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Archive for April, 2013

Reading Insufficiency

April 23, 2013 1 comment

As I mentioned last night on Twitter, I was in the middle of writing one blog post when I got distracted and started another one. I decided to finish and post the first one and mull over my approach to the second one.

Around 4:00 yesterday, the SDE emailed the iRead newsletter out to everybody who subscribes to that listserv. The blast contained two frequently asked questions and their surprising answers (bold text from original message):

#1.  Are districts required to hold a Summer Academy Reading Program even if there is no RSA funding available?

Yes.  It is now required to hold a Summer Academy Reading Program in your districts. 
According to the Oklahoma State Statute 70-1210.508E, part C, “Summer academy programs shall be designed to ensure that participating students successfully complete the competencies necessary in reading for promotion to fourth grade and to enhance next-grade readiness. A summer academy reading program shall be a program that incorporates the content of a scientifically research-based professional development program administered by the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation or a scientifically research-based reading program administered by the State Board of Education and is taught by teachers who have successfully completed professional development in the reading program (DIBELs or Literacy First) or who are certified as reading specialists.”

Other funding sources may be used if RSA funds are not available.  According to the Oklahoma State Statute 70-1210.508E, part E, “Nothing in this section shall prevent the State Board of Education or a school district board of education from utilizing private, local, or federal funds to implement this section.” 
Funding sources can be found on ourWebsite.

#2.  What about the options for the Summer Academy Reading Program?

The options are geared toward the parents and guardians.  School districts are required to have the Summer Academy, but if a parent or guardian refuses to place his child in the program, or for some reason the child is unable to attend the program, then the parents or guardians have other choices.  Please read the law according to Oklahoma State Statute 70-1210.508E, part D, “School districts may approve an option for students who are unable to attend a summer academy. The optional program may include, but is not limited to, an approved private provider of instruction, approved computer- or Internet-based instruction, or an approved program of reading instruction monitored by the parent or guardian. School districts shall not be required to pay for the optional program, but shall clearly communicate to the parent or guardian the expectations of the program and any costs that may be involved.”

This is the clearest example yet of an unfunded mandate. It is also the most brazen example of indifference by the SDE. Here are just a few of the problems I see:

  • Just use other money. Um, we’re out. Yes, we will have carryover funds, but less than last year, and we have to start the next year with something, since the SDE refuses to issue a state aid check to districts in July.
  • Plop the kids down in front of a computer; they’ll practically teach themselves! Yes, they’ll teach themselves to read. On a computer.
  • Call us if you need to find reading specialists. Have you tried finding reading specialists? There aren’t bunches out there. It’s as if people don’t want to do the extra work to get the degree and certification when there isn’t any extra compensation for it.
  • We put the word “shall” in bold. Twice. That has to mean something, right? Actually, no. It doesn’t. Look – we have “designed” the summer program. We just don’t have the money for it. A close reading of the RSA law does not convince me that districts have to provide summer reading academies if funding doesn’t materialize.

Obviously, schools want to help struggling readers. We want to do a lot of things that haven’t been funded. We also want leadership from our state education agency.

*****

To subscribe to the iRead newsletter, email here.

To subscribe to the Reading listserv, click here.

To contact Teri Brecheen, the SDE’s Executive Director of Reading and Literacy, use this account.

Testing to the Teach

April 22, 2013 1 comment

Superintendent Barresi posted her occasional newspaper column this morning with the headline “Teaching to the Test.” In it, she claims to sympathize with parents, teachers, and administrators frustrated with our test-obsessed public education culture. She writes:

The time has come to have a serious discussion about this. I want teachers to know I am committed to working with them and the rest of the education community. This summer and in the fall, together with these groups, we will conduct an audit of all the different assessments given across the state, including federal, state and district level assessments.

I am proposing this study to help identify the best assessments that will provide feedback regarding instructional strategies so teachers can better meet the needs of their students. As we move to new assessments in the next few years, educators will use some familiar tools, including data, technology and texts. They will also use new instructional strategies that are a critical component of all our new Oklahoma C3 Standards. These include strategies to promote critical thinking and problem solving as well as practical application of securely held foundational knowledge. Working together, we can identify areas of duplication and unproductive assessments. Perhaps, we may even find places where we can save money and put dollars back into the classroom.

