Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PA Ed Policy Roundup for May 14, 2014: "little or no correlation between quality teaching and the appraisals teachers received using VAM"

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Keystone State Education Coalition
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for May 14, 2014:
"little or no correlation between quality teaching and the appraisals teachers received using VAM"

PA acting education secretary: Pension reform needed
Scranton Times-Tribune BY SARAH HOFIUS HALL Published: May 13, 2014
If the state weren’t saddled with ballooning pension costs, it could afford construction reimbursements and budget help for school districts, the state’s acting secretary of education said Monday.   In a meeting with The Times-Tribune editorial board, Carolyn C. Dumaresq outlined initiatives her department has taken over the last three years, including implementing a more rigorous curriculum and more extensive teacher evaluations and increasing accountability with the new School Performance Profile system.  We will know all of this has worked when we see student achievement climb,” she said.  Ms. Dumaresq, who was named acting secretary last August and previously served as the state’s deputy secretary of elementary and secondary education, said school officials must call for pension reform.

"Since 2008, when the program began, Quakertown has gone from losing students to cyber charter schools to enrolling students from across the state in its online classes. Graduation rates are up, the district's budget is healthy again, and Quakertown is now showing several districts - including Philadelphia - how it's done.  "We've had increases in our student achievement," said Cindy Lapinski, the principal of Strayer Middle School in Quakertown. "I don't know if it's technology, but I can say that kids outside of this building are wired 24/7, and for many of our students, that's the way they think, that's the way they operate."
Quakertown district is a model for cyber education
SARAH GARLAND, HECHINGER REPORT POSTED: Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 1:08 AM
The class on dramatic irony promised to be cool. Seniors in Nicole Roeder's English class at Quakertown Community High School had to watch a set of videos, including the trailers from Ferris Bueller's Day Off and a scene from Othello as interpreted by two different theater troupes.  But the computer program wasn't working, and the Othello scenes had stalled. So Cheyenne Knight, 18, switched gears, to her physics class. First she stopped to chat with the student next to her, a junior, who was slowly typing up a chemistry lab with a Wikipedia article on magnesium oxide pulled up on his screen.  Knight is one of Quakertown High's cyber students. She takes her core academic classes online; the flexible learning style of online classes fits her better, she says. Her grades are good, despite the occasional distraction and technical glitch, and she's on track to graduate this spring.

Auditor General's report says state funding should repair relations between public and charter schools.
Capitolwire.com — Under The Dome™ Tuesday, May 13, 2014 (paywall)
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale knows one way the state can — and should — repair tattered relations between public school districts and the charters they say siphon dollars off their bottom line: restore a $219 million cut from 2011 that reimbursed districts for the students lost to charter schools. Compound that amount by the growth in charters during the three years since, and Gov. Tom Corbett would need about $400 million to appease districts and ease the tension. For more about the report and reaction to it, CLICK HERE  (paywall) to read Capitolwire Staff Writer Christen Smith’s story.

