's largest cheating scandals.
Chicago Public Schools approves seven new charter schools WBEZ: Despite protests and less than a year after closing 50 traditional public schools due to declining enrollment, Chicago’s Board of Education voted Wednesday afternoon to approve seven new charter schools.
Obama's State of the Union Speeches and Education: A Scorecard PK12: President Barack Obama will give his State of the Union speech next week, on Jan. 28. So that means a week from now, we'll all be mulling over the education portion. Is Obama usually able to get what he wants from Congress? Short answer: Not so much. For the longer answer, check out these past State of the Union speeches.
School Was Open, But No One Went WNYC: The city's daily attendance data show that only 47 percent of students attended school Wednesday, the lowest attendance rate by far this school year. The year's previous low was 73 percent on Jan. 7. Typically, citywide attendance in January hovers around 90 percent.
Some Parents Bemoan Icy Treks as de Blasio Stands by Choice to Keep Schools Open NYT: Across New York City on Wednesday, schools grappled with anemic attendance and complaints that Mayor Bill de Blasio had erred by holding class on a day of subzero winds and frozen streets.
More news below (and throughout the day via @alexanderrusso).
Seriously, after 12 years, it is time to address some issues in addition to the law's failed, top-down approach to schooling. Was it a good idea to forsake "incrementalism" and demand rapid "transformative" change across the entire nation? It is also time to reflect upon the political strategy of blowing up the educational "status quo" to pave the way for "disruptive innovation."
We should inventory the ways that NCLB-type reform weakened progressive coalitions, undermining state efforts to promote justice, or at least slow the increase of economic inequities.
It also has been a decade since New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann, in The Controller, persuaded Karl Rove to reveal that NCLB was a component of his three-part plan for destroying the Democratic Party. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court declared corporations to be people, the "Billionaires Boys Club" is the new Rove.
Not all of the new elites seek complete domination of the party that once represented working people, but corporate reformers are rarely reluctant to bulldoze institutions that used to provide some balance of power.
As we begin another spring testing season, educators will further highlight the educational malpractice being imposed on our students by bubble-in accountability. This year, we will also showcase the countdown to the failure of NCLB to meet its accountability targets.
Surprisingly, true believers in high-stakes testing aren't ignoring the law's anniversary and its target of 100% proficiency. The Democrats for Education Reform Statement Marks the Twelfth Anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act press release brags that "NCLB’s policies are now a permanent part of the education policy landscape."
DFER's Charlie Barone was an architect of NCLB and yet he proclaims the truth that reformers usually prefer to duck. He compares "current reform efforts on issues like standards, assessments, choice, teacher evaluation, and tenure" to NCLB.
If you liked NCLB, you will love DFER's, Arne Duncan's, and the Billionaires Boys Club's versions of NCLB-type testing on steroids. I'm curious, however, about the data that DFER cites to celebrate the output-driven mandates of the last twelve years. It links to data produced by "its inexorable march forward" to top-down micromanaging of our diverse nation's schools. It shows the $1000 per low-income student, per year increase in Title I, input-driven spending. DFER remains silent about any supposed increases in student performance.
The noneducators who gave us NCLB and the even worse policies of the Duncan administration remain preoccupied with their political fights. Their lesson from NCLB is focused on "those pushing back," i.e. their adult nemeses. Once again, reformers show themselves oblivious to real-world outputs, the effects of their handiwork on poor students of color.-JT(@drjohnthompson)Image via.
Are NCLB Waiver States Intervening in the Right Schools? Politics K12: After Nevada got an NCLB waiver, by the 2012-13 school year, 75 of those 86 schools got relief from the toughest interventions. These are schools that hadn't made adequate yearly progress for six years in a row.
When Taxpayer Money and Private Firms Intersect in Schools Texas Tribune: On a recently approved Texas charter school application, blacked-out paragraphs appear on almost 100 of its 393 pages. A spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency said redactions appeared on the application because the information was copyrighted.
Offensive student tweets target Montgomery schools chief Starr Washington Post: A number of messages to Superintendent Joshua P. Starr did more to offend than persuade. Some used racial epithets. Some used curse words. One threatened to slash Starr’s tires. A few messages mentioned Starr’s family in inappropriate ways, he said.
How to stop the revolving door of teachers, principals at charter schools Hechinger Report: Nationally, many charter school networks have higher rates of teacher and administrator turnover than their traditional school counterparts. In New Orleans, where nearly 90 percent of the public school children attend charters, the problem is particularly acute as young schools struggle to keep their teachers and leaders for the long-haul.
