Latest News and Comment from Education

Monday, April 27, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: Rethinking Accountability For Education, Post-Pandemic.

CURMUDGUCATION: Rethinking Accountability For Education, Post-Pandemic.

Rethinking Accountability For Education, Post-Pandemic.

It made sense for states to cancel the big end-of-year standardized reading and math test even before it became obvious that many students will never be back to school this spring to take the tests. In this extraordinary year, the tests were never going to supply valid data that could be compared to other years.

Now that this year looks to be a “short” year for students, the same argument should be made for next year’s test as well. If (please, God) students go back to school next fall, most will be starting out with less preparation than any class in recent memory. Not only will they have been shorted academic content, but primary students who haven’t been in a classroom in over half a year will not easily slip back into a school routine in just a day or two. In other words, next year will also be a short year. The Big Standardized Tests would once again be a waste of time, time that could be better spent on instruction.
But for the past 20 years, the Big Standardized Test has been the center of accountability for school districts, individual schools, and classroom teachers. With the test on hold, this is the perfect time to revisit accountability tools for education.

Some folks have tried to suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic underlines the importance of testing and therefor underlines the importance of our old high stakes testing system. In fact, it does the opposite. COVID-19 testing is a simple binary; do you have the virus or not? But it is absurd to suggest that a single standardized math and CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Rethinking Accountability For Education, Post-Pandemic.

JOHN KING AND RANDI WEINGARTEN: What comes next for public schooling | TheHill

What comes next for public schooling | TheHill

What comes next for public schooling
BY JOHN KING AND RANDI WEINGARTEN, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS

What Comes Next? Ep.1 | New Series! - YouTube




The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered elementary and secondary schools across the country, with many closed for the remainder of this academic year.  
Students are learning at home from educators who worked heroically to transition to remote learning, sometimes with barely a day’s notice, and who are finding meaningful ways to engage kids of all ages and abilities. We’ve seen firsthand that the health crisis caused by COVID-19 is exacerbating existing inequities in student access and learning — persistent issues in American education, and ones we must trust and support teachers to help solve. 
It remains to be seen what our new normal will look like for school come fall, and our first priority is always keeping our students, families, educators and school personnel safe and healthy. But while we await adequate testing and, ultimately, a vaccine, we must start building a bridge to that future now: We must help students catch up from lost learning time, which particularly affects our most vulnerable students. We must plan for the future of education in a way that makes good on our promise to provide every child in America with the tools needed to succeed, regardless of geography or demography, but that does so within the reality of a very different world.
We have always known that remote learning is not a substitute for in-school education; the challenges posed by the distance model were only exacerbated by the lack of preparation, as the decision to close schools and make the switch happened seemingly overnight. Now, mitigating the educational inequities that so often present themselves with this format will require two key efforts: 
First, we must invest in voluntary, multi-week summer school this year (online or in-person, based on the best public health guidance) as well as next year, in addition to other forms of extended learning time to help students make up for lost learning. Not every kid was able to log on to their Zoom classroom or FaceTime with his or her teacher over the last few weeks, so together with educators, parents and administrators, we must devise programs for summer and expanded learning to keep students from falling behind.
Second, we must make sure programs are adaptable — by engaging the best resource we have, our educators. By giving them the freedom to leverage their creativity, we might reimagine some of our standard CONTINUE READING: What comes next for public schooling | TheHill

Teachers, parents, principals tell homeschooling stories - The Washington Post

Teachers, parents, principals tell homeschooling stories - The Washington Post

Teachers, parents and principals tell their stories about remote learning
The emotional toll




The Network for Public Education, a nonprofit group that advocates for public schools, recently conducted a survey of parents and teachers to see how they were experiencing the sudden shift to remote learning because of the covid-19 crisis — and the results paint an interesting portrait of the homeschooling experiment now underway from coast to coast.
In this post, by Carol Burris, teachers and parents and principals tell their stories about how they are coping, and what they most worry about in this troubling period of schooling.