I would argue we’re past time. Still, it’s refreshing to know that the conversation will happen. Maybe this would be a good time to discuss what Oklahoma’s current tests measure. The column also included this tidbit:

Through my advocacy and policy work over the past 17 years, and now serving as your state superintendent, there is one thing I know for sure. Our current state tests are by and large memory tests. Every educator knows that tests that rely more on rote memory of facts yield very little in retained knowledge. Our current OCCT tests are aligned to the Oklahoma PASS standards. The state is currently transitioning to the new Oklahoma C3 Standards through the rewrite, revision or replacement process. The PASS Standards are a “mile wide and an inch deep.” The new Oklahoma C3 Standards are characterized as “narrower, deeper, higher.” They are narrower in focus to allow teachers to develop foundational knowledge in their students.

I’ve heard the mile wide and inch deep spiel for years, but never have I heard someone who is supposed to be over public instruction for the whole state misidentify the nature of our tests. There is, in fact, very little a student can demonstrate through memorization. Not the reading passages. Not the math. Not the science and social studies. That’s not how the tests are designed. To criticize the assessments and say that they often test understanding at a low level might be accurate, at times. To criticize PASS for being all over the place is also fair.

Her column concludes with these two paragraphs:

We have engaged teachers and principals in a comprehensive effort of professional development to prepare educators for the new system. Our goal is to create an environment of continuous learning spurred on by innovations in instructional strategies that are student centered, research based and data driven.

My next column will be about how we’re communicating with educators and the public and the training we’re providing to support educators throughout the state.

I would hardly describe the effort at providing training for educators as comprehensive. It has consisted of: expensive keynote speakers; invitation-only conferences at irregular intervals and with disconnected content; a summer conference when most teachers are working second jobs or on vacation; well-intended REAC3H Coaches with too much territory and an evolving assignment of duties; and a handful of regional half-day workshops by the SDE’s curriculum team. Hopefully, as Barresi collects feedback about testing, she’ll also accept constructive input about the dearth of training happening around Oklahoma.

Stall Tactic

April 19, 2013 2 comments

School finance is complicated. Adequately educating two children in adjacent desks in the same classroom may cost different amounts of money. That’s the micro.Expand that to the whole school, district, state, and nation, and the levels of variance grow in countless dimensions. That’s the macro. Add to that ever-increasing regulations by the state and federal governments, and you have a loose framework for understanding what goes into funding public education.

Schools are more than teachers and students. They are principals, office assistants, paraprofessionals, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and maintenance staff. In larger districts, add levels of district staff to manage the complex systems of technology and warehousing. Managing the athletic programs of a school takes additional personnel, or in many cases, additional duties thrust upon teachers and principals.

On top of that, public school enrollment continues to grow, and the state share of common education funding does not respond in kind.

The Oklahoma government has been slow to respond to this. Superintendent Barresi has been both dismissive of the need for more money in schools and later supportive of increased funding – as long as it supports her agenda and not what districts think they need. The governor thinks we can increase the amount of money that goes for instruction by consolidating schools. Meanwhile, some legislators think that they can’t proceed with increasing funding until schools can give them a dollar amount that would be enough.

To me, this is the wrong conversation and a waste of time. As the Oklahoma Policy Institute points out, schools are not throwing money down the drain on administrative costs. It takes a certain amount of overhead to run any organization. That’s true in the private sector as well. But when schools get more kids and more mandates, it’s not just the number of teachers that have to increase. It’s also instructive to point out that during the last five years – during which time per pupil funding has decreased – teacher salaries have risen, but only slightly.

We have cumulative unfunded needs in our schools. Every superintendent in the state could probably tell their legislators what they would do with 2 percent…5 percent…10 percent more in state aid. If that number increased to 20 percent, the list would still be pretty easy to fill. None of what schools would spend that money on would be what I would consider waste: long-overdue raises for teachers, additional staff positions – especially for students needing extra help, technology to meet the changing face of education, books for school libraries, repairs to facilities, professional development, textbooks, playground equipment, etc.

The bottom line is that nothing the state asks school districts to do is adequately funded.

