Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Race to the Top District Finalists 2012

U.S. Department of Education Announces 61 Applications as Finalists 
for $400 Million Race to the Top - District Competition

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 61 applications have been selected as finalists for the Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) competition. The 2012 RTTT-D program will provide close to $400 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers.

The 61 finalists, representing more than 200 school districts, were selected from 372 applications the Department received in November to demonstrate how districts could personalize education for students and provide school leaders and teachers with key tools that support them to meet students’ needs.

“These finalists are setting the curve for the rest of the country with innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “This competition was designed to support local efforts to close the achievement gap and transform the learning environment in a diverse set of districts, but no matter who wins, children across the country will benefit from the clear vision and track records of success demonstrated by these finalists.”

Race to the Top-District applications were randomly assigned to three-person panels that independently read and scored each application, with independent reviewers’ scores averaged to determine an applicant’s score. The Department arranged the applications in rank order from high to low scores, and determined which were the strongest competitors to invite back based on “natural breaks” – i.e. scoring gaps in the lineup. The top 61 applications were then selected as finalists....

Kentucky Finalists Include:
  • Bourbon County Public Schools
  • The Green River Regional Educational Cooperative  (23 districts)
  • The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (16 districts)

SOURCE: U S Department of Education Press release

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Quick Peek at the Common Core Educational Standards

For the uninitiated, educational standards are intended to help teachers ensure that their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. The plan behind common core standards is to provide, for the first time, clear goals for student learning based on "college- and career-readiness." These goals are said to be aligned with college and work expectations; include rigorous content and application of knowledge (to promote high-order thinking skills); draw from current state standards with an eye on the standards of top-performing countries. The standards are also said to be evidence- and/or research-based. The plan is that if all states follow the common core, all students will be prepared to succeed in the global economy. At present, 45 states and 3 territories have adopted; Kentucky being the first.

The National Governor's Association, which owns the copyright on the common core, says the  standards ensure that all students - from school to school and state to state - are prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Teachers having the ability to share best practices across the states builds instructional capacity among the faculty.
Standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they do help teachers figure out the knowledge and skills their students should have so that teachers can build the best lessons and environments for their classrooms. Standards also help students and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success. Standards are a first step – a key building block – in providing our young people with a high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college and work. Of course, standards are not the only thing that is needed for our children’s success, but they provide an accessible road map for our teachers, parents, and students.

This from the Teaching Channel on YouTube:

  • Introduction to the Common Core State Standards

By Content:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Is K-PREP the Enemy of Good Schools?

It appears that the Commonwealth's commitment to a school reform 
based on fairness and equality of opportunity has vanished.
---Skip Kifer

On the 11th, the editorial board at the Herald-Leader weighed in on the new K-PREP tests. They admit to being flummoxed by much of the K-PREP system. Join the crowd. KSN&C has heard from a number of educators who aren't exactly sure how to comprehend the test and more than a few wonder if they should trust the results.

Some fear that the primacy given to accountability has caused the state to stretch the technical limits of assessment far beyond good design and has distracted the state from providing sufficient instructional improvement support for teachers as a result.

But when Kentucky testing expert Skip Kifer looked at the data produced by the old KIRIS test and compared it to the K-PREP he had a hard time finding any news.
I was taken by what appeared to be about the same rank order for schools as was found in 1990. Schools in wealthy communities do well; those in impoverished areas do not. And people still blame the schools for not creating economic equality. 

This already complex K-PREP system will only become more inaccessible when Kentucky adds Program Reviews to the top of the pile next year and new cut scores are established. How long will it take such a complex system to crumble under its own weight?

In back-to-back posts we present the Herald-Leader Editorial Board's take on K-PREP followed by Skip Kifer's response.

Putting schools to the test 


Much to like in new system 
but shortcomings must be addressed

This from H-L:

We hope Kentucky educators can mine loads of useful data from the new school assessments because the average parent or taxpayer who tries to drill down into the statistical murk will come away frustrated.

Also, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and the state school board must quickly address two big concerns:
■ How can the new system drive schools to improve when their annual goals are set so low?
■ Why, when Kentucky graduates must compete globally, are we basing school performance standards not on the best schools in the world but the highest-scoring schools in Kentucky?

Before explaining our concerns, we must applaud the many good changes Kentucky has made since 2009. As the first state to adopt national standards in reading and math, Kentucky is already giving students richer, deeper, more rigorous content in the classroom.

Where the wheels start falling off is the new plan for grading schools. Again there's much to like, such as finally more accurately measuring dropout rates.

What's questionable is whether the new system will drive school improvement fast enough, especially in schools where only a few students are proficient in reading and math.

Even the lowest-performing schools, those scoring in the 20s on a 100-point scale, must improve by just 1 point by next year.