Parents Sue City Over Students Sent to Emergency Rooms WNYC: The woman, Ms. H, does not want to be identified except by her initials in court papers. She is one of six New York City parents of children with disabilities who are suing the city for unspecified damages. The suit claims the children were wrongly sent to emergency rooms and that the schools could have resorted to other methods for solving behavioral problems - methods that should have been included in their special education plans.
To Make Science Real, Kids Want More Fun And Fewer Facts NPR: In a new poll, many parents said they're worried that schools aren't adequately preparing students for a changing workforce. And too much emphasis on memorizing facts in the classroom, both parents and kids say, is keeping young people from getting excited about science and technology careers.
School Named For Klu Klux Klan Leader Nathan Bedford Forrest To Be Rebranded Reuters: A Florida high school whose name commemorates a leader of a white supremacist group known for lynchings and other violent acts against blacks is to be renamed, officials said on Monday.
‘What Is Good Teaching?’ NYT (Joe Nocera) As the country continues to struggle with education reform, it seems obvious that education schools need to change, so that prospective teachers walk into their first classroom knowing how to teach. Maybe “The New Public” can help bring about that change.
U.S. Department of Education to Redo SIG Analysis Due to Contractor Error PoliticsK12: The analysis, which was released just a couple of weeks ago, excluded about half of the schools that entered the newly revamped SIG program in its first year (the 2010-11 school year) and about a third of the schools that started in the second year (the 2011-12 school year.) It's unclear if the do-over will significantly change those conclusions.
Head Start funding partially restored in federal budget deal EdSource Today: Head Start lost about 57,000 slots for children, including more than 5,600 in California, because of cuts under federal sequestration, a program of automatically triggered, across-the-board spending cuts. These cuts have continued to ripple through Head Start operations month by month as they cycle through their federal grant processes.
Arrest Leads to Shake-Up of Alexander's Leadership Team PoliticsK12: Longtime Capitol Hill staffer and edu-nerd extraordinaire David Cleary, the GOP staff director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has become the chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education, currently serves as the top GOP lawmaker on the Senate education committee.
Mike Huckabee's "Common Core is Dead" Line Not What He Told State Chiefs State EdWatch:The former Arkansas governor said he is dissatisfied with the implementation of the common core and how it has become "hijacked" by other interests.
Charter Leader Denies Insider's Advantage WNYC: “I’m not suggesting that I don’t know anyone at Tweed, I do,” she said, referring to the D.O.E.'s headquarters. “So if you’re saying can I pick up the phone and call folks, yes, I can. But does that mean from a policy perspective I’ve gotten any advantages? Absolutely not.”
Lots more news below.
My latest Scholastic Administrator column is out, focusing on how the NCLB implementation and pushback history compares to the Common Core process we're going through now (Whither CCSS?).
"At the time, a number of states considered opting out. Several states (including Connecticut, Arizona, Utah, and Nebraska) and districts filed lawsuits against NCLB. So did the NEA and 11 districts scattered around the nation. Others sought accommodations, proposed legislation, or reported on the costs of complying with the new law. Three wealthy Connecticut districts opted out of the program entirely in 2003, followed by two districts near Chicago."
Back to the present: A few more states have slowed down their CCSS participation since the piece was written -- I think we're up to seven now, right? -- but the basic argument remains the same.
"If the history of NCLB is any guide, the vast majority of the current efforts to reconsider or roll back the Common Core will lose steam or result in some relatively minor accommodation well short of opting out. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on where you stand."
15 States Seek Waivers to Reduce Double-Testing PoliticsK12: The double-testing allows states to suspend some of their current tests and give only the field tests from the common-testing consortia—to avoid double testing students. See also Politico
Pulling a More Diverse Group of Achievers Into the Advanced Placement Pool NYT: As A.P. classes across the country have opened to a more diverse group of students, some teachers and parents worry that instructors will be forced to water down the curriculum, while some educational experts say there is little conclusive evidence that students who take such courses perform better in college.
Common Core State Standards Focus On Critical Thinking Amid Political Debate AP: Remembering the plot of a short story is no longer good enough in teacher Amy Lawson's fifth-grade classroom.
Md. says it will include more special ed students in national test Baltimore Sun: Acknowledging that scores on a national reading test may have been inflated, Maryland education officials changed course this week.
Austin Journal: Closing a Fear Gap So Children Can Achieve NYT: Montserrat Garibay, a teacher, is hoping to shrink the stark achievement gap in schools disproportionately populated by the children of immigrants by addressing fears of deportation.
