Monday, June 29, 2015

New Blog Tells it Right: the Education Reformers are Humpty Dumpty Reformers

A zesty new blog, WagTheDog, with a catchy name, vigornotrigor in the URL, has a good article critique today's teacher evaluation systems, along with the thinking that drives these kinds of "reforms."

Here is the essential beginning:

EFFECTIVE teachers are continually learning and DEVELOPING

The dictionary says developing means to grow, advance, and mature. In NY State a  teacher rated developing is not considered to be effective and a teacher improvement plan (TIP) must be implemented the following school year.
developing
On any given day a teachers interactions with students can range from INEFFECTIVE to HIGHLY EFFECTIVE and ideally all teachers are continually learning and DEVELOPING.
Using a single standardized test score along with three to five classroom observations over the course of a 180-day school year is clearly an unreliable and INEFFECTIVE way to measure student learning and teacher quality.
Americans have been “sold” the Common Core by leaders who have carefully crafted and regulated the words, language, and narrative of the education reform movement. As Humpty Dumpty declared…
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master—that’s all.’
~ Lewis Carroll, “Through The Looking-Glass”
Humpty_Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty leaders with their penchant for doublethink rely on a litany of terms and  “educationese” to justify and sell their reforms to trusting parents using reinvented and redefined terms and phrases such as grit, rigor, college and career ready, data driven, personalized learning, flipped, 21st century skills, transformational, close reading, dive in, student learning outcomes, domain, unpack, complexity, human capital  leaving  parents and teachers confused and wondering why don’t reformers just…

