Archive for the ‘Testing’ 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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Teachers refuse to give test, but aren’t there some tests that are worth giving?

crcted.0920 (Medium)Teachers in Seattle are taking a stand against standardized testing by refusing to administer a required district-wide test.

What’s odd to me is the test Seattle teachers are choosing to protest, which is the Measure of Academic Progress. The high performing City of Decatur Schools uses MAP testing as well, giving it three times a year to see where students begin, where they are mid-year and where they are at the end of the year.

My kids attend Decatur schools and are not intimidated by MAP testing as it has been part of their education for a long time.  Nor are they overly concerned with the scores, which they get instantly as the test is taken on a computer. I would be interested in what other Decatur parents out there think about MAP.

As to the comment within the news story below that algebra students see geometry on the test, my kids tell me that the challenge of the questions on the MAP test increases depending on how well a student is doing. If they get a question …

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How to study: Stop highlighting, cramming and rereading notes. Start taking practice tests and using flashcards.

A new study challenges many of our assumptions about how to study. (AJC photo)

A new study challenges many of our assumptions about how to study. (AJC photo)

Time to retire those yellow highlighters.

A new report on the most effective studying techniques found that highlighting and underlining don’t do students much good. Nor does cramming as the information slips away too quickly. The authors say it’s more effective to space study sessions.

Another common learning technique that didn’t make the grade in the research was summarizing, which my twins are required to do a lot with middle school reading. (I am not a fan as I find that extracting the most important ideas from a reading passage and summarizing them reduces reading to drudgery.)

In the biggest surprise, the report didn’t find much benefit from rereading materials or notes, the most common studying technique reported by students.

The report states: One advantage of rereading is that students require no training to use it, other than perhaps being instructed that rereading …

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Quality Counts: Georgia ranks 7th and earns a first-time ever perfect score in one area

Education Week released its “Quality Counts” report today, and Georgia ranked 7th in the comprehensive rating system for the second year in a row and also became the first state to earn a perfect score in the category of transitions and alignment, which examines early-childhood education, college readiness, and career readiness

Maryland earned first place followed, in order, by Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, West Virginia, Kentucky, Connecticut, Vermont and Ohio.. All those earned a grade of B-minus or higher. The rest of the states fell in the C-minus to C-plus range except for South Dakota, which earned a D plus. (Go here for an interactive map.)

Because the Education Week rankings are untainted by any political or philosophical underpinnings, they are taken more seriously than some other rankings. They are largely a data-driven measurement but they do look at a wide range of indicators.

For other rankings released this week, …

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Students First? Michelle Rhee’s report card: Is the issue more choices or better choices?

Michelle Rhee's advocacy group, StudentsFirst, released state report cards, but the grades have no relation to student achievement.

Michelle Rhee's advocacy group, StudentsFirst, released state report cards, but the grades have no relation to student achievement.

All the discussion about expanding school choice through private school tax credits, charter schools and vouchers glosses over a critical caveat: More choices don’t necessarily lead to better choices.

Earlier this week, Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization released a report card on state education policy determined in large part by the extent of school choice afforded families and the effort to dismantle teacher unions.

By focusing on public policy, the StudentsFirst report card looked more on State Houses than schoolhouses. Georgia earned a D-plus because StudentsFirst felt the state doesn’t go far enough in providing information and choices to  parents.

While the StudentsFirst report card considerations are extensive, they don’t include student outcomes, which is why Louisiana dramatically outscores Massachusetts, the state that …

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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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School funding in 2013: Probably no new money from Georgia Legislature but the possibility of flexibility

Lawmakers are taking aim at teacher performance in a new bill.

Lawmakers aren't promising schools more money in 2013, but there may be more flexibility.

Georgia schools probably can’t count on more cash from the Legislature this year, but they may gain more flexibility.

Flexibility is easier to offer schools than money in these economic doldrums, although superintendents often note that they can’t use it to pay teacher salaries or heating bills.

Georgia lawmakers regard “flexibility” as a lever to improve academics, passing a law four years ago that all 180 of the state’s school districts pick a flexibility plan by 2015 or declare that they are satisfied with the status quo.

In exchange for flexibility, the state will hold systems accountable for higher performances.

“What we are trying to do is drive behavior in order to improve academic performance,”said state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, who chairs the Senate Education and Youth Committee. “You have flexibility if you have results. If you don’t, we yank it. The point …

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New UGA study: Their classroom demeanors give girls a boost in grades over boys in classroom

downeyart (Medium)Interesting release from the University of Georgia on why girls fare better than boys in elementary school.

If interested in this issue, check out this interview I did with the author of “The Way of Boys: Raising Healthy Boys in a Challenging and Complex World.”  Author and behavioral psychologist Anthony Rao maintains that today’s classrooms favor how girls learn.

“Girls use more words. They are heavy on reading and early literacy and more social cooperation,” Rao told me. The boy brain is wired for motor skill development and spatial tasks, and boys learn more by touching and exploration. (There are exceptions, he says, describing himself as a compliant learner eager to do what the teacher wanted.)

“When you promote all this assessment and increasing standardization, you narrow the way you are going to teach kids, eclipsing the ways that boys learn better,” said Rao. “You go to much less hands-on and manipulation of objects and to more sit down and …

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Common Core Standards: Sky is not falling, but ground is shifting

Mel Riddile is the associate director for high school services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. His work in turning around schools in Virginia earned him the 2006 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year award. This is his first piece for the AJC Get Schooled blog

By Mel Riddile

To answer a couple of the education questions on the minds of Georgia citizens these days:

Yes, we can expect to see a significant drop in the first year of the new Georgia Performance Standards assessments.

No, the sky is not falling.

But the ground is shifting.

Previous Georgia standards and assessments aimed merely to validate a high school diploma. Nothing more.

The new Georgia Performance Standards, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards, call for a much higher level of student performance as indicators of college-and-career-readiness.

Georgia was one of the first states to adopt the new Common Core standards in English, language arts and …

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