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Liberating Inner City Teachers (Huffington Post)

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown seeks to recruit top teachers to low performing schools by freeing them for two or three years from the district’s oppressive IMPACT evaluation system.

If Brown’s idea went national, however, think of the incentive it would provide for teachers who want to actually teach (as opposed to just complying with top down micromanagement) to transfer to poor schools in order to do so. Before long, the suburbs would have lost so many teachers that they would be filling their classrooms with 23-year-old wonders trying to prove how hard they can work with no sleep and no peace of mind, while under the thumb of evaluators whose lack of knowledge just makes them more self-righteous.

Liberating teachers who commit to the toughest schools would be the first step in liberating all teachers and students from excessive test prep, narrowing the curriculum and rote instruction.

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Scores rise as exams are switched to 11th grade (Register-Guard)

“We did this to ensure our students would enter high school with the skills needed to succeed and graduate college and career ready,” Castillo said. “We believed that our students were capable of achieving at these higher levels, and today’s results clearly demonstrate that they are.

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The Student Shuffle (MN 20/20)

It complicates our discussion of education policies in ways that are often glanced at but rarely explored. Student mobility, after all, does not affect all schools or districts equally. It tends to be highest in lower-income districts, and therefore adds another layer of difficulty to the work that the people in those districts are trying to do.

It also affects accountability policies. Even if a policymaker is generous enough to decide that students who show up right before a test shouldn’t be counted for or against their new school, what counts as “right before”?

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When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real? (USA Today)

There can be innocent reasons for multiple erasures. A student can lose his place on the answer sheet, fill in answers on the wrong rows, then change them when he realizes his mistake. And, as McGraw-Hill said in a March 2009 report to D.C. officials, studies also show that test-takers change answers more often when they are encouraged to review their work. The same report emphasizes that educators “should not draw conclusions about cheating behavior” from the data alone.

Haladyna notes, however, that when entire classrooms at schools with statistically rare erasures show fast-rising test scores, that suggests someone might have “tampered with the answer sheets,” perhaps after the tests were collected from students. Although not proof of cheating, such a case underscores the need for an investigation, he says.

Like the earlier posted article about cheating, we harm our students and ourselves when we help them cheat (or cheat for them). No benefit to the student comes from raising a student’s test score. It might make the teacher and the school look good, but the next teacher has to deal with that student’s shortcomings. And if that continues, eventually there’s a high school senior who can barely read or do multiplication.

"This is like an education Ponzi scam," says Nathan Saunders, head of the Washington Teachers’ Union. "If your test scores improve, you make more money. If not, you get fired. That’s incredibly dangerous."

You’ve got to admit, this is a situation rife with temptation.

Board members say that, like parents, they have been kept in the dark about testing irregularities. The state board wasn’t aware, Lord says, of the dispute between the superintendent’s office and Rhee until its members saw reports in TheWashington Post in the fall of 2009. She says she did not see the erasure analysis or the lists of schools flagged by McGraw-Hill until USA TODAY shared its copies.

The fact that parents didn’t know was not surprising, though they should have been made aware. The fact that school boards didn’t know - that’s startling. There’s either a serious communication problem, or someone is, perhaps intentionally, derelict in their duty.