That's a snail's pace, especially if your child is stuck in an under-performing school.

As far as we can tell — and we admit, we're flummoxed by much of K-PREP — the pace of required improvement will pick up only a very little in the future, consigning too many kids to bad schools for too long.

Also, for schools that fall short, there are no consequences and state assistance for only a few.

In fairness, Holliday and the Department of Education had to develop a new accountability system on the cheap because the legislature threw out the old without providing any money to build the new. The state outsourced creation of the test that students take to Pearson, a multinational, for-profit company.

The process seemed to break down when it came to grading school performance. A decision was made to grade schools, not on any agreed upon criteria, but based on the scores of the top 30 percent in Kentucky.

School-level accountability was one of the things taxpayers got in 1990 in return for a penny sales tax increase to pay for education reform and equalize funding for poor districts.

You can't expect the public to pay more to expand early childhood education and make other improvements, as Kentucky must to compete, without also measuring and publishing the results of that spending in a way that people can understand and trust.

Kentucky's new system is still very much a work in progress, which leads to our final question for Holliday, the state school board and lawmakers: Will a state that pioneered education accountability settle for a system that is so confusing, user-hostile and lax as to render it irrelevant? Please, say no.

Is K-PREP Really a Better Mouse Trap?

This from Skip Kifer:

[Last] Sunday's editorial in the Herald-Leader should be a catalyst for discussion of the Commonwealth's new assessments. The board's broad characterization of the new assessment regime is right on. I googled Rube Goldberg to see if that might be an appropriate description. It's not. His complex machines apparently would do the simple things they addressed.

I think, however, improving schools and holding schools accountable get conflated in the editorial.

In 1994 I wrote:
Kentucky's assessment system is large, complex, and ambitious. It aims to do two, perhaps incompatible, things: first, to provide a statewide, school-level accountability system; and second, to produce dramatic changes in curriculum and instruction in public schools. In terms of the latter, it is based on the premise that exemplary assessment procedures will produce optimal instruction. Teaching to the assessments, it is believed, will not only produce increasingly higher test scores but will also drive desirable instructional practices.

So far, it appears that more emphasis has been placed on the accountability portion of the assessment system than on either of the components of continuous assessment. Because increasingly higher proportions of the assessments will be either performance tasks or portfolios, it is crucial that teachers be trained to conduct these and to use them routinely in their classrooms.
Then, I thought for assessment activities to have a positive effect on classroom instruction it was necessary to have both exemplary assessment tasks and good information and training for teachers. We tried to do that but failed. And the failure is attributable to the emphasis on school accountability. When the performance assessments were thrown out, they were thrown out because they were not sufficiently reliable and valid for the accountability piece. The portfolio assessments, so they could be used in the accountability system, were so burdened by rules of engagement that they no longer could serve the instructional piece.

Teachers then were involved in item writing, scoring of short response and longer response questions, evaluating portfolios, and other activities based on the premise that understanding the rationales and procedures for the assessment would translate into more effective instruction: Being able to distinguish good answers from bad ones and good essays from mediocre ones was tied to better instruction. No more.

Back then I was less than enthusiastic about the accountability piece. I now believe accountability system based on test scores is the enemy of good schools. As Michael Scriven says: "Side effects are often the main event."1

The editorial mentions performance standards. Early on, when NAEP introduced achievement levels (they are still, after about 30 years, considered experimental because no one will endorse them), such things (performance standards, proficiency levels, cut-scores) were labeled arbitrary but not capricious. Perhaps the new Kentucky ones are both.

In a related matter, the editorial raises issues about norms, wondering why not use international comparisons. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with normative score interpretations. But, it matters little what the norm group is. What is important is what talents are developed in our schools.

The editorial praises the state for being the first to adopt national standards, the so-called common core. It is important to mention, however, that the present assessments are not those funded by the US Department of Education to assess the common core. Those two assessments have not yet been completely developed, tried out, or implemented. How Kentucky's present assessments are related to the common core is an interesting question.

In other matters:

I was taken by what appeared to be about the same rank order for schools as was found in 1990. Schools in wealthy communities do well; those in impoverished areas do not. And people still blame the schools for not creating economic equality. I am willing to bet there is as much or more inequality of funding now than in 1990. In fact, I have some data that suggests as much. I bet such things as extended school services and family resource centers are not so well-funded as they were initially. It appears that the Commonwealth's commitment to a school reform based on fairness and equality of opportunity has vanished.

KDE officials in the first utterance say that one cannot compare this assessment's results to the previous ones. The next utterance is that the scores are going to be much lower. Hum...

High schools must feel better. They have improved greatly according to the scores.

