Archive for October, 2009

Teacher fight in Clayton sounds like Jerry Springer script

A messy love triangle is one thing, but a brawl in a school with expletives flying in front of students crosses a line. I don’t think the two teachers involved in Monday’s melee belong in classrooms with kids. I would not want my children in their classes. I doubt any other parents would, either.

Unfortunately, the fight between two women over a male teacher who they were both seeing occurred in Clayton County, which doesn’t need any more negative press. (The county’s tarnished reputation is not being helped by school board member  Trinia Garrett who is about to go on trial for assaulting her live-in boyfriend.)

I understand that one teacher appears to be the greater aggressor here, but the alleged conduct of both in full view of  students is appalling. If the police report is accurate, the incident reflects a stunning lack of professionalism . In fact, the drama sounds like a Jerry Springer script.

According to the AJC story,

The fight broke out Monday morning after the …

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Cheating: Is it everywhere?

So far this week, I heard Arne Duncan speak, paid a brief visit to a middle school defying the odds, sat down with a former Kenyan education minister and read several new studies on teacher quality.

But it was a 30 minute conversation with a teacher that sticks with me the most.

She told me that she’s concerned with cheating on the CRCT because she has seen firsthand a student who failed the reading test and then managed to score at the exceeds level in the summer retake.

Yet, when the child arrived in her classroom in the fall, he was unable to read.  Her principal said the child may have just made “lucky” guesses on the retake.  The teacher said colleagues in other counties have experienced the same thing. She said it does not serve the child to misrepresent his reading abilities and makes it harder for a teacher to know what the child needs.

I want to bring up another cheating issue that I have seen. It’s become common for schools to post student work on bulletin boards. …

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DOE responds to NAEP/CRCT score gap

Here is what DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza wrote in response to my concern over the gap in proficiency between the Georgia CRCT and the federal NAEP:

The first thing to point out is that this study is based on 2007 information, not our most recent assessments.  The math assessments of this study were based on QCC, not GPS. We should not forget that this study doesn’t say anything to dispute our progress on the NAEP itself
(2007 & 2009).

This past year, Georgia was one of only 15 states to show “significant”
progress in 8th grade math.  So, regardless of the comparison of our state assessment and the mapping they do, we are making tremendous progress when compared to other students across the country.

Also, there are a few other things about this study to note:

-  It does not account for differences in what each state assessment measures and what NAEP measures, nor does the study account for differences in the definitions of proficiency.
- Georgia students performed as well on …

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Georgia is an easy grader, according to national review

In a new report out today contrasting proficiency scores from state exams to the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, Georgia comes across as a very easy grader.

“States are setting the bar too low,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in response to the study. “We’re lying to our children when we tell them they’re proficient, but they’re not achieving at a level that will prepare them for success once they graduate.”

There are critics who contend that even high-scoring kids in Norway would not reach proficient on NAEP’s high standard, but shouldn’t Georgia kids who do well on the CRCT   at least score on the basic level on NAEP?

The data-rich study compares proficiency standards of states using NAEP –  often called the Nation’s Report Card — as the common yardstick.

I am troubled that Georgia students deemed proficient in reading and math on the CRCT are not even scoring at the basic cutoff on NAEP.

Should I be?

The state will argue that the two tests don’t …

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Three Georgia districts among top 50 in charter students

A new national report lists three Georgia systems, Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb, among the top 50 school districts by number of charter school students, 2008-09. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools produced the report.

With nine percent of its students in charter schools, Fulton ranked 26th. Of Fulton’s 88,299 students, 7,782 attend charter schools.

Cobb ranks 40th on the list, with 5,659 students out of its 106,747 students attending charter schools.

DeKalb ranked 43rd on the list, with 5,365 students out of its 99,775 attending charter schools.

The fourth report by the alliance reflects the continued growth of public charter schools.  Charter schools are supported by tax dollars like any other public school, but run according to a charter that the school itself designs, spelling out its philosophy and goals. A public school board or state commission must approve the charter school, but then gets out of the way, except to hold the school to the terms and time …

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If Jaycee Dugard managed to teach her children in hell, why can’t schools do as well with their students?

Morning folks,

A retired sports writer sent me this e-mail. I thought it raised a fascinating question  that many of you will want to address.

