Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Prof Debunks Standardized Testing & Pearson Strikes Back

A Prof Debunks Standardized Testing & Pearson Strikes Back:

Mute the Messenger

When Dr. Walter Stroup showed that Texas’ standardized testing regime is flawed, the testing company struck back.



Rebellions sometimes begin slowly, and Walter Stroup had to wait almost seven hours to start his. The setting was a legislative hearing at the Texas Capitol in the summer of 2012 at which the growing opposition to high-stakes standardized testing in Texas public schools was about to come to a head. Stroup, a University of Texas professor, was there to testify, but there was a long line of witnesses ahead of him. For hours he waited patiently, listening to everyone else struggle to explain why 15 years of standardized testing hadn’t improved schools. Stroup believed he had the answer.
Using standardized testing as the yardstick to measure our children’s educational growth wasn’t new in Texas. But in the summer of 2012 people had discovered a brand-new reason to be pissed off about it. “Rigor” was the new watchword in education policy. Testing advocates believed that more rigorous curricula and tests would boost student achievement—the “rising tide lifts all boats” theory. But that’s not how it worked out. In fact, more than a few sank. More than one-third of the statewide high school class of 2015 has already failed at least one of the newly implemented STAAR tests, disqualifying them from graduation without a successful re-test. As often happens, moms got mad. As happens less often, they got organized, and they got results.
Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, long an advocate of using tests to hold schools accountable, broke from orthodoxy when he called the STAAR test a “perversion of its original intent.” Almost every school board in Texas passed resolutions against over-testing, prompting Bill Hammond, a business lobbyist and leading testing advocate, to accuse school officials of “scaring” mothers. State legislators could barely step outside without hearing demands for testing relief. So in June 2012, the Texas House Public Education Committee did what elected officials do when they don’t know what to say. They held a hearing. To his credit, Committee Chair Rob Eissler began the hearing by posing a question that someone should have asked a generation ago: What exactly are we getting from these tests? And for six hours and 45 minutes, his committee couldn’t get a straight answer. Witness after witness attacked the latest standardized-testing regime that the Legislature had imposed. Everyone knew the system was broken, but no one knew exactly why.
Except for one person. Stroup, a bookishly handsome associate professor in the University of Texas College of Education, sat patiently until it was his turn to testify. Then Stroup sat down at the witness table and offered the scientific basis behind the widely held suspicion that what the tests measured was not what students have learned but how well students take tests. Every other witness got three minutes; it is a rough measure of the size of the rock that Stroup dropped into this pond that he was allowed to talk and answer lawmakers’ questions for 20 minutes. 
A tenured professor at UT with a doctorate in education from Harvard University, Stroup isn’t frequently let out of the lab to address politicians in front of cameras. He talks with no evident concern that he might upset the powerful, and he speaks so quickly that his sentences have to hurry to keep up as he darts down tangents without warning. He taught in classrooms for almost a decade—it must have been a nightmare for his students.
But his testimony to the committee broke through the usual assumption that equated standardized testing with high standards. He reframed the debate over accountability by questioning whether the tests were the right tool for the job. The question wasn’t whether to test or not to test, but whether the tests measured what we thought they did.
Stroup argued that the tests were working exactly as designed, but that the politicians who mandated that schools use them didn’t understand this. In effect, Stroup had caught the government using a bathroom scale to measure a student’s height. The scale wasn’t broken or badly made. The scale was working exactly as designed. It was just the wrong tool for the job. The tests, Stroup said, simply couldn’t measure how much students learned in school.
Stroup testified that for $468 million the Legislature had bought a pile of stress and wasted time from Pearson Education,the biggest player in the standardized-testing industry. Lest anyone miss that Stroup’s message threatened Pearson’s hegemony in the accountability industry, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) brought Stroup’s testimony to a close with a joke that made it perfectly clear. “I’d like to have you and someone from Pearson have a little debate,” Aycock said. “Would you be willing to come back?”
 “Sure,” Stroup said. “I’ll come back and mud wrestle.” 
But that never happened. Stroup had picked a fight with a special interest in front of politicians. The winner wouldn’t be determined by reason and science but by politics and power. Pearson’s real counterattack took place largely out of public view, where the company attempted to discredit Stroup’s research. Instead of a public debate, Pearson used its money A Prof Debunks Standardized Testing & Pearson Strikes Back:

Illinois law allows schools to demand students' Facebook passwords - CNET

Illinois law allows schools to demand students' Facebook passwords - CNET:

Illinois law allows schools to demand students' Facebook passwords

Technically Incorrect: Conceived to combat cyberbullying, a new law in Illinois may result in schools demanding social media passwords, even if the posting was not done at school or on school computers






Illinois can't seem to decide whether it's the home of midwestern gentlefolk or of the most draconian humans this side of Moscow.
One of the state's newest laws, for example, may have goodness at its heart. However, it may have something else in various of its extremities.
The law, which went into effect on January 1, is designed to curb cyberbullying, but it also could encourage schools to pry into students' personal lives.
KTVI-TV reported that the law was already making some parents deeply uncomfortable. That's because one of its stipulations is troubling.

ndeed, this week Illinois parents began receiving a letter from school authorities informing them that their children's social media passwords may now have to be handed over, as part of school discipline.Motherboard reports that it obtained one of these letters. It reads, in part:
School authorities may require a student or his or her parent/guardian to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to his/her account or profile on a social networking website if school authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student's account on a social networking site contains evidence that a student has violated a school disciplinary rule or procedure.
You might imagine that this stipulation only applies to school computers and activity on school premises. It does not. The schools may ask for passwords and search on the basis of any posting by a student at any time and in any place.
And who will decide what is reasonable cause? Leigh Lewis, superintendent of Triad Community Schools Unit District 2, told Motherboard that if someone didn't cooperate, there might be trouble. Not detention, criminal charges.
Those of sharp eyes and, perhaps, parenting experience, will wonder just what private information the schools might encounter as they search for their alleged evidence.
As one parent who had received the latter, Sarah Bozarth, told KTVI: "It's one thing for me to take my child's social media account in there and open it up for the teacher to look at (...) but to have to hand over your passport and personal information to your accounts to the school is just not acceptable."
Image result for Illinois public schools can now demand students’ social networking accounts and passwords at will.
I have contacted Illinois' Board of Education to ask how educators justify what seems like the potential for a considerable invasion of privacy. I will update, should I hear.
What if, in performing a search, the school discovers that a student is involved in, say, criminal activity or a sexual relationship? What if it discovers that the student has a particular medical problem?
Will it pinkie promise not to tell? I contacted Lewis to ask her views and will update, should she reply.
The whole idea of an authority being able to demand social media passwords has undergone some challenges over the last couple of years. This year, Oregon became the latest state to decide that colleges and employers would be forbidden from demanding social media usernames and passwords.
It's one thing for authorities to observe what employees, students or suspects are posting on social media. It's surely another to think that they have the automatic right to simply demand what is quite obviously personal information. In Illinois, it will all likely come down to the idea of reasonable cause. (No case has yet emerged of a school exercising its alleged right to ask for a password.)
Three years ago, however, 12-year-old Riley Stratton sued her Minnesota schools district after she claimed she'd been coerced into revealing her Facebook password. Last year, the case was settledIllinois law allows schools to demand students' Facebook passwords - CNET:

Florida House approves controversial bill to divert district funds to charter schools | Tampa Bay Times

Florida House approves controversial bill to divert district funds to charter schools | Tampa Bay Times:

Florida House approves controversial bill to divert district funds to charter schools






TALLAHASSEE — Without a word of debate Friday, the Florida House approved a controversial proposal that could require school districts to share tens of millions of dollars in construction funds with rival charter schools.



