Wednesday, December 31, 2014
How does Pearson, a foreign corporation which stands to reap millions if not billions from students and school systems that are now being forced to purchase all their Common Core test prep materials and software, get to decide a passing grade for our U.S. students?
This is a scandal and an attack on our democratic system. How would our patriots of the Revolutionary War feel about King George's decendents taking over our education system? And to add insult to injury, they are making us pay with our tax dollars for this attack on our students!
Maybe someone needs to research how much Pearson is contributing to our congressional candidates and even our presidential candidates. These folks in both parties are routinely bought and sold like cattle.
Happy New Year, Louisiana Parents! Wake up! The real threat to American democracy is not the terrorists or the North Koreans but our own so called allies in the British Empire!
My wish for the new year is that Louisiana education will begin an era of true reform. This would include restoring the trust of our policy makers in real professional educators, reducing he abuses of standardized testing, and a recognition that poverty, not ineffective teachers, is the primary factor adversely affecting the performance of students. Our policy makers need to stop trying to apply one-size-fits all standards that cannot do anything but hurt many students. It is time to stop blaming educators for factors over which they have no control and to instead utilize our energy and resources truly addressing the needs of our at-risk students with the goal of educating each student to her/his greatest potential.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
At its December meeting, BESE received a report on teacher attrition. The report was issued amid concerns from parents, teachers, and school administrators that the new Common Core standards and flawed teacher evaluation systems are driving effective, experienced teachers from the classroom. State Superintendent of Education John White was quick to note that the report concludes that teacher attrition has remained steady for the past five years, and that the new standards and evaluation systems have had a minimal impact on teacher attrition. However, the LDOE’s report proves that the concerns of parents and education leaders are correct – effective teachers are leaving the classroom.
Although the LDOE report concludes that overall teacher attrition rates have remained steady over a five-year period, it also notes that, from 2012-2014, 16% of the teachers who left the profession were rated “highly effective”, while 12% of the teachers who left the profession were rated “least effective”. The report is clear that over the past two years a higher percentage of “highly effective” teachers left the classroom than the percentage of ineffective teachers, which is contrary to the stated goals of education reformers.
The report examines the reasons teachers have left the profession, but not the challenges of finding excellent teachers to replace them. School administrators across the state are vocal in expressing how challenging it is to hire excellent, qualified teachers while untested standards are implemented and questionable new teacher evaluations are being used to measure teacher success.
The current trend of Louisiana’s schools losing many of its highly effective teachers is alarming considering the research indicating that quality teachers are crucial to positive student outcomes. After spending millions of taxpayer dollars on new curricula and evaluation systems, there is little evidence that this money was wisely invested, particularly with teacher evaluations yielding similar outcomes to those prior to COMPASS (the current teacher evaluation program).
It appears many of the 2012 reform initiatives are having the opposite effect, driving a high percentage of quality teachers out of the classroom, and making it very difficult to hire quality teachers to replace them.
It is time for Louisiana's policy makers to heed the data, stop the policies and practices that cost Louisiana its quality teachers, and support the effective teachers that are educating our children.
Lottie P. Beebe, Ed. D., email@example.com
Sunday, December 7, 2014
The first major component of the Jindal reform was the passage of Act 54 of 2010. This is the new law that required that all teachers and principals be evaluated each year with 50% of their evaluation based on student academic growth (VAM) as measured by the annual state standardized tests. Act 54 also tied the certification of new teachers to an effective rating on the new evaluation system.
- Many experienced and highly regarded teachers have either retired early or are looking to leave soon because they are disillusioned with much of the reform mandates that they believe make teaching and learning less enjoyable and make education less effective, test driven, and often produce flawed teacher evaluations.
- Because of the less favorable treatment being applied to basic skills teachers in evaluation, many teachers are opting out of teaching basic skills subjects whenever possible creating a shortage of qualified basic skills teachers.
- Education college officials are reporting a drop in enrollments in the college of education as well as a loss of practice teaching opportunities for prospective teachers. Many public school teachers considering the possibility of a negative evaluation based on student performance are unwilling to accept practice teachers.
- Since the merit pay mandated by legislation was not funded, many school boards have cut other teacher pay benefits to fund the merit pay. Many teachers, even those rated highly effective, are reporting lower pay advancement because of loss of step increases and credit for higher degrees, even when receiving the rather paltry merit raises.
- Significant flaws in the VAM system have resulted in highly regarded teachers receiving “ineffective” ratings and in disparities in ratings of teachers of gifted and handicapped students.
- The new COMPASS evaluation system, which was designed by a non-educator and is being administered by a person with no supervisory experience is being seen in the field as a boondoggle and at best a “dog-and-pony” show that has little relation to real teaching.
- Breaking News: The National principal's organization is in the process of adopting a position in opposition to VAM systems for evaluating teachers.
One of the legislators who sponsored Jindal's education reforms said these changes would "empower" the good teachers to be treated as true professionals. If you are a teacher who has received a highly effective rating, do you feel you have been empowered?
- Many parents and teachers alike are claiming that the new standards are not age appropriate for younger students and that CCSS aligned math lessons are impractical and confusing for students and parents.
- Raw scores for the new Common Core aligned tests have dropped in many areas (38% and 40% for passing 7th and 8th grade math) even though the LDOE has insisted that student performance has remained steady and has actually improved in the mastery area. The fact is that the LDOE and its testing company have artificially lowered cut scores to produce apparent “steady” or improved results.
