Archive for the ‘Testing’ Category

Seeing teachers as technicians ignores what else they give students: confidence, moral support and inspiration

Spurred by federal policy, many states, including Georgia, want to move to evaluations that consider student progress on tests. But a rising chorus is challenging the reliability of testing to define a good teacher.

Spurred by federal policy, many states, including Georgia, are moving to teacher evaluations that consider student progress on tests. But a rising chorus is challenging the reliance on testing to define a good teacher. (AJC photo)

Frequent blog contributor Peter Smagorinsky is Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at the University of Georgia and recipient of the 2012 Sylvia Scribner Award from the American Educational Research Association for conducting scholarship that has influenced thinking and research of learning and instruction and that represents a significant advancement in the field’s understanding.

Here is a thoughtful piece he wrote on teacher evaluations.

By Peter Smagorinsky

When I was a kid growing up in Fairfax County, Va., my father became head of the school PTA at one point. Among his goals was to institute a merit pay system to reward the school’s best teachers.

Around the house, he’d say, “There’s no one more overpaid than a bad teacher, and …

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Beverly Hall worried about asking too little of inner city students. But is there also a danger of asking too much?

downeyart (Medium)Despite all the cheering on the blog that APS administrators are now facing justice for their roles in the CRCT cheating scandal, an unresolved issue remains: Why was there so much cheating in APS?  (And elsewhere in the country, as uncovered by a later AJC investigation?)

The Georgia CRCTs are not difficult tests. Why was it so difficult to get APS students to score in acceptable ranges?

The indictments in the APS cheating scandal bring us back to the national quandary of how to raise the achievement level of students who historically were never expected to do well, were accorded fewer resources with which to do well, had the most inexperienced teachers and came from homes that lacked the social capital to assist them in school.

The cheating at APS occurred in the schools with the least advantaged populations.

When she came to Atlanta, Beverly Hall said she wanted teachers who believed poor children could do well. (Interesting side point here is that Hall wanted to fire many …

Continue reading Beverly Hall worried about asking too little of inner city students. But is there also a danger of asking too much? »

Poison seeds: The bitter harvest of the APS cheating scandal

downeyart0401In 2009, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education featured Atlanta’s Parks Middle School on its annual bus tour of high-achieving schools, and I joined the visit. I arrived early in my own car, beating the bus and getting a chance to chat with students for an hour.

The enthusiastic students expressed pride in their school, which was decorated with banners announcing its awards and distinctions. And there were many.

In 2006, Parks Middle made adequate yearly progress and surpassed Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall’s even more ambitious targets. That same year, the percentage of eighth-graders who passed the math section of the CRCT rose from 24 percent to 86 percent. In 2008, Parks earned national accolades after becoming Atlanta’s only middle school to meet all its academic targets.

Over the weekend, I dug into my old files — a box in my closet — for my notebook from Parks. Among the quick observations I had jotted down: “Kids proud of school.” “Telling me about …

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Former Atlanta school chief Beverly Hall and 34 others indicted in APS cheating case

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall was among 35 people indicted today in APS cheating scandal.  (AJC photo)

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall was among 35 people indicted today in APS cheating scandal. (AJC photo)

Among those named in the indictment handed down tonight by a Fulton County grand jury looking into the APS cheating scandal is former school chief Beverly Hall.

Hall and 34 others were indicted as a result of their alleged roles in the 2009 cheating scandal that toppled her regime, sullied the district’s reputation and raised doubts about testing integrity nationwide.

In the indictments, there was only one count of racketeering, which carries up to 20 years in prison. But the alleged acts of false statements and writings, influencing a witness, theft by taking were the underlying crimes that supported the racketeering charge.

Out of 65 counts, one was racketeering, two were influencing a witness, five were theft by taking and the remaining counts concerned the crime of making false statements or writings.

The cheating discovered by the AJC in Atlanta has …

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Indictments may come today in APS cheating scandal. Grand jury looking at suppressed report on “culture of wrongdoing” at one school

The AJC is expecting indictments possibly later today related to the APS cheating scandal first brought to light by the newspaper. When those indictments come down, please be sure to come back to the blog as there will be a lot to discuss about who was indicted and who was not.

The AJC is already reporting that the grand jury looking at the APS cheating scandal has been focusing in part on D.H. Stanton Elementary School where it appears that data skewing was common.

According to the AJC: (Please read the entire story before commenting. This is an excerpt.)

