Sunday, January 2, 2011

Georgia using RTTT funds to focus on teachers in the classroom

Read this report from the AJC:

Student test scores will play a bigger role in Georgia teacher evals
Hoping to attract and keep top teachers in public schools, Georgia is changing the way educators are hired, paid and rated through a new evaluation system with far greater emphasis on student performance.
The changes are spurred by the $400 million Race to the Top grant, a program introduced by the Obama administration to jump-start school reform nationwide. Georgia won the grant in August; in return it pledged to rethink public school policy, including creating a new evaluation system for all teachers. For subjects where students take standardized tests, 50 percent of the teacher’s performance would be based on their test scores. School leaders will also be judged by test scores when the new model rolls out in 26 districts this fall.
“We strongly believe that the most important thing in a student’s education is the quality of the teacher in the classroom,” said Erin Hames, who will oversee the plan’s implementation as a deputy chief of staff for Gov.-elect Nathan Deal. “The heart of education improvement in Georgia has to be focused on the classroom and classroom teachers.”

It looks like maybe, just maybe, the state will take the bull by the horns and implement policies that will force school districts to put their money in the classroom. Hopefully, these new RTTT rules will encourage DCSS to rebalance where they are spending education dollars—away from administrators and directly in support of students and teachers.

101 comments:

Cerebration said...

Although the reps from the teachers' groups are leery of the plan, I think that if school systems use this as a motivation to support the classroom, it will be a good initiative. If, however, they simply decide to employ even more "instructional coaches" to monitor and evaluate teachers, we will certainly drive teachers into another business altogether. Who could stand that kind of scrutiny? This should be about support - actual, real, interactive support. Using Title 1 funds to employ resource and support teachers in reading and math in the early grades - perhaps after school programs that teach in a completely different way -- people in the schoolhouse all around - interacting and supporting students - not quietly monitoring and evaluating teachers.

This quote is indicative how just how little focus there currently is on teacher evaluations -

Curtis Baxter, a seventh-grade social studies teacher in DeKalb County, said his annual evaluation normally consists of a 20-minute observation from a school administrator who later offers feedback on his teaching style. Student performance isn’t a consideration.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Student performance isn’t a consideration.

The test scores in DCSS certainly bear this out.

If done properly, this new evaluation system, could really be a step forward for our education system here in GA.

As you said Cere, however, this system should not be used to hire more non-teachers....

Anonymous said...

So, teachers and principals are held accountable, but not their bosses.

This has irritated me since the beginning of NCLB.

If a school system's math coordinator is incompetent, what is a teacher to do? Seriously.

The buck needs to start and stop at the top. I think GA Dept of Ed should have started taking over the lowest performing school systems years ago.

Anonymous said...

^^^
I am a parent not a teacher, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I've had students tell me that if their performance could keep a teacher from getting a raise, there are some teachers they would purposely bomb the test. Student's aren't stupid - they can do the math to find out how well they need to score on a test to maintain the grade they desire - and when we are required to give 3-5 grades a week, an individual assignment doesn't make a lot of difference. We need to have some accountability on the part of the students. Dr. Beasley's rule that we have to give 3 documented chances to make up a zero is so unlike the real world, but if we don't do it, we cannot give a student a zero, but if we do follow the rule, the students learn they can get away with this behavior that in the end means I look like a bad teacher.

Cere - you know better than to hope that this money will ever see the light of day in a classroom. Dade County already said it is using its share to hire more administrators. Do you think we'll do any different? Frankly, I would like to see DeKalb do like Jones County did and say thanks, but no thanks. There's too many problems with this proposal. I'm sorry, there was no input from actual classroom educators - it is nothing more than another attempt from a bunch of bureaucrats who don't have a clue what is going on in a classroom trying to tell me how to do my job.

Cerebration said...

If you had been asked, what would you have suggested? I'd love to know what teachers think would help them educate students.

Dunwoody Mom said...

And the negativity and bashing begins from the "teachers".

Please, if you really are a teacher, choose another profession - I beg you. We need to turn the education system around in this country. Making sure we have a quality teacher in EVERY classroom is imperative. With the number of good teachers out of jobs, there is no excuse that DCSS cannot begin this process NOW.

I cannot fathom any competent teacher being afraid of having their performance tracked. It occurs in the corporate world on a daily basis. Why should teachers be allowed to go along their merry way with no accountability?

Fact: We have really good teachers in DCSS - I know my children have been their students.

Fact: We have some really bad teachers in DCSS - I know my children have been their students.

Cerebration said...

I know two excellent teachers who left DeKalb for Gwinnett due to the stated reason that they couldn't stand working for principals who had no power. Not sure what that means - but that was what they each said.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I know two excellent teachers who left DeKalb for Gwinnett due to the stated reason that they couldn't stand working for principals who had no power

There is a teacher at PCMS that parents and administrators have tried to have removed for I know, at least, 10 years to no avail. Parents filed complaint after complaint with everyone they could. This teacher not only is a poor teacher, but is a racist and is still at Peachtree.

Why? Who is protecting this teacher?

Anonymous said...

Cere - Had I been asked, I would have made sure we had an exemption from the NCLB rules until Congress gets their act together and fixes ESEA. Let's not worry about graduation rates, for example. I had a combined 564 absences in my 3 classes this last semester. One class had a total of 28 absences and 95% passed the EOCT. In the other two classes, I was just under 50% passing. Frankly, due to Dr. Beasley's you got to give them 3 chances to make up zeroes (despite state regulations that zeroes resulting from unexcused absences shouldn't be made up). Let me fail those students and don't bother having them take the EOCT. Let me hold my students accountable for their behavior. I can't have order in my classroom if I keep having to collect cell phones, have students tell me I should be grateful they show up, etc. I don't mind being held accountable for my students' learning if I can ensure that the students are doing their part. Let's use that money to help the students get to school, make sure they have access to technology at home so that they can do their homework and research projects etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm reposting this from another thread

@ DM and others who have not taught in low income, high turnover rate schools

I know no one has considered this, but it needs to be addressed. If you live in a house, this never occurs to anyone.

Before I retired a number of years ago, I taught at Woodward off Buford Highway. My turnover rate from September to May was often as high as 40%. In other words, 40% of my students left over the course of the year while 40% came in over the year, many in January. This was because almost all of my students came from apartments. So I was only teaching about half of the students I started with.

This is not an unusual situation in many DCSS schools. As a matter of fact, many of the schools that fail to make AYP and have low test scores in DCSS have this situation. The students are the children of low income parents who live in apartments, and their parents move much more often than parents who are higher income and homeowners - thus more interruptions to their education as another factor.

How will you evaluate teachers with high rates of turnover? These are the very schools in which we are trying to improve student achievement so it is a consistent and very real problem in DCSS (probably APS as well).

Will you evaluate the teacher on half of her class - the ones that he/she has had all year? Or will you evaluate the teacher on students that came into his/her class in March and then take the test in May after the teacher has had them for 2 months?

Sometimes I would have as many as 50 on my roll throughout the year. I left them there because I often had a student in September and October that left (maybe just moved up the street to a different complex - some of these complexes offer a free first month rent so they apartment hop to get cheaper housing) only to return in March or April. Sometimes they would return to Mexico for a few months and then pop back into my classroom in time for the test.

This is a hugely complex issue. Perhaps many of you do not understand that the very schools that have low test scores are often the schools that have this high turnover, and therefore the teacher has only a fraction of his/her class all year. Please don't say this is a rare or isolated problem. It isn't, and these are the exact students we are trying to reach.

I always thought it's odd that no one ever addresses the high rate of turnover in a school when talking about test scores. I guess it's not something anyone wants to talk about because it doesn't fit the idea of "pay for performance". However, ignoring this most critical factor for our low performing schools doesn't reflect reality and ensures we will devise a system that is costly and at the same time ineffective.

Anonymous said...

DCSS is already so over bloated with administrators, this would just serve to expand the "family enterprise". This is not "free money" from the federal government, we all pay for it. It also has Obama administration strings attached. This is like giving herion to an addict, you never learn to manage the problem and do without the fix.
Take this money and you will never force the system to live within their real means. They already collect the largest millage in the state and are going to come back for more soon.
Contact your state legislators and find out if there is something that they can do to prevent DCSS from getting this and spiraling further down. Between the BOE and the DK BOC, property values are going to continue to fall, millage will go up, and start a vicious cycle to where eventually it is unrecoverable.
Time to flush this system, clean house using whatever legislative or legal resources are available.

