Archive for April, 2013

Put on your walking shoes. Get Schooled moved today

The time has come. I dragged my feet but I have now packed and moved to the newspaper’s new blogging home, joining my AJC colleagues in a platform more congenial to a mobile world.

Please move with me.

If the only way you read my blog is by clicking a link from the AJC home page, you won’t notice any difference until you arrive. But  if you have my blog bookmarked or new posts delivered through an RSS feed — and I highly recommend doing one or both, for the sake of your convenience and my readership numbers — you will need these new links:

Blog: http://www.ajc.com/s/get-schooled/

RSS: http://www.ajc.com/rss/weblog_entries/get-schooled/

Some official details about the new blog platform:

•You must register an account.

•If you are active on the blogs, you have already done this and are well on your way to being the first commenter on this new blog — something that seems to matter a lot to the posters over in sports. If not, you’ll need to click on the “Sign …

Continue reading Put on your walking shoes. Get Schooled moved today »

Clayton County school board chair: Today marks culmination of long road to making schools better

Dr. Pam Adamson, chair of the Clayton County Board of Education, expects SACS to deliver a key report to the district this afternoon. (Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com)

Dr. Pam Adamson, chair of the Clayton County Board of Education, expects SACS to deliver a key report to the district this afternoon. (Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com)

Dr. Pam Adamson, chair of the Clayton County Board of Education, wrote this piece in anticipation of this week’s visit by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The SACS accreditation team has been in Clayton since Monday.

By Pam Adamson

Clayton County Schools has had a tumultuous history with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and its parent organization, AdvancED, for many years starting in the early 2000s. After years of warnings and failed opportunities to comply with its standards, SACS withdrew accreditation from Clayton County schools in August of 2008.

The district had become a swinging door of instability with regular staff turnover, including leadership at the highest levels. The Board of Education was in a state of turmoil at that time, with some board members having resigned, some …

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Boston tragedy: A picture that says 1,000 words and inspires thousands more tears

This 8-year-old boy is one of the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. His name is Martin William Richard. His mother and sister were also seriously injured. Many people, including the folks at the Georgia Department of Education are posting this touching photo of Martin on Facebook in which he holds a sign that reads: “No more hurting people. Peace.”

His dad Bill Richard released this statement: “My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin.’’

hero

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Schoolhouse to courthouse: Three DeKalb officials indicted

The AJC’s Ty Tagami reports today that three former school administrators were indicted by a DeKalb County grand jury on charges they manipulated tests or attendance records to improve measures of school performance.

According to Tagami:

Just two weeks after a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 former Atlanta Public Schools educators in an alleged cheating conspiracy, the DeKalb grand jury accused former DeKalb County School District employees Angela Jennings, Agnes Flanagan and Derrick Wooten of manipulating records.

Flanagan, who was principal of Cedar Grove Middle School, allegedly directed teachers to change students’ answers on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. Jennings, who was principal at Rock Chapel Elementary, allegedly ordered the temporary removal of students from enrollment records, so their 2010 test results wouldn’t count against school averages. Wooten, who was an assistant principal at Stoneview Elementary, is accused of …

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Florida teachers file lawsuit today to stop evaluations that rely on test scores

charterartThe controversy over basing teacher evaluations on student performance now moves to a courtroom in Florida after teachers there filed suit today contending the review process violates their rights.

Filed in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District, the lawsuit targets a new evaluation system that tries to measure how much value a teacher has added to a student’s learning — even when there are no direct test scores to weigh.

(Seventy percent of teachers in Georgia teach in non-tested areas; the state intends to use a portfolio model, which will look at student demonstrated proficiency in such areas as music, foreign languages and art.)

The lawsuit maintains that evaluating teachers on the test scores of students they don’t teach or from subjects they don’t teach violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The lawsuit summary states:

The majority of teachers in Florida are being evaluated in the same arbitrary …

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A college degree may someday be as essential as a high school diploma

Dhathri Chunduru is a former Fulton County special educator. She works for an educational non-profit and supports the development of teachers and instructional coaches.

