A closer look at charter and regular public school enrollments, percentages of students at risk, and percentages of students ‘proficient’

Here is another look at the brand-new data concerning four variables in the District of Columbia schools, about which I wrote a couple of days ago. The difference here is that the dots representing the schools are more-or=less proportional to the size of the student body.

1. Is this a regular public school, or a charter school (blue or red):

2. What fraction of the kids at that school are officially considered to be At Risk? (That’s the scale along the x-axis at the bottom of the page)

3. What is the average percentage of the kids at that school are ‘proficient’ in reading and math on the DC-CAS? (That’s the scale along the y-axis at the left-hand side of the page)

4. How big is the school? (That’s the size of the dot, more or less; the legend is at the bottom left-hand corner of the graph)

Time spent looking carefully at this graph will be well-spent. If you click on it, it will expand.

It will certainly show that charter schools have not revolutionized education for the better in DC: for both types of schools, there remains a very strong, negative correlation between the percentages of kids At Risk and ‘pass’ rates on the DC-CAS.

Note that most schools have between 200 and 500 students and that most of the ones that are smaller are actually charter schools. As I wrote a couple of days ago, the schools with the largest fraction of At-Risk students (say, over 2/3 of the student body) are almost all regular DC public schools.

On the second graph, which is otherwise identical to the first, I’ve labeled some of the larger schools.

fixed bicolor, size of school and at risk vs average dc cas 2014 proficiency, both regular public and charter, dc

Here is the one with names of some of the larger schools, so you can see how individual schools fall on this graph.

(Sorry, I there was not enough room to label every single one, and my non-existent HTML skills won’t allow me to make it so that any of the dots are clickable. If any of my readers know how to do that and would like to offer to make that happen, then please let me know in the comments.)

again fixed and revised names and bicolor, size of school and at risk vs average dc cas 2014 proficiency, both regular public and charter, dc

And here is the entire data table. So you can see where every single school lies on these three dimensions.

(PS: I added a few more names of schools and corrected four other small errors, two pointed out by an alert reader.. 2/22/2015)

Atlantic Magazine Article on What’s Wrong With the New SAT

Interesting article in the Jan. 20 The Atlantic Magazine concerning the problems with the new SAT (which once was called the Scholastic Aptitude Test).

One problem is that the problems are wordy as all get out and are mostly testing the students’ ability to decipher highly abstract text, not their ability to do math. For example, I present two questions that were cited in the article.

First problem, which you may click on to enlarge:

predicted metacarpal

Not having studied the bones of the hand since junior high school, I didn’t recall what the “First Metacarpal Bone” was;I wrongly guessed it was one of those little tiny bones that allow you to bend your wrist. Only when I looked at how long thse bones are ( 4 to 5 cm) and looked it up online did I find that this is the long bone at the base of your thumb, as you see here in red.


Of course, this fact was was not explained anywhere in the text; and if your first language isn’t English then you are going to have a very hard time with this question. I suspect that the reading level of this problem is very, very high.

Having studied and taught some statistics, I know that the slope of the line of best fit for this graph shows how an increase or decrease of 1 cm in the length of that thumb-bone will predict an increase or decrease in the height of those people.

Now, here is a graph of a very similar correlation (hand length and height) from a real study (and for which a line of best fit would be a whole lot more realistic!):

second metacarpal versus height

Why does David Coleman feel the need to make everything so obscure? Oh! I remember! He’s never taught students, ever!

Oh, and by the way, this question is considered by Mr Coleman to be “easy”.

As is this one, which I am also taking from the Atlantic article:

standard deviation psychology

I will recommend that you read the Atlantic article, since that author has much more patience than I do to explain all of this stuff. The basic idea is that when you sample more items in a population of things or people, then your margin of error gets smaller, which is highly counterintuitive! So asking more people will give you better results, hence a smaller margin of error. Which is not really taught outside of statistics classes. (Assuming that these students generally read for pretty close to an hour and a half a day and feel like telling the truth, OR that they know that they are supposed to say something near 90 minutes a a day…)

In any case, the readability of this question is pretty high, according to the Fry and Lexile algorithms that I used.

Recall, this is supposed to be an EASY question!

And PS: I defy my readers to solve this question: (p,.111)

An international bank issues its Traveler credit cards worldwide. When a customer makes a purchase using a Traveler card in a currency different from the customer’s home currency, the bank converts the purchase price at the daily foreign exchange rate and then charges a 4% fee on the converted cost. Sara lives in the United States, but is on vacation in India. She used her Traveler card for a purchase that cost 602 rupees (Indian currency). The bank posted a charge of $9.88 to her account that included the 4% fee.

part 1

What foreign exchange rate, in Indian rupees per one U.S. dollar, did the bank use for Sara’s charge? Round your answer to the nearest whole number.

part 2

A bank in India sells a prepaid credit card worth 7,500 rupees. Sara can buy the prepaid card using dollars at the daily exchange rate with no fee, but she will lose any money left unspent on the prepaid card. What is the least number of the 7,500 rupees on the prepaid card Sara must spend for the prepaid card to be cheaper than charging all her purchases on the Traveler card? Round your answer to the nearest whole number of rupees.

