Thursday, May 22, 2014

The American Statistical Association states teacher evaluation methods based on test scores should not be used for decisions that matter

by Valerie Strauss
Answer Sheet
The Washington Post
May 18, 2014

Arne Duncan’s reaction to new research slamming teacher evaluation method he favors-Click Here

"Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been a proponent of using students’ scores on standardized tests to evaluate teachers, even as a growing mountain of evidence has shown that the method now used in most states, known as “value-added measures,” is not reliable. With two recent reports released on VAM adding to warnings long given by assessment experts, I asked the Education Department whether Duncan’s position had changed.

"VAM purports to be able to take student standardized test scores, plug them into a complicated formula and measure the “value” a teacher adds to student learning. The method has been adopted as part of teacher evaluations in most states — with varying weights put on the results — but for years researchers have said the results aren’t close to being accurate enough to use for decisions that matter."

The American Statistical Association, the largest organization in the United States representing statisticians and related professionals, said in an April report that value-added scores “do not directly measure potential teacher contributions toward other student outcomes” and that they “typically measure correlation, not causation,” noting that “effects — positive or negative — attributed to a teacher may actually be caused by other factors that are not captured in the model.” This month, two researchers reported that they had found little or no correlation between quality teaching and the appraisals that teachers received using VAM.

"For years, many prominent researchers have warned against using VAM. They include a 2009 warning by the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, which stated that “VAM estimates of teacher effectiveness should not be used to make operational decisions because such estimates are far too unstable to be considered fair or reliable.” The Educational Testing Service’s Policy Information Center has said there are “too many pitfalls to making causal attributions of teacher effectiveness on the basis of the kinds of data available from typical school districts,” and Rand Corp. researchers have said that VAM results “will often be too imprecise to support some of the desired inferences.”

These are just a few of the concerns that have emerged in recent years over this method. Still, there are economists enthusiastic about VAM, and their work has been embraced by school reformers who have opted to use it as part of teacher and even principal evaluation and who have chosen to ignore the much larger body of evidence warnings against using VAM for high-stakes purposes. In fact, when Michelle Rhee was chancellor of the D.C. public school system (from 2007-2010), she liked VAM so much that she instituted an evaluation system in the district in which nearly every adult in a school building was evaluated in some part by student standardized test scores, including the custodial staff. The percentage of a teacher’s evaluation linked to VAM depends on the state, from a small percentage up to 50 percent."

Statisticians slam popular teacher evaluation method-Click Here

The most meaningless teacher evaluation exercise ever?-Click Here

D.C. custodial staff were evaluated by student test scores. Really. (update)-Click Here

The American Statistical Association Statement on Value Added Assessment-Click Here

Dallas ISD - sold out to charter schools and those who privatize children for profit

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Charter Schools and Testing Regimes Have Helped Re-Segregate Our Schools

Reprinted from The Daily Beast


How Charter Schools and Testing Regimes Have Helped Re-Segregate Our Schools

"Sure, it’s mostly the courts, but as we approach the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, charter schools and testing regimes are reinforcing segregation.
Sixty years ago tomorrow in Brown v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public education is unconstitutional, writing that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.”

Yet all these years later, our schools remain deeply segregated along lines of race as well as class—with charter schools and high-stakes testing making matters worse.

Schools today are as racially segregated (PDF) as they were in the 1960s. Recently, ProPublica wrote a deep and haunting exposition on the re-segregation of schools in the South, including Tuscaloosa. Post-Brown, schools in the South became the most integrated in the nation. It took a while—until the 1970s, really—but it happened.

Today? In the South and nationwide, most black and brown children attend schools where 90 percent or more of the students look like them. “In Tuscaloosa today, nearly 1 in 3 black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.”

Across the United States, per-student spending (PDF) in public schools with 90 percent or more white students is 18 percent higher—$733 more per student on average—than spending for public schools with 90 percent or more students of color. That can’t be attributed to different geographical tax bases alone; 40 percent of the variation (PDF) in per-pupil spending occurs within school districts. A third of the schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students don’t offer chemistry. A quarter don’t offer Algebra II. Black and Latino students account for 40 percent of enrollment at schools with gifted programs but make up only 26 percent of the students in such programs.  

