Each of the last two weeks the Journal Record has published columns by individuals affiliated with a certain right-wing non-partisan think tank in which the writer is critical of those of us who have been critical of the A-F Report Cards. I enjoy watching people defend the indefensible as much as anybody, but it’s probably good to run a scorecard of the responses we’ve seen so far.
First, it was Oklahoma City University professor Andrew Spiropoulos who wrote about being puzzled that Governor Fallin didn’t even defend her own reforms:
But when you don’t control the debate, you lose control of the government. Look at what has transpired this month concerning the issue of education reform. One of the most important and bitter fights of the Gov. Mary Fallin years was the establishment of the state A-F school and district grading system.
While managing the system is always a difficult work in progress, the system’s benefits are evident. Every month, it seems, you read an inspiring story about a school, usually in the inner city, that used a failing grade as a spur to transform itself and, because of these efforts, improved both student achievement and its state grade.
But the education establishment isn’t going to allow proof that a reform is working to temper their lust to repeal it. As you would expect, the bureaucrats took the certification of this year’s grades as an opportunity to once again criticize the system and call for its repeal. The state superintendent of public instruction, the education establishment’s hired hand, refused to promote or even defend her own department’s work.
Did he really just call us the education establishment? That’s so 2014 of him.
I also find the governor’s silence telling. Maybe she’s busy managing the boon to our economy that a decade of tax cuts has brought the state. As deeply moved as Spiropoulos is by anecdotal stories of schools making great gains, he fails to see that outliers prove nothing when it comes to dispelling trends. For most of those schools, the gains have come with the infusion of federal school improvement funds and a narrowed academic focus. One of those is a good thing. The other is a narrowed academic focus.
As I’ve said in different ways countless times, a singular focus on testing sucks the passion out of both teaching and learning. Curiosity – not test prep packets and the loss of electives – is the root of learning.
Michael Carnuccio, the outgoing president of said think tank also expressed his disdain for our collective show of frustration with the A-F grades.
When Oklahoma’s new A-F report cards were released last month, many in the education community were quick to pronounce the grading system “flawed” and “unfair” and to insist that the grades don’t accurately reflect student performance.
Tulsa World columnist Jay Cronley noticed the defensiveness and remarked (sensibly, I thought) that “if people focused more on improving themselves and their families than complaining about everything from the headline in the newspaper to the testing procedure, maybe more schools would improve their grades.”
First, I’ll take issue with Jay Cronley. I can’t speak for the entire education establishment, but in the course of my typical 60 hour week, I maybe spend an hour or two complaining about public policy issues. I do some more on my own time, as if that’s a thing. The truth is that we’re too busy trying to teach kids and run schools to sit in our palaces and dwell on every bad idea. Yes, we have increased our advocacy against those who insist on repeating the false narrative that public education is failing. We do plenty more than that, though.
Carnuccio then lists every other report card known to man. For each, I could have a separate response. I’ll be brief, however. Oklahoma schools have more students in poverty than most other states. Oklahoma is outperformed by most other states. The US has more students in poverty than most of the comparison countries. The US educates ALL students; other countries don’t. So yes, there are statistical differences there too.
With Oklahoma’s A-F Report Cards, if we were to compare school sites’ poverty levels to the report card grades, we would see a strong correlation, just as we did in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Similarly, if we ranked states and countries by poverty levels, we’d see similar trends. Oh, wait, that’s already been done.
For what it’s worth, in case you missed it, Dr. Joe Siano (Norman) and I wrote a brief message expressing our thoughts on the A-F Report Cards. The Oklahoman was kind enough to run it. It wasn’t just two OKC metro-area superintendents, though. CCOSA sent the letter in advance to their members, and over 230 superintendents around the state signed off in agreement.
Are we dodging accountability? No, just mythology. Here’s how we ended the letter:
Fortunately, a task force is working with researchers to study options and solutions to address flaws that have been identified. Researchers from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have questioned the methodology and the usefulness of the A-F calculations. And, the creation of the task force, proposed by our own state leaders, clearly demonstrates that inaccurate and misleading information is being distributed to parents about Oklahoma’s schools.
As teachers and administrators, we should be held accountable for our work. However, any accountability system should be an accurate measure of the comprehensive work that contributes to the overall success of our students and schools. In spite of the millions of state dollars spent annually on the current system, it is not helpful in guiding districts. Instead, district and state officials spend countless hours tracking data errors for a product that has no instructive value.