Essential Questions on “Empowering Males of Color”

Essential Questions on “Empowering Males of Color”.


Looks like this proposed all-male high school east of the Anacostia has a record in Chicago that isn’t so wonderful. Check out this article by one of my colleagues.

How Well are Charter Schools in DC Educating Students Who are Officially At-Risk?

The results may surprise you.

To answer this question, I used some recent data. I just found out that the DC City Council has begun requiring that schools enumerate the number of students who are officially At-Risk. They define this as students who are

“homeless, in the District’s foster care system, qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or high school students that are one year older, or more, than the expected age for the grade in which the students are enrolled.” (That last group is high school students who have been held back at least one time at some point in their school career.)

So, it’s a simple (but tedious) affair for me to plot the percentage of such at risk students, at each of the roughly 200 publicly-funded schools in Washington, DC, versus the average percentage of students who were proficient or advanced in math and reading on the 2014 DC-CAS.

I was rather shocked by the results. Here are my main conclusions:

1. For almost all of the schools, to get a rough idea of the percent of students passing the DC-CAS, simply subtract 90% minus the number of students ‘At-Risk’. The correlation is very, very strong.

2. There are only THREE DC charter schools with 70% or more of their students At-Risk, whereas there are THIRTY-ONE such regular public schools. So much for the idea that the charter schools would do a better job of educating the hardest-to-reach students (the homeless, those on food stamps, those who have already failed one or more grades, etc).

3. The only schools that have more than 90% of their students ‘passing’ the DC-CAS standardized tests remain, to this day, the small handful of schools in relatively-affluent upper Northwest DC with relatively high percentages of white and Asian students..(Unless you include Sharpe Health school, where students who cannot feed or dress themselves or hold a pencil are somehow deemed ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ by methods I can only guess at…)

4. As I’ve indicated before, it appears that for the most part, DC’s charter schools are mostly enrolling smaller percentages of At-Risk, high-poverty students but higher fractions of the students in the middle of the wealth/family-cohesion spectrum than the regular DC public schools. There are a few exceptions among the charter schools: BASIS, Yu Ying, Washington Latin and a few others are succeeding in attracting families and students at the high end of the socio-economic and academic scales.

5. It looks like we are now turning into a tripartite school system: one for affluent and well-educated familes (relatively high fractions of whites and Asians; mostly but not all in regular Ward 3 public schools); one for those in the middle (mostly blacks and hispanics, many enrolled in charter schools), and one for those at the seriously low end of the socio-economic spectrum, overwhelmingly African-American, largely At Risk, and mostly in highly-segregated regular public schools.

Very, very sad.

Here is the graph that sums it all up. Click on it to see a larger version.

bicolor, at risk vs average dc cas 2014 proficiency, both regular public and charter, dc

In blue we have the regular public schools of Washington DC for which I have DC-CAS data for 2014, from grades 3 through 8 and grade 10. In red we have the privately-run but publicly-funded charter schools. Along the horizontal axis, we have the percentage of students who are officially At Risk as defined by the DC CIty Council. Along the vertical axis, we have the average percentage of students who scored ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ in math and reading on the DC-CAS at those schools. The green line is the line of best fit as calculated by Excel. Notice that the data points pretty much follow that green line, slanting down and to the right.

To nobody’s surprise, at both the charter and regular public schools, on the whole, the greater the percentage of students at a school who are At Risk, the smaller the percentage of students who ‘pass’ the DC-CAS standardized tests.

The colors do help us see that at the far right-hand end of the graph, there are lots of blue dots and only a small number of red ones. This means that the vast majority of schools with high percentages of At Risk students are regular DC public schools. You could interpret that to mean that parents in more stable families in those neighborhoods are fleeing from what they see as the bad influence of potential classmates who are extremely poor, homeless, have already repeated a grade, and so on, and are flocking to charter schools who have the freedom to expel or ‘counsel out’ such students and to impose a relatively strict behavior code that the DC Council forbids the regular public schools from using. (Their latest initiative is to forbit ALL out-of-school suspensions, no matter what…)

Dots that are above the slanted green line supposedly represent schools that are doing a better job at teaching to the tests than would be predicted by the At-Risk status alone. Dots below the line are doing a worse job than would be predicted. Notice that there are dots of both colors both above and below the line.


I wish to thank the indefatigable Mary Levy for collecting and passing on this data. You can find the original data source at the OSSE website, but I’ve saved the larger table (all 2008-2014 DC-CAS data) on Google Drive at this link. I took the average of the percentage of students ‘passing’ the DC-CAS in math and in reading as the proficiency rate. The note on the at-risk data table reads as follows:

Data Source: SY2013-14 student-level data from OSSE. The list includes DCPS traditional, DCPS citywide specialized, DCPS selective schools, and public charter schools, but excludes any DCPS or public charter adult education or alternative school. The definition of at risk students includes students who are homeless, in the District’s foster care system, qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or high school students that are one year older, or more, than the expected age for the grade in which the students are enrolled.

Lynching – Lest We Forget

Let us remember the number of savage and barbaric lynchings performed in the American South from 1880 up to the year I was born (1950): almost four thousand.

Let us also recall that every single one of these atrocities was undoubtedly committed by people who described themselves as god-fearing, upright Christians who were opposing the very second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, namely “that all men are created equal”.  They were designed to terrorize the Black population of the South into submission, into not asking for equal rights, and to help reverse the results of the Civil War.

Here is the graphic from today’s New York Times showing where and when these lynchings occurred.


Published in: on February 10, 2015 at 12:30 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

A Six-Page Graphic on How to Persuade Parents that Common Core Testing is Really Wonderful

Here is the link to the entire graphic.

I will copy part of one page so you can get the flavor of it without following it. Don’t know whom to attribute this to, since it’s apparently unsigned. It looks like it has Gates or Walton money behind it, since it’s so slick.

How would you argue against these arguments?

Thanks to Anthony Cody for uncovering this.

how to talk about testing

Listing of Educational Bloggers

This is a list of the blogs maintained at the present time by some fellow-activist teachers and others.


A Teacher on Teaching A Teacher on Teaching http://ateacheronteaching.blogspot.com/
Aaron Barlow Aaron Barlow http://academeblog.org/author/aaronbarlow/ or http://audsandens.blogspot.com/
Accountable Talk Accountable Talk http://www.accountabletalk.com/
Adam Bessie Automated Teaching Machine http://adambessie.com/
Alan Singer Alan Singer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/
Alexandra Miletta Alexandra Miletta http://alexandramiletta.blogspot.com
Alice Mercer Reflections on Teaching http://mizmercer.edublogs.org
Allan Jones Allan Jones https://www.facebook.com/groups/1398276720427252/
Amy Moore Amy Moore http://www.desmoinesregister.com/topic/065294af-047d-4b86-beb4-0d401eb82096/
Andy Spears Tennessee Education Report http://tnedreport.com/
Ani McHugh Teacherbiz http://teacherbiz.wordpress.com
Ann Policelli Cronin Ann Policelli Cronin http://reallearningct.com/
Anne Tenaglia Teacher’s Lessons Learned http://teacherslessonslearned.blogspot.com/
Anthony Cody Anthony Cody http://www.livingindialogue.com/
Arthur Getzel The Public Educator (aka liberalteacher) http://thepubliceducator.com/
Arthur Goldstein NYCEducator http://nyceducator.com/
Arthur H. Camins Arthur H. Camins http://www.arthurcamins.com/
Audrey Amrein-Beardsley VAMboozled http://vamboozled.com/
Aurelio M. Montemayor Parent Leadership in Education http://parentleadershipined.blogspot.com/
Badass Teachers Association (Marla Kilfoyle, Melissa Tomlinson) Badass Teachers Association http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/ and http://www.badassteacher.org/
Barbara Madeloni Educators for a Democratic Union http://www.educatorsforademocraticunion.com/
Barbara McClanahan readingdoc http://readingdoc.wordpress.com/
Betsy Combier Parent Advocatees http://www.parentadvocates.org/
Big Education Ape Big Education Ape http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/
Bill Betzen School Achieve Project http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/
Bill Boyle Educarenow http://educarenow.wordpress.com/
Bob Sikes Scathing Purple Musings http://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/
Bob Valiant Defend-Ed http://defend-ed.org/
Bonnie Cunard Continuing Change http://gatorbonbc.wordpress.com/ orhttp://bonniecunardmargolin.weebly.com/
Bonny Buffington BBBloviations http://www.bbbloviations.blogspot.com/
Brett Bymaster Stop Rocketship http://www.stoprocketship.com
Brett Dickerson Life At the Intersections http://www.brettdickerson.net/
Brian Cohen Making the grade blog http://www.bncohen.com/
Brian Redmond rsbandman http://rsbandman.wordpress.com
Bruce Baker School Finance 101 http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/
Bruce Bowers Reflections on teaching and learning www.tremphil.com
Carol Burris Carol Burris http://roundtheinkwell.com/ and Answer Sheet
Chaz Chaz’s School Daze http://chaz11.blogspot.com/
Chris Cerrone Children should not be a number http://www.nystoptesting.com/
Chris Guerrieri Jaxkidsmatter http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/
Chris Thinnes Chris Thinnes http://chris.thinnes.me
Christian Goering Edusanity http://www.edusanity.com/
Christopher Martell On Social Studies and Education http://christophermartell.blogspot.com
Christopher Tienken Christopher Tienken http://christienken.com/blog/
Christopher Wooleyhand Common Sense School Leadership http://christopherwooleyhand.edublogs.org
Claudia Swisher Claudia Swisher http://fourthgenerationteacher.blogspot.com/
Cynthia Liu K12NN News Network http://k12newsnetwork.com/
Dan McConnell Truth and Consequences http://dan-mcconnell.blogspot.com/
Daniel Katz Daniel Katz http://danielskatz.net/
Darcie Cimarusti Mother Crusader http://mothercrusader.blogspot.com/
David Chura Kids in the System http://kidsinthesystem.wordpress.com/
David Cohen InterACT:  Accomplished California Teacher http://accomplishedcaliforniateachers.wordpress.com/
David Ellison A Teacher’s Mark’s http://ateachersmarks.blogspot.com/
David Greene DCG MENTORING https://dcgmentor.wordpress.com 
Debbie Forward PFF Faculty Lounge http://pfffacultylounge.wordpress.com/
Deborah McCallum Big Ideas in Education http://bigideasineducation.ca/
Deborah Meier Deborah Meier http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
Demian Godon Reconsidering TFA https://reconsideringtfa.wordpress.com/
