Archive for the ‘Testing’ Category

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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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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Did Michelle Rhee ignore her own cheating scandal? A new memo suggests clear evidence was discounted.

Michelle Rhee speaking to Georgia lawmakers last year. (AJC Photo)

Michelle Rhee speaking to Georgia lawmakers last year. (AJC Photo)

PBS education reporter John Merrow writes about the erasure analyses, clear evidence of cheating and concealment of that evidence.

No, he is not writing about Atlanta Public Schools and former Superintendent Beverly Hall. He is writing about Washington, D.C., and former Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Merrow questions why the strong evidence of cheating in the District of Columbia Public Schools — revealed now in a confidential memo — was not followed up as it was in Atlanta, and puts the blame on Rhee.

He says an inexperienced and ambitious Rhee arrived in Washington and imposed a  “Produce or Else” reform model. He notes that Rhee met one-on-one with each principal and demanded a signed guarantee of exactly how many points their test scores would increase.

Rhee has become a national leader in education and holds great sway with state Legislatures, including here in Georgia. She is winning converts to the …

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Do weaker math students end up with weaker teachers?

math (Medium)We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing the under performance of Georgia students in math.

We’ve debated the controversial and now abandoned math reforms introduced by former state school chief Kathy Cox, which stumbled in part because teachers were not adequately trained. We’ve talked about whether the problem owes to what’s being taught or who’s teaching it

Here’s some fodder to further our debate. Education Week has an interesting piece on new research on math instruction and teacher assignments. Please read the full piece in Ed Week before commenting.

An excerpt:

In many schools in the United States, students struggling the most in mathematics at the start of high school have the worst odds of getting a qualified teacher in the subject, new research finds. Succeeding in freshman-level mathematics is critical for students to stay on track to high school graduation, with students who make poor grades in math in 8th and 9th grades more likely to leave school …

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State moves away from using test scores to assess schools but moves closer to using them for teachers

crcted.0920 (Medium)Since we are talking about standardized testing related to the teacher letter in an earlier blog today, I want to share a good AJC piece by my colleague Nancy Badertscher.

I recommended some experts for the story and am glad to see two of them in the piece.

My only caveat to the views expressed by State School Superintendent John Barge about an over reliance on testing: While Georgia may be de-emphasizing test scores in its assessments of schools, it is about to start emphasizing those same scores in its assessment of teachers.

So, I am not sure we have changed the game plan in any meaningful way.

Here is an excerpt: (Please note that this story is part of the AJC’s new premium site, MyAJC.com, which is free through mid May. Take a look at the full story and the nifty new site.)

John Barge was working in Bartow County Schools when a high school student had a panic attack trying to pass the graduation test and a fourth-grader became so stressed taking the CRCT he drew blood …

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Teacher’s parting letter strikes a nerve with equally frustrated peers around the country

A letter penned by a retiring Syracuse, N.Y., social studies teacher is getting a lot of reaction since it hit the web this week.

Westhill High School teacher Jerry Conti sent this letter to the Board of Education. (He also posted it on his Facebook page, which is why so many people have read it and sent it around.)

Here it is:

It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than 27 years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.

As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I …

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Reading between the lines: Florida’s retention program is not worth replicating

Paul Thomas, a Furman University associate professor of education, writes about range of education issues, including the push in South Carolina to follow Florida’s retention policy. This is his second appearance on the Get Schooled blog, but you can read more of his stuff at his “becoming radical” blog.

Thomas sent me this opinion column on the issue of retention. Retention is still one of education’s most hotly debate topics. State policy says Georgia students in grades 3, 5 and 8 should repeat the year when they fail certain standardized tests. But it seldom happens.

The AJC found that districts promote the vast majority of  students even if they fail the retest or blow it off altogether.

Here is an excerpt of the 2008 AJC story:

The AJC obtained state databases — with students’ names removed — that contained spring CRCT scores, summer retest scores and students’ grade level the following fall for 2006 and 2007. In total, the newspaper examined nearly 800,000 …

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Bill Gates: We’re fumbling evaluations when we rate teachers on how students skip

downeyart0401In a Washington Post op-ed, Bill Gates says there should be a fairer way to evaluate teachers. While he is all for accountability, Gates cautions against using student test scores as the primary basis for making decisions about firing, promoting and compensating teachers.

Here is an excerpt: (Please read full piece before commenting.)

Efforts are being made to define effective teaching and give teachers the support they need to be as effective as possible. But as states and districts rush to implement new teacher development and evaluation systems, there is a risk they’ll use hastily contrived, unproven measures. One glaring example is the rush to develop new assessments in grades and subjects not currently covered by state tests. Some states and districts are talking about developing tests for all subjects, including choir and gym, just so they have something to measure.

In one Midwestern state, for example, a 166-page Physical Education Evaluation Instrument holds …

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Alfie Kohn on APS cheating scandal: ‘What if we gave a test and nobody came?’

testing (Medium)I interviewed education advocate and writer Alfie Kohn a while back. You can read the 2011 interview here.

The APS cheating scandal was in the news at the time, and Kohn told me:

The real cheating scandal that has been going on for years is that kids are being cheated out of meaningful learning by focusing on test scores. Standardized tests like the CRCT measure what matters least. The more you know about education, the less likely you would ever be to measure teachers, schools or kids based on test scores.

I wondered what Kohn, author of “The Case Against Standardized Testing” and other books, thought about the indictments Friday of former APS school chief Beverly Hall and 34 others.

I asked him a few questions for an editorial I am writing for the print AJC.

Here are his answers in full:

Standardized tests are lousy measures of thinking. They assess some combination of (a) family wealth and (b) how much time has been diverted from real learning in order to make kids better …

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