Posts tagged ‘No Child Left Behind’

January 7, 2013

Why Schools Used To Be Better

by Marion Brady | Published January 4, 2013 by Answer Sheet Blog

You enter a checkout lane at Walmart, Target, or other big-box store and put your purchases on the counter. They’re scanned by a device that reads bar codes and translates them into data fed at the speed of light through fiber optics cables to corporate headquarters and distribution centers.

The data produced by the bar code readers keep track of inventory, determine appropriate staffing levels, provide feedback about advertising effectiveness, and much else that guides decision making.

Those in Washington now shaping education policy are certain that what data tracking does for business it can do for education.

But there’s a problem. Kids don’t come with bar codes, and teachers don’t have scanners. Nancy Creech, the Michigan kindergarten teacher who recently told her story here on The Answer Sheet, summarized a consequence of data-collecting mandates. Authorities in her state, unwilling to trust her professional judgment, require her to give more than 27,000 grades or marks to her 4- and 5-year-olds. That number, evenly distributed over the school year, would require her to take a data-related action every two minutes of every school day!

This, of course, is ridiculous — almost as ridiculous as assuming that machine-scored standardized tests produce important data about the mental ability and future potential of those who take them.

As others have pointed out, computer programmers have an appropriate acronym for irrelevant data: “GIGO”—“Garbage In, Garbage Out.” If data fed into a computer is nonsense, the data coming out will be nonsense.

The non-educators now in charge of education have the teaching profession awash in GIGO.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/03/why-schools-used-to-be-better/

November 15, 2012

Phony school “reform” agenda takes a beating

The media barely noticed, but voters in three states rejected the profit-driven fraud that is education “reform”

By | Published November 13, 2012 by Salon.com

If your only source of news about American education came from docu-propaganda like “Waiting for Superman,” Hollywood politi-schlock like “Won’t Back Down” and elite-focused national news outlets in Washington, D.C., and New York City, you might think that the so-called education “reform” (read: privatization) movement was a spontaneous grass-roots uprising of good-old-fashioned heartlanders generating ever more mass support throughout the country. You would have no reason to believe it was a top-down, corporate-driven coalition of conservative coastal elites trying to both generally undermine organized labor and specifically wring private profit out of public schools, and you would similarly have no reason to believe it was anything but wildly popular in an America clamoring for a better education system.

In other words, you would be utterly misinformed — especially after last week’s explosive election results in three key states.

In Colorado, the out-of-state, corporate-funded group Stand for Children, which previously made national headlines bragging about its corrupt legislative deal making, backed a campaign to hand the state Legislature to pro-privatization Republicans, specifically by trying to defeat Democratic legislators who have stood on the side of public education. Though the group and its affiliated anti-union, pro-privatization allies have become accustomed to getting their way in this state, 2012 saw them handily defeated, as the targeted Democrats won election, giving their party full control of the statehouse.

In Indiana, the results were even more explicit. There, as the Indianapolis Star reports, Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Bennett became “the darling of the reform movement” by “enthusiastically implement(ing) such major reforms as the nation’s most expansive private school voucher program; greater accountability measures for schools that led to the unprecedented state takeover of six schools last year; an expansion of charter schools; and an evaluation system for teachers that bases their raises, at least in part, on student test scores.” For waging such a scorched-earth campaign against teachers and public education, Bennett was rewarded with a whopping $1.3 million in campaign contributions, much of which came from out of state. According to Stateline, Bennett was underwritten by “some of the biggest supporters of education reform in the country, including Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, billionaire financier Eli Broad and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” and NPR reports that he also received big donations from private corporations that stood to profit off his school takeover policies.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2012/11/13/phony_school_reform_agenda_takes_a_beating/

October 20, 2012

CHRY ‘News Now’ Interview with Robert Green on the Problems with Quebec’s 4-Tiered Education System

CHRY is the York University campus/community radio station. To listen to the ‘News Now’ feature interview with Robert Green on the problem’s with Quebec’s 4 tiered education system  click here. (To download as mp3 right-click and select ‘save link as’)

October 14, 2012

Video: Letter to Arne Duncan – Two Teachers and a Microphone

August 15, 2012

Education and the 2012 Quebec Election: Part Three – Where do the Parties Stand on School Autonomy?