Here is his note to me:

Like many others, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out why elementary school kids are doing so badly on state tests.
And this REALLY got me wondering if it’s the teachers, not the students:

People magazine said that Jaycee's daughters showed surprising academic strength in testing considering their kidnapped mother was their own teacher

People magazine said that Jaycee's daughters showed surprising academic strength in testing considering their kidnapped mother was their sole teacher

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped at 11 years of age and held captive in a backyard “garage/prison” for 18 years. During that time, she had two children, fathered by her kidnapper/rapist.

Both her daughters, Angel and Starlit, appear to have been educated solely by their mother — who herself never made it past the fifth grade.

Yet recent tests show Angel, 15, functioning close to the level of a high school senior — that is, a higher level than Jaycee was at when she was …

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Second Mississippi district hit with suit over paddling

Regular poster Terry sent this AP story to me Wednesday with the comment, “You would think they would have learned from the first lawsuit, now a second one. This is crazy and needs to stop.”

I agree.

If you read the story, I think you will also agree.  (She also sent me this related story from my old paper, the Fort Myers News-Press, and this one from

Mississippi School District Sued Again Over Alleged Paddling of Student

A school district in Mississippi’s Leflore County has been hit with a lawsuit from a student alleging injuries from a paddling.

An 11-year-old is seeking $500,000 from the Greenwood Public School District in a suit filed in Leflore County Circuit Court.

The child’s attorney said photographs show deep bruising on the then-10-year-old’s buttocks and that he also suffered possible kidney damage.

Phone calls by The Greenwood Commonwealth for comment to Superintendent Margie Pulley and the schools’ attorney, Richard Oakes, were not returned.

Last …

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Still freshmen: Study looks at ninth grade repeaters

A new report from Johns Hopkins found that more than 90,000 students from six states repeated ninth grade in 2004-05, with nearly three in 10 students repeating ninth-grade in one of them.

I thought it was interesting so I am putting the info up here for your perusal. I have not seen much research on kids held back in their freshman year.

I wonder if the high school and middle school graduation coaches are impacting this rate in Georgia?

According to the release on the report:

Still a Freshman: Examining the Prevalence and Characteristics of Ninth-Grade Retention Across Six States,” introduces a new measure, the first-time ninth-grade estimate, to study ninth-grade retention rates that can help teachers and administrators identify and help students while there is time to keep them on the graduation path.

The report also looks at students who are repeating ninth grade by school size, location, percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, …

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Is high turnover of principals a good sign or a bad one?

Interesting dueling quotes in an Education Week story this week on the high turnover among principals and whether it’s cause for concern.

University of Texas researcher Ed J. Fuller, who just released data on the retention rates of newly hired principals in Texas, said:

“We think the job has outgrown the ability of one person to handle it. Nobody is staying long enough to make connections or shepherd a reform through.”

Susan M. Gates, a senior RAND Corp. economist who has studied principals’ career patterns, said:

“If you put someone in the principalship and it just doesn’t work out, do you want to keep them there just because it’s good to have low turnover or do you want to get somebody in there who’s good at the job?”

I have interviewed researchers who aren’t at all bothered by the turnover in education, whether teachers or administrators. Their position is that the work is hard and that some people aren’t cut out for it. If they leave, so be it.

I visited …

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No respect or money for teachers in real life or on big screen

In the new movie "Fame," teachers don't get fame, fortune or respect.

In the new movie "Fame," teachers don't get fame, fortune or respect.

College writing instructor Alicia Howe wrote this great piece. Enjoy:

I recently went and saw the movie “Fame.”

You know, the “I’m-going-to-live-forever” film that follows aspiring entertainers as they make their way through four excruciating years of New York’s most prestigious performing arts school.

After watching almost two hours of dancers euphorically spinning and singers belting out lyrics to the hot beats producers created, I wanted to change my career.

In what I’m sure was a child-like tone, I told my movie gal-pals that I wanted to be a pianist, a songwriter, a ballet dancer, a director . . . and the list goes on.

But there was one profession I really didn’t want to be after the credits rolled: an educator.

If one thing is made clear by the end of the movie, it is that teaching does not equal fame. In fact, it doesn’t amount to anything worth being proud of.

After taking her students …

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