It took England, in 1862, 33 years to get rid of Payment by Results.2 Kentucky has only about 10 years left... 

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/11/11/2403587/putting-schools-to-the-test-much.html#storylink=cpy

1.Michael Scriven is a British-born polymath and academic, best known for his contributions to the theory and practice of evaluation.
2. "Payment by results," a rigid method of accountability associated with English and Welsh elementary education during the second half of the nineteenth century, was a system whereby a school's governmental grant depended for the most part on how well pupils answered in the annual examination conducted by Her Majesty's Inspectors. See Rapple, B.A. (1994). Payment by results: An example of assessment in elementary education from nineteenth century Britain. Educational Policy Analysis Archives. 2. 1-21.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/11/11/2403587/putting-schools-to-the-test-much.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holliday named CCSSO Board President-Elect

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is the president-elect of the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO’s) 2013-14 Board of Directors. 

Elections took place during the 2012 Annual Policy Forum and Business Meeting in Savannah, Georgia November 15-17. Mitchell Chester, commissioner of education in Massachusetts, assumed the role of CCSSO president. (You may recall Chester was a finalist for Kentucky Education Commissioner in 2007 when state Board of Education offered the position to Barbara Erwin).

“I’m honored to be named CCSSO president-elect,” said Holliday. “This organization serves a crucial purpose for public education nationwide, and I look forward to working with my state-level peers on policy and advocacy.”

In December 2010, Holliday was named to the board of directors for CCSSO. He also serves on the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card. In February 2012, Holliday was named as a member of the national Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting, which will develop rigorous accreditation standards for educator preparation that will raise the bar for preparation providers. He has served as Kentucky’s commissioner of education since 2009.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy and technical assistance on major educational issues. The council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress and the public.

The CCSSO Board of Directors is comprised of 11 individuals.
  • President: Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Education, Massachusetts
  • President-Elect: Terry Holliday, Commissioner of Education, Kentucky
  • June Atkinson, Superintendent of Public Instruction, North Carolina
  • John Barge, State School Superintendent, Georgia
  • Tony Bennett, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Indiana*
  • Michael Flanagan, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Michigan
  • Jason Glass, Director of Education, Iowa Department of Education
  • Tom Luna, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Idaho
  • Pat Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Virginia
 *Seat reopens in January 2013 after Bennett (who was defeated for re-election) completes his term as Indiana superintendent of Public Instruction.

SOURCE: KDE Press release

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Cheat Sheet: 10 Frequently Asked Questions

This from Politics K-12:
Almost as soon as President Barack Obama was re-elected, the coming fiscal cliff took center stage. Lawmakers and the Obama administration are supposed to solve the problem in a planned "lame-duck" session of Congress, which starts today.

That means we can expect to hear the words "entitlements", "revenue", "loopholes", and "sequestration" a whole lot for the next couple months. What does it all mean for you, as a teacher/principal/superintendent/policy person?

Here's a breakdown of frequently asked questions:

What exactly is the fiscal cliff? Basically, it's a perfect storm of federal tax and spending legislation that has to be dealt with really quickly. A whole package of tax cuts, including the so-called Bush tax cuts, put in place under the previous president, are set to expire soon. Congress will have to figure out whether to extend them, and if so, which ones to extend. And, perhaps more important when it comes to education, a set of across-the-board cuts are set to be triggered for just about every federal agency, including the U.S. Department of Education and the Pentagon, on Jan. 2. They will go into effect unless Congress acts to stop them.

Sequestration? What's that? And how did it come about? The sequestration trigger-cuts were put in place as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling last summer. Lawmakers and the administration tried—and failed—to come up with some sort of long-term solution for the nation's debt problem. Instead of coming up with a deal, they set the clock ticking on those automatic cuts—which virtually no one likes—essentially to force themselves to act. And they gave it a wonky, budgety name: sequestration. (If you're curious about where that term comes from, here's a great explanation.) The idea was that neither Republicans nor Democrats would be happy with the cuts since they would hit both military programs (which Republicans especially favor) and domestic spending (which is typically supported by Democrats). Even though the cuts were never supposed to actually happen, lawmakers so far haven't been able to come up with a long-term deal to head them off.

How would school districts be affected? Most programs in the U.S. Department of Education would be cut by 8.2 percent, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. That means federal money for disadvantaged students, now financed at $15.75 billion would be cut by almost $1.3 billion. And special education programs, funded at $12.64 billion, would be cut by about $1.03 billion. More here. It's important to note, of course, that the feds make up less than 10 percent of all K-12 financing—the vast majority of funds come from state and local governments. Still, many districts say they're already squeezed at the local level and really can't afford to cope with federal cuts on top of state and local reductions.

