Texas Decision Slams Value Added Measurements

And it does so for many of the reasons that I have been advocating. I am going to quote the entirety of Diane Ravitch’s column on this:


Audrey Amrein-Beardsley of Arizona State University is one of the nation’s most prominent scholars of teacher evaluation. She is especially critical of VAM (value-added measurement); she has studied TVAAS, EVAAS, and other similar metrics and found them deeply flawed. She has testified frequently in court cases as an expert witness.

In this post, she analyzes the court decision that blocks the use of VAM to evaluate teachers in Houston. The misuse of VAM was especially egregious in Houston, which terminated 221 teachers in one year, based on their VAM scores.

This is a very important article. Amrein-Beardsley and Jesse Rothstein of the University of California testified on behalf of the teachers; Tom Kane (who led the Gates’ Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Study) and John Friedman (of the notorious Chetty-Friedman-Rockoff study) testified on behalf of the district.

Amrein-Beardsley writes:

Of primary issue will be the following (as taken from Judge Smith’s Summary Judgment released yesterday): “Plaintiffs [will continue to] challenge the use of EVAAS under various aspects of the Fourteenth Amendment, including: (1) procedural due process, due to lack of sufficient information to meaningfully challenge terminations based on low EVAAS scores,” and given “due process is designed to foster government decision-making that is both fair and accurate.”

Related, and of most importance, as also taken directly from Judge Smith’s Summary, he wrote:

HISD’s value-added appraisal system poses a realistic threat to deprive plaintiffs of constitutionally protected property interests in employment.

HISD does not itself calculate the EVAAS score for any of its teachers. Instead, that task is delegated to its third party vendor, SAS. The scores are generated by complex algorithms, employing “sophisticated software and many layers of calculations.” SAS treats these algorithms and software as trade secrets, refusing to divulge them to either HISD or the teachers themselves. HISD has admitted that it does not itself verify or audit the EVAAS scores received from SAS, nor does it engage any contractor to do so. HISD further concedes that any effort by teachers to replicate their own scores, with the limited information available to them, will necessarily fail. This has been confirmed by plaintiffs’ expert, who was unable to replicate the scores despite being given far greater access to the underlying computer codes than is available to an individual teacher [emphasis added, as also related to a prior post about how SAS claimed that plaintiffs violated SAS’s protective order (protecting its trade secrets), that the court overruled, see here].

The EVAAS score might be erroneously calculated for any number of reasons, ranging from data-entry mistakes to glitches in the computer code itself. Algorithms are human creations, and subject to error like any other human endeavor. HISD has acknowledged that mistakes can occur in calculating a teacher’s EVAAS score; moreover, even when a mistake is found in a particular teacher’s score, it will not be promptly corrected. As HISD candidly explained in response to a frequently asked question, “Why can’t my value-added analysis be recalculated?”:

Once completed, any re-analysis can only occur at the system level. What this means is that if we change information for one teacher, we would have to re- run the analysis for the entire district, which has two effects: one, this would be very costly for the district, as the analysis itself would have to be paid for again; and two, this re-analysis has the potential to change all other teachers’ reports.

The remarkable thing about this passage is not simply that cost considerations trump accuracy in teacher evaluations, troubling as that might be. Of greater concern is the house-of-cards fragility of the EVAAS system, where the wrong score of a single teacher could alter the scores of every other teacher in the district. This interconnectivity means that the accuracy of one score hinges upon the accuracy of all. Thus, without access to data supporting all teacher scores, any teacher facing discharge for a low value-added score will necessarily be unable to verify that her own score is error-free.

HISD’s own discovery responses and witnesses concede that an HISD teacher is unable to verify or replicate his EVAAS score based on the limited information provided by HISD.

According to the unrebutted testimony of plaintiffs’ expert, without access to SAS’s proprietary information – the value-added equations, computer source codes, decision rules, and assumptions – EVAAS scores will remain a mysterious “black box,” impervious to challenge.

While conceding that a teacher’s EVAAS score cannot be independently verified, HISD argues that the Constitution does not require the ability to replicate EVAAS scores “down to the last decimal point.” But EVAAS scores are calculated to the second decimal place, so an error as small as one hundredth of a point could spell the difference between a positive or negative EVAAS effectiveness rating, with serious consequences for the affected teacher.

Hence, “When a public agency adopts a policy of making high stakes employment decisions based on secret algorithms incompatible with minimum due process, the proper remedy is to overturn the policy.”

How ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Policies Harm All Students

See:

Image result

The author, Derek Black told Jennifer Berkshire that “…some of the charter schools you’re referencing actually take it to one more level. They say ‘you don’t think we can? Just watch us. We’re going to have suspension and expulsion rates higher than anything you’ve ever seen before.’

“I think the difference between the charter system and the public system, which is really what my book is about, is that the public system doesn’t really get rid of its students; they come back. The charter school doesn’t have the responsibility of serving the community and all of its children, so that what it’s trying to do is sort of slash and burn.

“I suppose that one can slash and burn all of the low achievers and the troublemakers until there is no one left. It’s not that they’ve made the students who are left perform better, but that they’ve lopped off their low performers.”

Compare ‘Education Reform’ to Ineffective but Profitable Quick-Weight-Loss Schemes

John Viall compares the past 15 years of education ‘reform’ to the past 30 or 40 years of completely counterproductive weight-loss schemes — in both cases, the results are exactly contrary to what they were promised to be. In one case, we can see that America’s obesity rates are some of the worst in the world. In the other, we have certainly not ‘raced to the top’ on TIMMS, PISA, or any other international test, despite all of promises by both the Bush and Obama administrations.

He concludes (I added some color):

“For a sixth time the PISA test was administered in 2015.

Now, 15-year-olds from seventy countries and educational systems took the test. How did U. S. students fare?
The envelope please.
In reading U. S. students scored 497. In other words, after fifteen years of school reform and tens of billions wasted, reading scores were still down seven points.
Fifteen years of listening to blowhard politicians—and U. S. students averaged 470 in math, a depressing 23-point skid.
Surely, all that meddling must have done some good? No. Science scores averaged 496, still down three points.
Fifteen years of diet plans that couldn’t possibly fail and, metaphorically, we were all just a little more fat.
PISA scores had been the foundation on which all school reform was built; and after all these years, America’s 15-year-olds were scoring 33 points worse.

What Exactly Are the Differences between Democrats and Republicans on Charter Schools?

According to this column by Carolyn Leith, not really all that much. I thought this is worth reading. The source is here

Last year, I wrote an open letter to Senator Patty Murray pleading with her to reconsider the lavish financial support charter schools were slated to receive in the soon to be re-authorized ESEA.

My argument:

The Supreme Court has found the Washington State Legislature in contempt for not fulfilling its duty to fully fund basic education.

The federal government made this situation even worse when it allowed aid to states to expire in 2012. This money was being used by states to keep our public schools running.

Given the precarious state of public school funding in Washington State, I’m confused by your willingness to include generous funding for charter schools in the ESEA.

Not only did the Supreme Court rule Washington State’s charter law unconstitutional, but charter schools have a track record for all kinds of financial scandals. Don’t believe me? Just google “charter school scandals” and take a look.

We can’t afford to have any dollars diverted from our classrooms. Any dollar lost to scandal is one not being spent on the 1 million public school students in Washington State.

The rest is history.

The ESEA sailed through Congress and with President Obama’s signature – became law as the ESSA.

In November, Patty Murray – supporter of the TPP and co-author of the ESSA – skated to another term with 59% of the vote.

The only kink was Trump’s victory and his selection of Betsy DeVos to be the new Secretary of Education. THAT was a buzz kill.

Suddenly, Democrats and progressives (whatever that means anymore) couldn’t stop talking about charters and the evils of privatization.

AWKWARD.

Here’s the thing: Democrats are just as into charter schools as Republicans. The only difference is the language they use to sell the idea to their supporters. Democrats talk about gaps while the Republicans complain about the public education monopoly.

Don’t believe me?

In September, President Obama’s Secretary of Education, John King, sent out a press release announcing $245 million in new grants for charter schools. $245 million !?!

“Ensuring that all students have access to an academically challenging and engaging education is critical to preparing them for college and career success,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Innovative charter schools are continuously developing new and impactful practices to close achievement gaps and provide all students with the skills and abilities they need to thrive. We are proud to support these efforts along with strong charter school authorizing and accountability, particularly given these grantees’ commitment to communities facing steep academic challenges.”

(Did you see the word gaps?)

Selective Outrage

I’m done with Democrats who only activate their moral compasses when a Republican is President. I don’t have the time or patience to support an organization that puts scoring political points over principles.

Remember when Hillary Clinton made big headlines by trying to sell NEA members on the lesser of two evils argument that non-profit charters were a vast improvement over the garden variety charter school?