Derek Black Education Law Prof Blog http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/education_law/
Diane Aoki The Teacher I Want to Be http://dianeaoki.blogspot.com/
Diane Ravitch Diane Ravitch http://dianeravitch.net
DOE Nutes DOE Nuts Blog http://nycdoenuts.blogspot.com/
Don Russell Lifting The Curtain http://liftingthecurtainoneducation.wordpress.com/
Dora Taylor Seattle Education http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/
Doug Martin Doug Martin http://www.schoolsmatter.info/ 
Edward Berger Edward Berger http://edwardfberger.com/
Elizabeth Rose Yo Miz http://yomizthebook.com/
Francesco Portelos Educator Fights Back  or Don’t Tread on Educators http://dtoe.org/ or http://protectportelos.org/
Fred Klonsky Fred Klonsky http://preaprez.wordpress.com/
Gary Rubinstein Gary Rubinstein https://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/
Gene Glass Education in Two Words http://ed2worlds.blogspot.com/
George Schmidt Substance News http://www.substancenews.net/
George Wood George Wood http://www.essentialschools.org/
Gerri Songer Gerri Song http://gerriksonger.wordpress.com/
Glen Brown Teacher Poet Musician http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/
Good Morning Art Teacher Good Morning Art Teacher http://goodmorningartteacher.blogspot.com/
Greg Mild Plumberbund http://www.plunderbund.com/
Guy Brandenburg Guy Brandenburg https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/
Helen Gym Philadelphia Public School Notebook http://thenotebook.org/blog
Jack McKay Horace Mann League Blog http://blog.hmleague.org/
James Arnold Dr. James Arnold http://drjamesarnold.blogspot.com/
James Avington Miller, Jr The War Report on Public Education http://thewarreportonpubliceducation.wordpress.com and http://bbsradio.com/thewarreport
James Boutin An Urban Teachers Education http://www.anurbanteacherseducation.com/
James Chascherrie Stop Common Core in Washington State http://stopcommoncorewa.wordpress.com/
James Hamric Hammy’s Education Blog http://edreformblog.wordpress.com/
Jan Resseger Jan Resseger http://janresseger.wordpress.com/
Jane Nixon Willis Staying Strong in School http://stayingstronginschool.blogspot.com/
Jason France Crazy Crawfish http://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/
Jason L. Endacott EduSanity http://www.edusanity.com/
Jason Stanford Jason Stanford http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-stanford/
Jeff Bryant Jeff Bryant http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/
Jen Hogue V.A.M. It! http://valueaddedmeasureit.blogspot.com/
Jennifer Berkshire EduShyster http://edushyster.com/
Jesse Hagopian Jesse Hagopian http://iamaneducator.com/
Jessie Ramey Yinzercation http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/
Jill Conroy The Indignant Teacher http://theindignantteacher.wordpress.com/
Jo Lieb Poetic Justice http://poeticjusticect.com/
Joe Bower For the love of learning http://www.joebower.org/
John J. Viall A Teacher on Teaching http://ateacheronteaching.blogspot.com/
John Kuhn EdGator https://edgator.com
John Young Transparent Christina http://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/
Jonathan Lovell Jonathan Lovell’s Blog http://jonathanlovell.blogspot.com/
Jonathan Pelto Wait, What? http://jonathanpelto.com/
Jose Vilson Jose Vilson http://thejosevilson.com/
Joshua Block Joshua Block http://mrjblock.com/
Julian Vasquez Heilig Cloaking Inquity http://cloakinginequity.com/
Justin Aion Relearning to Teach http://relearningtoteach.blogspot.com/
Karren Harper Royal Edutalknola http://edutalknola.com/
Katie Lapham Critical Classrooms https://criticalclassrooms.wordpress.com/
Ken Derstine Defend Public Education http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/
Ken Previti Reclaim Reform http://reclaimreform.com/
Kenneth Bernstein Teacher Ken http://www.dailykos.com/user/teacherken
Kevin Welner Kevin Welner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-welner/ andhttp://nepc.colorado.edu
Lani Cox The Missing Teacher http://lanivcox.blogspot.com/
Larry Cuban Larry Cuban http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/
Larry Feinberg Keystone State Education Coalition http://keystonestateeducationcoalition.blogspot.com/
Lee Barrios Geauxteacher http://www.geauxteacher.net/
Leonard Isenberg Perdaily http://www.perdaily.com/
Leonie Haimson Class Size Matters http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/
Levi B Cavener Idahospromise http://idahospromise.org/
Linda Thomas Restore Reason http://restorereason.com/
Lisa Guisbond Fairtest http://www.fairtest.org/
Lloyd Lofthouse Crazy Normal the classroom expose http://crazynormaltheclassroomexpose.com/  or http://lloydlofthouse.org/
Lucianna Sanson The War Report on Public Education https://thewarreportonpubliceducation.wordpress.com/
M. Shannon Hernandez My Final 40 Days http://myfinal40days.com/
Maria Rosa THE INSURGENT TEACHER BLOG http://theinsurgentteacher.blogspot.com/
Marie Corfield Marie Corfield http://mcorfield.blogspot.com/
Marion Brady Marion Brady http://www.marionbrady.com/
Mark Naison With a Brooklyn Accent and Dump Duncan http://withabrooklynaccent.blogspot.com/ and http://dumpduncan.org/
Mark Weber Jersey Jazzman http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/
Martha Infante Martha Infante http://dontforgetsouthcentral.blogspot.com/
Matt Farmer Matt Farmer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-farmer/
Mel Katz The Education Activist: From Student to Teacher https://theeducationactivist.wordpress.com/
Melissa Westbrook Seattle Schools Community Forum http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/
Mercedes Schneider Deutsch29 http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/
