August 31st, 2011

Plain language please! It’s the law.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-houghton/special-ed-parenting_b_935096.html

A good post. Accronyms don’t work. Schools and parents need to speak in plain language… and, for schools, that’s the law.

Happy new school year!

Post by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D. | No Comments

August 27th, 2011

That Apple Store…what a treasure!

How sad to read that Steve Jobs had to retire as CEO of Apple for medical reasons…. So sad.

I’m not a techie. I don’t Twitter and have no Facebook page. I don’t really know what a tweet is.  But, I do know pzazz when I see it. I do know passion and excitement.

This winter and spring, I lived in downtown Palo Alto and walked on University Avenue often–morning, noon, and night. The only consistent, all-the-time exciting place there is the Apple Store.  It’s amazing. i went in several times–as if I was a tourist in a strange land.  It’s always full of people buzzing around talking a language I don’t understand.  But,  there always are kids (and some grownups) in blue Tshirts to translate and help and welcome. It’s brilliant. It’s fun. Even I bought an iPhone..

I’ll miss you, Steve Jobs, and the brilliance of those stores. Thanks for the adventure.  My best wishes for better health.

Post by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D. | No Comments

August 18th, 2011

California scores up because of modified tests to many?

California test results need an *–to indicate that the scores are not valid–and do not reflect what they purport to reflect.  A troubling situation, indeed.

http://toped.svefoundation.org/2011/08/16/cst-results-need-an/

Here’s the next wave–California is one of two states, apparently, that developed modified tests for students with disabilities (SWD), the California Modified Test (CMT). These tests, by definition, fundamentally alter the California Standardized Tests.  Simply stated, they lower the standard.  And generally speaking, students do better on the modified test than the standard test.

While federal law allows states to test some SWD on modified tests, the limit on these students was 2%–that is, of all students tested on modified tests, only 2% could be counted in state results toward AYP (adequate yearly progress). Apparently, in California the percent counted is upward of 4.4%.  By doing this, the state scores have gone up.

An easy fix for this runaway use of the CMT is for California to count only 2% of these results and inform schools that  for all the rest of the students, they are marked ‘not participating’ which lowers the state’s AYP and the district’s AYP rating. In fact, if fewer than 95% of students are tested, then the scores for the district do not count.  Following that (legal) path will end the runaway use of CMTs, I suspect.

Post by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D. | No Comments

August 8th, 2011

Duncan to provide broad waivers of NCLB AYP requirements!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/education/08educ.html?_r=1&hp

It’s funny. I think of my stepfather often. “If something sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not.”  So here we had a ridiculous goal–all children proficient by 2014.  That’s three years from now!  We could never reach it–unless we continued to lower and lower the standards, which, in fact, we did.

As a lawyer, I was never worried about the goal for my school districts–because I believed that when the time came, that goal would become elusive. Today it did.

Hopefully, we can now work for higher, not lower standards, and reasonable expectations for each students. Having one size fit all did not work.

Post by Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, M.A., J.D. | No Comments