Meanwhile, we know that disadvantaged students of color end up being over-represented in the prison-industrial complex. Black students in America’s public schools are expelled at three times the rate of white students. This discrepancy starts at a frighteningly young age; black children make up 18 percent of pre-schoolers but almost half of all out-of-school suspensions. One in five girls of color with disabilities has received an out-of-school suspension. These statistics are much higher than for white peers even for the same misbehaviors.
Public schools can work. I went to one. Most everyone I know went to one.
Racial segregation in schools has increased largely because federal courts have allowed cities and states to abandon mandatory busing and other desegregation efforts imposed in the 1960s. And in 2007, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled that public schools could no longer pursue integration strategies based explicitly on race. Yet the legal sanctioning of segregation also paved the way for white families to justify self-selecting out of what were fast becoming inferior schools in communities of color, an inferiority further fed by white flight. 

Around the same time, charter schools and testing came along and made everything worse. In a key essay in the education magazine Ed Weekly, Dr. Iris C Rotberg of George Washington University wrote in straightforward terms that research makes it clear that “charter schools, on average, don’t have an academic advantage over traditional public schools” and that “they do have a significant risk of leading to increased segregation.”

Rotberg goes on to detail study after study showing a “strong link between school choice programs and an increase in student segregation by race, ethnicity, and income.” Segregation effects are particularly pronounced at charter schools run by private companies or those that target specific racial or ethnic groups. Segregation within charter schools is particularly pronounced for students with disabilities, since charter schools often tend to skim the “best students” from communities and under-enroll those with special needs.

Before Brown was even decided, Prince Edward County, Virginia, closed its public schools rather than face integration. White and black students were sent to separate, segregated private academies until the Supreme Court ordered the public schools to reopen and desegregate. Nonetheless, in the wake of Brown, many white students fled to private and parochial options, a trend very much about race but also privatization—that we can give a good education to some select students while lining the pockets of private companies. In our time, school vouchers and charters schools all play into this dynamic.  

This is where testing comes in. To begin with, testing exacerbates—or perhaps rationalizes—inequality and segregation in schools. Charter schools that screen students based on test scores end up including fewer low-income students because study after study shows that standardized test scores correlated directly with family economic status. Yet behind the testing push is the for-profit testing industry, which is less interested in boosting student learning than boosting their bottom line.

“This market-based approach to public education—one where there are winners and losers instead of equal opportunity for all—is failing our kids and driving a deeper divide in our communities,” says Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers. “Those peddling this approach try to capitalize on the growing frustration in our neighborhoods—especially African American and Latino neighborhoods—to move their agenda.” This is after all what markets do—decide where they can make a profit and abandon the rest. Some kids are getting a leg up in the charter system and testing regime, but all the other kids are being written off.

Just as separate but equal wasn’t possible 60 years ago, it’s not possible today,” says Sabrina Joy Stevens, a former teacher and executive director of Integrity in Education. “We know that concentrated poverty and racial isolation mean unequal access to learning opportunities for traditionally under-served students—especially those who end up in fraud-prone ‘schools’ privately run by people who prey on our most neglected communities.”

Public schools can work. I went to one. Most everyone I know went to one. We had great teachers, who were in unions, who had good salaries and benefits, plenty of school supplies in the classroom and enough training and freedom to teach creatively and innovate in the classroom.  We went on to have rich academic careers because we were equipped with problem-solving skills and comprehension in math and literature and science and so much more. There is nothing wrong with public schools, or public teacher unions, that can’t be fixed—if we have the will to fix them.
On the other hand, the push toward charter schools and the larger private educational industrial complex has no good track record and is only proving worse, re-segregating education and trying to re-enshrine “separate but equal” not only in practice but in principle.  

In Brown, Chief Justice Warren wrote: “To separate [children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” Yes, and separating children by race or class or test scores into pseudo-private charter schools is affecting not only those students but our communities and our nation in the very ways we once tried to undo."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, integration is falling apart

Reprinted from - Saturday, May 17, 2014
 Linda Brown, 9, walks past Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, in 1953. Her enrollment in the all-white school was blocked, leading her family to bring a lawsuit against the Topeka Board of Education. Four similar cases were combined with the Brown complaint and presented to the U.S. Supreme Court as <a href=''>Brown v. Board of Education</a>. The court's landmark ruling on the case on May 17, 1954, led to the desegregation of the U.S. education system.
Linda Brown, 9, walks past Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, in 1953. Her enrollment in the all-white school was blocked, leading her family to bring a lawsuit against the Topeka Board of Education. Four similar cases were combined with the Brown complaint and presented to the U.S. Supreme Court as Brown v. Board of Education. The court's landmark ruling on the case on May 17, 1954, led to the desegregation of the U.S. education system. 
Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor.

