June 30th, 2010

Honest grades–when did that become controversial?

(Judge in Texas rules for honest grades, not automatic grade of 50).

Thank the judge in Texas for bringing back honest grades. When did that become controversial? It should not be. Grades should reflect student work, results, effort, etc. Instead, the policy struck down by the judge gave an automatic score of no less than a 50 to students–so they would not drop out of school???? Where is the credible research to support that policy? I have not seen it. The way to prevent dropouts is to have excellent teaching and learning, with support from the home. That is basic. It should not be controversial.

Apparently it was in Texas. Thank the judge for ending that policy.

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June 29th, 2010

Last day of “rubber room” in NYC

Sign of progress on the way to focusing resources on good teaching in our classrooms? Let us hope.
(‘Rubber room’ last day)

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June 27th, 2010

First, grade inflation and now, honors inflation.

(Many students are # 1 as many get honor of ‘valedictorian’). An interesting article in today’s New York Times.

We knew this had to come. First came grade inflation. Then came plackards and trophies for everyone in soccer and volleyball and (you get the picture). Now we have not just one or two, but many, many valedictorians at our high school graduations?

Competition is hard. And yes, some get hurt and have feelings ruffled. But, tough competition is reality. Our nation is in the throws of it–given how the world is going now.

Are our high schools helping kids grow up or are they coddling them and interfering with their need to become successful adults?

Whither merit? competition? winning and losing? Ah, whither reality? Whither your thoughts on this?

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June 27th, 2010

Why hierarchy matters…even in an egalitarian era

Interesting article in the Boston Globe–connecting General McChrystal and the French soccer mutiny. In both cases, the players stepped outside their proper role–questioning authority in a way that society rejects.

Well, of course this story brings me back right to our schools. Ask: how can teachers teach when students question their authority to do so(with the threat of a lawsuit; you can’t touch me. I’ll call my lawyer, etc. etc.) when they try to bring order into the classroom, provide needed discipline, and actually get down to the teaching and learning for the day, etc. etc. etc. Quick answer: they can’t.

Let’s hope this article has legs into our nation’s classrooms. Hierarchy matters. There’s a right and a wrong way for students to behave in our nation’s classroom so they can learn and let others around them learn, also. So long as we have no clarity (and an ever-present fear of litigation) about the role of the teacher, the student, and the parent, our education will continue to suffer.

( Out of order–hierarchy matters).

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June 21st, 2010

Front page NY Times story about educating severely disabled students

(Educating severely disabled students)

I found this story interesting on many levels. How do we best educate these students? What programs and approaches work? No research was cited for the various approaches used at the one New York City school. It’s certainly challenging.

But I also found the numbers revealing….
The numbers of students with severe disabilities is, nationwide, estimated at
123,000. The numbers of students with disabilities is estimated at 6.5 million. Fewer than 2% are severely multihandicapped.

The costs are interesting also–an estimated $74 billion is spent nationally for special education (does that include the regular ed services that these students receive? It is NOT clear).

And,if I did the numbers right, at an estimated $60,000 per severely disabled student, the costs for this group of students are close to $8 billion–around 10% of the total.

So, in reforming special ed, I believe that we are back on focusing on the vast numbers of students who do NOT have severe disabilities. That is where both the numbers of students and dollars and programs are.

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June 13th, 2010

Stop timing (?!) the SAT and ACT!

We knew this was coming… It’s been a sad tale for years. I believe there are reason for timing tests and that test makers need to articulate them. Yet, the College Board and the ACT refused to do so back in 2002 when threatened with a lawsuit. The mere threat led them to create the accommodations policy of no longer flagging tests that are taken with extended time–that is, tests that are not normed. And, thereby, they threw away the reasons for timing.

Hey, if there’s no reason to time tests–then stop scaring and stressing students. If there are reasons, then stand up for them–articulate and implement them. We ask no less of our teachers who do so every day.

This story has been a sad slow slog. Who will stand up for standards? norms? tests that actually mean what they say they mean? Not the SAT or the College Board, apparently–for the last almost 10 years.

(Call to stop timing the SAT and ACT from Fair Test).

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June 13th, 2010

Off the cuff on public speaking

Why public speaking helps convey the message and empower teachers!
(Miriam on public speaking)

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June 6th, 2010

Just when you thought we might have high standards…

(dumbing down tests)

Say it ain’t so.

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June 5th, 2010

Let us hope!

(David Brooks on Race to the Top).
Here’s a straight up, not cynical view of RTTT. Let’s hope David Brooks has it right. Does he?

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June 4th, 2010

Wishfully creating public policy.

Now the gurus tell is that, alas after all, one size does fit all. How many of these folks are real teachers in real schools with real students?

Wishful mandating and voila, all students will, can, and want to meet the same standards–including students with “even the most severe cognitive disabilities.”=–according the the Common Core State Standards issued by CCSSO and NGA.

Really? How can this be? And how can standards possibly remain high enough to be meaningful to all students.

Am I missing something? It looks like common sense is replaced by ???? And who is manning the store for all students?

What’s special about one size fits all. I’m scratching my head. And you?

(common core standards for all students proposed)

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