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Old 11-04-2007, 04:03 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally posted by martha
Did you get your promotion making these kinds of assumptions?
No I got my promossion by busting my ass for kids.


[Q]This is the major thing wrong with both NCLB and the non-teachers who love it: The insistance that teachers work for free. It has nothing whatsoever to do with "teamwork" and everything to do with underfunded federal mandates. This unpaid work is unfair to the teachers AND to administrators. [/Q]

They would disagree with you. I have actually battled them for doing too much. THe first three day weekend I would not open the building, they got upset with me.


[Q]Dread, you know as well as I do that all education is local.

What works for your students may not work for my students, and reducing students to a plie of DATA isn't serving anyone. It's jumping through the federal hoops that are killing learning and teaching and innovation. [/B][/Q]

My staff would argue that DATA should be used to measure learning. They would argue that too long eduaction has focused on the teaching, verses student learning. They would argue that if you measure the learning, evaluate the learning, and use the data to drive instruction. This prinicpal has nothing to do with your location or mine. The results of the data may indicate one thing to you because of your demographics, and something else to my staff. The main idea is that they are constantly evaluating learning and changing instruction based on frequent formative assessments more than the summative assessments. If you are not basing instruction on formative results, then u are reducing it to the summative NCLB. So in principal, yes, what may work in your local may not work here....but they would argue firmly with you that DATA about LEARNING has to be the driving force behind what occurs daily in the classroom.
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Old 11-04-2007, 04:55 PM   #32
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Dread, accountability does not have to come in the form of numbers. Minds and learning simply are not standard. We need to continue devloping ways of measuring that are more authentic than approaches like NCLB, its various predecessors, or Virginia's SOLs (standards of learning) allow.

A test on math can tell me if kids can add and multiply or even do albegra. It will never be able to tell me if kids have a clue why math matters. Why did people come up with it, anyway? What problems does it solve? We need to create curriculum around AUTHENTIC PROBLEMS and no true/false or mult. choice test for Richmond (or insert your state capital here) will every tell us that.
They simply cannot measure what MATTERS which is critical and creative thinking. And until educational leaders admit this and embrace more authentic means of holding kids and teachers accountable, our dropout rates will remain low and employers will continue to have a point when they bitch that we're sending them folks who can test but can't think.

Our standarized system is the product of a microwave instant culture and is meant to serve the needs of politicians and administrators, not kids.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:22 PM   #33
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Originally posted by Sherry Darling
Dread, accountability does not have to come in the form of numbers. Minds and learning simply are not standard. We need to continue devloping ways of measuring that are more authentic than approaches like NCLB, its various predecessors, or Virginia's SOLs (standards of learning) allow.
Hence my comment about frequent formative assessment verses a summative standardized test.

Good article on Formative & Summative Assessment:

http://www.nmsa.org/Publications/Web...0/Default.aspx

I fail to see how anything I said means standardized testing is be and end all.

NCLB is about accountability. There should be accountability for a set standard of skills that schools should be held accountable. There should be accountability to the subgroups of students, be they African American, Hispanic, or from a Free and Reduced Lunch population.

If teachers are using frequent formative assessment to drive insturuction, then the NCLB (summative) falls into place.

If you are trying to improve a subgroup - you should be measuring constantly to see if your strategies for reaching the subgroup work. Until your formative assessments indicate learning is happening, staff should constantly be evaluating the methodology of their lessons.

You cannot make the necessary changes using any summative, NCLB test to drive your instructional practices. You can use it to identify areas of weakness, but you have to constantly be working as a staff to see if anything you are doing works.

I would also argue, that the written component of the MCAS test, is more than a standardized multiple choice test. Since every state creates their own assessment for NCLB, I can not say for certain if other states have any kind of authentic assessment the way I feel the MCAS does.

This is why I refer to the NAEP. It is the only common assessment that all of the states are using. It has been used for more than thirty years, and is an excellent measure of how we are doing nationwide.

