Archive for the ‘Arne Duncan/US DOE’ Category

Georgia teachers: Prefer to be judged on student work rather than on student test scores or surveys

A survey of Georgia teachers found more support for using student work to judge them than test scores. (AJC file photo)

A survey of Georgia teachers found more support for using student work to judge them than test scores. (AJC file photo)

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators queried its members regarding Georgia’s new teacher evaluation system and found more support for using student work to judge teachers than student test scores or surveys. More than 2,000 teachers responded to the PAGE survey.

Georgia is piloting a new teacher evaluation system that will include principal observations, test scores and student surveys. Race to the Top is funding the development of that new system.

Here is what PAGE found:

The participants covered a range of experience, with 42.5% having 6-15 years of classroom experience and another 38.3% having 16-30 years of experience.

Grade levels were well represented, with 27.7% from K-2, 30.2% from grades 3-5, 23.2% from grades 6-8 and 26.1% with assignments in grades 9-12

When it came to new evaluation system versus the former one, 72.5% of respondents …

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Top 10 education issues facing Georgia

This is my live account from  the Georgia Partnership on Excellence in Education daylong media symposium Friday featuring education movers and shakers

First up is Dr. Dana Rickman, policy and research director for the partnership, on the Top Ten Education Issues to Watch in 2013.

Please note that all these comments are from the speakers today, not from me. (I did add a few comments, but I clearly designate them as mine.) I am writing as folks speak and may miss a typo but will go back during the breaks and clean this up.

Top 10 issues, says Rickman:

Race to the Top: Halfway through implementing grant. Where do we stand?

Elevating low performing schools. Will require high performing  teachers and leaders.

How do we pay for k-12 eduction? (”I don’t know,” says Rickman. “That really is the answer to that question.”)

Help wanted: Hiring 250,000 new graduates. Where are they? Only 42 percent has a college degree; State needs 250,000 more graduates.

Early learning: What this issue …

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Can we really measure effective teaching? Yes, says new Gates Foundation study.

downeyart0726 (Medium)After three years of research and an investment of $45 million, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation believes it now knows how schools can fairly and reliably measure effective teachers.

While student test scores are part of the solution, scores alone are not enough to gauge how well a teacher is performing, according to the Gates-funded Measures of Effective Teaching Project.

Released Tuesday, the final report from the MET Project says a three-prong approach, multiple classroom observations, student surveys and student growth as measured by  state test scores, provides a good picture of how effective a teacher is. The project found that an accurate observation rating for a teacher requires two or more lessons, each scored by a different certified observer.

The report will likely resonate in Georgia, which is in the midst of rolling out a new teacher evaluation system funded by the state’s Race to the Top grant. Georgia is spending millions on its new evaluation system, which …

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New evaluation system finds less than 1 percent of teachers are ineffective

Under the state’s prior teacher evaluation system, less than 1 percent of teachers were rated as unsatisfactory. So, the state used some of its Race to the Top millions to create and pilot a new evaluation system that was  purportedly more comprehensive and more honest in its assessment of how effective teachers were in their classrooms.

While the old evaluation system rated teachers as satisfactory/unsatisfactory and didn’t judge them by students’ academic progress, the system being piloted contains four different ratings: exemplary, proficient, developing/needs improvement and unsatisfactory.

The AJC has a good story today about the initial findings of the pilot, which the newspaper obtained through an Open Records request.

Even under this new system, less than 1 percent of Georgia teachers were classified as ineffective and one in five earned the top rating of exemplary.

The story notes that identifying and removing bad teachers has taken on increasing importance, …

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As Legislature gets ready to convene, education leaders offer their wish list. (Yes, money is on it.)

Whenever the General Assembly makes decisions affecting schools, educators complain their views are overlooked.

So, I asked education leaders to tell me what the Legislature should tackle in 2013 and what it should avoid:

Herb Garrett, Georgia School Superintendents Association:

The issue that I wish our returning lawmakers would address is the continued underfunding of our state’s public schools. As you know, we are now about to enter our 12th consecutive year of the infamous “austerity cuts,” and there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. While five other states are mulling the idea of actually adding days to their students’ school years, two-thirds of our school systems are unable to offer even the 180-day school year that used to be considered normal. At some point, we simply must ask if we are doing the right thing by our children.