So ... wait—my school district is going to lose 8.2 percent of its federal funding on Jan. 2 if Congress doesn't figure something out? Actually, no. Even if there is a stalemate and no action on Capitol Hill, your district probably won't lose money right away (unless you rely on the Impact Aid program—more on that below). The big formula grants that school districts depend on most (Title I grants for disadvantaged students, special education, grants for teacher quality) are forward-funded. That means the cuts wouldn't kick in until the start of the 2013-14 school year, giving districts a planning window.

Which districts should be really worried? There are some districts that would be affected right away, some of them very dramatically. Those districts are the ones that are in the Impact Aid program, which services some 1,200 districts nationwide. Most impact aid districts have a lot of Native American students, students whose parents work on military bases, or federal land near their district. They would see their funding cut on Jan. 2. Some districts expect this will mean layoffs or programmatic cuts.

Are any programs exempt? And what about other programs that aren't funded through the Education Department? Some programs are exempt, including federal student loans, some Pell Grant money, most child nutrition programs, and the Children's Health Insurance Program. However, the Head Start program, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, doesn't appear to be exempt.

So if sequestration actually goes through, what about maintenance of effort, where it applies? Good question. Advocates are still trying to get to the bottom of that one.

What does President Obama say? What have leaders in Congress said? Not very much so far, and virtually nothing about education specifically. Obama said during one of the presidential campaign debates that sequestration "won't happen." And U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the Speaker of the House, has said he would be okay with some revenue increases, although he'd like them to come from closing tax loopholes, not raising taxes on the highest-earners, which is what Obama wants to do. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who oversees the Senate panel that deals with education spending, has been outspoken about the potential cuts to K-12. He is really worried about their impact.

What happens from here? Lawmakers will try to work out a compromise. Most advocates and analysts expect that they will be able to reach some sort of temporary deal before the end of the year, but it's far from a sure thing.

How can I get more information? There are a lot of great sources out there. Harkin's staff put together this analysis of what the cuts would mean. The American Association of School Administrators has a sequestration tool kit. Edweek coverage here and here.

Kentucky Supreme Court considering Miranda warning for students

This from The Courier-Journal:
Principals in Kentucky may soon have to worry about reading students their rights — in addition to ensuring they know how to read and write.

The Kentucky Supreme Court is considering a case from Nelson County that could require school officials to give the Miranda warning — you have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and will be used against you — when questioning a student with a school resource officer present.
Principals frequently work in concert with such officers — there are 254 sworn police working in Kentucky schools, according to the Kentucky Center for School Safety, and up to 60 percent of schools nationwide have one on campus.

Miranda warnings are required when a subject is in custody — when a suspect thinks he’s not free to leave — and at issue is whether a student grilled in the principal’s inherently fits that description.

Opponents of requiring the warnings in school say administrators have more important things to do.
Simple investigations would be hamstrung and schools would be less safe if principals, every time they questions a student, “must look into a crystal ball and predict, ‘This could lead to criminal charges, I have to Mirandize this child,’’’ said Wayne Young, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.

But Rebecca Ballard DiLoreto, litigation director for the Kentucky-based Children’s Law Center, said principals routinely “orchestrate” interrogations with police to “streamline” prosecution of students, making it only fair that they be warned of their right to remain silent and obtain counsel.

The Nelson County case, which was argued Oct. 18 and could be decided later this month, began in 2009 when a high school teacher found an empty prescription pain pill bottle on a restroom floor with a student’s name on it.

School resource officer Stephen Campbell, an armed deputy sheriff, and Nelson County Assistant Principal Mike Glass, escorted that student to Glass’ office, where he was questioned with the door closed...

Teacher survey provides working conditions overview for PrichardCommittee Teacher Effectiveness Team

Kentucky teachers set a national record in responding to statewide working conditions survey in 2011, and the results are being used at the state and local level to improve leadership, professional development and student learning.

Reports on the survey and its impact provided the focus of the recent meeting of the Prichard Committee’s Team on Teacher Effectiveness. The 35-member group of educators, legislators, policy leaders and advocates is reviewing all elements of the teaching profession with a December 2013 goal of recommending improvements.

The Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning, or TELL Kentucky, survey was administered online in the spring of 2011 by the New Teacher Center to assess teacher working conditions at the school, district and state level. (The nonprofit New Teacher Center, headquartered in Santa Cruz, Calif., works to improve teacher effectiveness through mentoring and professional development programs.)

More than 42,000 Kentucky educators – an 80 percent response rate – participated in the survey. School, district and state results are online at www.tellkentucky.org.

Ann Maddock, a senior policy advisory at the New Teacher Center, provided an overview for the Teacher Effectiveness Team:
· Overall, Kentucky educators are satisfied with the teaching and learning conditions in their schools.
· Teachers are most concerned with issues of time and managing student conduct.
· Findings vary considerably across districts and individual schools within a district.