Michael Klonsky Michael Klonsky http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/ and http://schoolingintheownershipsociety.blogspot.com/
Michelle Gunderson Education Matters https://www.facebook.com/michelle.gunderson.education.matters
Mike Deshotels Louisiana Educator http://louisianaeducator.blogspot.com/
Mike Rose Mike Rose’s Blog http://mikerosebooks.blogspot.com
Mike Warner Education Under Attack http://educationunderattack.info/
Minnsanity Minnsanity http://minnsanity.wordpress.com/
Morna McDermott Education Alchemy http://www.educationalchemy.com/
Mrs. Fanning LA Woman http://fanninglawoman.blogspot.com/
Ms Kate Ms Katie’s Ramblings http://mskatiesramblings.blogspot.com/
Nancy Bailey Nancy Bailey’s Education Website http://nancyebailey.com/
Nancy Flanagan Teacher in a Strange Land http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teacher_in_a_strange_land/
Nicholas Tampio Nicholas Tampio http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicholas-tampio/
Nikhil Goyal Nikhil Goyal http://nikhilgoyal.me/
Norm Scott Ed Notes Online http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/
Ogo Okoye-Johnson Ogo Okoye-Johnson http://ogookoye-johnson.net/
OK Education Truth okeducationtruths http://okeducationtruths.wordpress.com/
Outside The Box Outside the Box http://teacher-anon.blogspot.com/ 
Patrick Walsh http://raginghorse.wordpress.com/
Paul Horton Education News http://www.educationviews.org/author/paulh/
Paul Thomas The becoming radical http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/
Peggy Robertson Peg with Pen http://www.pegwithpen.com/
Perdido St School Perdido St School http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/
Peter DeWitt Peter DeWitt http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/
Peter Goodman Ed in the Apple http://mets2006.wordpress.com/
Peter Greene Curmudgucation http://www.curmudgucation.blogspot.com/
Phillip Cantor Sustainable Education Transformation http://phillipcantor.com/
Rachael Stickland Student Privacy Matters http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/
Rachel Levy All Things Education http://allthingsedu.blogspot.com/
Ralph Ratto Opine I will http://rlratto.wordpress.com/
Ray Salazar The White Rino http://www.chicagonow.com/white-rhino
Rob Miller View From the Edge http://www.viewfromtheedge.net/
Rob Panning-Miller Public Education Justice Alliance of Minnesota http://pejamn.blogspot.com/
Robert Cotto Jr. The Cities, Suburbs & Schools Project http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/
Robert D. Skeels Solidaridad http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/
Russ Walsh Russ on Reading http://russonreading.blogspot.com/
Ruth Conniff Public School Shakedown http://www.publicschoolshakedown.org/
Sam Chaltain Sam Chaltain http://www.samchaltain.com
Sara Roos Sara Roos http://redqueeninla.com/
Sarah Blaine Parenting the core http://parentingthecore.wordpress.com/
Sarah Darer Littman Sarah Darer Littman http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com
Sarah Lahm Sarah Lahm http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/eyes-education
Save Public Education Save Public Education
Sharon Higgins Charter School Scandals http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/
Shaun Johnson Chalk Face http://atthechalkface.com/
Sherman Dorn Sherman Dorn http://shermandorn.com/wordpress/
South Bronx School South Bronx School http://www.southbronxschool.com/
Stephanie Rivera Teacher Under Construction http://teacherunderconstruction.com/
Stephen Dyer 10th Period http://10thperiod.blogspot.com/
Stephen Krashen Stephen Krashen http://www.schoolsmatter.info/ and http://skrashen.blogspot.com/
Steve Hinnefeld Steve Hinnefeld http://inschoolmatters.wordpress.com/
Steve O’Donoghue Steve O’Donogue http://www.counterintuitive.com/
Steve Strieker One Teachers Perspective http://oneteachersperspective.blogspot.com/
Steven Singer Gad Fly On the Wall Blog http://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/
Stu Bloom Live Long and Prsoper http://bloom-at.blogspot.com/
Sullio The Pen is Mightier than the Person http://sullio.blogspot.com/
Susan DuFresne Educating the Gates Foundation http://educatingthegatesfoundation.com/
Susan DuFresne and Katie Lapham Teachers Letters to Bill Gates http://teachersletterstobillgates.com/
Susan Ohanian Susan Ohanian http://www.susanohanian.org/
TB Furman tbfurman http://www.tbfurman.us/
TC Dad Gone Wild http://norinrad10.wordpress.com/
Teacher Reality Teacher Reality http://teacherreality.com/
Teacher Tom Teacher Tom http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/
Ted Cohen Newark Schools For Sale http://NewarkSchoolsForSale.wordpress.com
The Assailed Teacher http://theassailedteacher.com/
The Teaching Nomad The Teaching Nomad www.theteachingnomad.com/blog 
Tim Slekar Busted Pencils http://bustedpencils.com/ 
Tom Aswell Louisiana Voice http://louisianavoice.com/
Tracy Novick Who-cester Blog http://who-cester.blogspot.com/
Ty Alper Ty Alper (SF School Board candidate) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ty-alper/ or http://www.tyalper.org
Urban Ed Urban Ed http://nycurbaned.blogspot.com/
Vanessa Vaile Precarious Faculty Blog http://www.precariousfacultyblog.com/ or http://nationalmobilizationforequity.org/
Wag the Dog Wag the Dog http://vigornotrigor.wordpress.com/
Walt Gardner Walt Garnder http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/
Wayne Gersen Network Schools http://waynegersen.com/
Wendy Lecker Wendy Lecker http://www.stamfordadvocate.com
Xian Barrett Xian Barrett http://newvoicestrategies.org/
Yohuru Williams Yohuru Williams http://www.yohuruwilliams.net/
Yong Zhao Education in the Age of Globalization http://zhaolearning.com

