Monday, April 29, 2013

Yes, the Cracks are Showing in Ed Reform

 Update:  on Assessments, exhibit one, from CBS in Albany.  A teacher came to the hospital where a student is undergoing pre-brain surgery screening.  He has epilepsy and they have to withdraw his meds in order to cause a seizure to see what is happening in his brain.  Did she come to give him her best?  Nope.

She was from the district there to administer the 4th grade NY State test to the boy.  The parents say they had made arrangements for him to make it up.  The district claims it didn't share any info about the student's absence with NYS Ed Department or the hospital.  

Enough.

End of update.
“Thursday morning a woman walked into his room with a piece of paper that had his name on it and told my husband that she was a teacher from the New York City School District and that she was there to administer the 4th grade New York State test to my son,” Furlong tells CBS6. The family was shocked. They had already made arrangements with the Bethlehem School District for Joey to make up the exam if he was back in time, so someone asking him to take it from a hospital bed, never even crossed any of their minds.

Read More at: http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/the-real-deal-4th-grader-asked-take-nys-test-hospital-bed-7933.shtml
Thursday morning a woman walked into his room with a piece of paper that had his name on it and told my husband that she was a teacher from the New York City School District and that she was there to administer the 4th grade New York State test to my son,” Furlong tells CBS6. The family was shocked. They had already made arrangements with the Bethlehem School District for Joey to make up the exam if he was back in time, so someone asking him to take it from a hospital bed, never even crossed any of their minds. A spokesman from Bethlehem Schools says the first the district heard about Joey being asked to take the test in the hospital was when they got a call from the Furlongs after they had been visited by the teacher. The district tells CBS6 it did not share any information about Joey’s absence with the NYS Education Department or the hospital. A spokesman from Cohen Children’s Medical Center says under NYS law, the hospital must offer school instruction to any child who spends more than three days in the hospital and that includes standardized testing. The Medical Center has five full-time New York City School Teachers on staff who get age and grade information from patient records and offer their services to families.

Read More at: http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/the-real-deal-4th-grader-asked-take-nys-test-hospital-bed-7933.shtml
“Thursday morning a woman walked into his room with a piece of paper that had his name on it and told my husband that she was a teacher from the New York City School District and that she was there to administer the 4th grade New York State test to my son,” Furlong tells CBS6. The family was shocked. They had already made arrangements with the Bethlehem School District for Joey to make up the exam if he was back in time, so someone asking him to take it from a hospital bed, never even crossed any of their minds.

Read More at: http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/the-real-deal-4th-grader-asked-take-nys-test-hospital-bed-7933.sht
I have my own threads to write on the large and visible cracks in ed reform that are showing.  But in brief:
  • TFA?  There is now a group of ex-TFA that have organized to get TFA to go away.  It's not just a few people, it's now a whole group.
  • Common Core?  There's another big story of states starting to back away.  One reason is something I have said would come and that's the day that conservatives realize that local control goes out the window with Common Core.  (Not saying if that is right or wrong but most conservatives would not go for it.) 
  • FERPA?  Along with Common Core are the the concerns over student privacy.  Will any student in K-12 today be protected from their information going out to any company/group a district deems necessary?  Where is that line?  
  • Assessments?  A huge story and one that gets bigger every day.  A teacher going to visit a student in the hospital (the kid is in because of a possible brain tumor) and guess what the teacher brings?  The state test.  These moms in Texas outsmarting a Texas legislator over the 15(!) end-of-course tests that Texas gives (and their scores would count for 15% of any class score).  From the Austin Statesman:  “Who allowed these big boys to go and play in education? Now the moms have to clean it up, as usual,” said Theresa Treviño, a child psychiatrist and Austin mother who helped launch the parent group, Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessments.
  •  Michelle Rhee?  In a couple a years, it will be Michelle Who?  Her latest? Her StudentsFirst group says the "Reformer of the Year" is an anti-gay lawmaker in Tennessee.  This comes from Salon.   StudentsFirst claims they had no idea.  That seems to be Rhee's party line for anything that smacks of accountability on her part.  Salon also points out that StudentsFrist has endorsed mostly conservative, anti-immigrant, anti-union and anti-LGBT candidates. 
For now, read this compelling piece from The Atlantic by John Tierney called The Coming Revolution in Public Education.   It's important reading.

Critics of the contemporary reform regime argue that these initiatives, though seemingly sensible in their original framing, are motivated by interests other than educational improvement and are causing genuine harm to American students and public schools. 


Here are some of the criticisms: 

18 comments:

Kate Martin said...

One of my friend's sons is graduating next month and heading to China to.... wait for it... teach for "Teach for China". Yikes.

StopTFA said...

Oooh, a TFA group? How do I join?

Mark Ahlness said...

Thanks Melissa. I hope it's not too late.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, great summary of the bad to worse ideas in education for April, 2013.