Regardless of the accountability system used, we remain committed to student success and will continue to advocate on behalf of our state’s future leaders. We hope that ongoing research and commitment by state leaders and school district officials will lead to an improved measure that we can use in helping patrons understand all the indicators of school success.
Others who came out against the report cards include State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist. Hofmeister’s press release points out that even the USDE has problems with the system. In fact, few in the Legislature who still support it. That’s why they ordered a study about ways to reform it. That study includes researchers from the state’s flagship universities who have criticized the grades from the first year moving forward.
All this is to say that the scorecard stacks more heavily to the side of those of us who think these report cards are a slap in the face. Maybe it’s a breakdown in confidence that caused the governor’s silence.
(Did I say breakdown? Hold on for some gratuitous Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.)
I’ve always objected to the letter grades on a very basic level. If all you want to tell me about my school is that we are an A or an F or something in between, you’re missing the bigger picture. We do things that aren’t measured – always have, always will. Sometimes, that one thing that keeps a child in school is something that a test or a report card just can’t capture.
That’s why I floated the idea of a new hashtag to a couple of blogger friends the same day that Spiropoulos published in the Journal Record. None of us could come up with a good one that we could use to capture what’s right with our schools. They were either to clunky or too easy to mock if you’re a middle schooler.
That night, I was excited to read Seth Meier’s post on his blog, Excellence in Mediocrity. It was simply titled #OurSchool. He included several sources of pride for Jarman Middle School. It was something I could appreciate as both a blogger, and his superintendent. Here are some of the things Seth highlighted:
- #ourschool examined referral data that focused on student demographics, which allows us to individualize positive behavior supports for students.
- #ourschool provided a huge basket of goodness for a teacher that recently endured a heart attack.
- #ourschool had school-wide team competitions to help build unity within our grade-level teams.
- #ourschool gave food to families that do not have any.
- #ourschool teaches with integrity, even when we feel that we aren’t appreciated.
- #ourschool has worked with amazing parents.
- #ourschool has been parents to those that need it.
- #ourschool has helped homeless families.
- #ourschool has challenged our kids in the best ways.
- #ourschool has grown as a family.
This is what we should all be doing. We should be fighting back with the things that bring us pride. Instead of letting think tanks that want to destroy public education define us, we must do it ourselves.
Soon after I posted Part I, Claudia Swisher asked about high stakes and cut scores – especially for students who aren’t going to college. This is a critical issue to address, and probably the one that drove the stake through the heart of the Common Core last year.
In my perfect world, we would have no test tied to graduation. That being said, I live in this world. The Oklahoma Legislature is going to demand something to replace the EOIs as a graduation test. I don’t have the perfect solution to this issue, and I don’t feel it needs to be addressed at the legislative level. This is something for the State Board of Education and the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability to establish through administrative rule. We must have safety nets for students on IEPs and for English Language Learners. We must have a system that serves all students.
Most importantly, we must remember that a freshman who doesn’t plan to go to college might become a sophomore who does (and then a junior who doesn’t, and so on). My goal isn’t to get every child to college; it’s to get every child ready to do something after high school. College and career tech are the obvious paths, but not the only ones. When a high school has more than 90 percent of graduates either enrolling in college or participating in career tech programs, I feel that students are taking advantage of their opportunities. The other ten percent (or whatever the percentage is at a given school) matter too, and should ACT become the test that replaces the EOIs, this group’s needs have to be considered.
So Claudia, I thank you for that segue into my next point, after a recap of the first five:
- Students don’t care about the EOIs.
- Colleges don’t care about the EOIs either.
- This measure would save Oklahoma families money.
- This measure would save the state money.
- The ACT would fulfill NCLB requirements.
- Counselors would have more time to be counselors – Of all the people in schools whose jobs are not what they imagined them being, I think counselors have the worst of it. For all the principals who imagined themselves as instructional leaders but spent more time chasing dogs off campus, unclogging toilets, and settling disputes in the school drop-off line, there are even more counselors who spend way too much time securing test materials.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKkZhubwt04After testing and scheduling, counselors have little time left to provide actual guidance to students. Yes, we all have complicated jobs, but if the news from around the country tells us anything, it’s that our counselors need more time to meet the social/emotional needs of students.