Think about it: The Democratic Party’s candidate for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, was campaigning as a supporter of charter schools — to an audience full of teachers. You can’t be more pro-charter than that.

But now – with a Republican President and a potential Education Secretary who LOVES all things charter – Democrats and their progressive minions are beside themselves. Outraged, even.

Sorry to be a downer, but I can’t help wondering where all of these VERY concerned Democrats were a year ago.

Oh, I remember, they were in Congress, working with the charter lobby to re-write the ESSA, so privatization supporters could get EVERYTHING on their wish list.

It’s Worse Than You Think

Now, we come to the really bad part of the story. The ESSA – constructed in a bipartisan manner – is a doomsday device for public education AND it’s the law of the land.

Here are the ESSA’s three arms of destructio

  • Accountability measured designed to create turn-around schools which are ripe for charter conversion.
  • Innovative assessments to usher in online learning software, ELOs, and “anytime, any place learning”.
  • Infusion of big federal dollars so charters can push out resource starved public schools

It appears the school privatizing lobby – within the Democratic Party – was so sure of a Clinton victory, they rushed to pass the ESSA – never considering the possibility of a Clinton loss.

Well, it happened.

Instead of the happy face of privatization offered by the Democratic Party, we’re faced with a Betsy DeVos who can’t wait to push the red button and could care less about human suffering or the rubble left behind.

Charter Lobby Victory

The ESSA gave the charter lobby everything they wanted and then some. Take a look:

Specifically, changes to the Charter School Program (CSP) include the following:

The CSP now includes dedicated funding for the replication and expansion of high-performing charter schools. In addition, state grants can also be used for the same purpose.

The state grant program can now be administered by governors and charter support organizations in addition to state educational agencies.

The state grant program prioritizes funding to states that provide equitable resources to charter schools and that assist charters in accessing facilities.

The state grant program provides schools with additional spending flexibility for startup funds. For example, they will be allowed to use CSP funds to purchase a school bus and make minor facility improvements.

The state grant program includes new protections to ensure funds go to charter schools with autonomy and flexibility consistent with the definition of a charter school.

Charter school representatives must be included in Title I negotiated rule-making and must be included, like other stakeholders at the state and local level, in the implementation of many federal programs.

CSP recipients will have more flexibility to use a weighted lottery to increase access to charter schools for disadvantaged students. CSP grantees will also be permitted to use feeder patterns to prioritize students that attended earlier grades in the same network of charter schools.

And other provisions that affect charter schools include:

  • New and expanding charter schools are required to receive timely allocations of Title I allocations and to be “held harmless” in the same manner as other eligible Title I traditional public schools.
  • The highly qualified teacher requirement has been repealed. Charters are free to design personnel systems and hire staff that meet the unique needs of their school.
  • States are required to administer annual reading and math assessments in reading and math in grades 3-8, and once in high school. Science assessments are required once in each grade span: 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12.
  • States must hold all public schools accountable for improving student achievement of all students, as well as all subgroups of students.
  • Schools are also accountable for adjusted four year and extended cohort graduation rates.
  • LEAs have flexibility to use Title I funds for school improvement to increase the number of high-quality charter schools serving students attending failing schools.
  • New provisions to demonstrate compliance with the “supplement not supplant” requirement include additional flexibility in aligning federal program funds with their educational programs.

What can we learn from all of this?

Neoliberalism – and school privatization is straight out of the handbook – hurts people and the public institutions humans depend on.

The particular political leader pushing the neoliberal agenda doesn’t matter. Some will appear progressive, others conservative. It doesn’t matter.

Blind partisan loyalty is sucking the legitimacy out of our political process.

This has got to stop.

When your political team embraces part of the neoliberal agenda, you need to speak up and say “NO” – just as loudly as when the other team does.

Otherwise, we’ll continue to be rewarded with dumpster fires like the ESSA.

-Carolyn Leith

 

 

An Immodest Proposal

If you look at the lingo used to justify all the horrendous crap being imposed by “Ed reform”, you’ll see that it’s all couched in lefty-liberal civil rights language. But its results are anything but. Very strange.

Q: Can you cite some examples?

GFB: Yes. From the TFA website:

“Everyone has a right to learn. But in our country today, the education you receive depends on where you live, what your parents earn, and the color of your skin.

“That’s a serious injustice. And in the national movement to right  our contribution is the leadership of remarkable people.

“Our people—diverse and passionate—start in low-income classrooms, where the stakes are highest. We help them become teachers who can dramatically expand students’ opportunities. But our teachers don’t just teach their students, they learn from them.

