Facts to Counter Bias Against Teaching Profession

skills-835747_1280Some groups are making teachers into scapegoats to justify opposition to unions, taxes, or facing problems in low income neighborhood schools.   In a 20014 speech, U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan claimed that academically, our teachers were in the bottom third of their college class.  He argues that new teachers are underprepared, and low-income students get short changed.  Somehow better qualified teachers would improve our ranking on international tests.

A New York Times article by Daniel Willingham Teachers Aren’t Dumb takes a different view and gives facts to back it up.

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Florida Test Reform: What Might We Expect from the legislature?

critical-thinking (2)There will be hearings in the legislature about reforms to Florida’s state-wide testing.  The Seminole County school district is leading a movement to replace the FSA at least for high school graduation.  Senators Gaetz and Legg have made public statements about the need for reform.

What can we realistically expect?

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FSA Validity Study Released

image001When we ask if a test is valid, it is critical to ask:  valid for what purpose?  The  report on the validity of the Florida FSA test was released today.  There were findings from six studies conducted by Alpine Testing Solutions and EdCount LLC.

Given that there were six sets of results and conclusions, the researchers did not state that the test as whole was valid.  Let’s look at each study’s conclusions.  Even more interesting are the results of the analyses taken together and called Cross Study Conclusions.

The study found reasons to be cautious about some of the uses of the scores.  The researchers reported that the Florida DOE did not intend to report scale scores or performance standards this first year.  Students would receive a percentile ranking, the number of points earned out of the number possible, and the average number of points statewide by category.  Interim cut scores for ELA grade 3 and Algebra I would be set by percentile equating based on the FCAT cut scores.

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Difference Between U. S. House and Senate Education Bills

congress-74032_1280The Senate version of the education bill (See: US Senator Lamar Alexandar Bill ) and the House version differ mostly on the requirements for achievement testing.

The House version is a reintroduction of last year’s Student Success Act.  Both version emphasize returning control to the states.

A summary of the House version follows.  We will track the bills.  Check Legislative Updates on the rotating banner for the blog.  It is the photo of the green chalkboard.

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Are KIPP Charters the Answer? Depends upon the question…


KIPP is reputed to be one of the most successful charter chains.  It serves low income minority students. U.S. DOE Secretary Duncan has praised KIPP charters.  Gary Chartrand, the Chair of the Florida Board of Education promotes them.  It has a ‘no excuses’ policy for behavior as well as high academic expectations for all students. Is KIPP success hype or real?  There are some things we need to know; let’s not make hasty judgments.  Read about their results.

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Education for Sale

textbooksby Jean Schiffbauer

In tumultuous times, is it possible to define the ‘public interest’ as something more than a compilation of private and powerful commercial concerns?  When schools are public in name only, do we the public even know what is being taught or how?  We will run a series of posts on curriculum issues facing our schools.  Here is our first post by a long time curriculum specialist at a K-12 laboratory school.Continue reading

How Many Tests are Too Many?

The Florida School Boards took a stand today against over testing.


Sorting out which tests students are required to take is no small task. The Florida Statewide Testing Program Schedule is extensive–take a look.

Take a test yourself.  This is a training test to see what the FSA is like.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the testing was “under review“. It is about time!  The Florida Standard Assessments (FSA), our version of Common Core testing in English Language Skills and Mathematics begin this year.  We also have district level tests, end of course exams, national and international tests, and college placement and admissions tests.   All of this testing has generated a backlash. Continue reading

Sources of Information: Florida Standards Assessment

by Terry Gillam

Are there too many tests?  Many leagues are gathering information. In this post, Terry Gillam from Orange County, Florida shares sources they have gathered about new Florida Standards Assessments.  These are the Florida version of the Common Core assessments.  Florida opted out of the national PARCC tests.  Continue reading

Rote Learning Meets Critical Thinking

by Sue Legg

One of the most intriguing articles that I have read lately is Iris Rotberg’s article on The Endless Search for Silver Bullets. Dr. Rotberg, a Research Professor of Education Policy at George Washington University reported the results of the 2012 New York state assessments and the 2013 New York version of the Common Core test.  The results were no doubt disappointing to charter school advocates.  Charter schools in New York City, the hallmark of high achieving charter schools, continued to outperform comparable traditional public schools.  Charters, however, had higher drops in levels of proficiency. Continue reading