The SDE proposed a large budget increase this year. The governor proposed a tiny one. As we approach the last month of the legislative session, two key questions remain.

  1. Will the increase to the education budget be large enough to make a difference to school districts’ bottom line?
  2. Will the legislature line item funding for the SDE, with very precise instructions for how any new monies are spent.

The answer to the second question is as important as the first. If the education budget is increased, but more money is not put into the funding formula, the SDE will be free to pursue larger testing contracts and professional development that ironically does not reach its intended audience very effectively. Hopefully the legislature learned that lesson last year.

Republican Angst over the Common Core

April 19, 2013 2 comments

The Republican National Committee has passed a resolution calling for the federal government to halt efforts to implement the Common Core State Standards. From the resolution:

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is — an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal,” and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee rejects the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state, and be it finally

RESOLVED, the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (p36) (3.); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.

This puts the states in quite a pickle. It was, after all, state efforts, namely through the National Governors’ Association and the Chief Council of State School Officers, to develop the Common Core. From the beginning, CCSS has been a bi-partisan venture.

So how are states responding? Alabama’s legislature is now rejecting the standards. Oklahoma may not be far behind. House Resolution 1011 would halt “further adoption of Common Core State Standards until further costs are ascertained.”

Here’s the problem with Rep. Blackwell’s resolution: we’ve already adopted them. We haven’t partially adopted them. We’ve fully adopted them. We’re gradually implementing them. For the last three years, school districts around Oklahoma have been working to change the teaching style and content in classrooms to meet the new standards. That this effort has been expensive is the root of the concern here.

Blackwell also wants a full rendering of costs already incurred. I think the amount would be staggering. You would have to calculate the costs of SDE travel  and training, prior to and since implementation; the cost to the SDE of REAC3H conferences; the cost to districts to attend these conferences; the cost for lead REAC3H districts to work within their networks; the cost of the REAC3H coaches; the cost of Vision 2020; all the labor hours of SDE employees related to each of these things, plus conferences; the cost to districts of increased infrastructure, teaching materials, and training; and the added impact of test development and test prep. In short, CCSS has already cost Oklahoma taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

The real question is whether or not this has been a good expense. I liked parts of the standards from the very beginning. I thought they were an improvement over what we had in place with PASS. I did not think that adopting CCSS would lead to the massive power grab by the State Board of Education last month (taking the standard adoption process away from the legislature). Unlike groups on the right, I don’t think CCSS is a massive conspiracy by the feds or the UN to undermine states and communities. And unlike groups on the left, I don’t feel like the standards themselves are the ruination of education.

It’s everything since the adoption of the standards that I’ve hated. The processes for training and implementation have been uneven, at best. The testing consortium to which Oklahoma belongs (PARCC) seems to have spun off into its own self-aware entity that no longer answers to those who built it. The testing, textbook, and training companies are making fortunes. Yes, I’ve seen examples of CCSS improving instruction in classrooms. I’ve also seen the adoption of the standards lead to a narrowing of the curriculum – both within classrooms, and within school schedules on the whole.

Common Core is not all good. It is not all bad. While I’m still not ready to just dump it (because if we do, the State Board of Education will just try to assert its autonomy over the standards process and adopt it anyway), my enthusiasm has waned. Ironically, CCSS was designed to teach students to be adept at problem-solving. Those who created it, and those charged with managing it, have failed to pass every test since.

So should State Superintendent Janet Barresi and Governor Fallin be worried? Absolutely. They’ve fallen in line with Jeb Bush and his Foundation in pushing the standards out. One of their subsidiaries, the Fordham Institute, has published a plea for Republicans to get back in line. If they don’t, it will be hard for Barresi to get anything done in the remainder of her term in office. And it will pretty much end all thought of a Jeb Bush presidency.

Let the chips fall.

None of the Above

April 18, 2013 6 comments

Welcome to the testing season! I’ve been getting feedback from a lot of readers during the last couple of weeks. Prior to this year, most schools (and the SDE) had been fed up with the lack of efficiency and accuracy we had been dealing with from the previous testing company (Pearson). With CTB-McGraw Hill, it hasn’t been much better.