Burris is a former New York high school principal who serves as executive director of the Network for Public Education. She was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the National Association of Secondary School Principals named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. Burris has been writing for this blog for years about modern school restructuring and school choice.
By Carol Burris
When I asked Bronx high school Principal Jeff Palladino to describe his day recently, he replied: “That is hard to do. I don’t know when it begins and when it ends.”
He starts his day, he said, by checking into Google Classroom to see if students turned in their work. “Many of our students live in crowded apartments with family members that are ill, so the only time it’s quiet enough for them to do their work is at night,” he said.
Jeff Palladino is the principal of Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, located in the most impoverished congressional district in the United States. Sixty percent of Fannie Lou Hamer students are Latino, and 39 percent are black. Their parents are either workers declared essential or suffering from the worry of being laid off.
The Bronx community that the high school serves has been devastated by covid-19. “Since this began, our students are losing family members," he said. "We lose two or three each week. We have lost an alumna. One of our students passed away, although we are not certain if the cause was covid-19. It is so hard because you cannot physically be there for them.” CONTINUE READING: Teachers, parents, principals tell homeschooling stories - The Washington Post
A statue of Paul Revere located along Boston’s Freedom Trail. The steeple of Old North Church is visible in the back.

2020 NEA Representative Assembly to Go Virtual - NEA Today

2020 NEA Representative Assembly to Go Virtual - NEA Today

2020 NEA Representative Assembly to Go Virtual


In July, NEA members from across the nation will once again assemble at the annual NEA Representative Assembly (RA) to plan out and prioritize the association’s activities over the next year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RA this year will be virtual for both active and retired delegates with a limited agenda.
Throughout this crisis, public health experts and doctors have agreed that the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is for people to continue social distancing, along with massive testing, tracing, and social isolation among those who test positive for the virus. Given this reality, it is clear that groups as large as the RA—the world’s largest democratic deliberative body, with nearly 10,000 delegates annually— would not be safe to convene in July.
Moving to a virtual RA, said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garc√≠a, is the safest option. “We cannot take the risk of educators becoming infected and spreading the virus to students,their families and colleagues, or their communities.”
As many educators and students who moved to distance learning in the spring will tell you, technology has limitations; virtual meetings are not the same as in-person interactions. NEA leaders acknowledge that nothing can replicate the rigorous debate and excitement the RA is known for. They are also working to address the potential of uneven access to technology and reliable Wi-Fi and phone service so that it doesn’t hamper delegates’ ability to participate in the limited agenda. .
Despite the challenges, said Eskelsen Garc√≠a, “NEA will continue engaging our members and advocating in support of … stronger public schools for all of America’s students and communities. … We look forward to the 2021 RA, where we can hopefully once again come together to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business.” 

Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: An Archaeological Dig for VAM

Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: An Archaeological Dig for VAM

An Archaeological Dig for VAM

The following is an edited log of an asynchronous online discussion of the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS) for assessing teachers. This discussion took place in late 1994 and early 1995 on an internet LISTSERV known as EDPOLYAN, which was housed at the Arizona State University College of Education.

The TVAAS was one of the first techniques proposed for measuring the value that teachers added to students' learning, namely, VAM systems. "Value," in this context was taken to mean pre-test to post-test gains in class averages on standardized tests. TVAAS was developed by an agricultural statistician at the University of Tennessee, William L. Sanders, and first published in a little known journal in 1994, just months before this discussion took place. Sanders occasionally participated in the discussion that follows, but it will soon become apparent that he was not happy with the direction the discussion took. He died in 2010.

The log of the discussion was edited in an attempt to add clarity and reduce redundancy. Each participant in the discussion was given the opportunity to review the edited log and make corrections.

The reader may want to know that TVAAS and VAM more generally became the object of a great deal of attention from the political world and from academics studying statistics and teacher evaluation. VAM made appearances in the accountability plans of several states during the Obama administration -- largely because it had won the approval of Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan. Post-Obama, VAM made a few appearances in court, where decisions largely enjoined its use. Suffice it to say, by 2020 VAM is little used and has few friends.

Anyone with a continuing interest in VAM will learn much from Audrey Amrein-Beardsley's blog Vamboozled.