Interestingly enough, many of the southern states have shown growth and improvement over the last three years in the area of instructing Free and Reduces Lunch populations.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:24 PM   #34
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Originally posted by Sherry Darling

They simply cannot measure what MATTERS which is critical and creative thinking. And until educational leaders admit this and embrace more authentic means of holding kids and teachers accountable, our dropout rates will remain low and employers will continue to have a point when they bitch that we're sending them folks who can test but can't think.
I believe this can be measured. There are plenty of open response measures that can be used to measure application of concepts.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:25 PM   #35
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Originally posted by Sherry Darling
Our standarized system is the product of a microwave instant culture and is meant to serve the needs of politicians and administrators, not kids.
Well I know how much my opinion was wanted. I complete regret participating in this thread.

I resent any implication that I or any other administrator I work with is not working for the interests of children. That comment, as politely as it was written, is an insult to myself, and everything I work for on a daily basis.

Things were so much better when every teacher was an island, and chose to teach what they wanted without any accountability at all.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:27 PM   #36
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Originally posted by Dreadsox
The title of the thread, poverty and education, and the article seem to me to have more to do with private schools for white children, lower scores via NAEP standards, and segregation. Not Pelosi, NCLB ect.
Yes.

Perhaps I shouldn't have posted the second article--I'll admit I tried it partly because the first one seemed to be a total non-conversation-starter, and since everyone always seems to have an opinion on NCLB and the second article seemed to be locating NCLB in the context of the first (hence the bolded quote, which I did not intend as an endorsement of Spellings' preferred solutions), I thought maybe I'd toss that in too and see if it attracted any comment.

I apologize if I created a misleading impression of the kind of discussion I intended to start by doing so. Basically, I was hoping for a discussion of how our public schools can better address the needs of lower-income students. I very much appreciate everyone's comments on that topic so far.

While I understand that standardized test scores have their flaws as a way to measure students' progess towards preparedness for higher education and/or the job market, I'm also concerned that dismissing them altogether winds up being a way of avoiding dealing with the reality that lower-income kids are being left behind, and not getting the best shot they could at being prepared to go where they want to go in life. I appreciate that poor parental support of education and chaotic home environments are major aggravants, and that it's unfair to expect teachers to have magic-bullet "remedies" for those...but I also very much appreciate getting some perspective from teachers as to what the differences they notice are, what they think can be done, and which existing strategies do (and which don't) benefit lower-income students in their experience.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:35 PM   #37
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In my experience with low income students you have to have high expectations for them. You have to assume that READING is not happening at home and provide time for them to read in school. This applies to almost everything they do. If you are doing a project, they must be supported in school to accomplish these tasks, because if they are coming to school without the support of parents at home for projects ect, they will not learn how to do them. Low income students must have the support system of a home from within the school.

In many cases, they suffer from self esteem and confidence issues. The most success I have seen with these children comes from building relationships with them, by providing a safe classroom environment where mistakes can be made without fear. The stability of the environmnet, is cruicial, because very often these children are coming from an environment in which stability is absent outside of school. I would even argue that DISCIPLINE issues arrise as vacations approach for these children, because they know school is the stable place for them and they tend to feel anxiety when they know they will not be there for an extended period of time.

The most success that I (and Mrs. Dread) have seen with these children is with the right teacher, looping with a group of low income students, very often pays dividends with their confidence because they come into the second year, with an established relationship with the teacher and classmates. Reading with the low income students effects EVERYTHING. Key to improving their success is intensive work in the area of vocabulary development. Without it all other subjects are impacted including mathematics.

The nice feature of looping with a group of low income students for two years is it gives them COMMON experiences to refer back to when teaching and building upon prior knowledge.

I have seen title one students move from Warning and Needs improvement to Proficient and Advanced (Some with PERFCT MCAS TESTS) over two years of instruction. Children entering third grade at a 1st grade level in third grade can be brought up to a fifth grade level in two years with the correct practices in place.

If you get them reading reading reading, and their confidence up, by the second year of instruction, results are evident.
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:02 PM   #38
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I would strongly recommend looking at developing a culture of Professional Learning Communities in the school.

