Education News for 12-12-2012

State Education News

  • School-grading system incomplete (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Ohio lawmakers are expected to approve a new grading system today for determining how well schools…Read more...

  • Hubbard and Liberty sharing a treasurer (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The Hubbard school district has agreed to a temporary sharing of its treasurer with Liberty schools. The neighboring districts came to an arrangement after James Wilson…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District may auction off headquarters (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • With Cuyahoga County well into its real estate consolidation, another public body will seek bidders for prime property in downtown Cleveland…Read more...

  • Arlington Schools: No raises for administrators, nonunion staff (Columbus Dispatch)
  • School administrators and nonunion staff members in the Upper Arlington district won’t receive salary raises next year…Read more...

  • Board curious about auditor (Columbus Dispatch)
  • With possible criminal referrals looming from a data-rigging probe that started with the Columbus City Schools’ internal auditor…Read more...

  • Ledgemont Schools drastically cut busing (Willoughby News Herald)
  • When many Ledgemont School District students head back to school after the holiday break they won’t be riding in a school bus…Read more...

  • Judge denies motion to suppress accused Chardon shooter's statements (Willoughby News Herald)
  • A Geauga County Common Pleas Court judge has denied Thomas Lane III’s motion to suppress statements he made to sheriff’s deputies and Chardon police after the Chardon High School shootings…Read more...

  • Youngstown prepares to meet third grade challenge (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The city school district is training teachers and testing students to try to prepare for a law that would require students to be retained in third grade if they aren’t reading at grade level…Read more...

Retention needs reforms too

Every year tens of thousands of teachers quit the profession.

With approximately 1.6 million teachers set to retire in the next decade, replenishing America’s teaching force should be a top priority. But filling classrooms with new teachers is only half the battle. Retaining them is equally important.

Numerous studies show that teachers perform best after being in the classroom for at least five years. According to a McKinsey study, 14 percent of American teachers leave after only one year, and 46 percent quit before their fifth year. In countries with the highest results on international tests, teacher turnover rates are much lower—around 3 percent.

Few if any corporate education reformer seem to want to address this problem, which is not particulaly suprising. Having high turnover is a mechanism for keeping costs low, by constantly replenishing large percentages of the workforce with younger, cheaper employees. However, for those interested in the critical importance of teacher retention and few interesting articles were published recently that indicated that school management plays a criticl role.

Principal Plays Surprising Role in Why New Teachers Quit

Why do so many beginning teachers quit the profession or change schools? Surprising new research finds it's not a heavy workload or lack of resources that has the most significant effect, but instead the relationship between teachers and their principal.
The study gauged novice teachers' intent to remain teaching and the factors that might influence that decision. Youngs said he was surprised to learn the frequency with which novices met with their school-assigned mentor teachers did not make them more or less likely to continue teaching.

In fact, the most important factor that influenced commitment was the beginning teacher's perception of how well the school principal worked with the teaching staff as a whole. This was a stronger predictor of intent to remain teaching than having adequate resources, the amount of administrative duties the teacher had or the size of their workload.

Another, unrelated article in Forbes, hinted at this too

First, Public Agenda found, at the nine successful schools “principals lead with a strong and clear vision . . . and never lose sight” of their goals. What’s more, “these principals earn trust and respect by engaging and supporting their staff in building the structures, practices and confidence necessary to fulfill this vision.”

Public Agenda, referenced above produced a report titled "Failure is not an Option". It laid out a number of factors that affected success in nine of Ohio's high-poverty, high-achieving schools

Second, according to Public Agenda, leaders of the successful schools “provide genuine opportunities and incentives for teachers to collaborate, and teachers say that collaboration and sharing best practices are keys to their effectiveness.” Most every organization, of course, insists that its employees work together seamlessly. More often than not, they’re mistaken or lying. “Even within the same company,” Drucker observed in Managing in a Time of Great Change, “people tend to resist sharing information.”

Third, teachers at the successful schools “regard student data as clarifying and helpful, and they use it to plan instruction.” In fact, “examining student data and talking about how to address the specific problems it reveals often produce further opportunities for staff to work together and learn from one another.”

In other words, while everyone is held accountable for results, test data is used to help foster a culture of continuous improvement; it is not used as a cudgel. Whenever any organization—whether a school or corporation—turns measurement into an excuse for punishment, Drucker noted in The Practice of Management, it will destroy morale, and employees will invariably find a way “not to obtain the best performance but to obtain the best showing” on the test or audit by gaming the system.

We need to start a discussion on policies that will lead to greater teacher retention - this is far more critical to maintaining a high quality education system than Rube Goldberg mechanisms to weed out a few underperformers.

Education News for 10-25-2012

State Education News

  • Staff earns cash for grades (Dayton Daily News)
  • Springboro Community City Schools is planning to pay staff more than $200,000 in bonuses…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Lakota anticipates spending deficits in next 4 of 5 years (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • Spending deficits are projected in Lakota’s near future, and school officials have said further budget reductions will have to come…Read more...

