Education News for 12-06-2012

State Education News

  • Senate will redo bill on grading districts (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Republican leaders in the Senate say the goal of a new A-to-F report-card system and tougher school-accountability system is to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college…Read more...

  • Educators open to stricter standards (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • If making teachers take a rigorous exam to get their license, similar to the way lawyers take the bar exam in order to practice law…Read more...

  • Educators debate proposed exam (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Ohio educators responded with tempered support to the American Federation of Teachers’ call for a more stringent exam…Read more...

  • Political Fight Threatens To End Funding For Autism Treatment In This Session (WBNS)
  • The state education department spends over $250 million dollars annually in special education costs for children with autism…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Many kids miss school as 'stomach flu' spreads in Ross County (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • Several local schools reported a large number of students out sick Wednesday, one day after health officials said the so-called “stomach flu” appears to be fairly widespread…Read more...

  • Licking Heights school copes without busing (Columbus Dispatch)
  • There were a lot of whistles and hand signals, a few kids wandering through the parking lot yesterday with their cellphones pressed to their ears…Read more...

  • Schools create rainy day fund (Newark Advocate)
  • Granville school officials have established an emergency “contingency” fund that is dependent in part upon how quickly the Granville Inn is sold…Read more...

  • Custodians, groundskeepers laid off at Heights (Newark Advocate)
  • Licking Heights Board of Education last week moved forward with another round of reductions, laying off custodians and reducing the hours of dozens of bus drivers…Read more...

  • Teachers get STEM training (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Some teachers were a little overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available in the new Defined STEM program…Read more...


  • Short takes (Columbus Dispatch)
  • KIDS OFTEN are involved with activities at school beyond the traditional school day, and often when it’s dark. Combine poor visibility with a lack of sidewalks and well-marked or well-lit crosswalks…Read more...

  • Better busing (Findlay Courier)
  • Earlier this year, Gov. John Kasich's administration introduced "Beyond Boundaries," a program to help school districts, local governments and state agencies deal with less state funding…Read more...

Gross miscalculation

On his Sociological Eye on Education blog for the Hechinger Report, Aaron Pallas writes that in April 2011, Carolyn Abbott, who teaches mathematics to seventh- and eighth-graders at the Anderson School, a citywide gifted-and-talented school in Manhattan, received startling news. Her score on the NYC Department of Education's value-added measurement indicated only 32 percent of seventh-grade math teachers and 0 percent of eighth-grade math teachers scored worse than she. According to calculations, she was the worst eighth-grade math teacher in the city, where she has taught since 2007.

Here's the math: After a year in her classroom, her seventh-grade students scored at the 98th percentile of city students on the 2009 state test. As eighth-graders, they were predicted to score at the 97th percentile. Yet their actual performance was at the 89th percentile of students across the city, a shortfall -- 97th percentile to 89th percentile -- that placed Abbott near the rock bottom of 1,300 eighth-grade mathematics teachers. Anderson is an unusual school; the material on the state eighth-grade math exam is taught in the fifth or sixth grade. "I don't teach the curriculum they're being tested on," Abbott explained. "It feels like I'm being graded on somebody else's work." The math she teaches is more advanced, culminating in high-school level work and the New York State's Regents exam in Integrated Algebra. Of her students taking the Regents in January, all passed with flying colors, more than a third achieving a perfect score of 100.

This summer, the state will release a new iteration of the Teacher Data Reports. For Abbott, these will be a mere curiosity. She has decided to leave the classroom, and is entering the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall.

[readon2 url="http://eyeoned.org/content/the-worst-eighth-grade-math-teacher-in-new-york-city_326/"]Read more...[/readon2]

The tax loophole test system

A smart article by a New York teacher of the year appears in the Washington Post today. The piece talks about the negative effects of the soon to be implemented system of evaluating teachers based upon student test scores. In New York, 40% of a teachers evaluation will be decided this way. In Ohio under HB153 it would be 50%.

The article makes a lot of good points, but these everyday scenarios get to the heart of some of the problems with relying upon student test scores for high stakes teacher evaluation.

1) Andrew has a severe learning disability. He is a hands-on learner who struggles on written exams. His resource teacher, counselor and mother thought he would be best-served taking a challenging science course, even though everyone knew he would fail the Regents exam. When 40% of a teacher’s evaluation depends on that test score, will schools still make this sort of humane, pedagogically sound decision?

2) Jason missed two days of school this week for golf sectionals. He is a weak student and will struggle to pass the Regents exam. He will miss yet another day next week and perhaps more days if he advances to the state tournament. These golf matches were scheduled during school hours by officials representing New York State. Does the coach or sectional committee bear any responsibility for Jason’s performance on the Regents exam?

3) Tranh moved to America in January to live with his uncle. He speaks very little English and missed half a year of instruction. Who is accountable for his standardized test scores?

4) Simone will miss school all next week because her parents are taking the family on vacation. She will miss five days of instruction for this illegal absence. Will her teachers get an asterisk placed next to Simone’s test scores?

5) Emily finally told her doctor and her parents that she is struggling with depression. She is starting counseling and medication. Needless to say, her grades are suffering. As Emily’s life hangs in the balance, how do we find the strength to show her compassion when we know her poor grades will negatively affect our evaluation?

6) Trudy is a veteran teacher. She volunteered to teach a class of at-risk learners because she has the skills to do so. Her passing rate on the Regents exam will be significantly lower than her peers teaching the stronger students. Under the new APPR, what motivation will teachers have to take on the most challenging students?

7) Marcia teaches art, Beth teaches Special Education and Craig is a Guidance Counselor. There are no standardized assessments attached to their jobs. They are gifted educators, but they—like many others in our profession—will not feel the same pressure as those teachers who have a high-stakes exam attached to their course. How do we deal with the divisiveness caused by this inequality?

8) Diane teaches 4th grade. She worked diligently to prepare her students for the ELA. She went to workshops to learn about standards and her passing rate suggests great skill as a teacher. Last spring, the cut scores were changed without warning. Suddenly both Diane and her students seem less-skilled. How do we ensure that the vagaries of testing don’t harm people like Diane and her students?

Much like corporations seeking out tax loopholes, teachers will soon figure out what to avoid, or worse still, as was discovered in Washington DC under Michele Rhee, how to cheat the system. If you implement a corporate inspired evaluation system, don't be shocked when you get corporate like behaviors.

But what stands out most sharply isn't the deleterious effects this kind of evaluation regime would have on many teachers, but more gravely, the dire impacts on a wide range of students.