“They gain a better understanding of the problems and the opportunities in our education system and use those lessons to define their path forward. Many stay in the classroom. Others leave. Both paths matter because to set things right, we need leaders in all areas of education and social justice united in a vision that one day, all kids will have access to an excellent education.”

GFB: However, the way TFA works in practice is that the kids who need the most experienced, skillful teachers, instead get total newbies straight out of college with no teaching experience, no mentoring, and courses on how to teach whatever subject they are they are assigned to. Their five weeks of summer training are mostly rah-rah cheerleading and browbeating. Their only classroom experiences during that summer are a dozen or so hours teaching a handful of kids, **in a subject or grade level totally different from whatever they will be randomly assigned to**.

What underprivileged students do NOT need is an untrained newbie who won’t stick with them. If anything, this policy INCREASES the ‘achievement gap’.

Q: I’m sorry Guy, but none of this poses a solution. Paying the teachers more is not the answer. I know this because I would quit my engineering job in a heartbeat to teach. I honestly would. And I would do it for 1/4 the pay. But not under these  conditions. Not with “father education” telling me how to use fancy calculators to educate kids. Not when you take what I love about math and turn it into garbage. The paradigm sucks, independent of the lousy pay.

GFB: That’s yet another reason to oppose Michelle Rhee. She and her allies have figured out how to micromanage teaching down to the minute and to the very sentences teachers are required to read — from a script. Yes, she and Jason Kamras and Raj Chetty and the other billionaires friends have made it that teachers have no say whatsoever on content or methodology.

If they are not on the same page exactly, down to the minute, they can get marked down, harassed, suspended and fired.

Want to teach under those conditions for twice the pay? Me neither.

It’s not “Teach Like A Champion” as Doug Lemov puts it: it’s teach like a robot.

Q: Plus, their answer to teaching is to integrate technology. They think that if they use technology, everybody will be prepared for the “real world”. Unfortunately, the technology they use isn’t utilized in the real world. So…useless. Somebody needs to tell them this!

GFB:  That’s often true. However I think the teacher should be the one to judge how much technology to use and when. Occasionally we should show them really OLD technology like carving quill pens from turkey feathers, or making their own batteries from copper pennies and galvanized iron…

But you can’t do that with Value Added Measurements and rubrics testing whether you are on the Commin Core Crapiculum to the minute.

I wasn’t really giving THE or even A solution. I was objecting to the solution we are having imposed on us right now. If you want proposed solutions, here goes:

  1. Get people who don’t have actual, extensive teaching or research experience out of the command and control centers of education except as advisors.so, no Michelle Rhee, Andre Agassi, Arne Duncan, Billionaire Broad at the helm.
  2. For our poorer kids, make sure they have free, high quality wraparound services of every kind from the moment their mother notices she’s pregnant.
  3. So for example good well-qualified dentists, ophthalmologists, psychologists, general practitioners, and other doctors should come to each school and check eyes ears nose throat etc and give immunizations to every kid, no more than a single hour of class needs to be missed. If they get hurt on the playground or suddenly vomit in class, it’s really taken care of, right away.
  4. There should be all sorts of remedial help available for kids AS SOON AS help appears to be needed: eyesight, hearing, balance, coordination, mental math, memory improvement, spelling, reading, writing, walking, emotional difficulties, etc. (Right now, the provisions of ADA and IDEA are not funded, so school districts have an incentive to NOT diagnose those with deficiences or learning disabilities, because then they would have to take care of them. Charter schools for the most part just pretend that there are no IEPs.)
  5. Every kid gets a lot of ‘gross motor’ outdoor activities – not just team sports but also things like wilderness hikes, camping, horse care and riding, farming, boating. And music and drama and arts of all sorts – not just for the talented few, but everybody. Lots of after-school activities of these sorts.
  6. Teachers (and parents) should select their principals from among the ranks of the teachers. The principal should also teach, part-time.
  7. Teachers should have at least two years of education theory (and human psychology) and a full year and a half of student teaching, and at least a college major in their area, under experienced mentors. Teachers should be given help o0n how to defuse tense situations and child psychology, and should be chosen from the ranks of those showing
    1. academic promise and
    2. the ability to empathize and
    3. the ability to explain patiently and clearly.
  8. Classes should be much, much smaller. If 12:1 is good enough at Phillips Exeter Academy with their Harkness Tables, why not at Malcolm X ES in far Southeast Washington DC? And if it’s a hands on activity like a chemistry lab or using compasses & straightedges or making birdhouses, get an assistant or two so that it’s more like 3:1.
  9. Let the teachers wrangle over curriculum. State level is fine. County level is fine. School level is fine. To hell with these state-wide standardized tests and curricula, be they bubble type or click and drag.
  10. Actual hands-on vocational training that leads to actual jobs should be available to all who want it, and corporations must engage to hire those grads at decent rates of pay and with promises of additional training.
  11. State-college or  state-university higher education needs to be much, much cheaper. Student debt, like all other debt, should be dischargeable upon bankruptcy, and should be payoff able by many kinds of national service. (Exact provisions TBD, but teaching should definitely be one of those forms of national service. Payments and interest in limbo for the first X years, paid off at Y percent per year, fully paid off after Z years. Exact values of X, Y, Z are TBD.)
  12. Teachers should be paid well enough that they don’t need to get second jobs. Pay in DCPS is not the problem. Working conditions are the problem.
  13. I think that 3-4 hours of personal contact time with kids per day is enough. Planning for each class and heading papers can easily take 2x the amount of class time. So each paper turned in by a student should be returned the next day, marked intelligently.
  14. Since the bosses have their own organizations (NAM, Chamber of Commerce, ALEC, the Koch Brothers network, Council on Foreign Relations, the Cosmos Club, etc) so should the employees. Teachers’ unions should continue to exist but should be more democratic.
  15. Students should, in fact, be held responsible for their success or failure. It’s not all on the teacher, as it is now. Social promotion for a number of years is OK, many countries do it without bad effects, but there should be some sort of a test, I think, of all sorts: practical (eg drawing something, playing a musical piece, climbing a wall, drilling a hole, writing an essay, doing a proof, viewing something under the microscope, etc) as well as a pencil-and-paper or mouse-and-screen test of some sort. Not just arcane reading and math.
  16.  Those who don’t meet the mark should obviously be advised as to what their options are, and those options should be available and well-funded, whatever they might be.
  17. We should strike a balance between having kids go to their walk-to neighborhood schools and having truly integrated schools where each school has a mix of kids of all ethnic groups and incomes. How to do that, exactly , under our current mega-segregated urban patterns, is beyond me. The superhighways and redlinings of the last 80 years are not going to be overcome overnight, but having kids ride for hours to charter schools where there is no neighborhood connection – that’s not the answer.
  18. Anything I left out?

What A Joke DC Education Chancellor Kaya Henderson Was – City Paper

Very detailed article in the Washington City Paper showing how our recently-resigned Chancellor, Kaya Henderson, failed to do much of anything to narrow DC’s extremely-high gap between high-achieving and low-achieving students, even though she had oodles of money, complete control over resources, and the ability to fire teachers and administrators almost at will.

As I have shown repeatedly (see here, here, here, here, and here for starters. Or else here) DC has the widest gap of the entire USA between the scores of poor kids vs the non-poor, between white kids and black or hispanic kids, and between those in Special Ed and those who are not. This article shows how the Henderson and Rhee administrations failed to do pretty much anything to improve conditions at schools where there were large concentrations of ‘at risk’ kids, other than saying that by some miracle, they would improve scores by 40 percentage points at all of the schools where 40% of the kids were ‘at risk’.

(A quote from the article: ‘ “No school in the history of time has achieved such goals,” counters a D.C. Council staffer familiar with DCPS school reform. “On its face, the concept of this as a reachable goal was ridiculous.” ‘)

And of course, it never happened. No extra resources, and no miraculous gains.

But according to the article, Kaya has an excuse – just the sort of thing that she and Michelle Rhee used to berate actual, um, educators for saying:

‘ when Payne persisted with a question about Henderson’s “personal goal of closing achievement gaps,” the chancellor explained: “I am not exactly convinced that schools alone can close the achievement gap. I think about the fact that in Washington, D.C., we have the greatest income inequality in the country. That gap is only growing, and the fact that our achievement gap is growing in a similar way shouldn’t be baffling. But I think what we’ve learned is that equity is really more appropriate, giving different people different kinds of support…And for different groups and different kids that means different things.”

My friends and colleagues Elizabeth Davis and Mary Levy are quoted. It’s a long article, but well worth reading.

The Chinese Way to Get High International Test Scores: Exclude Low-Scorers

Here is the secret for getting high scores on tests like PISA, TIMMS and so on: systematically exclude any student likely to produce low scores.