The bill was one of four high-profile education proposals that won the support of the Republican-dominated House to end the week. The others would:
•Ease the penalties for schools that fail to comply with the constitutionally mandated limits on class size.
•Create a pilot program to give principals more control over hiring and budget decisions.
•Encourage school districts to adopt mandatory school uniform policies for children in grades K-8 by offering incentive money.
All of the Democrats in attendance voted against the charter school bill, HB 7037. But none debated the measure on the floor.
Democratic leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach said the 75-35 vote spoke for itself.
"I think that sends a pretty clear message that there's a major problem with the bill," Pafford said. "It directs dollars away from public schools."
The proposal would create the Florida Institute for Charter School Innovation to help new charter schools. It would also make it easier for top-performing charter schools to replicate themselves in high-need areas and specify that charter schools receiving back-to-back Fs would be automatically closed.
The bill found little opposition at first — until House Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Erik Fresen, R-Miami, added the contentious provision about construction funding.
Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed, have long sought a stable revenue stream for construction and maintenance. Unlike traditional public schools, they cannot levy property taxes for that purpose. But school districts oppose sharing their tax dollars because most of the money is earmarked for debt service. What's more, they point out that many charter schools are housed in privately owned facilities that do not revert to the public if the school closes.
The bill that passed Friday would ensure charter schools receive about 40 percent of the amount traditional public schools can raise for construction and maintenance, Fresen said.
If the state does not provide enough money in the budget, as it has done in recent years, the school districts would have to make up the difference with their tax revenue.
That Fresen sponsored the amendment was controversial. His firm has helped build several charter schools, and his brother-in-law runs Academica, the state's largest charter school management company.
Fresen said he did not consider the amendment to be a conflict of interest because it would not increase funding for charter schools.
"There's already money for capital outlay," he told the Times/Herald. "All this does is create a predictable framework for this capital outlay money to be expended."
Democrats also raised problems with the measure itself. Several voiced their concerns during a caucus meeting earlier Friday.
"The deal with charter schools was supposed to be that they operate on a shoestring budget," said state Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston. "They didn't need the capital outlay funding."
Still, the proposal won over all but one member of the Republican caucus, which strongly supports school Florida House approves controversial bill to divert district funds to charter schools | Tampa Bay Times:

Teacher Talks Truth - Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

Teacher Talks Truth
By:  Kathleen Jeskey

Originally posted on her blog  http://www.teachertalkstruth.com/

This is my first blog post and kind of the reason I decided to create my own blog: to keep people updated on what is going on with my request, as a teacher, to be allowed to opt out of administering the flawed Smarter Balanced Assessment. Last month, my local association stood before our school board to say that as a group, we are opposed to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I spoke at that meeting and stated that I object to administering it and asked to be excused from administering based on my professional and personal objections.

On March 9th, I had not yet heard a response to my request and sent this email to the school board, our superintendent, and my principal. 





“As you all know, at the February 19 school board meeting I declared my strong objections to the Smarter Balanced Assessment and asked to be excused from administering the assessment based on those objections. The statement I made to the school board is attached.

I have objected to this system of test and punish since it's original implementation in 2001 with NCLB. I knew at that time that a requirement of 100% proficiency by 2014 would result in exactly what has happened in Washington state, where their legislature turned down the Race to the Top waiver and they remain under NCLB: 100% of schools are in "failing" status. There is virtually no goal or standard that can be set, including breathing without assistance, that every child in the nation can meet on the same day at the same time. 

I attended a presentation by ODE and saw how their representatives are misleading parents about the SBAC. It made me sick and angry. I feel horrible about trying to put a smiley face on this for parents, and most of all for my students. I know that some of them will be okay. I know that most of them will be frustrated and feel stupid. Even in the best case scenario described by ODE, only 30% will do well. In the case of my students, I feel that will be much lower. ELL students who have taken similar Common Core tests in English around the country have passed at a rate of 3% to 4%, and this is taking away an entire week of instruction that those students would benefit from. If we consider that Migrant Summer School is only 3 weeks long, that puts the significance of that week in stark perspective.

I have not yet received an answer as to whether I will be excused from administering SBAC based on my strong philosophical objections. When I stated in my original letter that this was weighing heavily on my conscience, I was very serious. It keeps me up at night sometimes.

I am scheduled to administer on April 6th through 10th. I would truly appreciate an answer to my question about whether I will be required to administer or not. I would also like to know, if I were to refuse to do so, what the consequences would be for me. I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just trying 
Badass Teachers Association:

BAT




Special Nite Cap: Catch Up on Today's Post 3/28/15



Special Nite Cap - Catch Up on Today's Post 3/28/15


Special Nite Cap 

CORPORATE ED REFORM

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2015 National Conference – Chicago

The Countdown to Chicago Has Begun!

The Network For Public Education | 2015 National Conference – Chicago 


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