One of the advantages of larger data sets is that the analysis provides insights to researchers that are provocative: “The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released today the first comprehensive look at civil rights data from every public school in the country in nearly 15 years” (crdc.ed.gov.). I think it is important to acknowledge that the U.S. system of education was never intended to completely make education equitable. Its first purposes were about reading and writing and passing on values of the community in which one was educated. Indoctrination might be a “hot-button” way to describe this process, but most people assume that education will orient the student to a pre-conceived way of thinking. The funny thing is that humans are heavily influenced by these inequities in their educational experiences even as they remain independent thinkers. The Civil Rights Data Collection points to how these inequities determine the quality of the intended experiences:
The Right To A Special Education in New Jersey; A Guide For Advocates; Second Edition 2008 by the Education Law Center Internet Link: http://www.edlawcenter.org/assets/files/pdfs/publications/Rights_SpecialEducation_Guide.pdf Quote From Page 35…. Burden of Proof at Due Process Hearings School districts in all due process … Continued
the Education Law Center
Internet Link: http://www.edlawcenter.org/
M.A. v. Newark Public Schools
In 2001, ELC with co-counsel Gibbons Del Deo, filed a class action lawsuit against Newark Public Schools and the New Jersey Department of Education, alleging that Newark and the State failed to identify, locate, refer and evaluate students with disabilities for special education services, failed to provide these students with appropriate special education services, and failed to provide “compensatory education” for the deprived services. The complaint also charged the State with failure to monitor school districts and failure to provide appropriate relief in response to special education complaint investigation requests. [Docket No. 01-cv-3389 (US District Court for the District of NJ) Docket No. 02-1799 (US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit)]
Linda Darling-Hammond writes about the possibilities for better assessment based on the new Common Core Standards:
“Because the CCSS are intended to be “fewer, higher, and deeper” than previous standards, they have created a natural opening for the development and adoption of better assessments of student learning. The assessments developed by two new multi-state consortia could move us toward more informative systems that include formative as well as summative elements, evaluate content that reflects instruction, and include some challenging open-ended tasks” (TESTING TO, AND BEYOND, THE COMMON CORE; New assessments can support a multiple-measure framework to deepen teaching and learning. By Linda Darling-Hammond; Principal, January/February 2014).
The reform of testing is an ongoing business. Year after year the testing companies have refined their product. But there is a real need for changing the purpose to which these assessments are always tasked with, accountability. This accountability is narrowly defined and heavily sanctioned when schools fall behind. After 10 years of NCLB most schools have been deemed as falling behind or otherwise not making the grade. Why would we think this narrow accountability definition for standardized tests is helping anyone? It isn’t. So Darling-Hammond’s hope for better assessments that are improved by teachers and principals is welcome news:
I want to give the public access to a brief summary of our first study in Rochester, NY on the impact of the arts on student learning. The three year grant (2007-2009) was a quasi-experimental design, 10 schools in the treatment group and 10 schools in control group, to learn the impact of arts integration on student achievement. Our firm was the evaluator for this grant.
Purpose of AEMDD
The purpose of the AEMDD Federal grant is to support the enhancement, expansion, documentation, evaluation, and dissemination of innovative, cohesive models that are based on research and have demonstrated that they effectively: (1) integrate standards-based arts education into the core elementary and middle school curricula; (2) strengthen standards-based arts instruction in these grades; and (3) improve students’ academic performance in ELA and Math, social studies and science, including their skills in creating, performing, and responding to the arts.
The merits of separating girls and boys in classrooms has been debated for many years. As recently as the 1990’s research seemed to show separation increased achievement and lowered anxiety (Gurian Institute). But now we have some research that really contradicts separation as a good educational practice. The Huffington Post (Feb 5, 2014), reports on a new study released by the American Psychological Association:
Do students really learn better when separated by gender? New research indicates that they do not.
Study results released this week by the American Psychological Association found that students do not perform better in math, science or verbal subjects when they attend single-sex schools, or single-sex classes within coeducational schools. The research, which analyzed 55 years worth of data, refutes theories that adolescent girls thrive when separated from boys, and that boys perform better when they have a curriculum specifically tailored to them.
Taking Exit Exams in order to graduate college is a new trend in college accountability. Previously, a student’s grade-point-average would stand in for this accountability, except, it has been well known for some time that grade inflation is rampant at colleges and universities. By one measure employed by Teachers College, 43% of students receive and “A.” What is also interesting is the groups of people who are invested in this accountability—parents, lawmakers and others:
The advent of the college exit test is being driven largely by parents, lawmakers and others intent on making sure they’re getting their money’s worth from colleges and universities—and by employers who complain that graduates arrive surprisingly ill-prepared.
In a recent post on the EdWeek blog, Matthew Lynch talks about the loss of the arts as subjects, and the use of the arts as integrated into other subjects. Before getting too enthusiastic about this approach, it is important to remember that integration of the arts requires common planning, implementing, and assessment. When the arts are placed in the classroom as full partners, student learning increases.
The arts have always had a secondary place in K-12 learning. If you doubt that statement, think of the first programs to go whenever budget cuts are implemented – music, fine arts and even physical fitness which includes dance. I’ve yet to hear of a school board or administrators discussing the way cutting math programs could help the school’s bottom line. There is a hierarchy of academics in America, and arts education tends to fall pretty low on the totem pole.
Recently, Commissioner John King testified in front of the New York State Senate Committee on Education and defended the Common Core. Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, said school officials within his district are unified in their criticism of the Common Core.
“School superintendents, principals, school administrators, parents, PTA groups, classroom teachers — they all seem to be united in their opinion of the Common Core,” Maziarz said. “To me, those are experts that we are hearing from. Now, commissioner, to be frank with you, the people who seem to be supporting this are yourself and the members of the Board of Regents.” (Lohud.com)
John Merrow has documented several scandals involving cheating, including this one in Washington, DC, under former Chancellor Michelle Rhee. In Merrow’s Blog, Learning Matters/Taking Note, he documents a common way for teachers or principals to change answers to high stakes tests in order to raise the test scores of students. The cheating method is called erasures and the analysis method to uncover that is called Wrong-To-Right Erasures.
The gist of his message: the many ‘wrong to right’ erasures on the students’ answer sheets suggested widespread cheating by adults.