In teachers’ views, Maddock noted, community support and involvement is the strongest element related to school-level student performance and, along with school leadership, strongly influences teachers’ future employment plans, or teacher retention.

The survey also reflected the different opinions that teachers in high- and low-performing schools have about issues affecting support for teachers and student behavior. For example, nearly 85 percent of teachers in the highest-performing elementary schools reported that parents and guardians provide support for teachers and contribute to their success with students while only 54 percent of teachers in the lowest-performing schools held that opinion. Nearly 90 percent of teachers in the high-performing schools reported that students in their schools follow rules of conduct; 62 percent of teachers in the low-performing schools thought that was true of their students.

Maddock said Kentucky policy leaders and administrators “have done a remarkable job of making sure the TELL Kentucky data from 2011 does not just sit on a shelf.”

Julia Rawlings of the Kentucky Department of Education told the team members that she used the survey results to guide leadership improvements and the development of department-level action plans in a low-performing high school. “There are tons of very valuable information that come from the use of the data,” she said.

The team also heard from educators from two schools – Knox Central High School and South Heights Elementary School in Henderson County – who discussed the impact of teaching conditions on their efforts to improve student achievement. Knox Central Principal Tim Melton noted that systemic change,
having a sense of urgency and being transparent about improvement efforts are important elements for turning around a low-performing school.

The TELL Kentucky survey will be administered again in the spring of 2013.

SOURCE: Prichard Committee press release

Driven to distraction: How to help wired students learn to focus

This from eCampusNews:

Learning to live with both internal and external distractions is all about teaching the concept of focus, Rosen writes.

A recent Pew Internet amp; American Life Project report surveyed 2,462 middle and high school Advanced Placement and national writing project teachers and concluded that: “Overwhelming majorities agree with the assertions that today’s digital technologies are creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans, and today’s students are too ‘plugged in’ and need more time away from their digital technologies.”

Two-thirds of the respondents agree with the notion that today’s digital technologies do more to distract students than to help them academically.

Mind you, we are talking about teachers who typically teach the best and brightest students and not those who we would generally think of as highly distractible.

Recently my research team observed 263 middle school, high school, and university students studying for a mere 15 minutes in their homes. We were interested in whether students could maintain focus and, if not, what might be distracting them. Every minute we noted exactly what they were doing, whether they were studying, if they were texting or listening to music or watching television in the background, and if they had a computer screen in front of them and what websites were being visited.

The results were startling, considering that the students knew we were watching them and most likely assumed we were observing how well they were able to study. First, these students were only able to stay on task for an average of three to five minutes before losing their focus. Universally, their distractions came from technology, including: (1) having more devices available in their studying environment such as iPods, laptops, and smart phones; (2) texting; and (3) accessing Facebook...

Race to the Top District Competition Received 371 Applications

This from District Dossier:

The U.S. Department of Education received 371 applications for the latest round of the Race to the Top competition, which focused on individual school districts or consortia of smaller districts rather than states. As Politics K-12 reported, the 371 applications represented 1,189 schoo districts. Close to 900 districts and consortia had expressed an intent to apply back in August when the final rules for the competition were announced.

A number of districts had trouble getting their unions to sign off on the Race to the Top proposals, which I wrote about for this week's issue of Education Week. (You can find more details about those squabbles here.) Two California districts, Glendale and Los Angeles, submitted applications anyway. The requirement for union sign-off was new to this iteration of the competition, and may have been a lesson learned from previous federal grant programs, including Race to the Top: When unions don't agree to grant requirements beforehand, programs sometimes don't get implemented as intended.

In an interesting twist, in the Central Unified school district in California, the union's president Gaye Lewis signed off on the district's application—and then stepped down because the union's members were upset with the decision.

Of course, some districts also didn't apply for reasons unrelated to unions. Burlington, Vt., superintendent Jeanne Collins said that her district had simply decided that "jumping through the hoops" and spending time and money on the complicated application was not worth it. And some districts where there's been notable district-union contention—Chicago, for example—did submit applications with union sign-off...

Former NYC Schools Head Joel Klein: We Need a Bar Exam for Educators

This from the Atlantic:
The ex-chancellor finds rare common ground with the head of the American Federation of Teachers.

One of the biggest names in public school reform and one of the biggest names in the world of teachers' unions appear to agree on a very big, and possibly very controversial, idea: We need a bar exam for teachers.


I'm talking about American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten and former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, now the head of News Corp.'s education division. The two are considered fierce rivals at opposite ends of the school reform debate. But on this concept, they appear to have found some common ground. Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June, Weingarten said that giving aspiring teachers a rigorous exam that tests critical thinking and instruction chops -- much like the gargantuan test lawyers need to take before they can practice in a state -- would be a helpful step to ensure professional standards across the education system.

