Archive for September, 2010

Are the feds in any better position to figure out whether some APS schools cheated on the CRCT?

Dean Rohrer, NewsArt

Dean Rohrer, NewsArt

With the news that the feds are now investigating whether Atlanta schools cheated on the state exams and thus received  federal grants to which they were not entitled, there are now two investigations of APS under way simultaneously. It seems like APS employees could spend most of the next few months answering questions about what they saw or heard in April of 2009 during the administration of the CRCT.

I still wonder if either investigation will produce any significant results. The success of both probes depends on the willingness of employees at suspect schools to either confess or turn in their colleagues. And the latter could only happen if teachers or administrators witnessed cheating or were told about it later. It would not be enough to maintain that cheating must have happened because the test scores were too high.

And I think a lot of this cheating happened in isolation, not in front of colleagues. If investigators interview students,  it will …

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Was father wrong to board school bus to confront alleged middle school tormentors of his child?

Terry sent me this note about the Florida dad who stormed a school bus to confront kids teasing his 13-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy.

I have been thinking on this story all week and am torn. I do not condone what he did, but I don’t think he should be charged with a crime. I for one can truly understand how this man felt and can empathize with his frustration.  Kids who are bullied have a tough time in school, and I think its probably exponentially worse if the child is differently abled.  Schools should be mandated to have bully prevention programs in every school.

Here are the details: Upset over his belief that kids were tormenting his daughter, James Willie Jones of Sanford, Fl., boarded a school bus on Sept. 3 and began to scream at the kids — captured on YouTube. Please watch the video as the man charged onto the bus and released a barrage of obscenities in what can only be described as a tirade.

To his credit, Jones held a press conference this week where …

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No more A’s and B’s on report cards: Greater clarity or greater confusion?

report_cardsMy school system is piloting  rubric-driven report cards. The general response from the dozen or so parents I have talked to this week about them has been,  “I have no idea how my child is really doing.”

Rubrics reduce the skills and concepts taught in a class into smaller and more precise components that are supposed to be easier to evaluate.

On a rubrics report card, English, for example, is broken down into content, organization and style and language usage, each of which is assigned a numeric value. In math, the components are knowledge and understanding, investigating patterns, communications and reflection.

As a mother told me, her son was an A student in elementary school, but the rubrics suggest that he is now a C student or  worse. But when she e-mailed the teachers, they assured her that her son was doing well.

In reading about rubrics for several hours this morning, I found that many school systems still provide letter grades with the rubrics because parents want …

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Feds may set care standards for concussions to protect high school athletes

There’s been a spate of reports in the last few years on the lasting repercussions to high school athletes from head injuries. Now, U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and the House Education and Labor committee are considering setting minimum guidelines for how school districts handle students recovering from concussions.

While the assumption is that football poses the greatest dangers to teens, there are risks to other high school athletes. According to Miller’s office, concussion rates in girls’ soccer ranks second only to football. In basketball, girls appear to sustain concussions at three times the rate of male basketball players. And almost 90 percent of girls recovering from a concussion reported that their symptoms worsened after trying to focus on schoolwork.

“The NFL, college teams – they’ve been paying attention to concussions,” said Miller, in a statement. “But when it comes to high school athletes, concussions are vastly underreported. High school is a …

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Pinworm, lice and now bedbugs beset schools. And teachers used to only worry about catching colds.

bedbugThey’re here. The bedbug scourge that has emptied hotels in the Midwest, crimped sales at second-hand stores in Manhattan and caused people in Cincinnati to sleep outside has reached a Georgia college campus. Many other campuses around the country have fought off invasions of the nasty apple-seed sized pests, including the University of Oklahoma and Indiana University.

According to the AJC, about 70 students at Reinhardt University in Cherokee County are sleeping in the gym as the school deals with an infestation of bedbugs found in two rooms in a dormitory. My own son attends college in Ohio, which has been called ground zero for infestations of the small, biting bugs that are apparently now fortified against many common repellents. An elementary school in Dayton had to close yesterday to exterminate bedbugs.

The bugs are so portable that they  travel to new locales into people’s luggage, pockets and  purses. There have been stories out of New York about people buying …

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When UGA student can’t park his scooter, he rides parking services and ends up with disciplinary charges

parkingShould a student be punished for mouthing off?  The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education doesn’t think so, and is claiming another victory  involving a public Georgia university and student speech. (A few weeks ago, I posted an entry about the Valdosta State student who also won his case with the help of the group, which advocates for individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience on colleges and universities.)

University of Georgia student Jacob Lovell used a bit of strong language to complain in an e-mail about the lack of scooter parking on the Athens campus. (Apparently, he doesn’t subscribe to the old adage about getting better results with honey than the F-bomb.)

The peeved parking services folks forwarded his e-mail to the Student Judiciary, which proceeded to tell Lovell that he was being charged with two violations of UGA’s University Conduct Regulations, stating, “Specifically, it is alleged that Mr. …

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Atlanta school board minority fires back: “Join us in saying yes to the rule of law and no to an illegal coup d’état.”

The 5-4 split on the Atlanta Board of Education is getting wider with this letter to the community by the four-member faction opposed to the change in leadership:

Dear Concerned Atlanta Citizen:

Atlanta’s native son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Nobel Peace Prize Winner and graduate of tlanta Public School’s Booker T. Washington High School) said, “I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”

We four stand united in our opposition to the September 13 purported election of Khaatim Sheerer El as Chair and Yolanda Johnson as Vice Chair of the Atlanta School Board, not because we are interested in power for power’s sake, but because we believe the election violated the law and is detrimental to the well-being of Atlanta’s students.  Moreover, we believe that this election and the behaviors linked with it, place student achievement secondary to personal agendas. We are concerned that this action will …

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Another blow for merit pay: Long-awaited Tennessee study finds no impact on student achievement

The case against merit pay is mounting with the release today of a much-anticipated study out of Nashville that shows no impact on student performance from teacher bonuses.

Produced by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University, the study examined the test scores of 300 middle school math teachers who agreed to participate in the Project on Incentives in Teaching, a three-year randomized experiment that tested the assumption — an assumption that under girds Race to the Top — that teachers will work harder and produce greater student gains if they are rewarded for it.

Not so, according to the findings, which follow the recent policy brief by the nation’s top ed researchers challenging the effectiveness of merit pay.

“We tested the most basic and foundational question related to performance incentives — Does bonus pay alone improve student outcomes? – and we found that it does not,” said Matthew Springer, executive director of the National …

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Realizing the Dream: Doesn’t it help all of us for immigrant children to attend college? Pass the Dream bill.

UPDATE: Today, a state committee recommended to the Georgia Board of Regents that illegal immigrants be barred from attending the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and any other public college that doesn’t have the room to admit all qualified applicants. The committee also recommended that all Georgia colleges verify every admitted student seeking in-state tuition to determine if the student is legally in the country. Read more here.

The best way to judge a nation is to examine how it treats its children and that means all children, even those whose parents arrived by boat or border crossing.

Among the student advocacy groups rallying for the Dream Act passage is the Georgia Dreamers, which has held rallies around the state.

Among the student advocacy groups rallying for the Dream Act passage is the Georgia Dreamers, shown here at a July press conference.

Our country loses when we enact immigration policies that deny educational opportunities to children to punish their parents. Every educated American is a boon to our economy, our health and our future. My own grandparents were legal immigrants from …

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The teacher’s union view of “Waiting for ‘Superman”’: Gripping but flawed. Casts teachers and unions as villains.

In addition to my piece on the new documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,”’ here is a critical review by AFT president Randi Weingarten.  If you read her piece and mine, you’ll get a good sense of why this documentary is going to prompt lots of discussion. I hope we can have it some of it here when the movie opens in two weeks.

AFT president Randi Weingarten praises the filmmaking skills in "Waiting for 'Superman,''' but not the factgathering.

AFT president Randi Weingarten praises the filmmaking skills in "Waiting for 'Superman,''' but not the factgathering.

Is America ready to settle for a good education—for the few? That’s the unfortunate takeaway from a soon-to-be released documentary film, “Waiting for ‘Superman.’” The film, by Davis Guggenheim, shows how tragically far we are from the great American ideal of providing all children with the excellent education they need and deserve. Yet, despite Guggenheim’s unquestionably good intentions, “Waiting for ‘Superman’” is inaccurate, inconsistent and incomplete—and misses what could have been a unique opportunity to …

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