Anonymous said...

I am a classroom teacher in DeKalb and I welcome observations because if I'm not doing my job then tell me so. However, has anyone stopped to think that with this new system, why would teachers volunteer to teach in a low-performing school where over 50% of the students fail standardized tests? Not only would the teacher's evaluation and pay be tied to test scores but also his or her recertification every five years. If the students at the school continue to fail the tests, then the teacher might not be able to be recertified to change schools or systems if he or she wanted to. This will just ensure that the low performing schools will have a harder time hiring and retaining teachers--which will impact the entire system.

Anonymous said...

@Dunwoody Mom --

This approach would/will be absurd south of Memorial. Too many of the students are too close to illiteracy. How do you make tests really count if the students can barely read them for comprehension? I'm afraid you good people in teh north do not appreciate the depth of the crisis in the south. And it is only getting worse.

Dunwoody Mom said...

So, why, as you claim, can't these children read? Silly me...I was under the impression that it was the educational system in our country that is responsible for actually educating our children?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:01

One word. Parents.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom

In theory, the system is responsible. In practice, the system's main interest is in employing adults. Sure. Make tests count a lot. But let teachers get rid of troublemaking students quickly and efficiently. Make grades mean something. What we have now instead is a system designed to keep as many warm bodies as possible in the school houses. A very, very deep divide separates Dunwoody from Lithonia. You people need to get out more.

Anonymous said...

@anon 10:53 -

Your points are excellent and illustrate clearly why test score based teacher evaluation will not work for a large sector of schools in DCSS.

Why will any teacher want to teach at a school where due to socioeconomic and demographic circumstances beyond his/her control, he/she will jeopardize evaulations and recertification?

Anonymous said...

oh, dunwoody mom, if only i had answers like you. it is not fair to burn us high school teachers in the south end because the kids can't read; i'm not the one who socially promoted the kids for 10+ years, but now you support a program that will fire me because i cannot undo years of academic abuse in one semester?! nice . . .

Dunwoody Mom said...

I don't disagree with you about the ability of removing troublemaking students. Don't kid yourself, there are troublemaking students at Dunwoody. My children have told me stories of students cursing at teachers and just refusing to do the work. Principals should have the power to remove these students.

However, I also want to see more of an effort from DCSS of riding the system of troublesome and incompetent teachers.

Dunwoody Mom said...

but now you support a program that will fire me because i cannot undo years of academic abuse in one semester?!

Actually, the data used will be using a 3 year period of data - not one semester.

Cerebration said...

That's why I keep saying that the ONLY way to make this work is to refocus ALL of our resources and energy on teaching students directly in the classroom. Lower the number of students per teacher (especially in low-performing schools), add support teachers to work with small groups in reading and math, offer after school care and learning in things like the arts and physical fitness (which all relate to learning). Make certain you have social workers who GO OUT and make contact with parents - don't sit idly by in a parent center waiting for parents to come to you. And most importantly, as stated by Anon, allow teachers to discipline students and maintain proper order in their classrooms so that learning can take place. Allow teachers the ability to remove disruptive students and support them in these actions.

Pipe dream? I hope not. I truly hope not.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, there are some excellent, young and inspiring teachers in the south part of the county. Sadly, due circumstances beyond their control, these teachers will not be able to demonstrate improvement in test scores and will be driven out of teaching. The end result will be loss of good teachers and ultimately no improvement in schools that need the most help in the first place.

Cerebration said...

Principals are also key, IMO. We do not have enough highly qualified, effective principals. Our principals need to be able to get rid of bad teachers. Bad teachers harm morale for good teachers. I have heard stories of bad teachers (science!) who harassed a new, good teacher for digging around the school for microscopes and then actually using them in class!

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody mom

When I was in sales, I was evaluated on making my quota, but so was my boss and his boss and on up the ladder.

I went with ATTIS when the Bell System broke apart. We salespeople were sent out to make our quota. Problem was we were selling the Unix computer in 1982, and no one wanted to switch from IBM. That was not our fault. ATT marketing was no doing its job. I was struggling to make my quota. I switched back to Bell South and joined the ASD (Advanced System Division - unregulated part that sold data and telecommunications). We had decent marketing, and I was a very good salesperson. I exceeded my quota every quarter - made lots of money for me and my sales manager and my regional sales manager (Phil Jacobs - who by the way went on to become President of Bell South Georgia - he was a master at supporting sales people - Phil's office was always open, and he supported the people who improved his bottom line).

I took my ESOP in Bell South stock because I knew the ATT management was not making good business decisions - I has seen this firsthand. ATT stock plummeted over the next decade, and the company was on shaky ground until it changed management and got someone to turn it around. It was bitter for the stockholders (like my sister-in-law), but they didn't blame the salespeople - they blamed management as was proper.

So you see, if the administration of your organization is making bad decisions, it can affect your performance no matter how talented you are and how hard you work. Holding management accountable is critical to success. Otherwise the people at the bottom who have talent and brains just move on to work for a management team that has its act together.

Do you see the analogy with teachers and the Central Office/BOE?

Anonymous said...

This video captures everything that is wrong with DCSS. The SW DeKalb drum majors got an AWARD from the DCSS for this production.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQTuYo6HmiQ

Anonymous said...

@ Dunowwody Mom

All schools have problems. However, DHS is in a different galaxy than the schools in the south.

The drug addict analogy is a good one.

The best you can do is support secession and other measures that will take money away from the central authorities and localize the spending.

Real change will only come when the money dries up.

I say this as an African-American man who has been around the block. The black-run governments and school systems are much, much more corrupt than others. Mainly because they employ too many people who come from nothing and because the educational standards in the black community are so low.

Anonymous said...

I would love to be evaluated on the merit of the work that I do. I do not think that 50% of my evaluation should be tied to test scores. Value-added models have a 26% error rate, falsely identifying the good teachers wrong 26% of the time, identifying the bad teachers wrong 26% of the time. I have a friend that teaches at Vanderlyn, we went through the same graduate classes together at Mercer. We have collaborated on how to best teach our students. If you took the faculty at Vanderlyn and the faculty at my non-AYP making school, and switched them, test results would remain the same.
No one is listening to me when I say what we really need.
CERE- Everything you have suggested on this blog is what low-performing students need. They need extra support, we need people in-house to provide intervention for struggling students, but our Title 1 money is tied up in the Central Office. My school has not made AYP in the last few years, 41% of my students are eligible for EIP, but we have no reading or math EIP teacher. I am expected to be the EIP teacher, give struggling students one-one interventions and be the regular classroom teacher all at the same time. And don't forget the group of students that are completely bored and beyond first grade work.
Low performing schools need an entirely new system. They need to be in school longer and their teachers need more time to plan. I would suggest doubling teachers so that you have 2 shifts. A shift that comes from 7:30-3:30 and a later shift that comes from 10-6.
Professional development should also be meaningful. Dr. Beasley had all schools that did not make AYP meet with him to discuss math. His only suggestions were moving from the concrete to abstract! Teaching 101! WE ALREADY DO THAT! Some teachers know they need help with teaching science, but instead we get prof. dev. on word walls or problem solving steps or graphic organizers (and guess what? at my failing school, WE ALREADY DO THOSE THINGS)
I am tired of being blamed (as a teacher) for the low achievement of students. The teachers in my building work harder than most other teachers. We have to take children that are already so far behind and catch them up with the rest of the world.
I have seen children refuse to answer test questions, I have seen children answer test questions w/o even reading the passages. And we are to be judged on that? Judge me on the things that I am in control of. Spend an entire lesson in my classroom and watch my students answer questions that they marked wrong on a test. Am I showing up for work, well prepared and on time? Am I participating in meaningful professional development? Am I volunteering my time to extracurricular activities? Judge me based on what I do.

Stressed and distressed teacher
Nikole Allen

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1/2 11:28 AM

We can't criticize any creation made by african-american students because that would be racist.

We can't criticize bad language because that would be racist.

We can't criticize african-americans in any way for any reason because that is racist.