By Robert Green

Thus far this series has looked at where Quebec’s political parties stand on education funding and curriculum. This article will examine where the parties stand on the question of school autonomy.

A week rarely passes in Quebec where there is not one news story or another about members of a local community clashing with school board or government bureaucrats over an issue involving schools. Because many feel that the centralized bureaucracies that manage our schools are out of touch with the needs of local communities, they argue for greater school autonomy. On the other hand, some degree of centralized management is needed in order to maintain equitable access to resources and system-wide standards. Indeed the question of local autonomy versus centralized management is one of the key issues every government must face in managing its education system.

One of the major trends in North America involving the issue of school autonomy is the use of incentivized ‘performance indicators’ as a means for government to impose its will on schools. This is the philosophy behind George Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ (NCLB) law that ties school funding and/or teacher pay to various measurable indicators of school success. More often than not this involves standardized test scores.

After ten years of such policies, the US has not improved its achievement rates at all. It has, however, succeeded in transforming its public schools to serve a single purpose: prep for high stakes standardized tests. Not only have American schools been canceling art classes, phys ed and even recess in order to focus more on test prep, but there has also been a wave of high profile fraud scandals throughout the US, some involving hundreds of teachers and administrators systematically changing the test responses of students to avoid their schools being shut down or defunded. The only other thing such policies have achieved is millions in profits for the corporations that own the private charter schools and have been all too happy to receive the public dollars formerly dedicated to the public system.

read more »

July 12, 2012

What Really Happens When Parents Pull the “Parent Trigger?”

By Will Dooling and Brendan Fischer. Published July 5, 2012 by PR Watch

Democrats at the U.S. Conference of Mayors have recently backed “parent trigger” laws that allow parents to seize control of their public schools and fire the teachers and principal, or privatize the schools — a policy also supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute.

Is the “Parent Trigger” a successful plan for empowering parents and promoting school reform, or is it a vehicle for the private takeover of public schools?

“Parent Revolution” Gives Limited Options

Parent Trigger laws allow parents at any persistently failing school to gather a majority and either fire the principal, fire half of the teachers, or turn it into a private charter school. The laws — which have been proposed in dozens of states and become law in California, Texas, and Connecticut — have been embraced by some Democrats and groups that claim to support progressive values, despite claims by some that the laws have the impact of privatizing education.

The Parent Trigger has its roots in the George W. Bush administration’s 2001 “No Child Left Behind” plan. That law required schools that consistently failed to show progress on a battery of tests to, after five years, be placed under “restructuring,” which could include turning the school over to the state for reorganization or transforming it into a charter school.

Read More: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/07/11612/should-parents-pull-parent-trigger

July 11, 2012

Addiction to High Stakes Testing is Killing US Education

by Jim Horn. Published July 11, 2012 by Common Dreams

“…We do not have to wait for field trials to understand the effects of more high-stakes “value-added” testing: more labeling of the weak as failures, more privatization, more corporate welfare school projects, more disposal of experienced teachers, more correctional officers posing as educators, more missionaries out to build their resumes and assuage their guilt with children who need the most experienced teachers, more apartheid charters run by corporations, more curriculum caste systems and “ability” grouping, less shared social and cultural capital, more competition and less collaboration among teachers, more curriculum in a box, less creative teaching, less deep learning, more homogeneity and less diversity of ideas, more social control, less autonomy and responsibility, more dependency, less ability to solve problem and think creatively, less potential to survive as a species.”

Read More: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/07/11

June 28, 2012

NY Civil Liberties Union: High Stakes Tests Harm Students and Teachers, Undermine Equity in New York’s Schools

Published July 27 by The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)

“Students of color, English language learners (ELLs) and children with special education needs are unduly punished by high-stakes assessments that are mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and are increasingly used as instruments to close public schools and denigrate teachers, hurting the city’s most vulnerable youth.