Last night’s #oklaed chat was a perfect illustration of that. The topic was bullying, and Claudia moderated the discussion. You should go back and read it if you weren’t able to participate.
Social media has made bullying more prevalent and more complicated than ever. The hardest part of dealing with bullying in schools is helping the victims find the courage to report what’s happening to them. They need a relationship with their counselors more than they need a sharp #2 pencil. High school testing could be completed via the ACT. The counselors wouldn’t have to secure all the materials, beg for volunteers, collect forms from test administrators and monitors, and sign away their first-born to Rumpelstiltskin every spring. Tracking for remediation would be easier. They’d have more time to help kids.
- Teachers would have more time to be teachers – Yes, overtesting is a real thing. Those who write editorials love to point out that students only really have to take one or two EOIs per year in high school. This just shows they have no clue as to the disruption testing causes. I suppose you could argue that the benchmark testing and review weeks are the schools’ choice. You can’t argue, however, that a school having to turn every computer lab into a testing lab for weeks at a time is anything other than a disruption. If you believe that, ask a high school computer education teacher. You’ll soon learn differently.No matter what we use for testing – high-stakes or otherwise – schools are going to focus on the results. This might mean ACT prep classes, but many high schools have those already. What it won’t mean is more schools drilling for EOIs that aren’t well-linked to college-readiness. If we’re going to over-think our test results, let’s focus on a test that actually means something to students and colleges.
- The ACT unites K-12, Higher Ed, and Career Tech – Because the ACT has WorkKeys® as part of its assessment system, providing the ACT to high school students can help inform Career Tech placement decisions. From their website:ACT WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. This series of tests measures foundational and soft skills and offers specialized assessments to target institutional needs. As part of ACT’s Work Readiness System, ACT WorkKeys has helped millions of people in high schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses, and government agencies build their skills to increase global competitiveness and develop successful career pathways.
Because of this connection, Oklahoma’s career tech centers have always had an interest in working with students and parents to interpret EXPLORE scores (for eighth graders) and PLAN scores (for tenth graders). The State Regents have also utilized staff to help schools make the connections between these assessments and planning for the future. Even with EXPLORE and PLAN going away in the near future, letting students take an ACT during their sophomore year will help them if they choose a career tech program of study.
- Feedback will be timely – Do you know how long it takes us to get back our EOI test scores each year? Let’s see…we take them in late April or early May…we get preliminary scores in late May or early June…we get initial score reports in July (usually)…and we get final reports, if we’re lucky, right before school starts. With the ACT, students will have score reports in three weeks. If we choose a school day test date (as other states have done), we’ll have our own scoring window. If we choose to give students a ticket they can use on any national test date (making the in-school disruption even less), then we can get results back early in the year. Here’s how one reader put it in the comment section yesterday:I would love to see every 10th & 11th grader take the test in the Spring–and the most-motivated seniors can spend their final year trying to advance their scores.Depending on the “stakes,” of course. I’m fearful that this would push schools to force every student into ACT Prep classes, eliminating choice-electives, & maybe undermining the importance of the exam itself.
Still, I think that this is such a simple solution. Kids will get an exam that actually has purposes and insights regarding their futures. Teachers can teach to the limits of their disciplines without pressures to “teach to the test.” And eliminating 7 EOIs will free-up so much time for teachers, various counselors and support personnel, and the KIDS. Anybody who has spent time in a large high school during testing-season knows that our current system is an administrative nightmare. And nothing really gets done, anywhere. What a waste!
Lastly, maybe discussion can shift toward COLLEGE READINESS in a real way–we use that word a lot in my school, but I fear that it’s just lip-service. Maybe we don’t do a good enough job identifying kids that aren’t college-bound and providing them with realistic alternatives. Maybe a yearly-ACT check would help us serve this population better before it’s all too late.
She pretty well touches on several of the points I’m making today. Most importantly, schools can receive information we can use early. If students test twice, we can see if course selection is making any difference. We can offer assistance with whatever remains of the ACE remediation funds once the EOIs are gone.
- Schools can quit begging for volunteers during testing season – I think parental engagement is a great thing. I’ve seen this be the critical variable in a school that turns the corner. Sometimes that starts with a new principal or an influx of new staff, but school success comes down to parenting, more often than not. Does the school make parents feel welcome? Do parents treat the school with respect? Is this a relationship or a transaction?The current testing process makes school seem like a transaction. Sign this. Watch that. Keep everybody under watch. How much could we do with the same parents in our libraries? On our playgrounds? In capacities I’ve never even imagined?Parents are an often untapped resource. Eliminating the EOIs would be a step towards changing that. If we could similarly unburden our elementary and middle grades, imagine how powerful that would be!
