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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch: Last 30 Days

Re: “Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads

Steve, why did you vote against chickens?

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by SonoranWinds on 10/20/2017 at 11:26 AM

Re: “Libraries Trump Hate

Pima County is funding the Pima County Public Library system to the tune of $29,000,000 a year which is very generous of the property tax owners of Pima County. The city of Tucson contributes not a dime to the running of the county libraries and the State Library federal funding function is just a fraction of money spent on public libraries in this country. Funding is not the problem here folks and I should know I worked for the Tucson Public Library - Pima County Public Library system for 25 years and this is not an argument ever used by the library when run by the City!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Speaking Truth to Power on 10/20/2017 at 12:14 AM

Re: “Results-Based Funding: The Transition From Test Scores To School Grades

Response to Nathan K:

The ceiling effect you describe likely does not exist, in fact, the actual effect may be the reverse of the way you describe.

There are two systems for calculating growth in the letter grade system. The student growth percentiles which are calculated using quantile regression of batches of students with similar score histories. Quantile regression is just a fancy way of creating a distribution table of outcomes for these similar students. In a theoretical world, you would expect no correlation between student growth percentiles and academic achievement. However, that is not what you observe. There is a significant correlation, meaning, no growth ceiling, in fact, reverse growth scoring effect.

These complex technical issues have never been discussed because policymakers and, even to a degree, the statistical wizards who analyze school results have been unable to grasp the complexity of the whole picture.

There are at least 50,000 of our tested students above the 90th percentile. If as a school, you are fortunate enough to have 1,000 of them sign up for your school, how would their test scores compare at the end of the year with the other 49,000 students distributed across all of the other schools in the state?

Do you still feel entitled to an A grade even if your results were below the average of the other 50,000 students? Would you feel entitled to an A even if your results exceed just 60% of these other 50,000? What if you look and find out that the average grade of the schools where those 20,000 top ten percent students whose results exceed yours was a B?

Nathan K- if a ceiling effect exists, it exists for all 50,000 students. It doesn't. The vast majority of these students are well below the upper end of the measured spectrum, even at the most elite schools.

The second system, the progress towards standards, is based on a yardstick known as scale scores, scores just like SAT and ACT for measuring and comparing the test outcomes.

Every standard at every grade level was turned into a scale score by a mumbo-jumbo committee of really smart people. However, only God knows what principles they used. Year to year, some of the standards are 18 points apart, other years, they are 3 points apart. There is very little relationship between the average (standard?) growth of all students in a year and difference between standards across that same divide.

This has profound implications for teachers. A major part of the challenge for a teacher is defined by the scale score difference between that year's standards and the starting point for each student in their class. Some teachers have to move their typical students a Mount Everest 100 points, others can put it in cruise control - all of their students are already above the standard on the first day of school. They just need to refresh their students occasionally.

The growth measures, both the quantile regression which calculates the student growth percentile and progress towards standards give full credit to a student who is at the upper end of the spectrum for quantile regression or who just maintains if they are above the standard in the progress towards standards system.

Consider this, there are 100,000+ tested students already above the standard on the first day of school. All they have to do is to not regress to be in the money, for them, no growth is considered to be above average performance.

If you specialize in collecting these students, life is different for you.

By comparison, other teachers walk into a classroom with their typical student, in fact, every student four years below the standard. Even if they are a wonder woman and Superman, they are guaranteed to be slapped in the face by evaluation systems at the end of the year. The speed of light in education is two academic years in a school year and less than 3% of all teachers keep that pace year after year.

So, even if they achieve that spectacular two academic years in a calendar year for their average student, every student will still be below standard at the end of the year. What's worse, you can be sure that they will lose the two students who perform best in their class, have the highest gains. So the gains they do achieve will be counted on some other schools and some other teacher's scorecard.

That's why spectacular teachers migrate away from highly at-risk schools. They are smart, intelligent people and the systems victimize them. They want to be in systems that reinforce them and make them stronger over time, not tear them down.