Mixed reaction to iPad rollout from L.A. teachers and administrators LA Times: Just 36% of teachers strongly favored continuing the tablet effort; 90% of administrators felt the same.
Details Emerge on de Blasio's Education Agenda WNYC: We play excerpts from an education forum at which Mayor-elect de Blasio spoke and discuss the latest transition news with Wall Street Journal political reporter Michael Howard Saul.
N.C. elementary schools promise arts education but access is far from equal PBS:Most public schools in the United States offer some sort of music instruction, but according to a federal government report, about four million elementary school students do not get instruction in the visual arts.
Teacher learns a lesson after teaching students about Internet safety TODAY: When a Tennessee teacher put a photo online to teach her elementary school students what can happen when a personal photo goes public, even she was surprised at a lesson we can all learn from.
State and district news below
The 50-state strategy [to ensure equitable distribution of effective teachers] should have been started 12 years ago. [The new waiver renewal guidance is] disappointing, and it sends a message that it's not at the top of their agenda. -- EdTrust's Kate Tromble in EdWeek (Civil Rights Groups Wary on Waiver-Renewal Guidelines
California agrees to administer both math and English tests this spring KPCC: This is not the plan Torlakson, state legislators, and Governor Jerry Brown endorsed in Assembly Bill 484 earlier this year. That bill stipulated that California would only give students one field test this spring, to ease students into the new tests and the computer technology on which they'll take them.
Torlakson retreats from conflict with feds over testing EdSource: Faced with potentially tens of millions of dollars in fines, the state Department of Education has backed down from its confrontation with the federal government over standardized testing.Torlakson’s carefully worded news release makes no mention of the conflict with the federal government or a concern over districts’ capacity to administer computer tests in both subjects next spring.
State expands field tests of Common Core-aligned assessments LA Daily News: The field test of California's new computer-based assessments will be expanded so that nearly every student will take exams next spring in both math and English, rather than being limited to one or the other, officials said Thursday. High school juniors, students in grades three through eight, plus a small sampling of ninth- and 10th-graders will participate in field tests of the Smarter Balanced assessments.
Federal analysis of school grants shows mixed results Washington Post: A federal program that pumped a record $5 billion into failing schools is showing mixed results, with students at more than one-third of the targeted schools doing the same or worse after the schools received the funding, according to government data released Thursday.
New High School Program Latest Example of Duncan Efforts to Get Around Congress PoliticsK12: When it became clear that Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization wasn't happening, the administration put in place a system of waivers based largely on its blueprint for revising the law. It's even given a waiver to a group of California districts, over the objections of Republicans in Congress.
District and state news below
Advocacy Groups Urge Arne Duncan to Get Tough on NCLB Waivers PoliticsK12: In a letter sent to the Education Department today, these groups express deep concerns about waiver implementation, from how graduation rates are factored into state accountability systems to how subgroups of at-risk students are being helped.
School iPads to cost nearly $100 more each, revised budget shows LA Times: The L.A. Unified School District will spend $770 per iPad, a 14% increase over earlier cost estimates, the revised budget shows.Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K NYT: A Stanford psychologist found that affluent children had learned 30 percent more words from 18 months to 2 years of age than children from low-income homes. Video: Middle schooler: Shooter was aiming 'at my chest' NBC: Sparks Middle School shooting survivor Jose Cazares describes the scene inside the school Monday when teacher Michael Landsberry got between him and the 12-year old shooter.
Sequestration Cuts Lead To Bigger Classes, Shuttered Arts Programs In Schools HuffPost: For the current school year, the group heard back from 298 school districts in 42 states. Eighty-six percent factored sequestration cuts into budgets -- up from 36 last year -- and 144 reported they deferred building maintenance or purchases. Eight closed or consolidated schools.
West Point Women: A Natural Pattern Or A Camouflage Ceiling? NPR: Since 1980, the percentage of women at the U.S. Military Academy has stayed the same, leading some to conclude that the school has set an artificial cap on the number of female cadets that it accepts. Now, West Point has been told it must raise those numbers to meet the demand for more female leaders.
Crash Course on Speaking in Tongues, All 22 of Them NYT: A workshop in Brooklyn was held over three hours, in seven classrooms, featuring classes on nearly two dozen languages taught mostly by native speakers.