In this piece, she addresses the growing sentiment that too many people are going to college, that not everyone needs high education.

She makes an interesting point: A century ago, we said the same thing about a high school diploma. Yet, no one would ever say now that people don’t need to graduate high school.

Chunduru also raises another interesting issue: We don’t yet know the jobs of the future. The low-level jobs that do not require college may disappear.

By Dhathri Chunduru

Non-educators and educators alike have been spouting something as of late that worries me: that not everyone is meant for college.

Short-sighted beliefs that fail to take in the perspective of history and explore the possibilities of the future are depressing. They signify the loss of optimism, the acceptance of the prevailing ideology …

Continue reading A college degree may someday be as essential as a high school diploma »

A teacher explains: Why I won’t resign. A letter of resolution.

downeyart0401I have shared some very passionate teacher resignation letters on the blog, including an incredible one from former local teacher Jordan Kohanim. (If you missed her piece, read it here.)

But here is a letter from a teacher explaining why she is not resigning. New York teacher Christine McCartney published this letter on her  “An Educator’s Re-education” blog.

McCartney has been at the University of Tampere in Finland through a Distinguished Fulbright Award in Teaching.  She writes that she is “studying how Finnish teachers utilize ongoing, formative assessments to inform their practice.”

In her intro to her letter, McCartney explains, “After having spent the past month in Finland, however, gaining new insights from the Finnish education system and having the freedom of time to reflect on my own experiences as a teacher in New York, I have a different kind of letter. Call it my Letter of Resolution. I wrote it because I have had enough. I can’t handle any more …

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New calls to probe cheating allegations in Washington under Rhee

PBS’s John Merrow recently revealed a 2009 confidential memo pointing out troubling test answer erasures in Washington, D.C., schools, which were led at the time by Michelle Rhee, now the head of  the national advocacy group StudentsFirst.

Merrow reported that the erasure concerns raised in the memo by an outside data consultant failed to prompt any investigation by top officials in the district.

The Washington Post is reporting that a probe is unlikely at this point, either. (A 2007 law placed Washington’s public schools under mayoral control. Under the D.C. model, the city council appoints some of the school board members.)

The Post reports:

The chairman of the D.C. Council’s education committee said Sunday that he has no plans to launch a full-scale investigation into allegations of widespread cheating on standardized tests in 2008, during the tenure of former Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Council member David Catania (I-At Large) said that he intends to find out why …

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Atlanta’s grades on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ at odds with CRCT cheating scandal

Marshall S. Smith is a former under-secretary in the U. S. Department of Education. Nominated by President Bill Clinton, he served from 1993 to 2000.

Prior to his appointment as Under Secretary, Smith was a professor of education and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Previously, he was an associate professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he also served as the Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Smith earned both a master’s (1963) and a doctoral (1970) degree in measurement and statistics from the Harvard Graduate School of Education

In this guest column, he discusses an oddity of the APS cheating scandal: The system was showing notable progress on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is known as the Nation’s Report Card. It wasn’t that Atlanta was leading the nation, but its progress was significant.

When we have discussed this in the …

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Mark Elgart: Accreditation means a quality, standardized education

Dr. Mark Elgart is the founding president and CEO of AdvancED, the parent organization for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement  as well as the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement and the Northwest Accreditation Commission, headquartered in Alpharetta.

By Mark Elgart

School accreditation is an honor, a mark of distinction as well as an acknowledgement that the education offerings of a school, school system, college or university meet standards, benchmarks and performance criteria in the advancement of student achievement. In the United States, for K-12 schools, accreditation is also completely voluntary, and all accrediting agencies are selected and invited to review and accredit by the school or school system seeking or maintaining that accreditation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was founded in 1895 at the Georgia Institute of Technology. SACS …

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