Latest News and Comment from Education

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Student test scores: How the sausage is made and why you should care | Brookings Institution

Student test scores: How the sausage is made and why you should care | Brookings Institution:

Student test scores: How the sausage is made and why you should care

Contrary to popular belief, modern cognitive assessments—including the new Common Core tests—produce test scores based on sophisticated statistical models rather than the simple percent of items a student answers correctly. While there are good reasons for this, it means that reported test scores depend on many decisions made by test designers, some of which have important implications for education policy. For example, all else equal, the shorter the length of the test, the greater the fraction of students placed in the top and bottom proficiency categories—an important metric for state accountability. On the other hand, some tests report “shrunken” measures of student ability, which pull particularly high- and low-scoring students closer to the average, leading one to understate the proportion of students in top and bottom proficiency categories. Shrunken test scores will also understate important policy metrics such as the black-white achievement gap—if black children score lower on average than white children, then scores of black students will be adjusted up while the opposite is true for white students.
The scaling of test scores is equally important. Despite common perceptions, a 5-point gain at the bottom of the test score distribution may not mean the same thing in terms of additional knowledge as a 5-point gain at the top of the distribution. This fact has important implications for the value-added based comparisons of teacher effectiveness as well as accountability rankings of schools. There are no easy solutions to these issues. Instead there must be greater transparency of the test creation process, and more robust discussion about the inherent tradeoffs about the creation of test scores, and more robust discussion about how different types of test scores are used for policymaking as well as research.

Testing is ubiquitous in education. From placement in specialized classes to college admissions, standardized exams play a large role in a child’s educational career. The introduction of the federal No Child Left Behind(NCLB) legislation in 2001, which required states to test all students in grades 3-8 in reading and math, dramatically increased the prevalence and use of test scores for education policymaking.
Contrary to popular belief, all modern cognitive assessments—including the new Common Core tests—produce test scores based on sophisticated statistical models rather than the simple percent of items a student answers correctly. There are good reasons for this, as explained below. The downside is that what we see as consumers of test scores depends on decisions made by the designers of the tests about characteristics of those models and their implementation. These details are typically hidden in dense technical Student test scores: How the sausage is made and why you should care | Brookings Institution:

Gates Foundation to ‘stay the course’ as it seeks to help shape state education policies - The Washington Post

Gates Foundation to ‘stay the course’ as it seeks to help shape state education policies - The Washington Post:

Gates Foundation to ‘stay the course’ as it seeks to help shape state education policies

CHICAGO — Melinda Gates said she and her husband, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, learned an important lesson from the fierce pushback against the Common Core State Standards in recent years. Not that they made the wrong bet when they poured hundreds of millions of dollars into supporting the education standards, but that such a massive initiative would not be successful unless teachers and parents believe in it.
“Community buy-in is huge,” Gates said in an interview here on Wednesday, adding that cultivating such support for big cultural shifts in education takes time. “It means that in some ways, you have to go more slowly.”
That doesn’t mean the foundation has any plans to back off the Common Core or its other priorities, including its long-held belief that improving teacher quality is the key to transforming public education. “I would say stay the course. We’re not even close to finished,” Gates said.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped shape the nation’s education policies during the past decade with philanthropic donations that have supported digital learning and charter schools and helped accelerate shifts not only to the new, common academic standards, but to new teacher evaluations that incorporate student test scores.
The Obama administration shared and promoted many of the foundation’s priorities, arguing that they were necessary to push the nation's schools forward and close yawning achievement gaps. Now that a new federal education law has returned authority over public education to the states, the foundation is following suit, seeking to become involved in the debates about the direction of public schools that are heating up in state capitals across the country.
Speaking here at a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Melinda Gates told lawmakers Wednesday that the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, gives them a chance to grapple with whether “we are doing everything in our power to ensure Gates Foundation to ‘stay the course’ as it seeks to help shape state education policies - The Washington Post:

Seattle Schools Community Forum: The fallacies of Corporate Education Reform

Seattle Schools Community Forum: The fallacies of Corporate Education Reform:

The fallacies of Corporate Education Reform

Corporate Education Reformers may have a lot of business expertise, but that knowledge and skill does not translate to public education. They don’t seem to realize that almost nothing they have learned from the private sector is applicable in the public sector.
  • Competition doesn’t work the way they think it does.
  • They don’t seem to understand that schools have finite capacity.
  • They don’t seem to understand what it takes to start a school.
  • They don’t know what drives academic achievement.
  • They don’t seem to understand the needs of students.
  • Their focus on productivity is misplaced.
  • They don’t recognize teachers as professionals.
  • They don’t seem to understand that all teachers need the union to protect their jobs.
  • They don’t seem to understand which school costs are fixed and which are variable

Their first and fundamental mistake is that they have trouble understanding is that the profit motive, which is the force that drives everything in the private sector, is absent from the public sector. All of the rules, practices, models, and incentives that they know and espouse are predicated on the presence of the profit motive, and are therefore invalid because the profit motive just isn’t there.

“Competition makes things better. Schools will improve when they have to compete.”
The absence of the profit motive negates the benefits they expect from competition. Charter schools, vouchers, and school choice are all supposed to improve schools through competition. And yet they don’t. They don’t because school choice doesn’t create competition among schools for students; it creates competition among students for schools. So long as school attendance is compulsory, every student must find a seat at a school somewhere. And so long the capacity of the school system is about equal to the Seattle Schools Community Forum: The fallacies of Corporate Education Reform:

Schools Matter: Facebook Bamboozles the New York Times Again About What Goes On In Schools

Schools Matter: Facebook Bamboozles the New York Times Again About What Goes On In Schools:

Facebook Bamboozles the New York Times Again About What Goes On In Schools

 NOTE: Following Stephen Krashen's injunction that Somewhere/Sometime Someone at the New York Times reads the letters we send, and that's why we must keep sending them, I sent a very much shortened version of this piece. Long or short, I know that few people can grasp what student choice means in the classroom.

 by Susan Ohanian

What passes for student choice in this  Facebook- Summit charter school set-up (Facebook HelpsDevelop Software That Puts Students in Charge of Their Lesson Plans) described in the New York Times illustrates how easily some people are bamboozled by technological pizazz. Offering a 12-year-old the option of spending three days  on a lesson module on the Roman Empire  instead of one day or six-- before he slogs on to the required study of medieval Europe, then Islam, the Aztecs, Reformation, Renaissance, and the Scientific Revolution--is serving up refried E. D. Hirsch imperatives, not choice. Because New York Times education coverage is devoted to tidiness, the reporters fail to notice that the  power of technology is being trivially used just to help children rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.

To embrace student choice is to embrace messiness.

For those interested in actual student choice for the long haul and not just small options for tomorrow's output, once again  I offer Jack, the most obnoxious kid in an alternative public high school filled with obnoxious kids kicked out of the regular high school. When I showed Jack  an article in Harper's about Scrabble hustlers in New York City, he noted that serious players preferred the Funk and Wagnall's Dictionary. I insisted that  our American Heritage Dictionary would surely be adequate for launching his Scrabble career,  but Jack pestered until I ordered Funk and Wagnall's.  Admittedly, I felt pretty good about telling my supervisor that a student had requested a dictionary recommended in Harper's.

Jack took the Scrabble board and the new dictionary to a back corner of the room and he stayed there all day, every day, for six months. Drawing my teacher savvy from psycholinguist Frank Smith's observation that when a student persists at the same irregular activity, doing it over and over, he isn't wasting time, isn't trying to get out of real work;  he persists at that activity 
Schools Matter: Facebook Bamboozles the New York Times Again About What Goes On In Schools:

Class Privilege 101 – EduShyster

Class Privilege 101 – EduShyster:

