I think you do not realize what the weight of these tests is doing to our education system. It's not just the time with the students. Staff meetings and Staff Development Days have become centered around the results of these tests. We analyze data, try to find the root cause for what went wrong with certain questions, and then bend over backward to find a better way to teach this concept. Students must take benchmark tests, practice tests, so we can analyze more data, discover if there is growth or if we are still in danger of getting the answer ...

The flipped classroom model is beautiful because it frees up the teacher to create meaningful lessons and project-based learning experiences where lectures and direct transfer of knowledge previously had to happen. Moreover, it offers teachers the space needed to provide targeted and effective extra help for struggling learners. Flipped learning is not a substitute for these interactions and should never be considered a cost-cutting method, lest it negate the very educational benefits it promises.


If we follow the pattern of NCLB, we will declare these unsuccessful students, their schools and teachers to be failures once again. But if we can LEARN from failure, we will back up and look at how we can restructure math instruction in middle school and earlier so that these students can truly achieve at high levels. We will look at smaller class sizes, earlier interventions, and programs that address the health, safety and security of our children. We will look at how to retain well-prepared teachers of math, and strengthen professional development so that we are all learning together. ...


Today I am taking time to review an insightful new book, authored by Lois Weiner: The Future of Our Schools; Teachers Unions and Social Justice (2012, Haymarket Books.) This work presents a useful guide to teachers who wish to make the most out of one the most powerful tools we have - our unions. In our discussion of how to improve schools, teacher unions are a frequent focus of discussion. The education "reformers" portray unions as defenders of the status quo and protectors of bad teachers. On the opposite side, we also hear those who are frustrated when teacher unions ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Perhaps because they demonstrably lost the 2012 election, conservative school "reformers" are being much more candid about why bubble-in accountability has failed. A month ago, conservatives were united in their support of Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett, Idaho's "Luna Laws," and other efforts to dramatically expand high-stakes testing. Now, conservative Mike Petrilli is not alone in admitting that, "Top-down, one-size-fits-all efforts such as formulaic teacher evaluations tend to overemphasize the high-stakes testing that can take the joy out of learning. Parents and teachers in richer areas typically hate this pressure." Similarly, conservative Andy Smarick can now ...


Guest post by John Chase. Teachers who may be looking for a complex informational text for their students to practice with in preparation for the new assessments might consider using the following excerpts from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which was amended 12/2/11. (selected passages and bold font added for clarity and emphasis) ...These amendments are needed to ensure that the U.S. Department of Education (Department or we) continues to implement FERPA in a way that protects the privacy of education records while allowing for the effective use of data ...All education data holders ...


Wherever the "reformers" are working to divide us, we need counter campaigns aimed at strengthening our unity. We need to make sure less experienced teachers understand the value of due process, and the reasons we object to "data-driven" evaluations and pay systems. We need to develop social and educational activities that bring generations of teachers together, so they recognize how much they have to learn from one another, and how much better they can be when they support one another and work together. We need serious outreach efforts to communicate with parents, both urban and suburban. Our public schools are ...


These schools are struggling - they are hamstrung by the relentless pressure to raise test scores, and the budget cuts that close libraries and cut essential student services. But we need a campaign to highlight the efforts being made every day by our determined army of educators. We are on the real front lines, in schools like Highland Academy in Oakland and the democratically controlled schools in Chicago, and a thousand other schools in communities across the country. The "reformers" have decided that we are the obstacles to their grand vision - the transformation of our schools using the miracle ...


Some parents at the school, such as Mike Nunez, ask the poignant question, "Does it really all come down to money, class, and/or race?" Nunez notes South Lake Elementary has one of the highest poverty and minority rates of all the nearly 100 schools in the district. He stated that in the history of Brevard County, six schools in the North Area have been closed, with each of them lying in economically depressed areas (never in any areas considered to be "Affluent" neighborhoods). Additionally, Nunez suggests that no written criteria for how schools were chosen for possible closures have ...


Guest post by John Thompson. Chad Alderman's "If the Yankees Used 'First-In, Last-Out'..." is much too typical of the contemporary school "reform" movement. Like so many accountability hawks, Alderman loves to expound on topics that he knows well, but he reveals very little understanding of real life conditions in schools. This sincere advocate for students writes at length about what would happen to the Yankees if they inexplicably adopted the seniority system. He says nothing about schools or his reasons for believing that his baseball analogy is appropriate. Of course, it would be just as absurd for major league sports ...


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