We have to provide awards instead. That is equality.

Welcome to Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom

Surely you realize that there are many more factors to school success than the teacher. The question is how do you balance those.

What bugs me the most about this is that teachers who want to work with the hardest kids, the ones who might have the furthest to go and the toughest path to follow, will be discouraged from doing so. I happen to think that the best teachers will flock to the best schools.

I was appointed to the Master Teacher Planning and Implementation Task Force by Governor Perdue. I was the parent representative. Many of the concerns I had during that process, I still have.

How do you measure a teacher whose students constantly come and go?

How do you compare profess made by a child with all the advantages of high socio-economic level to one who has none of those?

When I was on the committee, the CRCT was not comparable from grade level to grade level. In other words, you couldn't say that a 800 in third grade was worse than a 810 in fourth grade. The only thing you could compare with whether a student met or didn't meet expectations. Has this been fixed?

Lynn D.

Anonymous said...

How do you compare progress made by a child with all the advantages of high socio-economic level to one who has none of those?

Opps typo

Lynn

Anonymous said...

"This video captures everything that is wrong with DCSS. The SW DeKalb drum majors got an AWARD from the DCSS for this production."

I saw the video clip posted by Cerebration of the SWD Marching Band at the Rose Parade. I found it interesting that they spent the money to make this trip. Where did the money come from? Were new uniforms involved? Even after watching the relatively innocuous video clip provided by Cerebration, I was just hoping that the SWD Band would not do something on the parade route that would embarrass us. (I have seen them perform at half-time.)

However, now I have watched this 5-minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQTuYo6HmiQ, referenced by the opening quote in my comment.

I am appalled. Disgusted. Everything about it was and is offensive. The language. The hand gestures. The overt misogyny -- in this case toward black women.

According to sociologist Allan G. Johnson, "misogyny is a cultural attitude of hatred for females because they are female." Johnson states that misogyny "is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence."

I am sending this to the top officials in the Georgia Department of Education, as well as to my elected officials. It would be interesting to know the ages of those involved and if any adults were involved. This completely offensive video is sexist in the extreme. Something must be done. There is no excuse for this garbage being related in any way to Southwest DeKalb High School.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Lynn, you know I know that there are more factors to success than teacher. I know that parental involvement is important. I know that supportive principals and Central Office Administrators are important. I know that we need to get away from all of this paperwork that NCLB has wrought.

My point is that, for some reason, some simply want to shy away from the fact that we simply have too many bad and uninspired teachers here in DCSS and across the state.

We have to have this conversation about Teacher accountability. Why are we so scared to have it?

Anonymous said...

I teach high school English on the south end of the county. I spend most of the year working with students who come to me reading on a 3rd-grade level (as measured by what we all accept as accurate tests).

I do manage to mitigate the problem somewhat--largely by focusing on basic skills rather than the American Literature curriculum. My test scores are among the best in my school. But if judged by the performance of kids across DCSS or the state, I would still be judged as ineffective.

I am eager to see the how test scores factor into teacher evaluations. I have heard that increases in student performance would be the indicator. I'm not sure what an equitable system that takes all factors into account would look like.

DCSS Teacher said...

The only hope for improving student scores--given that we can't improve the home environments in which many of the poorer-performing students live--is to help teachers learn how to teach better. We have some very poor teachers in DCSS, at every grade level--teachers who don't know how manage their classrooms, who don't understand how to integrate math and literacy into every lesson, including science, history, and social studies, and who defiantly don't want to change or even be evaluated in a realistic manner.

That said, teacher evaluation schemes that don't take teachers into account when they are devised, are doomed to failure, partly because teachers feel left out of the process. We do, after all, know a lot about teaching and about strategies to let kids learn. If DCSS continues its usual path of pronouncements coming from on high, without input from stakeholders including teachers, then I'd predict that the anger we all feel at no raises, crowded classrooms, limited resources, incompetent administrators from the bottom to the top of the food chain, and being excluded from all decision-making, will subvert the effort. And that's too bad.

Anonymous said...

DM--I completely agree. Interestingly enough, my principal did not offer a contract to a teacher who had a bad attitude and did little by way of actually teaching.

When fall rolled around, we were short a teacher and there was no one available. This guy got wind of that and showed up asking for another chance. He was rehired and immediately returned to his old ways.

When the furloughs came along, we were told that we were lucky to have jobs and that there were plenty of certified teachers ready to step into our classrooms. Is that the case? If this one instance is any indicator, it may be quite difficult to rid DCSS of bad teachers.

Are there a bunch of excellent teachers waiting to come to Dekalb to replace those that are undesirable? If not, this seems a futile enterprise! Sure, some teachers will improve so that they can get higher evals and more $, but will we really be able to oust those who just don't belong in the profession?

Anyone have data on unemployment among teachers? Sure there will always be eager recent graduates, but there always have been, and typically retirement and attrition absorb them.

Anonymous said...

"So, why, as you claim, can't these children read? Silly me...I was under the impression that it was the educational system in our country that is responsible for actually educating our children?"

Dunwoody Mom: Silly you, indeed! I am always glad to see when you recognize your failings.

According to the Ferst Foundation, approximately 61 percent of low-income families do not have a single piece of reading material suitable for a child. In Georgia, a third of our children come to school unprepared to learn and 75 percent of students who are poor readers in the third grade will remain poor readers in high school.

Reading, cognition and critical thinking are interrelated skills for which there are no substitutes.

Teaching children to read is often seen as the sole responsibility of our nation’s schools. For the most part, children’s success or failure in reading is seen as a function of the quality of their elementary education. Most kindergarten teachers would strongly disagree with these assumptions; kindergarten teachers report that 35% of the children arrive at school unprepared to learn. Their experience reveals marked differences among children in their ability to learn, their familiarity with books and language, and their confidence level. In short, long before a child has experienced formalized education, there are already children far ahead of the curve and even more lagging far behind.

Educators have identified preschool reading and parent involvement as among the most important steps toward a child’s success in school. A growing body of research suggests that from birth on the learning environment has a tremendous impact on the short and long-term reading capability of the child. Children develop much of their capacity to learn in the first three years of life, when their brains grow to 90% of their eventual adult weight. Just as a child develops language skills long before being able to
speak, the child also develops literacy skills long before being able to read.

Just what are these literacy skills? Letter names and shapes, associating sounds with letters, familiarity with books, associating reading with love and fun are all key areas of development. Most likely, Dunwoody Mom, you provided all of this for your children. The key is to start at birth. To immerse a child in literacy environment can be a stronger predictor of literacy and academic achievement than family income. The more words a child hears, the larger the child’s vocabulary, and the larger the child’s vocabulary, the more likely the child will be a proficient reader.

Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. It is time for all parents at all income levels to step up and assume this responsibility. The educational system does have a responsibility for educating our children -- but parents must do their share and send children to school ready to learn.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the poster who said that kids routinely blow off the tests or do just what they need to do. An A student needs only about a 40 on the EOCT to keep that A, and many will take the easy way out. a student who is failing--depite Beasley's crazy "give them three chances" policy--is going to sleep through the test. I know teachers who have actually offered a pizza party or other such treat if everyone passes!

Anonymous said...

It is time for all parents at all income levels to step up and assume this responsibility.

Totally agree. But if parents were going to do so, they would be! We have identified the problem, and yes--by and large it lies with the family and what happens when kids are younger than school age. Now what??

It takes more than giving birth to make someone a "parent." Much more. And please, no blah blah about some kind of meetings or information sessions to show these folks the error of their ways.

The sad truth is that you can't turn them into parents. I don't have an answer here--sorry. Just tired of hearing that parents need to step up. They aren't going to. Now what?

Anonymous said...

