Weekly Roundup of Educational Resistance by Bob Schaeffer

{As usual, this list is collected and distributed by Bob Schaeffer, not by me.}

The U.S. Senate has joined the House of Representatives in responding to growing, grassroots pressure by voting to overhaul “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB). The bills passed by both the Senate and House reflect widespread rejection of failed top-down, test-and-punish strategies as well as the “NCLB on steroids” waiver regime dictated by Arne Duncan. While neither version is close to perfect from an assessment reform perspective, each makes significant progress by rolling back federally mandated high-stakes, eliminating requirements to evaluate educators based on student test scores, and recognizing opt-out rights. FairTest and its allies will closely monitor the conference committee working on compromise language to make sure the gains remain in the final bill sent to President Obama — the alternative is to keep the yoke of NCLB-and-waivers in place for at least two more years, if not much longer. Meanwhile, organizers in many states are keeping the spotlight on the problems of test overuse and misuse, modeling better practices and winning additional policy victories.

Remember that back issues of these weekly updates are archived at:http://fairtest.org/news/other

National End High-Stakes Testing to Help Fix Public Education: Key Civil Rights Leader

National U.S. Senate Rejects Proposal to Give Federal Government More Say in Identifying “Failing” Schools
National Both House and Senate NCLB Overhaul Bills Allow for Penalty-Free Test Opt Out
National “Race to the Top:” Lofty Promises and Top-Down Regulation Brought Few Good Changes to America’s Schools

Exit Exam on Way Out

Two Small Districts Set Opt Out Records

Opposition Coalesces Against Smarter Balanced Tests

Governor Vetoes Opt-Out Bill; State PTA Pushed for Override Vote

More than 10,000 Young People Who Did Not Pass Grad. Test Recently Received Diplomas

Hawaii Teachers Fight Evaluations Based on Student Test Scores

Why Common Core Tests Are Harmful to Students

Third-Grade Promotion Test Pushes Reading Down Into Kindergarten

Fight to Make Charter School Disclose What Test It Uses for Kindergarten Entry

Test Cuts Came After Thorough Debate

Exam Scores Don’t Tell Full Story of Teacher Preparedness

Time Allocated to New State Tests Cut in Half

Nevada After Testing System Breakdown, State to Hire New Assessment Vendor

New Hampshire Schools Can Replace Smarter Balanced Tests with ACT or SAT

New Jersey
Be Wary of New State Teacher Ratings

New Mexico
Court Rejects Suit Seeking to Strip Pearson’s Common Core Testing Contract

New York
High School Models Authentic Assessment
New York Opt Out Movement Plans to Ratchet Up Actions Against Standardized Exam Overkill
New York Pending NCLB Overhaul Offers Hope to Reduce State’s Testing Obsession

North Carolina State’s Largest District Cuts Back Local Test Mandates
North Carolina Cautions About Test-Score-Based Teacher Pay

Students Can Meet Graduation Requirement with Work Samples in Their Home Language

Questions Mount About Using Volatile Test Results to Evaluate Teachers and Schools
Pennsylvania Teachers to School Board: Standardized Testing is Harming Students

Rhode Island
What Tests Like PARCC Do Not Measure

Teachers School Governor on Testing and Evaluations
Tennessee Local School Board to Take Up Opt Out Resolution

New Test Leading Fewer to Get GEDs

Washington State Testing Revolt Pushes State Into Uncharted Waters
Washington Over-Testing is a Flawed Strategy

“How Many Tests Can a Child Withstand?” — with apologies to Bob Dylan

The Beatings in Education Will Continue Until Morale Improves

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

Comment by Duane Swacker on Stuart Yen’s Study, at Diane Ravitch’s Blog

I hope Duane Swacker will not mind me reposting one of his long comments after the recent blog post by Diane Ravitch about professor Stuart Yen’s study on the lack of validity of Value-Added Metrics.


To understand the COMPLETE INSANITY that is VAM & SLO/SGP read and understand Noel Wilson’s never refuted nor rebutted destruction of educational standards and standardized testing (of which VAM & SLO/SGP are the bastard stepchildren) in “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” found at: http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/577/700

Brief outline of Wilson’s “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” and some comments of mine.