===============================================
Date: Fri, 9 Sep 1994 12:57:52 EDT
From: Scriven@AOL.COM


"Do you really want to see teaching become an even higher-turnover CONTINUE READING: Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: An Archaeological Dig for VAM

Do as I Say, Not as I Do: Lessons My Father Didn’t Know He Taught Me – radical eyes for equity

Do as I Say, Not as I Do: Lessons My Father Didn’t Know He Taught Me – radical eyes for equity

Do as I Say, Not as I Do: Lessons My Father Didn’t Know He Taught Me


My childhood home, the place of my single-digit life, sat just outside Enoree, South Carolina, a very small crossroads of a town near where I typically call my hometown, Woodruff.
This house my parents rented throughout the early to mid-1960s had a large barn beside it, apparently intended as a garage, and a redneck beer joint across the street, Lefty’s.


Paul and Eydie DEC 63 Enoree
My sister, Eydie, and me in the yard of the Enoree house.

This is the house where our family dog was killed, hit by a car in that street and buried by my father before he walked over to Lefty’s for a beer or two.
While our memories are not as credible as we would like, I have some of the most vivid recollections of my life from those years and that house. Part of that vividness is likely from my father’s habit of telling and retelling stories of his life and ours, but a significant contribution to my being able to see those years quite vividly in my mind is that my parents took 8 mm movies throughout that time as a young family.
There was the snowstorm video with the giant, frozen snowball that we watched over and over.
But I also recall playing outside in the leaves with my parents, and our own family version of ollie ollie oxen free that positioned one child and one parent together on each side of the house as we threw balls over for the other pair to catch. The greatest chaos, however, were the tea and water fights that often began at the table during lunch or dinner and then carried over into the yard before circling back into the house.
My father was apt, even after they built their own house and moved to the CONTINUE READING: Do as I Say, Not as I Do: Lessons My Father Didn’t Know He Taught Me – radical eyes for equity

How schools are planning to reopen in fall - The Washington Post

How schools are planning to reopen in fall - The Washington Post

Under pressure to reopen this fall, school leaders plot unprecedented changes



From the White House podium to harried homes, pressure is building to reopen the nation’s schools. But the next iteration of American education will look far different from the classrooms students and teachers abruptly departed last month.
Many overwhelmed school systems remain focused on running remote education that was set up on the fly. Others, though, are deep into planning for what they see coming: an in-between scenario in which schools are open but children are spread out in places where they are normally packed together.

The new landscape could include one-way hallways, kids and teachers in masks, and lunch inside classrooms instead of cafeterias. Buses may run half empty, and students may have their temperatures read before entering the building. And in districts all over the country, officials are considering bringing half the students to school on certain days, with the rest learning from home. Then they would swap.
Many educators, too, are eager to get students back, having concluded that remote education is far less effective and may leave lasting academic damage. They also fear for the safety and well-being of students who rely on schools for food, health care, social services and emotional stability.
The people who most want to return to school may be the students themselves.
“I want to go back so bad,” said Zoe Davis, a 16-year-old sophomore at Chalmette High School in Chalmette, La. Unlike some others, she has a computer and Internet access, and has been keeping up with her classes at home. But she said learning over Zoom is far from ideal, and she misses bonding with classmates over school activities, like the dance team.
“I’m like, ‘Wow, school is a major part of my life and why I am who I am,’ ” she said. CONTINUE READING: How schools are planning to reopen in fall - The Washington Post

AP Exams Are Still On Amid Coronavirus, Raising Questions About Fairness | 89.3 KPCC

AP Exams Are Still On Amid Coronavirus, Raising Questions About Fairness | 89.3 KPCC

AP Exams Are Still On Amid Coronavirus, Raising Questions About Fairness




A lot is at stake for students taking Advanced Placement exams, even in normal times. If you score high enough, you can earn college credit. It's also a big factor in college applications. But for some students, the idea of studying right now feels impossible.
"I'm constantly thinking about making sure my family doesn't get sick and I don't get sick," says Elise, a high school junior outside Boston. (We're not using her full name because she's worried about hurting her college applications.)
Concerns about the coronavirus have put most standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, on hold this spring. But AP exams are going forward with a new online format — and that's raising questions about fairness.
Elise, 17, says she spent months preparing for what is typically a three-hour, multiple-choice and essay-based exam; she was blindsided when she learned it will now be an online, 45-minute, open-response test.
"I have no idea what I'm going to get when I open that test," she says.
Elise was hoping the College Board, which administers AP exams, would cancel this year's exams, as it did the spring SATs. But since the tests are being offered, she CONTINUE READING: AP Exams Are Still On Amid Coronavirus, Raising Questions About Fairness | 89.3 KPCC

Russ on Reading: Why Johnny Can't Read? It's Complicated, Ms. Hanford.

Russ on Reading: Why Johnny Can't Read? It's Complicated, Ms. Hanford.

Why Johnny Can't Read? It's Complicated, Ms. Hanford.


H.L. Mencken, American journalist and social satirist once said, "For every complex problem there is a solution that is clear, simple, and wrong." In reading instruction for the last 65 years or so, the simple wrong answer has been systematic phonics instruction.  Rudolph Flesch published Why Johnny Can't Read in 1955. He argued for a phonics-based reading approach as the cure to the then popular look-say method (Think Dick and Jane books). Since Flesch's book, all the "back to basics" movements which pop up about every 15 years or so in education have advocated for phonics based instruction. The latest iteration of this has been from Emily Hanford a journalist at American Public Media, who dresses up Flesch's phonics-based instruction as "the science of reading."

Simple solutions have great appeal. People can understand them. They are easily communicated. They don't cost a lot of money. They give us easy scapegoats, in this case teachers and colleges of education, so we don't need to look closely at ourselves and our society. But as Mencken pointed out, they are most often wrong.

It is interesting, I think, that despite all the hand wringing about methods of teaching reading, about 80% or so of students learn to read very well no CONTINUE READING: 
Russ on Reading: Why Johnny Can't Read? It's Complicated, Ms. Hanford.

HBO’s “Bad Education” Aims at Public School Theft While Ignoring More Frequent Fraud at Charter Schools & Testing Companies | gadflyonthewallblog

HBO’s “Bad Education” Aims at Public School Theft While Ignoring More Frequent Fraud at Charter Schools & Testing Companies | gadflyonthewallblog

HBO’s “Bad Education” Aims at Public School Theft While Ignoring More Frequent Fraud at Charter Schools & Testing Companies


“Bad Education” is a frustrating movie to watch as a public school teacher.
It does a fine job telling the true story of a wealthy New York district where administrators stole millions of dollars for themselves.
Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but there is no subject more political than public schools.
During the current Coronavirus pandemic, teachers and schools are finally getting some respect from people who are trying to “home school” their own kids while the nation’s classrooms are shuttered.
But education budgets are still routinely slashed, and every policymaker from Betsy DeVos to Barack Obama still thinks there is nothing better than closing public schools and replacing them with charter and/or voucher schools.

The Coming Recession Threatens Severe Cuts to Public Schools | janresseger

The Coming Recession Threatens Severe Cuts to Public Schools | janresseger

The Coming Recession Threatens Severe Cuts to Public Schools


An economic recession is inevitable and public schools are likely to suffer. Across many states, the public schools have finally recovered from deep cuts to state funding during the 2008 recession; other states have not yet caught up. Now we are headed into another recession.
The Learning Policy Institute’s Michael Griffith describes the recession we can expect in the coming year and explains why school funding is so vulnerable:  “In the past 5 weeks alone, since sates began to issue shelter-in-place orders, virtually all 50 states have significantly reduced economic activity… and almost 22 million Americans—more than one in ten working adults—have applied for unemployment insurance. The International Monetary Fund has predicted that this will be the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. This downturn will impact state tax revenue and thus result in reduced state PreK-12 education spending.”
How much do public schools depend on state revenue? Griffith reports: “According to the U.S. Census, 47.1% of public PreK-12 education finding comes from state sources. Another 44.9% comes from localities, and typically just 8% comes from the federal government. While localities rely on more stable property taxes, the vast majority of state revenue (just under 90%) comes from two sources—sales and income taxes. Retail sales started to take a hit in February, while state unemployment numbers—which will ultimately affect overall wages and taxes—did not begin to climb until the end of March…. I have spoken to revenue and budget experts from around the country, and none of them currently feels confident in projecting how far state revenues will fall this year and next. Some preliminary estimates from states are showing state revenue drops of between 10% and 20%. These drops are likely to be even larger in 2021-22, when the income tax effects will be felt more fully.”
While the CARES Act provided some relief to states, assistance for state and local governments falls far short. It appears that President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell may be playing politics when it comes to future relief bills by holding back state assistance to put pressure on Democratic governors. How dangerous are these political games CONTINUE READING: The Coming Recession Threatens Severe Cuts to Public Schools | janresseger

