Opine I will

I am an elementary school teacher just trying to do the right thing

Archive for the tag “NYSED”

Open Letter to Commissioner Elia

Dear Commissioner Elia,

This past Thursday your visit with Long Island teacher union presidents has validated the concerns I have with you as our Commissioner of Education and with your agenda. I listened carefully as you attempted to spin an agenda that was set by your predecessor, John King, and Governor Cuomo. You often hid behind federal policy or existing legislation as you addressed the concerns and questions posed to you that evening. Your attempt to blame our union for “agreeing” to the use of high stakes testing was sophomoric.  In addition, abruptly ending the meeting when you knew several of us wanted our turn to “ dialogue” with you was an insult to us and the thousands of teachers,( and teacher as parents ) on Long Island we represent.

I take exception to many things you stated when you met with us. You claimed that parents and teachers wrongly put everything that is negative in education today under the Common Core. You then attempted to spin that your Aim High NY survey somehow supported Common Core because they are high standards and that we just have to “rework” some of them.

Your Aim High NY survey was akin to a “push poll’ in politics. It was nearly impossible to condemn the Common Core Standards, it was cumbersome to answer and the survey taker was forced to work within the Common Core to offer changes. Yes, you were right when you stated we want high standards, who would be against that? You use that premise as you continue to spin faulty, abusive standards. New York had high standards, and before your predecessor push for the Common Core, NYSED was working towards improving them. I would like to know, how much was spent on that effort and where did those recommendations go?

When questioned  about the state assessments and with comments that we felt these tests were abusive and hurt children, your response was cold hearted and left me feeling that your really don’t care what children are facing as long as we meet a federal mandate. Your claim that the tests will be shorter and that tests will be untimed was addressed by those in attendance. We asked about ESL students, students with special needs and the concern that this new plan will not work. You fell back on your reform agenda to provide answers that only led to a validation that things are not changing and that you have been charged to drive Governor Cuomo’s and John King’s reform agenda.

Your simplistic view that parents and teachers are ‘stressed’ and that you are attempting to relieve that stress by listening to us and working towards some sort of change is nothing more than spin. You said that you believe in a standardized evaluation system that uses assessments as a component of that system. That is not relieving stress, that is signaling that the state will continue to abuse children with high stakes assessments that are meant to drive a political agenda.

When you were questioned on APPR, you stated that some state that there is a 4 year moratorium on using those scores but you prefer calling it a transformational period. You stated that scores will not be used for 4 years. Yet, when someone questioned that they may be used in the future you claimed they would not. You did not address the fact that the new scores will still be generated and distributed to teachers, districts, parents and the press. You did not address the fact that those scores will be used as advisory scores for districts. You did not address the fact that the assessments are based on standards that you admit are seen as inappropriate for many children and that are currently being rewritten. You claim these assessments are mandated by federal policy. My question for you is this; does federal policy require 8-9 10 year olds to take 9+ hours of exams?

Your response to the Opt Out movement was disturbing. You said that New York had the highest Opt Out rate in the nation and in the same breath you said, that Opt Out was not a factor that has driven you to do anything you have done in the last 8 month. Then you went on to say that you hoped that parents would let their children take the tests this year. You were then told to expect Opt Out rates to soar this year. We informed you that these tests have no instructional value. Your flip response was that additional questions have and will be released. You failed miserably to address our concerns and as a result many of us have begun to double down on our support for the Opt Out movement.

You touted that in Hillsborough, Florida, you worked with the local union to develop an evaluation process. With all due respect, New York is not Florida and Long Island certainly is not Hillsborough. The results on Long Island are clear; if we were a state we would lead the nation and the world. We do not need your “fixing”.

You claim that you have been throughout the entire state “listening”. Your social media campaign, including your Twitter account is chock full of your attempts to spin the comments on your so called “listening tour”. But one thing became perfectly clear to me on Thursday evening. Your “listening tour” is not about you listening to the parents and educators in the state, it’s more about we should “listen” to you. And that Commissioner is a shame.  This local president listened and I have no confidence in you or your agenda.

Respectfully submitted

Ralph Ratto

President

New Hyde Park- Garden City Park Teachers’ Association

CCSS feedback memorialized

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is conducting a review of the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. Several groups including NYSUT and Superintendents are asking for our feedback on the current standards.

