Archive for March, 2012

Students and Facebook: Still no clear lines with schools

Several of my friends do not have Facebook pages, and don’t intend to get them because of privacy fears.

It’s stories like this one today that confirm their suspicions that Facebook can land you in trouble:

(I checked and it is legal to drink and buy cigarettes in the Philippines at age 18 so this high school senior was probably not breaking any criminal laws there. Of course, school rules are another matter. )

From the Associated Press:

A Catholic school student has been banned from graduation ceremonies in the Philippines because a photo on her Facebook page shows her wearing a bikini while holding a cigarette and a liquor bottle.

Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said Wednesday the department will investigate a complaint by the girl’s mother against the St. Theresa’s College High School in central Cebu City to determine whether the penalty was appropriate.

The girl will graduate but has been told she cannot join her classmates in the ceremonies. Reports …

Continue reading Students and Facebook: Still no clear lines with schools »

AJC addresses question over whether its national test score investigation considered student mobility. It did.

In the Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, Gary Miron, professor of education at Western Michigan University, questions whether the AJC investigation into test score disparities nationwide considered student mobility.

Reporter Heather Vogell, a member of the AJC investigative team into test scores, responds here to that concern:

By Heather Vogell

Some school district officials and education consultants have raised the issue of whether high student mobility would lead a district to be highlighted in our analysis even if they had no cheating problem.

A high rate of mobility is a characteristic of virtually all inner city high-poverty districts. If it were true that our methodology just flagged mobility instead of potential cheating, then you would expect all urban districts with high mobility to be flagged.

This was not the case. For example, Cleveland schools, with a better than 30 percent mobility rate, had an average 4 percent of classes flagged by our analysis in …

Continue reading AJC addresses question over whether its national test score investigation considered student mobility. It did. »

SAT cheating scandal involving Emory student leads to new rule about photo IDs

The SAT cheating scandal involving an Emory student has led to tougher security measures for test takers.

Last year,  the Nassau County district attorney charged Emory University student Sam Eshaghoff, who is from New York, with scheming to defraud, criminal impersonation and falsifying business records. The DA alleged that six students at Great Neck North High School in Long Island paid him as much as $2,500 to take the SAT in hopes of achieving a higher score.

Now, the test companies are taking steps to prevent such blatant cheating.

According to The New York Times:

Stung by a cheating scandal involving dozens of Long Island high school students, the SAT and ACT college entrance exams will now require students to upload photos when they sign up for the exams, and officials will check that image against the photo identification the students present when they arrive to take the test, the Nassau County district attorney said Tuesday.

The change was one of several …

Continue reading SAT cheating scandal involving Emory student leads to new rule about photo IDs »

Do parents swoop in when they should stay on the sidelines?

Do pushy parents ruin what should be child-focused events such as Easter egg hunts? (AJC file)

Do pushy parents ruin what should be child-focused events such as Easter egg hunts? (AJC file)

The AJC has an interesting story about an Easter egg hunt canceled due to out-of-control parents who jumped the gun to ensure their kids got the eggs.  In the piece, the canceled hunt is used as a metaphor for the overly involved helicopter parents who want their children to win at everything and who don’t understand boundaries.

(Personal note: It only took one public Easter egg hunt for me to never go to one again. The kids and parents were so aggressive that I feared a toddler trampling. I found it easier to buy plastic eggs and strew them about my lawn.)

I have been thinking about appropriate parent involvement this week after reading some of the long tirades from Alpharetta parents about the deposed student body president at Alpharetta High.  Parents are entitled to post that his lawsuit was baseless and complain that it besmirched the high school’s good name. But the rancor …

Continue reading Do parents swoop in when they should stay on the sidelines? »

The Hunger Games for Georgia schools: Less money, more mandates and micromanagement from Legislature

Pelham City school chief Jim Arnold is one of my favorite guest posters because he doesn’t pull any punches. If you haven’t read his stuff before, I think you will enjoy his essay on this year’s damage tally to education from the Georgia Legislature.