Class Privilege 101

College forces middle-class culture onto students. Former poor-kid-in-college Rita Rathbone says that’s a problem.
By Rita RathboneI was really intrigued by the recent discussion about college and disadvantaged students. Research is showing us that those who come from poverty still earn less in their lifetime even with a college degree than those from more affluent backgrounds. And those are the students who actually finish.  Far too many low-income students rack up large amounts of debt, but fail to graduate. In the long run, they are worse off. These are profoundly important facts to inform our discussions around education policy. This matters to me because I am a public school teacher and education scholar. It matters even more to me because I once was a poor kid in college.
I was born and raised in Southern Appalachia in one of the many lingering pockets of extreme rural poverty in America. Not only was my family and most of my community impoverished, we were culturally and physically isolated. Violence and alcoholism were common fixtures. My mother was a product of the foster care system, my father struggled with an undiagnosed learning disability, and I had a special needs sibling. I graduated in the top 5% of my class with a 4.65 GPA despite working 35-40 hours per week, starting the week of my 16th birthday. I was a first generation college student. I am sure I would have been a dream come true for an Ivy League admissions officer in search of a scholarship recipient. I didn’t apply to any Ivy League schools, though. I attended the closest public university to me, 30 miles away. And I only did that instead of going to the local community college because I was offered a scholarship to become a teacher, something that I was passionate about.
I also tried to quit three separate times. By quit, I mean car-packed-up-and-driving-away-in-the-middle-of-the-semester quit. This would have been a disaster for me as Class Privilege 101 – EduShyster:

Webinar: Strategies for Lifting All Children Up | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Webinar: Strategies for Lifting All Children Up | Schott Foundation for Public Education:

Webinar: Strategies for Lifting All Children Up

Image result for Strategies for Lifting All Children Up
What will it take to ensure that all children have an opportunity to learn, regardless of their background or which school they attend? This is the question we discussed during our latest webinar, “Strategies for Lifting All Children Up," part of Schott Foundation’s Grassroots Education Series on July 28.
During the webinar, Executive Director Kevin Welner of the National Education Policy Center and Executive Director Taryn Ishida of Californians for Justice discussed the importance of systemic reforms, not just school-centric reforms, when working to close the opportunity gap — and both are urgently needed.
Welner addressed the fact that kids who live in low income areas usually face “twin disadvantages” – fewer resources within and outside of schools – and urged that “responsible policy makers cannot avoid the reality that closing the achievement gap means seriously addressing these multiple obstacles.” He emphasized that there are no quick fixes and that a deep sustained reform is needed. In moving forward, Welner proposed that we stop destabilizing the system, recognize the hurdles, and engage in the deep sustained reform that is necessary to address the wide array of pressing issues, from poverty to racism.
Taryn agreed that one doesn’t work without the other when it comes to school-centric reforms and systemic reforms. She explained that Californians for Justice’s framework is to look through the eyes of their young people, and she highlighted the value of ensuring that the people who are most impacted by these problems (youth, parents, families, and teachers) are leading the solutions.
Both Kevin and Taryn suggested that we prioritize working with others in order to maximize effectiveness. Kevin explained that by stepping outside our issue-based silos we can gain a better understanding of the whole range of lived experiences in underserved communities. Taryn urged organizations to find coalitions of people working in a different issue area in order to team up and work in broad coalitions toward shared goals.
As legendary feminist and civil rights icon Audre Lorde put it, "There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives." The power of communities and advocates coming together to organize for systemic, cross-issue social change is key to keep in mind as we work to close the opportunity gap.
View the entire webinar here:
 Webinar: Strategies for Lifting All Children Up | Schott Foundation for Public Education:

Pushback Against the NAACP's Anti-Charter School Stance Is Misguided and Self-Serving

Pushback Against the NAACP's Anti-Charter School Stance Is Misguided and Self-Serving:

Pushback Against the NAACP's Anti-Charter School Stance Is Misguided and Self-Serving

