Why Formative Assessment Makes Better Teachers
Portland’s Madison High and Woodburn’s Washington Elementary are featured in a national report that downplays the value of adding time to the school day or school year, given the expense of that strategy and the importance of quality vs. quantity in teaching time
WE NEVER have been convinced that opposition to the Common Core teaching standards was anything more than the result of a campaign by professional agitators to drum up anger toward anything that can be even remotely tied to the president. Still, we sympathized with the decision by more responsible legislators to authorize a tweaking of the standards, in hopes of allowing our state to focus on real problems with our schools. Think of it as giving candy to a hysterical 3-year-old in order to calm a temper tantrum.
“Give us something better or get out of our way and let us do our job.” – Terry Holiday, Kentucky Commissioner
“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.” -Chinese Proverb. If this proverb is true, why is there so much resistance to change in education?
Parents in particular seem to have the most difficulty with the new standards. I recently did an informal Facebook survey asking them to share their frustrations. They delivered honest answers that helped me better understand their issues. Here is what they said:
“It is frustrating that I feel like I can’t help my child when she needs it.”
“They have no math books and I am always afraid of teaching her to do it the wrong way when she needs help. There are never any examples on the pages and I know this “new math” is all about the process and there is a lot of work to get to an answer… I guess my concern is that she will lose her love of math when what is a simple problem to her turns into 5 steps that seem unnecessary (to her) and just extra work.”
What “mindset” do the great leaders instill in their teachers (and students )?
That we all are still developing expertise, that we can all get better and improve, and that we should focus on results. For a teacher to focus only on his/her own practice is only the tip of the iceberg. The real turning point is the evidence demonstrated by the students in a teacher’s class. Great leaders instill a passion for continued growth and development in teachers and students.
Administration To Hold Firm On No Child Left Behind Testing Requirements.
The Washington Post (1/10, Layton) reports that according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the Obama Administration has drawn a “line in the sand” regarding efforts to rewrite No Child Left Behind: “the federal government must continue to require states to give annual, standardized tests in reading and math.” The Post notes the stance “comes amidst growing anti-testing sentiment” led by an “odd alliance” of parents, teachers unions, and conservatives. The new chair of the Senate education panel, Sen. Lamar Alexander stated that “he is weighing whether to ditch the federal requirement to test,” adding that the Senate should ask be asking “Are there too many tests?” An aide to Sen. Patty Murray, also on the education panel, stated that the Senator will likely “push back strongly” on attempts to get rid of annual testing. The Post quotes ED spokeswoman Dorie Nolt saying of Duncan, “He will outline the need to widen and ensure opportunity for all students — the original purpose of this landmark law. He will call for quality preschool for every child, improved resources for schools and teachers, and better support for teachers and principals. He will also call on states and districts to limit unnecessary testing so that teachers can focus needed time on classroom learning.”
Alyson Klein writes at the Education Week (1/12) “Politics K-12” blog that according to a senior Administration official, Duncan will call for “adding more resources, ensuring educator excellence, and keeping the law’s historic focus on educational equity.” Duncan will also “remind folks” that ESEA “was, at its inception in 1965, and remains, at its heart, a civil rights law.” Klein quotes Nolt saying, “The secretary’s speech will make clear what we believe a new elementary and secondary education law should stand for and what we value as a country.” Moreover, the article reports, Duncan “won’t back away from” such Administration priorities as “investing in teacher quality—and teacher evaluations,” accountability measures analogous to the terms of states’ NCLB waivers, and “maintaining NCLB’s annual summative tests.” This article notes that Duncan is scheduled to deliver the speech Monday at Washington, DC’s Seaton Elementary School, and that his comments will also focus on “incorporating early-childhood education into the ESEA.”
The New York Daily News (1/12) reports that Duncan is expected to stress “President Obama’s push for universal pre-K, and could include possible reductions in some testing levels, but he is expected to maintain requirements for annual testing for third- to eighth-graders.”
CCSSO Calls For Preserving Testing Schedule. Alyson Klein writes at the Education Week (1/12) “Politics K-12” blog that the Council of Chief State School Officers is pushing back against a potential NCLB rewrite including “giving control over testing back to the states,” and is “urging congressional education leaders to pass a rewrite of the law that would keep the NCLB testing schedule intact, meaning that states would still be required to test students using statewide assessments in reading and math annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school.” However, the CCSSO would “move away” from “mandates on school improvement and accountability, and would give states more flexibility over their federal funding.”
A December report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) – the independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars – reiterates what we at the Learning First Alliance have been saying for well over a year: We need to provide the time and support necessary for teachers, administrators, parents and communities to get Common Core right.
A new study suggests affirmative action policies in college admissions might be a good idea.
Study: SAT More Predictive Of Black Students’ Success In College.
The Washington Post (1/6, Guo) reports a recent working paper from three Texas economists found that, of Texas public school students that attended public universities, “for black students, the SAT is a far more important predictor of college GPA than for white or Latino students,” despite black students scoring worse, on average, on such tests. Study coauthor Jane Arnold Lincove of the University of Texas at Austin speculated that such tests are less predictive of white students’ performance because they have more access to prep courses that aim to boost scores regardless of the student’s ability. Lincove also said that the results speak “to the idea that affirmative action in admissions might empirically be a good idea.”