I’ll pick up there in Part III.
One of my more popular blogs lately was the one at the end of September in which I listed all of the accountability requirements for districts and schools during the month of October. Following up from that, here is the November list. In case you’re scoring at home, the “S” before the item means that it is a state requirement. The “F” is for federal.
S Annual Student Dropout Report is due to local school boards; Alternative Education (405) 522-0276. [OAC 210:35-25-3]
S Oklahoma Native American Day: On the third Monday in November of each year, teachers and students of the schools of this state are requested to observe the day with appropriate exercises; Indian Education/Curriculum (405) 521-3361. [25 O.S. § 90.12]
S First Quarter Statistical Report (FQSR) deadline is 10 days following the end of the first nine weeks; State Aid (405) 521-3460. [70 O.S. § 5-128]
1 S ACE End of Course Project Report, high school only; ACE/Counseling (405) 521-3549.
2 S Oklahoma Technology Survey is available on the SDE School District Reporting Site; Learning Technologies (405) 521-3994. [62 O.S. 1995 § 41.5 m (D) (1) b)]
10 S OPAT Data Report Due; Special Education Services (405) 522-4513.
11 S Celebrate Freedom Week observed during the week of November 11; Office of Instruction/Social Studies (405) 522-3253. [70 O.S. § 24-152] [OAC 210:15-33-1]
15 S AP Participation materials due to College Board; Advanced Placement (405) 521-4288.
15 F Low-Income Student Count Report; October’s Claim for Reimbursement must be processed prior to submission; Child Nutrition (405) 521-3327. [7 CFR, Part 210.9 (b)]
15 F Verification of Free/Reduced-Price Meal Applications; Child Nutrition (405) 521-3327.
15 S By November 15 districts must inform SDE Financial Accounting of any district level changes made to financial transactions already submitted to the SDE; no data submitted by law can be changed or altered by the district or SDE Financial Accounting after November 15; Financial Accounting/OCAS (405) 521-2517 [OAC 210:25-5-4(c)]
15 S Deadline for submitting the Local School District’s Salary Schedule; School Personnel Records (405) 521-3369. [70 O.S. § 5-141 (A)]
15 F School Improvement Plan for each designated Priority school or Focus school currently in improvement must submit an improvement plan to SDE; School Support/School Improvement (405) 522-3253. [PL 107-110, NCLB 2001, 1116 (b) (3) (A)]
18 F Computer-generated school district expenditure reports are due; Federal Programs (405) 521-2846; School Support/School Improvement (405) 522-3395.
26 F Title III Part A: Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Immigrant Student Annual Performance Report online; Bilingual Education/Title III A (405) 522-6249. [NCLB, P.L. 107-110]
It’s not quite as cumbersome as last month’s reporting requirements, but the list includes many tasks that an amateur or non-educator, such as the Assistant Superintendent for Accreditation and Compliance, probably wouldn’t understand. That’s ok. He can ask one of the qualified people who work for him.
Interestingly, this list of requirements did not include the following, which came out in a weekly message from the SDE to administrators:
The Mid-year promotion report is now uploaded on the Single Sign On and can be found on the Reading Sufficiency Act Survey under the “Third Grade Promotion and Retention” tab. Please note that the due date has been changed to Nov. 14, 2014.
That’s a pretty big reporting deadline. And if you did keep a score sheet, that’s another “S.”
Coming up in December…all kinds of fun A-F Report Card reporting:
ACTION REQUIRED/DEADLINE: 2015 A-F Data Reports are Now Open, first deadline Dec. 19
2015 A-F Data Reports are now open for submission of data. Data must be submitted or certified by you before the close date of each report. As a reminder, your 2015 A-F School Report Card and Federal Report Cards will be comprised of the data from these reports and is dependent on the accuracy of the data you submit.
Which Reports Are Open?
The following reports are open in the WAVE (https://sdeweb01.sde.ok.gov/SSO2/Signin.aspx). Please sign in and click on the WAVE to access reports.