For many young D.C. parents, city schools remain a sticking point Washington Post: Public school enrollment in the District has risen nearly 18 percent over the past five years, mostly in the early grades and charter schools, as an increasing number of parents have been persuaded to give D.C. schools a try.Study: 15 percent of US youth out of school, work Associated Press: Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a study released Monday. That's almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 who have neither desk nor job, according to The Opportunity Nation coalition, which wrote the report.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visiting Wheeling Thursday Chicago Daily Herald
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit with students at Wheeling High School on Thursday to discuss the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and tour the school's new nano technology laboratory, ...
Texas Wins NCLB Waiver After Making Big Changes to Plan Politics K12: Texas was granted only a one-year waiver by Education Secretary Arne Duncan because it hasn't finalized guidelines around its teacher-evaluation system. The state can get another year of flexibility if it finishes its system and if federal officials approve it.
George W. Bush's Education Law, No Child Left Behind, Abandoned By Texas Huffington Post: According to a government document, the state has made significant "improvements" since applying. Those tweaks include creating a system for holding schools accountable based on the administration's guidelines for identifying the best and worst schools, devising a process for consulting with teachers to implement the waiver, and promising to support teachers in transitioning to new learning standards.
The Shutdown and Education: Your Cheat Sheet Politics K12: So it's happened: Congress was unable to reach agreement on temporary spending plan to keep the government open—and the U.S. Department of Education and other government agencies are on partial shutdown.
Arne Duncan: Beating Up on Common Core Is 'Political Silliness' Politics K12: During a question-and-answer period, reporters pressed Duncan on why the Common Core standards have become so toxic, particularly with GOP activists. He gave his standard (no pun intended) answer: Common ore has become a lightening rod because of "political silliness", nothing more. (No mention however, of the way the Obama administration has tried to use common core to its political advantage, by including it in the Democratic Party platform in 2012, for instance.) Out in states and schools, educators have moved past the politics and are rolling up their sleeves and working on implementation, Duncan said.
Anyone who's been reading the AJC series on testing mistakes and their consequences should probably also be familiar with Todd Farley's hilarious/depressing book Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry, which is now available online:
"Todd Farley's behind the scenes account of his years in the standardized testing industry is provocative, instructive, and often hilarious...."
To see whether testing practices and safeguards have gotten any better or worse since NCLB began, you should also check out Jacques Steinberg's big NYT series on testing from more than a decade ago (The Test Industry's Failures; When a Test Fails the Schools; Right Answer, Wrong Score ).
Previous posts: Test Scoring: The Elephant In The Room; A Scathing, Humorous Look Inside The Testing Industry; Dan Rather Examines Test Scoring ...; "The Truth About Testing" At Columbia J-School; Testing Companies "Streamline" Scoring, Oversight.
Image via Flickr
The AJC's testing examination continues with this story (Scoring errors jeopardize tests) and a hand-dandy state-by-state listing of testing errors that have created real world problems for kids and schools:
|AK||Teachers and administrators complain about a host of problems with new state tests in 2005, including questions with no clear correct answer and missing pages. State says most of the problems were probably with pilot questions that didn't count.|
|AL||Scoring errors in 2005 affected about 2,500 students.|
|AR||Error by scorers in 2006 led to inaccurate school-by-school results for 238,000 students.|
|AZ||Delays, reporting errors in 2012 such as kids reported in the wrong group or school, errors in field test items on AIMS state test. "These errors are public, and have damaging effects on the public perception of the Arizona Department of Education and AIMS testing."|
|CA||Problems in 2007 included errors in the directions for a writing test that created the need for a scoring adjustment for some students and the delivery of some testing materials late.|
|CO||A scoring error on a single question resulted in incorrect scores issued from 1997 to 2002.|
|CT||A test company's failure to update scores properly on a 2005 reading test led wrong results to be reported for 355 high school students.|
|DC||A sixth-grader complains in 2013 of a question with confusing directions and another with two possible right answers.|
|FL||Federal investigators found errors in how a scanner read students’ bubbled-in answer choices, a 2009 report found.|
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's big testing flaws story reporting ten percent of standardized tests nationally may have substantial flaws (Errors plague school testing) is officially behind a paywall for now, but I've been given links to the stories to give out to you, special readers:
ERRORS PLAGUE SCHOOL TESTING: Most questions may be adequate, as industry representatives claim. But for hundreds, if not thousands, of students nationwide each year, just one or two questions will make the difference between passing and failing a critical exam.
Flawed questions fluster students: One poorly-worded question can throw test-takers offtrack as they move through an exam, teachers and students say.
CA chools scale back suspensions San Jose Mercury News: From Los Angeles to Modesto to the Bay Area, districts are reducing suspensions, sometimes dramatically, and drawing raves and national attention -- but also bitter criticism.
