2019 Medley #23

Let the Children Play,
Reading: Too much too soon,
The Common Good,
Is the Teacher Pay-gap Gender-related?
Vouchers hurt students in Ohio

HEALTHIER KIDS NEED PLAY, PLAY, AND MORE PLAY

FreshEd with Will Brehm: Let the Children Play (Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle)

Earlier this year I reviewed a book by Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle titled Let the Children Play. On December 2, the authors were interviewed by Will Brehm on his excellent podcast, FreshEd.

The authors’ emphasis during their interview, and the emphasis in their book, is that play is much more important than most Americans realize, and most American children, especially children who live in poverty, don’t have enough time in their day to play. Some excerpts from the podcast…

DOYLE: Play is a fundamental engine of learning for children and if you don’t believe us, think of what the American Academy of Pediatrics said recently, “The lifelong success of children is based on their ability to be creative and to apply the lessons learned from playing.”

SAHLBERG: Things have gotten worse in the lives of children in terms of their access and opportunities to play, and certainly in school.

DOYLE: In the case of New York City, the poorer the school, which means, you know, the more African American and largely Latinx the school is, the more the children are subject to a hideous practice called recess punishment, or recess detention, where recess is literally used as a carrot or an incentive, or behavior modification tool…kids being punished for late homework or…goofing around, and then they have their recess taken away…[but] the research says, the more you let children play, the better they do on standardized tests, and the better they behave in class.

A three-point plan for healthier kids: play, play and more play

On his blog, Salberg reiterated the importance of play.

Quite simply, smartphones and digital media have taken over the time that children used to have for reading and playing outdoors. And all of the benefits of that play time gained cumulatively over the years in a child’s life have been lost as a result.

Research has shown that these benefits include social, interpersonal and resilience skills, as well as creativity and problem-solving that are often mentioned by employers as the most wanted outcomes of school education…

…I suggest a three-point plan.

One, every school must have a minimum of one hour for free play time each day – separate from time to eat.

Two, at home, every child should have outdoor play time of at least one hour every day.

And three, at a policy level, government and education leaders need to ensure the curriculum is structured so there is enough time for free play during school days.

DEVELOPMENTALLY INAPPROPRIATE EDUCATION

It’s Wrong to Force Four and Five Year Olds to Read! Focus on Speaking and Listening Instead!

Play is important, so what do we do here in the US? We’re so test-obsessed that we continue to teach in developmentally inappropriate ways. Nancy Bailey on reading too soon…

With No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core State Standards, some adults have been led to believe that four- and five-year-old children should read by the end of kindergarten. Preschoolers are pushed to be ready for formal reading instruction by the time they enter kindergarten.

This is a dangerous idea rooted in corporate school reform. Children who struggle to read might inaccurately believe they have a problem, or reading could become a chore they hate.

Pushing children to focus on reading means they miss listening and speaking skills, precursors to reading. These skills are developed through play, which leads to interest in words and a reason to want to read.

Some children might learn to read in kindergarten, and others might show up to kindergarten already reading, but many children are not ready to read when they are four or five years old. And just because a child knows how to read in kindergarten, doesn’t mean they won’t have other difficulties with speech and listening.

THE COMMON GOOD

Normally all the items I post on my blog Medleys are articles you can access on the internet. I have one, however, that I want to review and, unless you’re a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education, you won’t be able to read it. Still, it’s worth discussing.

[For those with access, the article below appeared in two consecutive issues of the Kappa Delta Pi Record…Vol 55, no. 3, and no. 4.]

We will never have the kind of schools we would like to have, nor the test scores we want, unless we do something about —

by David C Berliner, Regents’ Professor Emeritus in the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education at Arizona State University.

In 2009, David C. Berliner reported on out of school factors and achievement in K-12 education. The report, Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, discussed seven out-of-school factors related to childhood poverty, which have an impact on student achievement. I refer to that report often in these pages…mostly because it’s generally ignored by policymakers.

Berliner’s report and other research have indicated that out of school factors have a stronger impact on student achievement than either curriculum or school personnel. In the current article, Berliner maintains that out-of-school factors are six times more powerful in determining school achievement than is the strongest in-school factor, personnel.

Essentially, Berliner is saying that we, as a society, need to accept the responsibility for all our children, not just the ones who are related to us. Time to lose the selfish “I, me, mine,” attitude and recognize that fully funded education and reduction of child poverty is necessary for the common good. Our nation benefits when everyone has what they need.

…Our nation has an almost mindless commitment to high-stakes testing, even when everyone in research knows that outside-of-school factors play six times more of a role in determining classroom and school test scores than do the personnel in our public schools. Nevertheless, if we want our public schools to be the best they can be and their test scores to be higher than they are, then we need to do something about making our states better places to live in, to work in, and in which to raise children. Each school district needs to look beyond its own district and worry about opportunities for all our children. The extra taxes needed to improve the education of youth, as I proposed here, are trivial against the benefits of a higher quality of life for us all.