Today, speaking alongside Delaware Governor Jack Markell at the Washington Ideas Forum, Klein sounded a similar note. He argued that our heavily trade-unionized schools model was "broken," and that teaching needed to be "professionalized."

Unfortunately, Klein didn't get a chance to elaborate much on that point, so I caught up with him in a hallway after his talk. What precisely did he mean by "professionalizing" teaching, I asked?

He responded that it could involve a wide variety of changes, many of which had been proposed by the legendary AFT president Albert Shanker in the 1980s. And one could be the implementation of "a very rigorous national test, like the bar exam," Klein said.

"We really need to insist on the best and the brightest going into teaching," he added.

I can see the appeal of the proposal for both sides of the education reform debate. For the unions, as Weingarten said, a bar exam would be a great public relations tool for proving that the teachers they represent are qualified to be in the classroom. It would also inevitably limit the supply of teachers, which might make it easier to bargain for higher wages or prevent competition from charter schools. For reformers like Klein, it might be a step towards attracting a class of talented professionals to teaching who are less likely to want to collectively bargain, and who might be more amenable to ideas like performance-based bonuses.

Whether or not you're a fan of professional credentialing -- and there are many out there who aren't -- there's one very obvious problem I can foresee: There's no way this idea would work unless teacher salaries were raised first, and possibly dramatically. As Klein said, our best and brightest already don't go into teaching. Throwing up hurdles in front of them without a big payoff in return isn't going to encourage them...

Taking Stock of Unbridled Learning Results

This from Commissioner Holliday at Dr H's Blog:

The Unbridled Learning accountability results have been out for a few days now, and we are seeing lots of articles, board presentations, parent workshops and discussion about the accountability results.

Early reports seem to focus on the overall drop in proficiency (which was predicted) and the new emphasis by the state to provide a percentile rank for schools and districts. However, there has not been much discussion about the significant increase in the percentage of graduates who are college- and career-ready. This is somewhat disappointing, since college and career readiness is the underlying principle for the accountability model and was the key requirement from 2009’s Senate Bill 1.

Other key issues we are hearing about include the usefulness of the tools provided. While there are massive amounts of data in the new School Report Card, schools are reacting very positively to the data being in one place and the user-friendly nature of the School Report Card. The report card gives a quick and easy snapshot of performance of schools and districts and also provides a multilevel, complex view of the components that make up the overall score for schools and districts.

The percentile rank system has been well received by most, since it provides an easy way to understand how your school/district performance compares to other Kentucky schools. This percentile system is similar to what parents receive from testing reports. Parents may not understand the test score from the state or national test; however, they do understand and want to know how their child's performance compares to other children across the state and nation.

The release of the accountability model has also given the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) an opportunity to receive constructive feedback on concerns with the model. Among these concerns are:
  • complexity of the system
  • science and social studies scores -- too high, compared to math and reading
  • comparisons with national assessments
  • understanding student growth
  • understanding student gap group results
  • perceived lack of consequences for low-performing schools
KDE will share these concerns and others as we present the Unbridled Learning accountability results to the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) at the December board meeting. Most of these concerns can be addressed by clarification of the model and how the results are reported.

There will be those that call for immediate action to address concerns. I want to close with some of the state and national issues that will certainly impact any immediate or long-range changes to the model.

The Kentucky Board of Education has certainly stated a clear intent to improve the accountability model as we get feedback from the field. The first issue we must consider is that schools and districts entered the 2012-13 school year knowing the "rules of the game" for accountability, and we should not change the rules in the middle of the game. Therefore, I would recommend to KBE that no major changes be made to regulations governing the model until we have at least two years of data from the model. Also, we are governed by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver, and any changes to our accountability model would require federal review. Finally, all states are hoping for reauthorization of ESEA (No Child Left Behind), which most certainly will impact the Unbridled Learning model.

As we close out November, parents across Kentucky now know if their child is on target to be college- and career-ready. From 3rd grade through 12th grade, every student and parent has the information to know the status of a trajectory to reach college/career readiness by graduation. This information provides students, parents and educators with the information needed to take action to ensure more of our students reach college/career readiness and have a positive impact on the economy of Kentucky.

Elementary Schoolers' Arrests In Florida Alarm Justice Officials

This from the Huffington Post:
Janay Jelks loves singing, coloring and Dora the Explorer. She's 12 but has the mental age of a preschooler.She also has a felony rap sheet.
Janay has been arrested three times since September at Cherokee School, an Orlando elementary school designed to be a safe place for the youngest Orange County students with severe emotional problems.

