Posts from May 22nd, 2012
May 22, 2012
- Nationally, schools are reexamining the value of “zero-tolerance” discipline policies. (Hechinger/TIME)
- Townsend Harris HS’s principal, bound for Scarsdale, says he wants a smaller system. (Daily Scarsdale)
- The city’s charter school sector is again reporting about five applicants for every seat. (SchoolBook)
- A teacher argues against the full-speed-ahead approach of tech-infused Olympus Academy. (Pissed Off)
- An English teacher is fretting about the Regents exam that’s in just 14 days. (Miss Eyre/NYC Educator)
- The after-school knifepoint mugging of a Brooklyn Tech student tops a Fort Greene police blotter. (Patch)
- A tiff erupted almost immediately over a new report than pans current teacher preparation. (HuffPo)
- The AFT is also planning to tackle teacher prep and reconsider old recommendations. (Teacher Beat)
- A comic strip offers a guide for educators contemplating a flipped classroom. (The Innovative Educator)
- Mitt Romney has named his education advisors, who do not include Margaret Spellings. (Politics K-12)
May 22, 2012
A group of parents and teachers are once again preparing to opt their children out of state tests, this time when their schools will administer “field” exams in over a thousand elementary and middle schools across the city next month.
Field testing allows test makers to gauge the value of future test questions. Pearson, the company that currently makes New York’s state tests, is preparing a slew of new questions that are aligned with new learning standards known as the Common Core. This spring’s field tests focus on science, math, or reading, depending on the grade level. Students in selected schools already took the science test in mid-May, which was for grades 4 and 8. The math and reading tests are scheduled for the first week of June.
The parents and teachers, who are part of the Change the Stakes coalition, are calling on parents to protest the testing, which will be administered on behalf of Pearson Education, the test publisher that famously drew criticism for the “pineapple” test questions on the state’s eighth-grade English exam in April.
“This is just research for the company,” said Tony Kelso, whose third-grader is supposed to take the reading field test at Amistad Dual Language School in Inwood.
Kelso added that he doubted Pearson would get useful information from the tests. “My understanding is that the tests aren’t even reliable. The students know they won’t count so they don’t take them seriously,” he said. (more…)
May 22, 2012
In the beginning, there were charter schools, data systems, and teacher evaluations. Then, there was early childhood education. And now, the Obama administration wants to reward individual school districts for tailoring their offerings to individual students.
“Personalized education” is the emphasis for the U.S. Department of Education’s third iteration of Race to the Top, a competitive grants program that launched in 2009. New York State won $700 million in the first year after legislators approved new teacher evaluation requirements and allowed more charter schools to open.
It’s an approach the city has embraced for years, providing data tools for schools to zoom in on each student’s weaknesses and creating an “Innovation Zone” that allows schools to restructure their space and time in a bid for stronger scores. The principal of Olympus Academy, an Innovation Zone school that allows students to progress at their own pace, appeared in Washington, D.C., today as part of the competition announcement.
But some of the federal government’s proposed eligibility criteria — including a requirement that school board members undergo formal evaluations — could make it tough for the city to qualify for the grants. Large cities could receive up to $25 million, or about .1 percent of the city Department of Education’s annual operating budget.
Perhaps most crucially, the city and its teachers union have spectacularly failed to adopt new teacher evaluations, despite commitments set out in the state’s first Race to the Top bid and in an application for a different federal program, School Improvement Grants. The latest competition requires that districts commit to having new evaluations in place by the 2014-2015 school year. (more…)
May 22, 2012
This year, Jackie Xuereb is teaching her sixth grade math students how to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators. But next year, new standards will call for students to know that information before they enter her class.
Xuereb, a sixth grade math teacher at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, is among the city math teachers preparing to swap the state’s learning standards for the Common Core this fall. And like many, she is struggling to keep the two sets of standards straight as the new standards move some topics an entire grade-level earlier than in the past.
“A lot of what used to be sixth grade standards are now taught in fifth grade,” Xuereb said. “I feel that I’m going to have to be really mindful and cognizant of this in my planning for next year. The kids are going to have these huge gaps.”
New York City piloted the Common Core standards in 100 schools last year and asked all teachers to practice working with them this year. Next year, every teacher in every elementary and middle school will be expected to teach to the new standards, and state tests will be based on them. Department of Education officials have argued that a full-steam-ahead approach is required because moving slowly would deprive students of the Common Core’s long-overdue rigor.
But some say that this approach will pose a special challenge for math teachers, particularly in the middle school years, as students begin learning advanced concepts that build on each other sequentially. William Schmidt, an education professor at Michigan State University who has researched the effect of the Common Core on learning, said students who miss a lesson the first time around are at risk of missing the concept entirely.
“If it’s done really carefully it might work, but that would be my worry, that this would require fairly careful thought about how to do that across the grades so that what’s happening in one grade will line up with the next,” he said. ”If they’re not ramping this up from first grade on in a logical fashion … then the transition to more advanced math will be horrendous, too.” (more…)
May 22, 2012
- Lawyers for Williamsburg Charter HS say the city’s closure decision was motivated by bias. (SchoolBook)
- The school has said its indicted founder is no longer involved, but he appears to get school emails. (NY1)
- U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is unveiling a long-promised district Race to the Top. (Times)
- Mayor Bloomberg: If the UFT opposes absurd suits, it should withdraw its own. (Daily News, NY1, Post)
- Michael Powell: A special ed advocate started his career after blowing the whistle at a school. (Times)
- Olympus Academy uses a blended learning model to let students go at their own pace. (GothamSchools)
- The city announced an upgrade to Staten Island Technical High School’s athletic fields. (S.I. Advance)
- Across the country, scholarship funds meant for poor students have lined private school coffers. (Times)
- Some liberal arts colleges are starting to put more energy into career-readiness for students. (WSJ)
- Joe Nocera: Bill Gates views test scores as the least reliable data point for teacher improvement. (Times)