"(CNN) -- On Saturday, we will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed school segregation. Across the country, people are reflecting on the current state of educational opportunities for children of color.

In Milwaukee, parents, educators, students and community members are coming together to support educational opportunities for young people, and to challenge the increasing segregation and lack of resources facing young people of color today. I will join them in that celebration.

But Milwaukee is among the most racially and economically segregated major metropolitan regions in the country. It registers the largest discrepancy in employment rates between African-Americans and whites. Wisconsin has the widest gap in test scores between black and white students.

Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile
The problems in Milwaukee and Wisconsin are not unique. In cities across the country, students of color increasingly attend schools that do not reflect the diversity of our national community. The biggest metro areas in the Northeast and Midwest have been epicenters of re-segregation. In the 1990s and 2000s, school districts across the South, after being released from Brown-era, court-enforced integration, began gerrymandering school attendance zones, effectively separating black and white students.

Today, black students in the South attend majority-black schools at levels not observed for 40 years. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for example, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks like Brown never even happened.

The result is that the achievement gap, which steadily decreased during integration, is widening as re-segregation occurs.

Integrated schools help students achieve academic success in the present and personal success in the future. Students of color who attended integrated schools in the decades immediately following Brown were more likely to graduate high school, go to college, earn higher wages, live healthier lifestyles and not have a criminal record than their peers in segregated schools. (Diverse schools can also decrease prejudice and teach all students how to navigate an increasingly diverse nation.)
Unfortunately, many localities are embracing vouchers and charter schools as silver bullets for addressing persistent achievement gaps. Milwaukee has the largest and oldest voucher school program in the country, which funnels public dollars to private, often sectarian, schools. In 2011, Indiana created the nation's first statewide voucher program, and Louisiana followed suit in 2012. Charter schools have increased dramatically in the past decade; from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2010-2011 one, public charter school enrollment increased from 300,000 to 1.8 million.

Vouchers and charter schools just don't live up to the hype. In New Orleans, students using vouchers to attend private schools have not advanced to grade-level work any faster during the first two years of the program than public school students. A recent study found students in voucher schools are performing worse on academic benchmarks than students in Milwaukee Public Schools. And a national study comparing charter and normal public schools of similar demographics found that 29% of charter schools reported academic improvements significantly higher than public schools. Forty percent of charter schools reported no difference in academic performance, and 31% reported a performance worse than their public school counterparts.

Sixty years later, "separate and unequal" is still alive.

To fix the problem, we must recognize the problem. First, privatizing our school systems results in increased segregation, not improved opportunities. Whether in New Orleans or Philadelphia or Detroit or New York, legislative schemes perpetuate separate and unequal by privatizing large swaths of public school districts -- and in some cases, entire districts.

Second, education doesn't take place in a vacuum. Students and their families need access to health care, decent wages and affordable housing in integrated neighborhoods. Thus, Brown's legacy includes economic improvements for children and families.

Third, neither high-quality public schools nor economic improvements can occur when voters are disenfranchised. Only the right to vote protects access to education and movement toward economic improvement. Yet 34 states -- most under Republican control -- have passed laws to make it harder for minorities, the elderly, and young people to vote, including so-called voter ID laws and regulations that limit early voting.

The economic and racial inequities that existed 60 years ago persist in our communities today. They must be addressed. In the spirit of Brown, students, parents and educators are demanding solutions that go beyond the dysfunctional "education reforms" and address a wide range of community concerns, from stopping school privatization to providing universal early childhood education to raising the minimum wage.

School integration did not come to be the day after the Brown ruling was issued. Progress took years, and it took passion, strength and courage from a large group of committed individuals.

Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, it's time for us to take a hard look at the separate and unequal conditions that still exist in our schools and our communities, and rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the promise of equal opportunity for all."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Desoto ISD seeks to annex north Desoto residential area of Dallas ISD Trustee run-off candidate Bertha Bailey Whatley

District 6 Trustee run-off candidate Bertha Bailey Whatley, who received campaign contributions of $50,000 from the Educate Dallas PAC, (the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC - Attorney Mark Melton-Chairman) and $11,705.54 from Dallas Kids First PAC, lives in Desoto, Texas.

Candidate Bertha Bailey Whatley is represented by Allyn Media, the same firm currently representing Support Our Public Schools (SOPS - the group behind the petition drive to change Dallas ISD governance to a  Home Rule School District Charter) and  previously representing Mayor Mike Rawlings' campaign. 

As of the 8th day before the May 10, 2014 election date, the Bertha Bailey Whatley Campaign made the following advertising payments to Allyn Media:
  • 4-1-14 -   $  8,000.00
  • 4-18-14 - $13,192.62
  • 4-28-14 - $12,918.36 
  • Total -      $34,110.98
Desoto ISD Annexation Effort

Since the Fall of 2013 Desoto Superintendent David Harris has been actively exploring the process to align Desoto ISD district boundaries with the same boundaries of the City of Desoto, especially the north border which currently falls partially in Dallas ISD - the area where Trustee candidate Bertha Bailey Whatley currently lives.

If Desoto ISD succeeds with this effort, it would mean that Bertha Bailey Whatley would live in the Desoto ISD school district and no longer be eligible to serve as a Dallas ISD Trustee.

I agree with Desoto ISD that the northern part of the City of Desoto that is currently in Dallas ISD should properly be a part of Desoto ISD.

The information below describes the current effort of Desoto ISD to begin annexing the north border which currently falls within Dallas ISD and in which District 6 candidate Bertha Bailey Whatley lives in the city of Desoto.


"Detachment and Annexation Meetings:
On March 4 and March 20 the DeSoto ISD Superintendent David Harris, along with Dallas Central Appraisal Chief Ken Nolan and Community Relations Officer Cheryl Jordan, and Dallas County Tax Assessor John Ames, provided information and answered questions regarding the proposed detachment and annexation of properties in the City of DeSoto while located in Dallas ISD or Duncanville ISD boundaries. 

Annexation Powerpoint Presentation

In the fall of 2013, DeSoto ISD explored the process to align district boundries with those of the city, in particular the north border which falls partially in Dallas ISD and partially in Duncanville ISD. Basically, there are three avenues by which ISD boundries can be detached and annexed by another ISD. Additional information is attached for others to review.
For additional information, contact Assistant Superintendent Levatta Levels
Phone (972) 274-8212 Ext. 214;

1.       Districts Agreement (Either district can initiate)
No financial transaction. 

2.       Detachment & Annexation (Resident Initiated)

Pursuant to Texas Education Code Section 13.051, detachment of territory from one (or more) districts and annexation of that territory onto another district may be initiated by petition of registered voters residing in the territory or the surface owners if the territory has no residents.  None of the affected districts could initiate this process on their own. 

This process is highly technical in terms of the requirements the petition must meet and requires each affected district to conduct a hearing to determine how the proposed change would affect the social, economic, and educational well-being of current or potential future students.  Each board must then make findings as to these issues and adopt a resolution either approving or disapproving the petition.  If all affected districts approve the petition, the change can go through.  If none do, the issue is closed.  If one or more districts approves the petition and one or more disapprove it, the matter can be appealed to the Commissioner of Education, who will hear it de novo – from the beginning.

The D & A process is complex.  For example, petitions have to meet certain requirements. In addition, the petitions are not just presented to the respective boards.  There must be a formal public hearing and a resolution must issue from the respective boards which outline the findings of the board to either approve or disapprove the petition.  The findings relate to the educational interests, social, economic and educational effects of the proposed boundary change. It is not just a regular motion vote.  Further, where all boards agree with the changes, the changes must then be submitted to commissioner’s court to allocate property and indebtedness.  