…We will never have the kind of schools we would like to have, nor the test scores we want, unless we do something about housing patterns in America’s communities.

…about access to high-quality early childhood education.

…about our students’ summer school experiences.

…about absenteeism in our schools.

…about pay for qualified educational staff – teachers, bus drivers, counselors, librarians, nurses, social workers, and so forth.

TEACHERS’ PAY GAP — GENDER PAY GAP

What if More Teachers were Male? The Misogynistic Roots of the War on Public Education.

I have long maintained that public school teachers, and by extension, public schools, are disrespected by state legislatures and the general public because teaching is still seen as “women’s work.” That’s why there’s a salary gap of nearly 20% for professionals who teach…similar to the pay gap for women who, in the US earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. Those same policymakers would never use the phrase “women’s work” nor would they admit that gender has anything to do with the lack of respect given to teachers and schools. There is, however, a suspiciously consistent relationship between the gender makeup of the profession, and the way the male-dominated society treats public schools.

Would teachers make more…would schools be better funded, if the profession was dominated by men?

If men made up the majority of the profession, would legislators still go out of their way to push teachers around? Of course, I have no way to prove this, but I’m guessing no. We love to think that America has come a long way towards living up to our creed of equality for all. We have mostly gotten it right on paper. But in reality, any minority group, including women (though they are a minority in status only), will tell you that we still fall woefully short in practice.

There is a good old boys network in the halls of our state legislature. I believe they feel empowered by their machismo to push more and more ridiculous hurdles in front of teachers because they view the teaching profession as soft and feminine–one might even use the word submissive (quite biblical of them, no?).

VOUCHERS HURT OHIO KIDS…SO THEY EXPANDED THE PROGRAM

Ohio Expands Its Failed Voucher Program, and Most School Districts Will Lose Funding

What do you do when the research shows that a privatization program hurts children? If you’re an Ohio legislator, you expand the program.

…the students eligible to leave with a voucher do better if they stay in public school; the students who use the voucher, who come from more advantaged backgrounds, do worse in school.

This is the only statewide evaluation of the Ohio EdChoice Program, and not what one would call a ringing endorsement since those who use the voucher do worse in school than those who stay in public school and don’t use the voucher.

Such research did not impress the Ohio legislature. Under the prodding of State Senator Matt Huffman (R.-Lima), the state has expanded the voucher program, so that students in two-thirds of the districts across the state are now eligible to get state funding to attend a religious school.

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Filed under Article Medleys, CommonGood, Ohio, Play Kid's Work, poverty, Preschool, reading, Sahlberg, TeacherSalary, vouchers, WomenInSociety

Pearl Clutching Over PISA

IT’S STILL POVERTY

The latest PISA scores have been released and edu-pundits are clutching their pearls because “our scores are terrible.” Yet hardly anyone has mentioned that, just like in the past, the scores in the US are lower than many others in the OECD because the US has a high rate of child poverty.

I wrote about this after the last release of PISA scores

The problem that DeVos and others don’t understand, or just simply ignore, is poverty. American public schools accept everyone and test everyone. Not all countries do that. We don’t weed out our poor and low-achieving students as they get older, so everyone gets tested. To be fair, Secretary DeVos might not know this. She never attended a public school and never sent her children to public schools. In her experience, children who weren’t achieving academically might have been weeded out of her private schools. She probably never realized that they were then sent to public schools, where all students are accepted.

The fact is that students who come from backgrounds of poverty don’t achieve as well as students from wealthier backgrounds. And we, in the U.S. are (nearly) Number One in child poverty.

North Carolina blogger Stu Egan (Caffeinated Rage) did notice it this time and posted…

Poverty Affects Schools, No Measurable Differences in 15 Years, And Reforms Have Not Worked: What The PISA Scores Show Us

What DeVos got wrong is that we as a country are not average. We actually do very well when one considers the very things that DeVos is blind to: income gaps, social inequality, and child poverty.

Egan posted these graphs (along with others) from the latest PISA tests. They show that, within each quartile of the PISA index of economic, social and cultural status, the US scores are near the average for the rest of the OECD. Check out his entire post.

In reading, the US 15-year-olds scored a little above the OECD average at each quartile.

In math, the US 15-year-olds scored slightly below the OECD average at each quartile.

We’re not number one. But we’re not “failing” either. If our child poverty rate was lower, we wouldn’t have so many more scores in the lower quartiles and our average scores would be higher.

Egan also includes a long quote from the Economic Policy Institute (from an earlier version of the PISA) which explains things very well. Here’s part of it…

What do international tests really show about U.S. student performance?