The first set of problems has to do with the physical shipments received by schools. Physical pre-coding of answer sheets has been incorrect. Schools received the wrong amounts of tests. Or tests intended for the wrong district.

The other problems are related to content. Directions are wrong (or misspelled). There are questions with no correct answers. The technology isn’t working correctly.

On top of this, CTB and the SDE won’t be setting cut scores until the second week in July – at the same time as the Vision 2020 Conference.

So tell me, is this supposed to be a valid process to tell us how good our kids are? Our teachers? Our schools?

If you have other stories of testing woe, feel free to share them in the comments.

With Boston

April 15, 2013 1 comment

I have three blog posts started. I haven’t really had a lot of time recently to write, and tonight I planned to come home and finish at least two of them. That’s not going to happen. Or maybe I will, but I’ll wait to post. Tonight, my thoughts are with Boston. Attention to the unthinkable far outweighs my concerns about Oklahoma education.

Categories: Uncategorized

Favors and FERPA

April 12, 2013 1 comment

Several districts today received an odd request from the SDE. It seems somebody there wants to do a study on effective early reading strategies. Here is the message:

The State Department of Education (SDE) is undertaking a research project which will attempt to identify successful early literacy/reading strategies. To conduct this research the SDE needs student literacy/reading achievement data for grades K-3. Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and Literacy First are two of the most widely implemented literacy assessments in Oklahoma, and both maintain databases of student records. DIBELS requires the SDE to gain district level permission to access student records.

Attached is a letter granting the SDE access to student DIBEL data from your district. Student privacy is an utmost concern. Student names will not be used in any research processes such as collecting, sorting, analyzing, and reporting. Nor will individual schools be identified in the final research results and reports.

Prior to beginning the research project, the Project Level Account Permission Form must be downloaded and signed by a district representative and returned to … the Office of Accountability and Assessment at the SDE.

It’s an interesting study, since the SDE has been actively pushing Literacy First during the current administration. The timing is interesting too, given that the state is selecting a vendor to promote statewide for K-5 remediation.

Oh, did I mention that this message was sent to principals, rather than superintendents? No So the superintendent will need to sign the form to turn over all of your student data from grades K-3. Don’t worry though…the SDE will protect the data.

Oh wait – I’ve heard this one before.

Here’s the text of the form to be signed by districts:

__________ hereby grants permission to Oklahoma State Department of Education Office of Accountability and Assessment to have access to data stored in this district’s account on the DIBELS Data System (http://dibels.uoregon.edu/). Access and reports will be provided to Oklahoma State Department of Education Office of Accountability and Assessment on a project level, district level, school level, class level, and individual student level.

Access encompasses all information stored in the DIBELS Data System, including but not limited to student names and ID numbers, demographic information, DIBELS scores, IDEL scores, DIBELS Next scores, easyCBM Math scores, and outcome measure scores.

However, access will be password-protected and confidential.

Oklahoma State Department of Education Office of Accountability and Assessment’s   access is provided on a district level for all schools in the district.

__________ hereby represents and warrants that it has complied with all applicable provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and 34 CFR Part 99 necessary for it to authorize Oklahoma State Department of Education Office of Accountability and Assessment to be provided with the aforementioned information by the University of Oregon.

The undersigned represents that he or she is authorized to execute this instrument on behalf of    __________.

If I read that correctly, the school district is on the hook for assuring that the data will be protected. They’re giving the SDE permission to share it with researchers (I thought they didn’t like researchers), but the schools are accountable for protecting the data.

We’ve piloted TLE, Roster Verification, and just about everything else under the sun this year. This sounds like a bad idea on its face. I don’t know about you, but I’m out of favors to give.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

A-F Report Cards: Legislative Intent

April 11, 2013 3 comments

Probably the second-most noteworthy thing in the news this week – behind Sonic’s secret menu – is the fact that legislators are talking openly about the failure of last year’s launch of the A-F Report Cards. Not only did the administrative rules under which the report cards were released fail to meet legislative intent, they also came up short of some of the interpretations the SDE used to calculate school and district grades. This resulted in the following truths:

  • Schools received grades at the end of October, two months after they had begun working to improve student performance.
  • Schools with good grades put very little stock in them.
  • Schools with middle of the road grades were even less impressed.
  • Schools with low grades scratched and clawed for every possible relief or appeal.