The problem with students not learning has many layers:

1. Students don't come to school wanting to learn and it's not reinforced at home.
2. The benchmarks and the syllabus written in the administration offices for elementary school (my experience) do not promote deep learning or thinking. Material is pushed on children without time to digest, explore, and understand the concepts.
3. Teachers are not given enough understanding on how to help students learn to read. Many teacher in Kindergarten, first and second grade do not understand the five components of reading and how and why each is essential for a child to learn to read.
4. Students are not held back when they are not making the grade. We worry more about a child's self esteem, than what is going to happen to him/her as their skills get poorer and poorer and they aren't keeping up with their peers.
5. The CRCT in first grade is totally read to children, so they do not have to know how to read to pass it. Passing it means that they answered 1/2 the questions correctly-that's not passing in my books. Reading some form of the test, whether it's just the answers continues until 4th grade when students are to read the test on their own.
6. Students aren't held back when they don't pass the CRCT. They and their families know this.
7. Nothing happens to students with poor attendance. When I taught in Chicago, students with 31 days or more of absences-excused or unexcused-(unless medical reasons)-were automatically held back-no exceptions.
8. People want school to be fun-like video games. Learning is hard work and can be fun when you accomplish things that you didn't think were possible. Learning is not all fun and games and too much emphasis is put into technology in the early years where good, solid teaching should be the focus and not an interactive smart board that few teachers use beneficially or a math computer game, that children could do at home on their free time.
9. The people telling teachers what to teach-these people are really making the education decisions for the district-give teachers info with wrong answers, typos, things that aren't easily copied, and things that are rushed and no child unless above average good possibly solidly grasp in the short amount of time allotted to teach.

Anonymous said...

cont.
10. The no zero, multiple chances approach to getting students to learn. Doesn't work, as it sets children up for failure. What good employer do you know that lets you turn things in late and gives you 3 documented chances to turn it in in the first place? I don't know of any. This doesn't even happen in good colleges and universities either.
11. principals hands are tied to what they can do with disruptive students because they don't want to look bad, or want their school to look bad, so teachers and other students who want to learn are forced to have their daily education disrupted because principals want to save their own job.
12. Lack of respect! Children with cell phones going off or texting during class. Parents who don't see it necessary to do homework. Parents who don't want Johnny held back, because he will feel bad, even though he doesn't know his ABCs or can count to 10. Teachers having to put up with disruptive students. Teachers able to remain in the classroom even after they have had multiple complaints about their teaching. Hirings based on who people know and know what they know. No raises, expect for those in already over paid positions. Moldy ventilation systems and leaking roofs. Multiple break ins where expensive equipment is stolen. Waste of dollars on lawsuits, over paid staff, under educated staff, too many working for the district, programs that cost millions that never work the way that they were supposed to, workers who don't know what the heck they are doing.

Young, intelligent people will never stay in education, as long as their salary is based on things that are out of their control. Teachers are told what to teach, when to teach it, for how long they can teach it, and so on. They have no control if students come and go, or even if they show up.

The complaints that teachers have had in this post, are not showing that they don't care about teaching or the children in their classroom. The complaints and concerns are valid. They are the reason that I left teaching. I loved being a teacher, but I realized that those pulling all the strings were not intelligent and that I was spinning my wheels wanting more for the children than they, their parents, or the DCSS administration wanted for them. I got out and haven't looked back.

Cerebration said...

There is no excuse in the world to allow a student to get to high school only being able to read at a third grade level. None. Not parents. Not poverty. Not behavior. None.

In my own little world, the nuns at our Catholic school (back when only Catholics went to Catholic school because they were Catholic, not the private, elite schools they have become, but I digress) - anyway, the nuns were able to teach each and every student how to read and do math. Some performed better than others, but no one ever left 8th grade unprepared for high school. And we had plenty of poor kids (Catholics with 10-14 kids and Hispanic migrant workers).

Yes, yes, we have bad parenting. But we certainly COULD provide better support - in the classroom, before and after school and in the summer - to stop the cycle. It's our responsibility as a society and as human beings.

Anonymous said...

Cere, the problem is that the tests that children take CRCT for one do not measure how a child reads in first-third grade. Too much if not all of the test is read to the children. Also the "passing" scores are 50%. This isn't passing. Teachers tell parents that their child can't read, but then they get the CRCT scores and they've passed. Who are they going to believe?

No child should be continuously passed on. If our report cards reflected the standards and teachers kept track of material that showed progress in a portfolio and students were given grades of proficient, learning, and not proficient-or something like this- than parents would get a better understanding of their child does and does not know. Right now giving a child in first grade a letter grade means nothing-probably true for most elementary grades

Anonymous said...

"So, why, as you claim, can't these children read? Silly me...I was under the impression that it was the educational system in our country that is responsible for actually educating our children?"

This is basically true. However, you probably read to your children before they went to school. You did puzzles, drew pictures, went to the zoo, and talked with your children about anything they were interested in until you were too tired to do more. I'm guessing that your children came from a rich environment and were very ready for what your local school had to offer.

By contrast, some children come from homes where there are no books. They've never been read to. Children watch a lot of TV but their parents lack verbal skills and don't spend a lot of time talking with them so they have limited vocabularies and limited life experience. These children may be very smart but the teacher spends a lot of time filling in the skills that they didn't build as preschoolers.

It is hard to show progress on a grade level assessment when you spent the entire year bringing the student up to par. The child gets promoted to the next grade because he will probably be retained in 3rd grade and we don't want him to be too old when he reaches 5th grade where he could be retained again. You work hard to help these children and they are gaining skills, but a child reading at the 1st grade level is going to have a difficult time passing the CRCT in 3rd grade.

We used to have a program called Reading Recovery. It is an intensive one-on-one tutoring program where the teacher takes the child from where they are to where they need to be. Some of the success stories are dramatic. Unfortunately it is expensive to run. This program is not being used where I work anymore. I'd rather put Title I money towards Reading Recovery than America's Choice.

Anonymous said...

I thought there was supposed to be some kind of gateway test put into place so that kids who can't read and write aren't passed on to high school. What happened to that?

Anonymous said...

The tests that I know of in elementary school aren't good or valid measures of what children do and do not know. Children are being passed on, even when they haven't met the requirements-which are very low.

No one is holding anyone accountable for the learning, other than the teachers. Teachers can only make lemonade with lemons who are in decent shape. They can't do it when the lemons are rotten and ready for the compost pile.

Anonymous said...

"the nuns were able to teach each and every student how to read and do math."

True. When my child was in Catholic school, I did everything that my child's teacher asked me to do at home. We made flash cards to learn sight words, practiced math facts and did all of the summer homework. I also saw one disruptive child sent home for good. Behavior standards were strict. You had to submit to the program.

SongCue said...

We used Reading Recovery where I taught in Ohio. The results are dramatic. The targeted child is in first grade, reading below grade level. Tutoring is one-on-one, and brings the child up to grade level in a very short time. The data support this method, but the dollars don't. This is the type of program that we should be "throwing our money at!"

Anonymous said...

Cere 2:01, I completely agree. It is not "their" problem. These kids will be the adults in our society soon and will have children of their own. They are starving, and we are not feeding them.

So back to what has been said over and over--hold those big shots accountable for spending the money in sensible ways to put interventions in place! If you are in charge of "teaching and learning," then by gosh, figure out why these kids aren't learning and solve the problem!!

There has been a lot said here about "bad teachers." I gotta tell you--in 15 years, I can think of maybe 20 teachers who really just needed to go. There are many more who have become overwhelmed by the class sizes, lack of discipline, and other hardships and become less than their best. They are not bad teachers. They just need for their bosses to create conditions that allow them to be effective

Anonymous said...

OMG I remember Reading Recovery. It worked!! Back to another of our constant gripes--isn't this what Title I is supposed to pay for?

Anonymous said...

A Title One teacher helped me, learn to read in PA. Never forget that man. Small group of kids pulled out of class given the necessary instruction to succeed.

This is what the Coaches that are paid with Title One dollars should be doing. The teachers that do this job, need a very specific skill set and to really understand how students learn to read, so that they can be beneficial. If this teacher isn't any good, the money spent on him/her is being throw away. These should be the best teachers doing this job-not a friend/family member.

Anonymous said...

We've given so many entitlements to so many people over the years that quite a few of the seniors I teach don't see the value of their education. They have been taught that if they fail, it's ok, there are multiple chances to get it right.

I keep the following posted on my bulletin board (some of you may recognize it):
Rule 1: Life is not fair -- get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.


