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Rob
Seattle
Teacher and soccer fanatic but mostly teacher.
Interests: All things education policy. Sounders til I die~
Recent Activity
A large class compounds almost every difficulty in teaching. Our finite amount of energy is split among more students. Grading, conferencing, report cards all take longer to complete. Managing materials, movement, and the physical space within the classroom is more difficult. Coat racks overflow. You run out of curricular materials. Students have less opportunity to use the available technologies in the class. Large class sizes simply makes the job of teaching more difficult.
Free Public Schoolings' role in society has shifted over the past century and a half. To generalize- Free public education started as necessary for a functioning democracy (i.e. the public needed to be educated to govern itself). Education shifted to being a means for supplying a skilled work force (Education as necessary for an thriving economy). There was a time when education was centered around the development of the child (Dewey). Education also has a role in determining student merit (grade point average, SAT, ACT). With Sputnik and later "A Nation At Risk" education became central to national security. Each of these roles has their own criteria for "quality". Quality depends on your perspective... I doubt we'll find consensus. But no matter your perspective you could find cause to believe education needs to be improved. So maybe "quality" will remain elusive. In the meantime I think we can work at improving our performance on the measures we've got- Common Core, graduation rate, MSP, etc.
Sorry about the repeat comment (a result of typing on my phone)
For me, the most important part of this data is that it tells a part of the story. Hopefully the principal has been evaluating this teacher regularly and saw evidence that he/she was "teaching more of a third grade level" and that this notion was supported by student growth data (when that data came available). But, as you rightly point out, there are other factors that could explain those scores. So, it is important that this student growth data be the beginning of a conversation and part of the overall picture. But this picture is complex. I fear an overly simplistic use of this data.
For me, the most important part of this data is that it tells a part of the story. Hopefully the principal has been evaluating this teacher regularly and saw evidence that he/she was "teaching more of a third grade level" and that this notion was supported by student growth data (when that data came available). But, as you rightly point out, there are other factors that could explain those scores. So, it is important that this student growth data be the beginning of a conversation and part of the overall picture. But this picture is complex. I fear an overly simplistic use of this data.
I don’t know that it is possible to grade equitably in an inequitable system. I agree with your point that a student’s limited second language proficiency shouldn’t become a barrier to demonstrating understanding. However limited L2 proficiency does negatively impact student learning. Limits in curricular resources and language dependent assessments become barriers… maybe standards based grading highlights that inequity. I hope as common core standards become more fully integrated into curricula so will better resources for ELL learners. Perhaps then grading, and shooling, will be more equitable.
"Acceptance is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else." David Foster Wallace
Yes Mark. Especially regarding education, something that is important to all of us and central for a functioning democracy. I hope they save the ideology and rhetoric for less important topics.
Thanks for the post Kristin. You've articulated a frustration of mine. I have hopes that the common core standards will help all stakeholders align their curriculum and assessment. As my school has marched towards the precipice of NCLB sanctions we’ve made an effort to align our curriculum to the standards. We use the Math Expressions curriculum for K-5. The curriculum’s scope and standards align vertically (the skills in 2nd grade are built upon in 3rd etc.). But the standards don’t consistently match Washington’s standards. In my current unit there are 19 objectives. Only 10 of those objectives relate to my grade level standards. If a lesson’s objective doesn’t match the state’s standards should I still teach it? Obviously the curriculum writers thought it was of benefit to students. But since the stakes are rising (assessment-wise) I’m more inclined to focus my instructional energy teaching to the test – with the assumption the test holds sacred the critical skills our students need. But you know what happens when you assume…
Mark- (from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA: Choice Without Equity) "Decades of social science studies find important benefits associated with attending diverse schools, and, conversely, related educational harms in schools where poor and minority students are concentrated. In the recent State of the Union address, the President recognized the persistent link between segregated neighborhoods and schools, saying “In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential.”4 Ironically, charter schools held an early promise of becoming more integrated than regular public schools because they were not constrained by racially isolating school district boundary lines. This report shows instead that charter schools make up a separate, segregated sector of our already deeply stratified public school system."
I can’t argue with providing underserved communities with quality schools. But I can point to charter schools that aren’t fulfilling their promise. I can also point to public schools that have succeeded beyond expectations. Continuing your analogy, replacing sinking ships with lifeboats is short sighted. What replaces the lifeboats as they sink? More lifeboats. The lifeboat construction industry is growing at the expense of the navy. Michigan just lifted its cap on charter schools (300 in 2012, 500 through 2014, and unlimited in 2015). Those 500 schools are not providing service where public schools failed. Their scope is far wider. Michigan charter schools serve 102,000 students and receive $11,987 per student. That $1.2 billion in funding was once directed towards public schools. This amount could rise to $2.4 billion if charter schools reach their 2012 cap. We are all too aware of the painful impacts of Washington’s cuts to education. Being forced to make cuts because funds are not available is a difficult reality. But being forced to make cuts because your funding is being directed towards another agency that provides duplicate service: that seems like an unnecessary and avoidable tragedy.
drpezz- from the post (3rd paragraph) "charter schools do not outperform non-charter schools (link)." The link goes to the study I was referring to- By the Rand Corporation's study of charter schools in 8 states. (funded, interestingly, by the Gates Foundation) I have not seen the Stanford study. It seems I have some holiday reading to catch up on.
I wonder. That is a good question. I'm a slave to my technology. I don't teach with the Teacher's Guide open but sometimes I'd dependent on my next SmartNotebook slide to guide my instruction. That being said, my interpersonal interactions give me the greatest insight into student understanding. I also think these interactions have the greatest impact on student learning. I can remember very little from an online course I took but I remember the words of teachers and professors (especially when they were in response to my wonderings). One other thought in support of technology- I'm much more effective at tracking student growth than ever before. Microsoft's OneNote is my new favorite way to keep relevant information available. I suppose there is no going back but I need to continually remind myself that my job isn't to teach subjects it is to teach people. Teaching people takes a connection. I haven't found that connection on Facebook or through an iPad.
@ Tamara and Tom. I think the most effective place for centrists is at the grassroots. But the fact that "most real teachers are too busy teaching to think about policy, and too tired after teaching to read about it" speaks to a need for a coherent centrist voice to speak on behalf of those too busy to engage in the debate. By not having a voice in the national debate the positive intent collaboration can be undermined by policies instituted at the national level.
I agree Tracy. I was held back in first grade. I believe it was the most important decision my parents ever made regarding my education. That wasn't the end of my learning struggles but I was much better prepared to learn after repeating that grade. I was more mature and new learning was easier to grasp. Schooling was always difficult. I think it was college where I actually learned how to learn but thankfully I was able to do good enough through high school to earn admittance into college (barely). But I am positive had I advanced without repeating a grade I would have been lost academically as many of my friends were. Had I not repeated I would have had almost no chance at college. I never felt any shame about being held back. In fact it was pretty cool to earn my driver's license before most of my classmates. But if a child can't learn to read in the earlier grades they will be unable to read to learn in the upper grades. Often the upper grade teachers are not well prepared to differentiate their instruction to the extent necessary meet the needs of their most struggling students. Let's get the students to a proficient level to ensure success in the following grades.
I have no doubt that this system will be an improvement. It is long overdue. I am sure consistency will be a challenge. I think it is a challenge with the current evaluation system.
Thanks for your kind words Connie. Over the past few days I've been thinking more and more about this. I realize the need to avoid stigmatizing students by placing them in the manner I suggest. But I doubt that stigmatization is worse than passing a student year after year for them to only fall further behind. And that student must face, and likely fail, test after test, course after course. If that was my reality day after day I think I'd learn to hate school.
RTI popped and fizzled at our school. I believe it was implemented for behavior support rather than academic support. It was something we implemented for a couple of years. A few staff meetings were devoted to gathering data and new office referral forms. These forms were fed into the SWIS data system. Apparently somebody could look at the frequency of referrals as complied by the SWIS system and figure out that there were a lot of problems at the second lunch recess. Or, they could have asked the recess supervisor, the office manager, the nurse, or the students and they would have told you there were many problems at the second lunch recess.
"The tools were instructional strategies and attitude." TFA or anybody else those 'tools' would be the first I'd look for in perspective teachers. I curious now. How could teacher education programs use the strategies of TFA's recruiters to better provide new teachers with those tools?
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Jul 14, 2011