"The state Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that districts don't have to pay charter schools for those students if the district doesn't offer kindergarten until the students are 5."
Judge says insurer has to cover PA Cyber's defenses in school districts' lawsuit
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review  By Brian Bowling Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 8:42 p.m.
Some of the claims four school districts make in a state class-action lawsuit against a Beaver County cyber charter school could be covered by its insurance policy, so a New Hampshire insurance company has to cover the school's legal defenses, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Whether Peerless Insurance Co. will have to pay any damages awarded against PA Cyber Charter School depends on what claims the damages are based on, U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak said in partially dismissing the insurer's federal lawsuit against the school.
Pennsylvania's new teacher grading system time-consuming but collaborative
New grading system more time-consuming but allows for more collaboration on best practices.
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call 11:09 p.m. EDT, May 13, 2014
The final bell has rung at Liberty High School, and seven of the Bethlehem school's best teachers are gathered in a conference room.  It's a Friday, 2:35 p.m., and an English teacher wonders aloud whether her feedback really helps students become better writers. Next to her, a veteran science teacher worries about his students' lack of energy.  "Should I change my teaching?" he asks.  For more than 30 minutes, the veteran teachers trade advice and make plans to visit the others' classrooms.  "They are much better at helping each other than an administrator coming in for a lesson observation," Assistant Principal Beth Guarriello says.  In years past, a meeting like this never would have happened, teachers say. But this school year, Pennsylvania's teachers are being observed and assessed under the first remake of the state's teacher evaluation system in more than four decades.
Good teaching, poor test scores: Doubt cast on grading teachers by student performance
Washington Post By Lyndsey Layton, Published: May 12 | Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 12:01 AM
In the first large-scale analysis of new systems that evaluate teachers based partly on student test scores, two researchers found little or no correlation between quality teaching and the appraisals teachers received.  The study, published Tuesday in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, is the latest in a growing body of research that has cast doubt on whether it is possible for states to use empirical data in identifying good and bad teachers.   “The concern is that these state tests and these measures of evaluating teachers don’t really seem to be associated with the things we think of as defining good teaching,” said Morgan S. Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He worked on the analysis with Andrew C. Porter, dean and professor of education at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

But in something of an irony, the new study,  Instructional Alignment as a Measure of Teaching Quality, which found little or no correlation between quality teaching and the appraisals teachers received using VAM, was also funded by the foundation. The authors, Morgan S. Polikoff at the University of Southern California and Andrew C. Porter at the University of Pennsylvania, question whether VAM data will be useful in evaluating teacher performance and shaping classroom instruction.
The irony in new study that bashes popular teacher evaluation method
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS May 13 at 5:49 pm
They just keep on coming. Last month, a report was released by the American Statistical Association, the largest organization in the United States representing statisticians and related professionals, that smacked the “value-added method” (VAM) of evaluating teachers that has been embraced by school “reformers” in most states. And now, there’s new research that does the same thing.  These reports support the findings of other experts who have long warned against using for high-stakes purposes VAM, which purports to be able to take student standardized test scores and measure the “value” a teacher adds to student learning through complicated formulas that factor out other influences on student achievement (such as being hungry or tired or sick).  The newest one, as my colleague Lyndsey Layton reported, which was published Tuesday in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, looked at data collected through a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called the Measures of Effective Teaching. Gates has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that evaluate teachers in part by student scores on standardized tests as a way that supposedly measures a teacher’s role in “student growth.”

Evaluating Teachers with Classroom Observations: Lessons Learned in Four Districts
Brookings Institution Report By: Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst, Matthew M. Chingos and Katharine M. Lindquist  May 13, 2014

The federal government has spurred the creation of a new generation of teacher evaluation systems at the state level through more than $4 billion in Race to the Top funding to 19 states and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability waivers to 43 states. A majority of states have passed laws requiring the adoption of teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student achievement data, but only a handful of states had fully implemented new teacher evaluation systems as of the 2012-13 school year.  As the majority of states continue to design and implement new evaluation systems, the time is right to ask how existing teacher evaluation systems are performing and in what practical ways they might be improved. This report helps to answer those questions by examining the actual design and performance of new teacher evaluation systems in four urban school districts that are at the forefront of the effort to meaningfully evaluate teachers. 

F&M poll: Wolf holds lead as primary nears
Lancaster Online By KAREN SHUEY | Staff Writer Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 12:01 am
A month ago the question was whether anyone could stop front-runner Tom Wolf in his campaign to win the Democratic nomination in the race to take on Tom Corbett in the fall.  The answer appears to be no.  Based on the results of a new Franklin & Marshall College poll released Wednesday the York County businessman looks poised to come out on top in the primary contest next week.

