John O'Connor is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. John previously covered politics, the budget and taxes for The (Columbia, S.C) State. He is a graduate of Allegheny College and the University of Maryland.
Politico goes in depth to look at how Miami Edison Senior High School got ready to make the most of federal grants intended to turn the school around. In comparison, Miami Edison got better results than a Chicago school that bickered about the grant.
In 2009, the Obama administration saw a chance to tackle a problem that had bedeviled educators for decades. “Our goal is to turn around the 5,000 lowest-performing schools over the next five years, as part of our overall strategy for dramatically reducing the dropout rate, improving high school graduation rates and increasing the number of students who graduate prepared for success in college and the workplace,” said Arne Duncan, the administration’s new secretary of education in August of that year.
A strong majority of Floridians say they support regular school testing, even testing tied to the Common Core State Standards that Florida has adopted, according to a new poll from St. Leo University. But a growing number of parents say they should have the choice of opting their students out of testing.
The survey showed much higher support (about 80 percent) for regular testing, with 52 percent backing the use of test results as a measure of success. By contrast, 58 percent said graduation rates should be used to measure success, and 42 percent said teacher qualifications and accomplishments should be used.
Hillsborough County is scrapping six years and $180 million worth of work to build a new teacher evaluation system with help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That means getting rid of 260 teachers trained to mentor and evaluate teachers.
Among the selling points Hillsborough made back in 2009 when securing the Gates foundation’s support: a close working relationship between district officials and the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. District leaders praised and promoted the union at public gatherings, and assured teachers that members were equal partners in designing the system.
The Gateses hoped the newly developed systems in Hillsborough and elsewhere would result in all students — especially those with the highest needs — getting quality teachers.
But in a report published Sunday, the Tampa Bay Times showed the project fell short of many of its goals and cost more to sustain than the district could afford.
Lower-income schools continue to hire the newest and least qualified teachers. Test scores are still measurably lower for poor and minority students. And Hillsborough’s graduation rate now lags behind other large counties in Florida.
Students who attend online charter schools do significantly worse than peers in traditional schools, a new Stanford University study finds. And in Florida, the negative effects of online schools are twice as large as the rest of the studied group.
The latest study, released Tuesday, looks at the learning gains of students attending 158 virtual charter schools in 17 states and the District of Columbia over four years.
It finds virtual charter school students make significantly slower progress than their peers in traditional, brick-and-mortar schools, losing the statistical equivalent of 72 days’ worth of learning in reading in a typical school, and 180 days in math.
These results, the report says, “leave little doubt attending an online charter school leads to lessened academic growth for the average student.”
Miami-Dade students improved their scores on two of four national reading and math exams, even as scores dropped nationally.
The results are from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP — also known as the “nation’s report card.” The test is given every two years in math and reading to 4th and 8th grade students.
The U.S. average scores dropped on each of the four exams — with the biggest declines in 8th grade reading and math.
Education leaders said the latest national scores were surprising and disappointing, but said that scores have improved over the long term.
“The news isn’t great,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters.
Duncan said the cause for the decline in national scores isn’t clear, but said the switch to Common Core math and language arts standards in more than 40 states and other new education policies probably caused a downward dip as schools adjusted.
“This is not an infrequent occurrence,” Duncan said.
Robert Pondiscio argues President Obama won’t be able to limit the time spent testing, because those decisions are made by the state and local leaders. “Our present relationship with testing is like holding a wolf by its ears,” Pondiscio writes. “We don’t like it, but we can’t let go.”
It’s the same with testing. First of all, reports that Obama “plans to limit standardized testing to no more than 2% of class time,” are simply wrong. The federal government has virtually no say about how much time schools spend testing. The vast majority of tests that our children take are driven by states and school districts, as well individual schools and teachers, not by Washington. The best the president can do is use the bully pulpit to encourage less testing and even then there’s reason to be skeptical.
The amount of time kids spend on testing is not the issue. It’s what the tests are used for that matters. Like my speech example, when you use standardized tests to make high-stakes judgments about schools and teachers, they are no longer a mere diagnostic. The testing tail wags the schooling dog.
In a 10-page plan, the White House outlined a series of steps to help educators end assessment that is burdensome or not benefiting students or teachers. The administration said the tests should be “worth taking,” time-limited and provide a “clearer picture” of whether students are learning.
Students in big-city public schools will take about 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and high school graduation, according to a study of 66 school districts released Saturday by the Council of Great City Schools.
The average amount of time devoted to taking mandated tests during the 2014-15 school year was 4.2 days, or 2.3% of school time, for the average eighth-grader—the grade with the most mandated testing time.