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Testing and NCLB

If you build it, they will come

raise-the-mark2 I have no plans to build a baseball field anywhere in Northwest Ohio. However I, along with fellow education advocates in the area, did construct something last week that was like our field of dreams. We set up a screening of the documentary “Rise Above the Mark,” set in Indiana, which chronicles the problems we’re dealing with in public education; over-testing, underfunding and unaccountable charter schools. Continue reading →

The Talk

The-talk I had “the talk” with my 10 year-old daughter, Nina, yesterday. I felt like I had to tell Nina the truth, though. She’s been asking a lot of questions. She even stayed in from recess one day last week to do some internet research. Now she wants to write letters about it. In case you’re wondering what kind of internet filter my daughter’s school has, don’t worry. We’re not discussing where babies come from. We’re talking about standardized tests. Continue reading →

‘Tis the season for gift giving

diffendoofer-blog ‘Tis the season for gift-giving, and with so many test-driven “school reform” policies being passed at the Ohio Statehouse this year, now would be a great time to present our lawmakers with gift-wrapped copies of one of the most forward-thinking children’s books ever written, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day. Continue reading →

Tao of the Sockless Floor

TaoSockslessFloor High stakes testing is like saying to your child, “I want you to clean your room. But, at the very least, I want you to pick up your socks.” For twenty years we’ve been teaching kids to pick up their socks. Our entire system is designed around that minimal level of achievement: our discipline policies, our attendance policies, our curriculum maps, our basic understanding of how schools operate. Everything is designed to get our kids to do the minimum. Continue reading →

It all Starts in Cleveland

sit_in_the_corner Recently The Cleveland Plain Dealer and StateImpact Ohio pulled a little PR stunt by publishing teachers names and “value-added” scores. They also made an amateurish attempt to mask this unethical report by also pointing out some of the flaws of using the data to evaluate teachers. Then, after saying it was wrong and inaccurate, they published anyway. I guess competent reporting takes a back seat to tabloid-like, website hit generating drama. Continue reading →

Value-Added Scores Can Never Complete the Picture of a Teacher’s Work with Students

value-added Listing teachers as effective or ineffective based on narrow tests not designed to be used for this purpose is a disservice to everyone. Trained educators can use a student’s value-added data, along with other student data, to improve student instruction. But you should never promote a simplistic and inaccurate view of value-added scores as a valid basis for high-stakes decisions on schools, teachers and students – even if Ohio legislators have gone down that misguided road. Continue reading →

The Puppet Masters

ALECpuppetmasters ALEC, which stands for American Legislative Exchange Council, is the most influential corporate-funded political force operating in America today, one that has worked to dilute collective bargaining rights and privatize public education. Yet ALEC is more or less unknown in teacher circles. ALEC creates legislation for elected officials to introduce in their states as their own brainchildren. ALEC’s strategy: “spread the unions thin ‘by playing offense’ with decoy legislation.” Spreading the unions thin has resulted in radical changes to classroom teachers’ everyday lives. Continue reading →

CNN Story on Teacher Pay and Test Scores Misleads Readers

wrong-way Yesterday CNN’s blog, Schools of Thought, posted a story on teacher evaluations entitled, “Ohio links teacher pay to test scores.“ While not categorically untrue, this blog seriously misleads by simplification. The writer suggests that teacher evaluation legislation is sudden and the result of Governor Kasich’s efforts, when in fact, the development of a framework and […] Continue reading →

That Unfortunate Rite of Spring

test Unfortunately my enjoyment of spring is not all that it should be. It’s not reduced by bad weather or a stuffy head. It’s not reduced by something that occurs naturally, like rag weed or pollen. There’s something unnatural that creeps into my life every spring, ruining my mood on perfectly good spring days. That something is standardized testing. Continue reading →

What the latest revelations on test cheating really mean

test-cheating The resulting news story appears to be intended to be alarmist, implying that cheating is rampant in our schools. It is fortunate that the journalists in Ohio at least have restrained from reporting the names of the specific schools flagged, since suspicions would have been unfairly cast on hundreds of improperly flagged schools. The irregularities in such schools likely arose simply because there was a large change in the actual students taking the test from year to year. Continue reading →
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