Archive for the ‘Standards’ Category

Less concern about how much time students spend in their seats and more concern about how much they learn

In an ideal world, students would advance or tarry based on their fluency with the material. Kids who mastered the material quickly would leap ahead. Struggling peers would stay a bit longer.

But such individualized attention is not easy in education systems wedded to 180-day school years, 8-to-3 daily schedules and once-a-year administration of proficiency exams.

States are experimenting with highly personalized high school learning programs and schedules that increase engagement and lead to improved graduation rates.

Look at what Michigan and Ohio are doing.

I am sharing a statement from the Alliance for Excellent Education on New Hampshire’s competency-based learning approach, which is getting a lot of attention:  The alliance is holding a webinar today at 2 p.m. on New Hampshire’s program. Click here for info on it.)

For a century, most students have advanced from grade to grade based on the number of days they spend in class, but in New Hampshire, schools have moved …

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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 wrong, …

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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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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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Another round of global comparisons where U.S. falls short. But our kids can read well.

Another round of global studies of education prowess. Another round of laments over the under performance of U.S. students.

Two reports released today — the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study — found that U.S. students  perform better than the global average, but still lag behind many kids in East Asia and Europe.

There was one very bright spot: Fourth graders in this country are among the world’s top readers. (For a more upbeat spin on these results, check out Business Insider, which added all the scores and found the U.S. was 6th out the top 16 nations, surpassing, among others, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.)

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study examine the performance of elementary and middle school students.

(For a sense of what these tests mean, the Center for Public Education has some great primers on …

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Georgia Cyber Academy responds to state board special ed concerns: DOE didn’t provide assistance or clarity

In light of the state board of education concerns about Georgia Cyber Academy, I asked the director of the online charter school to make a statement.

Here is a response from head of school Matt Arkin:

GCA has been committed to working collaboratively with the Department of Education since our launch in 2007. When, in early 2012 Department of Education staff came to us with concerns regarding the growth of our Special Education population, GCA met with DOE staff, provided all requested information in a timely manner, and cooperated fully in a completely transparent manner.

When the DOE identified a list of issues to be addressed in May, GCA moved swiftly to address every issue identified in a comprehensive manner (including the addition of over 25 new special education teachers and support staff), and met every deadline that was identified by the DOE without delay.

GCA has met every deadline and addressed every issue identified by the DOE to date, as Lynda White, the …

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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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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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Retired teacher: Make admins teach. Reduce testing. Eliminate gifted. Restore recess.

Retired Atlanta Public Schools teacher Scott Stephens — he taught English for 15 years at Grady High School and taught for a decade in Fulton County  — sent me a list of reforms.  I thought it was a great list and have his permission to share it here:

Courtesy of Scott Stephens:

1. All certified personnel at a school, including academy leaders, graduation coaches, instructional coaches, assistant principals and principals, should teach at least one class during the school year. This would be of benefit in two ways. First, it would help reduce class size and, most important, it would provide administrators with continued input from the classroom. I believe that when a number of people are at school, but not teaching, morale is adversely affected.

2. All students (K-12) need daily physical activity, both recess and structured physical education. Many students need to get rid of excess energy. Others need to lose weight and get in shape. Further, many discipline problems …

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