Disciplinary proceedings begin in Philly cheating probe
KRISTEN A. GRAHAM, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 4:30 PM
Disciplinary proceedings have begun against four educators charged in the probe of cheating on standardized tests at Cayuga Elementary. Evelyn Cortez, Rita Wyszynski, Jennifer Hughes, and Ary Sloane were summoned Tuesday to Philadelphia School District headquarters. They face criminal charges of felony conspiracy, tampering with public records, forgery, and related crimes.

Lancaster students were threatened with suspension over planned Corbett protest: Tuesday Morning Coffee
By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com on May 13, 2014 at 7:49 AM
Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Some students at a Lancaster County high school were allegedly threatenedwith suspension last week as school officials tried to curtail a planned protest over a visit by GOP Gov. Tom Corbett.  The left-leaning blog ThinkProgress notes that:
"When Corbett held a press conference at JP McCaskey (High School) last week touting a small chunk of funding for school resource officers, students who planned to protest Corbett’s spending priorities say they were intimidated by their school administrators into backing out.
“As soon as they found out that we were going to protest they said that we were not allowed to come and that we did not have the permission anymore,” said Brittani Carr, 17.

Civil rights complaints target charter schools
Philadelphia Inquirer by ASSOCIATED PRESS POSTED: Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 1:07 AM
A coalition of groups opposed to charter schools says it is filing federal civil rights complaints claiming discrimination by officials running school systems in New Orleans, Chicago, and Newark, N.J.  Copies of the complaints were released Tuesday by the Journey for Justice Alliance. They say black students in the three cities suffer because of the closure of traditional public schools or the conversion of them into schools run by independent organizations under charters approved by state or local education officials.   The complaints say African American communities have suffered from the closure of neighborhood public schools.

Journey for Justice Alliance

"Jeffries, who is a founder of a high-performing charter school in Newark, drew strong support from a deep-pocketed array of wealthy education philanthropists who have already been pushing for certain education reforms to be adopted in the city's long-struggling public schools.
While the Newark mayor has no control over the city's school system—the district has long been run by the state of New Jersey—Baraka's election no doubt will be viewed as a repudiation of former Mayor Cory Booker and his aggressive push to overhaul the schools through the expansion of charters and forcing rule changes to make it harder for ineffective teachers to keep their jobs. Booker left the mayor's office several months ago after winning election to the U.S. Senate."
Newark Voters Elect New Mayor, Signaling Major Shift in Direction for City Schools
Education Week District Dossier Blog By Lesli A. Maxwell on May 13, 2014 11:35 PM
In a rancorous mayoral campaign that often revolved around the future of public schooling in New Jersey's biggest city, Newark voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly favored city councilor and former high school principal Ras Baraka over Shavar Jeffries, a civil rights lawyer who chaired the city's school advisory committee.  Baraka, who won decidedly with 54 percent of the vote over Jeffries' 46 percent, was heavily backed by labor unions, including the local teachers' union and its parent, the American Federation of Teachers.

"Newark’s schools, which have been under state control for two decades, remain a fiercely contested topic. Indeed, under Mr. Booker, the city became a laboratory for the education reform movement. And one of the most contentious issues in the mayor’s race was a recent school reorganization plan, One Newark, which was pummeled by Mr. Baraka’s supporters."
Newark’s Voters Choose New Mayor and New Path
New York Times By DAVID W. CHEN and KATE ZERNIKE MAY 13, 2014
Councilman Ras Baraka, the fiery scion of a militant poet, was elected mayor of Newark on Tuesday, signaling a likely shift in the direction that New Jersey’s largest city had embarked upon for most of the last decade.  Mr. Baraka rebuffed a spirited late surge from a political newcomer, Shavar Jeffries, a law professor with an improbable Horatio Alger-like life story, in a bitter contest marred by incendiary rhetoric, arrests and charges of vandalism. With 96 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Baraka was leading with about 54 percent of the vote, compared with 46 percent for Mr. Jeffries, according to unofficial results.