FERPA is the worst, that strangers can access student information is troubling. Maybe children should all go to school in a hospital or doctor's office where privacy is treated with the respect it deserves.

-nonamenocredit

Anonymous said...

Write to your senators and congresspersons re: FERPA. They were idiots to approve this garbage, but, eh, what can we expect...

Tellthemwho'sboss

Anonymous said...

I'd say that it's a primary (and not ancillary) goal of the reform movements to bust teacher's unions. Even those that don't have that goal as an overt motive have it as an inevitable result of their goal of extracting more "productivity" from each individual.

And the goal of busting the unions is to spend less on education, mainly, though some of those folks sincerely believe that labor being unified is damaging to overall performance.

zb

Charlie Mas said...

It's pretty clear that the primary goals of Education Reform are to either reduce the cost of public education (and thereby reduce taxes) or to profit from public education. It's all focused on making money for a few wealthy people and not at all about educating students.

Anonymous said...

The real point of "education reform" is to maintain the status quo. The 1%. The point of scads and scads of testing is to fail people. We wouldn't want tests that everyone passed. So, about a 30% failure rate is desirable. The only question is - who do we want to fail those tests? Who do we want to lock out of economic goodies that are available? Education reform sorts that out. It provides the tests that the right people fail. And, the test prep. Ironically, the thing touted to liberate people from poverty is winding up ossifying the social structures already in place.

-parent

Anonymous said...

There's an article from Forbes magazine dating back to 1998 where the authors hailed the next investment frontier after healthcare: Public Education. The privatization move started even earlier, and kicked into full gear when William Bennett was Sec'y of Education under Bush I (if I recall correctly). NCLB was the legislative master key to open the floodgates. Every point in MW's is old news to some of us, but I'm happy that people aren't falling for the "status quo" BS anymore, and seeing through the toxic veneer of Big Ed Reform.

As Deep Throat said so many years ago, Follow the Money. Always, always follow the money. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

@parent: I'm using status quo differently than you. I appreciate the irony and hypocrisy of the 1% and their sycophants accusing others of embracing the status quo, while doing exactly that for themselves. Great point. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

parent, I must say that your conspiracy theory on testing doesn't hold water. First, it is teachers who write the content standards, teachers who write test questions aligned to those standards, and teachers who set the cut scores on tests. They get together and they are agree on what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Then, they agree on test items to assess whether or not students can demonstrate those skills and knowledge. Finally, they agree on how well a student should be able to do against those standards. It is only then that tests are written and scored.

There is no vast conspiracy to further stratify our nation based on test scores, at least at the K-12 level. This might be true of the SAT but it's not happening in K-12.

You could argue that poor and disadvantaged students are not getting access to good teaching, adequate materials, and there may be low expectations of them. But it's the tests that are shining a light on their "opportunity gaps," the tests are causing them.

--- someone who knows

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Common Core

http://educationalchemy.com/2013/04/17/all-hail-to-the-not-me-party-sponsors-of-the-common-core-and-other-ed-reform-debacles/

P-S-P

Melissa Westbrook said...

First, it is teachers who write the content standards, teachers who write test questions aligned to those standards, and teachers who set the cut scores on tests.

Really? Because I'd like to see the data on that. It just came out that there was ONE whole teacher on Common Core so I doubt if teachers (and only teachers) are writing all the test questions.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, from the Common Core State Standards Initiative website:

Myth: No teachers were involved in writing the Standards.

Fact: The common core state standards drafting process relied on teachers and standards experts from across the country. In addition, there were many state experts that came together to create the most thoughtful and transparent process of standard setting. This was only made possible by many states working together.

But, more specifically, I was referring to the Washington state Essential Academic Learning Requirements, Grade Level Expectations and the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP), High School Proficiency Exam, and the End of Course assessments. I don't know what data to show you, but I know that teachers were and continue to be the primary drafters of test questions and are the standard setters on these state assessments.

Since no state is yet fully assessing the Common Core State Standards (including Washington), current state assessments are based on a state's content standards.

--- someone who knows

Anonymous said...

In the "know", it really doesn't matter who has chosen to do the pie dividing, chosen to maintain status quo. If it is indeed the teachers, then they are the problem - because they are the ones writing, testing, teaching, and leaving tons of people behind - by design. To what end? Not a good one. What good is shining a light if you don't care about fixing the problem you feel so proud to have uncovered?

-parent

Anonymous said...

parent, you are wrong. Your statement that teachers "are leaving tons of students behind - by design" and "don't care about fixing the problem" is just flat wrong. There is no evidence on the whole to support such a twisted notion. You may have come across some seriously messed up circumstances in your experiences as a parent --- all parents have, I imagine --- but this is not a conspiracy being perpetrated by the public school system. It's just not.

--- someone who knows

Melissa Westbrook said...

Someone who knows, I will find my source about Common Core. Something recent came out that refutes that statement at their website.