Md. to give MSA, though results won't be used to gauge school progress Baltimore Sun: State believes it would be violating federal law if it stopped giving MSA, which doesn't align with new curriculum.
State and Locals to U.S. Senate: Rewrite No Child Left Behind Act Politics K12: "State governments, localities, and schools need a long-term resolution for the issues raised by the current federal education law, the No Child Left Behind Act," write the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National League of Cities, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and four other groups, in a letter sent to Senate leaders today.
LAUSD superintendent Deasy "saddened" by deputy's resignation KPCC: Deasy and school board members and staff reached by KPCC have declined to comment on the circumstances of his departure, but Aquino told the Los Angeles Times that the seven-member board has been riddled by paralysis and micromanages day-to-day operations. See also LA Daily News.
Minecraft, a Child’s Obsession, Finds Use as an Educational Tool NYT: Teachers and parents are using Minecraft, a popular video game, to help teach science, history, languages and ethics.
Race to the Top’ for education a flop, report finds Politico: Most winning states made what the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education labeled “unrealistic and impossible” promises to boost student achievement in exchange for prizes that were ultimately paltry in comparison with their pledges.MOOCs keep getting bigger. But do they work? Hechinger/TIME: Hailed by politicians and journalists as the affordable future of higher education, the MOOC is neither fashion accessory nor smartphone app. It’s a massive open online course—a college class available for free online to tens of thousands of people at once.
California Moves to Scrap ‘No Child’ Testing, Despite U.S. Threat WSJ: California lawmakers approved a bill that would scrap the state’s current student-testing program, despite an Obama administration threat to pull federal dollars from the state if the legislation becomes law. The bill—which California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign—would immediately end the annual California Standards Tests in reading and math.
Study: Waivers leave behind at-risk students AP: Millions of at-risk students could fall through the cracks as the Education Department gives states permission to ignore parts of No Child Left Behind, according to a study education advocates released Tuesday.
No Child Left Behind waivers are causing the private tutoring industry to implode Deseret News: Education Week's analysis showed that among states that have received NCLB waivers, very few included supplemental education — after-school tutoring — in their waiver plans.
Arne Duncan Wants Special Education Students To Take General Exams Huffington Post: Should students with disabilities be held to the same academic standards as their peers? And should schools and teachers be held accountable for their progress? U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan answered that question with a resounding yes, proposing a seemingly wonky regulatory change that could have profound effects on some of the nation's most vulnerable learners.
At Charter Schools, Short Careers by Choice NYT: Charter networks are developing what amounts to a youth movement in which teaching for two to five years is seen as acceptable, even desirable.
Biggest Changes in a Decade Greet Students Wall Street Journal: Millions of students heading back to school are finding significant changes in the curriculum and battles over how teachers are evaluated, as the biggest revamps of U.S. public education in a decade work their way into classrooms. Most states are implementing tougher math and reading standards known as Common Core, while teacher evaluations increasingly are [...]
Breaking Down the Newark Teacher Raises WSJ: Last week, 190 Newark public-school teachers learned they’d be getting bonuses in a controversial merit-pay program funded by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg‘s foundation. Not all of Newark’s 3,200 teachers were eligible to begin with, and even fewer – only 11 teachers – qualified for the full bonus amount of $12,500.
Former Sec. Of Education Wants More Support For Teachers NPR: Education has been called the top civil rights issue of the 21st century. Host Michel Martin asks former U.S. Secretary of Education of Education Rod Paige about whether the nation is winning the battle for equality in schools.
An overview of the new Common Core assessment development process from the PBS NewsHour earlier this week.
NCLB waivers at risk in three states Politico: Oregon plans to appeal its status to the department in the next 10 business days. Washington, with its hands tied by state law, said it can't do much until the legislature convenes in January, but the state outlook is optimistic. And Kansas plans to meet today to discuss its high-risk status.
NCLB Waivers in Kansas, Oregon, Washington at 'High Risk' PoliticsK12: The U.S. Department of Education is threatening to revoke No Child Left Behind Act waivers for three states at the end of the 2013-14 school year over their failure to come up with new teacher-evaluation systems tied to student growth.
School Standards’ Debut Is Rocky, and Critics Pounce NYT: Indiana has already put a brake on them. The Michigan House of Representatives is holding hearings on whether to suspend them. And citing the cost of new tests requiring more writing and a significant online component, Georgia and Oklahoma have withdrawn from a consortium developing exams based on the standards.