When School Reform And Democracy Meet
The Atlantic by TA-NEHISI COATESMAY 13 2014, 5:46 PM ET
Three years ago Facebook's CEO pledged $100 million to improve Newark's schools. In this week's New Yorker, Dale Russakoff offers an enlightening and depressing portrait of how that money was spent and what it achieved. The story is a welcome corrective to the bromide that "government should be run like a business"—as though business is some unassailable fortress of morality.   School reformers promised to clean up a bloated and corrupt school administration. But what emerges in its place is a system in which various "consultants" are paid millions to deliver minimal results. And those results are meant to be delivered on a fast-food schedule:

Academics call for pause in PISA tests
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog BY VALERIE STRAUSS May 13 at 10:27 am
Here’s an open letter written by academics and school activists from around the world to Andreas Schleicher, director of the Program of International Student Assessment, known as PISA, which tests 15-year-olds in dozens of countries and individual education systems in math, reading and science every three years.  The letter expresses concerns about the impact PISA is having on education systems around the world and asks him “to consider skipping” the next exams and come up with an improved assessment.  U.S. students historically score at best average on international exams, including PISA. Every time new results are released, we hear cries that this is proof of the decline of American public education — even though, as already noted but is worth repeating — Americans have never been at the top of international exams, even when public education wasn’t being questioned.  Shanghai came out with the No. 1 international ranking in the 2012 PISA administration, though questions emerged about whether Shanghai deserved that ranking.

Read, Kids, Read 
New York Times Opinion by Frank Bruni MAY 12, 2014
As an uncle I’m inconsistent about too many things.
Birthdays, for example. My nephew Mark had one on Sunday, and I didn’t remember — and send a text — until 10 p.m., by which point he was asleep.  School productions, too. I saw my niece Bella in “Seussical: The Musical” but missed “The Wiz.” She played Toto, a feat of trans-species transmogrification that not even Meryl, with all of her accents, has pulled off.
But about books, I’m steady. Relentless. I’m incessantly asking my nephews and nieces what they’re reading and why they’re not reading more. I’m reliably hurling novels at them, and also at friends’ kids. I may well be responsible for 10 percent of all sales of “The Fault in Our Stars,” a teenage love story to be released as a movie next month. Never have I spent money with fewer regrets, because I believe in reading — not just in its power to transport but in its power to transform.


Dinniman: Roundtable Discussion on Education in Pa. set for May 21
Senator Dinniman's website  MAY 13, 2014
WEST CHESTER (May 13)  – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced today that he is bringing together education professionals and advocates from throughout the region for a roundtable discussion on critical issues in education on Wednesday, May 21 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Technical College High School – Brandywine Campus.
“Parents, teachers, students and education professionals from suburban and urban school districts across Pennsylvania recently united against the expansion of the Keystone Graduation Exams,” Dinniman said. “Now, another pressing issue will bring together suburban and urban schools from throughout the region – the need to adequately support and sustain public education for the future.”  The panel will feature education professionals from Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, Delaware and Philadelphia counties as well as representatives from major education organizations, including:
·         Joe Ciresi, President, Spring-Ford Area School District Board of Directors.
·         Helen Gym, Parents United of Philadelphia.
·         Bill LaCoff, President-Elect of the Pennsylvania School Board Association, Owen J. Roberts School District Board of Directors.
·         Larry Feinberg, Keystone State Education Coalition, Haverford Township School District Board of Directors.
·         Joe O’Brien, Executive Director, Chester County Intermediate Unit.
·         Joan Duvall-Flynn, President and Education Committee Chair of the NAACP, Media Branch.
·         Hillary Linardopoulos, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
·         Korri Brown, President, Southeast Region, Pennsylvania State Education Association.
·         Mike Churchill, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
·         Mark Miller, Director, Network for Public Education, Vice-President of the Centennial School District Board of Directors.