Report How-to Video/ Instructions Current Status Close Date State Status Historical Adjusted Graduation Cohort Report http://vimeo.com/85837710
Open Dec. 19, 2014
Which Reports Are Not Yet Open?
The following reports will be open in the A-F Application (https://sdeweb01.sde.ok.gov/SSO2/Signin.aspx ). Please sign in and click on the A-F Application to access reports.
Report Open Date Close Date A-F Advanced Coursework April 1, 2015 July 3, 2015 Annual Statistical Report (ASR) TBD 10 days after the end of school SMART Report TBD 10 days after the end of school Grades 3-8 & EOI Assessment Post-Code Correction June 4, 2014 July 3, 2014 OAAP Testing Data Correction Mid-June Mid-July A-F Calculations Review Mid-August Late August
Where Do I Submit My Data?
The Historical Adjusted Graduation Cohort Report is available via the WAVE (https://sdeweb01.sde.ok.gov/SSO2/Signin.aspx ).
How Do I Submit My Data?
For training webinars on how to complete these reports, please visit the SDE Webinar Sign up Page , and select the training you would like to attend. Where available, instructions and how-to videos have been included for each report above. Please click on the link for each report.
What If I Don’t Submit My Data?
The Historical Adjusted Graduation Cohort Report reports goes through a submission process in which the Principal must “Confirm” and the Superintendent must “Certify” the report. Failure to certify any report by the close date will be considered passive agreement that the data are correct and will be used as is in all accountability measures, including A-F.
Do you ever wonder why your district’s central office has so many employees or what keeps them busy? This would explain part of it.
A reader emailed me an exchange between a technology group and Kurt Bernhart – the Executive Director of Research & Development in the Office of Accountability and Asessments – with the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Basically, they wanted to know whether or not the 95% and 90% testing rules* would apply to field testing item tryouts. Here is what he told them:
Regarding item tryouts and the 95% rule, here’s basically the answer. (Sorry for the legal speak, but it is required.)
According to Title 70, Sections 1210.508 and 1210.523 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the State Board of Education is required to conduct criterion referenced tests in grades three through eight, and conduct end-of-instruction exams in grades nine through twelve. Part of this requirement is that the State Board of Education must conduct field testing [item tryouts] to ensure that all criterion-referenced test items are validated and determined to be appropriate for assessing Oklahoma students. In addition to the statutory requirement, the State Board of Education’s administrative rule 210:10-13-2 states that “All public school districts in the state shall administer the state mandated academic achievement tests of the OSTP to all students enrolled in the designated grades.”
Also, not all districts were chosen in the field test sampling plan; however, those that were are required by the statutes and rules mentioned above to administer those assessments. Those districts who do not comply with the statutes and rules could face penalties from the State Board of Education.
Let me begin by saying that I’m not a lawyer, although I have a solid grasp on school law. Many people with whom I’ve talked feel the law he cites is limited in its scope. The term state mandated academic achievement tests, in my view, refers to those we legally have to give, not to the field tests item tryouts. At the end of the testing window, when we have administered all of those tests, we will have met that requirement. The statute and administrative rule are both silent on the issue of whether or not schools must participate in assessments given after schools have administered all of the subject-area tests.
Since we will not receive scores for these exams, I also have a hard time calling them academic achievement tests. Schools will receive no feedback about the extent to which their students achieved anything. They are tests over the standards that will be in effect next year. While most school districts have been working since 2010 or 2011 transitioning instruction from PASS to the Common Core, in most cases, that process is still not complete. Thus the field test item tryouts assess skills that have yet to be integrated into the curriculum. We won’t even know which items were successful in their tryouts and invited to join the squad!
We’ve seen hollow threats from the SDE about “penalties from the State Board of Education” before. The end result was Superintendent Barresi naming districts who did not participate in the Stress Tests in an email newsletter. Are they going to penalize parents who throw down their number two pencils and say, “I’ve had it!”? Will they be called out by name too?
It’s hard-core bluster aimed at the fact that the SDE has lost control of the people from whom it expects sheep-like obedience. We’ve also seen the SDE run away from Jenks and Owasso on this issue while forcing all the other districts to participate. Eventually (June 24th), they’re going to learn that standing in the door with their arms crossed doesn’t intimidate the rest of us either. This administration will say anything to scare school districts into compliance with nothing more than the equivalent of an outstretched finger pointed into our backs.
