OEA Response to PD and NPR Teacher shaming

Here's the statement from the Ohio Education Association, which represents over 121,000 educators

Responding to a series of newspaper, web and radio stories on value-added scroes of individual Ohio teachers, Patricia Frost-Brooks, President of the Ohio Education Association criticized the fairness of the stories and the wisdom of using value-added scores as such a prominent index of teacher success:

"The Ohio Education Association was not contacted for comment on the Plain Dealer/StateImpact Ohio stories, despite our expertise, which would have provided desperately needed context and perspective. Reporters and editors admitted this value-added data was 'flawed,' but they chose surprise and impact over fairness, balance and accuracy," Frost-Brooks said.

"We are all accountable for student success – teachers, support professionals, parents, students and elected officials. And the Ohio Education Association is committed to fair teacher evaluation systems that include student performance, among other multiple measures. But listing teachers as effective or ineffective based on narrow tests not designed to be used for this purpose is a disservice to everyone.

"Value-added ratings can never paint a complete or objective picture of an individual teacher’s work or performance. Trained educators can use a student’s value-added data, along with other student data, to improve student instruction. But the stories promote a simplistic and inaccurate view of value-added as a valid basis for high-stakes decisions on schools, teachers and students."

Very questionable that reporters would not contact the largest teachers assoication in crafting their story.

Exposing ALEC’s agenda

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been hard at work for decades. Its members are organized, well-funded and connected–too bad they aren’t using their powers to do what’s right for students and schools.

Instead, they use all their resources to push an agenda to open up the public school system to vouchers and privatization, lobbying legislators to restrict everything from voting rights to workers’ rights to help pave the path to their success.

Learn all you can about how ALEC operates, so you’ll be prepared to protect your students and neighborhood schools. A good place to start is by watching the 30-minute documentary The United States of ALEC, featuring Bill Moyers.

On Teacher Quality

Rhonda Johnson, a Columbus City Schools educator and President of CEA has a great letter published on the Reimagine Columbus Education website, that we wanted to share

Our goal as a community must be to have a competent, caring and high-quality teacher in every classroom. Why? Teacher quality is the most important school-based factor in a high- quality education.

To that end, we must invest in high-quality teaching and organize schools for success for all of our students. This trumps other investments, such as reduced class size, overall spending on education, and teacher financial incentives and salaries.

There are clear conditions that must be present to attract and retain high-quality teachers, especially in challenging schools.

Pre-service preparation through appropriate and rigorous experiences at the university, in collaboration with faculty and public school teachers, is crucial. Teacher preparation programs, state departments of education and school districts must engage in residency programs analogous to the residency model in schools of medicine.

School leadership matters . . . a lot. Principal behavior is the primary factor affecting a teacher’s decision to stay at or leave a particular school. In fact, leadership behavior is a stronger predictor of teacher retention than either student demographics or achievement.

Teaching and learning conditions — such as job-imbedded professional development, teaching assistants and administrative support— matter more than individual financial incentives. In partnership with communities, school districts must provide sufficient resources to get the job done — newer technologies, instructional equipment and supplies, and access to social and health services.

Schools must provide the opportunity for teachers to work collaboratively with peers who share the responsibility for every student’s success. Teachers must work with colleagues to analyze student work, plan lessons and build relationships with students and families.

Effective teachers are committed to creative teaching and inquiry learning. Teaching is about discovery, learning and awe, not minute-by-minute curriculum mandates, scripted instruction and testing.

Education policymakers and administrators would be well served by recognizing the complexity of the issue of teacher quality and adopting multiple measures along many dimensions to support existing teachers and to attract new, highly qualified teachers.

Research suggests that investing in teachers can make a difference in student achievement. To implement needed policies associated with staffing every classroom — even the most challenging ones — with high-quality teachers, substantial and targeted investments must first be made in teaching quality.

Assessing Ourselves To Death

I have two points to make. The first is something that I think everyone knows: Educational outcomes, such as graduation and test scores, are signals of or proxies for the traits that lead to success in life, not the cause of that success.

For example, it is well-documented that high school graduates earn more, on average, than non-graduates. Thus, one often hears arguments that increasing graduation rates will drastically improve students’ future prospects, and the performance of the economy overall. Well, not exactly.