Generic image

In calling for a moratorium on all charter schools, the NAACP has declared, after years of discussion, that they’re concerned enough about local governance, millionaire charter school board members, and public fund-spending to take a stand. While there are a plethora of arguments to be made, for me, it all comes down to following the money.
Full disclosure: I began working for the public school systems in 1994, having graduated from a public high school in Illinois. Prior to that, I spent the first five years of my teaching career at a Catholic private school in Hyde Park, Ill. Of the children in my family, I am the only one who’s taught or been an administrator of a public school. Both my sisters work in the charter school sector.
Some charter schools do the good, hard work of giving our black children possibilities they didn’t get in the public school systems. With that said, my opposition to and criticism of charter schools comes at the hand of my own experience, coupled with the research showing that charter schools exploit some black and brown communities.
Let’s be clear: Public school systems are problematic, as well. Institutional racism and punitive punishments are the reasons why, just two weeks ago, I finally quit my job. After a decade of watching the continued marginalization of our black students, I decided there must be another way to effect change outside the system since the whiteness of it enjoys the privilege of protecting itself.
For-profit education has been on the rise in the United States for some time, despite being shrouded in conversations about public school, union-busting and promoting the “failing schools” narrative—or maybe because of those things. Public schools use public funds; therefore, they are held to a higher standard from which many charters are immune. Still, it’s the money that flows into charters that gives many people pause. Those who hold the purse strings are too often those for whom some “white savior” complex is paramount in their charity.
Among the things the NAACP is concerned about are the severe segregation of student populations Pushback Against the NAACP's Anti-Charter School Stance Is Misguided and Self-Serving:

For-profit charter schools are failing and fading. Here’s why.

For-profit charter schools are failing and fading. Here’s why.:

These Charter Schools Tried to Turn Public Education Into Big Business. They Failed.

Basic RGB
It takes time, and nearly infinite patience, to build academically strong networks of schools from scratch. Investors aren’t used to waiting, though.

 More and more these days, Americans think about schools using the language of business. Superintendents are “CEOs.” Districts manage “portfolios” of schools. And pundits talk obsessively about American schools’ “competitiveness.”

But we don’t always like them to act like businesses, particularly when it comes to having an overt profit motive. Partly as a result, for-profit public charter schools—at least the brick-and-mortar variety—are slowly dying in some states. Once touted as a model that would reduce inefficiencies in public education and achieve economies of scales by operating schools in multiple states, for-profit charters have fallen out of fashion. Charter schools in general are becoming more popular across the country, but since the early 2000s, for-profit charter operators have lost ground to their nonprofit peers. And their failure, in large part, has been the result of bad business plans—something the companies themselves freely admit. 
Edison Schools—once the biggest name in the for-profit charter industry—partnered with 130 schools (some noncharter) in the early 2000s and fully managed 80. It now manages only five. In 2000, Advantage Schools, another for-profit chain, enrolled more than 10,000 children across the country. Today it enrolls zero. New Orleans hired several for-profit companies to manage some new charter schools after Hurricane Katrina. But by 2013 all of them had disappeared, their schools taken over by nonprofit operators. In recent years, lawmakers in MississippiOhio, andTennessee have all taken steps to curb the growth of for-profit charters or ban them outright.
Nationally, in 2007 for-profit management companies ran almost half of charter schools that are part of chains or larger networks of schools. By 2010, the most recent year the figures were compiled, the number had dropped to 37 percent, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Gary Miron, a professor of educational leadership at Western Michigan University, says for-profit brick-and-mortar charter schools are by no means gone yet—and their online counterparts, which run degree-awarding charter schools on the Web, in particular, continue to flourish. But large for-profit operators with aspirations of operating scores of brick-and-mortar charter schools nationally have becomeFor-profit charter schools are failing and fading. Here’s why.:

Education Research Report: Racial and Ethnic Groups in Education: Status and Trends

Education Research Report: Racial and Ethnic Groups in Education: Status and Trends:

Racial and Ethnic Groups in Education: Status and Trends

The percentage of students completing high school and enrolling in college has increased over time for all racial and ethnic groups, according to a newly released report. However, despite these gains, the rate of progress has varied among groups, and gaps persist on key indicators of educational performance.

The National Center for Education Statistics in the Institute of Education Sciences released Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups, 2016, today (Aug. 11, 2016). The report examines the educational progress and challenges students face in the United States by race and ethnicity.