1. A description of a quality can only be partially quantified. Quantity is almost always a very small aspect of quality. It is illogical to judge/assess a whole category only by a part of the whole. The assessment is, by definition, lacking in the sense that “assessments are always of multidimensional qualities. To quantify them as unidimensional quantities (numbers or grades) is to perpetuate a fundamental logical error” (per Wilson). The teaching and learning process falls in the logical realm of aesthetics/qualities of human interactions. In attempting to quantify educational standards and standardized testing the descriptive information about said interactions is inadequate, insufficient and inferior to the point of invalidity and unacceptability.

2. A major epistemological mistake is that we attach, with great importance, the “score” of the student, not only onto the student but also, by extension, the teacher, school and district. Any description of a testing event is only a description of an interaction, that of the student and the testing device at a given time and place. The only correct logical thing that we can attempt to do is to describe that interaction (how accurately or not is a whole other story). That description cannot, by logical thought, be “assigned/attached” to the student as it cannot be a description of the student but the interaction. And this error is probably one of the most egregious “errors” that occur with standardized testing (and even the “grading” of students by a teacher).

3. Wilson identifies four “frames of reference” each with distinct assumptions (epistemological basis) about the assessment process from which the “assessor” views the interactions of the teaching and learning process: the Judge (think college professor who “knows” the students capabilities and grades them accordingly), the General Frame-think standardized testing that claims to have a “scientific” basis, the Specific Frame-think of learning by objective like computer based learning, getting a correct answer before moving on to the next screen, and the Responsive Frame-think of an apprenticeship in a trade or a medical residency program where the learner interacts with the “teacher” with constant feedback. Each category has its own sources of error and more error in the process is caused when the assessor confuses and conflates the categories.

4. Wilson elucidates the notion of “error”: “Error is predicated on a notion of perfection; to allocate error is to imply what is without error; to know error it is necessary to determine what is true. And what is true is determined by what we define as true, theoretically by the assumptions of our epistemology, practically by the events and non-events, the discourses and silences, the world of surfaces and their interactions and interpretations; in short, the practices that permeate the field. . . Error is the uncertainty dimension of the statement; error is the band within which chaos reigns, in which anything can happen. Error comprises all of those eventful circumstances which make the assessment statement less than perfectly precise, the measure less than perfectly accurate, the rank order less than perfectly stable, the standard and its measurement less than absolute, and the communication of its truth less than impeccable.”

In other word all the logical errors involved in the process render any conclusions invalid.

5. The test makers/psychometricians, through all sorts of mathematical machinations attempt to “prove” that these tests (based on standards) are valid-errorless or supposedly at least with minimal error [they aren’t]. Wilson turns the concept of validity on its head and focuses on just how invalid the machinations and the test and results are. He is an advocate for the test taker not the test maker. In doing so he identifies thirteen sources of “error”, any one of which renders the test making/giving/disseminating of results invalid. And a basic logical premise is that once something is shown to be invalid it is just that, invalid, and no amount of “fudging” by the psychometricians/test makers can alleviate that invalidity.

6. Having shown the invalidity, and therefore the unreliability, of the whole process Wilson concludes, rightly so, that any result/information gleaned from the process is “vain and illusory”. In other words start with an invalidity, end with an invalidity (except by sheer chance every once in a while, like a blind and anosmic squirrel who finds the occasional acorn, a result may be “true”) or to put in more mundane terms crap in-crap out.

7. And so what does this all mean? I’ll let Wilson have the second to last word: “So what does a test measure in our world? It measures what the person with the power to pay for the test says it measures. And the person who sets the test will name the test what the person who pays for the test wants the test to be named.”

In other words it attempts to measure “’something’ and we can specify some of the ‘errors’ in that ‘something’ but still don’t know [precisely] what the ‘something’ is.” The whole process harms many students as the social rewards for some are not available to others who “don’t make the grade (sic)” Should American public education have the function of sorting and separating students so that some may receive greater benefits than others, especially considering that the sorting and separating devices, educational standards and standardized testing, are so flawed not only in concept but in execution?
My answer is NO!!!!!

One final note with Wilson channeling Foucault and his concept of subjectivization:

“So the mark [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true; true because the society in which you live legitimates this authority; true because your cultural habitus makes it difficult for you to perceive, conceive and integrate those aspects of your experience that contradict the story; true because in acting out your story, which now includes the mark and its meaning, the social truth that created it is confirmed; true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you; true because if your mark is low your voice becomes muted and confirms your lower position in the social hierarchy; true finally because that success or failure confirms that mark that implicitly predicted the now self-evident consequences. And so the circle is complete.”