Since I am a 5th grade teacher I have reviewed each 5th grade standard and made comments on the what should be changed. I will be forwarding my feedback to the appropriate groups.  I am also posting them here as a way to memorialize my feedback. Hopefully this will lead others to do the same as proof that we tried to work within the system.

Our particular comments must be made public. We have no assurances from NYSED that all comments will be read. Therefore let’s use a little grassroots activism to post our specific objections to each and every standard.

Here’s mine:

Suggested changes to 5th grade ELA and Math Standard

Reading Standards for Literature K–5

2-  Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

 ( not age appropriate very subjective)

3-Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

( poor example leads to misinterpretation of the standard)

6-Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described. a. Recognize and describe how an author’s background and culture affect his or her perspective.

(Not age appropriate- student lack necessary schema)

7- Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

(Not appropriate—who decides what beauty is? )

9- Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.

(redundant and leads to misinterpretation of the standard)

Responding to Literature

  1. Recognize, interpret, and make connections in narratives, poetry, and drama, to other texts, ideas, cultural perspectives, eras, personal events, and situations. a. Self-select text to develop personal preferences regarding favorite authors. b. Use established criteria to categorize, select texts and assess to make informed judgments about the quality of the pieces.

( Too subjective. Students lack schema to judge quality)

Reading Standards for Informational Text K–5

  1. Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

(quickly and efficiently are too subjective -leads to misinterpretation of the standard )

10-By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

(high end? Should be in the grade band)

Writing Standards K–5

  1. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.) a. Produce text (print or nonprint) that explores a variety of cultures and perspectives.

(Not age appropriate)

6- With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.

(How long is a sitting? Too subjective- leads to misinterpretation of the standard)

  1. Create and present an original poem, narrative, play, art work, or literary critique in response to a particular author or theme studied in class. a. Recognize and illustrate social, historical, and cultural features in the presentation of literary texts.

(Students lack schema- leads to misinterpretation of the standard)

Speaking and Listening Standards K–5

1-Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion. b. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles. c. Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others. d. Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions. e. Seek to understand and communicate with individuals from different perspectives and cultural backgrounds. f. Use their experience and their knowledge of language and logic, as well as culture, to think analytically, address problems creatively, and advocate persuasively

( not age appropriate- students lack schema)

Language Standards K–5

3-Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening. a. Expand, combine, and reduce sentences for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style. b. Compare and contrast the varieties of English (e.g., dialects, registers) used in stories, dramas, or poems.

(To what extent?  Not age appropriate, students lack schema)

 

 

Mathematics

Number & Operations in Base Ten 5.NBT

  1. Find whole-number quotients of whole numbers with up to four-digit dividends and two-digit divisors, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and/or the relationship between multiplication and division. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

(Strike “and”– area models are not mathematically sound in all situations- leads to misinterpretation of the standard)

  1. Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used.

(Strike ‘and” and replace with or- )

Number & Operations—Fractions 5.NF

  1. Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions referring to the same whole, including cases of unlike denominators, e.g., by using visual fraction models or equations to represent the problem. Use benchmark fractions and number sense of fractions to estimate mentally and assess the reasonableness of answers. For example, recognize an incorrect result 2/5 + 1/2 = 3/7, by observing that 3/7 < 1/2.

(the entire concept of reasonableness is too subjective.. using visual fraction models as an example leads to a misinterpretation of the standard)

  1. Interpret a fraction as division of the numerator by the denominator (a/b = a ÷ b). Solve word problems involving division of whole numbers leading to answers in the form of fractions or mixed numbers, e.g., by using visual fraction models or equations to represent the problem. For example, interpret 3/4 as the result of dividing 3 by 4, noting that 3/4 multiplied by 4 equals 3, and that when 3 wholes are shared equally among 4 people each person has a share of size 3/4. If 9 people want to share a 50-pound sack of rice equally by weight, how many pounds of rice should each person get? Between what two whole numbers does your answer lie?

