The system was created to make it easier to identify which teachers performed the best so their methods could be replicated, and which performed the worst, so they could be fired.
Most New York City Teachers Score Well On New Assessments.
The New York Times (12/17, Taylor, Subscription Publication) reports that New York education officials released new information Tuesday showing that 90% of “New York City teachers received one of the top two rankings in the first year of a new evaluation system that was hailed as a better way of assessing how they perform.” Noting that the system was envisioned as a way to identify successful teachers’ best practices and to eliminate ineffective teachers, the Times reports that “state officials and education experts said the city appeared to be doing a better job of evaluating its teachers than the rest of New York State.”
The AP (12/17, Thompson) reports that some education leaders said that the high pass rate of the evaluations may mean that it needs to be improved, noting that this is “the second consecutive year that evaluations gave high scores to the vast majority of teachers while only about a third of students” scored well on statewide tests. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said, “The ratings show there’s much more work to do to strengthen the evaluation system.” Meanwhile, the AP quotes outgoing Education Commissioner John King Jr. saying, “I’m concerned that in some districts, there’s a tendency to blanket everyone with the same rating. That defeats the purpose of the observations and the evaluations, and we have to work to fix that.”
More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years. If you include community-college students in the tabulation, the dropout rate is more than half, worse than any other country except Hungary.
Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t. Or to put it more statistically: About a quarter of college freshmen born into the bottom half of the income distribution will manage to collect a bachelor’s degree by age 24, while almost 90 percent of freshmen born into families in the top income quartile will go on to finish their degree."
If you compare college students with the same standardized-test scores who come from different family backgrounds, you find that their educational outcomes reflect their parents’ income, not their test scores.
Mel Riddile's insight:
I don't often use the term 'must read', but this article fills the bill.
Education for upward mobility starts with building low-income students’ vocabulary.
by Robert Pondiscio
To grow up as the child of well-educated parents in an affluent American home is to hit the verbal lottery. From their earliest days, these children reap the benefits of parents who speak in complete sentences, engage them in rich dinner table conversation, and read them to sleep at bedtime. Verbal parents chatter incessantly, offering a running commentary on vegetable options in the produce aisle, pointing out letters and words in storefronts and street signs. Parents proceed, as Ginia Bellafante of the New York Times once put it, “in a near constant mode of annotation.”
Math anxiety means, unsurprisingly, that one feels tension and apprehension in situations involving math. What is surprising is the frequency of the problem, and the young age at which it can start. Fully half of first and second graders feel moderate to severe math anxiety. And many children do not outgrow it; about 25 percent of students attending a four-year college suffer from math anxiety. Among community college students, the figure is 80 percent.
Moving to a focus on evidence-based reform will not solve all of the contentious issues about accountability, but it could help us focus the reform conversation on how to move forward the top 95% of teachers and schools -- the ones who teach 95% of o...
Yet another state tries to hammer out a new way of judging schools that doesn't rely so heavily on test scores.
Connecticut Joins States Preparing New Accountability Measures.
In a blog for Education Week (12/12) Catherine Gewertz writes that Connecticut is adding civics, arts, physical fitness, college readiness, attendance, and “student persistence and personal development” to its current list of criteria, primarily math and English/language arts scores, used to measure school effectiveness. Connecticut is preparing to present the system to the US Department of Education as part of its No Child Left Behind waiver renewal in the hopes of implementing the standards in June, and is one of a dozen states preparing new accountability measures. Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told the state board the plan is to “aim for less testing and more instruction in our schools.” State efforts to incorporate more difficult to measure benchmarks are in many cases still in the early stages, and the author suggests watching those efforts over the next year.
Keeping students captivated and ready to learn throughout the year is no small task. Here's a list of articles, videos, links, and other resources that offer strategies and advice for keeping them engaged in learning.
James Lerman's insight:
Terrific collection of links to engagement resources for all age levels.
Experts: Low Pay Driving Potential Teachers From Oklahoma.
The Edmond (OK) Sun (12/10) reports that education experts say that low pay is leading to a shortage of teachers in Oklahoma, as potential teachers “pursue jobs in the six surrounding states, all of which offer better pay and benefits.” The article points to high numbers of posted job vacancies, and quotes Oklahoma Education Association President Linda Hampton saying, “It makes it more difficult to recruit them and retain them because when you can go to 48 other states and make more than you can in Oklahoma, that’s an enticement to leave.”
Mel Riddile's insight:
North Carolina is also experiencing the same problem.
This final installment in my four-part series on student engagement includes guest responses from Jennifer Fredricks, Aubrie Rojee, April Baker, Beth Donofrio, and Louis Cozolino. In addition, I share comments from readers.
"The report was compiled by two statewide math educator groups, as well as the Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy at Louisiana State University.