Bob Schaeffer’s Weekly Roundup of Actions Against the Testing Juggernaut

Demonstrating another surge of support for assessment reform as the Spring 2015 testing season nears, this week’s stories about the movement against standardized exam overuse and misuse come from more than 40% of the 50 states. The news is reinforced by several excellent analytic pieces and opinion columns (back issues of these weekly updates are archived at: http://fairtest.org/news/other)

In addition to keeping the heat on state and local policy-makers, now is the time to let your U.S. Senators and Representative know you support a significant reduction in federal testing mandates, an end to test-based consequences for students, teachers or schools and more funding for better forms of assessment. Please make those calls and send your emails today!

Recommendations for Overhauling “No Child Left Behind” From Forum on Educational Accountability
Teacher Tells Congress: Federal Testing Mandates Are Wrong
Lawmakers Propose End to Annual Standardized Exam Requirement
Listen to What Senator Whitehouse Said About Education Policy

Arizona Schools’ Chief Wants New Assessment Ditched

Standardized Testing Fixation is Destroying Education in California and Across U.S.
Experts Say New Common Core Tests Not Ready to Grade California Schools

Colorado Lawmakers Continue Introducing Bills to Limit Testing

Five Florida Counties Sponsor Legislation Allowing Them to Opt Out of State Tests

Louisiana School Expects Flood of Test Refusals

No Maine Law Requires Students to Take a Test
New Maine Tests Raises School Board Concerns; Some May Ask to Opt Out

Are Maryland Schools Giving Too Many Tests

“We Are More Than Numbers” — Massachusetts Students’ Video on Testing

Michigan Parents Upset By Schools’ Test Opt-Out Policy

New Jersey Parents and Voters Want Kids Tested Less: New Poll
Early Results of New Jersey PARCC Testing: Widespread Misery
New Jersey Commission Calls for Cutback in Time Spent on Testing

Computer Crashes Mar New Mexico PARCC Test Trial Run

Long Island, New York Teacher Refuses to Administer Common Core Test, Superintendent Backs Her
Why Parents Are Refusing New York’s Common Core Tests
New York Governor Cuomo “Obsessed” With Testing Teachers
Open Letter to NY Gov. Cuomo: My Child Is Not a Test Score

More Tests Won’t Fix North Carolina Schools
The Flaw in North Carolina’s School Performance Grades