Updated Resources (annotated) | JD2718

Updated Resources (annotated) | JD2718

Updated Resources (annotated)


I like tracking the data the experts are citing.
I feel an obligation to track data that politicians are citing or mis-citing (how do we know which unless we watch? The alternative is to trust them…)
Confirmed cases and fatalities, keyed to a zoomable world map. In the US, data is county level (except NYC).
Tables, graphs, and charts for the world, and for individual countries. Current and total cases, fatalities, recoveries. Distinguishes between serious cases and others. Click on the US, and get state by state data. Some charts have y-axis that can be toggled between linear and log scales.
County level data. Trends. Tests/Positives. Fatality breakdowns (county, age, race, sex). Why don’t the comorbidities include asthma and other respiratory ailments? smoking? NY State DOH, you can do better.
Colorful, if slightly busy, charts. Rate of spread by country. Fatality rates by country. Others. The upper two are updated daily. Careful with the lower ones. Thank you Emily!
One sharp chart, case trends by country. Click on the continents on the right to see more clearly. Updated daily.
For serious data folks – an attempt to capture the reproduction rate – state by state. Seems to update every day or every other day. The data is “bouncy” – I think this reflects state level sources and testing inconsistencies. They link to their math, if you like that stuff, and their science, which is challenging. It looks like The Atlantic gave original impetus to this project, but not clear who is running it now (I see names, not an organization)
UFT and DoE documents and agreements, plus resources. This matters to me, and my colleagues.
Updated Resources (annotated) | JD2718

Some Friends Of TFA Join In On The Teacher Bashing During a Pandemic | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Some Friends Of TFA Join In On The Teacher Bashing During a Pandemic | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Some Friends Of TFA Join In On The Teacher Bashing During a Pandemic


A big topic among teacher bashing reformers, nowadays, is now easy teachers have it as they attempt to work remotely.  In my last post I wrote about how some prominent reformers found no shame in kicking teachers while they were down.
Most reformer are either TFA alumni or are big supporters of TFA.  In this post I want to look at how some of the lesser known ed reformers have joined in on the teacher bashing.
Dan Weisberg is the current head of the Michelle Rhee founded TNTP (formerly known as ‘The New Teachers Project’).  Though this editorial has a small product placement for his own teacher recruitment services, the piece itself does not bash teachers.  But anyone who CONTINUE READING: Some Friends Of TFA Join In On The Teacher Bashing During a Pandemic | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

NANCY BAILEY: 8 Ways to Save Public School Funding During and After Covid-19

8 Ways to Save Public School Funding During and After Covid-19

8 Ways to Save Public School Funding During and After Covid-19


Everyone’s worried about the budgetary fallout that will affect public schools after the corona virus pandemic is over. The situation appears grim. Meanwhile, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her friends are still seeking to privatize public education. The CARES Act has given her free rein.
Governor Andrew Cuomo warns that without federal assistance, school funding across New York could be cut in half.  In Virginia, a much-needed teacher and state-worker raise is likely gone, and a free student community college program could lose $71 million. Most school districts are like Alameda, California, which seem secure for now, but have questions about the future. In some states school staff are already being furloughed.
DeVos approved $13.2 billion to states with few strings attached. She says,
Now is the time to truly rethink education and to get creative about how we meet each student’s unique needs.    
The rest of us can and should rethink education too. Here are suggestions as to how to cut expenses, tax dollars, and focus on what’s best for students. They are not in any specific order. I welcome additional thoughts and ideas. They are our schools too, Betsy.  

1. End Charter Schools

Why do we have two separate school systems that work against each other? This is the time to rethink charter schools. In “Federal Charter Schools Program a Fountain of Corruption and Disruption,” Thomas Ultican provides compelling CONTINUE READING: 8 Ways to Save Public School Funding During and After Covid-19