Now, as far as the cell phones go, the rule is phones must be off and away from 8:10-3:10. I'm tired of hearing well it's my mom. Mom, stop calling your child during class and disrupting the entire class. If you're following the phone off and away rule, then you won't know if your mom is calling. I put in my syllabus that if a parent does indeed need to contact their child during school, call the school and the front office can get the child from class to deal with that call. You know how many students tell me their parents don't know the phone number to their own children's school? That's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

We've given so many entitlements to so many people over the years that quite a few of the seniors I teach don't see the value of their education. They have been taught that if they fail, it's ok, there are multiple chances to get it right.

I keep the following posted on my bulletin board (some of you may recognize it):
Rule 1: Life is not fair -- get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Anonymous said...

Now, as far as the cell phones go, the rule is phones must be off and away from 8:10-3:10. I'm tired of hearing well it's my mom. Mom, stop calling your child during class and disrupting the entire class. If you're following the phone off and away rule, then you won't know if your mom is calling. I put in my syllabus that if a parent does indeed need to contact their child during school, call the school and the front office can get the child from class to deal with that call. You know how many students tell me their parents don't know the phone number to their own children's school? That's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

@3:08 #1

Your rules are dead on! DCSS set the kids up for failure with not following the rules and creating rules that simply do not apply to the real world. Hold even kindergartners accountable for their learning and you will see such better results. When expectations are low, the results are going to also be low.

Anonymous said...

Until we have a management team in DCSS that takes responsibility for student achievement we cannot move forward. The DCSS administration and BOE must be held accountable for what has happened in our schools. They hired legions of non-teaching friends and family, stuffed 35 kids into a classroom, spent hundreds of millions on technology that doesn't meet the needs of a 21st Century classroom, required inane and excessive paperwork from teachers, spent tens of millions on ineffective learning programs, forced teachers to change grades of students who have not done the work and don't know the content, tied teachers' hands when it come to student misbehavior, disrespect, and sheer laziness, and ensured teachers are some of the lowest paid employees in the school system. They've hidden from public view the Compensation audit that showed overpayments to the tune of $90,000,000 over the last 6 years and now they are hiding from public view the BOE minutes.

If there is anything I would wish for the New Year, it is that the DCSS administration and the DCSS BOE were held accountable for our students' declining achievement. Until we change the current administration and the BOE members, our students' achievement will continue to plummet.

I don't envy the job Nancy Jester and Donna Edler have before them. They will be running into an entrenched and enriched bureaucracy that will cling to power as if their life depended on it because they know they will never get such a lucrative deal for so little work and such little responsibility.

Anonymous said...

So why is Title 1 and federal funds ($128,000,000 last year - so much more this year) handled by Dr. Berry and the Office of School Improvement when our schools have not - well - improved?

Where is the accountability for Dr. Berry since we have more schools than any other metro system who cannot make AYP? Will there be any accountability for her when even less make AYP this May than last May? When does she take some responsibility for the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that were to be wisely spent to ensure our Title 1 schools make Adequate yearly progress? If she is the Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement, shouldn't we expect some - uh - improvement?

And why did Tony Hunter, Director of MIS, make $5,000 more in 2010 than in 2009 (state Salary and Travel audit). Did he receive a promotion? Was the BOE so pleased with eSis and SchoolNet ($11,000,00 sine 2007 and still no meaningful data for teachers) that they decided he needed a promotion in the middle of the deficit crunch? Where is his accountability for student performance? Technology should be driving student performance up? Where is the data from his department that he has increased student performance for hundreds of millions spent on technology during the last 5 years?

I agree with Nancy Jester when she says:
"Reform the budget (zero-based, bottom up budget) and prioritize schoolhouse level expenditures"

Anonymous said...

3:01, There is a "reading specialist" certification that can be added on to a teacher's certifcate. Those who teach reading should be required to have this training.

English teachers cannot teach ESOL unless they have the requisite training; why should an English teacher be permitted to teach reading without knowledge of the methodology? I teach English but would have no clue as to how to teach reading!

My point is that we need not depend on those ubiquitous know-nothing coaches. The training is already available for teachers. We just need a policy in place so that DCSS and principals would be held accountable for putting only qualified reading teachers into reading classrooms.




3:41,
Add to that the fact that DCSS teachers are now the lowest paid in the metro area. Used to be the highest or close to it.

Anonymous said...

Pay for performance. Yea, that worked well for Atlanta Public Schools recently.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom

I know you understand the challenges in educating children. And I know we have teachers across the USA that aren't getting it done.

What concerns me with this and many other ideas related to education reform is that after nearly a decade of NCLB, I don't think the country is anywhere closer to understanding how to really educate poor children well. We know that KIPP and models like it work for many children, but those children have motivated parents who opt in.

We know that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on the Harlem Children's Zone and the latest data on that is disappointing.

I know that we need to improve teacher quality, I am not sure it is enough.

One of the most informative studies out there is an old one, yet a good one, about differences in the exposure to language and words as you look at children in poor households and not poor households. The study also discusses the difference in tone of how poor parents speak to children vs how not poor parents speak to them.

Fascinating reading.

http://www.growingmindsread.org/gap.html

Anonymous said...

This pretty much guarantees an exodus of white teachers from south Dekalb. They are probably trying to get rid of some of them already. They make things look too bad.

Cerebration said...

Great list Anon 3:08 PM!

Bottom line here - teachers CAN do the job if they are given the tools and the necessary support - from the school administration, the central office and even from home. But if students do not get what they need from home, it is still our responsibility to ensure that those children can read. Everyone is entitled to an equal platform from which to pursue happiness.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how the testing for evaluations will work for special ed teachers, or for teachers who have special education kids in their class. These kids are required to take the standardized tests. Even with accommodations they often cannot pass.

I also agree that testing based evaluations will create a big problem attracting teachers to schools that have "difficult" populations.

I may be old fashioned but I think we need to go back to seeing teaching as an "art" and allowing teachers the time and support to implement the techniques they studied rather than being force fed almost scripted curriculum.

We need effective and experienced principals (with at least 10 years of REAL classroom experience under their belt). Those administrators should be able to keep effective teachers and get rid of bad ones.

If only...

Anonymous said...

"We need effective and experienced principals (with at least 10 years of REAL classroom experience under their belt)."

Actual teaching experience is obviously not valued when DCSS's Head of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Morcease Beasley has only 3 1/2 years in the classroom in the 1990s. I'm retired, but I can tell by reading what teachers say he wants them to do and the educational theories he likes that he dates himself. That is to say that much of what he espouses is theory that was popular in the 90s. Looking at his resume it's easy to see that the classroom was a stepping stone. I would imagine DCSS is too. I'll bet Lewis knew Talley was leaving at the end of the fiscal school year last year (July 1, 2010) so he brought Dr. Beasley back as a principal for Columbia with the promise of making him head of Curriculum and Instruction for DCSS as soon as Dr. Talley left. I would conjecture that Ms. Tyson who has only 2 years of teaching Business Ed at Lakeside in the 1980s listened to Lewis after she was made Interim Super so Dr. Beasely got the job.

Anonymous said...

You know we all have a ton of degrees and without the actual training professionals cannot give 100% to managing teachers performance. The Central Office leaders are completely clueless how much effort goes into actually prepairing a daily lesson plan and interacting as caregiver and teacher to 32+ students daily. it's a thankless job but it gets done by professionals with a sense of dedication, not just collecting a paycheck.

How can they (Central Office) give an directive when they have less experience and no actual contact hours insode a classroom in the past 5 to 7 years...check their profiles most have been outside of the classrooms since CLewis gave them a crown and awarded them a seat next to his throne.

Anonymous said...

"We need effective and experienced principals (with at least 10 years of REAL classroom experience under their belt)."

The best principal I ever had was Ruth Manning at Fernbank ES. She was awesomely smart and a tireless worker with decades in the classroom. She was around 60 by the time she became a principal. She spent over 20 years in the classroom after taking off time to raise her own family. Her theory was that teachers needed to be free to teach, and boy did she practice what she preached.

Ms. Manning, the counselor, and the API did full bus duty every morning and every afternoon. The entire administrative team also did 2 hours of cafeteria duty at lunch. She did not tolerate disrespect of teachers and would remove a child from class in a heartbeat if they were disturbing the class. She didn't mind suspending (out of school as well as in school) when she needed to. She knew the 7th graders needed some "social" time so she instituted a short "social" break for them during the school day. She arranged all the field trips for the entire school herself, and she and the office collected the money to avoid burdening teachers. I remember the upper grade classes went to Jekyll Island. Ms. Manning went with them on the bus for the 3 day trip to ensure the trip had no problems. She worked tirelessly to bring in Emory resources. As a few examples, science majors came into the school to work with kids, a distance learning hook-up was set up with Scottish Rite so hospital kids could participate in a learning environment with regular ed kids, and a stream ecology after school club was taken under the wing of an environmental group.

