Archive for February, 2010

Wonder if CRCT will come up when US Ed Secretary meets with APS superintendent Friday

In an interview with the AJC, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who will be in Atlanta Friday to speak to an education conference, praised the state’s CRCT investigation, saying, “I wish more states would look at this kind of thing.”

Duncan will speak Friday to the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education at the downtown Hilton.

But the second part of his day gets interesting. Duncan is joining Atlanta Superintendent Beverly L. Hall for a classroom visit and discussion at an APS school,  the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy. I wonder if the CRCT probe — a probe that largely focuses on Atlanta schools –  comes up in the roundtable discussion.

Of great relief to the state DOE, Duncan said the score scandal isn’t likely to affect the state’s chance at a Race to the Top grant. Georgia is considered a strong contender for a grant because it has already initiated many of the reforms that the White House and …

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New Avondale charter school to hold lottery for coveted slots Friday

Those of you who expressed doubt how slots would be awarded at the newly approved Museum School of Avondale Estates can see the process for yourselves Friday when the oversubscribed charter school holds a lottery.

According to a press release:

The Museum School of Avondale Estates will hold a lottery on Friday to determine enrollment for the 2010-2011 school year. Applicants enrolled will become the first class of students for the new state-chartered public school.

The lottery will be held at noon at Avondale Estates City Hall, located at 21 North Avondale Plaza. Andrew Lewis, chief programming officer with the Georgia Charter Schools Association, will certify the results.

Because the number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces available, a lottery is necessary to ensure a fair process with equal access for all prospective students. The school is open to students who live in the Avondale and Midway elementary school attendance zones.

Students whose names are not drawn in …

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Early college: Georgia has it but does anybody know?

I spoke too soon on the blog this week about the lack of action around the landmark “Tough Times, Tough Choices” report. Early college is coming. In fact, it’s already in Georgia, although few people seem aware of it. (We have an early college program that combines high school and college, but I am talking about the programs in which teens stop attending high school – they are no longer on the rolls for funding or accountability purposes –  and enroll in a community college or technical school.)

Eight states have agreed to test a program in which 10th graders can test into community college, thus skipping their last two years of high school, both a savings to the systems and an outlet for unhappy students. As the “Tough Times” report recommended, kids aiming for top college slots would stay in high school and follow the conventional path to a Georgia Tech or UGA.

Georgia has its own version of early college in the Move on When Ready Act, sponsored by state Rep. Jan Jones last …

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PSAT math scores are down a bit, but is it evidence that curriculum is failure?

I am not sure that the 2009 PSAT scores are an indictment of the new math program. Yes, scores are down, but so are scores nationwide among the 10th graders who took the test in the fall.

Many Georgia parents are very interested in these specific results because the current sophomores have been subject to the controversial new Georgia math curriculum since they were sixth graders.

DOE is still waiting for a breakdown of the scores by public/ private schools, but it is likely most test takers were public school students since the state pays for all public school 10th graders to take the test in October. Georgia is one of six states offering the test to 10th graders. Most students around the country take the PSAT in the fall of their junior year in high school.

There are 122,022 sophomores in Georgia’s public schools. There were 101,783 Georgia tenth grader who took the PSAT. (Please see the note below from DOE  explaining why not all public school 10th graders took the …

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A primer on Erase to the Top by our expert

In reponse to comments on the blog from Tony and SCIFI about the small number of erasures that could land a school on the state’s “trouble” list, I asked John Perry, the AJC’s database expert, to reply. (I sent him the two comments at the end of this entry as a guide on what to address.)

Here is what he sent me:

The criteria for flagging a class as unusual was created by comparing the average number of wrong-to-right erasures for a classroom on a particular test with the actual numbers of erasures statewide for the same grade and test. The statistical analysis was designed by test publisher CBT/McGraw Hill to identify classrooms with too many erasures to be explained as random occurrence.