Last-Minute A-F Changes Lifted 165 Indiana School Grades StateImpact: Bennett’s staff does not directly mention the change in emails the Associated Press published this month. From those messages, it’s not apparent state officials made the change with Christel House alone in mind. The finding does, however, shows how a relatively minor alteration to the A-F grading scale can have statewide implications.
On education, mayoral hopefuls don’t talk about their limitations GothamSchools: Despite coming from different candidates, the pledges have one thing in common: They can’t be fulfilled from inside City Hall, despite mayoral control of the city’s schools.
Get ready for 'disappointment,' political spin with new school-test results Minn Post: Depending on who is doing the talking, the tests are either the beginning of a new, more rational era, the beginning of the end or Waterloo for fed-up teachers.
NC schools chief June Atkinson says test scores will drop this year NewsObserver: Last week, the state Department of Public Instruction announced that the four-year graduation rate reached a record high 82.5 percent this year. But expect more sobering news this fall, Atkinson said, when DPI releases the results of English/language arts and math tests based on new Common Core standards. via GS.
Parents Losing Jobs a Hidden Cost to Head Start Cuts Bloomberg: A U.S. preschool program for low-income families allowed single mother Kelly Burford to take a $7.25-an-hour job as a department store clerk in Maryland. Her son, Bradyn, 2, spent the day with friends listening to stories, singing and drawing pictures -- at no cost to Burford. via Politico.
Obama administration presses forward on early education Politico: President Barack Obama has found a way to cater to his obsession with pre-K programs while the rest of his education agenda stalls: Skip Congress and spend the money anyway.
Philadelphia Schools Should Remain Closed Until Fully Funded, Some Parents Say HuffPost: Philadelphia's Superintendent William Hite said Thursday if he doesn't get an additional $50 million by Aug. 16, the city's beleaguered 218 public schools will be unable to open their doors on schedule on Sept. 9.
Lavish perks. Little oversight Asbury Park Press: While Wall students lagged behind their statewide peers, prosecutors say schools chief James F. Habel stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement pay.
M. Night Shyamalan Takes on Education Reform WSJ: Best known for producing films such as "The Sixth Sense" and "The Village," Mr. Shyamalan is about to come out with a book called "I Got Schooled" on the unlikely subject of education reform.
For the first nine years [of NCLB], the average gains were six points annually for African-Americans, five points for Hispanics and three points for whites... Annual gains [in the Obama/waiver era] have been limited to one-and-a-half points for blacks and to three points for Hispanic students. - Paul Peterson in the WSJ (The Obama Setback for Minority Education)
Parents got left out of NCLB in terms of engagement, transfers, and tutoring, says NACS's Nina Rees in this recent WSJ Opinion Video -- but the House rewrite of NCLB over-corrects the law's problems.
6 California cities get No Child Left Behind delay SF Gate: In San Francisco, the waiver will free up at least $700,000 that had to be spent on tutors or letters to parents about their "failing" school, said Superintendent Richard Carranza.
CA Waiver Award Includes ‘Unique’ Oversight Panel* LA School Report: The 14-member oversight body will provide an “unbiased external compliance review” of each district’s progress after a series of self- and peer-evaluations.
Eight California Districts Get No Child Left Behind Waivers Wall Street Journal: The Obama administration said Tuesday it will allow eight California school districts, including Los Angeles, to sidestep key provisions ...
California districts get special 'No Child' waiver Politico: Several prominent Republicans oppose the idea of district waivers, including Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, who chairs the House education committee. The CORE districts have committed to track progress of and hold themselves accountable for much smaller subgroups, with as few as 20 students per campus.
Image via Flickr
The yellow dots represent the 19 states with waivers that have also had their teacher evaluation systems approved, according to EdWeek. The green dots are those who have merely been approved for a waiver. Everybody else is still operating under the original NCLB.
"Pro editor Marty Kady leads a roundtable discussion with education editor Nirvi Shah and reporters Libby Nelson and Stephanie Simon on changes to Common Core, the status of legislation to overhaul No Child Left Behind, and the deal on student loans."
In his recent post, Test Mania A Mere Symptom of Bipolar Policy Disorder, Barone replies to Brent Staples' The Trouble With Testing Mania.
Staples’ New York Times editorial cautiously and constructively criticized testing gone wild.
Some "reformers" might have stuck with their party line that the ultimate purpose of test-driven accountability is helping children.
Instead, Barone admits that testing and test prep has stolen time from instruction. But he claims that teachers also waste class time showing movies, texting, sleeping, and with “teacher student underage sex.”