Mrs. Manning instituted functions like "Dads and Donuts" and "Moms and Muffins" to get parents involved in the school. The yearbook was started. Ms. Manning, a former music teacher (I ghin she also taught English), wrote, directed and produced the 7th grade play. The parents and kids built elaborate sets and sewed costumes. Ticket sales brought in money that was used for classroom supplies. Ms. Manning used every nickel she could get her hands on for the classroom. You only had to tell her you needed materials, and if she didn't have the money, she would be asking the PTA if they could come up with it or trying to get it for you somehow.

Once a month, Ms. Manning had a faculty breakfast in the teachers' lounge. Classes didn't start until 8:30, but grade level teachers had to be in their rooms by 8:00 so they could watch over the students as they came into the school. Ms. Manning and her administrators would take on the responsibility of watching all of those kids in the cafeteria until 8:30 just so the homeroom teachers could enjoy a relaxing breakfast and that second cup of coffee.

Ms. Manning was one tough cookie. She backed her teachers to the hilt, and she never backed down. She was never intimidated by the Fernbank parents and knew every student's name. At a parent or administrative meeting, she always had an infinitely greater command of the facts than any parent or Central Office administrator. She NEVER came to a meeting unprepared.

Ms. Manning was not looking for a promotion or money. She used to pay thousands of her own money out of pocket every year for students who didn't have field trip money (bet you didn't know that Fernbank parents - she never advertised it). Ruth just wanted to run a school the way she as a long time teacher knew it should be run. Many of the Fernbank parents had opted for private school before Ms. Manning came in. She drew so many children back to Fernbank. And this had a snowball effect of bringing even more back. These were involved parents and good students who in turn helped make Fernbank the high achieving school it is today.

Fernbank parents - I know you have had some good principals since Ms. Manning retired in the mid 90s, and many of you may not even know her name, but your school is to a great extent the legacy that Ms. Manning left.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:05 Reading specialist degrees are pretty meaningless. I don't have one, but have more knowledge than most that do or are teaching the courses from self knowledge and previous jobs. Won't waste any more money to get the degree, as my time is too valuable to waste to sit in classes for information that I already know.

One thing that I have learned as a teacher, is that many degrees don't mean jack. Too many in the field of education have degree upon degree and are still stupid.

I think the problem in education, is that hires are based on degrees and not knowledge that someone has. Many degrees in education aren't worth the paper that they are printed on.

Anonymous said...

@6:40.
I think we are talking about two different things. I know that in education there is a degree called "Specialist," (which is often a way to increase the paycheck by taking a few courses)but that is not what I am referring to.

"Reading Specialist" is a certification program similar to the training for ESOL and Gifted. It's not one of those "degrees" that increase one's paycheck without a commensurate increase in knowledge and skill. I know only three reading specialists, but all of them are incredibly effective.

Anonymous said...

Hiring instructional coaches who actudlly assist with small groups would be ideal.
Are there any effective instructional coaches in the district.
No one can seem to locate any? I would be bored to death just sitting all day pretending to be working.

Anonymous said...

@5:02
I recall once being recognized by my principal at a faculty meeting because I had the highest test scores in the school.

Duh, I teach Gifted.

I'm just gonna throw myself under the bus here and say that I shouldn't be judged based on my test scores. I'm a great teacher--I have no doubt about that. But if test scores are any part of the equation at all, my peers are already a step behind me.

Anonymous said...

7:03, you raise an interesting question. We do tend to be critical of certain groups of people here, but I'm curious--does anyone know, even by rumor, of an instructional coach who does something?

Anonymous said...

7:14- I truly would love to know one instructional coach who actually assist teachers.
Teachers all over the county laugh at how instructional coachers sit all day long doing no WORK.
How can instructional coaches monitor and evaluate teachers when they run from children or teachers who need their help?
All personnel in the district should be evaluated. Teachers, administrators, counselors, and any other person(s) who have a title as working with children should be evaluated at the end of the year by students. This would tell and paint a clear picture of who does what. Interesting.!!

Are their any counselors who leave their desk and assist with students in Dekalb County?

Teachers in other county cannot believe that our counselors donot work with students.
At the end of the year , administrators should really send around a checklist to teachers to see how many of their students actually know their counselor or really participated in any activities that were signed and sent in to the counseling department in the district.
Most of them (conselors) have should have bed sores from sitting and hiding out all day long in their office.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, accountability is fine, but my current school in the county certainly plays into that. Some ideas:

1. There are teachers who are doing a terrible job. Every teacher in the building knows those who are inneffective, most parents know them, and the administration definitely knows them. Make it easier for a principal to manage the employees in their building, just like a manager/supervisor in an office anywhere else in America. In order for this to be effective, principals and AP's need to be re-evaluated. If they are strong, the faculty will be strong, and the "good" teachers will willingly submit to the principal's authority.

2. Some of the best teachers in the county hold nothing more than a bachelor's degree. Recognize them and reward them! Give the principals the ability to "reward" or "promote" effective teachers by a new, permanent pay raise regardless of current degree. This would take some work to organize, but allowing the principal to "promote" one or two teachers a year would encourage good, healthy competition among teachers. Having an advanced degree in an area unrelated to the field a teacher teaches in, is not a good enough reason for higher pay. Recognize and pay dedicated teachers, regardless of education levels.

3. Teachers cannot be held responsible for students constantly out of their classrooms for behavior issues. Students who repeatedly receive suspensions, whether in-school or out, cannot be expected to score well on testing, and that is NOT the fault of the classroom teacher.

4. In order for new, major changes to be implemented, it might be necessary to focus on current 1st-3rd grade students. We must set in place HIGH expectations of ALL students in this age group. Attendance-expected. Good behavior-expected. True effort-expected. These expectations need to be shared with the parents as requirements with NO exceptions. Failure in those first years WILL result in being held back. Currently waisted money will be used to provide every necessary resource to see that those struggling get help. (Summer school, Saturday school, even home visits*see below)
Now, for a couple radical ideas:

5. The college prep path for everyone must be done away with. People must realize that not every child is "cutout" for college, nor does every child "need" college. I know that will garner anger from many people reading this, but reality hurts. When a child refuses to learn, simply "passing" them on does not help them at all. In fact, passing a child simply because of age does more harm than good. This is evident in high schoolers unable to read! Instead, at some point parents and students need to realize that if they continue to not try, and thus not succeed, then they will be placed in an alternative style of education. (technical, vocational, business, etc.) I am a firm believer that if the student genuinely wants to learn, they can be taught. For these children we must make available EVERY resource necessary to help them pass.

6. Instead of overpaid workers at the Parent Resource Centers and Instructional Coaches we need to be highering teachers to be making home visits to families with children in danger of failing. If the parents will not come to us, we will go to them! To many, school has become nothing more than a daycare system. By having teachers go into the home, we can model good study skills, stress the importance of education, reemphasize our commitment to education, and hold the parents more accountable to their job. Instructional Coaches need to work DIRECTLY with the students in need during the school day. These coaches will be of much greater use helping kids one-on-one in ways a classroom teacher cannot.

This is a short list of practical ideas along with some radical ideas. We must make changes, and they must be big. The smaller ideas are simply bandages that will only suffice for a temporary period of time.

Anonymous said...

@7:14
Yes there are coaches who do work and at least one of the math coordinators that is extremely good. I know of an America's Choice coach who used to teach Reading Recovery and she is always in the classroom helping in small groups or doing the data analysis for/with the teachers.

Anonymous said...

"Yes there are coaches who do work and at least one of the math coordinators that is extremely good."

That's nice to know since DCSS spends $9,000,000 on these 90 coaches. Please tell us what these coaches do? Are they in the classroom at at least half the day modeling lessons? Do they take some small groups of students and work with them to actually show an improvement for some children? You do know that most coaches are in the classes modeling lessons for teachers don't you?

Most teachers I know say they sit in their offices all day and do nothing for teachers or students. Meanwhile they consume $9,000,000 a year that could be used for real teachers that teach small groups of struggling students. What is Audria Berry thinking? Why does she still have her job? She needs to be replaced with someone who will assume the job of Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement and improve our schools.

Absolutely NO accountability on her part. She is responsible for the schools improving. She has been in this job or heading up Title 1 schools for what - 5 or 6 years - our schools have not only NOT improved - they've declined.

Why did Lewis keep her in this position and why does Tyson have her in this position?

Anonymous said...

@DM
I'm a teacher who is never satisfied with my teaching. I work hard and keep long hours. I've taught in the southend for a non-AYP school and in the north end for a high achieving school. I'm afraid of test scores being used to evaluate my teaching because
1: lack of trust for anybody to design a method that is valid-test scores DO NOT measure all that I bring to my classroom
2: funding issues-how will the state/districts budget for salaries when its based on unknown scores? I'm guessing that there will be a pool of money and we will end up competing against each other for the additional money. Talk about a morale killer.
3: Tests-in high school, only Biology and PHysical Science have EOCT-so if you don't teach those how are you measured? Student surveys? Yikes.
4: Teachers only get non-renewed for the next year. There is always a time lag. It makes the situation worse if you get rid of a teacher mid year. Fill the position with whom? Department chair work loads increases exponentially with the loss of a teacher mid year. Fix that how?
5: Exactly how does all this effort into developing a teacher measurement method improve student learning? How about spending the time on improving the teachers directly? Measuring my gas mileage doesn't improve my gas mileage.

Anonymous said...

Thoughts on the migrant apartment kids: we should have it set up that no matter where the kids' parents move (except for a county shift or move out of country), the kid stays at the school they start in-- once enrolled, stay enrolled -- no moving during the year (can't force them not to go to Mexico or Gwinnett but you can expand the school day or shift the year to accommodate the situation when there's patern in certain areas of families retuning during clear parts of the year...but that's a different issue and may go to the need for really experienced principals with lots of authority and/or much smaller school systems); (2) I'm really confused as to why we can't judge students based on a tracking system that track the specific child from year to year and evaluates the teacher based on progress during the year (not rotely based on grade level) -- take the IOWA in 2nd grade and take that score for that child and if the child improved over the next school year, teacher did well, no improvement, then maybe the teacher didn't do well (okay, same issues remain with migrant kids and kids stubbornly refusing to answer things but it moves away from ignoring where the kids are starting at). I really think the money needs to be taken away from central office (my thought at this point is vouchers) and directed directly into the schoolhouse and away from the corrupt adults feeding their friends.... at least if it must go into the school house, it will be spread around a bit more....

Anonymous said...

"we should have it set up that no matter where the kids' parents move (except for a county shift or move out of country), the kid stays at the school they start in-- once enrolled, stay enrolled -- no moving during the year '

We can't do that. People can move where ever they want and schools have to take the children and enroll them. This is the United States. We don't have laws that say people can't move.

Anonymous said...

"I'm really confused as to why we can't judge students based on a tracking system that track the specific child from year to year and evaluates the teacher based on progress during the year"

Sounds good, but what if the child has a teacher in Gwinnett for 4 months and then in DCSS for 6 months. This is often the case with children who move often - and a huge percentage move in schools with lots of apartments. I really don't see how you can say which teacher taught a student which skill or didn't teach him/her a skill. Very complicated and these are the very kids that fail the CRCT - not those stable kids that live in stable homes.

What you want and what you get are two very different things. You want a nice tidy kids come in and the teacher has them all year, but this is not the case for a large percentage of our students. Teachers can't change this and you can't change this and the state can't change this. It's theory versus reality.

Anonymous said...

"I really think the money needs to be taken away from central office (my thought at this point is vouchers) and directed directly into the schoolhouse and away from the corrupt adults feeding their friends.... at least if it must go into the school house, it will be spread around a bit more...."

That I can agree with. I really don't care how it gets to kids. Just so it does.

Anonymous said...

what's arne duncan's take on the issue of kids moving and holding teachers accountable for this?

Anonymous said...

"Actually, the data used will be using a 3 year period of data - not one semester."

Dunwoody Mom, until you have walked in my shoes for more than 3 semesters, you really don't know what you're talking about with regards to the south end schools.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what people are talking about when they say they are not allowed to give zeros? My 9th grade DCSS student gets zeroes for not turning in homework on a regular basis! If turned in late, he is often given a 50 but sometimes the zero remains. I have mixed feelings about this because he has ADD and struggles with organization, but I also know that if he doesn't face consequences, he will probably just continue to be disorganized. So I'm not arguing the merits either way, just saying that zeroes are routinely given, at least at my child's high school.

I am not sure the effect the zeroes really have though. For students who do well on tests like my son, in most cases not turning in homework half the time will not even knock them down to a B. He got all As and one B last semester.

Also, it impacts what classes the kids are drawn to. He is going to take three AP classes next semester -- in part after looking at the syllabus for these classes and seeing that they don't assign much (or in some cases any) weight to homework and instead rely mostly on papers and tests (which he excels at). So, if it pushes him toward more challenging courses, I guess I am good with it!

Anonymous said...

dm - the three-year data sounds foolish; i don't have the same kids for three years - just one semester; yet the program you like would nail me if i can't yank them "up to snuff" in time for the test I have to give. I can't read this blog anymore. My blood pressure can't take it; I wish cere would change the name to North Dekalb School Watch.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, did you even read the article Cerebration attached?

The new system will take into account “student-growth” scores, arrived at by plugging three years of a student’s test results into a mathematical formula to predict future scores. Educators will be rated on how closely students follow that trajectory.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter how they decide how teachers are going to be held responsible, I don't like it. I have had children who have two and three poor teachers in a row and are way behind the rest of the class. I don't want to be accountable for their inadequacies and lack of skills. I want to be responsible for where the child came in at and where they ended up and nothing more. No teacher can save the world and perform miracles.

Anonymous said...

"The new system will take into account “student-growth” scores, arrived at by plugging three years of a student’s test results into a mathematical formula to predict future scores."

If my class changes 40% every year from September to May, how will that affect the test scores. For 3 years I will be measured on only 60% my students? Is that the way it works? Will children have to be there for say at least 6 or 7 months in order to measure my teaching? Can you really measure my teaching of a child in 2 months?

This is the reality of schools with high turnover - the very schools that have failing students. I'm sorry, but this is neither statistically valid or reliable. Everyone wants to pretend this isn't the case, but look at the student turnover rates in low income schools with a lot of apartments - very high student turnover.

One year when the 6th graders (they had 6th grade back then) graduated from Woodward (around 650 students at that time), the school was gathered for awards day. The PE teacher was giving out awards. He asked students in the 6th grade to stand who had been at the school for 6 years since 1st grade. Only 3 students stood up.

Anonymous said...

Haven't we asked repeatedly for usage figures for the Parent Resource Centers and gotten nothing?

By way of comparison, most libraries (school and public) -- especially those run by a librarian with an MLS from an ALA-accredited institution, keep usage statistics -- usually hourly for patrons who use the library in person. They also maintain borrowing statistics, etc. This is one way to justify the library's existence and to ask for expansion in hours and services.

Quite frankly, I think money would be better spent by forming a partnership with the DeKalb Public Library and having a knowledgeable DCSS-paid parapro or DCSS-paid graduate student working from 5 PM - close and on weekends in each library branch to specifically assist parents and students with computer usage and library usage, teaching them how to assist their students and how to effectively use the libraries we pay for with our tax dollars. Further, hiring would be based on ability and knowledge and would be handled by the library system. I feel confident that there might be a grant, maybe from IMLS, to fund all or most of this partnership.

Clark Atlanta offers a non-ALA accredited library science program. And, both the University of Alabama and the University of South Carolina offer an ALA-accredited library science program that can be 100% online.

Anonymous said...