The report finds that from 1990 to 2013, the dropout rate for Hispanic students decreased from 32 to 12 percent, but still remained higher than the rate for Black and White students. Over the same time period, the dropout rate for Black students fell from 13 to 7 percent and for White students decreased from 9 to 5 percent.

During those same years, the largest increases in undergraduate enrollment were observed for Hispanic and Black students. Hispanic student enrollment, as a percentage of total enrollment, increased 11 percentage points (from 6 to 17 percent) and Black student enrollment increased 5 percentage points (from 10 to 15 percent).

Other key findings from this report include—

  • The percentage of U.S. school-age children, ages 5-17, who were White decreased from 62 percent in 2000 to 53 percent in 2013. During this same time period, the percentage of children who were Black decreased from 15 to 14 percent. In contrast, the percentage of school-age children from other racial and ethnic groups increased during this period: Hispanics increased from 16 to 24 percent, Asians from 3 to 5 percent, and children of Two or more races from 2 to 4 percent;
  • In 2013, about 4.6 million public school students participated in English language learner (ELL) programs. Hispanic students made up the majority of this group (78 percent), with around 3.6 million participating in ELL programs;
  • The percentage of students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2013 was highest for American Indian/Alaska Native students (16 percent), followed by Black students (15 percent), White students (13 percent), students of Two or more races (13 percent), Hispanic students (12 percent), Pacific Islander students (11 percent), and Asian students (6 percent);
  • Between 1994 and 2014, the percentage of students retained in a grade decreased for both Black students (from 4.5 to 3.0 percent) and White students (from 2.5 to 2.0 percent). There was no measurable difference in the percentages of Hispanic students retained in 1994 and 2014;
  • In postsecondary education, the 2013 graduation rate was 59 percent for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor's degree at a 4-year, degree-granting institution in fall 2007. The 6-year graduation rate was highest for Asian students (71 percent) and students of Two or more races (68 percent), and lowest for Black and American Indian/Alaska Native students (41 percent each); and
  • Among young adults ages 20 to 24, higher percentages of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native young adults (29 and 38 percent, respectively) were neither enrolled in school nor working in 2014, compared to White (16 percent), Hispanic (21 percent), and Asian (13 percent) young adults, as well as young adults of Two or more races (15 percent).
  • Education Research Report: Racial and Ethnic Groups in Education: Status and Trends:

Children, Eat Your Breakfast on the Hallway Floor at School | BustED Pencils

Children, Eat Your Breakfast on the Hallway Floor at School | BustED Pencils:

Children, Eat Your Breakfast on the Hallway Floor at School


As you all know by now, I am no longer working at Jewell Elementary in the Aurora Public School District. However, I was recently alerted to a new  policy regarding breakfast at the school. The school day starts at 9:25 a.m. This year, if children want to eat breakfast they must get there at 9:15 a.m. If they ride the bus I guess they’ll be rushing in the door to eat in five minutes or so as breakfast time now ends at 9:30.
And there’s more. There are two options: the children will be eating on the FLOOR in the carpeted HALLWAY outside the classroom OR the teachers can graciously give up some of their morning planning time and invite the children to come in and eat at their desks.
Let that sink in for a minute. I know your mind is racing, as mine did, as I tried to think through the implications here – and there are many.
The first thought I had was – what would ever cause anyone to even consider – fathom – such a policy, as children eating breakfast on the dirty carpeted floor like dogs?  I am horrified that this policy was thought of and considered “rational.”
Then of course, I tried to imagine what that policy might look like in action. Hallways lined with children with backpacks, coats, lunchboxes and juggling milk, juice, cereal and more. I tried to imagine how I would feel as a child if I was asked to eat my breakfast on the floor, without a place to properly set my things in order to manage it all. I thought about how that policy might impact my own personal beliefs about my self worth, if I were a child at Jewell. I thought about the racism that is inherent within the behavior policies via Relay Graduate School. I thought about the way the children at my school are expected to demonstrate 100% compliance, and how this breakfast policy smacks of that compliance. Sit. Eat. Comply. On the floor. Where is the respect for the child? Where is it? How can one create a policy so unkind and so disrespectful of a child?
I thought – are the white children in the burbs sitting on dirty carpeted floor eating breakfast each morning? You know the answer to that.
Other thoughts raced through my head. Now the teachers must give up planning time OR choose to inflict such a horrible thing on these children. However, the one caveat to having them eat in the hallway is that it might get the policy exposed. Parents might see and object. It should be exposed rather than hidden away quietly as teachers give up their planning and once more do whatever they can to protect children.
How can this even pass health code policies in the schools?
What if one child from a family gets to eat in the classroom and another child from the same Children, Eat Your Breakfast on the Hallway Floor at School | BustED Pencils:

CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Test Fetish on Trial

CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Test Fetish on Trial:

FL: Test Fetish on Trial

 You may recall that last spring, some school district officials in Florida lost their damn minds.

Florida's test fetish became so advanced, so completely divorced from any understanding of the actual mission of schools and education and, hell, behaving like a grown human adult with responsibility for looking after children, that some district leaders interpreted state law to mean that a student who had opted out of the Big Standardized test could not be passed on to the next grade-- even if that student had a straight A report card.

Yes, I'm going to explain that again because it's so completely senseless that you might think it's just another bad typo on this blog.

Meet Chris. Chris was a third grader last year. According to Chris's report card, Chris earned passing grades in every single class. But Chris's parents said that Chris would not be taking the state test. Now Chris must repeat third grade.

Last spring some Florida education leaders took some heat over this, which is only fair because this is a decision that can only be taken as evidence that the adults in question should never be given responsibility over children ever, ever again. Gah! Look, in the world of education there are many debatable issues, many points on which I can see the other side's point of view even as I disagree vehemently with it. But what possible justification can there be for this? What possible purpose is served by forcing an otherwise successful eight year old to repeat a grade simply because that child's parents refused to comply with the state's demand to take a test? Florida has gone to the trouble of creating rules about what constitutes "participation" which it then can't explain. It is almost-- almost-- as if state education officials are mostly and only concerned that the test manufacturers have an uninterrupted revenue stream. They certainly don't give a tinker's damn about education.

On top of all that, Florida has rules in place for alternative assessments, but some edublockheads 
CURMUDGUCATION: FL: Test Fetish on Trial:

Even from Its Deathbed, Michigan State-Takeover EAA Continues to Rob Detroit District | janresseger

Even from Its Deathbed, Michigan State-Takeover EAA Continues to Rob Detroit District | janresseger:

Even from Its Deathbed, Michigan State-Takeover EAA Continues to Rob Detroit District

Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, has done everything he could to privatize and take over and bankrupt the state’s poorest school districts.
Since 2012, Muskegon Heights and Highland Park were turned over to Mosaica and the Leona Group, private, for-profit charter management organizations. Both went broke and abandoned these projects. The state has also intervened in other poor districts like Inkster and Buena Vista and Pontiac with closures and takeovers and privatization the only result. Then there have been the governor-appointed austerity emergency managers, put in place to cut costs.  In Detroit a succession of these so-called fiscal managers burdened the Detroit Public Schools with a staggering long-term debt of $3.5 billion. Then there has been the out-of-control charter school sector that has sucked students and money out of Detroit’s public schools, but even as the legislature passed a plan in June to restructure and ameliorate the district’s debt,lawmakers left out the proposed Detroit Education Commission, which had been designed to provide some oversight of school choice district-wide.
On top of all this, there has been Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority (EAA), a state takeover district created by the Snyder administration back in 2012 in collaboration with Eastern Michigan University and modeled on Louisiana’s Recovery School District.  Its supporters said state takeover would improve Michigan’s lowest-achieving schools through the imposition of state management.  The Education Achievement Authority never did well enough to expand beyond the 15 Detroit schools it originally seized. John Covington who was brought in as EAA’s chancellor, purchased from a private contractor the expensive, ineffective electronic BUZZ curriculum that, it turned out, was still in the development stage and not fully functional. Covington was forced out after a scandal about his personal expenses. EAA was always unpopular with Eastern Michigan University’s board of regents, who finally voted last February to pull out, effectively setting an 18 month sunset for EAA.  It’s final demise is guaranteed by the new legislative rescue plan for Detroit’s schools.
But the damage wrought by the Education Achievement Authority continues to surface even as its demise is guaranteed. Early this week it emerged that the EAA owes Detroit Public Schools millions of dollars. Here is reporter, Shawn Lewis in the Detroit News: “The Education Achievement Authority owes Detroit Public Schools $14.8 million in unpaid rent for the use of Even from Its Deathbed, Michigan State-Takeover EAA Continues to Rob Detroit District | janresseger:

Florida Parents Sue State and Districts for Retaining Students Who Opted Out | deutsch29

Florida Parents Sue State and Districts for Retaining Students Who Opted Out | deutsch29:

Florida Parents Sue State and Districts for Retaining Students Who Opted Out

Opt Out of Florida Network reports that parents of students retained in third grade due to opting out of state tests– nothing more– are suing the Florida Department of Education and numerous local school boards for deciding last minute that opting out in 2015-16 would result in student retention in 2016-17.
Two lawsuits were filed; the primary lawsuit as well as a request for emergency injunction for students immediately affected by what appears to be substandard communication between local districts and the state regarding the penalizing of students who were previously informed that opting out of the state’s standardized tests would be accommodated– with the state delivering inconsistent , bumbling guidance on the issue.
As one might expect, the looming threat of loss of federal Title I funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for the state’s not pressuring districts into producing that federally-required 95 percent of students tested serves as the threatening spoon stirring this third-grade retention pot.
Below is an excerpt from the emergency injunction lawsuit, as noted in the August 10, 2016, Opt Out Florida Network post:
The emergency motion for indicative relief seeks immediate relief for students currently retained in the third grade, who are without a documented reading deficiency.
Parents of students who received report cards with passing grades—some of whom were honor roll students—seek emergency declaratory and injunctive relief alleging that, because they opted out of standardized 
Florida Parents Sue State and Districts for Retaining Students Who Opted Out | deutsch29:




Repost from Ann Cronin’s blog…
Big News! It was on the front page of the The Hartford Courant, reported on in all the other state newspapers, and featured on the Connecticut State Department of Education website:
Nearly 66% of 11th graders met the state standards for English and 40% met the state standards for math on the 2016 SAT.
And what does that tell us about what Connecticut has gained from fully funding the SAT for all high school juniors?
Absolutely nothing.
It was a waste of taxpayer money.
First of all, it doesn’t tell us anything about who is ready for college. The SAT is based on the Common Core Standards, which Connecticut has taken as its own. The Common Core Standards lack validity and reliability. Common Core Standards were written, without input from educators at the K-12 or college level, by employees of testing companies and companies that analyze standardized test data. They were never field-tested to see if being successful with those standards makes for achievement in college. So we don’t know if we should be happy if students score well because it could be that they succeeded at something that is innocuous at best and inferior education at worst.
We do know that getting a high score on the SAT gives us no information about the students’ ability to ask their own questions, make their own connections, and construct their own meaning as they read, or express their own ideas as they write in a personal voice because the Common Core rejects those skills. And we do know that those are skills needed for college. Therefore, SAT scores don’t tell us if students will be successful in college.
Secondly, this SAT does not allow for comparisons because it is a new test. Scores cannot be compared to the SAT of past years. It has different content and a different way of being scored than past tests. Also, the student population taking the SAT has changed. Previously, 82% of high school juniors took the SAT; in 2016, with the new requirement,  94 % took the test. So with different content, scoring, and test-taking populations, no conclusions about student improvement or decline can be made.
Thirdly, some may say we need the SAT to ascertain how Connecticut is doing 