Rebecca & Richard Dufor as well as Robert Eaker are leaders in this area.

http://www.allthingsplc.info/

Here are three schools with 75%-100% free and Reduced Lunch

http://www.allthingsplc.info/evidenc...hool/index.php

http://www.allthingsplc.info/evidenc...hool/index.php

http://www.allthingsplc.info/evidenc...hool/index.php

This pretty much sums up what I believe in as an educator:

About PLC
Learn more about the history of PLC.
Professional Learning Community (PLC)

"Educators committed to working collaboratively in ongoing processes of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. Professional learning communities operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators." Learning by Doing (2006)

What Are Professional Learning Communities?
It has been interesting to observe the growing popularity of the term professional learning community. In fact, the term has become so commonplace and has been used so ambiguously to describe virtually any loose coupling of individuals who share a common interest in education that it is in danger of losing all meaning. This lack of precision is an obstacle to implementing PLC concepts because, as Mike Schmoker observes, "clarity precedes competence" (2004, P. 85). Thus, we begin this handbook with an attempt to clarify our meaning of the term. To those familiar with our past work, this step may seem redundant, but we are convinced that redundancy can be a powerful tool in effective communication, and we prefer redundancy to ambiguity.

A Focus on Learning
The very essence of a learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student. When a school or district functions as a PLC, educators within the organization embrace high levels of learning for all students as both the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it. In order to achieve this purpose, the members of a PLC create and are guided by a clear and compelling vision of what the organization must become in order to help all students learn. They make collective commitments clarifying what each member will do to create such an organization, and they use results-oriented goals to mark their progress. Members work together to clarify exactly what each student must learn, monitor each student's learning on a timely basis, provide systematic interventions that ensure students receive additional time and support for learning when they struggle, and extend and enrich learning when students have already mastered the intended outcomes.

A corollary assumption is that if the organization is to become more effective in helping all students learn, the adults in the organization must also be continually learning. Therefore, structures are created to ensure staff members engage in job-embedded learning as part of their routine work practices.
There is no ambiguity or hedging regarding this commitment to learning. Whereas many schools operate as if their primary purpose if to ensure that children are taught, PLCs are dedicated to the idea that their organization exists to ensure that all students learn essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions. All the other characteristics of a PLC flow directly from this epic shift in assumptions about the purpose of the school.

A Collaborative Culture with a Focus on Learning for All
A PLC is composed of collaborative teams whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals linked to the purpose of learning for all. The team is the engine that drives the PLC effort and the fundamental building block of the organization. It is difficult to overstate the importance of collaborative teams in the improvement process. It is equally important, however, to emphasize that collaboration does not lead to improved results unless people are focused on the right issues. Collaboration is a means to an end, not the end itself. In many schools, staff members are willing to collaborate on a variety of topics as long as the focus of the conversation stops at their classroom door. In a PLC, collaboration represents a systematic process in which teachers work together interdependently in order to impact their classroom practice in ways that will lead to better results for their students, for their team, and for their school. Therefore their collaboration centers around certain critical questions:
What knowledge, skills, and disposition must each student acquire as a result of this course, grade level, and/or unit of instruction.

What evidence will we gather to monitor student learning on a timely basis
How will we provide students with additional time and support in a timely, directive, and systematic way when they experience difficulty in their learning.
How will we enrich the learning of students who are already proficient.
How can we use our SMART goals and evidence of student learning to inform and improve our practice.

Collective Inquiry Into Best Practice and Current Reality
The teams in a PLC engage in collective inquiry into both best practices in teaching and best practices in learning. They also inquire about their current reality—including their present practices and the levels of achievement of their students. They attempt to arrive at consensus on vital questions by building shared knowledge rather than pooling opinions. They have an acute sense of curiosity and openness to new possibilities.
Collective inquiry enables team members to develop new skills and capabilities that in turn lead to new experiences and awareness. Gradually, this heightened awareness transforms into fundamental shifts in attitudes, beliefs, and habits which, over time, transform the culture of the school.

Working together to build shared knowledge on the best way to achieve goals and meet the needs of clients is exactly what professionals in any field are expected to do, whether it is curing the patient, winning the lawsuit, or helping all students learn. Members of a professional learning community are expected to work and learn together.