( examples shown lead to misinterpretation of the standard)

  1. Apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication to multiply a fraction or whole number by a fraction. a. Interpret the product (a/b) × q as a parts of a partition of q into b equal parts; equivalently, as the result of a sequence of operations a × q ÷ b. For example, use a visual fraction model to show (2/3) × 4 = 8/3, and create a story context for this equation. Do the same with (2/3) × (4/5) = 8/15. (In general, (a/b) × (c/d) = ac/bd.) b. Find the area of a rectangle with fractional side lengths by tiling it with unit squares of the appropriate unit fraction side lengths, and show that the area is the same as would be found by multiplying the side lengths. Multiply fractional side lengths to find areas of rectangles, and represent fraction products as rectangular areas

( Not age appropriate, children often lack fine motor skills to perform the rectangle task above, and examples shown lead to misinterpretation of the standard)

  1. Interpret multiplication as scaling (resizing), by: a. Comparing the size of a product to the size of one factor on the basis of the size of the other factor, without performing the indicated multiplication. b. Explaining why multiplying a given number by a fraction greater than 1 results in a product greater than the given number (recognizing multiplication by whole numbers greater than 1 as a familiar case); explaining why multiplying a given number by a fraction less than 1 results in a product smaller than the given number; and relating the principle of fraction equivalence a/b = (n × a)/(n × b) to the effect of multiplying a/b by 1

( not age appropriate, should be in an upper grade)

  1. Solve real world problems involving multiplication of fractions and mixed numbers, e.g., by using visual fraction models or equations to represent the problem.

(Overreach – telling how to solve is a curriculum not a standard)

  1. Apply and extend previous understandings of division to divide unit fractions by whole numbers and whole numbers by unit fractions.1 a. Interpret division of a unit fraction by a non-zero whole number, and compute such quotients. For example, create a story context for (1/3) ÷ 4, and use a visual fraction model to show the quotient. Use the relationship between multiplication and division to explain that (1/3) ÷ 4 = 1/12 because (1/12) × 4 = 1/3. b. Interpret division of a whole number by a unit fraction, and compute such quotients. For example, create a story context for 4 ÷ (1/5), and use a visual fraction model to show the quotient. Use the relationship between multiplication and division to explain that 4 ÷ (1/5) = 20 because 20 × (1/5) = 4. c. Solve real world problems involving division of unit fractions by non-zero whole numbers and division of whole numbers by unit fractions, e.g., by using visual fraction models and equations to represent the problem. For example, how much chocolate will each person get if 3 people share 1/2 lb of chocolate equally? How many 1/3-cup servings are in 2 cups of raisins?

(visual models should be a strategy than MAY be used not must be used)

Measurement & Data 5.MD

  1. Relate volume to the operations of multiplication and addition and solve real world and mathematical problems involving volume. a. Find the volume of a right rectangular prism with whole-number side lengths by packing it with unit cubes, and show that the volume is the same as would be found by multiplying the edge lengths, equivalently by multiplying the height by the area of the base. Represent threefold whole-number products as volumes, e.g., to represent the associative property of multiplication. b. Apply the formulas V = l × w × h and V = b × h for rectangular prisms to find volumes of right rectangular prisms with whole-number edge lengths in the context of solving real world and mathematical problems. c. Recognize volume as additive. Find volumes of solid figures composed of two non-overlapping right rectangular prisms by adding the volumes of the non-overlapping parts, applying this technique to solve real world problems

( V=bxh is misleading.. it should be V=lxwxh  in the first example lower case b represents the area of the base when finding the area of a triangle A=1/2bh   it confuses the  student and is not needed)

Elia’s misdirection campaign.

New York’s recently appointed Commissioner of Education Mary Ellen Elia has concluded her fraudulent “listening tour” and has now embarked on a massive misdirection campaign.  Much like the sight of hand I wrote about here, she continues to drive her misguided agenda.

Elia has set up a new initiative called  AIMHighNY.  ( Nice name, I wish Cuomo would have aimed higher when searching for a Commissioner )

Fresh off her listening tour she has  created a website that contains a survey on the Common Core. She states,

 “NYSED is conducting a survey in order to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the standards.”  That’s what we hear.. but this is what she goes on to say.. The survey’s intent is to Improve what already exists; don’t start over.”

She is supposedly going to ‘listen’ to public comment but refuses to start over. Her survey  is cumbersome, time consuming and designed to make us all fall in line.  Elia tells us,

that this survey is  not a referendum on the standards. Only comments tied to a specific standard will be considered.

