Today's news -- December 16, 2013

 

 

Brevard teachers gear up for classroom evaluations

For two years, a yellowed piece of newspaper showing a cartoon by Jeff Parker has been hanging at my desk. The serious teacher stands near a disinterested student, slumped in his seat with earphones. He says “…I sleep through class, I don’t study and never do my homework. Wait’ll the teacher merit pay bill passes, then we’ll see whose ‘F’ that is.” Jeff Parker got it so right. The end of the first semester is closing in, and teachers are busy evaluating their students to calculate final grades. But students aren’t the only ones being evaluated. Recently many teachers received an email instructing us to select a day and time for our first informal observation. While the administrators have been performing classroom “walkthroughs,” the more formal process is about to begin. Because of the “Race to the Top” initiative, the district adopted a VAM, value-added model, whereby teacher quality is measured by the rise or fall of student test scores. Today’s over-complicated evaluation process is a confusing point system of teacher effectiveness, self-evaluation rubrics and value-added scores based on student test results from last year. Other than those instructing Advanced Placement courses, most teachers have no choice about which students sit in their classrooms. Despite ongoing attempts to motivate the lowest-achieving learners, their lack of effort now diminishes the teacher’s ratings. Few educators are happy about VAM calculations and many continue debating its merits.

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20131215/NEWS01/312150022

 

Teacher evaluations are “pseudo science” (by Dan Bennett)

Anyone confused by the teacher evaluation system? For decades, school reformers have mined FCAT data in different ways to get different results. To figure school grades, the state looks at a percentage of students on grade level or making learning gains. But then to figure AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) the feds splice out the same data by ethnicity to make sure every subgroup of students is passing.  Yes, there were instances where the state system assigned an A, while the national system labeled the same school as failing. Now we have teacher evaluations where the state assigns a projection for each student’s FCAT score. Factors like special education status, scheduling, and attendance adjust the individualized projection and a teacher gets either credit or blame for the student meeting or missing the projection. The creation of the projection is the basis of the VAM (Value Added Model). At best, VAM is hard to verify. At worst, it is a pseudo-science. It certainly has nothing to do with the school grade. All of this leads to public confusion about what is going on in schools. Just know that teachers are always there for the kids, not for the FCAT, VAM or other acronyms.

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20131215/OPINION/312150002

 

Teacher development and evaluation (Randi Weingarten quoted)
http://aft.org/issues/teaching/evaluation.cfm

 

New school standards tough for non-English speakers

http://touch.sun-sentinel.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-78544362/

 

Palm Beach district, union reach pay agreement (Lynn Cavall quoted)
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/fl-pb-teacher-raise-agreement-20131213,0,7392944.story

 

Hernando teacher raises hit gridlock before winter break (Jo Ann Hartge, John Imhof, Lynne Webb and Jean Clements quoted)
http://hernandotoday.com/he/list/news/teacher-raises-hit-gridlock-before-winter-break-20131214/

 

Teachers union president Lynne Webb steps down after 15 years

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/teachers/teachers-union-president-lynne-webb-steps-down-after-15-years/2157026

 

Teachers or tutors? (Kim Black quoted)
http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/maxwell-teachers-or-tutors/2156972

 

Positive behavior support in Escambia, Santa Rosa County schools on rise (Bill Vincent quoted)
http://www.pnj.com/article/20131216/NEWS01/312160011?source=nletter-top5

 

Local teachers concerned after Colorado shooting (Ellen Baker quoted)
http://www.wflx.com/story/24226849/local-teachers-concerned-after-colorado-shooting

 

Hernando schools to tackle state funding levels

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/hernando-schools-to-tackle-state-funding-levels/2156995

 

Two-thirds would support Duval tax increase for education, poll finds

http://members.jacksonville.com/news/metro/2013-12-13/story/two-thirds-would-support-duval-tax-increase-education-poll-finds

 

Fewer students held back in third grade

http://www.news-press.com/article/20131215/NEWS0104/312150054/Fewer-students-held-back-third-grade

 

Ten obvious truths that we shouldn’t be ignoring

The field of education bubbles over with controversies. It’s not unusual for intelligent people of good will to disagree passionately about what should happen in schools. But there are certain precepts that aren’t debatable, that just about anyone would have to acknowledge are true. While many such statements are banal, some are worth noticing because in our school practices and policies we tend to ignore the implications that follow from them. It’s both intellectually interesting and practically important to explore such contradictions: If we all agree that a given principle is true, then why in the world do our schools still function as if it weren’t? Here are 10 examples.

http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/duh.htm

 

Study: Test-score gains don’t mean cognitive gains

In a finding that should give pause to backers of standardized test-based school reform, a new study by neuroscientists at three major universities shows that students who achieved the highest gains on standardized tests did not show the same gains in the ability to analyze material and think logically. The research, conducted by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Brown University and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, says that strategies that schools use to boost scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams did nothing to help students improve in the development of what is called “fluid intelligence” skills, or cognitive gains. Modern school reform has been wrapped around the notion that “accountability” of students, schools and teachers can be achieved by monitoring the scores students receive on high-stakes multiple-choice standardized tests. Assessment experts have long said that most of the standardized tests that have been in use for many years do a poor job of evaluating the range of things students learn (and for that and other reasons, should not be used for high stakes decisions). This study goes beyond those findings, seeming to “narrow down the possibilities of what educational interventions are achieving,” Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia who was not part of the research team, was quoted as saying by a report on study published on the MIT website.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/12/16/study-test-score-gains-dont-mean-cognitive-gains/

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/even-when-test-scores-go-up-some-cognitive-abilities-dont-1211.html#.Uqm3Ss16wBI.twitter

 

The dangerous rise of for-profit public education

http://www.educationviews.org/dangerous-rise-for-profit-public-education/

 

Will the Common Core be the Rosetta Stone for corporate reform?

