Monday, April 28, 2014

Ed Shorts: End Of April Edition

Posted By on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 9:30 AM

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Today's edition of Ed Shorts is pot luck, an assortment of stories which caught my eye but I haven't had time to post about. The stories link to articles where you can learn more.

The Weekly tells Tucson's Opt Out story. In case you missed it, Mari Herreras wrote about a few TUSD parents who have struggled to have their children opt out of the AIMS test, a story I covered on The Range (here and here) but the rest of the local media has chosen to ignore (so far as I know, anyway). The parents in Mari's article happen to be from TUSD, but the district's decision is based on a state-wide edict which affects all Arizona students, and similar stories are playing out in most states. For me, the most disturbing part of the story is that some schools put elementary school children in the uncomfortable position of refusing to take the test rather than accepting their parents' requests.

The Gates/Murdoch Big Education Data scheme goes belly up. The "ed reform" crowd thought it was a great idea. Gather school data on students into one gigantic database overseen by Rupert Murdoch's education company and housed on Amazon computers. They called it inBloom, and Bill Gates spent $100 million to get it started. At least nine states signed up, then withdrew one by one when people on the right and the left expressed their outrage. New York was the last holdout. When it withdrew, inBloom closed its doors. (Expect to see "Son of inBloom" coming to an "ed reform" corporation near you. There's too much money in data and the "ed tech" sector for this to go away.)

Raul Grijalva voices his objections to "the culture of testing." In an interview in Salon, Rep. Grijalva talks about our over-emphasis on high stakes testing, his objections to school privatization and his disagreements with the Obama administration on some aspects of education policy.

Evaluating teachers using student test scores flunks statistical test. It's ridiculous to rate teachers simply by looking at test scores and ignoring the makeup of the students in their classrooms. But is it also questionable to use the "value-added method" (VAM), where you evaluate teachers by how much their students' test scores improve over the year? The American Statistical Association thinks so, stating that the VAM lacks the reliablity and validity to make it a good measure of teacher quality.

Rich Crandall loses his Wyoming ed job. When he was Arizona state senator in 2013, Rich Crandall got a job heading the Wyoming Department of Education. Wyoming's elected Ed Supe Cindy Hill was pushed out, and Crandall was hired to take her place. The courts ruled the ouster was unconstitutional, so Crandall is out of a job, or will be soon, and Hill is back in charge.

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