Because social class inequality is greater in the United States than in any of the countries with which we can reasonably be compared, the relative performance of U.S. adolescents is better than it appears when countries’ national average performance is conventionally compared.

  • Because in every country, students at the bottom of the social class distribution perform worse than students higher in that distribution, U.S. average performance appears to be relatively low partly because we have so many more test takers from the bottom of the social class distribution.

We won’t be able to climb to the “top” of the PISA rankings as long as we are near the “bottom” of the OECD in child poverty. What we’ve been doing has actually been making things worse.

  • We spend too much time on testing and not enough on teaching.
  • We divert too much of our education funding to the privatization of public schools instead of supporting the common good.
  • We’re so focused on cutting taxes for the wealthy that we don’t have enough money to support our future.

Nothing has changed since I wrote the following in 2017

In his Southern Christian Leadership Conference Presidential Address, on August 16, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. said,

…we are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.

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Filed under OECD, PISA, poverty, Testing

2019 Medley #22

Respecting teachers, Vouchers,
Shaming children, Stuttering,
An ADHD prosthetic, Looking back

RESPECT FOR TEACHERS

Are Teachers Allowed to Think for Themselves?

Teaching isn’t, as some legislators apparently think, professional babysitting. Teachers don’t just “tell” students what they need to know, and students don’t just “remember” everything.

Teaching a class of children — whether they are 6 years old, or 16 — is not easy. To do it well takes training, experience, support, resources, and a fair amount of luck.

Most licensed teachers in Indiana have four-year degrees from accredited university teacher training programs; many have master’s degrees. Yet almost half of all new teachers leave the field within the first five years. Perhaps they didn’t realize that teaching is hard work. Perhaps the hours are too long and they thought they were just getting a 7 – 3:30 job with lots of vacation time. Perhaps the pay isn’t good enough. Perhaps they find out that they’re not cut out for teaching.

The teachers who stay, then, are those who are committed to education. One would think that, with years of training, teachers would be considered experts in their field. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Panels of “education experts” regularly have no teachers on them. The National Reading Panel had only one middle school teacher. The Panel, which explored the way young children learned to read “included no teacher of early reading instruction.”

The National Commission on Education, authors of A Nation at Risk, consisted of twelve administrators, one businessperson, a chemist, a physicist, a politician, a conservative activist, and only one practicing teacher.

This lack of respect for the teaching profession seeps in from the various state legislatures. Teachers in Indiana, for example, are told what to teach, how to teach, and how to assess what they have taught. Then they are blamed for failure when the scores on the assessment (currently ILEARN) are lower than the arbitrary cut scores.

Teaching may be the only profession where you are required to get an advanced degree including a rigorous internship only to be treated like you have no idea what you’re doing.

DIVERTING PUBLIC MONEY TO RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

The Supreme Court Is Considering Forcing You To Fund Religious Education

Since 2011 more than half a billion Indiana taxpayer dollars have gone to fund private and parochial schools despite the fact that vouchers don’t go to “better performing” schools…and despite the fact that the First Amendment (as seen in Madison’s support of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom) establishes a wall between Church and State.

Indiana’s voucher program, like others around the country, is free from any conflict between Church and State because the money is laundered through a parent “voucher” in which the parent “chooses” the school their child will go to. In truth, however, it is the school that does the choosing.

…many religious schools engage in blatant forms of discrimination. They may refuse to admit students who are LGBTQ, nontheists or religious minorities. Many apply similar religious litmus tests to faculty and staff. Unlike public schools, which are open to all, religious schools serve a private interest.

Finally, any diversion of taxpayer money to religious schools threatens the public education system. Public schools serve 90 percent of America’s children. They ought to be our priority when it comes to allocating taxpayer funding.

All of these reasons are important, but at the end of the day, this is an issue of freedom of conscience. Our founders understood that no one should be forced to support religion against his or her will. It’s one of the primary reasons why they built church-state separation into the First Amendment. The Supreme Court must not abandon this vital principle.

STOP BLAMING KIDS FOR THE IMPACT OF POVERTY

Penalizing kids for school lunch debt can harm their mental health

Nearly half of Indiana’s children are low income; more than one in five live in poverty. With this many children coming from homes without a lot of money, it’s even more important for schools to remember that it is not the student’s fault if their lunch bill isn’t paid. We have to stop blaming children for the impact of poverty on their lives.

Even when parents have enough money it’s not the child’s fault when parents are late with their payment.

