Archive for August, 2010

More federal dollars we are happy to accept: $322 million for education jobs

Just received this update from US DOE about the $322 million in education funding that could help save 5,700 education jobs in Georgia. We apparently wasted no time in getting our application into Washington to get the money flowing:

GEORGIA TO RECEIVE $322.3 MILLION TO SUPPORT EDUCATION JOBS

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that Georgia will receive $322.3 million to support education jobs.

“There is a huge sense of urgency to get these funds out the door.  I commend Georgia for being one of the first states to submit their application and thank our team at the Department for making funds available within a matter of days,” said Duncan. “These education dollars will help Georgia keep thousands of teachers in the classroom working with our students this school year.”

The $10 billion education fund will support education jobs in the 2010-11 school year and be distributed to states by a formula based on population figures. States can distribute their …

Continue reading More federal dollars we are happy to accept: $322 million for education jobs »

Testing reviewer in CRCT APS probe: We did state-of-the-art testing analyses

I interviewed the testing expert John Fremer on the phone for an hour a few weeks ago and have shared some of his comments with you here, largely his remarks that the erasure analysis done by the state the snared many APS schools was a first step but that more thorough evaluation and measures ought to be performed before people are indicted for cheating.

His own review led to the same 12 schools that the state deemed the top offenders, but he said he needed more information — some of which the state would not give to him — to make judgments on other schools that the state flagged in APS. When the governor and his staff met with the AJC, I asked Kathleen Mathers of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement about Fremer’s contention that he needed more data and she said the state gave him everything he wanted.

When I asked him about the contention — later voiced by Perdue — that these results were designed from the start to exonerate APS, Fremer told me that there is no …

Continue reading Testing reviewer in CRCT APS probe: We did state-of-the-art testing analyses »

Are charter schools a civil rights issue? Should they be?

This is an op-ed piece that I ran today on the print education page that I put together each week for the AJC. (Please send me your op-ed ideas or your written pieces for consideration, 500 words or 850. The page is formatted so those are the two working lengths. )

This piece is by the new principal of Tech High Charter, a city of Atlanta charter school that has had more ambitions than students. I have visited Tech High three times and always admired the dedication of the staff and volunteers, but felt that the school did not have the quality of life — the fun, the variety of students, the activities  — that would draw teens. I attended a 2009 honors program and found a senior class of 55. They were an enthusiastic but small crowd.

I went home from the event and looked at the school’s EOCT scores and ACT and SAT scores and was disappointed.  I had wished more for a school where the adults worked so hard and wanted so much for their students. But I asked myself the question …

Continue reading Are charter schools a civil rights issue? Should they be? »

HOPE is diminishing. Parents told that scholarship money for books and fees likely to disappear due to shortfall

Books and fees are likely to be cut from the HOPE Scholarship as lottery proceeds fall short of the increased costs of the popular program.

Books and fees are likely to be cut from the HOPE Scholarship as lottery proceeds fall short of the increased costs of the popular program.

I am glad to see some frank comments about the pressures on the HOPE Scholarship from a lawmaker.  I went to the recent hearing on HOPE that state Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville, convened and where he warned that HOPE was in trouble.  He is bringing the same cautionary tale to the public.

At the hearing, Walker and other lawmakers predicted hard choices this year on HOPE, which is funded by the lottery. The lottery proceeds cannot keep up with the demands from HOPE Scholarships awarded to college students, HOPE grants given to technical school students and pre-k offered to the state’s 4-year-olds.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

LOGANVILLE — The HOPE Scholarship might not be able to provide any money for textbooks or fees for next year’s college freshmen, state Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville, told the Grayson High School PTSA on Thursday …

Continue reading HOPE is diminishing. Parents told that scholarship money for books and fees likely to disappear due to shortfall »

How will Race to the Top benefit all Georgia districts, not just the 26 that signed onto the application?

I asked Erin Hames, who last week left her job as the governor’s policy director to join the state Department of Education, to outline how Race to the Top will help the entire state.  Hames played a lead role in winning the grant for the state.

(Half the $400 million goes to the 26 partner school districts, and the rest goes to statewide efforts.)

Here is her response to what those efforts will be:

Basically, everything within the Standards and Assessments and Data Systems sections of the application will benefit every district in the state and many of the reforms included in the Great Teachers and Leaders section.

Georgia’s proposed Race to the Top work includes many reforms that are not limited to partnering LEAs but instead are lasting reforms that will have statewide impact during and beyond the scope of the grant, including but not limited to:

–Effectiveness measures, including value added measures for all teachers, principals, schools districts and teacher/leader …

Continue reading How will Race to the Top benefit all Georgia districts, not just the 26 that signed onto the application? »

All-star roster of education researchers: Test scores unreliable, unfair and unhelpful in evaluating teachers

In the midst of a controversial LA Times series linking teacher performance in that district to test scores, a new briefing paper was released today by the Economic Policy Institute cautioning against the use of test scores, the Value Added Model, to judge teacher performance.