  • Granville schools, Lodge strike deal on valuation (Newark Advocate)
  • The Granville School District and five other tax districts will not have to refund tax collections to the current owners of Cherry Valley Lodge because of a decrease in the lodge’s property valuation…Read more...

  • BP sets STEM curriculum (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Trumbull County Schools' new curriculum will give students a competitive edge in both their education and their career of choice…Read more...

  • Lorain: School system, city on the brink (WKYC)
  • The city of Lorain and the Lorain City School District are struggling to survive. The area has been hit hard by the economy and unemployment, and families are struggling to get by…Read more...

Education News for 09-13-2012

State Education News

  • Staff, Students Learn Lessons From Active School Shooter Training (WBNS)
  • An active shooting scenario last month at Watkins Memorial High School has given staff and students an idea of items they need to improve on if there was a real-life active shooting…Read more...

  • Partial report card data on Ohio's schools will now be released (Willoughby News Herald)
  • The Ohio Department of Education announced that they will release partial report card data to schools across the state…Read more...

Local Education News

  • School enrollment same as last year (Findlay Courier)
  • Carey Schools' enrollment as of Aug. 22 is the same as it was last year, at 856 students, Superintendent Mark Vehre said following a Carey school board…Read more...

  • Newark program uses play to relate lessons (Newark Advocate)
  • Kierra Paynter carefully brushed yellow paint onto a sheet of bubble wrap. When the plastic was completely covered, she pressed it on a piece of paper, creating a bright print…Read more...

  • Judge orders ‘record restitution' for bus scheme (Willoughby News Herald)
  • An Avon Lake man was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison for a scheme involving busing special-needs children…Read more...


  • Reappraisal throws schools for a loop (Canton Repository)
  • We don’t know of a single soul who thinks that Ohio’s public schools should be as dependent on local property taxes as they are. But simply switching out one tax for another isn’t the answer…Read more...

  • Reforming truants (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Ohio school districts being investigated for improper tactics in recording student attendance ought to consider Cleveland's innovative handling of truants…Read more...

Erasure scandal now a farce

The controversy over school attendance erasures started out life with questionable reporting, layered with supposition and innuendo and is now descending into farce.

Unable to perform their own investigation after years of oversight failure, ODE passed the investigation over to the State Auditor. Now the State Auditor is having to fire his own investigative staff.

State Auditor Dave Yost warned Columbus schools leaders a month ago that contacting the district’s internal auditor as she investigates claims of data rigging could have serious consequences.

Yesterday, a member of Yost’s own staff resigned after he failed to take his boss’s advice. John Davis, who also volunteers as a member of the school district’s audit committee, urged the school district’s internal auditor, Carolyn Smith, to speak with an attorney for the school board who has been meeting with district officials to ask about data rigging.

This comes just days after William Zelei, Associate Superintendent of Accountability and Quality Schools at ODE, submitted his letter of resignation.

It seems more heads are rolling among the investigators than the investigated. The one person from a district that has been fired, the Superintendent of Lockland, is now filing a law suit

Former Lockland Schools Superintendent Donna Hubbard and her son, Adam Stewart, Wednesday sued to keep their jobs, alleging the school board last week violated Ohio’s Open Meetings laws.

The lawsuits are the latest salvo in a battle between Hubbard and Lockland, one of the smallest school districts in Ohio with about 700 students.

The school board Aug. 23 voted 3-to-1 to begin the termination process for Hubbard after a state investigation found she and Stewart, the district’s database coordinator, falsely listed 37 habitually truant students as withdrawn from the district.

This entire scandal has nothing to do with educating students, it has everything to do with corporate education reform policies that require increasing large amounts of data with which to slice and dice. Not one bit of any of this will have any impact on what is going on in thousands of classrooms across Ohio right now - but it sure makes good theater.

Investment loser

Via the Public Education Network

In a costs-benefit analysis of testing mandates under NCLB and Race to the Top, Peter Smagorinsky on the Answer Sheet blog in The Washington Post writes accountability is profitable for publishing companies and school superintendents who cheat, and expensive for everyone else. The expense isn't merely the $20 billion annually in taxes to support the testing apparatus.

Teachers increasingly dislike their jobs, and according to one survey, 40 percent of new teachers nationwide are likely to leave within five years. For students, education has been reduced to the ability to fill in bubble sheets. Smagorinsky would invest the same $20 billion in a nursing staff in all schools, so kids in poverty can undertake studies with a reasonable degree of health and balance. He would expand free and reduced-price meals, and work to improve the healthiness of the offerings under these services. He would also staff school libraries with knowledgeable, helpful media specialists to direct students to books that benefit their educational development.

In general, he would invest in school infrastructure, so schools aren't falling apart at the seams. He notes he offers this proposal entirely for free, unlike in Colorado, where 35 percent of federal education money goes to consultants.

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