In other words students “internalize” what those “marks” (grades/test scores) mean, and since the vast majority of the students have not developed the mental skills to counteract what the “authorities” say, they accept as “natural and normal” that “story/description” of them. Although paradoxical in a sense, the “I’m an “A” student” is almost as harmful as “I’m an ‘F’ student” in hindering students becoming independent, critical and free thinkers. And having independent, critical and free thinkers is a threat to the current socio-economic structure of society.

Important Article Shows that ‘Value-Added’ Measurements are Neither Valid nor Reliable

As you probably know, a handful of agricultural researchers and economists have come up with extremely complicated “Value-Added” Measurement (VAM) systems that purport to be able to grade teachers’ output exactly.

These economists (Hanushek, Chetty and a few others) claim that their formulas are magically mathematically able to single out the contribution of every single teacher to the future test scores and total lifetime earnings of their students 5 to 50 years into the future. I’m not kidding.

Of course, those same economists claim that the teacher is the single most important variable affecting their student’s school and trajectories – not family background or income, nor peer pressure, nor even whole-school variables. (Many other studies have shown that the effect of any individual teacher, or all teachers, is pretty small – from 1% to 14% of the entire variation, which corresponds to what I found during my 30 years of teaching … ie, not nearly as much of an impact as I would have liked [or feared], one way or another…)

Diane Ravitch has brought to my attention an important study by Stuart Yen at UMinn that (once again) refutes those claims, which are being used right now in state after state and county after county, to randomly fire large numbers of teachers who have tried to devote their lives to helping students.

According to the study, here are a few of the problems with VAM:

1. As I have shown repeatedly using the New York City value-added scores that were printed in the NYTimes and NYPost, teachers’ VAM scores vary tremendously over time. (More on that below; note that if you use VAM scores, 80% of ALL teachers should be fired after their first year of teaching) Plus RAND researchers found much the same thing in North CarolinaAlso see this. And this.

2. Students are not assigned randomly to teachers (I can vouch for that!) or to schools, and there are always a fair number of students for whom no prior or future data is available, because they move to other schools or states, or drop out, or whatever; and those students with missing data are NOT randomly distributed, which pretty makes the whole VAM setup an exercise in futility.

3. The tests themselves often don’t measure what they are purported to measure. (Complaints about the quality of test items are legion…)

Here is an extensive quote from the article. It’s a section that Ravitch didn’t excerpt, so I will, with a few sentences highlighted by me, since it concurs with what I have repeatedly claimed on my blog:

A largely ignored problem is that true teacher performance, contrary to the main assumption underlying current VAM models, varies over time (Goldhaber & Hansen, 2012). These models assume that each teacher exhibits an underlying trend in performance that can be detected given a sufficient amount of data. The question of stability is not a question about whether average teacher performance rises, declines, or remains flat over time.

The issue that concerns critics of VAM is whether individual teacher performance fluctuates over time in a way that invalidates inferences that an individual teacher is “low-” or “high-” performing.

This distinction is crucial because VAM is increasingly being applied such that individual teachers who are identified as low-performing are to be terminated. From the perspective of individual teachers, it is inappropriate and invalid to fire a teacher whose performance is low this year but high the next year, and it is inappropriate to retain a teacher whose performance is high this year but low next year.

Even if average teacher performance remains stable over time, individual teacher performance may fluctuate wildly from year to year.  (my emphasis – gfb)

While previous studies examined the intertemporal stability of value-added teacher rankings over one-year periods and found that reliability is inadequate for high-stakes decisions, researchers tended to assume that this instability was primarily a function of measurement error and sought ways to reduce this error (Aaronson, Barrow, & Sander, 2007; Ballou, 2005; Koedel & Betts, 2007; McCaffrey, Sass, Lockwood, & Mihaly, 2009).

However, this hypothesis was rejected by Goldhaber and Hansen (2012), who investigated the stability of teacher performance in North Carolina using data spanning 10 years and found that much of a teacher’s true performance varies over time due to unobservable factors such as effort, motivation, and class chemistry that are not easily captured through VAM. This invalidates the assumption of stable teacher performance that is embedded in Hanushek’s (2009b) and Gordon et al.’s (2006) VAM-based policy proposals, as well as VAM models specified by McCaffrey et al. (2009) and Staiger and Rockoff (2010) (see Goldhaber & Hansen, 2012, p. 15).