The 27-page paper  — by a blue ribbon collection of educaion researchers including Eva L. Baker, Paul E. Barton, Linda Darling-Hammond, Edward Haertel, Helen F. Ladd , Robe rt L. Linn, Diane Ravitch, Richard Rothstein, Richard J. Shavelson, and Lorrie A. Shepard -  lists many negative impacts from judging teachers largely on student test scores. They also point to studies that cite the unreliability of scores.

My first response to this paper is wonder if there is any school system with the time, resources or staffing to conduct the thoughtful and deeper evaluations that these researchers recommend. The comprehensive evaluation model they suggest could be applied in many professions, except that it …

Continue reading All-star roster of education researchers: Test scores unreliable, unfair and unhelpful in evaluating teachers »

New Jersey clerical error in Race to the Top application costs state school chief his job

The clerical error that played a role in New Jersey losing out on a Race to the Top grant has now played a role in the dismissal of the state’s school chief.

According to the New York Times today:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has fired his education commissioner, Bret D. Schundler, in the midst of a controversy over the state’s failure to win a $400 million education grant, the governor’s office announced Friday.

A clerical mistake in the state’s grant application had led the state to come up short by just three points in the high-stakes competition, known as Race to the Top. Mr. Christie had defended his administration’s actions on Wednesday, in part by insisting that Mr. Schundler had provided the correct information to federal reviewers in an interview two weeks ago.

But federal officials released a video on Thursday showing that Mr. Schundler and his administration had not provided the information when asked. Mr. Christie, asked later Thursday about the …

Continue reading New Jersey clerical error in Race to the Top application costs state school chief his job »

Mississippi middle school memo: Whites only for class president this year. What were they thinking?

When I read a poster’s comment about a school in Mississippi allowing only white kids to be class president in middle school, I had to read more and share it with you. Apparently, the school policy in Nettleton, Miss., began as an effort to rotate class officers among the races. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that this made some sense 30 years ago to ensure that black kids — who are in the minority in the community — held elected office.

But it sure doesn’t made sense in 2010.

If those reports are correct, I assume that this was the white kids’ year to run the show as students were given a memo earlier this month stating that class presidents in grades 6, 7 and 8 must be white. It also called for the vice presidents in grades 7 and 8 to be white, while the sixth-grade vice president would be black.

I have to wonder why parents haven’t risen up before now to challenge this outmoded policy.  I am not sure if parents weren’t aware or simply weren’t overly concerned …

Continue reading Mississippi middle school memo: Whites only for class president this year. What were they thinking? »

The race is on. But does everyone want to run with the Race to the Top money? And where are we going with it?

In discussing the $400 million Race to the Top grant that Georgia won this week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he was not concerned that the November election might usher in new state leadership ambivalent about the federal dollars and anxious about the federal oversight.

“This is bigger than any governor or any school chief,” he said. “Hundreds and hundreds of individuals put in a huge amount of hours and came up with a great plan. This isn’t about any one person.”

But is it about 10 or 20 people? Georgia is about to elect a new governor and new school superintendent who could be leery, if not hostile, to federal intrusion into Georgia schools. That new regime might well result in a whole new slate of leadership at the state Department of Education. So it could be that more than a few contributors to the state’s RTTT application are not in place come January.

GOP school chief candidate John Barge has already had an apparently mutually unsatisfying …

Continue reading The race is on. But does everyone want to run with the Race to the Top money? And where are we going with it? »

National Principal of the Year is from Valdosta: Lowndes High School’s Wesley Taylor

Lowndes County High School Principal Wes Smith was named today national Principal of the Year

Lowndes County High School Principal Wes Smith was named national Principal of the Year

Wesley Taylor, principal of Lowndes High School in Valdosta is finding out about now that he has been named the 2011 MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals National High School Principal of the Year in a ceremony that includes  Speaker of the House David Ralston and School Superintendent Brad Bryant.

“I am honored to congratulate Wes Taylor as the 2011 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the year. Wes’ extensive career of furthering the education of Georgia’s children and mentoring young teachers has set an example for others both here in Georgia and across the nation,” said Gov. Sonny Perdue. “His dedication to enhancing the learning experience at Lowndes High School shows not only in their increasing graduation rates or AP participation; but in the strong relationship building and individual focus that truly helps students thrive.”

Here is the …

Continue reading National Principal of the Year is from Valdosta: Lowndes High School’s Wesley Taylor »