In Singapore, the children of the local indentured servant class and the children of migrant workers who cross from Malaysia every day simply are not counted because they are not permitted to attend schools in Singapore at all.

In China, even though students in a number of provinces are tested and measured on PISA by the OECD, the Chinese government only permits scores to be published from the city of Shanghai — where half of the school-age children simply are not allowed to attend school or receive any services at all, since they theoretically and legally belong to their home town out in the rural provinces somewhere.

I strongly recommend reading this article, on Diane Ravitch’s blog, as well as my wonderfully edifying comment.

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/12/tom-loveless-on-shanghai-the-scores-are-rigged-and-oecd-doesnt-care/

and here is the original article by Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution, and here are a few paragraphs from it:

The only reasonable conclusion is this: officials in Shanghai are only counting children with Shanghai hukous as its population of 15 year-olds, about 108,000.  And the OECD is accepting those numbers.  It is as if the other children, numbering 120,000 or more, do not exist.  This is not a sampling problem.  PISA can sample all it wants from the official population.  Migrant children have been filtered out.  Professor Chan of Washington agrees with this hypothesis, saying in an email to me: “By the time PISA is given at age 15, almost all migrant children have been purged from the public schools.  The data are clear.”

What Now?

As a researcher who studies student achievement, I use PISA data.  That requires trust and confidence in the integrity of the assessment.  I can be confident, for example, that the scores from Portugal are from a representative sample of all 15 year-olds in Portuguese schools.  I have no such faith in PISA scores from China.  PISA-OECD has been silent about its special arrangement with China.  All of the data from 2009 still have not been released.  The data from Shanghai apparently only represent the privileged subset of 15 year-olds who hold Shanghai hukous.  I don’t know for sure. In the four volumes of data on PISA 2012, neither hukous nor the migrant children of China are discussed. Not a word.  Not a peep.

PISA officials are not shy about offering policy advice to countries, especially policies that the OECD believes will promote equity.  Delaying tracking and ability grouping, reforming policies governing immigration, distributing resources so that schools with less get more, and expanding early childhood education—all have been promoted as equity-based policies.  But not a word about reforming hukou.  Not a word on a discriminatory policy affecting the education of millions of Chinese children.  Not a word on the human rights story of migrant families in China and the human suffering that they must endure. 

Published in: on December 12, 2013 at 9:34 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Weekly education resistance news roundup from FaiTest

From Bob Schaeffer:

With schools open across the nation, opposition to the planned Common Core Assessments is surging. As protests spread, more commentators are taking note of the disconnect between the growing resistance to standardized exam overkill among parents, teachers and community leaders and the stubborn support of failed testing policies by public officials.

Remember that back issues or these weekly updates are available at: http://fairtest.org/news/whats%20new

Common Core Assessment Myths — New FairTest Fact Sheet
http://fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet
States Worried About Common Core Tests
http://www.eschoolnews.com/2013/08/29/states-core-tests/
Most School Districts Cannot Handle Common Core Technology Demands
http://www.eschoolnews.com/2013/09/05/networks-core-common-002/?ps=23351-0013000000j04Vt-0033000000q5P4J
Why a Common Core Standards Proponent Opposes the Common Core Tests
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/e-d-hirsch-jr/common-core-tests_b_3824859.html

A Test for New York Mayoral Candidates
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/test-mayoral-candidates-article-1.1444953
Stop and Frisk These Test Scores
http://thejosevilson.com/stop-and-frisk-these-test-scores/#sthash.6ysFVRdT.9Krxphzo.dpbs
New Yorkers Organize “Send Back the Scores” Protest Event
https://www.facebook.com/events/238152966333080/

More Georgia Parents Eager to Opt-Out of State Tests
http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/88130/

Illinois District Super Says Cut-Score Increase will “Push Students Off Cliff”
http://www.gcsdblogs.org/kuffel/?p=847

Back to School for Providence Student Activists
http://providence.thephoenix.com/news/155349-extracurricular-activism/?page=1#TOPCONTENT

North Carolina Parents, Teachers Seek Testing Moratorium
http://www.mecklenburgacts.org/2013/09/stop-high-stakes-msl-tests-now/

Failed Tennessee Testing Model Perpetuates Educational Injustice
http://truth-out.org/news/item/18476-state-failures-national-models-and-the-perpetuation-of-educational-injustice

The Flaws of Politicians’ School Grading Schemes
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/56819173-82/schools-students-grading-utah.html.csp

Huge Disconnect Between Public and Policymakers on Education
http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=6527

Five Bad Education Assumptions the Media Keeps Recycling
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/29/five-bad-education-assumptions-the-media-keeps-recycling/

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

Published in: on September 6, 2013 at 8:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Test Scores

You may have noticed that while we were told that DC’s local NCLB/RTTT test scores went up a little bit this year, we were also told that NYState’s and city local NCLB/RTTT test scores went down tremendously.