She's not alone. Since the start of school in August, police have arrested 11 students a total of 14 times at Cherokee, which has an enrollment of 57.

That's nearly one in five students.

The spate of arrests, which includes at least nine felony charges, has alarmed Orange County's juvenile-justice community and prompted a judge to meet with the school's principal.

It is "ridiculous" to criminalize students for behavior that is tied to their disabilities, said Olga Telleria-Khoudmi, juvenile-division chief for the Orange/Osceola Public Defender's Office.

"That's not the way to deal with these kids," Telleria-Khoudmi said, noting an arrest can follow children for the rest of their lives. "You have to have a little bit of tolerance. ...You're not dealing with a regular school."

Janay was charged with felonies for poking a police officer with her finger, throwing small plastic blocks in her teacher's face and hitting her principal, according to interviews and arrest affidavits. In Florida, any battery on a teacher or law-enforcement officer is a felony, even if there is no injury.

"I'm just really shocked. Really? Felony assault?" said Letasha Brown, Janay's mother.

Circuit Judge Alicia Latimore, one of three judges who handles juvenile-delinquency cases in Orange, was so concerned about the arrests that she visited Cherokee's campus this fall.

The arrests at Cherokee outnumber the arrests of students at Orange's 121 other public elementary schools combined.

"I'm not saying that children should be able to hit or batter freely, but it should be taken into account that children are placed in Cherokee for a reason," Latimore said.

Most of the cases involved a single slap, punch or kick and did not cause injury, she said.

"They have the right to contact law enforcement," Latimore added. "I just wish the staff and the teachers would not choose to do it so frequently." ...

Friday, November 16, 2012

States Lag in Explaining Data

New Analysis: 
States Have Not Yet Shifted Their Focus from Building Education Data Systems
to Helping People Like Parents and Teachers Use Them

The Data Quality Campaign’s (DQC) eighth annual state analysis, Data for Action 2012, shows that although states are making progress in supporting effective data use, the hardest work remains. States collect quality data and have enacted policy changes, but they have not yet focused on helping people, especially parents, teachers and students, effectively use data.

“States should be commended for their hard work building robust data systems. But it’s time to focus on the people side of the data equation — how this benefits teachers and students,” said Aimee Rogstad Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign. “State policymakers must actively support a culture in which all education stakeholders are actually using and learning from this crucial information to improve student achievement — not just using data for shame and blame.”

Without exception, every state in the country collects quality data extending beyond test scores. Yet no state has taken all of the 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use, which support making better use of the rich data states now collect. For example:

·         States have laid the foundation to link P–20/workforce (P–20W) data systems but lack governance structures with the authority necessary to share appropriate and limited critical data. This deficiency makes it nearly impossible to provide people the data they need to ensure that students stay on track for success in college and careers.
·         States are producing reports and dashboards using longitudinal data but are lagging in ensuring data access by stakeholders such as parents; there is more work to do to meet all stakeholders’ needs.
·         States are increasingly providing training to help stakeholders use data but have not done enough to build the capacity of all education stakeholders to effectively use data, especially teachers.

However, some states are doing cutting-edge work, proving that these challenges can be addressed now:
  • Kentucky has refined providing information to high schools about their graduates’ performance in college and used this information to increase college enrollment rates and reduce remediation rates for Kentucky students.
  • Delaware has implemented 9 of the 10 State Actions by leveraging P–20W leadership, state policy, federal opportunities and resources and can now use data to answer important policy questions like which students enroll in postsecondary institutions and whether they get jobs in the field in which they were trained.
  • Maine collaborated with stakeholders from critical agencies to build the policy, support and infrastructure to link data systems across the P–20W pipeline, which ensured that data collection, sharing and use are aligned with the state’s broader policy priorities aimed at improving student outcomes.
  • Indiana has made great progress ensuring that stakeholders have access to the data they need, developing a web-based portal and college- and career-readiness reports that provide data, resources, and tools for districts, schools, educators and families. Indiana also achieved the greatest growth on the 10 State Actions over the past year, from 3 to 8 State Actions.
  • Ohio has developed a strong teacher-student data link (TSDL) that has helped the state generate teacher performance data to share with teacher preparation programs, which provides them the data they need to improve their programs and ensure their graduates are prepared to enter the classroom.
Read the full report here.

SOURCE: DQC press release.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

EKU Search Committee Lawyers Up

Second Faculty Member Added to Search Committee 

Moberly in Campaign Mode

Was anyone else surprised to learn that the EKU Presidential Search and Screening Committee hired outside legal council to advise on how information about the search might be kept confidential? One wonders how this squares with the Regents oft repeated promise of an open process.