It was base on the central limit theorem in probability, which says that if you take a bunch of samples, and if those samples are random, then the averages for those samples should be distributed in a very particular way around the actual overall average. This is called a normal …

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AG: Perdue can’t tap lottery for other scholarships

State Attorney General Thurbert Baker says other scholarships cannot be paid for with lottery funds earmarked for the HOPE Scholarship and pre-k, and that the governor’s proposal to do so was “likely” unconstitutional.

Republican House and Senate leaders asked Baker to offer guidance on the legality of Perdue’s proposal to shift taxpayer-funded scholarships to the lottery

The governor wanted to use lottery dollars to fund the HERO Scholarship ($800,000), the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program ($966,757), the North Georgia Military Scholarships Grants ($1,502,800), the North Georgia ROTC Grants ($652,479),  for 2010 only, the Tuition Equalization Grants ($29,765,194).

As the AJC reported:

The games are already struggling to keep up with the cost of the HOPE scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs.

Baker said, “The state constitutional provision and state law protecting the lottery’s funding for HOPE scholarships and other permitted uses are meant to …

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Georgia fares quite well in AP exams and scores

I think it is time for some good news: Georgia has the 12th highest percent of seniors scoring a 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams, according to the College Board’s AP Report. This report measures progress of the class of 2009.

I am running the entire list of high performing schools as I think they deserve credit. Congrats to all.

From DOE:

“I am proud that more Georgia students than ever are challenging themselves with demanding course work and are successfully mastering the material,” said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. “We recognize that one of the best ways to close the achievement gap is to challenge all students with rigorous work and high expectations.”

Advanced Placement classes and exams are administered by the College Board, which also administers the SAT. AP classes offer rigorous college-level learning options to students in high school. Students who receive a 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams may receive college credit.

The AP Report to the …

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President Obama: Turn off the TV on school nights

I have no doubt that TV is an impediment to school success – and that President Obama is absolutely right in insisting that his girls do not watch TV on school nights. I have found that my children’s grades falter when their TV viewing goes up – although we have been watching the Olympics this week. (I am getting tired of figure skating.)

The Obamas enforce a no TV rule for their girls on weeknights, which is harder in this age of constant media.

The Obamas enforce a no TV rule for their girls on weeknights, which is harder in this age of constant media.

A survey commissioned a few years ago by the National Sleep Foundation found that 43 percent of school-age children, 30 percent of preschoolers and 18 percent of toddlers now have televisions in their bedrooms.

As we discussed a few weeks ago, the average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half …

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Atlanta’s hired expert: “Theme of high expectations and hard work”

In response to questions about test score swings first raised by the AJC CRCT investigation in 2008 — and then confirmed by a state review last year — APS announced in November that it would commission an independent review by two outside consultants.

(This review predates the state’s major test erasure audit released last week that raises questions about even more APS schools and that will lead to yet another review by outside experts. The latest data from the state portend a much larger investigation as many more schools are involved and now the evidence of higher-than-average test scores is coupled with higher-than-average test sheet erasures. )

Here is a link to a Google document with the findings of expert Douglas Reeves, a noted researcher in effective educational practices.

While Reeves said that APS had educational policies in place that should lead to student improvement, he never addressed the wide score discrepancies and was unaware of the impending erasure …

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GOP leaders, teachers: Do not treat CRCT cheating as crime

My colleague Jim Galloway is reporting in his Political Insider blog that there is more resistance from Republican leaders to the governor’s proposal to criminally go after cheating teachers and administrators.

The growing sentiment seems to be that enough sanctions are in place for cheating, from suspensions to firings to loss of licenses.

In addition, teachers have come out in opposition, according a new AJC story.

Teacher groups also said the addition of criminal penalties amounts to overkill. Educators caught cheating face sanction by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, a state agency that polices teaching credentials. Sanctions can range from a reprimand to loss of license.

“While we do not condone cheating in any manner, current sanctions, in our view, are sufficient,” said Tim Callahan, spokesman for the 78,000-member Professional Association of Georgia Educators. “Educators found guilty of cheating on [state tests] stand to lose their jobs and …

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