.

What gives?
.

Both systems and city schools have been under the sway of charter-school privatizers and DEformistas for many years now. There has been an unbelievable, unprecedented turnover in the national cohort of school teachers. The DEformistas and privatizers have been dictating policy. The Deformistas (and their billionaire backers) ARE the educational establishment, and they have themselves hired the vast majority of teachers here in DC and NY.
.

So how come scores are supposedly way down in one place and a tiny up in the other?
.

The ‘old school’ type of allegedly “union-stifled” education is out: Big Data and Big Billionaires Rule, and have been doing so for some years now, with mostly brand-new teachers, but with kids who are not so different from their slightly older siblings and cousins and community members….

Plus they instituted Common Core, which is supposed to bring about more creative thinking in our teachers and students.
However, my friends who are still teaching tell me that their principals and other administrators require that each teacher follow a very strict, regimented script that allows for no creativity at all. Every single thought, every single teacher question, and every other detail that teachers are supposed to do, is spelled out. And, of course, the kids had better be able to follow the same script by answering the idiotic, long-winded test items correctly, if the teachers want to keep their jobs.

(But as far as I or others can actually see, the test questions given to the kids don’t really make a lot of sense; and the checklists and rubrics for judging teachers follow one particular philosophy and have never been shown to make any actual difference in the classroom; nobody has ever done any field tests to make sure the curriculum, the methodology of the pedagogy, or the test items have any reliability or validity in the field. All this allegedly ‘data driven’ verbiage has virtually no connection to how actual people learn and teach.

The new type of educrat and consultant has the pretty cross-linked chats, and the extremely high salaries, even though some of them still have trouble with percents. Nonetheless, a few of them have figured out some complicated ways of putting numbers on stuff and grinding that through formulas that obfuscate rather than clarify, resulting in a number they can use to fire or blame or give rewards. However, if the number doesn’t come out the way they like it, then they cheat and change it or hide it or make stuff up (one of Michelle Rhee’s specialties).

If it does come out favorably, then it gets trumpeted in all the media.

Another point of similarity between NY and DC: in both cases they have a new test this year. Which means it is at best very hard to compare scores of one test to the next. However, we members of the public are dependent on what they let us see. We can’t see the questions, are not told the actual number of correct answers,nor what the cutoff scores are, and so on.*

So much for actual “data”.  Just as with the federal government, under both Republicrat or Democan state or local or national leadership, more and more real important stuff is hidden while we are bombarded with trivial junk of all sorts. (Why do I have to be visually bombarded by mewspapers and magazines with pictures of the British monarchy or various movie star scandals every time I go walk down the street or get food at a store or visit a doctor or dentist, while at the same time the data resource people at DC’s OSSE doesn’t return phone calls? Or if I watch most TV channelse?

To me the most interesting thing is this:

1. The DEformistas like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Mayor Bloomberg and Wendy Kopp (of KIPP fame) and the Koch brothers and the Walton family have been claiming for quite some time that if they were able to gut the teacher union’s mighty powers and implement their policies (including mostly at first firing teachers and lots of tests but now including micro scripted and deadening curricula) then there was no boundary of excellence we would reach. We oiuld have 90% of the students reach the 90 th percentile at schools that were 90% poor and 90% minority (just the way Michelle Rhee pretended had happened in her classroom). They have set up those charter and voucher programs. They have showered money on the people in charge because of their excellence.

2. None of the rosy scenarios have actually come true.

—————

I still haven’t answered ‘what’s up’ with the NYC and DC scores. Here is an interesting fact. KIPP is supposed to be pretty-much a teacher-proof school of excellence. They are rigid, they have doctrines and rules of excellence and data and standards that all teachers must follow. In NYC their scores collapsed this year, worse than in the regular public schools , according to Gary Rubenstein, but in DC they rose to I think their highest level.

Is the DC kipp so different from the NYC kipp Kopp operation?

Or is it more likely that the big difference is the tests and scoring systems — which are kept from us?