The implication is that standard estimates of impact when using VAM to identify and replace low-performing teachers are significantly inflated (see Goldhaber & Hansen, 2012, p. 31).

As you also probably know, the four main ‘tools’ of the billionaire-led educational DEform movement are:

* firing lots of teachers

* breaking their unions

* closing public schools and turning education over to the private sector

* changing education into tests to prepare for tests that get the kids ready for tests that are preparation for the real tests

They’ve been doing this for almost a decade now under No Child Left Untested and Race to the Trough, and none of these ‘reforms’ have shown to make any actual improvement in the overall education of our youth.

An inspiring interview with Diane Ravitch

Read it here.

A quote:

[Interviewer]: My biggest disappointment with Barack Obama is his education policy. He had Linda Darling-Hammond as his consultant during the 2008 election, and we get Arne Duncan.

[Diane Ravitch]: That was bait and switch. The greatest disappointment of this entire situation, which I consider to be a direct assault on the very principle of public education in America, is Barack Obama. In the state of the union, the president said that he didn’t want teaching to the test, but he wants teachers who don’t get the test marks to be ousted. He pretends to be completely detached and almost as though he doesn’t know what Arne Duncan is doing. Arne Duncan is doing what Barack Obama wants him to do, and they are doing what the Wall Street hedge-fund managers want them to do. They are pushing a privatization agenda, there’s no question about it. Obama always said if the unions were under assault, he would put on those walking shoes. Did you see him in Madison, Wisconsin? I didn’t. In fact, I was in Madison, Wisconsin to speak at the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, and I happened to be there right in the middle of that great demonstration. On Twitter I was exchanging tweets with Justin Hamilton, Duncan’s press secretary at the time, and I challenged him to march together around the State House. Arne and the president were in Miami with Jeb Bush celebrating the turn-around of Miami Public High School, which in a month received notice it was going to be closed. I mean, it was all a sham. We are surrounded by so many frauds, hoaxes, and shams. Arne has been a leader in perpetuating the hoaxes, and the president has been right there by his side. Arne Duncan is a guy who’s dedicated to persuading people that Michelle Rhee is right. He’s the worst Secretary of Education in our history.

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

A Review of Richard Whitmire’s Book Touting the Rocketship Charter Chain

Wonderful quote from a review about a book promoting Rocketship charter schools:
“I have a few questions and a challenge for Danner, his wealthy education ‘reform’ compatriots and their unquestioning supporters like Whitmire:

“1. Would you send your own children to Rocketship (or KIPP, ASPIRE, YES Prep, Success Academy, etc.)?

“2. Would you recommend such schools to your other elite and wealthy friends?

“3. Do you plan to hire graduates of such schools for your own companies?

“Challenge: If you really care about poor students of color, why don’t you work to make their schools look more like the schools you send your own children to?”

Source: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/09/18/dienne-anum-reviews-whitmires-on-the-rocketship/

Just how flat ARE those 12th grade NAEP scores?

Perhaps you read or heard that the 12th grade NAEP reading and math scores, which just got reported, were “flat“.

Did you wonder what that meant?

The short answer is: those scores have essentially not changed since they began giving the tests! Not for the kids at the top of the testing heap, not for those at the bottom, not for blacks, not for whites, not for hispanics.

No change, nada, zip.

Not even after a full dozen years of Bush’s looney No Child Left Behind Act, nor its twisted Obama-style descendant, Race to the Trough. Top.

I took a look at the official reports and I’ve plotted them here you can see how little effect all those billions spent on testing;  firing veteran teachers; writing and publishing new tests and standards; and opening thousands of charter schools has had.

Here are the tables:

naep 12th grade reading by percentiles over time

This first graph shows that other than a slight widening of the gap between the kids at the top (at the 90th percentile) and those at the bottom (at the 10th percentile) back in the early 1990s, there has been essentially no change in the average scores over the past two full decades.