None of these things helped students.

Schools have always been eager to receive their test scores. Over the years, they have come in at inconsistent times – really any time between June and September. I have known principals who were off-contract to cut a vacation short to go into their district offices and see the results. Principals are invested in the success of their students. They care about their teachers. Ultimately, they want validation that their efforts are meaningful. The A-F Report Cards didn’t provide that. They were nothing but noise. And the response to them was cacophony.

This is why Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Lee Denney are working with representatives from the Governor Fallin’s office to craft a new grading plan. From yesterday’s Tulsa World:

The authors of the law that created Oklahoma’s controversial A-F school report cards are now sponsoring legislation that would dramatically alter the method of grading schools.

Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said he and Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, worked together with a group of other legislators and representatives from the Governor’s Office on identical bills, one of which will become their vehicle for reforming school report card calculations.

“We have had a lot of input, especially from superintendents. What we’ve done is try to fashion a response through legislative changes that will answer a lot of the complaints – at least as many as we agree with. There were lots of criticisms that we thought were valid,” said Jolley.

After the state Board of Education approved the state’s grade calculation methods in October over the concerns of more than 300 superintendents, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and the Cooperative Council for School Administrators commissioned an analysis.

Authored by three senior research scientists from the University of Oklahoma and two senior research scientists from Oklahoma State University, plus four research associates from OU, the report found that Oklahoma’s new A-F school grading system is “neither clear, nor comparable.”

It questioned the statistical “validity, reliability and usefulness” of all three components of the new school report cards, which measure student achievement and growth and school performance.

House Bill 1658 and Senate Bill 635, which contain the same language, are now both working their way through the legislative process. Current drafts indicate that legislators heeded superintendents’ wishes for grade calculations that heavily factor the lowest-performing 25 percent of students as well as their desire for a typical grading scale like the one used to determine student grades.

But Jolley said the bills’ language was intentionally written with no involvement from university researchers, superintendents or the Oklahoma State Department of Education “because we wanted to have ownership over it.”

“We’ve had everybody yelling and screaming in public, but because the two sides were so very public, we wanted to make sure what we were doing was independent,” he said.

“We have read their letters, had meetings with them in our districts. We probably will be criticized that we didn’t have them in the room while we were negotiating, but we felt like it would be better to listen to their concerns and take those with us but not base the reform on a barter or exchange.”

Yes, Jolley and his cohorts will be criticized – but not in this space – not immediately anyway. You see, the devil is in the details. The inevitable disconnect from statute to administrative rule to nuanced execution of public policy will determine the extent to which the criticism comes. The more proscribed the rules are, the less wiggle room there is at the SDE. Schools were mad at the lack of meaningful input prior to the rules being codified last year; but they were furious at the liberty taken by Superintendent Barresi and her staff with areas that were neither included nor excluded in the rules. Giving a school points for a student exceeding state average growth was in the rules. Defining state average growth was left up to interpretation. Giving high schools a letter grade for dropout rate was in the rules. Weighting that single component of the Whole School Growth section of the report card so heavily that the other criteria didn’t matter was not.

This action at the Capitol this week will likely render what happened last month at the Hodge building meaningless. That is a good thing. The revised rules adopted by the State Board of Education are even worse.

Ultimately, none of this will matter if another year passes with rules that make no sense. Get it wrong again, and the public will never trust the outcome – even if three, four, five years down the road, they happen to get it right.

Legislative Support for the REAC3H Coaches

The SDE sent out a press release this week titled “State Supt. Barresi Thanks Legislators for Support of Instructional Coaches.” From the release:

The 60 professional educators – each assigned to one of 30 regions throughout the state – have been assisting Oklahoma schools with the implementation of new education reforms such as third-grade reading sufficiency and the transition to Oklahoma C3 Academic Standards.

“We’ve heard from many of our schools that these coaches are providing invaluable resources for classroom teachers who are helping students in early grades learn to read,” Rep. Scott Martin said. “The support of our fellow legislators means these educators can continue providing these important job-embedded resources.”