Facing stigma around school lunches can negatively impact kids’ mental health, stress levels, and overall cafeteria experience, Cohen says. That’s seen with kids who feel labeled by receiving school lunch, for example. “When we remove that stigma, it makes a big difference in kids’ lives.” Some schools do so by giving all students cafeteria swipe cards so that it’s not apparent who is or is not paying for the meal. On the whole, Cohen says schools are getting better at free meals, but not lunch debt. “When you give a kid a cheese sandwich, you’re bringing that stigma back.”

ARE SOME OF JOE’S GAFFES SIMPLY COVERING UP HIS STUTTERING?

What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say

I’m not going to comment on Vice President Biden’s education plans, but this article about his history of stuttering might explain some of his hesitations, and misstatements. “He lifts his hands up to his face like he did on the debate stage in July, to guide the v sound out of his mouth…”

“The paragraph I had to read was: ‘Sir Walter Raleigh was a gentleman. He laid his cloak upon the muddy road suh-suh-so the lady wouldn’t soil her shoes when she entered the carriage,’” Biden tells me, slightly and unintentionally tripping up on the word so. “And I said, ‘Sir Walter Raleigh was a gentle man who—’ and then the nun said, ‘Mr. Biden, what is that word?’ And it was gentleman that she wanted me to say, not gentle man. And she said, ‘Mr. Buh-Buh-Buh-Biden, what’s that word?’ ”

Biden says he rose from his desk and left the classroom in protest, then walked home. The family story is that his mother, Jean, drove him back to school and confronted the nun with the made-for-TV phrase “You do that again, I’ll knock your bonnet off your head!” I ask Biden what went through his mind as the nun mocked him.

“Anger, rage, humiliation,” he says. His speech becomes staccato. “A feeling of, uh—like I’m sure you’ve experienced—it just drops out of your chest, just, like, you feel … a void.” He lifts his hands up to his face like he did on the debate stage in July, to guide the v sound out of his mouth: void.

I stuttered. I stutter.

Blogger Fred Klonsky says he plans to vote against Biden in the primary election, but understands first hand that the story of Biden’s stuttering is a story about how we treat children with differences.

But Atlantic’s senior editor, who has a stutter himself, has written an article that is about way more than Biden.

It is about how we treat differences.

And it is about me, since I had a severe stutter as a child and I still stutter when I am tired or stressed.

TREATMENT AS AN ADHD PROSTHETIC

What Is an ADHD Prosthetic?

Is medication for ADHD a “crutch?”

“My concern,” the parent continued. “Is that if we get him glasses, we are sending him the message that it’s okay not to try to see. It feels like an excuse. Like we’re enabling him. I mean, he has to learn to see someday, right? He can’t go through life using his poor vision as an excuse not to see.”

A LOOK BACK AT CHANGE THAT HASN’T HAPPENED

School Choice Opponents and the Status Quo

This quote from a June 2017 blog post is a good reminder that not much has changed in the field of public education. There are still those of us who “continue to point out that poverty is the real issue in education” and there are still politicians who refuse to take their share of the responsibility for that poverty. Apparently, politicians think that schools are the sole public institution responsible for overcoming the effects of poverty. If they can’t, then they are blamed, castigated, taken over by the state, or privatized…none of which changes a damn thing.

Meanwhile, nearly 20% of America’s children live in poverty. If we include “low income” children the number doubles….for Black, Hispanic and American Indian children, it triples. The relationship between school success to economic status is well known, but they still blame the schools and teachers.

…To point out the obvious, that poverty is the number one cause of educational inequity, does not make me a champion for the status quo. It simply means that I will not fall prey to the false promise of super-teachers, standardized test driven accountability, merit pay, charter schools, and vouchers, all of which are futile efforts to put a thumb in the overflowing dyke that is systematic discrimination, segregation, income inequity, and, yes, poverty.

Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success

We can’t ignore the impact of poverty on our students’ achievement.

From March 2009

The U.S. has set as a national goal the narrowing of the achievement gap between lower income and middle-class students, and that between racial and ethnic groups. This is a key purpose of the No Child Left Behind act, which relies primarily on assessment to promote changes within schools to accomplish that goal. However, out-of-school factors (OSFs) play a powerful role in generating existing achievement gaps, and if these factors are not attended to with equal vigor, our national aspirations will be thwarted.

This brief details six OSFs common among the poor that significantly affect the health and learning opportunities of children, and accordingly limit what schools can accomplish on their own: (1) low birth-weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children; (2) inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance; (3) food insecurity; (4) environmental pollutants; (5) family relations and family stress; and (6) neighborhood characteristics. These OSFs are related to a host of poverty-induced physical, sociological, and psychological problems that children often bring to school, ranging from neurological damage and attention disorders to excessive absenteeism, linguistic underdevelopment, and oppositional behavior.

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Filed under ADHD, Article Medleys, Choice, poverty, Speech&Language, Teaching Career, vouchers

Thoughts on #Red for Ed

RED FOR ED RALLY IN INDIANAPOLIS – NOW WHAT?