The harmful consequences of the heavy emphasis on high-stakes testing include narrowed curricula, as teachers and schools are pressured to prepare students for make-or-break standardized exams – and an academic culture that values test scores over open-ended inquiry and innovative instruction.

“Alternative assessments are not a retreat from accountability – to the contrary, they promote greater equity in the public schools and more accurately assess student growth and learning,” Fine said. “There are many rigorous strategies for documenting student strengths and needs that do not risk the adverse impact of high-stakes testing on struggling students, educators, and schools.”

The New York City Department of Education has closed more than 140 schools since 2003, largely based on student testing data. In 2012, the DOE publicly released “value-added” teacher-evaluation ratings, based on student test scores, which the DOE originally asserted should never be made public, or used to make employment decisions. Formalizing test-based teacher ratings was integral to New York’s successful application for federal Race to the Top education funding.”

Read more: http://www.nyclu.org/news/high-stakes-tests-harm-students-and-teachers-undermine-equity-new-yorks-schools

June 20, 2012

Change.org Drops Michelle Rhee Group Under Pressure From Progressives

By Ryan Grim, Posted: 06/19/2012 by Huffington Post

“WASHINGTON — In a surprising reversal, Change.org, the progressive online powerhouse that channels grassroots energy into petition-based activism, has dropped two anti-union clients, including Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, according to multiple sources familiar with the decision.

The move comes after intense pressure from the labor movement and other progressive allies, who accused the for-profit company of betraying its liberal roots by partnering with Rhee, the former head of Washington, D.C., public schools, and the similarly aligned group Stand for Children headed by education advocate Jonah Edelman. The ouster of StudentsFirst and Stand for Children was confirmed by a Change.org spokesman.

Leaders of Rhee’s group were outraged. “We’re surprised at their decision,” Nancy Zuckerbrod, spokeswoman for StudentsFirst, told HuffPost. “When we spoke to them this afternoon, they couldn’t point to a single one of our petitions on their site that violated either the terms of use or spirit of their organization. Not a single one. In fact, they said they agreed that much of the work of our members were in line with the progressive values of the organization. And it’s clear that the Change.org community does as well, as tens of thousands of them signed our petitions fighting for the civil rights of all children to receive a high-quality education. For instance, more than 47,000 people signed our petition in support of the Dream Act, compared to fewer than 4,000 who signed the heavily organized protest petition on a different site against Stand for Children.””

Read More:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/changeorg-michelle-rhee_n_1610760.html?fb_action_ids=10100546607266466&fb_action_types=news.reads&fb_source=other_multiline

June 13, 2012

Video: Are Teachers Too Accountable Over Student Achievement?

May 18, 2012

Three Evidence Based Strategies to Improve Quebec’s Public Schools

By Robert Green

Although the next provincial election in Quebec may still be well over a year away, education is already emerging as one of its central issues. While the student protests for accessible education have directed much of society’s focus towards a number of issues at the post-secondary level, there are also many reasons for Quebecers to be concerned about what is being proposed at the elementary and secondary levels.

Both Francois Legault’s Coalition pour l’Avenir du Québec (CAQ) and the governing Liberals (PLQ) seem intent on importing to Quebec aspects of the American corporate education reform agenda at the heart of George Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ policy. Legault wants to bring the American war on teachers unions north. If elected his party intends to remove the tenure process that provides teachers with professional autonomy and job security. Meanwhile the Liberals, through their Bill 88 passed last year, have been flirting with the notion of using performance indicators to determine school funding.

What all parties seem to agree on is that Quebec’s education system is in crisis and needs to be fixed.

This, however, is nothing new. For at least the last twenty years politicians have been wringing their hands over the Quebec education system’s poor performance and high drop-out rate. Their response has been one ill-fated policy-fix after another. Prior to this latest focus on performance-based incentives, it was curriculum reform that was supposed to serve as our miracle cure.

But the problem with miracle cures is that they tend not to be based on evidence.

