"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.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2015 Medley #35

Testing (ISTEP), Politics,
Early Childhood Education,
Poverty, Vermont, Charters


It looks like far fewer Indiana schools could earn an A after ISTEP changes

Cut scores for ISTEP are arbitrary. The new, more difficult, ISTEP, has not been proven to be better than the old ISTEP. Governor Pence and his mouthpieces in the legislature and state board of education are determined to undermine public schools and public school teachers. They confuse the public into thinking that public schools are unsuccessful and deflect attention away from the real problems of public education: inequitable funding and a 22% child poverty rate. Lower scores also mean fewer "merit pay" bonuses, and therefore less money spent on public schools. The article below predicts a 20 percent rise in the number of D and F schools.

Yet Indiana students continue to do well on NAEP...Go figure!
...the Indiana State Board of Education has set the passing cut-off scores for the ISTEP exams...

On average, a 20 percentage point drop in ISTEP scores could move the state from almost 54 percent of schools earning A’s last year to as few as 7 percent earning an A for 2015. Consequently, D’s and F’s could rise from about 8 percent and 5 percent last year to just over 27 percent for both in 2015.

Two key legislative leaders, House education committee chairman Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, and Senate education committee chairman Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said earlier this week that they didn’t support a “pause” in the state’s accountability system. The state board has been similarly opposed to such a move.

...Indiana students are still showing progress based on newly released scores on the National Assessment for Educational Progress at the same time ISTEP scores are expected to come in much lower. Indiana did as well or better than 2013 on NAEP when it came to math and reading scores. It also outranked most other states, most notably in fourth grade math where Indiana ranked fourth.


Online ISTEP+ Scores Could See As Much As A Nine-Point Boost

The ISTEP was not ready last year. There were too many problems and it was too long, yet the state forced schools to go ahead and give it. Now, because the difficulty levels differed so much between various forms of the test, the taxpayers had to pay an "expert" to come in and figure out a way to balance the scores so they would be comparable.

People who don't know what they are doing are damaging the education of our children, wasting instructional time with useless standardized tests, and allowing their friends in the test-and-punish industry to pocket more of our tax money which ought to have been used for instruction. It's past time to end the reliance on standardized tests for high stakes decisions like grading schools, evaluating teachers, determining educator pay, and student promotion.
...expert Derek Briggs recommended the board consider awarding bonus points to students who completed the more difficult mode. And that’s what the board voted to do.

In most cases, adjustments will be made for students who completed the online exam, or those who completed paper versions with more complicated math problems. Indiana Department of Education testing director Michele Walker says no student’s score should go down as a result, but some could see a boost of up to nine points.


Eight K-12 Education Questions Every Candidate Needs to Answer

The Network for Public Education has posed eight questions about K-12 education for presidential candidates. Will any of them, Democratic or Republican, respond?
  1. TESTING: Will you end the federal mandate for annual high-stakes testing?
  2. SCHOOL CLOSURES: Will you put an end to school closures based on test scores?
  3. PRIVATIZATION: Will you put an end to the privatization of public education?
  4. FUNDING: Will you ensure public schools are equitably funded?
  5. EQUITY: Will you ensure that all students have equal access the services and resources they need?
  6. TEACHER PROFESSIONALISM: What is your position on the deprofessionalization of teachers?
  7. DEMOCRATICALLY CONTROLLED SCHOOLS: Will you ensure equity in education without eroding democratic control at the state and local level?
  8. STUDENT PRIVACY: Will you defend student privacy?


How Kindergarten Teachers Carry Tax Burden of Billionaires • BRAVE NEW FILMS

The video below highlights the extreme income inequity in the US.


