Advertorials in standardized tests?

A strange story out of New York

At least a half-dozen companies got an unexpected boost in marketing their brands to New York’s children this week — with free product placement on the state’s English exams.

Teachers and students said yesterday’s multiple-choice section of the eighth-grade tests name-dropped at least a handful of companies or products — including Mug Root Beer, LEGO and that company’s smart robots, Mindstorms.

IBM, the comic book and TV show “Teen Titans” and FIFA — the international soccer federation — were also mentioned in the test booklets, some of them with what educators referred to as out-of-place trademark symbols.

“I’ve been giving this test for eight years and have never seen the test drop trademarked names in passages — let alone note the trademark at the bottom of the page,” said one teacher who administered the exam.

How long before corporate education boosters push for companies to pay for advertising within standardized tests?

Exposing the real "Right to Work" supporters agenda

Efforts to pass "Right to Work" laws go back decades (a measure was defeated in Ohio in 1958, by the massive margin of 63.3% No to 36.7% yes), and have always been pursued by monied interests looking to put a dent in the power of workers ability to stand up for themselves and each other through collective action.

It should not be lost on anyone that the major backers of this latest anti-union push are billionaires and big business, none of whom actually belong to a union. Having seen previous "right to work" efforts defeated, the extreme right, and their big business backers have had to send their latest effort through a rebranding exercise and they have come up with a new catchy title "work place freedom".

Who doesn't love freedom? Well apparently the very people promoting the effort. reported on a meeting of Tea Party members discussing "work place freedom" and why they were pursuing it

Speakers at an Allen County Patriots meeting Thursday made the case that the National Education Association abuses teacher dues to support a liberal agenda that disrespects Christian values.
According to Boyatt, NEA gave close to $15 million to advocacy groups in the 2011-12 school year and $18 million in 2010-11. The advocacy groups, she said, included the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Human Rights Campaign, Women’s Campaign Forum and Rainbow Push Coalition.

From there, it got uglier, much uglier

Harvey said the NEA has supported an “immoral, deviant and destructive” gay agenda for at least 25 years, citing its gay and lesbian caucus started in 1987. Harvey criticized the union for supporting a gay and lesbian history month, diversity training that included homosexuality, and pro-homosexual school counseling. She said the NEA has asked schools to protect students and staff from sexual orientation harassment and discrimination and has replaced the word “tolerance” with acceptance and respect.

“Kids are being trained as activists now,” she said.

Harvey said the NEA has voted to lobby for same-sex unions and said petitions are currently circulating to overturn the 2004 Ohio marriage amendment, which stated that that only a union between a man and woman would be recognized as a valid marriage. The OEA opposed the amendment.

This is why the Tea Party in Ohio wants to pursue "right to work" legislation, not to create any kid of "freedom", but to enable their ongoing bigotry by attacking organizations that have a long history of standing up for equality and fairness. Public opinion polls show strong majorities now supporting marriage equalityand how out of the mainstream these Tea Party "Patriots" truly are.

The NEA and its members should be rightly proud of their support for equality, even when it was unpopular to do so.

Big business backers of this effort ought to take a closer look at who some of their allies are. The world has moved on from 1958, but voters are likely to deliver an equally stinging defeat to the purveyors of this ugly bigoted agenda.

Ohio Voters’ Checklist


Election Protection and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights have released voter rights checklists for all 50 states. These one-page guides explain polling times, what IDs may be required to vote, rights to provisional ballots and more and include the phone number for a toll-free Election Protection Hotline you can use if you encounter problems trying to cast your vote.

If you have any questions or need further information, please call the Election Protection Hotline 4842-6987-3167\2 at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) or go to For Spanish-language assistance, call 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota.

1. On Election Day, EACH POLLING PLACE WILL BE OPEN BETWEEN 6:30 A.M. AND 7:30 P.M. A voter in line by 7:30 P.M. HAS THE RIGHT TO VOTE.

2. Ohio law requires that each polling place be accessible to physically disabled voters, unless exempted. If exempted, the disabled voter must be required to vote curbside in your vehicle.

3. If you cannot read or write, or you are blind or otherwise disabled, and need assistance voting, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECEIVE HELP WITH VOTING and may designate someone of your choice, other than an employer or an officer or agent of your union, to provide such assistance. Election officials may also provide assistance.

4. If you do not have photo identification at the polls, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE a provisional ballot that should be counted as long as you are properly registered to vote and in the right precinct, which is where you reside on Election Day. For your provisional ballot to count, you must show, either at your precinct or at the county Board of Elections within ten (10) days either the last four digits of your social security number, driver’s license number, sign an affirmation or show a valid form of identification. To vote a REGULAR ballot, you must show: a current and valid Ohio driver’s license, a current and valid photo identification issued by Ohio or federal government, a military identification (if it can be ascertained by the poll worker that the person is who they say they are), or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or another government document

5. If you have moved within the same precinct, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE a regular ballot upon completing a change of residence at the polls.

6. If you have moved to a different precinct in the same county prior to the election, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE at the polling place of your NEW residence upon updating your registration. If you do not update before Election Day, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE a provisional ballot on Election Day.

7. If you have moved to a different county prior to the election, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE a provisional ballot at the new polling place that corresponds to your new address in your NEW COUNTY, or at the Board of Elections, on Election Day upon completing a change of residence at the polls.

8. If you make a mistake or “spoil” your ballot, and have not cast the ballot, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO RECEIVE UP TO TWO REPLACEMENT BALLOT after returning the spoiled ballot.

9. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO WAIT TO VOTE (OR TO VOTE) without anyone electioneering or trying to influence your vote within the area marked by small U.S. flags, or within ten feet of you if you are in line outside that area.

10. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to take up to five minutes in the voting booth, if all booths are occupied and voters are waiting in line. If all booths are not occupied and there are not voters waiting in line, you may take longer than five minutes.


You can download a copy of this checklist, here.

Popular modes of evaluating teachers are fraught with inaccuracies

In conclusion
New approaches to teacher evaluation should take advantage of research on teacher effectiveness. While there are considerable challenges in using value-added test scores to evaluate individual teachers directly, using value-added methods in research can help validate measures that are productive for teacher evaluation.

Research indicates that value-added measures of student achievement tied to individual teachers should not be used for high-stakes, individual-level decisions, or comparisons across highly dissimilar schools or student populations. Valid interpretations require aggregate-level data and should ensure that background factors — including overall classroom composition — are as similar as possible across groups being compared. In general, such measures should be used only in a low-stakes fashion when they’re part of an integrated analysis of teachers’ practices.

Standards-based evaluation processes have also been found to be predictive of student learning gains and productive for teacher learning. These include systems like National Board certification and performance assessments for beginning teacher licensing as well as district and school-level instruments based on professional teaching standards. Effective systems have developed an integrated set of measures that show what teachers do and what happens as a result. These measures may include evidence of student work and learning, as well as evidence of teacher practices derived from observations, video- tapes, artifacts, and even student surveys.

These tools are most effective when embedded in systems that support evaluation expertise and well- grounded decisions, by ensuring that evaluators are trained, evaluation and feedback are frequent, mentoring and professional development are available, and processes are in place to support due process and timely decision making by an appropriate body.

With these features in place, evaluation can be- come a more useful part of a productive teaching and learning system, supporting accurate information about teachers, helpful feedback, and well-grounded personnel decisions.

Kappan magazine - Teacher evaluation

Teacher evaluations years away from completion

The state budget (HB 153) required all eligible teachers to be be evaluated using 50% student growth measures, by the 2013-14 school year.

Student growth measures may use value-added data that is calculated to determine whether a student achieves one year's worth of growth. But because the current value-added measure relies on data from statewide assessments, it can only be computed for reading and math education in grades 4-8.

That covers approximately 30% of Ohio's public school teachers. But before even those 30% can be measured, lots of training and data systems need to be put in place. By the end of this year, only 60% of those 30%, that is about 18% of Ohio's teachers, will have something in place.

72% of Ohio's teachers will not be in a position for the provisions in HB153 to be implemented by the end of this year.

It has taken significant costs, efforts and time to get to just 18% - and that was the "easy" part. Many districts have yet to begin to think about how to measure student growth for the other 70% of teachers. Social studies, the sciences, physical ed, art, and music are just some of the subject areas that will need measures developed, for all grades, in just 18 months from now.

"In areas where there are no state tests and where districts need to use local measures, you start getting down into issues around who pays for those measures, how are those measures administered, do they provide adequate information for the purposes of teacher evaluation, or are they even appropriate to use to create a growth measure from it."

That's not us saying that, that's Mary Peters, Battelle for Kids Senior Director of Research and Innovation. she raises a lot of big, important questions, to which there are no answers.

If there is a silver lining, it's that SB5 was defeated, which leaves teachers free to collectively bargain for an evaluation system that they feel can be the most fair within the framework prescribed.

We doubt that the 2013-14 year brings about a widespread breakout of effective teacher evaluations. Indeed, it is increasingly likely that there will be a patchwork system of half-baked systems throughout the state and districts will continue to struggle to fund and develop anything that is remotely workable.

On top of all that, research and evidence continues to demonstrate that teacher level value add is an inappropriate tool for making high stakes decinios such as evalautions and pay.

Education News for 01-04-2012

Statewide Education News

  • Financial and academic changes bring uncertainty to area districts (Marion Star)
  • MARION - As area school districts look ahead, it's likely to be all about the money. Included in that is how much they can expect to get under a new school funding method expected to be released early this year. There also will be continued talk of doing more with what they have. School officials started 2011 waiting to see what state funding there would be in the future. Among changes with incoming Gov. John Kasich was the phase-out of reimbursements that school districts were receiving in place of tangible personal property tax. Read More…

Local Issues

  • Bucyrus school alters program (News-Journal)
  • BUCYRUS - Rewarding students who achieve high marks and attend class has long been practiced by area schools. One of those schools is Bucyrus High School, which has tweaked its program. In the past, top students based on grades, behavior and attendance received Gold Cards -- exempting them from taking exams. But there was a drawback to that plan. Some students had not taken any exams before heading off to college, hurting their test-taking skills. Read More…

  • Workshop to take on bullying (Dispatch)
  • Starting in February, local schools will have another tool for dealing with bullies: family Saturday school. “If you’re a bully, and we suspend you for five to 10 days, when you come back, you’re still going to be a bully,” said Rich Playko, who oversees student services for Groveport Madison schools. “We’ve done nothing to change the behavior.” The district plans to send first-time offenders to the workshop. It won’t be mandatory, but students who attend with their parents can reduce the length of their suspension. Read More…


  • Take time to develop school plan (Tribune Chronicle)
  • Allocating funds among hundreds of school districts to ensure all provide the "thorough and efficient" education required by the state constitution is easier said than done, as Ohio Gov. John Kasich is learning. Soon after taking office, Kasich pledged to overhaul the state formula for funding public schools. By January a plan would be in place, the governor thought. He was wrong. His advisers say the January deadline was a self-imposed one that won't be met. Better to get it right than to get it on time, they add. Read More…