Archive for the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Category

DOE will release newly configured grad rate Tuesday. Here is a primer.

The state will release the Georgia high school graduation rate tomorrow based on a new federal formula considered a more accurate reflection of what is happening. The new “cohort” formula also will enable us to compare states, something we could not do when each state had its own methods of figuring out graduates and dropouts.

Georgia’s authentic graduation rate is open to debate. Independent research has placed it as low as 58 percent, although the state DOE places it above 80  percent.

Georgia has been using the National Center for Education Statistics “leaver rate,” which defines a graduate as a student who leaves high school with a regular diploma in four years. This does not include certificates of attendance or special education diplomas. About half the states use the leaver method, but critics contend the leaver methodology is flawed because it relies on incomplete dropout data.

The cohort rate takes the number of students who graduate in four years with a …

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High-stakes testing cheats children out of a quality education

crcted.0920 (Medium)The folks at FairTest have been raising the alarm about excessive testing and its impact on education long before most people.

Here is a response to the AJC investigation into nationwide disparities in test results from Robert Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest: the National Center for Fair & Open Testing

By Robert Schaeffer

Across the U.S., the politically mandated misuse of standardized tests is damaging public schools and the children they serve. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s investigation of suspicious test scores around the nation is just the latest example. Experts may debate the methodology, but there is no question that cheating on standardized exams is widespread. In just the past three academic years, FairTest has documented confirmed cases of test score manipulation in 33 states plus the District of Columbia.

These scandals are the predictable result of over-reliance on test scores. As the renowned social scientist Donald Campbell concluded more …

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Testing season revs up: March madness leads to April angst

Here is a great essay by Georgia classroom teacher Beth Pittard, who is also a grad student at the University of Georgia College of Education:

By Beth Pittard

While many people around the country complete brackets for basketball, teachers everywhere gear up for their own version of March Madness. To prepare for the Criterion Referenced Competency Test to be taken sometime between April 4- May 6, elementary school teachers will actually have to convince students to forget what they have learned about reading.

The high-stakes testing situation leads, literally, to madness.

Let me explain. Teachers are required to teach the Georgia Performance Standards with fidelity. We are expected to “prove” we are doing this by posting the standard in a “highly visible” place in our classrooms along with an essential question (EQ) for each lesson of each day and for each subject area (forget integrating the curriculum, but that’s another story).

Each standard has a code …

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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 …

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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

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DOE releases list of 156 schools on its new “focus” list

Under its new accountability system, Georgia has created a tier of schools known as focus schools. Today, DOE released the list of 156 focus schools.

Focus schools  — which include schools doing well by a lot of students, but not by all students — will be served by DOE for three years with supports beginning in June.

(Since I posted this yesterday, the AJC has put up a news story that lists the local schools. See it here.)

The new DOE accountability designations — priority schools, focus schools and reward schools — replace the “needs improvement” label that educators deemed unclear and unhelpful. These three designations target  “Title I” schools that have a high percentage of low-income students.

Earlier this month, DOE released the names of the 78 schools on the priority list, a label that brings the greatest level of intervention to address chronic under performance.

The reward designation goes to high-achieving schools. DOE will also designate a fourth category, …

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If you need improvement now, you are a priority school under Georgia’s new, kinder accountability rankings

The state’s newly sanctioned accountability system is coming into public view with the release of 78 “priority” schools that are under performing and will see a concerted effort to improve.

Apparently, putting a school in the “priority” category has a less offensive ring than putting it in “needs improvement,” the discarded parlance from No Child Left Behind. The other new categories in Georgia are “focus” schools and “reward” schools.  The reward designation goes to high-achieving schools.

When you look at the priority list, there are a large number of  alternative high schools, which are designed to serve troubled students or kids who have not been doing well.

There are 14 schools in the Atlanta Public Schools, 10 in DeKalb County, three in Gwinnett (Meadowcreek High School and Gwinnett InterVention Education Center East and West) and one each in Cobb (Devereux Ackerman Academy)  and Fulton (McClaren Alternative School). Schools are placed on the list because of low …

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Ed Trust: Hold the applause on No Child waivers until we see impact on students

The Education Trust’s Amy Wilkins, vice president for government affairs and communications, issued a cautionary statement on the No Child Left Behind waivers awarded to 10 states today, including Georgia.

(Later on today, Ed Trust plans to release a deeper analysis of the waiver agreements following the release of more state-by-state materials by the U.S. Department of Education.)

Here is her statement:

Today’s waiver approvals establish a middle ground. In this new approach, the federal government takes responsibility for ensuring that states set meaningful goals for all groups of students — particularly low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners, all of whom are too often shortchanged by state and local education policy. At the same time, the waivers give these 10 states the flexibility and responsibility to determine the kinds of strategies and interventions their schools and districts need to enable all …

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White House statement on No Child waivers granted to 10 states, including Georgia

From White House:

President Barack Obama will announce today that ten states that have agreed to implement bold reforms around standards and accountability will receive flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.

In exchange for this flexibility, these states have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness. The ten states approved for flexibility are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

In a White House announcement attended by state education officials, teachers, civil rights, and business leaders, the President will say that NCLB, which is five years overdue for a rewrite, is driving the wrong behaviors, from teaching to the test to federally determined, one-size-fits-all interventions. The President will call on Congress to work across the aisle to fix the law even as his …

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Georgia liberated from No Child’s accountability measures

The AJC is reporting that Georgia is expected to be liberated today from requirements of No Child Left Behind, the sweeping federal education reform that required all students demonstrate proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Saying that the goal was unrealistic and proposing alternative competency measures, Georgia was among 11 states seeking waivers.

However, I listened to a panel a few weeks ago in which one of the key players in No Child, former Bush education Secretary Margaret Spellings, lamented the waivers as a retreat from our commitment to children and an acquiescence to adults.

Without deadlines for improvement on states, Spellings said the federal government was simply “putting money out there and hoping for the best. We tried for for 40 years and had flat achievement and a growing gap.”

She defended the 2014 deadline for requiring that all students perform at grade-level, saying that it was not unreasonable for parents to expect their children to be able to get …

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