I have previously described the role that these 60 educators play in implementing all of the state’s education reforms, and I have written that the budget being proposed by the SDE for this program could be better used. Here’s what I said in October:

The request for additional professional development money does not protect school districts from having the SDE determine how best to spend those funds. The proposed budget includes a slight increase in AP funds, $2.5 million in new staff development money for schools, and $5 million for REAC3H coaches. Unfortunately, with the first two items, there is no guarantee that school districts will have any say in how they spend that money. Last year, the SDE took all the AP money and sunk it into the Vision 2020 conference. And the staff development money could be re-routed on behalf of school districts into statewide initiatives. The money for REAC3H coaches could also be better spent. The SDE likes bringing in expensive big name national speakers (such as Bill Daggett). However, schools don’t have the funds to spend on his training and conferences. We all know that focused, sustained professional development makes a difference. We know that opportunities to collaborate create meaningful positive change in schools. Unfortunately, these types of professional development are not prioritized in this budget.

In November, the SDE sent a survey out to superintendents asking for their opinion on the REAC3H Coach program. It had five questions:

  1. District Name
  2. How many times have you met with the REAC3H Coaches this year?
  3. How beneficial are the Coaches to your District?
  4. If beneficial, please tell us about the benefits in your district as a result of the Coaches.
  5. If not beneficial, what could we do to improve?

I would love to know what the survey results showed. I would also like to know whether those results have been shared with legislators. Finally, I wonder what the results of a similar survey would be five months later.

Some REAC3H Coaches are assigned to work with more than 20 school districts. If they are required to spend one week a month in training, exactly how much time are they spending with each school? Also, the SDE has drifted away from the original intent of helping implement the Common Core. REAC3H Coaches have also been asked to review districts’ Reading Sufficiency plans.

Don’t misinterpret me here: I believe the coaches to be a dedicated group of professionals who will do whatever they’re asked to do. I just don’t believe in all cases that (a) their background exceeds the schools to which they’re assigned; and (b) they have enough days in a month to do their job effectively with every school in their coverage area.

These are great people working in a program that is being developed in real time. It was neither well-conceived nor well-executed. Maybe the legislators need to know what the survey results showed.

A-F Revisions: The Binary Version

In case you missed it last week while you were doing your jobs – which may have included sorting out a giant mess with the late arrival of testing materials – the State Board of Education approved revised rules for the A-F Report Cards that didn’t resemble the changes proposed in February. While it is within the SDE’s prerogative to propose rules, accept public comment and then adopt slightly different rules, what they did here was altogether different.

It was a bait and switch.

Nothing in the proposed rule changes included a shift to all or nothing performance. Either students pass or they don’t. Gone are the 0.2 additions for Limited Knowledge and Advanced. Gone are the one, two, and three point increments for student growth. It’s all or nothing. You grow or you don’t.

It’s as if the SDE took the harshest pieces of criticism from the OU/OSU report and catered their revisions to exacerbating things. The changes to the proposed changes got very little press, but there was this comment embedded in another article in the Oklahoman:

During the discussion about A-F reform, board members discussed the details about the formula used to grade schools. Board members debated issues such as whether the public had enough time to comment on proposed changes.

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said the agency followed the law and that public comment was gathered and incorporated into changes.

“Every single year, we’re really comfortable in taking a fresh new look at this to see how we can make the system better,” she said. “But at some point, you have to stop deliberations” and move on.

Yes, Superintendent Barresi, you and your staff satisfied the statutory requirement to go through the comment process. And once again, you did it in a perfunctory manner rather than listening to your constituents.

The SDE also changed the grading from a 4.0 to a percentage scale, as schools do in the classroom. I know the loss of increments in student performance will hurt schools and districts; I have no idea which direction the scale change will take the majority of grades. I just know that none of us saw this coming.

As with last year, schools and districts will have spent the entire school year working under accountability requirements that were not made clear to them from the beginning. This is why most schools – while they would like better grades – simply work to improve the performance of every single student they teach, every single day…rather than focusing on the letter grades. Teachers and administrators feel that the outcome is largely out of their control and instead being manipulated from within the catacombs of the Oliver Hodge Building.

These rules now have to be approved by the legislature and governor. Given the frustration expressed by many at the Capitol over the A-F Report Card process, I don’t expect this to be the last word.

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