You can see this phenomenon by carefully comparing all of the students of a school with their identical academic twins across the state. Quantile regression is supposed to do this but it fails miserably as you get to the ends of the spectrum that David talks about.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by jhuppent@hotmail.com on 10/19/2017 at 1:26 PM

Re: “Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads

Seattle increased minimum wage to $15 and businesses moved away, taking much needed revenue from them. So now they raise taxes on everybody to help pay for their little socialist experiment. Once again, expect it to fail.

Then we can all get excited about copying it here. Right lefties?

4 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Wayne Olson on 10/19/2017 at 10:49 AM

Re: “Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads

Lets watch Seattle and see how it does with the income tax they passed last election.

Then truly those that benefit and use the roads that maintain the infrastructure and reap the most can bear the cost.

3 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Robert Ruckman 1 on 10/19/2017 at 7:18 AM

Re: “Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course

The words of a student who underwent this subversive right wing indoctrination.

[He] understands that, ultimately, successful businesses in a free economy are virtuous at their coremeeting people's needs and doing so through ethical and mutually beneficial practices. In the end, [he] says, businesses that lack either virtuous purpose or ethical practices won'tand shouldn'tsucceed."

7 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Don Wheatley on 10/19/2017 at 5:54 AM

Re: “Results-Based Funding: The Transition From Test Scores To School Grades

http://www.lajm-shqip.com/

Posted by Rilindja Tirane on 10/18/2017 at 11:57 PM

Re: “Results-Based Funding: The Transition From Test Scores To School Grades

bslap, is funding the issue? I would note that TUSD high schools spend about $300 more per pupil on instruction than CFSD16, which receives no deseg funds.

On David's article, I'll just state the obvious. If schools like Basis have their students performing at their potential on standardized test, they are at their performance ceiling, and will not be able to show year over year improvement. It seems unfair to give them "Bs" and "Cs" under those circumstances.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Nathan K on 10/18/2017 at 3:44 PM

Re: “Is the Strong Start Tucson Initiative a Good Idea?

Sorry but I now see the criteria used used to hire the Police Chief, by the Mayor and Council. The fewer decisions they make, the safer we all are. I will vote NO on 204.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Wayne Olson on 10/18/2017 at 11:21 AM

Re: “Is the Strong Start Tucson Initiative a Good Idea?

"Should we really trust all those unknowns to a seven member committee?"

David,
Here's one of the reasons I changed my mind and will vote yes on 204:
Many of the people with whom I volunteer are retired teachers or are still teaching. They are the kinds of people that will be appointed by mayor and council to the commission. My conversations with them showed me that teachers are obsessed (I don't think that's too strong of a word) with quality education.
I trust them to come up with a plan that benefits children.
Also: the commission's meetings will be public, must follow open meeting laws, and will be open to public input.
A.M. Kennedy

Posted by A.M. Kennedy on 10/18/2017 at 11:15 AM

Re: “Results-Based Funding: The Transition From Test Scores To School Grades

So long as most of the poor schools are composed of immigrants (legal and illegal) and their children there will be little or no appetite for funding them on par with children of American citizens.

0 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 10/18/2017 at 7:09 AM

Re: “Let's Listen To That Awesome New Calexico Single

And is Tucson a concert date?!

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Wil Schuiteman on 10/18/2017 at 6:32 AM

Re: “Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course

RE the coaching Putnam-Hidalgo received above on how public institutions can have their Transparency cake and eat it too:

It would be a shame if we had additional TUSD converts to Realpolitik and machine-style pragmatism in the coming months.

The neglect of public standards and moral compromises made to forward partisan agendas undermine the strength of public institutions and make them extremely vulnerable to external critique. Within the last few years, the conspicuous process and transparency rot associated with some of our larger local public institutions has persuaded several previously committed supporters of public education that TUSD is a lost cause and choice policy is necessary.

Can advocacy groups that promote the ongoing validity of the public district system be strong enough to call for consistency in public process, even when it means asking for it from allies? Or will they be co-opted by exceptions made for friends in the network and the overall opacity that supports partisan agendas getting rooted in public institutions?