Thousands of teachers, parents, and public education advocates rally in Indianapolis
November 19, 2019 

How many of the 15,000 – 20,000 Indiana teachers, ESPs, parents, and supporters of public education who rallied at the Capitol on Nov. 19, and the additional thousands who “wore Red for Ed” in their local communities, will fall back into the pattern of voting for the supermajority candidates who brought public school teachers, and public schools…

  • the loss of seniority and lessening the value of experience or advanced degrees on salary schedules
  • declining salaries (when adjusted for inflation)
  • the loss of the right to collective bargain things like class size, prep time, and supervision
  • the loss of due process
  • the overuse and misuse of standardized testing
  • the diversion of public education funds to charter and voucher schools
  • teacher evaluations and school grades based on test scores
  • and, beginning in 2020, Governor-appointed majority (8 out of 10) on the state school board as well as a Governor-appointed state superintendent of public instruction.

THIS STATE REALLY HATES PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS

The current make-up of the state government is blatantly disrespectful of public education and public school teachers.

That is why the Governor’s teacher-pay task force has no active educator on its panel.

That is why public schools, which educate 90% of Indiana’s children, will get a 2% increase in both 2020 and 2021 while charter schools (10.3% and 10.47%), virtual schools (5.25% and 9.14%) and private/parochial school vouchers (9.28% and 5.6%) will get much higher increases. Those percentages certainly show where the state’s priorities lie.

That’s why Indiana teachers, of all the nation’s teachers, have seen the lowest amount of money in teacher raises since 2002.

That’s why you can become a teacher in a public high school in Indiana without a degree in education or pedagogical training.

That’s why you can become a teacher in a charter school in Indiana without a degree in education or pedagogical training.

That’s why Indiana’s testing programs, which seem to change yearly, continue to label students, schools, and school districts as failures because they have high populations of children in need. The assumption is that schools must cure the problems caused by poverty, not the legislature, even though out of school factors have a powerful impact on student achievement.

That’s why Indiana has singled out teachers as the only group of professionals in the state who need to donate some of their time to local businesses in order to learn how the “real world” works. Every Hoosier teacher is aware that neither the Governor nor members of the legislature are required to donate some of their time to public schools in order to learn how they work.

That’s why the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the person who is responsible for all the public schools in Indiana, will henceforth be a position appointed by the Governor instead of being an elected official. Some states with appointed State Superintendents have elected State Board of Education members. Some states with appointed State Board of Education members have elected State Superintendents. Indiana now has neither. They are all appointed.

HOW ARE YOU SUPPORTING OUR KIDS?

How many of the “Red for Ed” supporters will disregard Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson’s words,

The presidential campaign may receive the most attention, but on this issue, it is not the most important. Take a look at how your state representatives have voted when it comes to funding public education and supporting teachers. You might be surprised at how the people you voted for may say the right things in mailers or commercials or even to your face but vote the other way.

When educators band together for a cause, they can make a difference. Look at the 2012 election for State Superintendent of Public Instruction: A change was made because educators and friends of educators banded together. It can happen again, but only if you carry on what you start on Nov. 19.

Educators, parents, and supporters of public education in Indiana cannot continue to elect the enemies of public education to the state legislature.

If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we’ve always gotten.

‘Great day’ for teachers

As the rally wrapped up, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick posted the following to her Twitter account:

“Great day today, Indiana. Now … it’s about the tomorrows.”

Alison Schwartz, a senior elementary education major from Ball State University, said of the Red for Ed Rally,

This is important because our teachers are important, and our kids are important. If you can’t fully fund your teachers and your schools and support them, then how are you supporting your kids?

We need to support our kids…at the ballot box in November of 2020.

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Filed under #RedforEd, IN Gen.Assembly, Indiana, REPA, TeacherSalary, Teaching Career

Time to Panic? The NAEP Scores Didn’t Go Up!

The NAEP scores are in and the “reformers,” or as Diane Ravitch has taken to calling them, the “Disrupters” are up in arms because the scores haven’t improved. The disrupters promised all of us that charter schools, testing, vouchers, and other “reforms” would solve the low achievement scores, but as we now can see, that didn’t happen. Perhaps there’s something else that might be affecting the achievement of the students in our classrooms…

When reading through the articles noted below it’s important to remember two things.

First, the National Reading Panel did not support heavy phonics instruction despite what “phonics-first” partisans might tell you. It’s true, the National Reading Panel Summary said that a phonics-based approach was supported, however, that was different than what was actually in the full National Reading Panel report! (See also I Told You So! The Misinterpretation and Misuse of The National Reading Panel Report by NRP Panel member, Joanne Yatvin and More Smoke and Mirrors: A Critique of the National Reading Panel (NRP) Report on “Fluency” by Stephen Krashen.)