Action Orientation: Learning by Doing
Members of PLCs are action oriented: They move quickly to turn aspirations into actions and visions into reality. They understand that the most powerful learning always occurs in a context of taking action, and they value engagement and experience as the most effective teachers. In fact, the very reason that teachers work together in teams and engage in collective inquiry is to serve as catalysts for action.

Members of PLCs recognize that learning by doing develops a deeper and more profound knowledge and greater commitment than learning by reading, listening, planning or thinking. Traditional schools have developed a variety of strategies to resist taking meaningful actions, preferring the comfort of the familiar. Professional learning communities recognize that until members of the organization "do" differently, there is no reason to anticipate different results. They avoid paralysis by analysis and overcome inertia with action.

A Commitment to Continuous Improvement
Inherent to a PLC are a persistent disquiet with the status quo and a constant search for a better way to achieve goals and accomplish the purpose of the organization. Systematic processes engage each member of the organization in an ongoing cycle of:

Gathering evidence of current levels of student learning
Developing strategies and ideas to build on strengths and address weaknesses in that learning
Implementing those strategies and ideas
Analyzing the impact of the changes to discover what was effective and what was not
Applying new knowledge in the next cycle of continuous improvement

The goal is not simply to learn a new strategy, but instead to create conditions for perpetual learning—an environment in which innovation and experimentation are viewed not as tasks to be accomplished or projects to be completed but as ways of conducting day-to-day business, forever. Furthermore, participation in this process is not reserved for those designated as leaders; rather, it is a responsibility of every member of the organization.

Results Orientation
Finally, members of a PLC realize that all of their efforts in these areas—a focus on learning, collaborative teams, collective inquiry, action orientation, and continuous improvement—must be assessed on the basis of results rather than intentions. Unless initiatives are subjected to ongoing assessment on the basis of tangible results, they represent random groping in the dark rather than purposeful improvement. As Peter Senge and colleagues conclude, "The rationale for any strategy for building a learning organization revolves around the premise that such organizations will produce dramatically improved results" (1994, p. 44).
This focus on results leads each team to develop and pursue measurable improvement goals that are aligned to school and district goals for learning. It also drives teams to create a series of common formative assessments that are administered to students multiple times throughout the year to gather ongoing evidence of student learning. Team members review the results from these assessments in an effort to identify and address program concerns (areas of learning where many students are experiencing difficulty). They also examine the results to discover strengths and weaknesses in their individual teaching in order to learn from one another. Most importantly, the assessments are used to identify students who need additional time and support for learning. Frequent common formative assessments represent one of the most powerful tools in the PLC arsenal. DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., & Many, (2006). Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work(TM), pp. 2–4

http://www.allthingsplc.info/about/aboutPLC.php
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:14 PM   #39
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And this is why I try to avoid education threads.
Yes. They make me have even less respect for teachers.
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Old 11-04-2007, 07:05 PM   #40
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I don't think that's fair...While I'd prefer to not have things get vindictive at the expense of a discussion of what works and what doesn't, there are plenty of understandable reasons why dialogue on measuring results and formulating policies to address these issues can cut close to the bone for teachers.
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Old 11-04-2007, 09:05 PM   #41
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Yes. They make me have even less respect for teachers.
Thanks. I appreciate that. When you have the guts to give a shot, let me know.