Some Ohio Students Opt Out of State Tests

Oklahoma High-Stakes Exam Opponents Look to Legislative Session to Cut Testing Overkill

Bill Would Expand Oregon Parents’ Right to Excuse Kids From Standardized Tests

Many Students at Pennsylvania School Plan to Opt Out of Tests
Parents Back Teachers Who Explain Pennsylvania Opt-Out Process

Many Testing and Accountability Bills in 2015 Texas Legislative Hopper

Students, Activists Support Utah Teacher Fired for Refusing to Administer Test

Tacoma, Washington Parents Join Movement to Opt Kids Out of Standardized Testing

High-Poverty Wisconsin Schools More Likely to Be Labeled “Failing”

A Failing Grade for Test-Based School Report Cards

16 States Plus D.C. Require Third-Grade Retention Based on  Test Scores

The Past, Present and Future of High-Stakes Testing

U.S. Addiction to Testing is Ripping the Humanity Out of Education

Teachers Need Tests. . . Just Not Just Those Ones

Why Everybody Hates Pearson

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web-  http://www.fairtest.org


My apologies for not keeping up with this.

Exodus of Senior Teachers in NJ, NY, and everywhere, I bet

A recent post on Facebook indicates that what I see happening here in DC is much the same as what’s happening in NY, NJ, and elsewhere. Here is the post:


It’s Worse Here Than In NY! A New Jersey Teacher’s Lament

It is not just NY. In NJ we are in deep trouble. I would guestimate that 80% of the senior teachers have retired, a large proportion of principals as well. There is a mass exodus. Young teachers are in hell. They weigh thier student loan debt against lifetime of data gathering, test prep and unfair evaluations. I hear the conversations in the teachers room “this is not what i signed up for”. The ones that stay will be the acquiescent among them. Our school is a “focus school”. under state scrutiny for possible take over. The game is fixed. The state scrutiny is the result of low test scores. We have a huge spanish speaking population that tests poorly. Are we spending money to hire people to educate them and allocating time for that education? No, instead, we have bought bandwidth, new routers, chrome book laptops, iPads, iPad stations, an evaluative system called McCrel, and CCSS aligned textbooks. Students are test-prepped to death. What is the effect of telling students “this matters” when it really doesn’t? How can students respect teachers that lie to them every day? What is the effect on educators forced to suck the life energy from their students? This already has and will continue to have an effect. Behavior is the worst i have ever seen because school sucks for kids now. Teacher morale is the lowest I have ever seen because school sucks for teachers now. The majority of teachers have little awareness of the forces amassed against education. Very few are informed. Our local union has been weakened to the point that only 10% of membership shows up to general meetings. Parents are clueless, and the “unwritten law” that teachers must not tell the horrible secrets of CCSS, PARCC, ed reform and administrative data love is rarely to never broken. Teachers, fearing for their jobs, comply with ridiculous evaluation systems. There are four levels of proficiency in our system. To achieve each one, teachers must earn an evaluators confidence to check of EVERY box in a rubric that makes me insanely angry. Dozens of pages of evaluative rubrics that are weighted against teachers. If, in our 3 classroom evaluation visits, some of those categories are not checked, then to prove we deserve them checked, we must present “evidence” that we do them at a meeting with our evaluator. It is punitive by design. Some evaluators see it for what it is, and help teachers, other evaluators see their job as finding the lazy, ineffective teachers and setting them up for loss of tenure (Now possible thanks to new laws). It is hell. It also must be mentioned that the evaluative systems make no accommodations for art, music, gym, or other less quantifiable subjects. At the end of next year, when districts begin to shed teachers (the higher priced ones?, the trouble maker ones?) there will be hundreds of lawsuits. One possible outcome of this is a financial strain on the county and state unions. One of the benefits of union membership is that the unions will provide legal counsel if needed. What happens if hundreds or thousands of teachers need legal counsel to protect their jobs as a result of unfair evaluations, inequities in evaluators and other problems in that system? I have not mentioned that there are state mandated (Christie/DOE) “SGO’s” (student growth objectives) that were sold to us as a way for teachers to work on their own growth, but have now become another evaluative tool to beat teachers with and strike fear in our hearts. This is “moment” is not just in NY, it is national.

James Tanton on the Math Common Core Standards

James Tanton is an experienced math teacher and educator of other teachers whom I respect a lot. Part of his take on math is that it should relate to the real world and it should be a joyful activity, because math is all around us if we care to look; if we do, it makes our lives better.  (My paraphrase of his general ideas, not a literal quote at all; but the way I expressed it, expresses my own personal thoughts on the topic. If you want to see examples of his work, I suggest you look at his site, . Again, I think he does excellent work, and I wish I could be one-fifth as original in my own teaching as he is.

In this video, Tanton gives his take on why the Common Core State Standards in math are actually a very good thing, not a bad thing at all, IF they are implemented correctly.

