Thursday, August 8, 2013

Education Still on the Wrong Track

CABL Scrambling to Save Common Core

The Council for a Better Louisiana which is really just a puppet organization for LABI has hurriedly put out a so called "report" in an effort to save the Common Core in Louisiana. CABL is worried lately about the growing opposition to common core by tea party groups. Some high profile Republicans are coming out against the Common Core because they see it as a federal intrusion into education. Even Jindal can't decide if he loves the CC or hates it. Maybe Rush will send him an email with instructions.  But if LABI and CABL knew anything about education, anything at all, they would know that the common core will be a disaster for Louisiana and the business community. But sadly it will be an unmitigated disaster for our students.

Just look at what is happening now in New York State where state officials took Arne Duncan's bribe to implement the CC early. All of a sudden most of the public school students there are being classified as idiots by the new Pearson common core tests. Notice that none of the elite private schools in New York have even considered adopting the Common Core.  I don't see the private schools in Louisiana rushing to adopt the CC either. I guess their students are just not going to be prepared to compete in the world job market.

Only in public education would a whole new system affecting every employee and every process in the enterprise be adopted without any testing whatsoever. Early childhood educators are appalled that the standards particularly in ELA are not even close to being appropriate for young children. Old pros like me know that the high school math standards are not appropriate for two thirds of our students who are not going to complete a 4 year college education no matter what curriculum we put in our high schools. But it sure will make most of our high schools look like failures. Maybe that's the real plan.

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Michael Deshotels

VAM on Steroids

EBR is scheduled to adopt a new strategic plan next week that was drawn up by a "citizens committee" led by TFA types and Baton Rouge Chamber cronies. It touts a bold goal of raising student performance in EBR to place within the top ten of all LA public school systems. As part of the half-baked strategy to accomplish this lofty goal, the plan proposes to fire the bottom 25% of the teachers based on their rankings on the state VAM system! This is obviously based on the assumption that lazy and incompetent teachers are the main thing holding the BR students back from excellence. Good luck with that one!

The really sad thing about this hair brained scheme is that if this plan is implemented, it will decimate the ranks of the teaching profession in Baton Rouge and actually cause a lowering of student performance. You see, even though the poverty demographics of Baton Rouge are at least as bad as New Orleans, the EBR system in recent years has produced far better academic results than the New Orleans Recovery District. The student performance in EBR has been improving steadily in the past few years because the system still had a solid core of good teachers and experienced principals. But the top principals have been leaving in droves and many more are being run off by the new administration. Now the word will get around that to teach a VAM subject in Baton Rouge is like playing Russian Roulette with your career. (The terribly erratic nature of VAM will cause a whole new batch of teachers to fall into the lower 25% each year even if teachers change nothing in their teaching!) The best teachers will be moving to the surrounding parishes or retiring early, and the system will surely falter and become easy prey for the Recovery District. That's the organization that has failed to turn around a single school taken over in the Baton Rouge area. What a strange way to reform our schools!


Anonymous said...

Mike, I have learned this week through a good friend of mine who has children in the Catholic school system near Baton Rouge, that they are in fact implementing Common Core, but not PARCC test. It's a head scratchier to me; not sure why they would do this...vouchers? Never before has the parochial system adopted what the public system does. Not sure why they would do it now.

Michael Deshotels said...

Thanks to Anonymous for the info. about the Catholic school. I did not know this. If PARCC is not changed drastically there will be a huge protest among parents. Both New York and Kentucky have now experienced unacceptable declines in scores compared to earlier tests. I predict that Louisiana will see even worse results unless the tests are changed.

Anonymous said...

What scares me is that EBR is more than doubling the number of Teachers being dismissed because of VAM scores. Even the state department doesn't go that far. If
This happens, it will surely bleed over to other districts. Makes me a little paranoid; is John White behind this move in some way? Wouldn't surprise me at all!

Anonymous said...

EBR will be lucky to find anyone willing to teach there if they agree to firing the bottom 25% of teachers. The reason I say this is because my personal VAM has had a swing downward of 15% from pilot year to year one, then a swing up of 11% from year one to year two. I happen to be in the highly effective range in year two, but I did nothing different from pilot year to year one to year two (literally regurgitating lessons). Theoretically, if I were near the middle of the pack (50%)...a 15% down swing would put me at 35% without an excuse as to why. That is too close to the bottom 25% to risk a career on...considering the math behind the expected growth and actual growth is highly suspect, in my opinion. I had students who did not miss a day of school, made great grades, highly involved parents who were expected to go down in their actual score while students who missed up to 70+ days of school, made terrible grades, and the parents couldn't have been paid to come to the school were expected to go up 35+ points. Even a teacher with a brick for brains would refuse to get involved in EBR's idea here until someone can come up with some sort of reasonable idea for determining teacher value.

James Finney said...

I am fascinated by the example posted by Anonymous at 7:15pm August 9. I've been wanting to see an actual example of one teacher's actual VAM expectations and results. If you're game, please contact me at or 225-252-0412.

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