*Under Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver agreement with the feds, schools failing to test at least 95% of students enrolled in an assessed subject/grade will lose a letter grade on their A-F Report Cards. Schools failing to test at least 90% will receive an F.
Today, the Oklahoma State Department of Education announced a replacement for Dr. Maridyth McBee to run the testing office.
State Department of Education names
New assistant superintendent overseeing assessments
OKLAHOMA CITY (March 18, 2014) — The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) announced today that Lisa Chandler is the agency’s new assistant superintendent in charge of assessments.
Chandler is a longtime state-level education policy leader with experience in the public and private sectors. From 2003 to 2007, she served as director of student assessment for the Texas Education Agency where she helped oversee the implementation of a new assessment system.
At OSDE, Chandler will oversee the state’s assessment program; serve as a liaison between the department and its testing vendors; and oversee the process of selecting and administering state tests.
“Ms. Chandler has many years of experience in developing high-quality, statewide assessments,” said state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi. “Her leadership as the state assessment director in Texas has been evident in the strong legacy of quality assessments administered over the years there. We are thrilled she is joining our team as we continue to focus on providing the best for Oklahoma’s children.”
Chandler earned a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. After 20 years at the Texas Education Agency, she worked as a national measurement consultant for Pearson PLC.
“My career has been committed to making a positive contribution in promoting the academic achievement of all students,” Chandler said. “It’s an honor to be able to join the department and join the efforts to boost student achievement already underway there under Supt. Barresi.”
Chandler will begin her position at OSDE Monday, March 31.
Well, Lisa, welcome to Oklahoma! Since you’re not from around here, I thought I’d get to know you through the magic of web browsing. And since your résumé is posted online at Indeed.com, I think we can learn a lot.
• Comprehensive leadership in public policy and administration
POLICY CONSULTANT / GRADUATE STUDENT
Independent – Austin, TX
2010 to Present
• Earned master’s degree in public policy and administration, Northwestern University
NATIONAL MEASUREMENT CONSULTANT
Pearson – Iowa City, IA
2007 to 2010
• Acted as key advisor on large-scale assessment programs and accountability systems
DIRECTOR, STUDENT ASSESSMENT
Texas Education Agency – Austin, TX
2003 to 2007
• Directed the design and development of assessments in math, reading, writing, science, and social studies
SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR: FINANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Texas Education Agency – Austin, TX
2001 to 2003
• Coordinated special projects and research related to school accountability, accreditation, and finance
SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR: CURRICULUM, ASSESSMENT, AND TECHNOLOGY
Texas Education Agency – Austin, TX
1998 to 2001
• Conducted policy and fiscal analysis for the areas of curriculum, assessment, textbooks, and educational technology
POLICY AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
Texas Education Agency – Austin, TX
1993 to 1998
• Coordinated the management and administration of policy and business operations
M.A. in Public Policy and Administration
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY – Chicago, IL
B.A. in Government, French
University of Texas at Austin – Austin, TX
Public policy, large-scale assessment, program implementation, analysis and evaluation, strategic planning, project management, governmental relations, research, operations management, proposal writing and contract management, business development, communication and facilitation
I guess I’m old fashioned. I like to see some public school experience in the people leading public education. That impresses me more than working for Pearson. Substitute teaching while earning a master’s degree doesn’t count. If it did, we could have Peggy Hill running asessment. She’s from Texas too!
I can only speak to what I see on paper, and what I see is someone with degrees from two elite universities, (although one of those was earned after Ms. Chandler had already worked for the Texas Education Agency for 14 years and Pearson for another three). I don’t see someone who has studied education, testing, measurement, child development, or school administration.
Certainly with this résumé she must be familiar with the processes and perception that come along with testing. She also has experience on the contract side. And since she lists at least six bullet points with every job she has held, I guess we should count ourselves fortunate.
I just have to wonder if maybe an Oklahoma applicant who had taught – maybe even led a school – and had studied something relevant to the position would have made a bigger splash.
This is an early Christmas for bloggers. Unless you’re one of the many who gave up social media for Lent, you probably know by now that Rob Miller dropped some incredible news last night. The Oklahoma State Department of Education instructed Measured Progress to exclude Jenks and Owasso from field testing item tryouts this spring. If you haven’t read it, go do that now. I’ll wait for you. If for some reason, you’re continuing to read my blog without looking at Rob’s, here’s a blurb:
Honestly, it was a pleasant surprise when we found out last week that students and schools in the Jenks district were NOT randomly selected to participate in ANY of these field tests. However, when we discovered that Owasso Public Schools had also not been “randomly selected,” several of us became a little suspicious. As you may have heard, some parents and educators in Owasso made some waves recently because of their vocal opposition to implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in their district. Therefore, this news was way too coincidental for random chance.