Indeed evidence is what is missing most from the current debate about the future of Quebec’s education system. What is needed is a government willing to consider the numerous policy options that a wide body of research, both in Canada and abroad, has shown to be effective in improving educational outcomes.

Here are three such options:

read more »

May 17, 2012

Studies Suggest Economic Inequity Is Built Into, and Worsened by, School Systems

By Paul Thomas, Truthout. Posted Tuesday, 15 May 2012

“‘These studies demonstrate a simple, essential reality which corporate reformers ignore: that socioeconomics don’t somehow magically stop at classroom door,’ explained educator and scholar Adam Bessie. He added, “School reform and social reform are inseparable projects and that schools in economically and racially segregated communities are not crippled by ‘bad teachers’ nor ‘evil unions,’ but rather, by that very segregation itself.”

Bessie also suggested that these studies help challenge the call for “miracle” reform that presents schools as the singular institution to create social change, even though the dynamics of those schools tends to perpetuate the same inequity found in society. Social reform addressing over 20 percent of children living in poverty must accompany reforming school inequity, he maintained.”

Read More: http://truth-out.org/news/item/8993-studies-suggest-economic-inequity-is-built-into-and-worsened-by-school-systems

May 14, 2012

The fantasies driving school reform: A primer for education graduates

This is an excerpt from the commencement speech that Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, gave this past weekend at the Loyola University Chicago School of Education.

“Policymakers, with a preconception that schools must be failing because the public sector and its employees must be corrupt, are not interested in these facts. As a result, we’ve wasted 15 years avoiding incremental improvement, and instead trying to upend a reasonably successful school system.

Of course, not all teachers are competent; some have unacceptably low expectations, some should improve, and others shouldn’t be in the classroom at all. But the data show this is not the most serious problem we face.

Instead of searching for systemic failure where it does not exist, we should have been trying to figure out what we have been doing right, so we can do more of it. That will be one of your challenges, and you will have to do it with little support from elite opinion.

The biggest challenge now facing public education is our fiscal crisis. But it is hard to imagine how you, as educators, can urge the public to provide more money to schools if you fail to challenge, as vociferously as you can, the false charge that schools are failing. Why should the public increase support for a failing institution? If you believe public education deserves greater support, as I do, you will have to boast about your accomplishments, because voters are more likely to aid a successful institution than a collapsing one.

Because education has become so politicized, with policy made by those with preconceptions of failure and little understanding of the educational process, you are entering a field that has become obsessed with evaluating only results that are easy to measure, rather than those that are most important. But as Albert Einstein once said, not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.

Of course, teaching basic reading and math skills is important, but when policy holds you accountable only for student scores in these skills, it ignores what generations of Americans have known are less-easy-to-measure, but equally important educational goals — citizenship, character, appreciation of the arts and music, physical fitness and health, and knowledge of history, the sciences, and literature.

It should not have to be your responsibility to remind the public about the goals of education, but in this environment, it is another task you will have to take on.”

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-fantasies-driving-school-reform-a-primer-for-education-graduates/2012/05/13/gIQA5vwzLU_blog.html

April 23, 2012

Teachers, parents push back against high stakes testing

Posted April 23, 2012 at The Real News Network

April 3, 2012

High-stakes testing cheats children out of a quality education

Posted April 2, 2012 at ‘Get Schooled’ with Maureen Downey

“Across the U.S., the politically mandated misuse of standardized tests is damaging public schools and the children they serve. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s investigation of suspicious test scores around the nation is just the latest example. Experts may debate the methodology, but there is no question that cheating on standardized exams is widespread. In just the past three academic years, FairTest has documented confirmed cases of test score manipulation in 33 states plus the District of Columbia.

These scandals are the predictable result of over-reliance on test scores. As the renowned social scientist Donald Campbell concluded more than 30 years ago, “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” Campbell continued, “[W]hen test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways.”

Testing experts have long recognized this problem. Their professional standards for educational assessment warn against relying on tests as the sole or primary factor to make high-stakes decisions.”

Read More: http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/04/02/high-stakes-testing-cheats-children-out-of-a-quality-education/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blog