Pennsylvania Education Summit Wednesday, June 11, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM (EDT) Camp Hill, PA
PA Business-Education Partnership
Featuring:
Welcome By Governor Tom Corbett (invited)
Remarks Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq (confirmed)
Perceptions & comments of business leaders, educators, college presidents, and advocacy groups

“How Public School Funding Works in Pennsylvania—Or Doesn’t: What You Need to Know” When: Friday, May 30, 2014, 9 am to 12 pm Where: Marriott Hotel in Conshohocken, PA
Session I:  "Funding Schools: What Pennsylvania Can Learn from Other States"

Key Pennsylvania legislators and public officials will respond to a presentation by Professor Robert C. Knoeppel of Clemson University, an expert on emerging trends and ideas in public school finance.
Introduction: Representative Steve Santarsiero
Moderator: Rob Wonderling, President and CEO, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
Panel:
Charles Zogby, Secretary of the Budget, Commonwealth of PA, Senator Patrick Browne, Senator Anthony Williams, Representative Bernie O'Neill, Representative James Roebuck
Session II: "Why Smart Investments in Public Schools Are Critical to Pennsylvania's Economic Future"
A discussion with a panel of CEOs who are major employers in the region.
Introduction: Rob Loughery, Chair, Bucks County Commissioners
Panel (confirmed to date):
Michael Pearson, President and CEO, Union Packaging, Philip Rinaldi, CEO, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Bryan Hancock, Principal, McKinsey & Company, and author: "The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools"
You can register for this free event here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/how-public-school-funding-works-in-pennsylvania-or-doesnt-what-you-need-to-know-tickets-11527064761?ref=ebtnebregn

PILCOP Know Your Child’s Rights Seminars
Join us on May 15th for one of three training sessions on Assistive Technology and Settlements.
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
This training series on special education law teaches parents, attorneys and advocates how to secure education rights and services for students with special needs. These seminars aim to bring together a diverse community of advocates including parents, special education advocates, educators, attorneys, and community members. Each session focuses on a different legal topic, service or disability. Many sessions are co-led with guest speakers.
Next Trainings: Thursday May 15, 2014: Assistive Technology and Other Related Services; Settlements; Settlements (Abbreviated Session)

PSBA members in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties
PSBA Buxmont Region 11 and Penns Grant Region 15 Combined Region/Legislative Meeting -- Thursday, May 15, at William Tennent High School
- Buffet dinner/registration, 6 p.m. ($8 charge for dinner) - Program, 7:30 p.m. -- Minority Senate Education Committee Chair Hon. Andy Dinniman will introduce guest speaker Diane Ravitch, author and education historian, and former Assistant Secretary of Education.  Retiring House Education Committee Chairman Paul Clymer will also be honored for his long time (1981) public service.

2014 CONFERENCE ON THE STATE OF EDUCATION IN PENNSYLVANIA
60 YEARS AFTER BROWN HOW ARE THE CHILDREN? WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?
Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM (8:30 Registration)
MARCUS FOSTER STUDENT UNION 2ND FLR. CHEYNEY UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, DE Co. Campus
Keynote Speaker: Dan Hardy – Retired Reporter -Philadelphia Inquirer
Distressed Schools: How Did it Come to This?
PANELS:
  • The State of Education in Pennsylvania 60 Years after Brown
  • Keystones and Graduation: Cut the Connection
  • How Harrisburg Cut District Funding, Poured on the Keystones, and Connected them to Graduation
  • Financing Our Schools: What Does it Cost to Educate a Child in 2014 and How Should We Fund It?
  • Effective Advocacy – How to be Heard in Harrisburg - And - What We Need to be Saying
For more info and registration: http://www.naacpmediabranch.org/#

2014 PA Gubernatorial Candidate Plans for Education and Arts/Culture in PA
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Below is an alphabetical list of the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates and links to information about their plans, if elected, for education and arts/culture in Pennsylvania. This list will be updated, as more information becomes available.

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