I think we can assume that the test makers, who are professional psychometricians and not political appointees, tried their very best to make the test of equal difficulty every year. So those flat lines mean that there has been no change, despite all the efforts of the education secretaries of Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama. And despite the wholesale replacement of an enormous fraction of the nation’s teachers, and the handing over of public education resources to charter school operators.

naep 12th grade reading by group over time


This next graph shows much the same thing, but the data is broken down into ethnic/racial groups. Again, these lines are about as flat (horizontal) as you will ever see in the social sciences,

However, I think it’s instructive to note that the gap between, say, Hispanic and Black students on the one hand, and White and Asian students on the other, is much smaller than the gap between the 10th and 90th percentiles we saw in the very first graph: about 30 points as opposed to almost 100 points.
naep 12th grade math by percentiles over time


The third graph shows the  NAEP math scores for 12th graders since 2005, since that was the first time that the test was given. The psychometricians atNAEP claim there has been a :statistically significant” change since 2005 in some of those scores, but I don’t really see it. Being “statistically significant’ and being REALLY significant are two different things.

*Note: the 12th grade Math NAEP was given for the first time in 2005, unlike the 12th grade reading test.

naep 12th grade math by group over time


And here we have the same data broken down by ethnic/racial groups. Since 2009 there has been essentially no change, and there was precious little before that, except for Asian students.

Diane Ravitch correctly dismissed all of this as a sign that everything that Rod Paige, Margaret Spellings and Arne Duncan have done, is a complete and utter failure. Her conclusion, which I agree with, is that NCLB and RTTT need to be thrown out.


One of the The Things Wrong With Testing: They Are Invalid to Begin With!

A Test Writer Comments on New York’s Common Core Tests

by dianerav

This comment was posted yesterday:

I am a former, part time item writer for a private testing company; I wrote for many different state standards under NCLB. I must say that poorly constructed, confusing, or developmentally inappropriate items undermine the validity of standardized scores and subsequent use in teacher evaluation. When standardized tests are properly constructed, such items which might make it to a field test will almost certainly be vetted during what is typically a two year process. Many items on the Pearson math and ELA administered last April here in NY were written, in my opinion, in an intentionally confusing style using obtuse or arcane vocabulary. The ELA test in particular included confusing item stems and distractors that were not clearly wrong. There were far too many items that turned subjective opinions (most likely; best; author’s intent; etc.) into a “one right, three wrong” format. Many teachers were unsure of the correct answers on a number of vague and fuzzy items.
The math test included many items that were ridiculously convoluted. Although there may be other compelling arguments against VAM teacher evaluations, corrupt test writing, norm referencing (instead of criterion referenced scoring), and manipulating cut scores add up to a rather important set of reasons to invalidate the entire process.

Published in: on October 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm  Comments (2)  
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80% of parents at a NYC elementary school opt out of testing!

THIS IS HUGE!!! No Testing at This School! Parents Say NO!

by dianerav

Almost everyone agrees that high-stakes testing for little children is a huge mistake. The parents not only wrote their elected officials, they took direct action.

More than 80% of the parents of the children at the Castle Bridge Elementary School in New York City refused to allow their children to be tested.

They opted out.

The tests were canceled.


The parents knew that the only purpose of the tests was to evaluate the teachers, not the children.

Most Castle Bridge School parents — representing 83 of the 97 students — refused to permit their children to be tested.

“My feeling about testing kids as young as 4 is it’s inhumane,” said PTA co-chairwoman Dao Tran, mother of first-grader Quyen Lamphere, 5. “I can only see it causing stress.”

The state now requires schools to factor test scores — in one form or another — into their teacher evaluations, which are new this year in the city.

The parents thought the testing was absurd.

As the Daily News reported earlier this month, such exams, given to kids as young as 4, require students to fill in bubbles to show their answers.

It’s like the SAT for kids barely older than toddlers. And parents resent it.

“Our principal does a good job,” said PTA co-chairwoman Elexis Pujolos, mother of kindergartner Daeja, 4, and first-grader AJ, 6. “A test could not possibly measure what she is able to.”

Principal Julie Zuckerman canceled the required tests because the scores wouldn’t provide statistically meaningful data once so many parents opted out.

She also hates judging teachers even partly on the basis of a test.

“It can’t be used as evaluation tool of teachers even if it were a valid test — which it’s not,” she said.

If all parents did this, they could stop the testing madness that is ruining education and children’s love of learning.

If it can happen at Castle Bridge, it can happen anywhere!

