Archive for April, 2011

Are there ever errors on the CRCT that proofreaders miss?

A parent sent me a note about the CRCT and how carefully the tests are reviewed for errors that could impact a student’s score.

I know that DOE proofs the tests, but assume that a mistake could be missed. Has anyone had a similar experience to this parent?

With the parent’s permission, here is her note to me:

My son took the CRCT last week and brought up something I thought would interest you. He is in fifth grade and has always done very well on the tests. I am questioning the proofing of the tests themselves. What first caught my attention was when he was taking the online practice OAS tests. The results showed he answered many of the math problems incorrectly. Yet, when I looked at the questions, he appeared to have the correct answer.

The next day, his math teacher told him some of the answers the OAS provided were incorrect. Not sure how they’re supposed to learn from a flawed practice test.

During the week the CRCT was given, I’d ask him each day how the test went. Every …

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DOE offers free graduation math remediation this summer

A public service announcement on behalf of Georgia DOE:

State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge announced that the Georgia Department of Education will be offering Project ExPreSS in mathematics for summer 2011. Project ExPreSS (Exam Preparation for Student Success) is a free, two-week summer remediation program for Georgia public high school juniors who were first-time test-takers this year and did not pass the mathematics portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Tests

“Due to the past success of Project ExPreSS in social studies and science, we feel this program is an opportunity to fill the gap in mathematics and help students succeed,” said Superintendent Barge. “With this year being the first year that our students will take the Georgia Performance Standards-based GHSGT, we anticipate that some students will need remediation with our state’s best teachers, which is exactly what Project ExPreSS provides.”

Project ExPreSS in mathematics will be offered June 13-24, …

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Emory students arrested for protest of worker treatment. Students plan vigil tonight

I guess Emory changed its mind about allowing students to protest the treatment of sub-contract workers on the campus. (Read this blog from last week for background.)

Last night, Emory grad student Laura Emiko Soltis left me this voice message amid a lot of noise in the background: “Our peaceful tent city outside the Administration Building that has been up since Thursday has been ordered taken down. But there are no policies prohibiting Emory students from sleeping outside in tents.”

Soltis is one of the students protesting the treatment of cafeteria workers by the management company Sodexo.

In the blog last week, Soltis explained why she and other students believe Emory should take a stand on even how contract employees are treated: “These workers are not protected by the code of conduct of Emory…by an ethically engaged university.  They have no avenue of redress. Emory is one of the largest employers in Atlanta and this is something that Emory needs to take …

Continue reading Emory students arrested for protest of worker treatment. Students plan vigil tonight »

And then there were three, two and none. Other DeKalb finalist quits and withdraws from DeKalb search.

Arthur Culver just resigned from his job in Illinois, but also withdrew his name from the DeKalb search.

Arthur Culver just resigned from his job in Illinois, but also withdrew his name from the DeKalb search.

Well, this is getting interesting:

The other finalist for the DeKalb school chief job, Arthur Culver, has resigned as superintendent in Champaign, Ill. He told the local paper that he has also withdrawn his name from contention in DeKalb.

With everything that has occurred in the last several days, I felt it was in my best interest to withdraw,” Culver told the News-Gazette.

So, not one of the three original finalists is still in contention for the top slot in DeKalb, forcing the county to start anew.  I wonder if this bizarre process and all the collateral damage along the way will scare away other prospects.

This very open search process seems to have destabilized Cox in North Carolina and led Culver to resign in Illinois.

Some of the fallout comes from the openness that the law requires and that even strong school chiefs like Andres Alonso in Baltimore decry as too …

Continue reading And then there were three, two and none. Other DeKalb finalist quits and withdraws from DeKalb search. »

Are we asking too much of schools when we expect them to transcend indifferent parents?

I am a longtime fan of journalist Joe Nocera’s writings. A business writer for many years, Nocera now has a column in the New York Times and was inspired to write about a 13-year-old student featured in a larger New York Times magazine story about a dedicated middle school principal.

Nocera tackles a problem that we often discuss here: Can schools overcome family backgrounds and parental indifference?

We all agree that family is not destiny. A child should not be written off because of sorry parents. But family is an important factor and sometimes it can be the deciding one. There are inspiring stories of students overcoming their backgrounds, and schools have to recognize that all students have potential, even those whose parents never attend conferences or see to it that their children go to school.

