Tuesday, February 21, 2017

SB1 is a long bill. But is it a sweeping reform?


Whether or not Sen. Mike Wilson is correct to say that his SB1 will do away with Common Core State Standards in Kentucky depends on how one views standards to begin with. 

Will politicians be able to say they got rid of Common Core? You bet. 

Of course, KDE has already taken care of most of that by branding our standards as Kentucky Academic Standards. At least since June of 2015 the words common and core do not appear together in the standards anywhere so far as I can find. Kentucky standards matched only a percentage of Common Core State Standards to begin with, and when compared to states who previously claimed to have abolished Common Core the percentage of surviving standards are about the same.

As Education Week reported,  
Twenty-one of the 46 states that adopted the Common Core State Standards are revising the standards, but most are not making substantial changes, according to an analysis by the research firm Abt Associates...

Eight states so far have repealed or withdrawn the standards, 21 have made changes, and 17 have left the standards as adopted. 

In a more in-depth look at nine of the states that made changes—Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, and Utah—the researchers found more than three-quarters of the standards in math or English/language arts were left alone.

States that revised their language arts criteria only altered 23 percent of standards, and most of the changes clarified wording without changing content.

Moreover, nearly 70 percent of the changes that were made in either math or language arts across all grades were simply wording or format clarifications to make the standards easier for educators or the public to understand. The states did not change the content or grade level at which the content was presented.

Another 25 percent of the changes added a standard or a concept to an existing math or reading standard. In only 6 percent of the math or reading changes did states delete a standard, and none lessened their rigor.
The problem with abolishing standards in that Kentuckians still want their kids to learn to read and compute and CCSS outlined that educational process fairly well.
  • SB 1 does call for a periodic review of the standards, and that's a good idea no matter what standards the state adopts.
  • I never had to operate under TPGES but it is my understanding that its provisions were pretty good - but very difficult and time-consuming to accomplish. Perhaps a change was indicated. The problem, as I see it, goes way back to the days when schools were adopting some version of the clinical supervision model, somewhere in the mid-80s. The models were intense, but fair to teachers. The problem was that the system did not support implementation of the model at appropriate levels. The literature said no more than ten teachers should be (or could fairly be) evaluated by a given principal. But that's not how things are done in the schools. Instead, we kept the design, but required principal as to implement it with a faculty of 30, 40, 50, or more teachers. A good idea - ruined. Did we not learn our lessons? Did the same fate befall TPGES?
  • I assume that if school districts were able to turnaround low performing schools they already would have...so I'm not sure what's new here.
  • The ultimate elimination of program reviews was predictable from the start.
  • Is there any evidence that parents and teachers do a poor job of selecting principals presently, or is this just a power grab by superintendents?
 These don't feel like big changes to me. What did C-J miss?
This from the Courier-Journal:
As it stands now, Senate Bill 1 is 99 pages of sweeping reform of education policy in Kentucky.

Because it's so big and touches so many aspects of schools and education, it's not an easy legislation to digest in a quick soundbite.

But if it passes, parents, students and teachers will feel its effect in many ways, whether it's in proposed changes in how to keep schools accountable, what to do with low-performing schools, who should be in charge of teacher evaluations and more.

Some legislators, hoping to make this large, omnibus bill easier to digest, have called it the "teachers can teach" bill or the "Common Core killer."

Here are some of the major points in the bill, which is now headed to the House of Representatives for consideration:

1. It sets up a plan for reviewing and changing the standards that children must know at each grade level.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, said his proposed legislation would effectively do away with the Common Core State Standards in Kentucky.

What the bill does do is set up a new way of reviewing Kentucky's education standards, which are the basic things that students are expected to know at different grade levels.
Curriculum, instruction and state-mandated exams are supposed to be aligned to the state's standards.

The bill would have the Kentucky Department of Education review the science, math, social studies, and language arts and writing standards every six years on a staggered basis using the help of a number of review committees and advisory panels.

Certainly, if changes are made to the existing standards, they would no longer technically be completely considered the Common Core standards.

2. It would hand teacher evaluations back to local school districts to oversee.

Instead of the current statewide Professional Growth and Effectiveness System that is used to evaluate teachers in Kentucky, the bill would allow school districts to come up with their own evaluation systems that are expected to be aligned to a state framework. The evaluations would have to have four different performance levels under the bill.

3. It changes how to deal with struggling, low-performing schools, giving much of the oversight to school districts.

Among other provisions in the bill related to a struggling school, when a school is listed as needing comprehensive support, the local school board would choose a team from within the district, from the state or from an outside contractor to help the school turn around. The district's superintendent would get to decide whether a principal stays or must go, rather than that being a state determination.

If the low-performing school does not make annual progress for two years in a row, the state can then enter the school intervention process, under the bill.

4. It eliminates program reviews.

For the last couple years, program reviews have made up 23 percent of a school's accountability score. They are a school's self-evaluation of the quality of some of its programs, such as its arts and humanities and practical living programs.

The idea was to have some way to measure the quality of instruction in areas that aren't easily measured by standardized tests, but some school officials have said the paperwork behind them is onerous, and a Kentucky Department of Education review in 2015 said that schools were sometimes over-scoring themselves on these program reviews.

5. It would give all the state's superintendents more say in the principal selection process.

The bill would change language in statute to allow all school districts to give superintendents more say in the principal selection process. Last year, Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law a bill that gives the superintendent the authority to bring specific candidates to the school-based decision-making councils — who generally get to pick new principals — for consideration.

The current statute language only gives that ability to Jefferson County Public Schools, but Senate Bill 1 would open it up to all school districts.
 * The Ed Week content was expanded..  

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