The actual National Reading Panel Report says (p. 2-97),

…it is important to emphasize that systematic phonics instruction should be integrated with other reading instruction to create a balanced reading program. Phonics instruction is never a total reading program. [emphasis added]

So…the NRP recommends something akin to Balanced Literacy…something the “phonics-firsters” decry as “unscientific.”

Second, as Steven Singer (Gadfly on the Wall Blog) reminds us, NAEP proficient level isn’t the same as grade-level. Diane Ravitch, who served on the NAEP Governing Board for seven years explains it this way

Proficient is akin to a solid A. In reading, the proportion who were proficient in fourth grade reading rose from 29% in 1992 to 34% in 2011. The proportion proficient in eighth grade also rose from 29% to 34% in those years. In math, the proportion in fourth grade who were proficient rose from 18% to 40% in the past twenty years, an absolutely astonishing improvement. In eighth grade, the proportion proficient in math went from 21% in 1992 to an amazing 35% in 2011.

Basic is akin to a B or C level performance…

In other words, Proficient is the level where the highest-scoring students achieve. Basic is closer to what we think of as “grade-level.”

NAEP scores and “the science of reading”

The miniscule changes in reading scores since 2015 are interpreted in “National Reading Emergency” as a reason to embrace “the science of reading,” which is code for heavy phonics instruction. The real “science of reading,” based on a substantial amount of research, consistently shows that intensive phonics instruction produces strong results only on tests in which children pronounce words out of context. It has little or no impact on tests in which children have to understand what they read.

The best predictor of performance on tests in which children have to understand what they read is real reading, especially self-selected reading.

The Big Lie about the “Science of Reading”: NAEP 2019 Edition

Paul Thomas’s bullet points below are a good summary of why the NAEP scores do not signal a “national emergency.”

With the release of 2019 NAEP data, as we should expect, the same folk are back at over-reacting and misunderstanding standardized reading test data (mostly mainstream media), and dyslexia/phonics advocates are cherry picking evidence to reinforce their ideological advocacy.

All in all, these responses to NAEP data are lazy, and incredibly harmful.

Broadly, responses by the media and advocates have been overly simplistic, and lacking even a modicum of effort to tease out in a scientific way (ironic, eh?) mere correlations from actual causal associations among student demographics, reading policy, reading programs, the fidelity of implementing policy/programs, NAEP testing quality (how valid a proxy is NAEP reading tests for critical reading ability?), etc.

…Only fair things to say about new round of NAEP reading scores:

• The US has never had a period over the last 100 years when we said “reading scores are where they should be.”

• There is always a claim of “reading crisis.”

• This is irrespective of how reading is taught.

• NAEP scores, like all standardized test scores, are mostly (60% +) correlated to out-of-school factors.

• NAEP scores only marginally about student achievement/reading, teacher/teaching quality, reading program effectiveness.

• NAEP scores are very pale proxies of reading

This is a good place (see bullet #4, above) to remind you to read Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, by David C. Berliner. Unfortunately, little has changed since the report was first published in 2009.

Organizations with the Audacity to Blame Teachers for Poor NAEP Reading Scores!

The low scores are, as they always have been, just another excuse to blame teachers, label schools as “failing”, and promote the privatization of public education.

The latest “criticize teachers for not teaching the ‘science’ of reading” can be found in “Schools Should Follow the ‘Science of Reading,’ say National Education Groups” in the Gates funded Education Week.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds most of the organizations in this report that criticize public schools and teachers for low NAEP scores. Yet they are behind the Common Core State Standards, which appear to be an abysmal failure.

Most individuals and groups never teach children themselves, but they create policies that affect how and what teachers are forced to teach. They have always been about privatizing public education.

Reading instruction is the conduit for corporate school reformers to reach their privatization goals.

NAEP Test Scores Show How Stupid We Are… To Pay Attention to NAEP Test Scores

The US Education Secretary, she who must not be named, is, of course, ignorant about what testing in general means, what “grade-level” means, and what the NAEP scores mean specifically. It’s time we replace her with someone who actually knows something about the education of children.

[Note: While the current US Education Secretary is certainly the worst person we’ve ever had in charge of the nation’s K-12 public schools, she’s not the only Secretary of Education who displayed ignorance of the field of education. In fact, only three of the eleven Secretaries of Education had training and experience in the field of K-12 education.]

Education Blogger Peter Greene claims that this move is based on a reading comprehension problem the Education Secretary is having, herself.

She says that the NAEP results mean that 2/3 of American students read below grade level. However, Greene points out that she is conflating two different things – grade level proficiency and NAEP proficiency.

