Thursday, May 29, 2014

Newspaper Lacks Vital Statistic on CCSD Teacher Survey

It's encouraging to hear that teachers at only four schools in the Charleston County School District fear retaliation from their principals for disagreeing or bringing up problems. According to reporter Amanda Kerr, over 70 percent of teachers surveyed saw a positive school climate.

Kerr reported that over 1,000 teachers responded to the anonymous survey. She forgot to ask how many teachers the district employs.

Did even half of Charleston County's teachers respond?

Do you suppose the percent participating can make a difference in the results? I do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How Tall Did This Year's Teaching Make Your Child?

According to an Education Week article cited by Diane Ravitch,
"Perhaps most provocative of all are the preliminary results of a study that uses value-added modeling to assess teacher effects on a trait they could not plausibly change, namely, their students’ heights. The results of that study, led by Marianne P. Bitler, an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine, have been presented at multiple academic conferences this year.
The authors found that teachers’ one-year “effects” on student height were nearly as large as their effects upon reading and math. The researchers did not find any correlation between the “value” that teachers “added” to height and the value they added to reading and math. In addition, unlike the reading and math results, which demonstrated some consistency from one year to the next, the height outcomes were not stable over time. The authors suggested that the different properties of the two models offered “some comfort.” Nevertheless, they advised caution." 
So, let's get this right: teachers' effects on students' height were nearly as large as their effect on reading and math.

Love that VAM, Superintendent McGinley?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What's Wrong with Cursive Writing Instruction?

Wait till the edublob hears about this one.

The South Carolina senate balked at requiring the teaching of cursive writing because that would cost the state $27.6 million.

Say, what? 
As Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Murrells Inlet, said, that's ridiculous, since every elementary school teacher should know how to write in cursive.
"How much is it to put a banner across a classroom, give them a pad of paper and say, 'We're cursive writing today?' It seems to me that's a defensive item," he said.
Why, $25 million for instructional materials and $5 million for travel for teacher training, according to the state budget office. Now it admits there may have been a miscalculation. 

Ya think?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ravitch Exposes Faults of Common Core Standards for K-3

Why the Common Core Standards for Grades K-3 Are Wrong

by dianeravitch
A group of early childhood educators explain here why the Common Core is inappropriate for children in grades K-3. This statement is an excerpt from their joint publication "Defending the Early Years."
 The first mistake of the Common Core is that it "maps backwards" from what is needed for high school graduation and ignores the kind of learning that is developmentally appropriate for young children. "An example of a developmentally inappropriate Common Core standard for kindergarten is one that requires children to “read emergent reader texts with purpose and understanding.” Many young children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten and there is no research to support teaching reading in kindergarten. There is no research showing long-term advantages to reading at 5 compared to reading at 6 or 7."
 The second mistake is that the CCSS assumes that all children learn at the same rate and in the same way. However, "Many of the skills mandated by the CCSS erroneously assume that all children develop and learn skills at the same rate and in the same way. Decades of child development research and theory from many disciplines (cognitive and developmental psychology, neuroscience, medicine and education) show how children progress at different rates and in different ways. For example, the average age that children start walking is 12 months. Some children begin walking as early as 9 months and others not until 15 months – and all of this falls within a normal range. Early walkers are not better walkers than later walkers. A second example is that the average age at which children learn to read independently is 6.5 years. Some begin as early as 4 years and some not until age 7 or later – and all of this falls within the normal range."
 Part of the second mistake is that young children are being assessed in ways that make no sense: "The CCSS are measured using frequent and inappropriate assessments – this includes high-stakes tests, standardized tests and computer-administered assessments. States are required to use computer-based tests (such as PARCC) to assess CCSS. This is leading to mandated computer use at an early age and the misallocation of funds to purchase computers and networking systems in school districts that are already underfunded."
 A third mistake was that those who wrote the CCSS did not include anyone knowledgeable about early childhood education: "The CCSS do not comply with the internationally and nationally recognized protocol for writing professional standards. They were written without due process, transparency, or participation by knowledgeable parties. Two committees made up of 135 people wrote the standards – and not one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood education professional."
 A fourth mistake was that "There is a lack of research to support the current early childhood CCSS. The standards were not pilot tested and there is no provision for ongoing research or review of their impact on children and on early childhood education." Those of us who urged field testing of the standards were ignored.
 Read the rest of the article to read the other mistakes that CCSS made in writing standards for K-3. Then you will understand how foolish it was for a kindergarten class to cancel the annual class play because the children needed more time for rigorous academic studies. If educators think that CCSS cancels out the well-researched principles of child development, they make a terrible mistake.
 dianeravitch | May 12, 2014 at 10:00 am | Categories: Education Reform | URL:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mystery of James Island's Apple Charter School's Demise

The Charleston County School Board put the final nail in the coffin of Apple Charter School on James Island this week. Due to financial problems, missed educational goals, and low enrollment, the School's board of directors agreed to close the school this month. Only about 70 students are presently enrolled.

Don't you wonder what happened? Surely the local paper must be curious. Why so few students? Why so much debt? The organizers had hoped to assist those who were not doing well in the other public schools.

Maybe if we had some sense of what went wrong, such upheaval could be prevented in the future, but, let's face it, the Post and Courier has no interest.

Too busy cheerleading for the district.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

CCSD Values Form over Substance with June Make-up Day

Just when you thought the Charleston County School District couldn't get any sillier, it proves you an optimist!

This school year, students used up all extra school days built in for bad weather, not for hurricanes or tropical storms but for ice. Then ice forced CCSD into further closure. In order to compensate for those instructional days, the Board of Trustees, acting upon the superintendent's recommendation, changed June 6, which had originally been a "teacher workday," to a make-up day.  The action seems sensible until you realize what it means.

On June 6, CCSD will run its full bus contingent, feed students, and cool all its buildings for a fraction of enrolled students. How can I predict rampant absenteeism so far in advance?

By June 6, CCSD will have held its graduation ceremonies. Testing will be completed. Textbooks will be packed away.

So, what will the expense of running the schools on that day accomplish?


Thursday, May 01, 2014

SC Senate Gets the Message on Common Core

It  may be a bit late, but the South Carolina State Senate woke up this week to ban Common Core standards from state schools beginning in 2015-16. South Carolina will return to using its own standards.

Now we merely must cope with the mess to be cleaned up over the next two years.