Preschoolers working memory forecasts teenage dropout risk

Here is more research proving that we need a greater investment in early childhood education. This, at least, is being given lip-service by some major party candidates. Many of those same candidates, however, also insist on lowering taxes for the wealthy. The question is, then, how are we going to lower taxes and pay for early childhood education at the same time?
Preschoolers who score lower on a working memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 13, researchers at Université Sainte-Anne and the University of Montreal revealed today. "Dropout risk is calculated from student engagement in school, their grade point average, and whether or not they previously repeated a year in school. Previous research has confirmed that this scale can successfully identify which 12 year olds will fail to complete high school by the age of 21," explained Caroline Fitzpatrick, who led the study as first author. "These findings underscore the importance of early intervention," added Linda Pagani, co-senior author. "Parents are able to help their children develop strong working memory skills in the home and this can have a positive impact." [Emphasis added]


America's Exceptional Child Poverty

Instead of concentrating on ways to reduce poverty in the US, we hear arguments claiming that the poor in our country are better off than the poor in other countries and at least as well off as the poor in the social-democracies of Sweden and Denmark.
This week has turned out to be the week of low-hanging fruit for me. On Monday, we had a misleading Cato post that falsely claimed that the US poor are as well off as the poor in Sweden and Denmark. In fact, the poorest Swedes and poorest Danes have 48% and 63% more income than the poorest Americans, and that's not even counting their free health care and child care. Now, the National Review has decided to walk into the same trap as Cato, claiming that child poverty in the US is not worse than child poverty in other developed countries, so long as you count it in absolute terms.

This claim should strike you as strange. As I pointed out above, the poor in many developed countries are overall better off than the poor in the US. And the US also has a remarkably low level of child benefits, especially benefits that reach the poorest. Together, then, the US should stand out even more in its level of child deprivation than it stands out in its level of overall deprivation. And, of course, it does.



Philanthropy Doesn’t Compensate for State Education Cuts, Study Finds

The Federal government and the various states need to support public education. We can't count on the rich to make up the difference between adequate funding and our current level of funding. Education is a legitimate responsibility of government and we need to get serious about supporting it instead privatizing it.
"There has been a lot of popular press around the issue of parents’ out-of-pocket spending [on education], and kids having to sell candy bars to raise money in recent years," she said. "We wanted to see if we could link it to a loss in revenue at the state level."

Ms. Nelson’s new research didn’t find a causal connection between spending cuts and private fundraising. And the surge of fundraising for public schools appeared to deliver the greatest benefit in communities that needed it the least. Parents in wealthy districts are more likely to have the resources and the will to give their public schools a big boost.

Meanwhile, Ms. Nelson said, "that’s just not happening in poor districts," leading to a wider inequality gap in education.


Vermont to parents: Don’t worry about your child’s Common Core test scores. They don’t mean much.

Vermont gets it...
We call your attention to the box labeled “scale score and overall performance.” These levels give too simplistic and too negative a message to students and parents. The tests are at a very high level. In fact, no nation has ever achieved at such a level. Do not let the results wrongly discourage your child from pursuing his or her talents, ambitions, hopes or dreams.

These tests are based on a narrow definition of “college and career ready.” In truth, there are many different careers and colleges and there are just as many different definitions of essential skills. In fact, many (if not most) successful adults fail to score well on standardized tests. If your child’s scores show that they are not yet proficient, this does not mean that they are not doing well or will not do well in the future.

We also recommend that you not place a great deal of emphasis on the “claims” or sub-scores. There are just not enough test items to give you reliable information.


Eva Moskowitz and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month

More articles about Moskowitz and her drive to expand her private education empire.
The simple fact is that Moskowitz absolutely cannot keep total control over what people say and know anymore, and it is her own policies of driving away students she does not want and burning out teachers that has put her in this position. So even if she fully recovers from this month, I think it is likely we will see many more months like this.



Moskowitz, Petrilli, and the Hard Truth About America's Schools
Which brings us to a third point: why would we ever be surprised that there is friction in our urban schools given the way we ignore the needs of their students? This nation purposefully segregated its citizens. It then refused to adequately fund its urban schools, even as it ignored the needs of children outside of their schools. It then installed into those schools a hidden curriculum of obedience, even as affluent suburban children benefitted from schools that served as engines of social replication.

All this, and then we're shocked -- shocked, I say! -- to find that students in urban schools think they're getting a raw deal. Most channel their frustration in positive ways; are we surprised that some do not?


The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

Stop the Testing Insanity!


A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
Click here to sign the petition.

For over a decade...“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.




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