Posted by Texas Education on March 10, 2009
President Obama delivered his Education Plan at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce today, watch it in its entirety here. Grab a cup o’ joe, it’s over 3o minutes long. But, of course, I like what he has to say, and I only hope we can accomplish a portion of what he says. I’m glad to see Education being put first, finally! Stimulus, mimulus, some are saying to put health care and education on a back burner (what have we been doing for the last 8 years?) and work on the economy. “WE CAN’T AFFORD TO PUT EDUCATION ON THE BACK BURNER ANY LONGER.”
He mentions 50 different benchmarks, crazy, I know! Why do we have that? He is
“calling on our nations Governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem solving, critical thinking, and entrepreneurship, and creativity, that is what we’re gonna help them do later this year. When we finally make NCLB live up to it’s name by ensuring not only the teachers and principals get the funding that they need, but that the money is tied to results.”
He even mentions Houston, in a good way, I kid you not! He goes on to say,
“Of course, raising standards alone will not make much of a difference unless we provide teachers and principals with the information they need to make sure students are prepared to meet those standards. And far too few states have data systems like the one in Florida that keep track of a student’s education from childhood through college. And far too few districts are emulating the example of Houston and Long Beach and using data to track how much progress a student is making and where that student is struggling.”
Houston, an example? I’m sorry, but am I missing something? I certainly don’t mean to diss our great city, but I seriously don’t get it. Maybe I’m in a situation where I only see the negative. We really have to work to find out “what is right with this situation,” or what is “good.” I’m all for what he is saying, I only hope we see some sort of change, progress, help even. I also hope to be a major part of this enormous undertaking.
I totally agree with President Obama about tracking a student’s progress throughout his school career, instead of testing him/her – a good friend of mine, teacher, her own son called her from home throwing up on a TAKS day – on a day or two, judging whether he/she moves up to the next grade or judges a whole school based on a student’s test scores on one day’s testing.
I do hope our childrens’ futures will be brighter. I’m trying to see the glass as half full.
As most of you know, if you have received an email from me,“To achieve your best, get in over your head and rise to the top.” – Dr. Richard Tapia Professor of Computational Mathematics, Rice University. This is still my mantra!!!
Posted in accountability, Ethics, financing, funding, Good Stuff, Higher Ed, leadership, learning, national education, teachers, teaching, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: NCLB, President Barack Obama, President's Education Plan | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Texas Education on January 19, 2009
NCLB gave us grade schoolers literally throwing up under the pressure of high stakes testing. It gave us a cottage industry
of prep books filled with multiple choice exercises. It gave us the discontinuation of art and music classes to provide time for TAKS practice ( i.e.) teaching to the test.
Could it be on the way out?
A writer named Margaret Downing tells a story about her experiences as a tutor a few years ago:
School test scores rise as more low-scoring students drop out
…I signed on as a volunteer tutor at my local elementary. I was matched with a student – I’ll call him Eddie – who was failing miserably at both the math and English portions of the TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills), a statewide minimal skills test that was the precursor to today’s TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills).
I took him on in math, it being the worst of all his subjects, and began a series of one-on-one weekly meetings. It soon became apparent that while Eddie’s multiplication and division skills were very shaky, his ability to subtract once we got into double digits was no better. Asked to compute 25 minus 17, Eddie’s eyes darted around the room looking for an escape hatch. There were too many numbers to count on his fingers.
Word problems only ramped up the agony.
We continued meeting. I took him back to subtraction and then up to multiplication and division. I talked with his teacher, who’d show me more failed papers, and then Eddie and I would go over them.
He began to improve. I wasn’t the perfect teacher but I was someone paying extra attention. The grades on his class math tests weren’t stellar, but better.
The week after the TAAS, I showed up for my session with Eddie. Of course the scores wouldn’t be reported for a while, but we were optimistic. Then the teacher asked what I was doing there. The TAAS is done, she said. You’re through.
There were several weeks still to go in the school year. Eddie was still Eddie. He still needed a lot of extra help with his math and his English and probably other subjects as well.
As I walked out of the school after being dismissed, I realized I hadn’t been helping a kid. I’d been helping a kid prepare for the state test, which really meant that I’d been helping that school toward a higher accountability rating so the teacher and the principal could be sure of their jobs.
I thought of Eddie when I was talking with Rice professor Linda McSpadden McNeil, who has co-authored a study showing that the increase in Texas’s statewide test scores directly correlates to lower graduation rates.
In fact, it contributes to them, she believes.
Scores have been rising, not because all these students have suddenly mastered the TAKS, but because low-scoring students have been forced out by administrators whose own job success depends on good student scores.
After all, who wants to carry an Eddie on his record?
And thus it has been over the last seven plus years. High stakes testing has been a special disaster for minority students, a group we will need to maintain our economic prosperity as he population demographics tip inevitable toward these groups.
A Harvard educational report put it this way:
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in accountability, leadership, learning, national education, say what???, teaching, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: Margaret Downing, NCLB, TexasKaos | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Texas Education on July 18, 2008
Here’s a story from the New York Times on Randi Weingarten, the New Yorker who is rising to become president of the American Federation of Teachers, says she wants to replace President Bush’s focus on standardized testing with a vision of public schools as community centers that help poor students succeed by offering not only solid classroom lessons but also medical and other services.
I’ve always thought a school that stays open longer, has more options, etc., would be an excellent idea. Taking away from schools, putting more on them, not in a good way, is detrimental to our future, our future leaders. I only hope Ms. Weingarten can do what she is setting out to do.
Randi Weingarten, 50, was elected Monday to the presidency of the national teachers union at the union’s annual convention. In a speech minutes later to the delegates gathered in Chicago, Ms. Weingarten criticized the No Child Left Behind law, President Bush’s signature domestic initiative, as “too badly broken to be fixed,” and outlined “a new vision of schools for the 21st century.”
“Can you imagine a federal law that promoted community schools — schools that serve the neediest children by bringing together under one roof all the services and activities they and their families need?” Ms. Weingarten asked in the speech. (Picture by Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times)
“Imagine schools that are open all day and offer after-school and evening recreational activities and homework assistance,” she said. “And suppose the schools included child care and dental, medical and counseling clinics.”
By laying out that expansive vision of government’s role in the public schools, Ms. Weingarten waded into a fierce debate among Democrats seeking to influence the educational program of Senator Barack Obama, their party’s presumptive presidential nominee. In an interview last week, she said the ideas in the speech amounted to “what I’d like to see in a new federal education law.”
In Ms. Weingarten’s speech, she praised the ideas of a group of Democrats led by Tom Payzant, the former schools superintendent in Boston, who have argued that schools alone cannot close achievement gaps rooted in larger economic inequalities, and that “broader, bolder” measures are needed, like publicly financed early childhood education and health services for the poor.
Another group, headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein of New York, issued a manifesto last month urging the nation to redouble its efforts to close the achievement gap separating poor students from affluent ones and blaming “teachers’ contracts” for keeping ineffective teachers in classrooms.
Ms. Weingarten said the nation needs a new vision for schools “that truly commits America to closing the achievement gap once and for all.”
Posted in In-the-news, Texas schools | Tagged: AFT, NCLB, UFT | Leave a Comment »