Through a truancy project, a friend volunteered to work with a young mother whose 9-year-old had missed nearly a third of the school year and was facing retention. My friend …

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Is there a campaign under way to give DeKalb school chief job to Tyson?

DeKalb interim school chief Ramona Tyson

DeKalb interim school chief Ramona Tyson

After a national search, a public Q&A with three finalists and serious negotiations with at least one of them, could the DeKalb school board turn around and award the job to the person already in it?

It is becoming apparent that interim superintendent Ramona Tyson may have changed her mind about taking the job if offered. Initially, she had not expressed an interest in running the troubled system.

(The AJC has a good story on the current status of the search after front runner Lillie Cox of North Carolina withdrew this weekend.)

In an e-mail to the AJC, Tyson would only say: “I have every confidence that the board will find an excellent external candidate for superintendent, and my job will be to support the new superintendent and to ensure a smooth transition. The board has not asked me to consider taking the position permanently, and I have not asked the board to consider me as it continues its external search.”

Even if Tyson chose to …

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Governor gathers APS officials, mayor in his office tomorrow for progress report

Just received a note that Gov. Nathan Deal plan to meet with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, APS Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, and members of the Atlanta school board on Tuesday morning at the Capitol to update him on their progress in meeting the SACS demands.

The meeting notice states that the governor wants the meeting to be private.  (I wonder about the legality of a board meeting in private that does not fall under one of the legal exemptions for closing meetings. Can anyone clarify? )

More here in this AJC story that just went up.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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RateMyProfessors.com ranks Georgia Perimeter math professor tops in nation. UGA ranked fifth top campus

I don’t like online teacher rating sites as I think they draw the unhappiest students, but here’s  some more upbeat news from the mega player in the student ratings universe, RateMyProfessors.com.

The site ranked the highest rated college professors and universities based on student ratings. The highest rated community college professor this year is Margie Lewkowicz, a mathematics instructor at Georgia Perimeter College.

One of the posts that pushed Dr. Lewkowicz to the top in the nation was:   “She is such a great teacher. Very passionate about what she teaches…undoubtedly one of the best prof I’ve ever had…highly recommended.”

For the first time, the ranking list includes university rankings, based on professor and campus ratings. While the top campuses used to be determined by how well their professors ranked, students decided campus ratings this year on additional factors, reputation, location, career opportunities, school library, campus grounds and common areas, Internet …

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Tale of two transcripts in Gwinnett and DeKalb: Are Gwinnett students losing out on HOPE?

A reader sent me this “Tale of two transcripts” note with supporting charts to make the point that some Gwinnett students are going to lose out on full HOPE because of how the district calculates grades. I could not replicate her charts here, so please click on the link to see them. (Somehow, the Google doc has two sets of the same charts.)

Take a look at the note and the comparative charts and let’s discuss.

I will openly admit to confusion on this issue no matter how often I ask about it. These charts are the best presentation I have seen to frame the question. And for me, the question is: Are some students at a disadvantage for HOPE because of how grades are configured in their systems?

I am always assured that the state strips away the local calculation and applies its own formula. This information suggests otherwise. Can someone clarify?

Here is the reader’s note to me:

Here are two identical transcripts, one from Gwinnett and one from DeKalb. The DeKalb student will …

Continue reading Tale of two transcripts in Gwinnett and DeKalb: Are Gwinnett students losing out on HOPE? »

Furloughs in Clayton. No performance pay yet in Cherokee.

As predicted, budget challenges for schools are not going away next year, although there is some brighter news out of DeKalb for teachers.

Here are some AJC stories as well as some info sent to me by teachers about Race to the Top-driven contracts:

DeKalb: The DeKalb school board Monday adopted a tentative $1.16 billion budget for 2011-12, which restores furlough days for district employees. (To be clear, that means that DeKalb canceled almost all the furlough days enacted last year.)

Clayton County: Clayton public school employees will get to keep $6.4 million in incentive pay but must take five furlough days by the end of June under a budget-cutting plan approved  Monday. The furlough days will help save the jobs of elementary school counselors and music and art teachers, but elementary gym teachers and those who work with students in in-school suspension programs weren’t so lucky. Even after a spirited debate to hang onto physical education positions, the board voted to …

Continue reading Furloughs in Clayton. No performance pay yet in Cherokee. »