Archive for the ‘Race to the Top’ Category

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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Kentucky test results offer glimpse into how Common Core assessments will affect Georgia and other states

Noteworthy scores out of Kentucky, the first state to introduce tests explicitly tied to the Common Core State Standards.

Kentucky is part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a consortium of 23 states including Georgia that is developing a common set of k-12 assessments in English and math grounded in what it takes to be ready for college and careers.  Those assessments will be ready for states to administer during the 2014-15 school year

While the new Kentucky tests are not the PARCC tests, they are closely aligned and thus seen as a harbinger of things to come.

And what’s coming will initially be disappointing,  although expected. Testing experts say that a conversion to a new test usually brings a drop in scores.

Education Week reports that the  share of Kentucky students scoring “proficient” or better in reading and math dropped by roughly a third or more in both elementary and middle school the first year the tests were given.

According …

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The President wins. Does education win, too?

President Obama won re-election Tuesday. What does it mean for education?

President Obama won re-election Tuesday. What does it mean for education?

One of the least discussed issues in this presidential campaign was education.

Beyond sharing their respect for teachers, the two candidates gave few details about their education vision or plans.  Education was never discussed with much depth at any of the debates.

With the re-election of President Obama,  we can presume a continuation of Race to the Top type strategies where reform is incentivized.

Not all educators are happy with that model, as reflected in the anxiety over the direction that Race to the Top is taking states, including Georgia. Race to the Top requires extensive testing and ties teacher evaluations to test results.

But the re-election of President Obama is prompting positive statements from education organizations, including the National Education Association.

Here is a press statement from the NEA:

Students and children scored major victories throughout the United States today, as …

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Check out schools that made DOE’s reward school list today for strong performance by low-income students

The state Department of Education has released its long-awaited list of reward schools. There are 45 schools from metro counties on the list. And the AJC has a story up with the local schools listed.

“Reward” schools represents a new category created by the waiver that Georgia won from No Child Left Behind. The list recognizes schools with large numbers of low-income students who are performing well or showing significant progress in their academic achievement.

From DOE:

The Georgia Department of Education today released the list of Reward Schools as part of the state’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act  flexibility waiver. The category is reserved for schools with the highest performance or the biggest academic gains by students in the last three years.

“These schools are shining examples of what we can achieve in public education in Georgia,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “I want to take what’s working at our Reward Schools and replicate that …

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“The more time spent by teachers on measuring their own effectiveness, the less effective the teachers become.”

I have been hearing about the new Student Learning Objectives from teachers statewide, including this note from a teacher in central Georgia:

I was wondering what you might be able to tell me about Student Learning Objectives or SLO’s (called “Slows” by the teachers).  I teach kindergarten and have never seen anything in my life that seems to be such a waste of time.  I understand why they are “needed,” but they take up to 10 days to administer at the beginning of the year, and then up to 10 days at the end of the year.  This is a total of 20 days basically wasted administering these tests.  And it’s not just in kindergarten, but all elementary grades (Pre-K through 5) for the Teacher Keys Evaluation System (TKES).

My kids come into kindergarten hardly knowing anything, and now I have to waste up to 20 days of valuable instruction time administering these tests so that there are “valid and reliable” tests to use with TKES to be sure I’m at least a “proficient’ educator. ” I …

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Georgia’s schizophrenic politics of education

Lee Raudonis is a former teacher and former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party. He is a communications consultant and writer for an education publication. He coordinates the STAR program for the PAGE Foundation. (The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia’s outstanding high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.)

This is his first essay for the blog. Welcome.

By Lee Raudonis

I admit it. I am confused. I do not understand the method behind what certainly appears to be the madness of Georgia education policies. O.K., maybe “madness” is too strong of a term to use, but there is no doubt that many educators—and parents— consider our state’s approach to education policy over the past decade to be both confusing and maddening. There is not much doubt that it has been schizophrenic.

Think about it. Early in the new century Georgia was one of the first states to embrace …

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Using Race to the Top to pay for doctorates in DeKalb. Good idea or are there better uses for federal money?

Several of you have already commented on DeKalb’s plan to use about $345,00 of its taxpayer-funded federal Race to the Top grant to put eight administrators, including four high school principals and two assistant principals, through a three-year doctorate program at the DeKalb campus of Mercer University. So, I figured we ought to put the story out there for general discussion.

The state Department of Education has to sign off on the school system’s proposal to use the RTT funds to underwrite the doctorates and is expected to do so, possibly today.

According to the AJC:

Twenty-five other Georgia school districts also receive Race to the Top grants. But DeKalb is the only one using some grant money earmarked for teacher and school leader training to add to the 130 Ph.D. holders the system already has in leadership roles.

The idea doesn’t sit well with some in DeKalb.  “Why as taxpayers should we pay for their Ph.D.s?” asked Robert Richardson, a retired real estate agent. …

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Election 2012: Does either presidential candidate offer hope on education?

A shorter version of this guest column ran today on the op-ed education page that I edit for the print AJC.  You are getting the uncut version. This piece by University of Arkansas associate professor Chris Goering reflects the concerns many educators feel about this upcoming presidential election: They don’t think either candidate has it right on education.

In the next two months, I hope to run more pieces on both the election and the charter school amendment vote in Georgia that is attracting national interest and money. If you have something to say on either and want to submit a piece, please email me at mdowney@ajc.com

By Chris Goering

Mr. President: On Education, You Can’t Handle the Truth

In November of 2008 and again in January of 2009, I have never been as proud to be an American as I was when you were elected and then subsequently sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. Before those two great days, I had lost a lot of faith in our country and especially …

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Putting value-added model to the test: Study finds student scores can predict teacher effectiveness

I joined a conference call today with researcher Marcus A. Winters about his new study, “Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers.”

In the study released a few hours ago, Winters examined one of the most controversial approaches to teacher evaluations: Using student test scores to identify how much an individual teacher contributes to a student’s progress over the years.

Known as the value-added model or VAM, this approach appeals to lawmakers. However, educators argue that it’s not reliable because it ignores the many variables involved in a classroom.

A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Winters examined teacher data and VAM scores in Florida and found that a value-added model did predict which teachers were effective in future years in raising student achievement, but cautioned that the model should not be used in isolation to determine a …

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