Now I know to watch out for you.
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Old 11-04-2007, 10:03 PM   #42
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Here are three schools with 75%-100% free and Reduced Lunch
The public school I went to for K-8 in Mississippi was and is 100% FRLP. Unfortunately it isn't a "success story" per state testing benchmarks (MCT) any more than the rest of the state is per NAEP, and it certainly wasn't back then either, which is one of several reasons why this topic is of strong interest to me (if, inevitably, from an outsider's perspective). I did attend private schools for high school, and will admit I'm grateful I was able to. However, it really distresses me when people frame personal stories like that in terms of "Thank God I didn't have to get held back with the stupid kids"--I'd much rather be called a hypocrite for being a strong believer in the potential of public schools, despite not having stuck with them all the way through myself. I knew most of the kids at my K-8 school (which was pretty small), and an excess of "stupidity" was definitely not the problem--they had a perfectly ordinary-seeming spread of intelligence ranges. Jaded parents who saw barely getting by as all one can reasonably expect from life, and displayed no interest beyond "Well, try not to fuck it up too badly" towards their kids' academic growth; high local rates of alcoholism, broken families and chaotic home environments; being in a 'Critical Teacher Shortage Area' and having one of the country's lowest per-pupil expenditures; and, yes, racism--unfortunately, for far too many it's easier to mentally write off black students' potential than white students'--those WERE major problems, and the teachers there were and are being asked to "fix" an awful lot. I don't blame them for the poor testing scores, but it's very encouraging to hear things like this:
Quote:
I have seen title one students move from Warning and Needs improvement to Proficient and Advanced (Some with PERFCT MCAS TESTS) over two years of instruction. Children entering third grade at a 1st grade level in third grade can be brought up to a fifth grade level in two years with the correct practices in place.
I'm not surprised you identified reading and confidence-building as critical for low-income students...I would say the same thing about my own, even though the education level involved is very different. At most public colleges, any senior professor will tell you that incoming students' composition skills have dropped significantly over the past few decades, and that in aggregate there's a definite trend linking those skills to their socioeconomic background (keeping in mind, of course, that more people go to college now and that's a big part of it). I haven't been around long enough to have seen that drop, but I definitely find that most of my weakest students have in common a lifetime of not being readers. With students who have read a lot, even if their academic preparation was below average in other ways, it's MUCH easier to get them caught up, because then it's mostly a question of technique, and they can get that down quickly enough. Students who haven't been readers can improve a great deal, I've seen it happen, but progress is slow and it takes lots of one-one-one time on their professors' part (plus tutoring if necessary) to make that happen. In my experience that one-on-one time is also the most important thing (at the college level) for students who have the associated confidence issues as well. With all my students (and I have more than 200 of them most semesters), for the first couple papers of the semester I have mandatory rewrites and one-on-one advising for anyone getting less than a B, even though that approach isn't required, so that I can get them into my office and start working on building that kind of relationship with them.

Still, very few of them will ever be as good at writing as students who read a lot growing up--I wish I could say otherwise, but I really can't.

I gather you aren't very optimistic about the prospects for approaches that emphasize reaching out to parents of low-income children and trying to get them involved in the process? Is there a place for parents in the PLC approach?



I really appreciate all the information and perspective on the topic. Your students are lucky to have someone so committed to their success there.
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Old 11-04-2007, 10:16 PM   #43
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But much of what I have to say is at my blog.

http://teachforpeace.blogspot.com
Thanks for the link Sherry, that was really interesting. How does the work you're doing there correlate with where these kids would be at if they were in a regular school?
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:02 PM   #44
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I gather you aren't very optimistic about the prospects for approaches that emphasize reaching out to parents of low-income children and trying to get them involved in the process? Is there a place for parents in the PLC approach?

I am new to the PLC approach. My staff is waaaaayyyy ahead of me in this area. They are teaching me, and I am trying to keep up.

But YES....some PLC schools have incorporated parents into their intervention block to help students along.

We have not started doing that.
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Old 11-06-2007, 08:17 PM   #45
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Thanks for the link Sherry, that was really interesting. How does the work you're doing there correlate with where these kids would be at if they were in a regular school?
It doesn't really. Everything I do is "mapped" to the VA Standards of Learning but I based my curriculum around things that i know will be relevant. I also plan thematic units, rather than "skills based" or chronological units. Me being who I am , my themes are those of peacebuilding, tolerance and fighting violence in our communities. We just finished the Freedom Writers Diaries, and are heading into the Diary of Anne Frank. We're also going to be studying hip hop's relevance to global social justice movements.

Thanks for reading, Yolland! I get $$ for my classroom via GoogleAds whenever someone clicks, so click on, all!

Dread: I don't know what to say expect that I am sure if we could hash this out over a beer sometime, I think we could understand eachother's perspective better. We're on the same team. But I guess when I look at "the system", I don't believe we can get there from here.
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