An internal inquiry confirmed a”culture of wrongdoings” at D.H. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta: Attendance records were falsified. Disciplinary files were doctored. Friends of the principal got paid for tutoring they never performed. And the principal covered up reports that staff members had physically abused students.

Special investigators appointed to dig into widespread cheating on standardized tests in the …

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New Race to the Top teacher evaluations with strong reliance on test scores begin in 2014-2015

downeyart0726 (Medium)As expected, House Bill 244 passed both the House and the Senate, incorporating the educator evaluation system piloted by Georgia’s Race to the Top districts into state law. With the Senate vote this week, the bill now moves to the governor, who will sign it into law.

As you can tell from reading the bill, there are some vague references to yet-to-be-finalized evaluation details.

The teacher evaluations will now give great weight to student academic growth as measured by testing. Measures of student growth count for at least half an educator’s rating.

The passage won praise from former Washington, D.C., chancellor Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst. “The overwhelming bipartisan support of House Bill 244 provides a clear example of leaders putting politics aside and doing what’s best for students. By passing this legislation, the Georgia Legislature has sent a strong message to the rest of the country – our kids deserve to have great teachers in public school …

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If you thought criminal indictments would never come in APS cheating scandal, think again. Indictments coming.

I had my doubts that any APS officials would ever be criminally indicted for the cheating scandal given how long it has taken,  but I may be proven wrong.

According to the AJC:

Fulton County prosecutors are close to seeking indictments in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal, lawyers familiar with the probe said.

Defense attorneys representing some educators are being told criminal charges could be filed soon and that more than two dozen people could be indicted. That would answer questions that have hung over the inquiry since its start: Would the cheating be treated as a crime, and who would be prosecuted?

The Fulton District Attorney’s Office has spent more than 18 months investigating cheating on the 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

In July 2011, three special investigators found cheating on standardized tests occurred at 44 Atlanta schools and involved 178 educators, including 38 principals. That probe, initiated by Gov. Sonny Perdue, was …

Continue reading If you thought criminal indictments would never come in APS cheating scandal, think again. Indictments coming. »

From Canada to Georgia, teachers complain of pressure to change grades to mask high failure rates

testing (Medium)Interesting AJC story on an Atlanta high school principal who resigned after accusations he bullied and intimidated teachers into raising failing grades.

Grade inflation has been in the national news as schools face increased pressure to improve student achievement, an issue Georgia knows well after the CRCT cheating scandals in Atlanta and Dougherty County schools.

Even Canada, held up as a model of effective education reform, has seen complaints from teachers of mounting pressure to alter grades so fewer students fail under a stricter accountability system.

Closer to home, teachers in a Tennessee for-profit virtual school complained of an email that directed them to drop failing grades. In a recent investigation, Nashville’s WTVF/NewsChannel 5 found that a Tennessee Virtual Academy administrator instructed middle school teachers to delete failing grades.

The case has had reverberations nationwide as the parent company of Tennessee Virtual, K12, the nation’s largest online …

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Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit

Adam Emerson is the director of the program on parental choice at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank that recently released “School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring?”

Adam Emerson

Adam Emerson

In this piece, Emerson urges more transparency in how Georgia’s controversial private school scholarship tax credit program works. In what he calls a “grand bargain,” Emerson proposes, “More transparency in exchange for more (or more generous) scholarships.”

By Adam Emerson

The Georgia Senate recently took an incremental step toward responsible and accountable private school choice by unanimously passing a bill that shines more sunlight upon the Peach State’s embattled tax credit scholarship program. If the House concurs, then parents and taxpayers will have more information about the students and the scholarship groups that participate.

But Senate Bill 243 doesn’t go far enough. Yes, it requires the nonprofit groups that administer the scholarships to …

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Cheating or collaboration? Do students really not know the difference?

crcted.0920 (Medium)A reader sent me this note about cheating and asked that I put the issue before the Get Schooled blog readership:

I am wondering if you have done much on student cheating? I have read about teacher cheating but don’t remember anything on the student side of the equation.

Now that my child is in high school, I am amazed at what online resources are available at the click of the button. I am aware of an instance where a teacher used an online study guide as a test….most of the students used it (teacher was unaware it was public domain) and received 100 percent on the test.  Smart on the students’ part, I’d say yes. Lazy on the teacher’s part, I’d say yes.

I’ve had some discussions with parents. Teachers don’t change their test, and the students share what’s on the test with their classmates who have not taken yet taken it.

That is cheating. But the parents I’ve spoken to call it “collaboration” and see nothing wrong with it. Teachers are aware it goes on but say it is …

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