Today I learned about her latest move. She set up this website called “Assessment Toolkit” which is nothing more that a public relations campaigned that provides school superintendents, politicians, and others with ‘talking points’ to sell high stakes testing.

The little credibility Mary Ellen Elia may have had is now shot to Hell. She claims to be listening to parents, teachers, and educators,yet at the same time developing talking points to push her agenda. And she promises more to come! That’s not listening, that’s attempting to pull a fast one.

Elia we are on to you.. watch the opt-outs soar!

Is this just another sleight of hand ruse?

Is the pendulum really swinging or are we just part of a sleight of hand ruse?

3 card Monte

As a deadline creeps closer and school districts all across New York State huddle in negotiations with local teacher associations to agree on a new evaluation plan, under the threat of a loss in state aid, a prominent Regent and Governor Cuomo have either come to their senses or are imitating Penn and Teller.

Regent Tillis of Long Island said to a forum of teachers,  “I oppose the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers and principals,” and  “not admitting a mistake is making a bigger mistake.” He also called for an end to the use of the state’s so-called “growth scores,” and he recommended changes in state law that would allow more emphasis on local measures of achievement. These would include “Student Learning Objectives” — assessments adopted by school districts — as well as teacher-written tests and “portfolios” of students’ classwork. He also made a point to say he was speaking as an individual and not for the Board of Regents.

At the next meeting of the Board of Regents on Sept. 16-17 they will be voting to make the new teacher-principal evaluation rules permanent. The question remains, will Tilli’s vote reflect his bold statement to teachers or will he say once again he has no choice but to continue the status quo? Are his words just a distraction from the criticism he has been receiving, much like a Penn and Teller trick? I hope not.

New York Governor Cuomo issued a press release today stating ,

 “The fact is that the current Common Core program in New York is not working, and must be fixed. To that end, the time has come for a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Common Core Standards, curriculum, guidance and tests in order to address local concerns. I am taking this action not because I don’t believe in standards, but because I do.”

He promised to ask  a representative group from his former Education Commission, including education experts, teachers, parents, the Commissioner of Education and legislative representatives to perform a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Common Core Standards, curriculum, guidance and tests in order to address local concerns.

Cuomo’s sleight of hand has been exposed before. I don’t trust him anymore than I would trust the guy on the corner playing 3 Card Monte.

Cuomo states, in his press release, that he believes in the standards and he blames the NYS Education Department for its faulty implementation, even though he held state aide hostage until his vision for implementation was adhered to.  Cuomo goes on to say he sympathizes with the frustration of parents yet he refuses to visit with them at the schools where their children go.

Cuomo refuses to meet with teachers, refuses to visit our classes, and he knows full well that he continues to hold state aide hostage today, until teachers agree to his faulty rollout of Common Core.  Notice he is not calling an immediate halt of his new evaluation plan!

What do you think? Is that pendulum swinging or are we the target of a sick magic trick?

Preparing for Another Year

This is my last week of summer vacation.  It used to be a time of pure excited anticipation of a brand new school year. It used to be a great time of year. But all that has changed.

Today, I prepare for another year.

My year will start with the grand presentation of new teacher ratings based on last year’s tests. What will our ratings be? Are we highly effective or ineffective? Did last year’s students score well or not? If they didn’t do well, I won’t ever find out which questions they got wrong.

As our Teacher Association President, will I be able to help any of my colleagues that may be at risk due to these tests? How do we appeal results based on questions we cannot even review? Is this mysterious data based on a value added method even valid?

Last year, we informed parents that our Association supported a parent’s decision to opt out. Our district had about 26% of our students opt out. Did this skew the data? I think so. I also think it should invalidate the data.

Our new NY Education Commissioner, Mary Elia, said last week that teachers were unethical for supporting the Opt Out movement. I question her ethics.  Her unethical rant last week, condemning a parent’s right to avoid inappropriate and abusive testing for their children warrants her immediate removal.

So as I prepare for the coming year, I will be thinking about our new Commissioner.  I will be meeting with my colleagues to discuss how we should defensively negotiate a new evaluation plan imposed on us, even though our collective bargaining rights were slashed when it comes to our evaluation plan.

I will be discussing how we must be ready for a possible devastating decision by the Supreme Court. I will be discussing how to make our association stronger and how we must strengthen our partnership with parents and other community members.

I will be discussing how there are Presidential candidates who want to punch us in the face, close our faculty rooms to keep us from each other, take away our pensions, sell our schools and destroy our unions.

I will be also discussing how we will navigate with or around yet another Language Arts and Math curriculum supposedly aligned with the Common Core that is geared towards even more tests.

And somehow, I will be ready to meet these challenges and provide what is needed for every single one of my students, which is best done by closing my classroom door ignoring the distractors and doing what I know best, teach!

Cuomo and Tisch- Guilty !

The New York State Education Department and Governor Andrew Cuomo should be held accountable for abusing their authority and the children of our state.

Over the past two weeks, I was ordered to administer New York States Common Core assessments to 44% of my 5th grade class, while 56% of my students refused to take the test. They were all in the same room during the assessments, so I designed a quiet independent Language Arts activity for those not taking the test. I didn’t want to waste any potential ‘learning time’ for any of my students. They worked silently, without disturbing those struggling with the test, and afterwords they reported to me that they enjoyed the assignment and they were excited to share what they learned.

A parent complained and I was advised, after the first portion of the test,  to not have the other students working on anything else because it may be a violation of testing rules and that the Superintendent stated we couldn’t. So, for the last 4.5 hours 56% of my class was told that they can only read silently from their own novel while the others in the room struggled with the assessment. Under these conditions, I observed many of the students had a difficult time remaining silent and often disturbed those struggling with the tests.

Those children, who I had to order to sit quietly for 9 hours the past week while their peers struggled with their purposely confusing questions, were basically under arrest. Metaphorically handcuffing them to their desks, they were forced to sit quietly for an extremely long time (even those with attention deficit issues or hyperactivity issues). How many adults would subject themselves to that nonsense?

Those taking the test struggled with questions, day after day, that were unfair assessments of their capabilities. The Language Arts section of the tests consisted of way too many boring reading selections and were above a typical 5th grader’s reading level. The questions focused on minutia, lacked clarity, and played with the nuances of plausibility.

Over the past several years the Language Arts portion of the assessments always had poetry included in them. Often poems that were difficult and could be interpreted in many different ways were part of every assessment. Poetry has always been an integral part of my Language Arts curriculum.  I thought I met the challenge and that my students were well prepared to analyze just about any poem place in front of them. After all, that is part of our curriculum.  I was shocked to see that this year’s 5th grade assessments had no poetry in it. Why?

My students were prepared, but the evidence is mounting that these assessments are not about seeing if my students were prepared or are learning. There is a more sinister reason coming into focus.

The Math portion of the tests included multi- step problems that were beyond the capability of most 5th grade students. My students are capable of doing a typical 5th grade multi-step problem, but these questions were purposely misleading, often included a misdirecting clause and were often nonsensical and unrealistic.

We know that a student needs to use some background knowledge to understand a word problem.  I wonder how many students were confused when the star of a softball team hit the softball  a towering 2 yards and the others measured their distances against his.  Realistic? Hardly!  I wondered if my students really thought that knowing the fraction of the volume of a cubby used to store a teachers’ papers was a really something adults calculate.

A typical 5th grade math word problem in Pearson’s own Common Core aligned textbook has 3 or 4 steps that must be completed to solve. This year’s Pearson’s tests blew the lid off that. Students had to complete many more steps to solve these test questions. About as far from fair as you can get.

More evidence that these assessments are not about seeing if my students were prepared or are learning, that a sinister reason is coming unto focus.

I have been shouting that these tests are institutional child abuse and this week Cuomo confirmed my declaration that yes, the New York is using our children in a sinister way.

Read these excerpts from a Times Union Article:

“The grades are meaningless to the students,” Cuomo said in a brief press gaggle following an Association for a Better New York breakfast event in New York City.

“Cuomo said he believes they haven’t done a good job of publicizing the fact that the tests, for at least the next five years, won’t count at all for the students.”

“They can opt out if they want to, but on the other hand if the child takes the test, it’s practice and the score doesn’t count.”

Meaningless? Children subjected to headaches, anxiety, upset stomachs, a feeling of failure for meaningless tests!

Cuomo also says these tests are supposed to be used to evaluate teachers. That is using 9 hours of a child’s labor to do an adult’s job. Let’s not forget the imbedded field test items that Pearson sneaks in there to help them boost their corporate profits.

The evidence is overwhelming. The New York State Education Department and Governor Andrew Cuomo are guilty of abusing their authority and the children of our state.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Education Department’s Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch, are guilty as charged and should be forced to resign.

The Big Lie

The Big Lie
time mag

It’s been said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Time Inc.’s website touts them as , ” Time Inc. (NYSE: TIME) is one of the largest media companies in the world reaching more than 130 million consumers each month across multiple platforms through influential brands such as Time, People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Real Simple, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Wallpaper and NME.”Notice their descriptor… ‘influential brands’. Time Inc. admits their magazines are out there to influence the public.

Time knows their covers influence, they also know that most of their readers won’t take the time to actually read. That’s why this cover is so dangerous. Yes… dangerous!

You see folks, we are at war and it’s a Civil War.  The weapons of this war are  influence,strategy, and power .

Influence( some examples)

Time magazine ( at the top of today’s list)

Think Tanks..

Gates Foundation

Koch Bros.

Pearson

Media outlets

Strategy ( some examples)

Promote the Big Lie;

” Our schools are failing”

“We are losing our standing in the world”

“Kids are not career and college ready”

“Teachers are ineffective”

“Our learning standards need improvement”

“Data can be used to make all kids learn”

“Teachers can overcome all other influences in a child’s life”

Power ( some examples)

“Elected officials”

Groups like New York State’s Board of Regents

ALEC

Governor’s Association

US Department of Education

 

 

This Civil War is being fought around the “Big Lie”.  Their aim is to gain control of our Nation’s most precious assets, our public schools so they may reap the huge profits of their conquests. The victors will gain control of our Nation’s hearts, minds and souls.They are filling their coffers with the spoils of each battle.

Every time they take over part or all of a school building they get stronger. Every time a district succumbs to the fear that they may be labeled as a failure if they don’t follow a Pearson scripted curriculum we lose a battle. Every second a teacher is forced to march their class through test prep, we are one step closer to losing this war.

It’s time to treat this as a real war. We have a weapon that is more powerful, more influential, more effective than anything they can throw at us.  That weapon is solidarity!

Solidarity has been used effectively to advance real change through history. We need to build strong grassroot links across our communities. Educate parents and your neighbors on the perils of losing their neighborhood schools. Visit with local Chambers of Commerce’s and discuss with them that education and tax reform are two separate issues and they should not be used to drive each other. Boycott media outlets that influence and not report. Get active in politics and drive those, who desire to split our nation, into the haves and have nots out of our state houses, governor’s mansions and even our city halls. Demand that your local school boards treat their teachers with respect and focus with laser like precision on what children really need rather on trying to jump through some reformer’s hoop.

And most importantly ….VOTE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King’s Scarlet Letter

New York State Education Commissioner John King must resign. 

Over the last several weeks the call for King’s resignation has increased exponentially. We all have read how he cancelled a series of ‘Town Hall” meetings after be lambasted by parents and teachers. We all know how he called these same concerned parties ‘ special interest’ groups. We all know how he runs to hide behind Regent Tisch’s skirt whenever he faces opposition. We all know how he refuses to engage in any sort of meaningful discussion on the horrible effects his policies have on children.

King’s Scarlet Letter

King’s latest move to quell the masses of dissent is the last straw for this teacher and parent. King’s latest memo should be pinned to his chest. like a scarlet letter, as he is forced to take the walk of shame into oblivion. His lies, distortions, arrogance, and outright ignorance should be evidence enough to force his immediate dismissal.

The media has it all wrong this time. They are running articles that say King is looking to reduce testing. Unfortunately, they need a close reading lesson themselves.

Why did they miss this little lie?

..the number and frequency of state assessments has remained relatively constant over
the last decade….

Everyone knows, state assessment times have dramatically increased under his reign.  Eight year old children are now sitting for over 540 minutes of testing over the course of 2 weeks each Spring. He also  mandates that children as young as 5 years old be tested. This is far from a constant.

In big bold letters King shouts;

,…the amount of testing should be the minimum necessary to
inform effective decision-making.

He goes on to lecture us..

Test results should be used only as one of multiple
measures of progress, and tests should reflect our instructional priorities.

This distortion combined with his arrogant lecture really set my blood to a boil. If King really believed these two statements, then why are these tests being used to evaluate teachers? Why is my class mandated to take pre and post tests? Why are my students facing another 540 minutes of testing that includes many questions (embedded field questions) that have nothing to do with student progress, or instructional priorities?

King goes on to blame teachers for test anxiety, and all of the other problems associated with his test mania policies.

Students are best prepared to succeed academically through rigorous and
engaging instruction, not rote test preparation.

Really?? Students will not succeed with rigorous instruction, they need VIGOROUS instruction. Why do we continue to allow a misuse of a word as educators? Why hasn’t the media and editors across the nation question the use of this term?

He goes on to begin to blame teachers and districts for ‘rote test prep’ . He further goes on to offer a yet another poisoned carrot and stick approach. He offers grants to districts to support his ” Teaching is the Core” nonsense.

It’s laughable that yet another attempt is being made to drive the conversation with a new sales pitch. “Teaching is the Core” is suppose to convince us minions that we need to do better. He is offering some mysterious grants in the future to support this new principle. Where has he been? We don’t need grants to get us to do more projects, research, and activities. We need time and support. We need the burden lifted of constantly being judged by  some made up rubric, administrators with clip boards, computer assessments, and state assessments. We need the elimination policies that promote HEDI labels, growth scores based on junk science, modules that are mandated by some,and  scripted curriculum, just to name a few.

The vision is simple.

I agree with him that the work is complex and his vision is simple. That’s the problem. His vision and the Board of Regents vision is simple. They think they can simply determine who is effective and who is not. They think if we simply follow some simple set of common standards all will be well.  They simply think the problem is ineffective teachers. The simply ignore the effects testing has on psyche of children. They simply say that we need to be supportive and affirming to reduce the stress their abusive tests is placing on our children.  Yes their vision is simple.. simple minded.

Kings goes on to lecture us with this  statement;

There are approximately 64,800 minutes in the typical school year. Each year, a maximum
of 540 of those minutes are devoted to State tests in Grades 3-8 ELA and math – less than
1% of the school year. It’s what we do with the other roughly 64,000 minutes that will
determine how successful our students become.

King tries to simplify his argument by stating that his tests also account for 1% of the year. My question for him is does he believe that it is acceptable if someone abuses a child for only 1% of the time, because that is what he is doing. 540 minutes of testing is abuse. Embedding field test questions that children may view as too hard or that they are failing is abuse.

King closes by stating that we must teach our way through this moment. He has that wrong as well. We need to get rid of him, that and only that will get us through this moment.  Just saying, “teaching is the core” is not enough. Teaching is not  the core. Teaching is an art, teaching is a passion, teaching is a lifestyle, teaching is an  ability to reach a child in ways that will make that child a lifelong learner, teaching is a calling, teaching is shaping and touching the future. Teaching is not the core.

King must go..

 

 

 

 

Growth scores a formula for failure

Today I’m angry, disgusted, demoralized,and frustrated. I am also firmly resolved to fight back against the tsunami of junk ideology that all good educators face these days.

I received my ‘growth score’ today from the New York State Education Department.

I know,  I really shouldn’t care what my score is. I know 100% of my students tested at or above grade level in Math and English Language Arts.  I know my class’ scores were near or at the very top of my district’s scores. I know my district is also at or nearly at the top of the region’s and states’ scores. I know I work my heart out and push my students to excel. My students always, ALWAYS  succeed.

Yet according to the NYSED my growth score is so so. I’m rated effective with a growth score of 14 out of 20. Keep in mind, my student’s mean scale in math  is 708.4 and ELA it is 678.  I’m confident both scores are well above that state mean.

So why did I get a mediocre growth score?

The state’s explanation of it’s calculation should be a eye opener for all  of us. Check out this  junk math.

Here it is in a nutshell..

They compare your students with similar students and measure how your students do to these similar students. You are then graded based on how much better your students did  or how much ‘poorer’ your students did  than these other students. They look for the gap between your students and the representative group of similar students.

Here the flaw…

If the representative sample of student all do well, your ratings will be negatively affected, because your growth is based on only how much better your students did than the group. In other words they look for a gap between your students and the group.

We all know that this year scores went up for everyone.. so as they rise, individual teachers get lower ratings, because the gap doesn’t increase.  Sounds nuts doesn’t it? Goes against all the jargon about closing the gap.

It gets worse if you happen to have some high performing students in your class as well. Not much room for growth if you’re near the top, and your group is near the top. It’s a teacher’s advantage then to not take those high performing kids, It will hurt their growth scores.

My students did great, it’s a shame that NYS thinks they did so, so. Perhaps, if my students understood pineapples and hare races a little better, they could have correctly answered just 1 more question in that 6 hour marathon of testing correct, and all would be well.

We have a choice, we could  start practicing saying, “welcome to Walmart”, for our next career or fight back. What say you?

I guess the buck didn’t stop there.

NYS Education Commissioner King’s recent take on Pearson’s numerous errors, negligence, abuse, and pineapple fraud on this years assessments give us all a peak at  his unfortunate bias against NYS’s hard working dedicated teachers.

As reported in the NYTimes ;

“At a Regents meeting on Monday, John B. King Jr., the commissioner of the State Education Department, suggested that the public outcry had less to do with the content of the exam and more with students’ access to social media and teachers’ concern about the new evaluation system, in which at least 20 percent of their rating will be based on their students’ test performance.”

When he approved the removal of the “Pineapple and the Hare” he blamed teachers for the ridiculous story and even more asinine questions. King said,

This particular passage, like all test questions, was reviewed by a committee comprised of teachers from across the state, but it was not crafted for New York State.

According to King, we have it all wrong, It’s not the tests, it’s the teachers! What can we expect from a charter school advocate, with no real public school experience.

So my questions are simple Commissioner King. Since our students have suffered  through 6 grueling days of tests, and many teachers are now struggling to accurately score this garbage, who is responsible for the poor scoring instructions?

Who is responsible for this?

Some extraneous sample responses have been inadvertently included in the scoring materials that have been provided on the CD for Grades 4, 5, 6, and 7. To restore a seamless alignment between the materials provided in the scoring leader training documents with those in the scorer training documents, it is necessary that these extraneous pages be crossed out, either prior to being distributed to scorers or shortly after they have been handed out.  (click to read more)

Or this..?

There is a correction in the possible exemplary responses for the scoring of Question 64
on the Grade 6 English Language Arts Test Book 3. ( click to read more)

Or this..?

There are typographical errors in the score and annotation provided for CAS Set 1 (for Question 63) on Page 1 in the Grade 7 Mathematics Test, 2012 Scoring Leader Training Materials, Volume 2, Practice Set and Consistency Assurance Set. Please make following corrections in all copies of this document.  ( click to read more)

How about this Commissioner?

This notice pertains to typographical errors in the Practice Set Answer Key on page 51 of the Practice Set portion of the Grade 8 Mathematics Test, 2012 Scoring Leader Training Materials, Volume 2, Practice Set and Consistency Assurance Set. Please make the following corrections in all copies of this document. (click to read more)

Here is a good one..

This notice pertains to Question 36 on the Spanish edition of the 2012 Grade 3
Mathematics Test Book 2, Form D only. Due to a typographical error, there is no
correct answer to Question 36 on this form. ( click for more)

Still more mistakes.. who’s fault?

This notice pertains to Question 23 on the Spanish edition only of the 2012
Grade 4 Mathematics Test Book 1, all forms (A, B, C, and D). Due to imprecision
in the transcription of this question, there is no correct answer (Click for more)

Let’s make it easy for you..

Who is a fault for the errors noted here http://www.p12.nysed.gov/apda/scoring/612ei/home.html

NYS paid Pearson $32,000,000.00 for flawed tests, riddled with so called pilot questions that flustered and distracted children across the state. How much is Pearson going to compensate these children for their labor as test guinie pigs for Pearson’s corporate interests?

Pretty soon our students will sit a suffer through field tests.. more forced labor for Pearson? Where is the educational objective for my students? Where do field tests fall within the Common Core?

Commissioner King may have a little trouble answering for this years mess (aka Pineapplegate). Perhaps he should be asking New York’s “only student advocate” Gov. Cuomo. Just where does that buck stop?

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