Humpty Dumpty reformers claim the Common Core will ensure career readiness yet the standards do not call for additional trade/vocational pathways and job shadowing, apprenticeships, internships, job mentoring, work-based learning are nowhere to be found in the standards.
Humpty Dumpty reformers like Arne Duncan maintain that there is too much emphasis on testing and test prep…
“But the larger issue is, testing should never be the main focus of our schools…Yet in too many places, testing itself has become a distraction from the work it is meant to support…I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools..”
While David Coleman, the chief architect of the Common Core Standards declares in a 2011 Keynote Speech that the standards are designed to be measured by tests and teachers are expected to teach to them…
“… these standards are worthy of nothing if the assessments built on them are not worthy of teaching to, period…
There is no force strong enough on this earth to prevent that. There is no amount of hand-waving, there‟s no amount of saying, “They teach to the standards, not the test; we don‟t do that here.” Whatever. The truth is – and if I misrepresent you, you are welcome to take the mic back. But the truth is teachers do.
Tests exert an enormous effect on instructional practice, direct and indirect, and its hence our obligation to make tests that are worthy of that kind of attention.”
Humpty Dumpty reformers claim to support the Common Core with its single track college prep mandate for all students “ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.” while making inconsistent and contradictory statements like…
The Common Core will – by design – make some courses more difficult for many students, and for marginal students that may be enough to nudge them out of school altogether.
The Common Core Will Not Double the Dropout Rate ~ Paul Bruno
What if encouraging students to take a shot at the college track—despite very long odds of crossing its finish line—does them more harm than good? What if our own hyper-credentialed life experiences and ideologies are blinding us to alternative pathways to the middle class?…
“Kid, I’m Sorry, but You’re Just Not College Material” Is exactly what we should be telling a lot of high school students. ~ Michael Petrilli
Humpty Dumpty reformers say education reform and standardized testing is a civil rights issue while threatening to punish civil disobedient children and parents who opt out of standardized tests and placing gag orders on students and teachers to restrict and prevent them from discussing the poorly designed and written tests.
“Students in grades 3-8 are required by New York State to take standardized tests annually. No students should be required, however, to take tests that subject them to hidden advertising.
Clearly the trademarked products mentioned throughout the exam had no relevance to the stated goals of testing students’ reading comprehension and analytical skills. Surely Pearson can afford to edit standardized tests and remove all mention of trademarked products.”
Eighth grader: What bothered me most about the Common Core test, Isaiah Schrader 5/8/13
In the Humpty Dumpty world of the Common Core, “level the playing field” means providing accommodations for learning disabled students during classroom instruction and assessment AND denying those same accommodations during standardized testing at the end of the school year.
Humpty Dumpty reformers like Arne Duncan justify testing learning disabled students at their grade level without accommodations rather than their instructional level, by relying on sensational and unsubstantiated claims…
“The Obama administration said Tuesday that the vast majority of the 6.5 million students with disabilities in U.S. schools today are not receiving a quality education, and that it will hold states accountable for demonstrating that those students are making progress…
Under the new guidelines, Duncan says he’ll require proof that these kids aren’t just being served but are actually making academic progress.
“We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel,” Duncan said.
These are students with a range of disabilities, from ADHD and dyslexia to developmental, emotional and behavioral disorders. During his conference call with reporters, Duncan was joined by Kevin Huffman, Tennessee’s education commissioner.
Huffman challenged the prevailing view that most special education students lag behind because of their disabilities. He said most lag behind because they’re not expected to succeed if they’re given more demanding schoolwork and because they’re seldom tested.”
Claudio Sanchez, “A ‘Major Shift’ In Oversight Of Special Education” 6/24/14 
Humpty Dumpty reformers claim the lack of academic progress and poor performance of learning disabled students on grade level standardized tests without accommodations is proof these students are receiving a substandard education and they are not being tested enough.
In contrast, The National Center for Learning Disabilities has reported on the lifelong challenges faced by learning disabled students and that individual academic progress may be incremental and inconsistent depending on the accommodations and services provided to the student, and the specific nature and severity of the disability.
“In an ideal world, students who struggle are able to overcome their challenges and grow to become adults who enjoy personal satisfaction, high self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and productive relationships within their families and in the general community. If only this was the case…
No matter how many times it’s been said, it needs to be repeated again and again: learning disabilities do not go away, and LD is a problem with lifelong implications.
Addressing features of LD during the early years can indeed help to circumvent and minimize struggles later in life, but we know that problems with listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, math and sometimes social skills can persist, even after years of special education instruction and support.”
While I fully support holding all students to the same high academic standards, I do not believe it is fair to deny learning disabled students testing accommodations that enable them to equally “access” the readings and questions on the test so they can fully demonstrate their knowledge and critical thinking skills.
untitledpol
Humpty Dumpty reformers convince parents that students must close read in order to be ready for college and careers while the National Institute for Literacy Equipped For the Future (EFF) program has determined that Reading With Understanding is a more appropriate skill because..
“The Common Core focuses on academic (and to some extent, vocational) purposes for all, while EFF contextualizes skills within a fuller range of adult family-related, work-related, and civic purposes at all levels…
Another key area of difference is in what the “standard” attempts to describe. Each EFF content standard describes a transferable skill process that can be applied to a wide variety of adult purposes and tasks…
In contrast, the Common Core documents target discrete skills and sub-skills which, like other sets of K-12 standards, may lead teachers to focus only on each sub-skill and not also provide learning activities which help students apply and transfer their skills outside of the immediate learning situation…”
Humpty Dumpty reformers claim in one breath that the Common Core-aligned PARCC assessments determine whether students are “on track” for college and careers while admitting in another breath that the tests are not a comprehensive or reliable means of measuring college and career readiness
Humpty Dumpty reformers promote and sell Personalized Learning as a way to catch up delayed and disabled students via technology and digital tools that deliver and pace course materials according to individual academic needs and abilities.
“Many fans of education technology believe that specialized technology is the most effective way to deliver “differentiated” instruction that is “individualized,” or “personalized” to a large number of learners, with diverse backgrounds and learning styles…
Personalized learning means instruction is paced to learning needs, tailored to learning preferences, and tailored to the specific interests of different learners.
In an environment that is fully personalized, the learning objectives and content as well as the method and pace may all vary (so personalization encompasses differentiation and individualization).”
While Humpty Dumpty reformers convince parents that more screen time is actually a good thing for young children who are still developing critical social and emotional skills, ed tech leaders send their children to schools that shun technology.
“The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.
But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.
Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.”
A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” Matt Richtel, NY Times, October 2011

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