3.       Chapter 41 Wealth Equalization (Chapter 41 District Initiated)
Detachment and annexation by agreement is one of the options for reducing property tax wealth that a district may use under Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code.  It is not frequently done, as most districts prefer to purchase attendance credits or educate non-resident students as a means of equalizing their wealth level.  In any event, to the extent that one or more of the neighboring districts may be a so-called “Chapter 41 district,” they could consider detaching territory in order to annex that territory onto a non-property wealthy district, such as DeSoto ISD.  This process does not require the petition and hearing process dictated by Chapter 13 as described above, but it does require agreement between the affected districts.  Furthermore, this option can be used by the Chapter 41 school district only to the extent that it would successfully result in reduction of property tax wealth."

2014 Desoto ISD Detachment and Annexation Information - Click Here

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

God created the first teacher on the 8th day and smiled in appreciation

Teachers, thank you for embracing your students and your calling.
God Appreciates Teachers
In Celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week

"On the sixth day, 
God created men and women.
On the seventh day He rested.
Not so much to recuperate,
but to prepare himself for the work
He was going to do on the next day.
For it was on that day - the eighth day -
that He created the first Teacher.

 This Teacher,
though taken from among men and women,
had several significant modifications.
In general,
God made the Teacher more durable than other men and women.
He made the Teacher tough ...
but gentle too.
Into the Teacher God poured a generous amount of patience.
He gave the Teacher
a heart bigger than the average human heart.
And He gave the Teacher
an abundant supply of hope.

When God finished creating the Teacher,
He stepped back and admired the work of his hands.
And God saw that the Teacher was good.
Very good!
And God smiled,
for when He looked at the Teacher,
He saw into the future.
He was placing the future into the hands of the Teacher.

And because God loves Teachers so much, on the ninth day God created "snow days."
from Words To Warm A Teachers Heart

Friday, May 2, 2014

An entire school district may elect to convert to charter status by establishing a home‐rule charter

  Just Say, "NO."

Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
  • "Home Rule Charter Schools (Texas Education Code §§12.014‐12.023):  An entire school district may elect to convert to charter status by establishing a home‐rule charter. This conversion requires multiple steps including: the board of trustees establishing a commission  to frame the charter, obtaining preclearance of the charter by the U.S. Department of Justice (if it would  change the governance of the district), obtaining approval of the charter by the commissioner of education, adoption of the charter by a majority of the qualified voters in an election in  which at least 25 percent of the district’s registered voters participate, and certification of the adopted charter to the secretary of state.  At this time, no Texas school district has sought home‐rule conversion."                                                                                         
  • Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
  • Click Here

Adopting a home rule school district will convert a Texas Education Code Chapter 11 Independent School District to a Texas Education Code Chapter 12 Home Rule School District Charter status. 

Dallas ISD will no longer be an Independent District.

Louisiana's Recovery School District, a special state-run district that focuses on remedying the damage Hurricane Katrina wrought on the schools in its path. (a Charter School District)
"One of those who saw opportunity in the floodwaters of New Orleans was the late Milton Friedman, grand guru of unfettered capitalism and credited with writing the rulebook for the contemporary, hyper-mobile global economy. Ninety-three years old and in failing health, "Uncle Miltie", as he was known to his followers, found the strength to write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal three months after the levees broke. "Most New Orleans schools are in ruins," Friedman observed, "as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity." (Milton Friedman, Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2005)

Friedman's radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans' existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions.

In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid brought back online, the auctioning-off of New Orleans' school system took place with military speed and precision. Within 19 months, with most of the city's poor residents still in exile, New Orleans' public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools." (The Shock Doctrine - Naoimi Klein - Click Here)

Arnie Duncan the U.S. Secretary of Education openly advocates mayoral control of urban school districts.
"Speaking at a forum with mayors and superintendents, Duncan promised to help more mayors take over.
"At the end of my tenue, if only seven mayors are in control, I think I will have failed, Duncan said.
 He offered to do whatever he can to make the case. "I'll come to your cities," Duncan said. "I'll meet with your editorial boards. I'll talk with your business communities. I will be there."
(Arne Duncan: Mayors Should Run Schools - NBC Chicago - 3-31-09) - Click Here

Texas Education Code - Chapter 12 - Charters

Section 12.002: Classes Of Charter

The classes of charter under this chapter are:

(1) a home-rule school district charter as provided by Subchapter B;

(2) a campus or campus program charter as provided by Subchapter C; or

(3) an open-enrollment charter as provided by Subchapter D.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 1, eff. May 30, 1995.