So, I took it upon myself to make a few inquiries by phone and email. It did not take long to discover that we and Owasso were unique and that every other district in our area had been selected for this field testing.
A conversation yesterday with an executive at the headquarters of Measured Progress revealed what I suspected. Measured Progress was given specific instructions by the Oklahoma State Department of Education to draw their testing sample from all districts in Oklahoma, with the exception of two school districts: Jenks and Owasso. This information has been confirmed separately through sources at the state department. It certainly appears that “someone” at the SDE knowingly excluded these two districts to avoid negative publicly associated with a possible parent opt-out this spring.
My head is spinning!
Measured Progress admits that the SDE told them to exclude two districts because they have outspoken patrons. How in the hell did they expect to get away with this and not have backlash?
This action undermines everything that field testing is supposed to accomplish. Aside from that, it serves as encouragement to districts whose patrons want to defy the SDE.
The blame for this decision falls entirely on Superintendent Barresi. This isn’t like last year when she explained that she had taken no part in choosing the testing company that miserably failed in two states. This was planned and approved at the highest of levels. I honestly don’t think she can’t loan her campaign enough money to get out of this hole.
Once again, we see the arrogance of Barresi and her administration fully exposed. This action is unethical. While admitting the motivation behind it is at least honest, they really thought there would be no consequences.
Since Rob posted this story to his blog last night, it has gone viral. I told him that he would break WordPress. Last night, when I refreshed the story about an hour after it posted, the site was down. It happened this morning too. Thousands of shares later on Facebook and Twitter, it’s hard to really calculate the reach of the post. I’m sure it will reach pretty much every teacher and administrator’s inbox in the state. There will be questions from the media and from lawmakers. Speaking of which, I haven’t seen a flood of supporters stand behind Barresi lately. This won’t help.
On an unrelated note, the SDE is excited to announce that Vision 2020 Round Three is coming up in August. Based on the current news, I have a few suggestions for breakout session titles:
- Parent power: You have the power to tell the SDE to stick it!
- STEMming the tide of Opt Outs!
- Redefining “statistically significant” and “randomly chosen”
- Field testing: how to take your ball and go home
- You can’t opt out; I’ll opt you out!
- Words hurt, Rob.
- Blogging for change (roundtable session)
- How to clean out your office in six months
I’d go to that last one. It sounds fun.
In case you missed it, the Bixby Public Schools Board of Education adopted an Opt Out policy Monday night. This is a response to increased questions from parents about getting their children out of state and federally mandated standardized tests. Before anybody starts an ill-advised investigation, however, we should understand what this policy is and what it is not.
It is a way to inform parents that the district respects their rights and the potential consequences to the student, school, and district if those rights are exercised. It is not an obscene gesture pointed to the southwest.
The district contacted the SDE for legal advice and was told that the district has an obligation to provide a test to every student in tested grades and subjects. The consequences, as outlined in the form that parents would have to complete (which discourages opting out) are outlined by the Tulsa World:
• Oklahoma law requires that a third-grader score proficient or higher on the reading test or be retained in third grade. “There is nothing in the law that would allow for the promotion of those students (who don’t take the test)” unless they meet one of the six good cause exemptions that aren’t predicated on taking the test first, said education department Tricia Pemberton.
• Oklahoma law requires that any person under age 18 to demonstrate score satisfactory on the 8th grade reading test to get an Oklahoma drivers’ license.
• And Oklahoma law now requires students demonstrate mastery of state academic content standards by scoring proficient or higher on four of seven end-of-instruction standardized tests.
Wood also said parents are informed that the school district and its schools’ grades are based on testing. A district is required under the state’s A-F school grading system to test at least 95 percent of enrolled students or drop one letter grade. If 90 percent or fewer students are tested, the district receives an automatic “F.”
There could also be federal funding consequences if the appropriate numbers of students are not tested.
The policy provides parents with information and choices – nothing more, nothing less. That sounds pragmatic and shows parents that the district wants them to think for themselves.