My conclusion: for qwhatever reason, the test makers and graders the stupid NYC test harder and the DC test a little easier this year. While following almost identical policies in both cities.

NYC scores go down a lot. DC scores go up a bit.

And then they blame the teachers.

In any case, these data are:
# unreliable

# inconsistent

# invalid.

# do show that the promises of the DEformistas have utterly failed.

===================================

* Keep in mind that anyone leaking test items to the public would be risking his/her job and fines and jail time. Not risking being placed in solitary or tortured or hunted into exile or called traitors like Manning or Snowden * but the penalties for test leaking are serious and are enforced. Unlike the penalties for illegally firing people, which are weak and essentially never enforced.  I think that Manning and Snowden are imperfect but brave heroes.

Published in: on August 9, 2013 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bob Schaeffer’s Weekly Roundup of News on Resistance to Corporate EduTesting

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest has been compiling weekly summaries of news articles showing how folks all across the country are resisting the corporate agenda of test, test, test. Here is his latest one:

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The pushback against high-stakes testing continues to accelerate with more parents, teachers, students, administrators, and educational policy makers recognizing that the current approach has failed and an increased focus on the looming danger from Common Core assessments.

Virginia Supers Worry That School Grades Will Primarily Measure Student Poverty
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/va-superintendents-worry-new-grading-scale-will-measures-poverty-not-instruction/2013/06/26/d7ad7566-de68-11e2-948c-d644453cf169_story.html

Editorial: New Florida School Grading Standards Are a Set-up for Failure
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/30/3475969/new-standards-dont-make-the-grade.html

Students, Parents and Teachers Consider Appealing Delayed NYC Test Scores
http://gothamschools.org/2013/06/26/with-regents-exam-scores-coming-in-attention-turns-to-appeals/

NY State Senator: Instill Lifelong Learning, Not Test-Taking in Students
http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130621/OPINION/130629723/1074

Testing Has Reached Its Limits For Some Minnesota Parents
http://www.twincities.com/education/ci_23563367/some-minnesota-parents-testing-has-reached-its-limits

Oklahoma Teachers Ask State to Invalidate All 2013 Test Scores
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/oklahoma-standardized-tests_n_3504730.html

How Pizza Helped Garfield High Teachers Resist Standardized Testing Overkill
http://crosscut.com/2013/07/02/education/115232/arnold-garfield-high-teacherss-inspiration-strikin/

Students Who Take Tougher Grad Tests Are More Likely to End Up in Jail
http://www.businessinsider.com/jail-more-likely-for-students-who-take-hard-finals-2013-7

The Trouble with Common Core
http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/27_04/edit274.shtml

The Common Core Testing Nightmare That Awaits Us
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-turner/the-common-core-nightmare_b_3521825.html

Will Common Core Assessment Focus Derail College and Career Readiness
http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2013/06/25/fp_barnwell_career.html

Oklahoma Pulls Out of Common Core Testing Consortium: Cites Volume of New Assessments
http://www.tulsaworld.com/article.aspx/State_pulling_out_of_standardized_testing_through_consortium/20130701_19_0_StateS605337?subj=1

Union Worried Testing Will Cause More to Turn Against Common Core
http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2013/07/01/union-worried-testing-could-cause-public-to-turn-on-common-standards/

Common Core Assessment Consortium to Delay Some New Tests By a Year
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/06/testing_group_delays_some_components_for_one_year.html

See FairTest Common Core Assessment Fact Sheet
http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-more-tests-not-much-better

Time for Education “Reform” Reset
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/6252013-an-education-reset/

Connection Between Test Scores and College Performance is Tenuous
http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130630/OPINION/130639986
See FairTest’s List of More than 800 ACT/SAT Optional Schools
http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional

The Perils of Standardized Testing: Six Ways it Harms Learning
http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/the-perils-of-standardized-testing/

Test-Driven System Stifles Creativity Says Survey of U.S. Parents and Teachers
https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-06-24-education-system-stifles-creativity-say-teachers-parents

Careful What You Want and How You Measure Getting It
http://www.golocalprov.com/news/julia-steiny-careful-what-you-want-how-you-measure-getting-it/

Defining Students, Teachers and Schools By a Number Does Not Improve Learning
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2013/06/i_was_once_defined_by_a_number.html

The Revolution Will Not Be Standardized
https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/01-6

Finland’s Education Ambassador Spreads the Word About a Better Alternative
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jul/01/education-michael-gove-finland-gcse

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

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