Barone, an author of NCLB, does not claim an educational reason for its test-driven accountability. He bluntly acknowledges that the purpose of testing-driven reforms was "differentiating between effective and ineffective teachers and between successful and failing education systems."
In theory, that could have helped more students than it hurt, but Barone is not very curious about why NCLB accountability failed.
House takes up GOP version of No Child Left Behind AP: The House is ready to make the final tweaks to its Republican-led rewrite of the sweeping No Child Left Behind education law that governs every school in the country that receives federal education dollars.
Rollback of NCLB to get vote Politico: A bill to roll back No Child Left Behind, the far-reaching 2001 education overhaul that expired six years ago but remains in effect, will finally get a vote in the House of Representatives later this week after clearing a procedural hurdle Wednesday night—and despite grumbling from some of the chamber’s more conservative members.
House Lawmakers Set to Debate No Child Left Behind Act Rewrite Politics K12: On the eve of a possible vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on long-stalled legislation to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, the bill's road to passage is still somewhat bumpy. House leaders have scheduled votes for Thursday on a host of amendments to the proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act revision—26 of them altogether. But so far, a vote on final passage hasn't been scheduled, which gives leaders extra time to twist some arms, if they need to.
Senate Reaches Deal to End Fight Over Student Loan Interest Rates NYT: A Senate aide said that the new proposal, which had been the subject of tense negotiations since the rates doubled on July 1, would include a cap on federal Stafford and PLUS loans and a relatively low interest rate.
Plan approved for Conn. school shooting donations AP: Families of the 26 children and educators killed in the Connecticut school shooting will receive $281,000 each under a plan for dividing up $7.7 million in donations....
Texas School District Drops Microchip-Tracking System WSJ: District officials decided that attendance didn't increase enough to justify the costs of the program, said Northside spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. "The lawsuit and negative publicity were part of the conversation, but not the deciding factor in ending the program," he said.
Arne Duncan presses GOP to back universal pre-K Politico: Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday he's urging reluctant Republicans in Congress to get on board with funding universal preschool. One of the big sticking points for Republicans has been coming up with new money for the program.
25 Children Die From Tainted Lunches at Indian School NYT: The authorities were searching for the headmistress of a primary school in the eastern state of Bihar after children were served food contaminated with insecticide.
As reported yesterday in LA School Report, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and others are in Washington today, making a final push to persuade the Obama Education Department to approve its revised application for a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the 2002 federal education law.
Superintendent Deasy has said that a NCLB waiver would free up as much as $80 million in federal funding for other purposes.
Thus far, at least, neither Board members nor the local teachers union have been critical of the district’s pursuit of the NCLB waiver.
Publicly, at least, Obama’s education team has been signaling its support for the application, and the California Department of education is nominally supportive of the effort, too.
But there’s an unusually high level of conflict on education issues right now between Sacramento and Washington. Conflicts between Washington and Sacramento — combined with objections from state and local teachers unions to certain requirements for waivers, and practical concerns – could have some effects, direct or indirect, on whether LAUSD and eight other districts win approval from Washington to change some of the current NCLB requirements – or the final form of the waiver that is approved.
Read the full piece at LA School Report: Politics Could Affect LAUSD Waiver Approval
GOP divided on rewrite of 'No Child Left Behind' AP: Conservative Republicans don’t think a GOP rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law does enough to reduce Washington’s influence. Moderates are warily eying proposals that would expand charter schools’ role. Those intraparty differences appear to be blocking the bill’s momentum.
Cantor, Kline Push No Child Left Behind Rewrite, Public School Choice Politics K12: School choice will be part of the debate when the U.S. House of Representatives takes up its version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, possibly as early as this week. The House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has become much more active on K-12 issues lately, has introduced an amendment that would allow Title I dollars to follow children to the public school of their choice, including charter schools.
Republican House leaders visit DC charter school to tout education bill Washington Post: House Republicans have taken a clear turn away from Bush's philosophy that states receiving billions of dollars each year in federal aid should be accountable to Washington.
The Charter School Vs. Public School Debate Continues NPR: The charter school movement turns 21 this year and the latest study shows kids in most charter schools are doing as well or better in reading and math than their counterparts in traditional public schools. But now, leading charter school supporters are questioning that study.
I don't think there are a lot of things I would have done differently, other than maybe put the budget caps on earlier, which meant Delaware and Tennessee got more money than maybe one would have liked to have seen. - Joanne Weiss, soon-departing Chief of Staff to EdSec Duncan (in EdWeek)
Student Loan Rates Double; What Are Long-Term Solutions for High College Debt? PBS: The student loan debate briefly became an issue during last year's presidential campaign until Congress agreed to freeze the rates for a year. But that deal runs out today.