Without data, the giant testing machine can’t function. The children can learn stress-free. Education becomes possible.

Message: OPT OUT.

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 7:37 am  Comments (1)  
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Individual Teachers, Parents, and Students Need to Speak Up

I am reprinting a column from Diane Ravitch that consists of a letter from single, anonymous teacher detailing what is wrong with the charter chain that he/she works for, and why that chain should not be allowed to expand.

Very simple: it’s not good for students, and it’s hell for teachers, but it’s very profitable for the chain’s management.

There need to be more such letters.

Here’s the column:

New post on Diane Ravitch’s blog

A Rocketship Teacher Warns: Stop the Expansion

by dianerav

Rocketship charter schools have a goal of expanding to enroll one million children. Their model relies heavily on technology and inexpensive, inexperienced teachers who work long hours and have no union. Their schools are focused on test scores and leave out the arts and other “non-essentials.” The San Jose, California, board of education will decide tomorrowabout whether to send more children and more public dollars to this poor substitute for a real school.

This letter came to me from a Rocketship teacher:

“Dear Diane,

I have been reading the coverage on your blog on the lawsuit against Rocketship in its quest to build Rocketship Tamien in San Jose. I appreciate your attention to this issue. I am a current Rocketship teacher who is also concerned about Rocketship’s expansion. With a vote by the San Jose City Council coming this Tuesday, I decided I could not longer remain silent. Below you will find an anonymous letter I sent to the San Jose City Council, as well as the parent group against Tamien you featured on your blog. I wanted to send this letter to you as well. I’m not sure if it is something you would be interested in posting on your blog, but even so I wanted you to know you helped encourage me to write it.

Thank you!
A Rocketship Teacher

To all those concerned and involved with the Rocketship Tamien dispute,

I am a Rocketship Teacher who has become increasingly concerned and frustrated while silently watching the dispute over Rocketship Tamien. In this letter, I hope to bring a perspective of a current Rocketship teacher. I am just one perspective and do not claim to speak for other Rocketship teachers. However, I do think my point of view, without a union for protection, is silenced and hidden in this debate. By raising my voice, I am fearful my job could be in danger. Therefore, I have chosen to write this letter anonymously and leave out many details of my own personal experience.

I have structured the letter under a few key points of my feelings about Rocketship as an organization and the direction we are headed. I hope this perspective might raise new questions in the ongoing debate over opening Rocketship Tamien. I have tremendous respect for many of the teachers I work with at Rocketship and by no means wish to attack the incredible effort and energy they put into this difficult job.

Rapid Expansion Without a Clear Model:

Just a few months into the last school year, Rocketship announced to teachers the start of “redesign.” I say announced, because it was not offered as a conversation, but as a mandate. We would be changing many of our schools to an “open-space” model. This model’s vision would have placed 100 students in a room with two credentialed teachers and one learning specialist (including in Kindergarten and first grade). Without research or proof that this was a good idea for our students, redesign was launched at several Rocketship campuses. Teachers, without a union, had no choice but to follow blindly into the “redesign” path, many teachers staying nightly until 9pm trying to figure out what in the world they were going to do in a new space with that many students.

Unfortunately, the experiment Rocketship embarked on with their students and communities proved to be rash. This year, they have slowed down and redesign is happening, for most schools, only in 4th and 5th grade classrooms. I think my biggest concern when thinking about redesign, which left many teachers bitter and caused many to leave Rocketship, is that even though Rocketship is experimenting with its model and unsure of its future direction, it still seeks to rapidly expand across San Jose and across America. It is irresponsible and egotistical to believe that a model that you have not figured out is superior to established public schools in the neighborhoods you are interrupting. This is especially true in light of last year’s CST scores which showed a decline at every Rocketship campus.

No Teacher Sustainability, Little Experience at All Levels:

Working at Rocketship is not sustainable. I personally have never had a colleague tell me, “I could work as a Rocketship teacher for the next 10 years.” I haven’t even heard a colleague say they could work as a Rocketship teacher for 5 years. Rocketship relies heavily on Teach for America corps members. Many TFA teachers come into the classroom with no experience and no perspective on what a traditional school is like. Without experience of a traditional model, I think many TFA teachers come into Rocketship blindly and follow the unreasonable expectations blindly. They grind through their two year commitment of late hours, ridiculous test score pressure, and tumultuous school and organizational environment. At the end of those two years, or even before it, many will leave Rocketship. Some will go into traditional public schools; some will run away from teaching, or what they believe from Rocketship to be teaching, forever. This turnover and burnout robs the San Jose community of veteran teachers that have worked in and understand the community.