The piece of paper, of course, only goes so far. Rather, the benefits of graduation arise because graduates are more likely to possess the skills – including the critical non-cognitive sort – that make people good employees (and, on a highly related note, because employers know that, and use credentials to screen applicants).

We could very easily increase the graduation rate by easing requirements, but this wouldn’t do much to help kids advance in the labor market. They might get a few more calls for interviews, but over the long haul, they’d still be at a tremendous disadvantage if they lacked the required skills and work habits.

Moreover, employers would quickly catch on, and adjust course accordingly. They’d stop relying as much on high school graduation to screen potential workers. This would not only deflate the economic value of a diploma, but high school completion would also become a less useful measure for policymakers and researchers.

This is, of course, one of the well-known risks of a high-stakes focus on metrics such as test scores. Test-based accountability presumes that tests can account for ability. We all know about what is sometimes called “Campbell’s Law,” and we’ve all heard the warnings and complaints about so-called “teaching to the test.” Some people take these arguments too far, while others are too casually dismissive. In general, though, the public (if not all policymakers) have a sense that test-based accountability can be a good thing so long as it is done correctly and doesn’t go too far.

Now, here’s my second point: I’m afraid we’ve gone too far.

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A narrative path forward for teachers

One of the best responses to the corporate education reformers we've read in a long time.

In every country in the world, poverty impedes educational success. Our biggest education problem is that more of our kids are in poverty than any other developed nation. When America's public school teachers get kids who are well-fed and healthy and live in stable homes with parents who have good jobs, those kids do better in school than any other children in the world.

But a group of people who do not teach (or taught for a short while and not very well) have decided to blame teachers - teachers! - for all the problems in our country. They say that "choice" will save our schools, but the "choice" they offer is between underfunded, crumbling public schools and corporatized, autocratic charter schools that they admit they will never serve all children. These schools cherry-pick their students and then falsely claim they have the secret for success. Their inability to educate all students proves that public schools are not the problem - poverty is. 

Why do these people sell this snake oil? Three reasons:

1) Many of them are looking to make money - a lot of money - off of education. They want to do to our schools what they did to our military, turning them into a bunch of Haliburton Highs.

2) They want to finally and completely break the unions. Once the teachers fall, it's all over for the middle class.

3) They need a scapegoat. Teachers didn't create these problems: the corporate titans of Wall Street did. These plutocrats are now paying a gang of carnival barkers a big bunch of money to blame teachers - teachers! - for the problems they themselves made.

Education News for 08-29-2012

State Education News

  • New K-12 standards bring change to teacher colleges too (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • New “Common Core” curriculum standards coming to Ohio and 44 other states next year won’t just impact kids. Aspiring teachers – and the colleges that train them...Read more...

  • Columbus school board talks ethics in secret (Columbus Dispatch)
  • In the middle of a state investigation into data rigging, the Columbus school board spent more than three hours behind closed doors last night, talking about ethics and meeting with private attorneys...Read more...

  • Riverside School District receiving ODOT grant (Willoughby News Herald)
  • The Riverside Local School District has been awarded $491,000 from the Ohio Department of Transportation for several projects related to safety. The funds will go toward the district's action plan...Read more...

  • Success will continue to drive Youngstown district (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • City schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn says student success will continue to drive the school district. “... Everything we do, every program we offer, every decision we make” is based on student success...Read more...

Local Education News

  • Cleveland kindergartner assigned to nonexistent school gets apology (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Cleveland public schools CEO Eric Gordon had to make a telephone call Tuesday that no school superintendent wants to make. That's a telephone call in which you tell a parent that you're sorry for instructing her young child...Read more...

  • Elementary-school students in Upper Arlington chat with astronaut aboard the International Space (Columbus Dispatch)
  • As she pondered her greatest fear of space travel, the astronaut bobbed up and down in zero gravity, her mass of curly hair a dark halo behind her head...Read more...

  • Bus tests help Northridge schools’ plan to cut routes (Columbus Dispatch)
  • If the bus had made it to his kids’ Licking County school in 30 minutes or less, Bill Jones would have been validated...Read more...

  • Young professionals to mentor high school students (Marion Star)
  • A group of young community-minded individuals preparing to help carry the community into the future is making plans to encourage the next generation to do the same...Read more...

  • Urbana Schools offers free breakfast to all students (Springfield News-Sun)
  • For the first time, all students at Urbana City Schools this year will be eligible to receive breakfast at no cost at the beginning of each school day...Read more...