One might argue that outside legal counsel is a good idea since recent internal advice proved to be suspect. No sooner had the Regents promised an open process than - on advice - they refused to name the companies that submitted proposals to become EKU's search firm - perfectly legal, and unnecessarily secretive.

The Eastern Progress reported that Luke Morgan, an associate with McBrayer law firm in Lexington and legal adviser for the committee, presented several open records and open meetings guidelines for the search process. Morgan said at least six members of the committee would constitute a quorum, thus making it a committee meeting.
“You’re free to meet wherever you want without fear if you’re in violation of open records laws,” Morgan said. “But if you do get together do not take affirmative action.”
Unless search committees have specific exemptions in the Open Meetings law, that sounds like more bad advice to me. The Attorney General's office did not immediately return a call to KSN&C for confirmation.

Pressley Named to Search Committee

On another front, Regent's Chair Gary Abney changed course today and added Faculty Senate Chair Sheila Pressley to the Search Committee, bringing the total faculty representatives to two.

Veteran faculty members had complained that the search committee membership, which historically included four or five members of the faculty, was limited to only one this time around. They argued that significant faculty involvement was crucial to the new president's success.

The Faculty Senate and Chairs Association wrote a joint letter to Abney expressing "deep concern" and asking for his reconsideration. In return they received a rejection and more promises for an open process and assurances of the Regent's strong commitment to shared governance. In Abney's explanation, the existence of a Faculty Senate, Student Government and Staff Council, along with several committees, were sufficient evidence of the Regents' commitment to the principle.

Quietly at the center of the controversy was Faculty Regent Malcom Frisbee, the lone faculty member on the search committee. He seemed to enjoy a generalized support from the faculty but there was also a sense that broader representation was needed. Abney underscored the trust and respect Frisbee enjoys among the faculty, and that he can represent faculty viewpoints. Of course he can also be out-voted by the other members on the committee and his only recourse will be...nothing.

The addition of Pressley is seen as a compromise move and was more than skeptical faculty members expected.

Pressley's appointment comes after a 2-day round of meetings between Academic Search representatives and The Chairs, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, students, the public and more. Following last night's meeting Abney acknowledged the faculty's concerns and extended the invitation to Pressley.

A petition which has been circulating among faculty this week called out the process for its potential to undermine shared governance and tarnish the institution in the eyes of potential candidates. The petition asks for the addition of a member from the Faculty Senate (check), the Chairs, the Deans and another member at large. No doubt, Abney knew the petition was on the way. Some see Pressley's appointment as a preemptive move.

Harry Goes Off

In the harshest comments to date, former state legislator Harry Moberly - to whom Madison County owes much (but perhaps not the EKU presidency) - told last night's community forum that EKU “has not been managed efficiently for many years” and needs “a change agent” as its next president.

Moberly said the next president would find the school possesses many assets and “unlimited potential” but that it also ranks “very low” in all performance indicators tracked by CPE. He said EKU has not recruited properly, which has led to tuition increases; that EKU has not been a good steward of its resources, has silo-based budgeting instead of strategic budgeting, and for good measure, blamed the Faculty Regent and Staff Regents for not doing "a thing about it."

Moberly's interest in the presidency has been rumored on campus at least since2007 when I arrived. Some on the faculty have wondered if "the fix is in" and the national search process will ultimately discover the best candidate right here in Richmond. This point was addressed directly by
Academic Search Senior Consultant Jim Appleberry who has  repeatedly worked to dispel the rumor and pass along Chairperson Abney's assurance that no candidate has been given the inside track.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

EKU Faculty Senate Legislative Forum

EKU Faculty Senate Legislative Forum

On the implementation of Senate Bill 1 (Unbridled Learning) and related issues.

Confirmed Panel Members:

House Education Committee Chair Carl Rollins D-Midway (56th District, Fayette, Franklin, Woodford)

Senator Jared Carpenter R- Berea (34th District, Lincoln, Madison, Rockcastle)

Representative Rita Smart, D-Richmond (81st District, Madison)

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King

Invited but not confirmed: Robert Stivers R-Manchester


EKU President Doug Whitlock
EKU Faculty Senate Chair Shelia Pressley, Environmental Health 
Faculty Senator, Assoc Prof Richard Day, Education

Moderated by Professor Joe Gershtenson, Government

November 26th
3- 5 PM
EKU Center for the Arts
Black Box Theater

Light reception to follow, courtesy of the College of Education

With special thanks to:
Dean Bill Phillips, College of Education
Past Faculty Senate Chair, Professor Lynette Noblitt, Government
Assoc Prof Carol Sommer, Counseling
Asst Prof William Hatcher, Government
Lecture Stephanie Adams, Social Work
Assoc Prof Ginni Fair, Education