- Many teachers are reporting huge losses in actual productive teaching time because of time spent on testing and test prep.
- In addition to lowering of cut scores for tests, the LDOE has dropped, for at least two years, the minimum standards for promotion of students. Now students are allowed to move to higher grades even if they have not learned the pre-requisite skills needed for the next grade level.
- What about the voucher students? Most are performing at the lowest levels in the state. The largest voucher school has had its enrollment frozen because of dismal performance.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
It is obvious that many of our highly effective teachers are leaving the profession because they are totally disgusted and disillusioned with what has been done to their chosen profession. The extreme mismanagement by our amateur education "leaders" is having a severe impact in destroying the teaching profession in Louisiana.
If you want to make a real difference in gaining respect for the teaching profession in Louisiana you have an excellent way to do so. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and give me your zip code and preferred email and I will add you to the Defenders of Public Education email list. Together we can make a big difference by being unified and contacting our legislators to pass positive rather than negative legislation relative to public schools and the teaching profession.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
It was assumed that relatively low academic performance by some children was due primarily to lazy, inadequate or incompetent instruction by teachers and administrators. All that was needed therefore was to threaten severe punishment of schools that failed to produce above average results in all students, and to mandate remedial after school programs often provided by outside contractors. If those measures did not work, the federal and state governments would mandate school reorganizations, closures or conversion to charter schools.
The theory was that such no-nonsense measures would within the ten-year time limit produce grade level or better performance by all students even including students with disabilities and students with little or no school support system in their homes and communities. Many skeptical educators sometimes referred to this as the Lake Wobegon Effect. This analogy was based on a fictional Minnesota town named Lake Wobegon, "Where all women are strong, all men are good looking, and all children are above average." The No Child Left Behind law assumed that all children could perform at average or above levels, and if that did not happen within the ten year time limit, the educators would have hell to pay and may even have to forfeit their schools and allow someone else to take over!
This time, in addition to closing or taking over schools, the reforms would focus on implementing teacher and administrator evaluation systems based on student test scores. These new measures would result in the retraining or firing of teachers and administrators who failed or at least ranked lowest on an arbitrary performance ranking system. The way this theory was applied in Louisiana is that the state education bureaucracy would each year designate the bottom 10% of teachers as "ineffective" based on student value added (VAM) scores and immediately begin efforts to retrain or remove any such teachers. Administrators in low performing schools would also be punished or removed.
The theory was that at some point such a system would purge enough of the bad teachers and administrators that student performance would magically rise to the Lake Wobegon standards. So the Obama solution was based on the same myth as the George W. Bush solution! As soon as it began, this new reform started to fail, because it became apparent immediately that the system often identified the wrong teachers as “ineffective” and many of the most respected teachers and administrators chose to retire early to avoid the humiliation of the VAM (Value Added Model) and the COMPASS evaluation system. Fortunately for the reformers, they had already put into motion a whole new miracle plan for finally producing above average achievement by all students.
Myth #2: The Quality of the Teacher is the Primary Determinant of a Child's Academic Success
The American Statistical Association has determined that the typical teacher has an influence of between 1 and 14% of a student's academic success. Innate abilities, parental support, health, nutrition, and many other factors are much more influential on a child's success in school than the quality of the teacher. Certainly we want all children to have the benefit of the best, most dedicated teachers possible, but it is foolish to expect teachers to overcome all of the handicaps of children in our neglectful society today.
Myth #4: The Common Core Standards Are Separate From the Curriculum
Common Core advocates tell us that the Common Core State Standards are not the same as a curriculum and do not dictate what curriculum teachers should use in their day-to-day teaching. Many legal experts believe that this claim was made mainly to avoid the charge that the federal government is dictating curriculum. Louisiana teachers teaching the basic skills subjects of English-language arts or math, have no doubt however, that the Common Core aligned tests are the curriculum!
Myth #5: All Students Can Be Induced to Perform to Higher Standards by Simply Raising the Standards Bar.
The Texas state education department has been “raising the bar” for a little longer than Louisiana, and recent results seem to indicate that their students are “hitting the wall” on academic performance. More and more leaders in Texas are beginning to call for a pull back of the test based standards. Students in New York State have started their Common Core testing two years ahead of Louisiana and have experienced a 70% failure rate. Education officials there are still predicting that soon many more students will start clearing the higher bar.
There is a huge variation in the natural physical ability of students and this variation is greatly exaggerated by the neglect our society allows in the physical development of our children.
To put it in the blunt terms expressed by Mark Twain: “Tis sad but true that half the American people are below average”. Four year colleges are not inclined to accept and cope with students who perform below the academic average. We may not like it, but that’s a fact of human nature. Fortunately, our students are blessed with many other natural skills, interests, and talents that could allow them to succeed and be fulfilled by many careers that do not require 4 year degrees. Unfortunately, our insane quest to standardize children into academic elites has resulted in neglect in preparing students for the arts, the skilled trades and high level service occupations that benefit greatly from these other less appreciated talents and interests of our children.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
To the many good friends I made while working in service of teachers as a staff member of the Louisiana Association of Educators, I can only say thank you for helping to make my career such a rewarding one!
Now that I am retired, I hope that by writing this blog I can keep educators and parents better informed and can help spread the word that education is a wonderful, noble profession that serves our children in a unique and extremely important way. Educators, you deserve to be very proud of what you do!