"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Putting a Shoeprint on the Blueprint

Tweedledum and Tweedledee have ended their national listening charade paid forby the Business Roundtable, and like other listening campaigns sponsored by this Government's corporate bosses, the listeners could have saved their time and money for all the difference that was made. The decision to stay the course in the war on public schools was made before the Tommy and Roy Show hit the road pretending to have open ears to the devasatation caused by this failed and reckless NCLB policy. Some of the highlights from the Executive Summary of the Aspen Institute's bow to Margaret Spellings and the corporations who sponsor her:

The use of test scores to make hiring and retention decisions for teachers and principals:

Therefore, the Commission recommends requiring all teachers to be Highly Qualified Effective Teachers (HQET)—teachers who demonstrate effectiveness in the classroom. Under HQET, states would be required to put in place systems for measuring the learning gains of a teacher’s students through a “value-added” methodology, using three years of student achievement data, as well as principal evaluations or teacher peer reviews.
Title I schools fwill receive less (95%) in teacher pay than the country club schools in the suburbs. Guaranteeing that teachers are going to be paid less in the most challenging school environments does not seem to be a good way to get the best teacher to abandon their educational cul-de-sacs:
To ensure quality and effectiveness for all, districts should no longer be able to mask inequalities in resources for teacher quality by averaging the cost of teacher salaries across all schools in a district. Therefore, the Commission recommends ensuring comparability of access to quality and effective teachers by requiring that Title I and non-Title I schools have similar expenditures for teacher salaries and comparable numbers of HQETs. Districts should not be allowed to achieve comparability by salary averaging, comparing staff-to-student ratios or simply forcing teachers to transfer schools. Instead, districts must ensure that Title I schools receive at least 95 percent of the average spent on teacher salaries from state and local funds compared to non-Title I schools.
Makes the teaching to bubble kids (those on the cusp of proficiency) an even more pronounced problem than it is now by using growth projections:
Therefore, the Commission recommends improving the accuracy and fairness of AYP calculations by allowing states to include achievement growth in such calculations. These calculations would enable schools to receive credit for students who are on track to becoming proficient within three years, based on the growth trajectory of their assessment scores, when calculating AYP for the students’ school. Including growth as a factor in AYP will yield richer and more useful data on student performance—both for the classroom and for school accountability. . . . The procedures for including students with disabilities in AYP calculations must also be
clarified to ensure these students are treated fairly and are held to high standards—and schools are accountable for their achievement. NCLB has taught us that children with disabilities can achieve to high expectations with proper instruction and assessment.
Continues the testing abuse for special education students by nominally increasing to 2% the number of special ed students with "modified achievement standards." (No mention of accommodations for the poor and the English language learners). And makes it harder for many states to make AYP by making 20 students the minimum sub-group size:
. . . .Therefore, the Commission recommends holding schools accountable for the achievement of all students by restricting the minimum subgroup size to no more than 20 and confidence intervals to no more than 95 percent. In addition, we recommend improving the rules for including students with disabilities in AYP calculations. . . . thus, states could administer alternate assessments for up to 1 percent of their student population and administer assessments with modified achievement standards to an additional 1 percent of students.

Makes it easier for parents and "other concerned parties" (EMOs and tutoring companies) to sue schools:
. . . . Therefore, we recommend that parents and other concerned parties have the right to hold districts, states and the U.S. DOE accountable for faithfully implementing the requirements of NCLB through enhanced enforcement options with the state and the U.S. DOE. States and the U.S. DOE would be required to establish a process to hear complaints, with the only remedy being the full implementation of the law.

Requires district schools making AYP to offer some seats to students from failing schools. Unfunded mandate calling for schools to provide coordination and public space for tutoring companies to do their business:
. . . . Therefore, the Commission recommends a comprehensive approach to expanding the availability and quality of options for students in schools that do not make AYP.
This approach should include the following:
• Schools that make AYP must make available a number equal to 10 percent of their seats for transfers from schools in which students are eligible for choice
• An annual independent audit of the space available for public school choice transfers
• If a school district is unable to accommodate all of its requests for public school choice (as demonstrated in an annual audit), the school district must offer SES to eligible students
• Schools should be required to offer space in school facilities for private providers of SES if those schools offer the use of school facilities to other non-school-affiliated entities . . .
• Districts must identify and publicize a person or office that would operate as a point of contact for assisting parents in learning about options available for their children
An unfunded mandate calling for states to do the evaluation of tutoring companies, something that ED has never had any interest in (the "free market" will determine the good ones):
. . . . we recommend the U.S. DOE use a portion of Title I funding to study the nationwide effects of SES on student achievement and that states evaluate the impact of their SES providers on the achievement of children.

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