According to statistics provided in the report, about 42 percent of fourth-grade students, and 34 percent of eighth-grade students in the United States, are considered proficient in math based on standardized tests. In Louisiana, the figures are even lower — 27 percent of fourth-graders, and 21 percent of eighth-graders — were categorized as proficient.
In addition, only about half of high school students in Louisiana have mastered all of the skill areas in algebra and geometry, according to end-of-course data in the report."
By regrouping students for certain lessons, schools can leverage the instructional expertise of their teachers. See how one school builds differentiated instruction and regrouping students into their science program.
Make it a priority to develop your current leaders, nurture your future leaders, and hire great leaders. "Strong leadership is one of the key pillars of success at any organization. People aren't necessarily born with great leadership skills. As such, organizations can't just sit back and hope people will be great leaders. Leaders need to be shaped and molded. And by leaders, I don't just mean executives--I mean managers at every level of the organization. Too often frontline managers are overlooked when it comes to leadership development, when the reality is that 70 percent to 80 percent of the workforce reports to frontline managers. The results of a study we did with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reveals 79 percent of global executives believe lack of frontline leadership capability negatively impacts company performance. As such, it's critical to the success of any organization that these people be given the tools, resources, and development to succeed."
The Provo (UT) Daily Herald (12/12) reports that as research shows missing even two days of school a month in first and second grades impacts test scores later on, schools are trying to understand and prevent children missing school rather than punishing “truancy.” UC Santa Barbara education economist Michael Gottfried said that “Missing even a few days a month can add up to a month of missed school over a school year and significantly undermine performance.” He has found that “strong chronic absence,” or missing 18 or more days a year, in kindergarten lowered their math and reading test scores, particularly among low-income students, and a 2011 study by Attendance Works found only 13 percent of chronically absent students performed at grade level.
School Discipline Racial Disparities Also Impact Girls.
The New York Times (12/11, Subscription Publication) reports that while much attention has been focused on racial disparities in school discipline for boys, “there is increasing focus on the way those issues affect black girls as well.” The piece notes that according to data from ED’s Office for Civil Rights, “black girls in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide were suspended at a rate of 12 percent, compared with a rate of just 2 percent for white girls, and more than girls of any other race or ethnicity.” The article examines a number of statistics related to this issue, and concludes by reporting that Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon “said the discrepancies in disciplinary practices were not lost on young girls of color,” and quotes her saying, “The felt experience of too many of our girls in school is that they are being discriminated against. The message we send when we suspend or expel any student is that that student is not worthy of being in the school. That is a pretty ugly message to internalize and very, very difficult to get past as part of an educational career.”
As new learning standards put more emphasis on getting students to be able to read and analyze non-fiction text, a new report suggests that classrooms have a long way to go.
Report: Students read mostly fiction, below their grade level "Students are reading fewer nonfiction books than fiction and often reading below their ability levels, according to a recent report from Renaissance Learning, the company behind the Accelerated Reader program. The report was compiled from anonymized and aggregated data on nearly 10 million U.S. students in first through 12th grades."
Forbes challenged experts to single out five big ideas that could Make U.S. school kids tops in the world. Then we quantified The costs and benefits. Behold: an ROI-driven turnaround plan for our children (With a $225 Trillion Dividend).
Mel Riddile's insight:
"FORBES sought to spur debate by quantifying the seemingly unquantifiable. We set out to determine the costs and benefits of taking U.S. schoolkids from their middling global rankings to top five in the world, as measured by math scores and rates for high school graduation, college entry and four-year college completion."
Enhanced School Leadership was, by far, the lowest investment, but had the highest rate of return.
In other words, if funds are limited, spend them on principals.
Of the five proposals, School Leadership was, by far, the best investment to make in improving schools.
Teacher Efficacy/Salaries - Cost-$4.8 Trillion ROI - 12X
Universal Pre-K - Cost $1.1 Trillion ROI - 34X
School Leadership - Cost $11Billion ROI - 5,551X
Blended Learning - Cost $43 Billions ROI - 746X
Common Core Standards - Cost $185 Billion ROI - 149X
Gov. Bill Haslam wants to cut the amount that student growth plays in teacher evaluations.
Tennessee Governor Calls For Lower Student Test Weight In Teacher Evaluations.
The Tennessean (12/9) reports that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam “wants to drop the amount that student growth factors into a teacher’s employment assessment” when Tennessee transitions to new tests in 2016. On Tuesday, Haslam called for “cutting the amount that student success and value-added data factor into a teacher’s annual evaluation while aligning what is taught in class with what appears on the state’s standardized test by creating a new test.”
Instead of the old, zero-tolerance approach, principals now have more discretion to weigh the factors behind kids’ behavior. School-safety officers act as mediators rather than just security guards. And many of the violations that once sent teenagers home for a week, or a month, get addressed through in-school suspension — generally, a drab classroom where students spend entire days reflecting on their poor choices and, in theory, keeping up with classwork.