Populism Is Rewriting The Charter School Narrative

8/11/2016 – Populism Is Rewriting The Charter School Narrative:

Populism Is Rewriting The Charter School Narrative

THIS WEEK: Many Charters Exclude Students … Texas To Investigate Gülen Charters … Charter Groups ‘Swift Boat” Opponents … Teacher Pay Gap Widens … Fed Spending On Pre-K


How Populism Is Rewriting The Charter School Narrative

By Jeff Bryant

“Two recent events showcase exactly how the populist fervor in the nation is … rewriting the story of the roll out of charter schools in our communities … First … the national NAACP has called for a nationwide ‘moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools’… Those schools and what they’ve come to represent in communities were also rejected at the local level in a school board election in Nashville … What’s abundantly clear is that while [charter advocates] have been completely free to write the charter school narrative in their own words, now the people are telling their version of the story.”
Read more …


Report Charges Many Charter Schools Exclude Children In Violation Of The Law


“Over 1 in 5 of California’s charter schools have restrictive admissions requirements or other exclusionary practices that keep out many students with the greatest academic needs … These practices include: denying enrollment to students who have weak grades or test scores, expelling students who do not have strong grades or test scores, denying enrollment to students who do not ‘meet a minimum level of English proficiency,’ requiring students to meet ‘onerous’ requirements for admission … discouraging students from immigrant background … [and making] enrollment conditional on parents volunteering or donating funds to the school.”
Read more …

Texas Education Agency To Investigate Charter School System

Houston Business Journal

“Texas has decided to investigate a Houston-based charter school program … Harmony Public Schools after complaints alleged misuse of federal and state funds and connections with Turkish vendors … Also investigating whether Harmony allegedly guaranteed a $1.9 million bond debt of a Turkish charter school network in Arkansas … The investigation comes after international law group … filed a complaint in May alleging a connection between Harmony and the Gülen Organization, headed by Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric from Turkey residing in Pennsylvania … The government of Turkey believes Gülen had a large role in a recent failed coup attempt in Turkey.”
Read more …

Pro-Charter Group Hires Ad Firm Whose Swift Boat Campaign Helped Sink Kerry

Boston Magazine

“Public Charter Schools for MA, a proponent of the referendum on lifting the state’s cap on charter schools, has purchased $6.5 million in advertising … produced by DC-based SRCP Media … You may remember SRCP Media’s infamous ‘Swift Boat Veterans For Truth’ smear campaign, which helped scuttle John Kerry’s presidential aspirations in 2004 by peddling discredited claims regarding his military career during the Vietnam War … The campaign was so effective, ‘swift boat’ has become synonymous with sliming of the highest degree.”
Read more …

The Teacher Pay Gap In US – Wider Than Ever

Job Market Monitor

“The teacher pay penalty is bigger than ever. In 2015, public school teachers’ weekly wages were 17.0% lower than those of comparable workers – compared with just 1.8% lower in 1994. This erosion of relative teacher wages has fallen more heavily on experienced teachers than on entry-level teachers … Collective bargaining can help to abate this teacher wage penalty … Even so, teachers’ compensation (wages plus benefits) was 11.1% lower than that of comparable workers in 2015 … This is particularly difficult at a time when the supply of teachers is constrained by high turnover rates, annual retirements of longtime teachers, and a decline in students opting for a teaching career.”
Read more …

Early Childhood Education Gets Push From $1 Billion Federal Investment

The Washington Post

“More than $1 billion in federal aid to make quality education accessible to high-needs preschool children … has rapidly improved the quality of learning for the students while simultaneously enrolling a significant number of new students in top-tier programs. It also has allowed health screenings for thousands of preschoolers to help identify and treat medical and developmental issues earlier, including ones that might have affected their ability to learn … Nearly 267,000 children with high needs are now enrolled in the highest-quality state preschool programs … a 263% increase … Numerous studies have shown that children who receive a high-quality early education are more likely to succeed economically and socially. It is particularly a boon to high-needs students.
Read more …

 8/11/2016 – Populism Is Rewriting The Charter School Narrative: