Yet Another Ed Reform Editorial in the Times


Here's another. It's pretty insulting as it reduces education to being about training workers.


dan dempsey said…
The insulting part is that the Times chose to publish this piece, which fails to mention any of the deep underlying problems of the SPS, much less propose any remedies.

Anyone who reads our Save Seattle Schools blog would find the superficial analysis given by these two generators of propaganda shockingly inadequate.

The Times is a disgrace. Is this what "Freedom of the Press" should look like? No wonder numbers of Times subscribers have dropped.
Dorothy Neville said…
Unknown said…
Someone suggested we boycott the Times. Of course, not buying or reading the Times would have little impact. Boycotting their advertisers would. Is there a way to find out who the biggest advertisers for the Times are?
wseadawg said…
Hello! That's exactly what it's about, and has been the prevailing school of thought in this country for 30+ years.

It's not about what is done, how it's done, or who does it. It's whether it can turn a buck or not. How often have we heard the phrase "Economic Stimulus" presented as a win-win because it "creates jobs" for the next chemical plant, strip mall, sprawling housing development, etc., that destroys the environment, increases CO2 emissions, and erodes our quality of life, all because it "makes good business sense."

There is no balance when it comes to making a buck, because too many sheep let the biz boys do their thinking for them and swallow the Kool-Aid by the gallon.

Yes, we need jobs. Yes, we need workers. But why train our kids to pull levers and code computers when those jobs are all going overseas anyways. Answer: Because a flooded labor market keeps labor costs low. Period.

Independent and critical thinkers are never popular with the masses, who, like Thoreau said, lead lives of silent desperation.

This is merely the culmination and revelation of the corporate state in its barest form.

We don't want smart people who will question our methods. We want hard working, disciplined, obedient people who will do what we say.
Jenny said…
Excellent comment wseadawg....I could'nt have said it better myself. Although I don't agree on all views, I do see things the way you explained it!
Jenny said…
Excellent comment wseadawg....I could'nt have said it better myself. Although I don't agree on all views, I do see things the way you explained it!
another mom said…
Not sure if this is the best place to put this, but the SEA has posted another bulletin on their website about contract talks. I don't know but it seems like both sides may have blinked.

I think that a strike would be equally bad for either organization. It also would not bode well for the November levy. So, perhaps the district is willing to negotiate?
dan dempsey said…
Ed Reform:

Where's the Math?

Opposes the Common Core Math Standards

dan dempsey said…
HERE is a big time blink.....

The following seems like incompetence on the part of the bargaining team as it is too vague for me to know what is being said:

SEA supports moving forward with the historic progress already achieved through the jointly negotiated Professional Growth and Evaluation plan. SEA’s proposal on Tuesday suggested carving out middle ground by recognizing the district’s interest in using test data to help support teachers who may benefit from additional help, while not misusing students’ scores as a part of the final evaluation or to fire teachers.

" by recognizing the district’s interest in using test data to help support teachers who may benefit from additional help," ---

WHAT TEST DATA? ... are they talking MAP?

IF you are talking worthless for most everything i.e. formative assessment and summative use and NOT WA Standards connected, THEN how can this have a USE to help support teachers?

This looks like how to roll over while telling membership you won't roll over.

-- Dan
dan dempsey said…
On that whole LA Times testing that exposes teachers....

Proof that teachers matter

Comes this comment:
Mike Klonsky 20. Aug, 2010 at 1:23 am #

"Well, there it is, John. In your own words. You don’t like bubble tests or simplistic value added measures as a way of judging schools or teachers, but you applaud the Times for using them and for outing teachers of kids who score low on those bubble tests. That’s just like Arne Duncan, who recognizes the problem with standardized tests, sets aside $360 million for the development of new, better tests, but then goes ahead and bases his whole reform on the current, bad tests. He uses them as sole high stakes measures that determine teacher pay and even as the tool to determine whether or not teachers and principals will lose their job. This is the unethical nature of the current reform. You should hold your applause."

Now let us watch the SEA Union leadership facilitate the entire RttT Plan ... the SEA leaders have been complicit in this bizarre dance...... for the last few years.

Get ready for lots of posing by TEAM Bafia .. before continuing to roll over.

WEA and SEA neither objected to SB 6696 .. so why stop now?
kprugman said…
I think administrators are doing this anyway. We know which classrooms are doing the worst. And over and over, I hear Principals say its the kids that score basic, who will improve the AYP of their schools the most. Not the students who are scoring far below basic.

This contract language may be formalizing the process, but I would think that they would delay ratifying until the NEA provided some guidance. Why get entangled with something that is so unpopular.

I'm not sure anyone has a firm plan for dealing with low performing students in the lower tracks. Student performance is not going to get any better with Everyday Math. haha-ahhaha
dan dempsey said…
There is a Plan to teach the low performing students ... it is called Direct Instruction from Project Follow Through.

It is highly effective but completely unknown and unused because it runs counter to the elite ed baloney produced by the knowledgeable ED elites running this dismal show.
kprugman said…
I am willing to agree with you Paul. After 5 years of working with district sheepies, I've given up and gotten more practical just for my own sanity.

The class that has worked best for my student is all test prep and making the kids write their own study notes using Cornell note. I tell them exactly what to study for. Its low maintenance and focuses on individual accountability.

I have high failure rates (still lower than the district average), but its a low stress environment for myself and my students (80% are special education or bilingual students) Almost all are Hispanic. Most of them have been failing school all their lives. Its not right but I have to do it or I lose my job.
dan dempsey said…
Try this for Ed Reform in Buffalo.

Big changes recommended at 7 schools.

"Williams said many of those findings came as no surprise.

Problems with the quality of teaching result from a lack of decent instruction in colleges and universities, where teachers are trained, he said.

The district already has begun providing more staff development at the seven schools for teachers as well as administrators, Williams said. He called for concessions from the unions to enable the district to require more staff development."

Fifty-seven schools in New York, including seven in Buffalo, have been identified by state Education Commissioner David M. Steiner as "persistently lowest-achieving," meaning they are among the worst-performing 5 percent of schools in the state.

I wonder if NYC with 1.1 million students is in a different group considering WA had 47 failing schools with 3 in Seattle.

Note Buffalo Super decided not to go for the dollars. Only 18 of our 47 in WA got funding. It is not like the Buffalo Super passed on guaranteed dollars.

Note if you did not buy the "Bold Disruptive Change" idea there was little point in applying in WA.
Anonymous said…
Part 1

I understand that someone posted a link to the LA Times article regarding teacher evaluations. In response to that I would like to post the following which can be found on the Education Week website written by Dr. Stephen Krashen.

"The LA Times Practicing Education Without a License"

Intro by Anthony Cody:

Dr. Stephen Krashen is a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California. He has written numerous books on his research into literacy and language acquisition. In recent years he has emerged as a persistent voice pointing towards the basic steps we should take to build literacy and strong academic skills for our students. In this guest post he offers a critique of the recent Los Angeles Times article rating teachers by their test scores.

Stephen Krashen:

A recent LA Times article, "Who's teaching L.A.'s kids?" (August 15), presented readers with the results of an LA Times-sponsored "value-added" analysis of teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The statistical analysis was done by an economist, and was supplemented by classroom observations made by LA Times reporters.

"Value-added" appears to be a common-sense idea: Teachers are rated by the gains their students make on standardized tests of reading and math. The assumption is that good teachers produce large gains and poor teachers produce small gains or may cause back-sliding. The Times assumes that the value-added method is a valid measure of teacher quality. It isn't.

Problems with value-added analysis:

Value-added evaluations of teachers make several assumptions.

First, they assume that higher test scores are always the result of teaching. Not so. Test scores are influenced by other factors:
- We can generate higher scores by teaching "test preparation" techniques, that is, strategies of getting higher scores without students learning anything, e.g. telling students when and how to guess, and familiarizing students with the test format.
- We can generate higher scores by testing selectively, e.g making sure the lower scorers are not in school the day of the test.
- And of course we can generate higher scores by direct cheating, getting inside information about specific test questions and sharing this with students.

Second, value-added analysis assume that teachers are randomly assigned to classes. They aren't. Some teachers are given high-achieving students who will make rapid gains on standardized tests, and some teachers are consistently assigned to teach lower achieving students who will not make clear gains.

Third, value-added analysis assume that the value-added score for a teacher is stable, that a teacher producing high gains one year will always produce high gains. But studies show that value-added estimates for individual teachers can be unstable over time (Schochet and Chang, NCEE 2010-4004). There is also evidence that a teacher's value-added score can be substantially different for different reading tests (Papay, 2010, American Educational Research Journal 47,2).

Fourth, there is always some fluctuation in scores. Even if all teachers were equally effective in raising test scores, a value-added analysis would still find students of some teachers making higher gains than others, due to random factors.

Finally, some standardized tests focus on knowledge of specific facts and procedures. Teachers who prepare students for higher scores on such tests are not teaching, they are simply drilling students with information that will soon be forgotten.
Anonymous said…
Part 2

Dr. Stephen Krashen:

Neglected factors

The heavy focus on measuring teacher quality can give the false impression that teacher quality is everything. Study after study, however, has shown that poverty is a stronger factor than teacher quality in predicting achievement. The best teachers in the world will have limited impact when children are undernourished, have high levels of lead in their bodies, live in noisy and dangerous environments, get too little sleep, and have no access to reading material.
Beyond Cold Fusion

The scientific world was outraged when cold fusion researchers presented their work to the public at a press conference before submitting their results for professional review. The Times has gone beyond this: They clearly have no intention of allowing professional review, and feel that it is their right to present their conclusions on the front page of the Sunday newspaper.

The Times also supplemented their findings with comments from reporters who observed teachers in their classes. This procedure sends the message that the Times considers educational practice to be so straight-forward that it requires no special background.

The Times is a newspaper, not a scientific journal. It has, however, been practicing educational research without a license. Would we accept this in other areas? Would we trust the Times to do a value-added analysis of brain surgery, with reporters critiquing surgical procedures?
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan dempsey said…
It was said: …

“The Times is a newspaper, not a scientific journal. It has, however, been practicing educational research without a license. Would we accept this in other areas? Would we trust the Times to do a value-added analysis of brain surgery, with reporters critiquing surgical procedures?”

Most of the without a license activities apply to the Seattle Public Schools under TEAM MGJ and her rubber stamping school board. The LA Times makes a net profit in their off the grid experimental research opinions. The SPS just continues to flush millions on ideas made into actions for which their is no sound basis.

Much of what the SPS does is experimental research although they would never admit to that. When there is no proven model of success on which to base a large action it is an experiment.

In many cases we have extensive knowledge of previous failure .. that is when we can use the term "experimental folly".

NTN contract, k-12 math, likely the 1500+ student 6-12 Denny/Sealth, NWEA/MAP for performance management, all = follies

This district is certainly big on counterproductive as well as bold and disruptive.

There is a great deal of proven practice that could be followed instead of ignored ... It is as if significant improvement in academic areas has a ZERO focus for the SPS.

Professional Development is needed for the upper level decision-makers as they seem clueless.
Lori said…
Dora said "The Times is a newspaper, not a scientific journal. It has, however, been practicing educational research without a license. Would we accept this in other areas?"

Dora, I found a link to these journalism warning labels in my RSS feed this morning and thought you might enjoy them. A little snarky, but they make a valid point. Too many folks accept media reports at face value; just a little bit of critical thinking now and then would go a long way.

Journalism Warning Labels

(thanks to Gary Schwitzer's wonderful healthnewsreview blog)
Sahila said…
I use newspapers and wikipedia as starting points for research often... then delve deeper... despite the criticisms of wiki, its good because it cites sources which you can check yourself, which then lead to other information ... a bit like checking a library catalogue for info on a particular subject... but much quicker with a much wider net of info to draw from...

But, as a journalist I am dismayed so many of my peers seem not to dig deeply to provide a balanced view... laziness? Maybe...but then the cuts in resources in the media is much to blame also - not time, too few personnel...

VW provides a much needed grin on this grey Friday... im an imp!
Anonymous said…
I just found additional information on that article and interesting comments from the educational community at:

California Watch

Judging teacher performance is difficult, experts say

And for something kind of snarky regarding the article, see Education Notes:

Who Will Cast the First Stone?
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…

Great labels! Where do I buy them? I'd love to have some for particular Seattle Times "news" articles ;-)

Lori said…
Dora, the blogger has links at the end to PDFs of those labels that you can print out at home yourself! Not sure what the difference is between the set he made for the UK and the US; I didn't look that closely. But I love the idea of a guy running around London affixing warning labels to dubious print articles.

Thanks for the link to the California Watch article - that is an excellent read and gets into one of the points I've been trying to make on various threads recently about how complex the statistics are for these VAM analyses. I don't think there is anyone on staff at SPS that could actually handle the math or do the analyses, which leads me to wonder who and how much we are going to pay consultants as part of this process, should it pass.
Love those journalism warning labels! Thanks for the link!
dan dempsey said…

You might try our Gates Data Fellow.
Dr. Eric M. Anderson seems to have not only the stats chops but also the courage to tell the truth.
Ginneva said…
Nice Post!!

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