That “if” is a big one. Let us assume Tanton is right, that the CCSS in math (don’t know about any other subject) was written in a very thoughtful way and will promote these eight general concepts and practices in students towards math:

math practice standards


I’ll retype those for clarity:


  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • Model with mathematics
  • Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • Attend to precision.
  • Look for and make use of structure.
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Those are, in fact, excellent ideals.

And those ‘Mathematical Practice’ goals you see above are, in fact, expressed better there than I recall having seen before in all my years of teaching math.

But — remember that “IF” clause? “If they are implemented correctly?”

As far as I can see, judging by what I see in mathematics classrooms in both charter and public schools in DC, it looks to me as if the worksheets and practice tests were written either by low-paid, low-skilled temps who have almost no experience in teaching math, or else were written by very clever and evil people who want to seriously dumb down the education of urban youth.

And, what’s more, those inequities are being primarily visited upon our poorest kids, especially [but not limited to] those of color.

Let me give examples, judging again by my own personal visits to schools in DC and what math teachers in DC tell me and what students of my acquaintance know tell me and show me (some of whom I have known for years).

What I see is that in the expensive private schools in DC, where there is no test-accountability on the part of the USDoEd, they are continuing to give a pretty good education, sometimes joyful and interesting, sometimes not, mostly depending on the individual math department members and the incoming ability levels and work ethics of the students they teach. Some of the departments use some pretty old textbooks because they prefer them to anything in print at this moment.

At the magnet high schools in DC, there is some pressure from the NCLB and RTTT testing mania, but since nearly all the students are already at or above grade level by any reasonable measurement, they can continue to teach.

However, at the regular, comprehensive high schools and at the middle and elementary school levels, I see that the curriculum is rigidly prescribed and regimented from above, in such a way that NONE of those eight laudable goals can possibly get implemented.


(1) Unbelievable number of typos and sloppy and incorrect problems (some of which I’ve been documenting on this blog) on centrally-produced tests and worksheets;

(2) Problems that are self-contradictory and involve huge amounts of difficult and confusing text;

(3) Large numbers of multiple-choice test items, which, in my considered professional opinion, can do almost nothing to promote any of those wonderful thought processes; nor do they give useful information to eachers about what the student does or does not understand;

(4) Requiring schools to spend an enormous fraction of their time on testing and test prep, thus preventing them from doing any open-ended investigations into math;

(5) Reliance on electronic on-line worksheets that are at times just as buggy as the worksheets;

(6) Loading teachers with so much time-consumiing but useless busy-work regarding data collection and entry and analysis that they have no time to actually read what the students wrote and drew — and believe it or not, it’s just as important in math as it is in any other class!

(7) Deep understanding is prevented because instead of going at a breakneck speed through umpteen standards a mile wide and an inch deep, it’s now 1.6 kilometers wide but only a couple of millimeters deep! (Get the joke?)

(8) And from what I see over time (30 years in DCPS and 5.5 years retired now), while I thought math instruction in some ways had improved from 1978 to the mid-2000s, it seems to have taken a real turn for the worse since Michelle Rhee and the then-head of the Washington Teachers’ Union, George Parker, along with AFT head Randy Weingarten and the heads of several large foundations (Walton family, an ENRON family, the Broads and one more), along with then-mayor Adrian Fenty and the blessing of Congress and the White House, were able to impose a weird settlement upon teachers which required them to teach to the many, many tests I’ve been complaining about for some time, in exchange for mythical bonuses amd high salaries that almost no teacher will be able to earn because they will be fired or burn out first.

My conclusions:

In mathematical logic, the word “if” is a really big deal.

And it looks to me as if the authorities in DC (both public and charter, with some exceptions as noted above) are NOT implementing the Common Core Standards correctly at all, because everything I see tells me that everything being done in the charter schools and in the public schools that serve poor or working-class kids in DC is in fact thwarting those laudable goals.

Remember what Tanton said, which I granted to him as being valid: If they implement the Math CCS standards correctly, then the results will be excellent.

Logicians say that when you have a sentence of the form  “If A. then B”, then it’s only false in the case where the “A” section is true and the “B” section is false. There are three other cases and they all have overall values of “true”. In particular, if the “A” part is false, it doesn’t matter whether B is true or not: the entire “if A then B” statement is true.

I maintain that the “A” part is false. So in one sense, whether the CCSStandards in math are as clearly- and as well-written as many math teachers think, it remains the case that even by their own standards, the idiots running the USDoE and the other billionaire education ‘reformers’ who think they know all the answers, are implementing it in a way as to subvert every single one of the laudable goals that are promoted by the CCSS themselves.

And that’s quite a trick.

It’s kind of like some of the absurdities in 1984 or recent world history: many regimes upholding the universal brotherhood of all working people while imprisoning, torturing, murdering or enslaving millions of said working people. I know it’s not nearly as bad, but this current situation sure is perverse.

So, what do you think? Believe it or not, there is a ‘comments’ button below this text, but it’s really tiny and you have to search for it.

Again, the link to Tanton’s video.



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