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/12/will_the_common_core_be_the_ro.html

 

Five myths about the Common Core (Randi Weingarten quoted)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-the-common-core/2013/12/13/da05f832-5c40-11e3-be07-006c776266ed_story.html

 

Did Shanghai cheat on PISA?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/12/15/did-shanghai-cheat-on-pisa/

 

Why Florida educators want to change arts accountability in schools

http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2013/12/15/why-florida-educators-want-to-change-arts-accountability-in-schools/

 

Thousands come together to support public education (Randi Weingarten in video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvRgdiUTVv4&feature=youtu.be&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DDvRgdiUTVv4%26feature%3Dyoutu.be&app=desktop

 

What happens when educators make their own documentary?

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/15/what-happens-when-educators-make-their-own-documentary/

 

What happens to kids who don’t graduate?

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/15/what-happens-to-kids-who-dont-graduate/

 

Failing our children by starting them out wrong

http://www.ocala.com/article/20131215/COLUMNISTS/131219840/-1/wire?p=2&tc=pg

 

When private firms run schools, financial secrecy is allowed

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/us/when-private-firms-run-schools-financial-secrecy-is-allowed.html

 

Indiana: Public schools show stronger performance than charter schools or voucher schools

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/14/indiana-public-schools-show-stronger-performance-than-charter-schools-orcvoucher-schools/

 

North Carolina: Home schools may qualify for vouchers

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/16/north-carolina-home-schools-may-qualify-for-vouchers/

 

Florida colleges become more selective

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/highered/fl-tougher-college-admissions-20131214,0,6059190.story

 

More Florida college graduates are drowning in debt

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-florida-student-loan-debt-20131207,0,5129085.story

 

What’s right -- and very wrong -- with the teacher education debate

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/12/16/whats-right-and-very-wrong-with-the-teacher-education-debate/

 

Pay for U.S. college presidents continues to grow

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/us/pay-for-us-college-presidents-continues-to-grow.html

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/report-many-private-college-presidents-make-1m

 

Unemployed Floridians to lose benefits as state, nation cut weeks paid

http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/business/unemployed-floridians-to-lose-benefits-as-state-na/ncKtF/?icmp=pbp_internallink_invitationbox_apr2013_pbpstubtomypbp_launch

 

Florida unemployment benefits still tied up as website problems persist

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/15/3821063/florida-unemployment-benefits.html

 

Many promises, few jobs

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/14/3816918/many-promises-few-jobs.html

 

Florida Supreme Court rejects Republican leaders’ bid for shield in redistricting cases

http://www.postonpolitics.com/2013/12/florida-supreme-court-rejects-republican-leaders-bid-for-shield-in-redistricting-cases/

http://members.jacksonville.com/news/2013-12-13/story/historic-ruling-florida-supreme-court-says-lawmakers-can-testify-redistricting

 

Failure at the top on Medicaid

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-failure-at-the-top-on-medicaid/2156991

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-12-15/news/os-ed-florida-medicaid-expansion-20131213_1_florida-senate-house-gop-florida-hospital-association

http://www.ocala.com/article/20131214/OPINION01/131219852?Title=Editorial-Burdening-us-all

http://contextflorida.com/mark-obrien-florida-is-a-medicaid-santa-for-other-states/

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20131215/OPINION03/131219807/-1/opinion?Title=Jean-Robinson-Florida-is-denying-coverage-sending-tax-dollars-elsewhere

 

In Miami, Sebelius sticks to message, touting retooled Obamacare website

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2013/12/in-miami-kathleen-sebelius-sticks-to-message-touting-retooled-obamacare-website.html

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sebelius-obamacare-opponents-trying-to-stifle-navigators

 

Homestead absentee-ballot case under investigation by Miami-Dade police, prosecutors

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/14/3816934/police-prosecutors-investigate.html

 

Dream Defenders gear up for more activism

http://touch.orlandosentinel.com/#section/1233/article/p2p-78565213/

 

We are not all in this together

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/14/we-are-not-all-in-this-together/

 

Why inequality matters

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/opinion/krugman-why-inequality-matters.html

 

Lawmakers pass blame, but not bills

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/us/politics/lawmakers-pass-blame-but-not-bills.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/us/politics/congress-prepares-to-leave-behind-a-sluggish-2013.html

 

 0 user(s) rated this page
Login to leave a comment
No Comments yet