This is a long piece, so I am pulling out the key passage here for those of you with only seconds to spare: I think this paragraph by Dr. Arnold says it all:

It’s becoming harder and harder for educators – especially teachers – to provide damage control from what amounts to friendly fire, and I believe that is part and parcel of what these initiatives are all about. Sooner or later, even legislators must see it’s not about race, it’s about poverty; it’s not about a test score, it’s about student achievement; it’s not about a standardized curriculum, it’s about good teaching; it’s not about the business model, it’s about personalization; it’s not about competition, it’s about cooperation. Until …

Continue reading The Hunger Games for Georgia schools: Less money, more mandates and micromanagement from Legislature »

Miss our chat on school test scores? Replay is now available here

Let’s continue the conversation. Regular blog commenting, below, is turned back on, so comment away!

Here is the 70-minute live video chat from Tuesday morning featuring the reporters who worked on “Cheating Our Children,” the exclusive AJC investigation on school test disparities across the nation. The reporters are Alan Judd and Heather Vogell.

– From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

Continue reading Miss our chat on school test scores? Replay is now available here »

No surprise. No cost of living raises for Georgia teachers

I doubt anyone is surprised, but I know that nobody is happy with this news today.

From the AJC story today on the House and Senate budget-writers approving a $19.3 billion spending plan:

The spending plan for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, does not include cost-of-living pay raises for most of the state’s more than 200,000 teachers and employees. State employees haven’t received cost-of-living raises since shortly after the start of the Great Recession.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

Continue reading No surprise. No cost of living raises for Georgia teachers »

New AJC investigation casts doubts on integrity of testing nationwide. Is there a whole lot of cheating going on?

testing (Medium)In the cheating hall of fame, Atlanta may stand out, but it may not stand alone.

Nearly 200 school districts across the country have such suspicious test score patterns that the odds of them occurring by chance are worse than 1 in 1,000.  And in 33 of those districts, the odds are worse than one in a million.

In a powerhouse investigation in Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the investigative reporting team that uncovered test disparities in Atlanta Public Schools reveals the findings of a seven-month analysis of 1.6 million records from 70,000 public schools nationwide.

Here is a link that will get you to the entire package, but plan to spend some time as it has multiple elements.

The AJC used freedom of information laws to collect test scores from 49 states — 14,743 districts and 70,000 tests –  to look for the sort of patterns that signaled cheating.

Along with our own database reporters, the AJC consulted outside experts to assess our analysis. (Please pick up a …

Continue reading New AJC investigation casts doubts on integrity of testing nationwide. Is there a whole lot of cheating going on? »

Now, Nashville issues rebuttal to AJC national testing probe

With the AJC series on national test score disparities minutes away from publication, a second  district with implicated  schools has chosen to issue an preemptive strike. Houston released a statement Friday.

The series is now online at AJC.com

From Nashville Metro Schools:

Metro Schools has several, significant concerns with the data presented by the Atlanta Journal Constitution regarding our district and believe that Nashville has no place in the story they have prepared. Some of those concerns include:

• The AJC analysis assumes that students in one grade level at a school one year are the same students that were there the previous year in the previous grade.

• Our district has mobility rates between 35%-40%.

• Zoning changes have impacted student enrollment.

• A significant number of ALCs (Alternative Learning Centers) and special schools (and “homebound”) are flagged in our data; these schools often have very fluid populations – ALC populations have 100% …

Continue reading Now, Nashville issues rebuttal to AJC national testing probe »

Brace yourselves: AJC to unveil heck of a series on test scores nationwide. Houston school chief issues response.

testing (Medium)Update: Series is now online at AJC.com

The Atlanta Journal Constitution will publish the results of a seven-month investigation of test scores nationwide in the Sunday AJC. (If you don’t get the Sunday paper, make sure to go out and buy it as this will be one of the most discussed education stories of the year.)

The story is expected to appear online today at noon at AJC.com, and I will post a summary here on the blog at that time. We will have a lot to talk about once you get a chance to see the great work my colleagues have done.

I will also do a video chat with the investigative team Tuesday, and I’ll post details of that.

As it did with Atlanta Public Schools in 2008, the newspaper’s investigative team analyzed scores nationwide, including those in Houston.

Here is a statement released by the Houston school chief who apparently felt compelled to offer a response to the AJC investigation even before the story’s publication. (The AJC interviewed school chiefs in systems …

Continue reading Brace yourselves: AJC to unveil heck of a series on test scores nationwide. Houston school chief issues response. »