Activists end fast over Philadelphia school cuts AP: Philadelphia activists have ended a dayslong fast to protest school district layoffs....
Calif. Judge Rules Yoga In Public Schools Not Religious NPR: The decision came after some parents in the San Diego area sued the Encinitas Union School District to stop yoga classes because they believed the ancient Indian practice had religious overtones. An attorney for the patents said they'd likely appeal.
Progressive Charter School Doesn’t Have Students The Onion via GothamSchools: One year into its founding as the purported “bold next step in education reform,” administrators on Monday sang the praises of Forest Gates Academy, a progressive new charter school that practices an innovative philosophy of not admitting any students.
Junk food getting canned in schools USA TODAY: The nutritional quality of food served at schools has been a hot-button issue for years because a third of U.S. kids are overweight or obese.
Va. superintendents worry grading scale will only measure poverty Washington Post: As Virginia’s Board of Education begins to develop a formula for calculating letter grades for each of its public schools by fall 2014, superintendents across the state are getting nervous.
Fireworks at Chicago school board meeting Washington Post: Here's a short video showing what happened when some Chicago public school students went to Wednesday's Board of Education meeting to protest budget cuts and the largest mass school closing in American history.
Here's Duncan's appearance in SF on Friday, during which he apparently said nice things about Governor Jerry Brown (with whom he's battled regularly for the last four years) and about the district NCLB waiver application. Via EdSource Daily.
The waiver policy is sort of like if Obamacare had mandated that everyone in America had live to be at least 90, or face severe consequences. Then when the severe consequences rolled around, the administration would offer waivers only if states implemented plans to make everyone run 15 miles a day. - Washington Monthly's Daniel Luzer (The Obama Administration's Crafty Education Policy)
Is NCLB Waiver Renewal the Next Big Issue? EdWeek: The waivers are only set to be in place for two years, and it's unclear if Brokedown Congress will get its act together to pass a rewrite.
Arne Duncan Expected To Tap Emma Vadehra As New Chief Of Staff Huffington Post: She is expected to be replaced by Emma Vadehra, who works as the chief of staff for a charter school management organization known as Uncommon Schools, the sources said.
Education with a LIFT NBC: Schools adopt program to LIFT low income students to higher learning.
In Dallas, 3-Year High School Diploma Would Expand Preschool NYT: Dallas Independent School District, the state’s second largest, is developing a voluntary three-year high school diploma plan that is likely to start in the 2014-15 school year and would funnel cost savings to finance prekindergarten.
Defiant LAUSD Superintendent Says He’ll Push Targeted Spending Plan Anyway LA School Report: “The Board voted down the directive to have me come and do it,” said Deasy, referring to Galatzan’s local spending resolution. “[But] they can’t stop me from doing it; we’re doing it anyway. If they had voted to prevent me from doing it… well they didn’t think of that.”
A Lifeline for Minorities, Catholic Schools Retrench NYT: Many blacks and Latinos say they can trace the success they have achieved in their careers to the guidance they received in Catholic schools.
Texas school district apologizes to valedictorian AP: A North Texas school district has apologized to a high-school valedictorian whose microphone was switched off during a graduation ceremony when he deviated from prepared remarks.
Republican-led House committee passes new federal education bill
Washington Post: A Republican-controlled House committee Wednesday
approved a new version of the country’s main education law that would
sharply shrink the
federal role in K-12 public schools.
Did Obama Diss Catholic Education In Northern Ireland? BuzzFeed: Education remains deeply divided in the region, with the children of Catholics mainly attending Catholic schools and the children of Protestant families mainly attending government-run schools.
Online Classes Fuel a Campus Debate NYT: A heated discussion has emerged over whether free online college classes will lead to better learning and lower costs — or to a second-class education for most students.
Condoms Approved for Schools in Massachusetts NYT: The new policy allows students to obtain condoms, unless parents opt them out, and makes sexual education a required part of school health curricula.
Lax Education In Humanities, Social Sciences Spark Outcry NPR: A new report argues that humanities and social sciences are as essential to the country's economic and civic future as science and technology. The study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was commissioned in 2010 by a bipartisan group of members of Congress.
Marathon Board Meeting Signals Changes to Come LA School Report: Among several key decisions the Board arrived at during the lengthy session were votes to award a $30 million contract to Apple, close a charter school that had dodged a district audit, and add some local regulations to the controversial parent trigger process (but not call for the law’s repeal).