Here’s what the NAEP wrote:

“The NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade-level proficiency, but rather competency over challenging subject matter. NAEP Achievement levels are to be used on a trial basis and should be interpreted and used with caution.”

Which kind of begs the question of why we need these scores in the first place.

📝🚌📝

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Listen to this – 2019 #2

Meaningful quotes…

RED FOR ED IN INDIANA

On November 19th, thousands of teachers across Indiana will converge on the state capital in Indianapolis, or gather in their local communities to draw attention to the lack of government support for public education in Indiana.

Indiana teachers, through the Indiana State Teachers Association, sponsors of the event, have several priorities.

  • Don’t blame Indiana teachers for student performance on tests. There are too many variables that have an impact on test scores to single out teachers as the only, or even the main cause. 
  • Repeal the requirement for teachers to spend their valuable time as business interns in their communities. 
  • Stop the move to grade school systems and schools based on what their students do after graduation. Again, there are too many variables in students’ lives to assume that schools are the only cause of their choices after they graduate.

Hundreds of school systems throughout the state have canceled classes for the day to allow teachers to participate including the largest district in the state, Fort Wayne Community Schools. When FWCS decided to close their Superintendent, Wendy Robinson, Indiana’s 2018 Superintendent of the Year, wrote a letter to teachers which was published locally. In it, she reminded teachers that a one-day march was not enough to change the culture of education in the state.

From Wendy Robinson, Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools
FWCS to close for Red for Ed Day

The State did not reach this point with public education overnight, and it won’t be fixed in a day. There has been a long, concerted effort to systematically dismantle public education through standardized testing, constantly changing accountability systems and pouring money into private schools. We have been sounding the warnings for years. To change things now will require just as much planning and effort, if not more. True change will only come through legislative action, and that won’t happen if the same people continue to have control of the rule book.

PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC EDUCATION

From Alfie Kohn
@alfiekohn

The late James Moffett suggested this slogan for elite, selective schools: “Send us winners and we’ll make winners out of them!”

From Heather DuBois Bourenane
Executive Director at Wisconsin Public Education Network

They call them ‘innovation schools” because they are an innovative way to remove local control, remove public oversight of public funds, place public property and decision-making under private control, and convince the public that failed old ideas are good and new ideas.

From William J. Mathis
in Beat the dead horse harder

…schools were mandated to solve the test score problem. The trouble was that the policymakers got it backwards. Poverty prevents learning. It is the threshold issue. Without resorting to what we knew, the dead horse was beaten once more with the No Child Left Behind Act. We adopted the Common Core curriculum, punished schools, and fired principals and teachers whose misfortune was being assigned to a school with high concentrations of needy children. It was literally expected that a child from a broken home, hungry and with ADHD would be ready to sit down and learn quadratic equations. Nevertheless, the test-based school accountability approach emerged and still remains the dominant school philosophy. While it is claimed that successful applications exist, the research has not been found that says poverty can be overcome by beating the dead horse. The irony is that the tests themselves show that a test based system is not a successful reform strategy.

From Peter Greene…in answer to Betsy DeVos
in DeVosian NAEP Nonsense

No. For three decades you and many others have used aggressive chicken littling as leverage to remake education in your preferred image. You said, “Let us have our way and NAEP scores will shoot up like daisies in springtime.” Do not even pretend to suggest that you have somehow been hammering fruitlessly on the doors of education, wailing your warnings and being ignored. The current status quo in education is yours. You built it and you own it and you don’t get to pretend that’s not true as a way to avoid accountability for the results.

From Doug Masson
in Some thoughts on Red for Ed, Caleb Mills, and Indiana’s School Policies

The privatization fad isn’t working. Voucher and charter schools do not produce better results than traditional public schools and there is some evidence that they produce worse outcomes. A fractured approach to education cannot produce consistent results. If we’re looking to be responsible with our money, we can’t afford to have education dollars sucked up by self-dealing charter management companies with opaque accounting or vouchers sent to private institutions with books closed to the public. We can’t spend tens of millions of dollars on tests with arbitrary faulty metrics

LIFELONG LEARNING

Vlogger John Green talks about learning new things, communication, friendship, innocence, and connections.

From John Green
in still learning

…I still like learning even at my extremely advanced age because new learning can reshape old learning and because learning is a way of seeing connection. And all the little connections across time and space are reminders to me of how deeply connected we all are.

ON TEACHING

From Steven Singer
in Are Teachers Allowed to Think for Themselves?

Teaching may be the only profession where you are required to get an advanced degree including a rigorous internship only to be treated like you have no idea what you’re doing.