It is not just inexperience on the teacher end, it is also inexperience on the administrative end. If you teach for three years at Rocketship, you may have just as much or more teaching experience as some administrators at Rocketship. Rocketship claims to have a robust teacher training and development program, but unfortunately that training comes from inexperienced educators, which I think highly questions the value of such training. When I have heard this concern brought up, usually the value of veteran teachers and experience is scoffed at as unnecessary. This, I think, is part of a larger issue at Rocketship. In my opinion, Rocketship believes itself superior without the experience or results to support it.

Instability of Student’s Day:

Rocketship, to save money by hiring fewer teachers, has a rotational model. Students move throughout the day between different classrooms and spaces, largely three: 1) Literacy, 2) Math, 3) Learning Lab. Literacy teachers have two classes during the day, while math teachers have four, which I think greatly contributes to lack of teacher sustainability. Building relationships with 60 or 120 elementary students and their families, as well as maintaining classroom culture throughout the day, is difficult, emotionally draining, and exhausting.

I truly believe that this middle school model of rotation is not appropriate for elementary school students and creates a culture of instability that breeds behavioral issues. When students are rotating through multiple spaces throughout the day, they do not have consistent behavior expectations, consistent authority figures, or often enough eyes monitoring the transitions. I do not believe this model suits every child, particularly those with special needs. I believe many of our students crave a more stable environment, especially for our students who may experience instability at home.

Students also spend about one hour a day on computers which, as Rocketship has admitted in the PBS special, is not currently effective in pushing student learning. However, because we have a higher student to teacher ratio than traditional schools, students continue to be “held” in the learning lab until their math and literacy classes open up. I do believe that online learning has incredible potential, but Rocketship is using it for too long every day which breeds a lack of investment and boredom in our student’s experience in the learning lab.

Anti-Union Anti-Traditional Public School Rhetoric:

Rocketship claims unions will block their ability to expand and innovate. What that means practically for teachers in the case of the “redesign” experiment last year and day to day decisions of the organization, is that we effectively have no voice or tangible power in this organization.

The PBS special had two Rocketship teachers who claimed that they did not need a union, that they were valuable to Rocketship and safe. Both of those teachers were slated and have now become administrators at Rocketship. PBS didn’t dig, but if they had done some digging, they would have found plenty of disillusioned teachers for their interviews. Or perhaps, they wouldn’t have since we have no union protection. Rocketship also pushes its anti-union, anti-traditional public school rhetoric on our families. I have had many interactions with parents where claims are made about unions or public schools in the area, that have been garnered from Rocketship, that are wrong or over-generalized.

Rocketship, I believe, is not here to provide pressure and competition to traditional public schools. They, with their goals of expansion to reach 1 million students, are here to take over. It is essential to that goal then, to discredit traditional public schools and the teachers at those schools. Students, because of state funding per child, become dollars Rocketship takes from a traditional public school with every child it recruits. This in turn puts more pressure on established districts to lay off teachers and will, eventually, lead to school closures.

Test Scores as the Ultimate Goal:

Rocketship is obsessed with its tests scores. As a charter, they live or die by those test scores. We are now asking our students to learn how to bubble multiple choice questions as early as kindergarten. Teachers are constantly in cycles of testing (which again, is to 60 or 120 students which contributes to the unsustainability).

I believe that knowing where our students are and working to address knowledge gaps is important, but test scores have taken over the culture of Rocketship schools. The stress put on teachers I believe translates directly to the students who are constantly being assessed. Last year, my and other teachers’ salaries were based largely on one computer examination that is given to the students three times during the year. Science, social studies, art and general play time have all become victim to the testing grind. I do not believe Rocketship is cultivating creative, innovative, challenging, minds.

In closing, I do not believe that Rocketship is an organization to be given blind trust. The parents at Rocketship are just like the parents protesting against Rocketship Tamien. They want the best educational experience for their students. I send this letter in the hopes of raising more pause towards Rocketship, its lobbyists, and the tighter hold it is trying to establish over San Jose’s elementary schools.


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