June 2012 Archives

Guest post by Jack Hassard. Originally posted here. Standards development, such as in science, is a big enterprise, and one that will result in huge profits for corporations, and will cost school districts billions to carry out over the next few years. For the past two years, Achieve and the Carnegie Corporation have teamed up to write a framework, and a set of science standards for K-12 schools. The science standards were recently flashed on the screens of our computers for about three weeks so that we could give Achieve feedback that they no doubt will embrace in their next ...


Guest post by Gerald Coles. In 1970, Sidney Willhelm's book "Who Needs the Negro?" (the latter word had currency at the time) argued that with the rise of automation within a capitalist economic system, African-American workers were transformed from being exploited to becoming "useless" from the viewpoint of those who controlled the economy and the automated productive processes emerging within it. Because of the racism of U.S. business interests, the workforce that automation would require could and would be largely white. Yes, business would continue to hire a number of blacks, but as much as the cloaked face of ...


A report from the El Paso Times revealed last week that school administrators in that city may have engaged in some questionable practices to make their all-important data appear better than it ought to have been. The key element in the District's data portfolio is the 10th grade standardized test. Administrators apparently went to great lengths to prevent students likely to score poorly from taking this test. These steps included: Placing students entering the country into the 9th grade, regardless of where their transcripts indicated they should be. Allowing schools to reclassify students to a higher grade, without requiring they ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Defenders of our current obsession over test scores claim that new, better tests will rescue us from the educational stagnation caused by a test prep curriculum. And one of those new types of tests is an adaptive test, which adjusts the difficulty of questions as students work, so that students are always challenged. This gives a better measure of student ability than a traditional test, and can be given in the fall and spring to measure student growth over the year. This approach is increasingly being used to determine the "value" individual teachers add ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Last week, attending a great conference in Oklahoma City, Vision 2020, focused largely on Common Core, I kept worrying how I could articulate my support for the effort without angering my friends who are skeptical of it, or needlessly antagonizing Common Core supporters who hold the weird belief that it will be "a game-changer." Finally, I decided to just put my thesis on the table. I support Common Core because it embodies the essence of the educational "status quo." I support Common Core because it is like the educational establishment and American democracy in being ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As the summer approaches, it is time for teachers to once again let President Obama know where we stand on his education policies. Two and a half years ago we wrote letters. Last summer we marched in front of the White House. This August the Save Our Schools convention will gather activists once again, to build a platform of principles for improving education. I am once again collecting teachers' letters to President Obama, and will have them delivered by July 5 to the White House, and to Secretary Duncan. Here is my open letter. ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody One of the fundamental precepts of the school "reform" movement is that the students of today are not ready for college or the workplace. This then is one of the reasons the US has lost its competitive edge, and even is to blame for unemployment rates, because our "job creators" have millions of jobs that are unfilled, and our graduates are simply unprepared for these positions. People like David Brooks call this a "structural issue." Maybe not. This week there are two separate reports, one from the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, and the ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody What will it mean for every one of the nation's 50 million students to have a unique ID number, and be included in a national database that tracks every test they ever take? And teachers will get ID numbers as well, so the database can track the test performance of our students over our entire careers. I have been exploring in recent weeks the way technocrats such as Bill Gates are redesigning our education system, with projects such as the Common Core (national) Standards. I also wrote about the Groupthink I believe is being ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody "We are technocrats," Bill Gates recently stated. What do technocrats believe and do? They think that technology and science provide the answers for the problems we face. Our educational system is today being rewired by technocrats such as Gates, with the active cooperation of the Department of Education, which uses laws such as No Child Left Behind to coerce states, districts and schools to cooperate with their systems. What might the future look like in this technologically driven education system? Teachers and students may be fitted with Galvanic Response Bracelets, which are described this ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody We are relying on the results of standardized tests for ever more consequential decisions. Students are promoted or held back, teachers are hired or fired, public schools are closed, and soon our schools of education will be rated, ranked and have their funding depend on the scores of the students taught by their graduates. Since the tests have so much riding on them, they are getting greater scrutiny than ever - and their limitations are beginning to show. In Florida, the State Board of Education acted hastily last month to "lower the bar" on ...


Guest post by kafkateach, originally posted at her blog here. In my previous post about VAM, I chose to discredit value added models on a purely humanistic level and to leave the attacks on the validity and reliability of the algorithm to the mathematicians. In the past week, I have learned so much about how VAMs will now be used in annual teacher evaluations in Florida that I can completely leave the pseudo science behind the algorithm out of the equation. I do not even need to prove that value added models are merely overpriced tarot card readings to demonstrate ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As I was taking a look at the latest report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, a disturbing thought came to mind. The NCTQ has prepared a report that criticizes schools of education for failing to jump on the "obsessed with data" bandwagon. You can just feel the irritation in the words of NCTQ president Kate Walsh when she says: A lot of schools of education continue to become quite oppositional to the notion of standardized tests, even though they have very much become a reality in K-12 schools. The ideological resistance is ...


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