How do kids grow?

Student growth

All of the so-called education reformers want teachers evaluations based upon student growth. Many of them have lobbied statehouses to enact laws mandating a growth model in evaluations before really thinking about how we measure “educational” growth.  Politician see poor academic achievement on standardized tests and begin to blame the educational system. These test scores are an easy tool to look at and see that the American Educational system needs work when compared to other nations. But do the test measure student growth? And can this growth be attributed to individual teachers? Probably not!!

The fact is all student grow at different academic rates based on numerous factors:

  1. Genetics
  2. Parental Nurturing- Exposure to reading, writing and other educational opportunities at a young age.
  3. Environmental Nurturing – In a rich educational environment all day long: NO TV babysitters
  4. Educational Values at home
  5. Teaching

I am sure that their are more. We can’t just take a standardized test score and use it to show growth attributed to teaching.  So of the score might be due to teaching, the rest to this other factors.

The other major flaw in this measurement of growth plan is the assumption that all students grow in a linear manner at a same rate. Using this assumption then: all students show walk and talk at the same time. Students should all be potty trained at the same time. We could also assume all students would be same height and weight.   Every American know this all not to be true. So why are we assuming all students can the same material at the same rate? This is ludicrous!!!

Growth is really similar to this chart below:

Patrh to succes

Students all start and hopefully end at the same place in their educational journey but all of their paths are unique and individual. Some students need more time than others. Some will go every which way but the direction desired until the right intervention is put in place. Our educational systems goal is to get to success no matter where the journey takes us. Our goal is NOT to have every student take the same journey to success.  If it was our world would be quite a boring place. Hopefully politicians will see the error in their ways. New measurements will be put into place. Then teachers won’t feel like they have targets on their backs. Let make sure we look at the journey instead of focusing on the end results. The educational journey is what makes us all unique.

 

The fight for #CCSS

CCSS

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are supposed to be a unifying element in education. Placing All (or at least most) of the states on the same page for student academic expectations. Finally states could compare achievement data. Standardized test results could finally be compared. In theory the Common Core is a good idea. The United States does need to set educational standards that challenge our students and tell employers and colleges what graduates know and are able to produce. The Common Core also help fully implement the No Child Left Behind Act  of 2001, up until now states have been issued waivers to comply with the law. CCSS and the assessments that go along with it are supposed to end the era of waivers and hold states accountable for their educational programs.

Corporations, states and school districts have been preparing for CCSS ever since their first draft was released 3 years ago. Corporations have spent 3 years on research and developing educational programs and materials to sell in support of the CCSS implementation. Other Corporations have been formed to create assessments that “fit” the CCSS curriculum. Many States have joined one of two consortium (Smarter Balanced and PARCC) to help guide in the development of these new assessments.  School districts have invested countless hours working to adjust their curriculum to meet the CCSS. Millions of dollars have been spent on this anticipated change over the past few years.

wordle CCSS

Now, a few states are starting to voice concern as the Pilot testing period ends and full implementation looms. Here in Michigan despite the best efforts of the Governor, Michele Rhee and Jeb Bush the legislature has decided not to fund any  CCSS implementation in the 2013-2014 state budget. What does this mean for teachers? IS this going to just be another unfunded mandate? or is CCSS dead? Time will only tell. 

I know what it shows. It shows America that Education is NOT a priority but a political hot potato that politicians like to throw around for votes. It shows teachers that politicians don’t give a damn about them. It the world that American is never going to “fix” its educations system that picks winners and losers by zip code.

Personally I am not the biggest fan of the CCSS. I have previously refered to CCSS as the “College” core due to the rigor and lack room for students who would prefer hands on learning and trade skills. The idea of having some “national standards” is appealing. Our staff is just getting used to positive changes that the CCSS has brought to our district. Our students are showing growth and achievement  I just find it very ironic that the same Republican Party that initiated the move towards the CCSS is now putting the standards on “pause”. As the fight for the common core rages from state to state, America will see that our educational values need to be changed so we can focus on real change. Change that makes sure every child can get a high quality education in our great country!!

Technology advice to pre-service teachers!

I am presenting tomorrow night to a group of pre-service teachers. I was wondering what advice my readers might have about technology. I remember when I was “trained” to be a teacher, I learned about Hyper-card studio. Where does that get me now? Absolutely nowhere. Most teachers learn about technology the old-fashion way: on their own. I hope to have some good ideas to share with the young budding teachers to help put them on the right track. Please fill-out the google form below to help out: