Reblog of Brilliance from THE Jose Vilson! @TheJLV #netDE


The Jose Vilson | It’s Not About A Salary; It’s All About Reality.

Eww. Seriously. That Is So Gross.

by Jose on January 31, 2012

Eww. Seriously? So Gross. (GEICO Commercial)

Ever have a baby sleeping right on your stomach when you see a hilarious commercial and you’re trying to suppress your laughter which only makes you laugh harder? That was the premise for tonight when I watched this Geico commercial about a guy who uses some popular girls from the local high school to help him with his diet. Watch:

Had. Me. In. Tears.

Then it got me thinking if I picked out my most incorrigible students and had some of our favorite education reformers present ideas to them, just to see what they thought. Up first, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

Blooomberg: Secretly, I want to fire half the teachers in New York and give the ones left a $20,000 raise. Just to keep ‘em quiet. Maybe that’ll show them.
Girl 1: Bloomberg, where all the kids going to go?
Bloomberg: Well, we won’t right out FIRE all the teachers left over. Your same teachers will still be around for a few weeks. Then when we get bored, we’ll rotate them. Imagine if you had more teachers throughout the year!
Girl 2: Imagine if we had to sit next to all those people mad tight or stand in the back of the class because we didn’t have any more seats?
Girl 3: That shit would suck. [Vilson looks from across.] My bad, language, language …
Girl 2: But, but but, yeah, what if I have to stand next to that one boy I really don’t like, but it’s our turn to stand next to each other because of this stupid idea?
Girl 1: Eww.
Girl 2: Seriously?
Girl 3: So gross.

Next up: US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Duncan: I have this Race To The Top program where I make states compete for money if they only agree to the reforms we like.
Girl 3: Like what?
Duncan: Well, we ask states to have more tests, find a way to fire bad teachers, and close down schools if they’re not doing exactly what we think they should be doing.
Girl 2: Oh. Sounds good.
Girl 1: Ugh, I hate tests! That mean ol’ teacher always has to give us one every week and she yells, “Hurry up and spit out your gum!” You know how much gum I have to spit out?
Girl 3: Yeah, well if this guy has his way, that teacher get fired!
Girl 2: No, that teacher wouldn’t! He gets good test scores, so he’ll probably stay!
Girl 3: Remember that one teacher we liked?
Girl 1: The geeky one who liked math a lot? Yeah, we liked her! What happened?
Girl 3: They fired her. The rumor is that some kids didn’t do well on the test, so they fired her for it.
Girl 1 and 2: Oh WOOOOWWW!!
Girl 1: Eww.
Girl 2: Seriously?
Girl 3: That’s gross.

Finally: former Washington DC Schools Chancellor and current edu-lobbyist Michelle Rhee

Rhee: First, let me say how much I really like students and …
Girl 1: Eww! :: cough, cough :: Sorry, continue.
Rhee: Like I was saying … [snickers to self], let me say how much I really like students. That’s why I created an organization called StudentsFirst, where students get to be first!
Girl 2: First where?
Rhee: Well, it’s like your football team. You like it when your school team wins right? It’s the same thing here. We want students to win!
Girl 3: Huh?
Girl 2: I think I see what she’s saying. She’s trying to say that students come before everybody else. It doesn’t matter if they’re adults or whatever, like, they need to fall back.
Girl 1: But I’m confused. Why does it matter as long as the adults are there to help us?
Girl 2: Right? Shouldn’t all schools just be good for everybody?
Girl 3: I just Googled her, and this is the same lady with the broom in her hand! Is she trying to sweep kids?
Girl 2: Is she gonna hit me with that thing?
Girl 3: Let her do it! I’ma get my brother after her.
Rhee: Umm, I think you’re missing the point, ladies …
Girl 1: Yo, you calling us dumb? You trying to say because we didn’t go to the school you went to that we not as smart as you! Ewwww!
Girl 2: Seriously?
Girl 3: That is so gross!

These girls will not be fooled.


Jose, I read your blog every day, and I get your RSS feed and follow your tweets, your stuff is money and I just had to share this with the DE edreformers, thank you for this one!

Vision 2015 pushing non-peer reviewed study as proof. #MoreofTheSame #netDE

Teacher Effectiveness | Vision 2015

A newly released study by professors at Harvard University and Columbia University uses research on 2.5 million students over 20 years to demonstrate the impact of effective teachers on improving their students’ academic performance and life trajectories. Providing the necessary development and support to teachers is a key component of the Vision 2015 recommendations, and this study aims to contribute to the conversation about the importance of teachers. The results from their study showed that effective teachers can benefit their students for years, increasing their likelihood in attending college and earning more money in their lifetime.

To learn more about the study, read The New York Times op-ed by Nicholas Kristof and The News Journal’s editorial.


Here’s a more balanced look:

Just days ago, three economists released a study that created a great deal of controversy. Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard University and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia University studied the school records and income tax records of 2.5 million students in a major urban district (probably New York City) over a 20-year period. They concluded that good teachers cause students to get higher test scores, which lead in turn to higher lifetime earnings, fewer teen pregnancies, and higher college-going rates.

The study was reported on Page One of The New York Times, covered on the PBS Newshour, and lauded by Nicholas Kristof in the Times. While the study itself did not have specific policy recommendations, one of the authors told the Times:The message is to fire people sooner rather than later.

The study seemed to vindicate supporters of value-added assessment. It was certainly good news for Erik Hanushek of the Hoover Institution, who has been arguing for several years that the key to improving education is to fire the bottom 5 to 10 percent of teachers based on the test scores of their students. In theory, if a “bad” teacher is replaced by an average teacher, then scores go up.

As you can well imagine, the study had immediate political ramifications. Conservative Republican governors immediately embraced the study as justification for abolishing tenure and any other job protections for teachers.

Bloggers quickly chimed in, and here is a list of the best posts, compiled by blogger extraordinaire and Sacramento, Calif., teacher Larry Ferlazzo.

Here are some obvious conclusions from the study: Teachers are really important. They make a lasting difference in the lives of their students. Some teachers are better than other teachers. Some are better at raising students’ test scores.

The problems of the study are not technical, but educational.

The Chetty-Friedman-Rockoff analysis points us to an education system in which tests become even more consequential than they are now. Teachers would work in school systems with no job protection, and their jobs would depend on the rise or fall of their students’ test scores.

Most teachers do not teach tested subjects, so it is not clear how they would be rated. But those who teach reading or mathematics in grades 3-8 would have to pay close attention to the tests. They would spend extra time preparing students to take them, even more than they do now.

There would be even less time in our schools than now for the arts, history, civics, geography, the sciences, foreign languages, health, and physical education. There would be less time to read challenging literature. There would be less time for science experiments. There would be less time for field trips to museums or historical sites. There would be less time for anything other than getting ready for the state tests.

There would be less time for extracurricular activities. There would be less time for chorus or band or dramatics or painting or film-making. There would be less time to read books, whether novels or histories.

None of these things is directly related to raising test scores.

What matters most is getting the right answer on the test. Divergent thinking would be discouraged because divergent thinking might produce wrong answers. So would originality, creativity, ingenuity, or any other display of independence or critical thinking.

We can expect that some teachers will find ways to avoid teaching the most challenging students and to avoid the most difficult schools and districts. Isn’t that the way incentives work?

When you put all these likely outcomes together, it’s hard to imagine that we will have better education for more kids. We might or might not have higher test scores, but at what cost? Under these circumstances, who will want to teach? Is there a large pool of average, good, or great teachers waiting in the wings?

It’s not surprising that students who get higher test scores are likelier to go to college and eventually have a higher income. But, according to economist Bruce Baker of Rutgers University, it is not so simple to identify which teachers produced these good outcomes. Baker writes: “… just because teacher [value-added] scores in a massive data set show variance does not mean that we can identify with any level of precision or accuracy which individual teachers (plucking single points from a massive scatter plot) are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad.’ Therein exists one of the major fallacies of moving from large scale econometric analysis to micro level human resource management.” (my italics)

It is surprising, in light of all the publicity, that the differences produced by the high value-added teachers are relatively small. Baker shows that the income gains are only about $250 a year over a 40-year working span for each of the students.

As Baker writes: “One of the big quotes in the New York Times article is: ‘Replacing a poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000, the economists estimate.’ This comes straight from the research paper. BUT … let’s break that down. It’s a whole classroom of kids. Let’s say … for rounding purposes, 26.6 kids if this is a large urban district like NYC. Let’s say we’re talking about earning careers from age 25 to 65 or about 40 years. So, $266,000/26.6 = $10,000 lifetime additional earnings per individual. Hmmm … no longer catchy headline stuff. Now, per year? $10,000/40 = $250. Yep, about $250 per year.”

Now, to clear up any doubt, let me make it clear that I don’t believe any school should hire or retain incompetent or “bad” teachers. If teachers can’t teach, they should be fired. No one who is incompetent should be awarded due process rights. Teachers who are having problems should be evaluated by their (hopefully, experienced) principal and peers, offered help, and if they don’t or can’t improve, they should be terminated.

The most peculiar aspect of the study is its concluding paragraph. It is not at all consonant with their public statements about “firing sooner rather than later,” nor with the policy agendas that are being built around the assumption that they recommend laying off more teachers and instituting merit pay. They conclude:

“While these calculations show that good teachers have great value, they do not by themselves have implications for optimal teacher salaries or merit pay policies. The most important lesson of this study is that finding policies to raise the quality of teaching–whether via the use of value-added measures, changes in salary structure, or teacher training—is likely to have substantial economic and social benefits in the long run.” No one could disagree with that statement, certainly not me.

As for me, I prefer deliberate efforts to raise entry standards into teaching, to improve teacher preparation, and to ensure that every school has a significant number of experienced teachers who are masters of their craft. That seems to be what the high-performing nations do. The goal would be to make teaching a prestigious profession, rather than a job that any college graduate—with only minimal preparation—can do.

Diane Ravitch

First line sums it up pretty well……but key point of change missed in article.

Del. limits link of test scores to teacher pay | The News Journal |

The state Department of Education has again changed how it will calculate public school teacher ratings for the 2011-12 school year.

For this year, the only teacher evaluations that will have a tie to student test scores are certain grade levels in math, reading, social studies and science — areas that are tested on the state’s Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System.

And with that, has gravely deepened the credibility gap they have worked so hard to create with our educators. Bad idea, begets a bad plan, which then begets an amazingly narrow minded approach to evaluation.

Bottom line, if you don’t teach those precious tested subjects you cannot earn extra pay while your colleagues can (covered in depth in my recent TC post)…. Why is this not covered in the NJ article? Because it’s not a good talking point…..and the deft attempt is to have the PIO sell us on the non-punishment angle. That doesn’t fly! All non tested teachers are locked out of a maximum evaluation rating by this plan, no matter how good they are, no matter how much they impact their students. That’s the real story here, no matter how they spin it….and did I ever call that!

. @GovernorMarkell and @ArneDuncan: this is one major reason why your policies in education are doomed to fail. #netDE #WAPO

How high stakes corrupt performance on tests, other indicators

This was written by Larry Cuban, a former high school social studies teacher (14 years, including seven at Cardozo and Roosevelt high schools in the District), district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, VA) and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for 20 years. His latest book is “As Good As It Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin.” A version of this post appeared on his blog .

By Larry Cuban

Test scores are the coin of the educational realm in the United States. No Child Left Behind demands that scores be used to reward and punish districts, schools, and teachers for how well or poorly students score on state tests. In pursuit of federal dollars, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition has shoved state after state into legislating that teacher evaluations include student test scores as part of judging teacher effectiveness.

Numbers glued to high stakes consequences, however, corrupt performance. Since the mid-1970s, social scientists have documented the untoward results of attaching high stakes to quantitative indicators not only for education but also across numerous institutions. They have pointed out that those who implement policies using specific quantitative measures will change their practices to insure better numbers.

The work of social scientist Donald T. Campbell and others about the perverse outcomes of incentives was available and known to many but went ignored. In “ Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change ,” Campbell wrote:

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor” (p. 49).

Campbell drew instances of distorted behavior when police officials used clearance rates in solving crimes, the Soviet Union set numerical goals for farming and industry, and when the U.S. military used “body counts” in Vietnam as evidence of winning the war.

That was 40-50 years ago. In the past decade, medical researchers have found similar patterns when health insurers and Medicare have used quantitative indicators to measure physician performance. For example, Medicare requires — as a quality measure — that doctors administer antibiotics to a pneumonia patient within six hours of arriving at the hospital.

As one physician said: “The trouble is that doctors often cannot diagnose pneumonia that quickly. You have to talk to and examine the patient and wait for blood tests, chest X-rays and so on.” So what happens is that “more and more antibiotics are being used in emergency rooms today, despite all-too-evident dangers like antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic-associated infections.”

He and other doctors also know that surgeons have been known to pick reasonably healthy patients for heart bypass operations and ignore elderly ones who have 3-5 chronic ailments to insure that results look good.

Here are some more examples:

TV stations charge for advertising on the basis of how many viewers they have during “sweep” months (November, February, May, and July). Nielsen company has boxes in 2 million homes (representative of the nation’s viewership) that register whether the TV is on and what families are watching during those months. They also have viewers fill out diaries. Nielsen assumes that what the station shows in those months represents programming for the entire year (see 2011-2012-Sweeps-Dates). Nope. What do TV networks and cable companies do during those “sweeps?” They program new shows, films, extravaganzas, and sports that will draw viewers so they can charge higher advertising rates. They game the system and corrupt the measure (see p. 80).

And, ripped from the headlines of the daily paper, online vendors secretly ask purchasers of their products to write reviews and rate it with five stars in exchange for a kickback of the price the customer paid. Another corrupted measure.

Of course, educational researchers also have documented the link between standardized test scores and narrowed instruction to prepare students for test items, instances of state policymakers fiddling with cut-off scores on tests, increased dropouts, and straight out cheating by a few administrators. (see Dan Koretz, “Measuring Up ”)

What Donald Campbell had said in 1976 about “highly corruptible indicators” applies not only in education but also to many different institutions.

So why do good policy makers use bad indicators?* The answer is that numbers are highly prized in the culture because they are easy to grasp and use in making decisions.The simpler the number — wins/losses, products sold, profits made, test scores — the easier to judge worth. When numbers have high stakes attached to them, they then become incentives (either as a carrot or a stick) to make the numbers look good. And that is where indicators turn bad as sour milk whose expiration date has long passed.

The best policymakers, not merely good ones, know that multiple measures for a worthy goal reduce the possibility of reporting false performance.

@ChadLivengood @DoverDelDenison: How this for a whopper? #netDE #Component5 @dwablog

So, here’s a quote from a News Journal Story from 1/12/12, after a pivot from schoolwide scores for non tested subject areas, Dr. Lowery then proclaims this:


Officials alleviate teachers’ concerns | The News Journal |

She also said the state received a special one-year U.S. Department of Education exemption from rules that require student test scores to be a component of teacher evaluations.

“It will not in any way impact a teacher’s grade or trigger teacher discipline,” she said.

Then she writes this: HERE in which there is the following quote:

For the 2011/12 school year, educator summative ratings will be determined without use of Component V except as used to identify highly effective teachers, as noted below. Using Components I – IV, an educator’s summative rating will be determined as follows:

  • 0 or 1 satisfactory components = Ineffective summative rating
  • 2 satisfactory components = Needs Improvement summative rating
  • 3 or 4 satisfactory components = Effective summative rating

Only teachers of DCAS-tested subjects (math, English Language Arts in grades 3-10) will receive a Component V score for this year. They will be eligible for a Highly Effective summative rating and therefore eligible for incentive and retention bonuses. Details on the incentive/retention program will be finalized and announced this spring and will be voluntary at the local level.

So, I attended the hearing that the NJ piece is based on as did several teachers. It couldn’t have sounded more clear to me: non tested subject teachers were not going to be subjected to component 5 at all, schoolwide scores or otherwise and component 5 will not be used in teacher performance conclusions even if the teacher got a rating their would be no punitive actions. Now, a quick read may suggest that since they are only offering perverse incentives for the ELA and Math teachers who score well, that they have satisfied the sensibility of no punitive actions….but, the scoring rubric above clearly suggests that a non ELA/Math teacher who gets 4/4 is effective only. Compared to an ELA/Math teacher who gets 5/5 and can be HIGHLY effective. So, Arts, Social Studies, Phys Ed, Foreign Language, Science teachers, no matter how good they are, cannot be rated highly effective this year? Seems so, and it seems to me like we’ve been lied to, again: non ELA/Math teachers will be punished by having an entire tier of ratings made inaccessible to them for OUTSTANDING, SUPERLATIVE work. I feel bad for all teachers in the system: leadership is failing them in so many ways and from so many different places. Keeping highly effective ratings from those who deserve, and more importantly EARN, them will poison any reasonable evaluation system with toxic doses of bad morale, jealousy, anger, and resentment: DPASS-II(R) will be no exception….

Cant wait to see the DDOE PIO spin machine on this load of crap.

Tragic miscalculation: DOE to count component 5 in tested subjects, this year, on no notice #netDE

Details of plan here:

My take: Governor Markell and Dr. Lowery are trying to sprinkle in performance bonuses and incentives in an attempt to get some measure of positivity in the system (getting teachers who get bonuses to talk up the program, etc) in an election year…… Here’s the two fold mistake:

1) They have been saying all year that it will not count, so this has become a lie. Not surprising from our state ed leadership, but just another example of dishonesty piled on top of many others.

2) Performance incentives do not work. Period. There is extensive research on this subject, but our DOE has chosen to ignore it because the Feds ignore it. I believe all involved will rue the day we ignored this fact.

Well, I can’t wait to start getting phone calls from my constituents and teachers complaining that we have created class-ism inside the DE teaching profession. Unlike, Governor Markell and Dr. Lowery, I’ll handle it rather than kick the can.

Partnership Zone Plans : More of the Same @RodelDE @Briyin #netDE

Albeit for different reasons, mark this day down, I agreed with Rodel, twice!

Partnership Zone Plans : More of the Same | Rodel Foundation of Delaware

Partnership Zone Plans : More of the Same

The Delaware Department of Education approved plans at five of six second round Partnership Zone schools (Laurel Middle’s plan is due in February), which will wrap up the state’s Race to the Top commitment to turnaround ten persistently low-performing schools.

Although the plans represent significant effort on the part of all stakeholders to come together and negotiate a path forward for these schools, they seem to focus on incremental gains without an overarching, clear, and coherent vision for these schools – and a willingness to fundamentally change conditions for schools that we know need more than a “light touch”.

Instead, they feel like a mash up of various, and potentially conflicting, initiatives, which frustrates all involved and leads to the disenchantment and fatigue already felt by many.  However, scanning the plans, there are components that leave me optimistic about the possibility of these to produce positive results for kids:

  • Incorporating Technology: While I question the use of these funds to purchase necessary hardware, it’s heartening to see schools explicitly state the potential of technology to help students through such innovative programs as Dreambox at Marbrook Elementary;
  • Extended Learning Time: A couple schools are adding a fairly significant chunk of time onto the school day and year in order to catch students up on essential ELA and math skills, such as at Stanton Middle; and
  • Family and Community Engagement: Schools are strengthening or adding on to the initiatives laid out in their Race to the Top plans, such as family home visits by teachers before the start of school at Dover High.

This is a stark contrast to other turnaround efforts across the country, such as Houston’s Apollo 20 program, which has five tenets guiding their efforts, including effective teachers and leaders, extended learning time, high-dosage tutoring, data-driven instruction, and a culture of high expectations for all students.  This program, in its second year of implementation, has yielded significant initial results for their students.

The ESEA flexibility process provides an opportunity to strengthen the state framework around low-performing schools, and not just the bottom ten. Other states have taken advantage of this opportunity to change the policy context, funding conditions, and incentives for low-performing schools. Delaware’s waiver is due February 6th.

Myside bias in deciding “what to think” about research results–// #ChettyFriedmanRockoff #NYT #netDE


Myside bias in deciding “what to think” about research results–(S)extrapolation II

Myside bias in deciding “what to think” about research results–(S)extrapolation II

This morning, the New York Times carried a column by Nicholas Kristof talking about the import of the Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff paper; later, Kevin Carey wrote a blog entry telling us what to think about the study.1 To be honest, I’m shocked it took more than half a week for folks to use Friday’s Times story by Annie Lowrey as a springboard for public policy discussions. Maybe the quick responses by Bruce Baker and Matthew Di Carlo played a role in delaying the inevitable.2 What was most surprising about the Kristof column is not that he bought the weakest part of the paper as a shiny bright object (as did Carey) but that he first cited (and linked to) Di Carlo’s comments and then entirely ignored Di Carlo’s cautions about the extrapolatory analysis on young-adult effects.

What we’re seeing in both comments is confirmation bias: Carey and Kristof (but especially Kristof) are using the study to confirm preexisting policy preferences. Neither acknowledge any weakness in the extrapolations made by the study authors, even though there are several items that should raise red flags for a reader reasonably well-educated in statistics. Carey even makes the (surprising) mistake of confusing statistical significance with effect size (note: see discussion of this item in comments).3

There’s a short passage in Carey that conflates two separate issues and requires some explanation in rebuttal:

Academics complain all the time that policy is insufficiently informed by evidence, and as a general proposition that’s true. But these complaints are themselves often informed by a vague or naive view of how standards of evidence properly translate to policy choices…. For CFR to conclude from their research that present policies ought to be more strongly weighted toward the possibility of going with someone else … [is] a case of academic researchers fulfilling their responsibility to make their findings meaningful on behalf of society.4

The issues here5 are whether it was appropriate for this study to identify useful policy consequences and, quite separately, the burden of proof in using research evidence.

1) Is the classroom-aggregate income claim a responsible effort by the researchers at outreach to policymakers? I don’t know if Carey read my comments on the paper, but I specifically pointed out clear policy consequences I saw from the stronger parts of the paper (specifically, the method CFR used to test potential bias effects on value-added measures from within-school student assignment). But exaggeration of policy implications annoys me as a reader, and that’s what I saw in the section Carey likes. He quoted a clear example of Statistical Bull Shiitake from the paper:

Replacing a teacher in the bottom 5% with an average teacher generates earnings gains of $9,422 per student, or $267,000 for a class of average size… (underlining of non-zero figures added)

I spent half a decade as a journal editor dreading the occasional discussion with authors on the number of non-zero figures that made sense in research results, and the basic lesson is that just because SAS prints out 16 digits doesn’t mean it’s impressive or justifiable to use all of them; in general, it shows one’s statistical ignorance (or a temptation to imply too-great accuracy) instead. In this case, the study authors estimate the income effects of a 1 standard-deviation change in teacher effects on the order of 0.9%-1.1%. So how did they get from two significant figures in the underlying parameter estimate to three or four in the dollar amounts? When I see that sort of nonsense, my first impression is that the measure is “merely corroborative detail to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative,” as Poo-Bah from The Mikado put it. Let me state clearly that the estimate of long-term outcomes by itself is fine as research. It’s the packaging of extrapolation as a soundbite that is irresponsible, and CFR have to perform some interesting contortions to come up with anything that doesn’t look like the moderate effects they found.6

2) What is the proper presumption stance on incorporating research/who has the burden of proof in arguing policy? Carey argues that there’s no such thing as a nonchoice in policy–or, more specifically in the case of the Hanushek argument about “deselection” of teachers with low value-added measures, the opposite of “deselection” or any proposed policy is not a policy vacuum. At one level, I agree that the lack of explicit comparisons makes it difficult to argue ethically that one should wait for conclusive research findings before ever changing policy. But that’s a false dichotomy. One need not keep singing A Study’s About To Begin to know there’s a substantial difference between a nihilist approach to policy change (what Carey essentially accuses me of having) and cautious reception of a single study, no matter how interesting.7 And, speaking of explicit comparisons, the relevant section of the Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff paper has no explicit modeling of opportunity costs. That’s the central conceptual engine in economics, and the lack of a full comparative analysis in their paper doesn’t mean the classroom-aggregate estimates are evil, just that they create a sketch and nothing more. Not much to hang policy on, Kristof and Carey’s protests notwithstanding.


  1. Yes, he used “what to think” in the entry title. Carey’s mind-control machinery isn’t working tonight, at least down here in Florida. I suspect he reversed the polarity of his neocortical reticulator. Or he bought the model that was shown in the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. Didn’t he know not to trust that stuff? []
  2. I think it notable that Baker, Di Carlo, and I generally agreed both on where the paper overreach was but also on what the significant contribution of the paper was. We don’t always agree, and the convergence with separate readings should say something to those inclined to take the paper at face value or to dismiss it offhand. []
  3. Given the quantity of records the study uses, it’s very easy to see statistical significance with a minimal effect. All statistical significance tells you is the likelihood that the existence of an effect–not its magnitude, but just the existence–could have been generated by random variation in the data. []
  4. The full quotation of the second sentence from Carey, without ellipses, is “For CFR to conclude from their research that present policies ought to be more strongly weighted toward the possibility of going with someone else isn’t the academic equivalent of staging a fake wedding for Entertainment Tonight and pocketing the profits, it’s a case of academic researchers fulfilling their responsibility to make their findings meaningful on behalf of society.” He’s responding to my quip that for Lowrey to spend more than 10% of the article on the authors discussing the need to fire teachers based on value-added measures is a waste of column inches when she did not get Jesse Rothstein’s response to CFR’s bias-testing method. Carey is confusing my criticism of CFR with my criticism of Lowrey. []
  5. Apart from Carey’s misunderstanding my Kardashian quip. []
  6. I could distort the findings to minimize the effect of schools on the lives of students, but that would be equally irresponsible. The demonstration of both a deliberate minimization and its methodological irresponsibility is left as an exercise for the reader. []
  7. As far as I am aware, neither Bruce Baker nor Matthew Di Carlo is on record as being a policy change nihilist. []

Welcome Back Kotter cast member died today. #WelcomeBack #netDE

Original Artist

Begin show

End Show

Interview with Welcome Back Kotter Star Bob Hegyes AKA Juan Epstein

ESEA Flexibility Waiver Questions: Harried. #netDE #DDOE #NOrealPARTNERS #parforthecourseforGov

Blast from the past: these are the folks that sold out Delaware’s regulations,code,and schools for less than 1% of DE Ed Budget. JUST SCROLL DOWN on the EMBEDDED VIEWER#netDE

I can’t wait for Kilroy to see Sen. Carper’s handwritten note to Arne Duncan on his letter of support…..

State of the Union 2012.

Dear Anonymous, *** UPDATED 1/24/11***

*** UPDATE: The accusations regarding the board member are patently false: As you will hear from  1:06:20 to 1:06:46 of the 1/10/12 Board Meeting audio here:  the decision to add cafeteria space and open the second floor was unambiguously a partnership between school leadership and student government and not the direction of a board member. Also, this letter comes on the heels of an extremely questionable meeting hosted by the DDOE at GHS in which our students were ignored and adults quibbled about who is in charge, or at least that’s what I gather from the notes and our board meeting audio from 1/10/12.….so, either Anonymous is a liar or is being lied to….I wonder which it is???? ….not.****

I struggle in how I may assist you in the concerns you have sent to me in the letter below. I want to, but I do not know who you are or if you have ulterior motives. I invite you to call me: 219.308.5338 so I can better understand your concerns. Absent that call, I am left to muse about the content of your letter that without any accompanying support appears to be riddled with factual inaccuracies and possibly a subversive agenda. One call could clear all that up….I look forward to your call. If no information is provided by the author within one week, I will update this post to reflect the inaccuracies contained therein as a public service to the district and the earnest hardworking staff at GHS and our students!


‘Reformers’ playbook on failing schools fails a fact check | Economic Policy Institute #netDE

‘Reformers’ playbook on failing schools fails a fact check | Economic Policy Institute

Education “reformers” have a common playbook. First, assert without evidence that regular public schools are “failing” and that large numbers of regular (unionized) public school teachers are incompetent. Provide no documentation for this claim other than that the test score gap between minority and white children remains large. Then propose so-called reforms to address the unproven problem – charter schools to escape teacher unionization and the mechanistic use of student scores on low-quality and corrupted tests to identify teachers who should be fired.

The mantra has been endlessly repeated by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and by “reform” leaders like former Washington and New York schools chancellors Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein. Bill Gates’ foundation gives generous grants to school systems and private education advocates who adopt the analysis. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel makes the argument, and in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has frequently sung the same tune.

And now, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has joined in. On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday last week, the governor cast attacks on unionized teachers as a defense of minority students against the adult bureaucracy. “It’s about the children,” Mr. Cuomo said. Because of failing public schools, “the great equalizer that was supposed to be the public education system can now be the great discriminator.”

But this applause line about school failure is an “urban myth.” The governor, mayor and other policymakers have neglected to check facts they assume to be true. As a result, they may be obsessed with the wrong challenges, while exacerbating real, but overlooked problems.

Careful examination discloses that disadvantaged students have made spectacular progress in the last generation, in regular public schools, with ordinary teachers. Not only have regular public schools not been “the great discriminator” – they continue to make remarkable gains for minority children at a time when our increasingly unequal social and economic systems seem determined to abandon them.

We have only one accurate performance measure. The government administers periodic reading and math tests to samples of fourth, eighth and 12th graders. Called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, pronounced “nape”), it is less subject to corruption than standardized tests now legally required of all schoolchildren.

NAEP samples are only large enough to produce reliable national and (for fourth and eighth graders) state estimates, but not for classrooms or schools. Thus, principals or teachers suffer no consequences for poor NAEP scores, giving them no incentive to steal time from instruction to drill on NAEP-type questions.

Not every selected student gets identical NAEP questions. Scores aggregate answers from different students’ booklets, covering different topics from the math and reading curriculums. In contrast, state and city standardized tests change little each year; teachers can predict which of many topics will likely appear, and focus instruction on those.

Here’s what NAEP shows: Average black fourth graders’ math performance in regular public schools has improved so much that it now exceeds average white performance as recently as 1992. The improvement has been greatest for the lowest achievers, those in the bottom 10 percent. Eighth graders show similar, though less dramatic trends. The black-white gap has narrowed little because whites have also improved.

These irrefutable facts characterize both the nation as a whole, and New York State specifically. In fact, New York State’s black children made enormous gains in the 1990s, and much slower gains once the federal No Child Left Behind, and Mayor Bloomberg’s and Chancellor Klein’s test-based reforms kicked in. From 1992 to 2003, for example, black fourth graders’ math performance jumped 22 scale points (about two-thirds of a standard deviation). From 2003 to 2011, the gain was only 5 scale points.

There is something perverse about using Dr. King’s  birthday as the occasion for an accusation that schools have been the “great discriminators” when those schools have been boosting the achievement of African Americans at a far more rapid rate than they’ve been able to boost the achievement of whites.

Overall, the national and New York State data are hard to reconcile with a story that schools are filled with teachers having low expectations, poor training, and complacency arising from excessive job security, and the way to fix public schools is more accountability for student test scores.

There are certainly ineffective teachers, and schools should do better at removing them. But data suggest that this problem, while real, is relatively small compared to others we ignore. Here are two: There has been substantial reading improvement at the fourth but not eighth grade; and no comparable improvement, even in math, for 12th graders.

Assuming systemic failure to justify a frenzy of ill-considered reforms, we’ve spent almost no time investigating what caused these trends. We can only speculate.

Plausibly, schools have more influence on math. Reading, especially for older children, results more from exposure to vocabulary and complex language at home, and to visiting museums, libraries, and zoos, to gain context for the written word.

We do know that the verbal gap between middle class and disadvantaged children is well established by age 3. We can improve reading scores for fourth graders by drilling basic skills, but not for older children whose reading depends more on relating text to the world beyond.

Popular reforms, holding schools and teachers accountable for test scores, are consistent with the facts only if we believe that most teachers work hard to teach math, but not reading. More plausible is that elementary schools do at least a passable job, and we should focus reform instead on establishing early childhood centers that give disadvantaged children greater verbal exposure and the breadth of experience that affluent children typically receive.

Rather than spending such energy imagining how schools have failed, so we can fix them, we might devote attention to investigating what schools have done well, so we can do more of it.

High schools’ apparent lack of improvement for disadvantaged youth remains puzzling. Here, too, we should consider some factors outside of schools, where racially isolated communities with concentrated poverty and few jobs can demoralize adolescents. We might get greater academic success by creating more after-school and summer programs that provide enriching experiences, competing with adverse neighborhood influences.

Systems cannot improve if prescriptions rely on flawed diagnoses. The governor and mayor should now step back, take a deep breath, and try to follow facts rather than ignore them.

In September, DDOE named 6 not 5, one was wrong. #accuracybuildstrust #liesdestroyit #netDE

Where are the plans?

DEDOE Secretary Lowery Approves Five New Partnership Zone Plans [Delaware Department of Education]

Secretary Lowery Approves Five New Partnership Zone Plans

Release Date: Jan 24, 2012 7:00 AM  ShareThis

Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery has approved five schools’ Partnership Zone plans. The plans – drafted locally with state support – are designed to turn around underperforming schools with the help of an influx of resources and assistance.

“District leaders worked closely with parents, teachers and other school community members to design a plan that will meet their building and students’ individual needs,” Lowery said. “We now know what we need to do, but the work has just begun. We must continue to partner as we implement these plans in the 2012-13 school year.”

In September, Lowery named the five schools to the state’s second Partnership Zone cohort. They are: Capital School District’s Dover High; Christina School District’s Bancroft Elementary; and Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Lewis Dual Language Elementary, Marbrook Elementary and Stanton Middle.

A sixth school – Laurel School District’s Laurel Middle – was identified in October because of a state calculation error and thus is about a month behind the other five schools in the process. All six schools join the state’s first cohort of PZ schools selected in 2010: Christina’s Glasgow High and Stubbs Elementary, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District’s Howard High School of Technology and Positive Outcomes charter school. The state’s School Turnaround Unit supports and monitors the PZ schools.

The Partnership Zone was a key component of the state’s top-ranked Race to the Top plan.  In 2010, Delaware was one of two states to win first-round funding in the federal competitive grant program, earning $119 million to support efforts to improve the quality of education in the state. The state’s plan included the support of every school district, superintendent, charter school and charter school director.

Partnership Zone schools will benefit from RTTT funds and school improvement grants to carry out one of four models for significantly improving student performance at the school:  

Closure – District closes the school and enrolls the students who attended that school into other schools.

Restart – District converts a school into a public charter school pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 5 of Title 14 of the Delaware Code, or closes and reopens a school under a charter school operator, a charter management organization or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.

Transformation – School makes significant changes in its governance and operation, including making changes to teacher evaluation consequences and modifying instructional time.

Turnaround – School makes significant changes in governance, staffing and operation including removing at least 50% of the current staff.

Like the first four schools, each of the five plans approved in the second round uses the transformation model.

Capital’s designated Race to the Top portion of the Partnership Zone allocation for Dover High School is $ 271,276 per year. Christina’s designated RTTT portion of the Partnership Zone allocation for Bancroft is $202,206 per year. Red Clay’s designated RTTT portions of the Partnership Zone allocation are $167,818 (Lewis), $176,423 (Marbrook) and $205,157 (Stanton), respectively, per school per year. To secure additional funding, each district may apply for the Title I 1003(g) School Improvement Grant.

The approved plans are attached. Additional information about the Partnership Zone is available online at .

Proof it was 6 schools:

Delaware Announces New Partnership Zone Schools

Release Date: Sep 1, 2011 9:40 AM  ShareThis

—Six more buildings to receive intensive support to improve their students’ academic performance–

Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery today named six new schools to the state’s Partnership Zone, bringing an influx of resources and assistance to these underperforming schools.
The new schools — Capital School District’s Dover High; Christina School District’s Bayard Middle and Bancroft Elementary; and Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Lewis Dual Language Elementary, Marbrook Elementary and Stanton Middle– join the four inaugural schools named to the Partnership Zone last year: Christina’s Glasgow High and Stubbs Elementary, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District’s Howard High School of Technology and Positive Outcomes charter school.

What happens in turnaround schools, Chicago style….

From what I can tell, Governor Markell idolizes the person who made all this “success” happen: Arne Duncan.


A poor man can carry as much pride in his pocket as rich man.

Originally posted on Kilroy's Delaware:

Markell’s $1.4M in campaign ammo a record for Delaware

Gov. Jack Markell is sitting comfortably these days with more than $1.4 million in his campaign war chest — a record for modern Delaware governors heading into a re-election year.

Markell raised more than $1.3 million in 2011, according to a campaign finance report filed Friday with the Delaware Public Integrity Commission

Yea Kilroy did jump ship and supported Markell for his first term! I was so discourage with the Republican party move so far to the right that those of us in the middle or right to center weren’t being heard. And in deed I voted for Obama. I wanted change like many others. But I’ll be honest, I network with legislators from both sides and there are good caring people in both parties. I got   support from the House and Senate on legislation (HB#26 signed 6/08/2011) requiring the…

View original 456 more words

Inexcusable Inequalities! This is NOT the post funding equity era!

Originally posted on School Finance 101:

I’ve heard it over and over again from reformy pundits. Funding equity? Been there done that. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. It’s all about teacher quality! (which of course has little or nothing to do with funding equity?).  The bottom line is that equitable and adequate financing of schools is a NECESSARY UNDERLYING CONDITION FOR EVERYTHING ELSE!

I’m sick of hearing, from pundits who’ve never run a number themselves and have merely passed along copies of the meaningless NCES Table showing national average spending in high poverty districts slightly greater than that for lower poverty ones. 

I’m sick of the various iterations of the “we’ve tripled spending and gotten nothing for it” argument and accompanying bogus graphs.  And further, the implication put forward by pundits that these graphs and table taken together mean that we’ve put our effort into the finance side for kids in low-income schools…

View original 1,393 more words

NYT: In Race to the Top, the Dirty Work Is Left to Those on the Bottom @GovernorMarkell #netDE #badpolicy #schoolboardswillhavetocleanupthismess

In Obama’s Race to the Top, Work and Expense Lie With States –

Even if you think the Obama administration’s signature education program, Race to the Top, will not help a single child in America learn more, you have to admire its bureaucratic magnificence.

First, it has had a major effect — reaching into most public schools in America — while costing the Obama administration next to nothing.

The Education Department will spend about $5 billion on the program, and even if you’re thinking, hey, I could use $5 billion, consider this: New York won the largest federal grant, $700 million over the next four years. In that time, roughly $230 billion will be spent on public education in the state. By adding just one-third of one percent to state coffers, the feds get to implement their version of education reform.

That includes rating teachers and principals by their students’ scores on state tests; using those ratings to dismiss teachers with low scores and to pay bonuses to high scorers; and reducing local control of education.

Second, the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and his education scientists do not have to do the dirty work. For teachers in subject areas and grades that do not have state tests (music, art, technology, kindergarten through third grade) or do not have enough state tests to measure growth (every high school subject), it is the state’s responsibility to create a system of alternative ratings.

In New York, that will have to cover 79 percent of all teachers, a total of 175,000 people. The only state tests for assessing teachers are for English and math, from fourth grade to eighth.

Third, federal officials don’t wind up looking like dictators telling states how to do their jobs. They’re happy to let state officials work out the details.

In New York, state officials have also decided not to be dictatorial. They’re happy to let the state’s 700 school districts figure out, individually, how to assess those 175,000 teachers.

Fourth, while President Harry S. Truman said the buck stops here, costing himself a lot of extra time and effort, President Obama can say the buck stops way down there, cutting his workload.

Of course, a buck whizzing downward has to land somewhere, and in this case it sits on the desk of Paul R. Infante, the director of fine and applied arts for the Commack School District on Long Island.

Mr. Infante is trying to figure out how to develop a test or an assessment system to rate band teachers.

Several weeks ago the state sent out a guide. The band teacher could listen to every child play at the start of the year and assign a score from 1 to 4.

“At the end of the year,” the state guide says, “the teacher re-evaluates their students.” (Someone needs to evaluate the state’s grammar.)

The teacher again grades students from 1 to 4, and the sum of the progress they have made during the year determines the teacher’s rating.

Mr. Infante sees many problems. There is such a variety of ability, he said, that setting a fair baseline at the start of the year would mean assigning children a wide range of music pieces to perform. Just to find the appropriate pieces, he said, the band teacher would have to listen to each child play. A child could be terrible at sight reading but have a nice sound. So in fairness, the teacher would have to spend a few weeks helping 100 children prepare pieces just so they could be tested for their initial rating.

“It would take so much time away from instruction to focus on the assessment,” Mr. Infante said.

A lot could be riding on this: tenure, a bonus, the band teacher’s job. Or, if a teacher challenges the assessment, a lawsuit. So Mr. Infante would want to assess the accuracy of the ratings a teacher gave, to make sure they were not artificially low at the start of the year or artificially high at the end.

To do that in an objective way, he would want to use an outside evaluator. On Long Island, retired superintendents who are running seminars on the new evaluation system are being paid $945 a day. “We can’t afford that,” Mr. Infante said.

Joel Ratner is a past president of the New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education and the music coordinator for the Brentwood district on Long Island, which has 16,000 students and 46 music teachers. He’s been traveling to Albany monthly to take part in a state task force that is supposed to be shaping the evaluation process. He says state officials have little interest in getting feedback from the teachers, principals and superintendents on the panel.

He also says he can’t tell whether the state will be rigorous in its oversight, or do just enough to satisfy federal regulations. He feels certain about one thing: “A considerable amount of time will be spent creating a significant amount of mandated paperwork.”

In an e-mail responding to questions, state officials predicted that many music educators would welcome the new system.

“In these very challenging fiscal times, districts are under intense pressure to cut funding for subjects not usually considered to be ‘core academic subjects,’ ” wrote a spokesman for the state education commissioner, John B. King Jr. “Measuring student learning in these disciplines is something many educators want to be able to do to demonstrate more transparently the contributions they make to their students’ learning.”

Mr. Ratner says putting on a first-rate band concert would be a better way to demonstrate a program’s effectiveness.

I found it impossible to tell from an interview with Dr. King how aggressively the state would oversee the district’s alternative assessments, which go into effect in 2012-13.

He said state officials would take disciplinary action if they found that a district was giving teachers high ratings but students were performing poorly by other state measures.

But he also said the State Education Department’s budget had been reduced 40 percent in the past few years, staffing was thin and the ultimate responsibility for monitoring would be left to principals, superintendents and school boards. The main state role, he said, will be to “provide guidance and models.”

Throughout the Race to the Top process, state officials have behaved erratically.

In May 2010, the teachers’ union and department officials, including Dr. King, agreed that student scores on state tests would account for 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

In August 2010, Mr. Duncan visited the state union’s headquarters in his Race to the Top bus (he really has one) and told union and department officials that New York had won a grant “because of your collective leadership, your act of courage.”

In May 2011, with no warning, Dr. King and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo rammed a measure through the Board of Regents making state tests worth up to 40 percent of teacher evaluations.

In August, a state judge ruled that they couldn’t do that.

For the last month now, as federal officials have pressed for a resolution, the governor and the commissioner have been berating the union. Like children who change the rules in the middle of the game, they appear to be counting on a lot of screaming to distract the crowd.

“It’s not about the adults, it’s about the children,” Mr. Cuomo keeps saying. “The children come first.”

Hawaii Teachers Reject New Contract With State, deal possible death blow to #RTTT. #greatnews

Honolulu Civil Beat – Hawaii Teachers Reject New Contract With State – Article

Hawaii Teachers Reject New Contract With State

Katherine Poythress/Civil Beat

Hawaii teachers delivered a stunning message Thursday.

By a 2-1 margin, they rejected a proposed six-year deal that had the unanimous backing of union leadership. The turnout was huge, with 9,000 of the state’s 12,500 teachers voting.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokeswoman for the governor. “We have some concerns. Race to the Top was a big motivator in making sure there was a fair, tentative agreement and tomorrow we’ll see what are our next steps. The state will move forward and look at all of our options to ensure that our focus remains on Hawaii’s children.”

The vote marked the first time in its 44-year history that members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association rejected a contract that their board recommended.

Wil Okabe, president of the union, published a letter on the union’s website calling the vote “a victory for a union democracy.”

“While I recommended the proposal to you, my real job is to carry out the decisions you make,” he wrote.

“So beginning tomorrow, I will initiate a union-wide conversation about our options going forward, listen to your suggestions, roll up my sleeves, and get back to work.

“Many of you have suggested that we return to the negotiating table. Others of you believe a strike vote should be our next step. And still others have suggested that we continue with our legal challenges. Each of these points of view should be considered and discussed.”

He told reporters during a press conference Thursday night that it will take “two to three weeks” for HSTA leaders to assess the situation and determine what steps to take next.

“I cannot really speculate as to why this happened,” he said. “I believe that (the members’) voice has been heard. I’m going to have to spend the next two or three weeks going back to membership to find out the reasons for this ratification vote.

“It is an ominous thing. This is serious. But as I mentioned to you, this is a membership-driven organization, and if that’s the way that the members feel we should go, that’s the way we will go.”

Teachers have been upset since last July over the “last, best and final” offer that Gov. Neil Abercrombie imposed on them, clamoring that not only were his pay cuts too severe, but he had violated their collective bargaining rights.

The rejection at the polls on Thursday indicates they believe their leaders did no better when they finally struck a long-awaited deal with the state on Jan. 6. The Hawaii Department of Education and Board of Education had stayed silent about the agreement, which included some unpopular components the state needed in order to meet its federal Race to the Top goals: teacher evaluations and performance-based pay.

Union Vice President Karolyn Mossman said earlier this week that the state made no commitment to return to the bargaining table in the event of a “no” vote.

Which means the union has three choices, according to a memo Okabe sent to teachers the day before they voted:

  1. Live with the “last, best and final” offer until it expires in 2013
  2. Strike
  3. Continue with a long, expensive legal case the union lodged against the state last year

He said the union’s board of directors would be meeting over the weekend to determine their best option, and would not say which he prefers.

The contract that was rejected would have been retroactive to July 1, 2011, and for the first two years included the same health-care increase and 5 percent pay cut that Abercombie had imposed.

There were still many details to hammer out. Beginning on July 1, 2013, evaluations and a performance-based salary schedule required to meet Race to the Top promises were to have kicked in.

The evaluation on which the performance pay was to be based had not been developed yet. There was no telling whether either would have fulfilled the state’s Race to the Top commitments. Or how the Department of Education planned to afford them.

The performance pay involved a 1 percent raise for each year in which a teacher received an “effective” rating or higher on the not-yet-developed annual evaluation. The annual evaluations alone for 12,500 teachers would have required significant time and money to implement well. Today teachers are evaluated once every five years, if that.


Department of Education officials declined to talk about any details of the agreement until after teachers voted.

But earlier this week, HSTA touted the performance evaluations as a boon for teachers craving feedback on their effectiveness in the classroom.

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