Three strikes? There are consequences but there is also the hope of redemption. My students get zeros until they make up the work. If they do not, then the zero sticks. First I call their parents and inform them that their student is not turning in their work or that they are missing tests but that they can make up the work and improve their grades. I also come early and stay late to tutor students who are having difficulty. However, there are some that do not seem to care, their parents don't seem to care, and I have failed at making them care. I have had cheerleaders, football players, and other students miss activities or trips because they did not make their zeros up. I have had parents call me and tell me that I am ruining their child's chance for a scholarship. I just say-they may turn in their work and make up the zero. About half of them do not take that opportunity.
Students and famlies track themselves. There are students who come ready to learn or I can inspire to learn. I stick at it because of those successes and frequently those students come back to visit or email.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:10am: It sounds like the approach you are taking is a good one. It gives kids a second chance but still provides consequences for those that don't ever turn it in. I would just note that while there probably are lots of kids/parents who don't care, I hope you won't assume that that is the case with all of them who don't turn in their work. My child cares deeply, but has significant organizational and attention issues. This does not always come across to teachers as he is a very bright mostly A student in the accelerated and gifted classes. However, he often does not turn in his work (the infuritating part of that for me is that he usually has done the work, but loses it or forgets to turn it in). Some of his teachers who may not understand the challenges he faces have commented that he doesn't try or doesn't care, which is not really the case. I think it is hard for teachers, who tend to be studious and well organized by nature, to understand the challenges of someone who struggles with this area. The best teachers we have had are the ones who do as you do -- contact us (the parents) so that we know what is going on (otherwise, we usually don't) and provide consequences for failing to turn in the work but still provide a second chance, even if it is only for half-credit.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:49 a.m. said Doesn't matter how they decide how teachers are going to be held responsible, I don't like it. I have had children who have two and three poor teachers in a row and are way behind the rest of the class. I don't want to be accountable for their inadequacies and lack of skills. I want to be responsible for where the child came in at and where they ended up and nothing more. No teacher can save the world and perform miracles.

Perhaps if there had been an accountability system in place, those rotten teachers your students had the prior two years would have been removed and your students would have had a shot at an education. Teachers don't want an accountability system because they don't want to be held responsible for someone else's failures, but without an accountability system there is no way to get rid of the bad teachers so you won't be held responsible for their failures.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dunwoody Mom...

come teach in my school for a day and let me evaluate you since you are so highly refined on this process...

Not shying away from evaulations here, but Test Scores and especially parent/student surveys should not count for 50% of my evaluation.

PS so everyone feels better about this whole North/South Civil War.

There are some pretty illiterate kids in the North. There I said it. They arent just rich white folk in the north and poor black folk in the south.

Anonymous said...

A big help in the classroom would be to actually get the reading and math coaches to TEACH students. As it stands now, these positions, are worthless as far as helping teachers teach. They have no actual hands on connection to the students..and often create more work for the already "over-worked" teacher. Also..add the Intervention/Prevention position to the worthless list of eating up critical funds that could be used for direct student instruction.

Anonymous said...

"A big help in the classroom would be to actually get the reading and math coaches to TEACH students. As it stands now, these positions, are worthless as far as helping teachers teach. '

It's appalling that Instructional Coaches are not modeling lessons every day for teachers. I've never heard of an Instructional Coach not being required to model lessons for teachers. If they can't show a teacher how a lesson is taught, then they will have absolutely no credibility with the teachers. Dr. Berry is responsible for this. She should be requiring the Instructional Coaches to spend a great deal of their instructional day modeling lessons. She or the School Improvement coordinators should also be observing the Instructional coaches as they model lessons. This should be an integral part of their evaluation. Audria Berry, Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement, should know this is what other Instructional Coaches do. Berry spent around $5,000 in travel in 2008, $8,500 in travel in 2009 and $5,400 in 2010. I'm assuming it was for learning conferences or touring other school districts. Around $19,000 in travel in the last 3 years should have left her well versed in the duties of the Instructional Coaches. Surely she go to some seminars that told her the most effective ways to use Instructional Coaches?

Anonymous said...

Instead of focusing 100% of energy on how to remove ineffective teachers already on the job, why don't we invest in improved education and training for the next generation of teachers? We need to recruit top students to join the teaching profession and work to retain them, with higher salaries and support.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Audria Berry most likely hasn't worked one on one with a student for years. And she wasn't even an actual teacher for many years.

But she sure doesn't mind taking a non-DCSS trip out of the country on a DCSS p-card.

Anonymous said...

It disturbs me that so many people are so quick to blame teachers for the academic disaster we currently face.

Do we blame law enforcement officers for an increase in crime or doctors for a flu epidemic?

We teachers are like ceramic artists--our results will only be as good as the clay we are given and the tools we use to render the work.

Yes, there are "bad" teachers. However, if even 20% of the DCSS teaching force were considered "inadequate," this would still NOT be the reason that our students are performing so poorly. Further, these few "bad apples" could not be the cause of the system-wide problems of morale, corruption, malfeasance, distrust, and bureaucratic inefficiency.

As a student I had some bad teachers, some great teachers, and some average teachers. Nonetheless, I received a stellar education. I did NOT perceive that my teachers were responsible for my success (or lack of same). I believed that I was responsible for what happened in my academic life.

When we discuss accountability, let us not forget that our students must participate fully in the academic process. Poverty, while an obstacle to many things, is NOT an excuse for ignorance. In our nation's past, it was the poor who MOST valued education--who struggled and sacrificed so that their children would have a better future.

Blame is useless at this point. I suggest we dedicate our considerable talents NOT to educational REFORM, but towards a REVOLUTION. Let us gather the great thinkers from this blog and really design an educational system that prepares our children to participate in the global economy. Let us truly analyze the data and observe successful school systems and DO THE THINGS THAT WORK. Screw all the cute crap that burdens teachers with busy work but provides no results.

We put men on the moon with less technology than the iPhone...come on people...let's answer this question: What will our children need to know and be able to do in order to prosper in the 21st century?

Signed,
Disgruntled (and discrumbled) yet hopeful (for now) in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Dr. Beasley, my child attends a school where they have Amnesty Night. What is this!? A night where students who do nothing all semester long can come make up missing assignments as long as their parent shows up with them. What kind of message is that to send to the students who work diligently all year? It says that all their work does not matter. And the kids who slack all year learn that they don't have to do anything all year, but they can still graduate.

This is the last year my kid will be in a DCSS school.

Anonymous said...

Will someone be a journalist for me? Find out about the career criminal who just killed the cop over the holidays... he was in jail 3 times in 2010 the last time he was out he shot and killed the policeman (I think the policeman was from Cobb and the judge who had most recently let him out of jail was from Fulton). I would like to know the following: (1) did he have a father in his life? (2) when did he leave school? (3) what did he study in school? (4) was he offered anything to study that he would have been interested in? (5) has he gotten anyone pregnant? (6) how many siblings does he have? (7) how many social welfare programs are his parental unit(s) on and/or his own offspring(s)? (8) How are we ever going to stop this cycle? And, I strongly believe this is all tied in together... you can't stop the cycle without fixing the underlying social issues that we discuss day in an day out on the blog and without facing the fact that the folks at DCSS (and the APS and other equivalents) have failed their own in failing to actually eduate the children and to provide them with a future (not necessarily college). Where, I ask, does this leave society in 10, 15 or 20 years? I fear that this is how Hitler got his SS and other armies of a similar nature got their cadre of henchmen -- we need an educated middle class interested in, and willing to, work for a living. We absolutely need to teach them how to fish and we need to stop giving them the fish.

Anonymous said...

Next year the county is thinking of ADDING more instructional coaches and possibly one per school. Is this some of the Race to the Top money that they want to use?

Anonymous said...

I've had the opportunity to read a lot of the threads on this blog during the first week of the Winter break (2011). Here's where I'll leave my mark. DCSS has some BAD TEACHERS in its classrooms. I've come across teachers that lack the basics themselves in math & science. I'm talking about ppl w/ degrees in education (yes, even advanced degrees).

I think these "bad apples" have taken their profession for granted and think they can sit by and do nothing, while they continue to hurt our children's future. This is irresponsible. I've seen it firsthand. They absolutely DO NOT care. They want a free ride w/o doing any work. Waiting to retire and be taken care of by the State. Does that remind you of anything? How 'bout ENTITLEMENTS and PUBLIC ASSISTANCE? Does that answer the riddle. C'mon, get these rotten apples out of DCSS.

The NEW central office administration needs to make this one of their top priorities in 2012. Get your pink slips ready!!