"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012 Medley #15

Testing, Poverty, Teacher Evaluations,
Literacy, Michelle Rhee, Politics, Teaching Career.

Diane Ravitch Defends Public Education
“There is only one valid longitudinal measure of academic achievement for American students as a whole. And that is the Federal National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP is a no-stakes test and this is what it shows:

The test scores of America’s students are at their highest point in history.”

ISTEP + Scores Released: Winners and Losers Announced
Each time we use ISTEP scores to compare schools, to value or devalue schools, or to brag about their performance, we legitimize the existence of a tool that is being used not to improve public education, but to dismantle it.

If Bennett is successful at using ISTEP scores to come out as the big winner, then it is also a big win for the private corporations turning the education of Hoosier children into a commodity and backing his reelection campaign.

That also means it is a loss for Hoosiers, who can expect to see the continued distortion of public education from a pillar of democracy to a means of profit for big corporations. It is especially a loss for Hoosier students as educational practices continue to deteriorate under Bennett.

Invitation to a Dialogue: An Excess of Testing
The mediocre performance of American students on international tests seems to show that our schools are doing poorly. But students from middle-class homes who attend well-funded schools rank among the best in the world on these tests, which means that teaching is not the problem. The problem is poverty. Our overall scores are unspectacular because so many American children live in poverty (23 percent, ranking us 34th out of 35 “economically advanced countries”).

Georgia professors blast teacher evaluation system

A group of Georgia college and university professors have joined with their colleagues in Chicago and with principals in New York to question the practice of using "Value Added Measures" which employ student test scores to evaluate teachers.
According to a nine-year study by the National Research Council [21], the past decade’s emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing has yielded little learning progress. This is particularly troubling when we consider the cost of this emphasis to taxpayers.

We all cannot afford to lose sight of what matters the most—the academic, social, and emotional growth and well-being of Georgia’s children. Our students, teachers, and communities deserve better. They deserve thoughtful, reliable, valid reforms that will improve teaching and learning for all students. It is in this spirit that we write this letter.
You can read the complete letter HERE.


ACLU files 'right to read' lawsuit on behalf of students in Michigan school district
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has filed what it is calling a "first-of-its-kind" lawsuit against the state, its Department of Education and one Detroit-area school district for allegedly failing to teach students to read at grade level, as mandated by state law and its constitution.

"What's unique about this is that we're focusing in on literacy and the right to read" Michigan ACLU Executive Director Kary L. Moss said of the complaint filed last week in state court. "Literacy is the gateway to all other knowledge."

The suit names the Highland Park school district as a defendant, and it seeks to have the state and school district enforce a state law requiring that "a pupil who does not score satisfactorily on the 4th or 7th grade reading test shall be provided special assistance reasonably expected to enable the pupil to bring his or her reading skills to grade level within 12 months."

What Michelle Rhee Told the British Education Minister
...when Michelle Rhee went to England recently, she spoke of her great success in improving the D.C. public schools.

Her secret? Finding the best teachers and firing the worst teachers.

The only problem with her narrative is that it is not true.

Her IMPACT system was imposed in 2009. Since then, the D.C. public schools have made little progress on state or national exams.

The D.C. public schools continue to have the largest black-white achievement gap of any district assessed by the federal NAEP.

It is not clear whether her method identified the best teachers or the worst teachers, but it is clear that she created a level of turnover among teachers and principals that is staggering.

Students1st offering gift cards to those making “pro-reform” comments

Make "pro-reform" comments on blogs and Michelle Rhee's Students First will give you "a gift card to the restaurant or store of choice".


The Selling of American Democracy: The Perfect Storm

The Koch brothers have purchased several states, most notably Wisconsin.
As the great jurist Louis Brandeis once said, “we can have a democracy or we can have great wealth in the hands of a comparative few, but we cannot have both.”

Not Another "Why I Left the Classroom" Story
There's no shortage of blogs on why teachers are leaving the classroom.

They're leaving because they're sick of the test-driven instruction and learning. They're leaving because everyone underestimates the complexity and the workload of classroom teaching. They're leaving because they've been on the job for 15 years and still don't make enough to pay the bills. They're fearful of speaking up against practices they know are harmful to children. They're weary and burned out and looking for greener pastures.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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