During this continuing saga, there will be much conversation this session about changes to our “flexibility and accountability” …

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Can we personalize education and persuade students that it’s on them to learn?

The release earlier this week of international benchmark testing scores produced came the usual laments about where the United States stacked up.

As always, Asian countries took the crowns in math and science performance. Among the 60 countries that participated in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the United States ranked 11th in fourth-grade math, 9th in eighth-grade math, 7th in fourth-grade science and 10th in eighth-grade science. (In the original TIMSS from 1995, U.S. eighth-graders ranked 23rd in math among 41 nations.)

But, while America’s standings aren’t bottom-of-the-barrel, the scores trouble forecasters who believe that the economic future belongs to countries that excel in science, technology, engineering and math.

American students still lack the math mastery of other nations. For example, 7 percent of U.S. eighth graders scored at the advanced level in math, compared with 48 percent in Singapore and 47 percent in South Korea.

So, …

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Four Georgia districts strike out today in Race to the Top

While four Georgia districts were finalists in a new Race to the Top grant competition, none of them won.

Fulton County Board of Education, Haralson County School System, Morgan County Charter School System and Rockdale County Public Schools were among 61 applications selected as finalists in the Race to the Top-District competition but were not among the 16 winners announced today.

According to the announcement from the U.S. DOE:

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that 16 applicants—representing 55 school districts across 11 states and D.C.—have won the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition. These districts will share nearly $400 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student to succeed in college and their careers.

“Districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level, and now …

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The cost of testing: States spending $1.7 billion a year. Georgia on low end of spending scale.

crcted.0920 (Medium)A new report today on test spending by the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings concludes that states would be wiser to consider joining forces in test creation, which is now costing  $1.7 billion per year or one-quarter of one percent of annual K-12 education spending. (The money breaks down to $27 per pupil in grades 3-9.)

The author of the “Strength in Numbers: State Spending on K-12 Assessment Systems” is Matthew M. Chingos, co-author of  “Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities.” (See my 2009 interview with him.)

Georgia, by the way, spends far less than many other states, according to the study. Georgia spends $14 per pupil on tests, compared to Massachusetts, which spends $64, or Hawaii, which spends $105.

While the costs of tests amount to less than one percent of per-pupil spending , the authors say, “Spending in U.S. public schools totaled $658 billion in 2008-09 (the most recent year for which data are available), so …

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Race to the Top news: Fulton, Haralson, Morgan and Rockdale are finalists for millions in district grants

The US DOE is busy making news today, including the announcement that the Fulton County Board of Education, Haralson County School System, Morgan County Charter School System and Rockdale County Public Schools are among 61 applications selected as finalists in the Race to the Top-District competition.

Georgia is already a state Race to the Top winner in the state contest, but these systems submitted applications for a pool of money targeting smaller-scale reforms.

In explaining this district-level contest, US DOE says: The Race to the Top District competition will build on the lessons learned from the State-level competitions and support bold, locally directed improvements in teaching and learning that will directly improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness. More specifically, Race to the Top District will reward those LEAs that have the leadership and vision to implement the strategies, structures and systems of support to move beyond one-size–fits-all …

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Feds release new high school grad data using common yardstick; Georgia’s rate is 67 percent, putting us among bottom three.

Remember when Georgia used to say “Thank God for Mississippi and Alabama”?

With the release of new national high school graduation rates today, Georgia is now extending its thanks to Nevada and New Mexico, the only two states with lower graduation rates than Georgia.

Georgia has a 67 percent overall high school graduation rate, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Education under a new nationwide measurement formula.

For the first time ever, the cohort method will allow apples to apples comparisons since every state is using it to calculate how many of their seniors graduate in four years.

And those apples aren’t pretty for Georgia, which is among the bottom three.

Among states, only New Mexico, 63 percent, and Nevada, 62 percent, posted lower rates. (Also below Georgia were Washington, D.C., 59 percent, and the Bureau of Indian Education, 61 percent.)

Prior to the cohort method being adopted, states used a hodgepodge of methods — and a bit of voodoo math …

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