Am I a geek or a nerd?


I fucking love Diane Ravitch
September 27, 2013, 9:02 am
Filed under: education law, Nerd | Tags: , , ,

You read that right. She’s the voice of reason. And not afraid to change her mind when evidence dictates that’s the right thing to do.

Just go listen to her: Diane Rocks!

In other news, my year long absence is over. I’m going to post more often. I’ve had some revealing experiences lately, in education, and I’m feeling compelling to get it out there. One of the points that I found compelling with Ravitch’s NPR interview above was the notion of Education as a social benefit not a consumer good. I recently left a job where I was duped by the CEO into believing he agreed with that sentiment. Then he misappropriated a grant and the teachers, pilot schools, and professional organizations we worked with got fucked.

So I’ve got some shit to get off my chest and most of it involves swearing like its my job. I am a nerd after all (see side bar for definition…)

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Is this a dead horse I’m beating?
February 19, 2012, 8:53 pm
Filed under: education law, evaluation | Tags: , ,

I belatedly finished Diane Ravitch’s Death and Life of the Great American School System (I link to B&N because I have a Nook…we actually have three Nooks in this house…for two people who are able to read…and a tablet…and a netbook…heavens…) and while I’m pretty sure I knew the basics of much of her position, that she provides citations and research to debunk myth and illustrate our dangerous ways makes this a nerdy/geeky delight.

Read it yourself for the full poop; I’m still thinking about the prospect of using student test scores to evaluate teachers. Ravitch provides much info, but the piece I’m most struck by is this study: “Error Rates in Measuring Teacher and School Performance Based on Student Test Score Gains.” In short, the USDE commissioned a study that found that error rates in determining effectiveness of individual teachers range anywhere from 25 to 35 per cent depending the variables (number of years scores are collected for example). This was released in July 2010. One year prior to this study Race to the Top was announced and in part required states to use student scores to evaluate teachers. Hmm. I poked through the study document and found citations dated 2010, so my assumption is that this was commissioned sometime in 2010. So USDE demanded an action of states and at the same time paid for a study to see if that action was really effective. Then it turns out that the action doesn’t seem to be a great option but they keep on keepin’ on with the demands.

I get that scores will just be one part of evaluation for teacher here in NY, and I get that we don’t have a great system in place now (see here, here, here and I’m sure I’ve mentioned more than that and for some other great links and commentary on this, here), but I really don’t think I want any part of any evaluation to have an error rate of 25%.

I’m still trying to be unsurprised by the blindness of everyone barreling down this road.



Everything I could say about RTTT in NY has been said…almost.
January 26, 2012, 9:41 pm
Filed under: assessment, education law | Tags: , , , ,

Here

God bless the New York Times, this article sums up all of my questions and concerns better than I ever could. That said, I have something to add. The author questions the role of State Ed in determining how well 700 school districts are assessing students for growth in non-state tested subjects given the budget cuts at the state level and the number of students and teachers and assessments that would need independent review.

 

I think I know what’s going to happen. The assessment/evaluation police aren’t going to show up. In fact, its likely that no one will ever look closely at how districts meet the mandate. Experience tells me this. While working in Michigan as a Social Studies Consultant the state adopted k-12 Social Studies expectations where there had previously been very little required, but the state also had just one Social Studies Supervisor for the entire state and when she retired she was not replaced. State Ed funding and personnel were dramatically reduced. No one checked what you were teaching, or if you had created a curriculum that was freely available to parents, or if you were assessing students on the new expectations. Some schools even refused to align their grade level subjects to those required by the state. Because, really, what was the limbless state ed going to do about it?

 

I suspect RTTT in NYS will result in similar behavior in schools; do enough to make it look like you’re doing what they want, create a paper trail, but don’t really change much of anything in the end.

 

 

 

 



So I took a year off; everyone deserves a break!!
January 22, 2012, 11:11 pm
Filed under: education law | Tags: , ,

A break, sure. Resigning, moving back to NY, having a baby, surviving said baby’s colic, selling two houses, buying one house, and trying to lose 70 pounds of baby weight (what, doesn’t everyone gain that much?!) make up my 12 months of edu-blogging non-blogging. For the record, I’m 10 pounds away.

While I’m no longer working full-time with one county as a Social Studies Consultant, I have been contracted by AtotheB and Oakland County to continue work on the MC3 curriculum; primarily writing US History and editing grades 5,6 and 7. I’d love to think that the end is in sight for this project, after four years of writing, but our complete overhaul of middle school as well as lack of unit and course ending assessments means I could probably milk this cow for several years or until Oakland Schools decided to stop paying for curriculum in Social Studies. I won’t hold my breath.

Now that I’m back in NY and likely to try to work in a real office with actual people in a nearby school district I figured it was time to brush up on NY’s Race To The Top brew ha ha regarding teacher evaluations, assessments, and Cuomo’s promises/threats of withholding funds (see my previous post on RTTT here and evaluation here and here). So I started where any Social Studies geek/nerd would start; the law itself. I went straight to the horse’s mouth and discovered that the horse has marbles in his mouth…Education Law 3012-c is not a scintillating read (are any laws?) and leaves me with several questions.

Here’s my basic interpretation:

1. Teachers and Principals will be evaluated and categorized in to the incredibly descriptive and clear Highly Effective, Effective, Developing and Ineffective. AKA Awesome; Pretty Good; You’ve Got Potential Kid; and Sucks.

2. Some teachers (grades 4-8 ELA and Math or common branch subjects) will participate in this beginning in the 2011-12 school year (so now) while others (everyone else) will be held to this law beginning in the 2012-13 school year.

3. Prior to the development of  value added measurements,  20% of the teacher eval will be based on student growth as measured on an approved assessment and 20% will be based on local selected measures of student growth. Basically, a kid’s score last year is compared to his score this year. (I’m going to reserve my question as to how one compares growth when the content assessed isn’t the same…)

4. When value added measurements are in place, the numbers are 25% and 15%.

5. If you suck, you get an improvement plan.

Anyone following this or teaching in NY can tell you the laundry list of questions/concerns with these things while at the same time agreeing that something other than the current drive by evals is needed. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to this.




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