🎤🎧🎤

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Filed under DeVos, NAEP, Privatization, Quotes, SchoolFunding, Teaching Career, Testing

Some Questions for the Ohio House of Representatives

The Ohio House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prevent public school students from being penalized for their religious beliefs in science (and, I presume any other) class. In other words, a student in a geology class could assert that the Earth was 6,000 years old…a student taking astronomy could claim that the stars are simply luminous elements that move above the flat surface of the Earth above the sun, the moon, and the planets…and not be penalized on their research papers or tests.

So…I have some questions…

WOULD A TEACHER HAVE TO ACCEPT ALL RELIGIOUS BELIEFS?

Ohio Snowflakes Seek Safe Space from Science

If one student claims that both male and female humans were created after all the other creatures (Genesis 1:1 through 2:3) and another one claims that male humans were created before plants and animals, and female human beings were created after (Genesis 2:4-2:25) would they both be entitled to a correct grade?

How about a student who claimed that the Universe (and the Earth) was created by the god Ptah, who brought things into existence just by imagining them? Or that the Earth was created by the god Atum, who had sex with his [sic] own feminine energy and brought forth other gods…who then had sex and gave birth to the air, water, humans and everything else?

The Ohio House on Wednesday passed the “Student Religious Liberties Act.” Under the law, students can’t be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs.

Instead, students are graded on substance and relevance.

Every Republican in the House supported the bill. It now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING ANY SCIENTIFIC CURRICULUM?

Ohio Considers Law Allowing Wrong Answers on Science if Based on Religion

Do we accept answers from students who variously claim that the Universe/Earth is 41,000 years old, 24 trillion years old, or 6,000 years old? If so, what’s the point of having any scientific curriculum dealing with the age of the Earth?

The potential for problems is virtually limitless. People believe all sorts of falsehoods based on their religious beliefs — that the earth is flat and is the center of the universe, for example. To sacrifice the truth on the altar of religion is a betrayal of the school’s duty to educate.

SHOULD STUDENTS BE ALLOWED TO IGNORE WHAT THEY DON’T BELIEVE?

Ohio lawmakers clear bill critics say could expand religion in public schools

The following bullets explain parts of the proposed law.

HB 164, known as the Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019:

  • Requires public schools to give students the same access to facilities if they want to meet for religious expression as they’d give secular groups.
  • Removes a provision that allows school districts to limit religious expression to lunch periods or other non-instructional times.
  • Allows students to engage in religious expression before, during and after school hours to the same extent as a student in secular activities or expression.
  • Prohibits schools from restricting a student from engaging in religious expression in completion of homework, artwork and other assignments.

Bullet #1: The federal equal access law already provides for allowing religious groups to meet if secular groups are given the same rights.

Bullets #2, 3, and 4: Students are already allowed to express their own religious beliefs in school based on the First Amendment. This does not mean, however, that students can disrupt the learning process to express their religious beliefs. Additionally, the First Amendment gives students the right to express their religious beliefs in their work, while still being graded based on the requirements of the assignment.

In other words, this is a law looking for a reason. Students are guaranteed by Federal Law and the Constitution the right to express their beliefs and to believe what they want. This does not mean, however, that they should ignore accepted science if they don’t believe it.

So, if this bill passes the Senate, teachers will not be able to mark religious beliefs incorrect if they differ from current scientific facts?

On the other hand, Daniels said that if a student submitted biology homework saying the earth is 10,000 years old, as some creationists believe, the teacher cannot dock points.

“Under HB 164, the answer is ‘no,’ as this legislation clearly states the instructor ‘shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work,” he said.

There is no need for this. A student who is assigned a paper on the structure of the Solar System does not give up their right to believe in a flat Earth, or a Geocentric universe, or that the Earth was created on the back of a giant turtle, simply by writing that science accepts the Earth revolves around the Sun, which revolves around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. There is no educationally sound reason to insist that students not be held accountable for scientific facts as are currently accepted. Why even teach science (which is, I suspect, one of the reasons for this bill in the first place — an anti-science attitude)?

WHICH RELIGIONS ARE THE RIGHT ONES?

There is a reason that the founders fought to keep Church and State separate. Once we allow religion to interfere with the public school curriculum we would have to deal with questions like

  • “whose religion is accepted as accurate for tests?”
  • “who decides which religions are allowed as sources of content?”
  • “which religions are to be defined as cults or unacceptable? In other words, which religions are not really religions?”

Keeping religion out of public school doesn’t deny students the right to their own beliefs…it guarantees it.

Students can believe what they want, despite what they are taught, but schools, or the adults in them, cannot decide which beliefs are acceptable and which are not. Public schools have a responsibility to teach secular science as we know it. Parents who don’t want their children exposed to reality should home school them, or send them to a religious school — at their own expense — which presents the religious beliefs they agree with.

The Ohio Senate would be wise to reject this bill.

⛪️∕🏛

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