December 19th, 2014
The CCSS: Equity and Deeper Learning ~ Alliance For Excellent Education
By Linda Darling-Hammond and Pedro Noguera
“If implemented successfully, they (CCSS) could support the kind of teaching that would enable students to develop deeper learning competencies, including:
- a flexible understanding…of key concepts
- ability to apply core academic content to solve complex problems
- ability to work collaboratively
- ability to communicate effectively
- learn how to learn
“these new initiatives will require a tremendous transformation in teaching approaches, school organization and leadership orientation.
Serving the historically underserved
Such changes will be particularly challenging for under-resourced schools serving large numbers of low-income students which were most likely to narrow the curriculum to test preparation strategies under the threat of sanctions during the No Child Left Behind era.
In most schools and classrooms, “students…have been given few chances to learn to solve complex problems, conduct research, communicate in multiple forms, or use new technologies for finding, analyzing, and evaluating information.
Teacher Capacity: Building NOT Inspecting
“need to build educator capacity to learn and use new pedagogies”
December 18th, 2014
By Justin Baeder
“Faced with this question, most of us know the “correct” answer (especially in a job interview): instructional leader, of course.
But do we really have a choice? Can you choose to be an instructional leader and not a building manager?
Instructional leadership involves creating the conditions for instruction, not just directly supervising it.”
Instructional Quality is a function of the following:
- Teacher Skill
- Student Readiness
Leaders can work to improve teacher skills, but if they neglect the context, no learning will take place. Attendance impacts teachers. Behavior impacts teaching and learning. Unless school leaders create a safe, orderly, and inviting school environment, and provide the resources teachers need, learning will not take place.
As one national leader said to me ‘We did a great job teaching our principals to work with teachers, but we forgot to teach them how to prevent fires in the bathrooms.’
Principals have to work on the three factors–teacher skill, student readiness, and context–all at once.
December 18th, 2014
“while efficiency is critical and often a competitive advantage, it is a problem when it becomes a mindset that is applied to everything we do; when it becomes an excuse for our lack of real connection. Faster and easier is not always better. As leaders, we have to know the difference. Some things are better over time. There is no such thing as efficient leadership. If efficiency is digital, leadership is analog.
Leadership is about influence and mobilizing people to achieve a common goal. This is done through relationships. Relationships do not benefit from efficiency.”
December 17th, 2014
The system was created to make it easier to identify which teachers performed the best so their methods could be replicated, and which performed the worst, so they could be fired.
Most New York City Teachers Score Well On New Assessments.
The New York Times (12/17, Taylor, Subscription Publication) reports that New York education officials released new information Tuesday showing that 90% of “New York City teachers received one of the top two rankings in the first year of a new evaluation system that was hailed as a better way of assessing how they perform.” Noting that the system was envisioned as a way to identify successful teachers’ best practices and to eliminate ineffective teachers, the Times reports that “state officials and education experts said the city appeared to be doing a better job of evaluating its teachers than the rest of New York State.”
The AP (12/17, Thompson) reports that some education leaders said that the high pass rate of the evaluations may mean that it needs to be improved, noting that this is “the second consecutive year that evaluations gave high scores to the vast majority of teachers while only about a third of students” scored well on statewide tests. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said, “The ratings show there’s much more work to do to strengthen the evaluation system.” Meanwhile, the AP quotes outgoing Education Commissioner John King Jr. saying, “I’m concerned that in some districts, there’s a tendency to blanket everyone with the same rating. That defeats the purpose of the observations and the evaluations, and we have to work to fix that.”
The Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard (12/17) and the Wall Street Journal (12/17, Brody, Subscription Publication) run similar reports.
The education world has turned completely upside down!
- New teacher evaluation systems are designed to make it easier to fire teachers, not to improve teaching.
- Can we fire our way to Finland? The same reformers who promoted small schools and larger class sizes have championed the idea that firing more teachers would somehow improve public education. Now, “school systems are stuck with a model designed to trash teachers, while Microsoft employees collaborate and work on teams.” http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2012/07/microsoft-downfall-emails-steve-ballmer
- The criticism of inflated teacher evaluations centers around the use of value-added measures in calculating final ratings—evaluations have improved while scores have dropped. Read NASSP’s position statement on the use of VAM’s in teacher evalutions. http://www.nassp.org/tabid/3788/default.aspx?topic=Value_Added_Measures_in_Teacher_Evaluation
- NYC is better at evaluating teachers because NYC has more ineffective teachers?
December 16th, 2014
Reading tests do not measure question-answering skills. Old-style test prep won’t work!
By Tim Shanahan
- Reading comprehension tests do not measure question-answering skills, but instead estimate how well students can read particular kinds of texts with understanding.
- PARCC and SBAC are pointedly avoiding making claims that their assessments will reveal whether students are meeting particular standards, but instead provide an overall estimate of reading comprehension.
- Reading comprehension tests measure how well students read texts, not how well they execute particular reading skills.
- So, item analysis is not an effective strategy for improving reading comprehension.
- PARCC and SBAC tests are, won’t they be able to provide specific diagnostic information.
5 Steps to making students sophisticated and powerful readers:
- Have students read extensively within instruction.
- Have students read increasing amounts of text without guidance or support.
- Make sure the texts are rich in content and sufficiently challenging.
- Have students explain their answers and provide text evidence supporting their claims.
- Engage students in writing about text, not just in replying to multiple-choice questions.
- Good instruction and literacy instruction are one in the same.
- Reading increasingly complex text, with appropriate support, improves reading comprehension.
- Writing about what you read improves reading comprehension.
- Students cannot become better readers by listening to teachers talk.
- Reading and writing should be purposeful and teachers should hold students accountable for gaining knowledge and understanding from what they are asked to read.
- Students writing should be persuasive in nature and they should be asked to make claims and provide supporting evidence from text.
- Teacher constructed assessments should use fewer multiple-choice items and should require students to read and write about the text.
December 15th, 2014
- More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years. If you include community-college students in the tabulation, the dropout rate is more than half, worse than any other country except Hungary.
- Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t. Or to put it more statistically: About a quarter of college freshmen born into the bottom half of the income distribution will manage to collect a bachelor’s degree by age 24, while almost 90 percent of freshmen born into families in the top income quartile will go on to finish their degree.”
- If you compare college students with the same standardized-test scores who come from different family backgrounds, you find that their educational outcomes reflect their parents’ income, not their test scores.
I don’t often use the term ‘must read’, but this article fills the bill.
December 15th, 2014
“The report was compiled by two statewide math educator groups, as well as the Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy at Louisiana State University.
According to statistics provided in the report, about 42 percent of fourth-grade students, and 34 percent of eighth-grade students in the United States, are considered proficient in math based on standardized tests. In Louisiana, the figures are even lower — 27 percent of fourth-graders, and 21 percent of eighth-graders — were categorized as proficient.
In addition, only about half of high school students in Louisiana have mastered all of the skill areas in algebra and geometry, according to end-of-course data in the report.”
December 15th, 2014
Harm for some students in repeating algebra