(FYI, Safier: a process of administrative approval (not Board approval) for new curricular materials may empower individual teachers and schools, but process in public institutions is supposed to PROTECT CITIZENS FROM ABUSE, not empower individual teachers and schools. If you object to your kid undergoing what you would consider Freedom Institute brainwashing in a high school social studies course, you have to respect your conservative neighbors right not to have their child taught that Republicans hate Latinos. It cuts both ways (or, more properly, many ways) in public institutions in a pluralistic society. Public review and comment processes protect public trust in public institutions by making sure instructional materials are balanced and fair and give accurate (not tendentiously skewed) information about what various political groups believe and promote as public policy.)

8 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Partisan curricula break down public trust in public ed. on 10/17/2017 at 2:16 PM

Re: “Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course

But, if they did graduate as political idiots, the Democrats could hold onto their votes. Works in Chicago, it can work here.

8 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Wayne Olson on 10/17/2017 at 2:07 PM

Re: “Take Full Advantage of Being a Few Hours Away from These Towns in Sonora

A positive report please about the 1 and 2 roads and pictures of the roads that are being paved that go into Sasabe , Sonora , and the positive effect on Sasabe , Sonora. And the border station.

Posted by Gene Sky on 10/17/2017 at 1:48 PM

Re: “Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course

Good for the Kochs! Now somebody should fund a revival of Civics classes so our students aren't political idiots when they graduate.

7 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Was a Teacher on 10/17/2017 at 10:40 AM

Re: “Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course

Any new curricular adoption should be approved by the board of a democratically controlled district in a public process, with opportunity for public review of curricular materials and public feedback. If this process is not used, the public is not being given the opportunity to understand what is being taught in a "public" institution, and you cannot advertise "transparency" as a virtue that makes public school districts superior to other forms of education (charters, privates).

Yes, it has become pro-forma in TUSD and perhaps in other districts that there are many non-transparent ways of making decisions which should be made at the Board level: for example, by embedding them in district administrations or in Site Council meetings which almost no one other than Site Council members ever attend, and which get little or no coverage from the local media. These are practices that need reform, and not only in instances where the Koch brothers have used them (just as some assert that the creators of MAS used them) to slip politically tendentious classes into the high school curriculum.

David Safier will always turn any concern with process around to try to find a way of saying a process can only be declared wrong when it is used to forward the cause of his political opponents. In this, HE is wrong. And the saddest thing about his dishonest and irresponsible method of argument is that in being selective about defending proper process and transparency, he and others like him utterly wash away the ground on which we should all be standing together as citizens when we object to interest groups manipulating our public institutions.

9 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Looking for Consistency in Process & Transparency on 10/17/2017 at 10:18 AM

Re: “Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads

As long as it also supports other modes of transportation. Car-scaled infrastructure is too expensive to maintain in the long run.

8 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 10/17/2017 at 7:13 AM

Re: “Koch Brothers Infiltrate Pima County Schools With a High School Econ Course

Betts, my understanding is, the course was approved, not by the board but by the office of the assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum. Based on my experience as a high school teacher, that's not surprising. Teachers often recommend new courses they want to teach. If they're approved by the school's curriculum director and principal, they're sent to the district administration for approval, which is generally granted. That process makes sense to me, both for efficiency and for empowering individual teachers and schools. I don't know the process that went into approving the course at the other three local districts.

I don't think the problem is with the process, or with TUSD and the other districts. The problem is, the system was gamed by the folks at the Freedom Center. They exploited a normal trait in school districts to slip a course they created into high schools. Now it's time for the boards to take a hard look at the courses and decide if they belong in their district curriculum.

I would rather have something like this happen, then correct it, than tighten up the procedure of approving new courses and take power and authority away from the individual schools by making them jump through more administrative hoops to gain course approval. If the procedure is tightened up, it should be in a limited way -- say, if there are red flags about the suggested new course originating outside of the district, then it should be looked at more carefully and the board should be involved.

3 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 10/17/2017 at 6:52 AM

Re: “Board of Supes Set To Discuss Christy Proposal for Countywide Sales Tax for Roads

Maybe we should just add a special sales tax to automobile / truck & other vehicles that use our roads. While we are at it make it high enough to finance PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION that might actually get a few of the single occupant gas guzzlers off the road.

10 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by Adif4entMIND on 10/17/2017 at 6:44 AM

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