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

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

@ Sabasabas & David Safier:

They will no doubt claim they are applying the "teacher" component of the funding in professional development. And the professional development will no doubt relate to training the teachers to milk the student population for higher AP scores. It's University High School, after all. They have to compete with Basis and maintain their all-important US News & World Report rankings. (Gaming the media's inane rankings system and testing companies' standardized, multiple-choice "accountability" systems to make TUSD look better than it actually is -- NOT student benefit and NOT proper college preparatory education -- is UHS's reason for being. And now UHS/TUSD, after bulking the UHS curriculum up with more forced AP enrollment over the past few years, is preparing to kick a neighborhood cohort which includes a large number of recently arrived refugees out of its high school so they can shove UHS into that neighborhood's high school, increase UHS's enrollment capacity, and suck as many more hapless victims into this high stakes multiple-choice testing machine as possible. All to compensate for ongoing declines in enrollment brought about by the TUSD governing board's decades-long history of acute district-wide mismanagement. This is what could be gleaned from watching the October 3 TUSD Board meeting. What a great public school district, so worthy of our support and respect.)

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by They game everything else, why not the performance funding too? on 10/05/2017 at 5:41 PM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

Mystery - I'm not saying there shouldn't be public education. As you point out, there are lots of good reasons for it. I'm just clarifying that there is no legal requirement for it under the Constitution. Sorry to sidetrack the discussion; this detour is totally irrelevant.

3 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Nathan K on 10/05/2017 at 2:32 PM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

Of course the well off get the last Long end of the stick. This is how the world works. Grow up.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Gandalf the white on 10/05/2017 at 2:11 PM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

Nathan K:

The US Constitution and its amendments create a governmental structure within which leaders in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government are elected and there is a universal franchise. Having a fully educated citizenry, and thus a universal system of education which does not discriminate by economic means seems a good idea when there is a universal franchise. Some will opt out of the publicly funded education system for various reasons, but if there is a universal franchise, a universal publicly funded system to educate citizens should be there for those who choose not to opt out.

What alternative do you propose to ensure the citizenry is competent to make the electoral choices the Constitution and its amendments determine they will have the ability to make? Does it seem appropriate (or functional, from a political / electoral perspective) that some schools in the system dont have the basic supplies or staffing necessary to get the job they are charged to do done?

5 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Mystery Education Policy Commenter on 10/05/2017 at 1:56 PM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

To mystery education policy man - I am sorry for being pedantic, but the U.S. constitution does not mandate the existence of the public schooling industry. It requires that schooling, like all other public benefits, to be provided in accordance with the equal protection guarantees of the 14th amendment, but it doesn't require that any state provide public schooling in the first place.

2 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Nathan K on 10/05/2017 at 12:38 PM

Re: “Why I Keep Writing About Those Damn AzMERIT Scores

Response to this column and bslap.

David, everything that you have said is absolutely correct but our current education culture is defined by all the mechanisms that you decry. Every year for almost hundred years the local papers have printed test scores which people then assume that the school created. Actually, as you point out, the school largely collects those test scores and, to some small degree, creates them.

There are only two ways to break this culture - 1) big system and 2) small system. I've tried the big system and it flopped totally. In 1999, I introduced the Finland technique of sampling, sampling 9,000 students a semester so that, with a low-stakes NAEP style test, we would have a large enough sample to know our results within one percentile point, thus enabling us to pick up and reinforce real changes. No one could comprehend what it was all about. It was just incomprehensible to them, the rationale, the idea that 9,000 tests would be more accurate than 500,000, the lack of feedback at the local level, etc. It was like fighting a forest fire with a squirt gun.

Right now, as you point out, tests like AzMerit are worthless for telling us if Arizona is better than last year. These tests told every state in the nation that they improved in 2015 then NAEP comes out and tells us the truth - that more than half got worse. Their annual tests were just an illusion.

The other way to break this culture is 2) small system. That' s what I am trying now. To set a land speed record for academic gains in one year in one classroom. My simple hypothesis is derived from the research knowledge that students from poverty have poor attitudes towards school and as a result, practice the crafts of reading and math less than 2 minutes a day each.

This morning at 8 am, my all-minority all at-risk students did 12,489 math problems correctly - 97% of them without referring to their fingers, an average of 657 each. The high student did 1,414, the low student did 278. Over 50% of the class made overt expressions of joy at setting new records. I have created a culture of math where students strut around bragging about their abilities.

This afternoon, I will return to the class and if past patterns hold, they will do another 10,500 math problems correctly- their productivity dropping about 15% at the end of the day. Thus their total will be about 23,000 math problems in one day.

The teachers on this thread react with seething hostility assuming that I am destroying these children's attitudes towards school with unending drudgery instead of asking the simple, "what is he doing differently?" The truth is that you can't get students to do this much math if its drudgery. I know because all the scientific tools I use for math fluency are not yet available to me for math comprehension. Tomorrow, as we work on math comprehension (word problems), they will only do 50 problems each when in theory they could do as many as 500. Within three years, I will have all these problems solved.

In railing against this culture, you are not outside of it, you have chosen to be part of it. You assume that it is as good as we can get despite 40 years of no improvement.

I am determined to break its iron grip on the poor and minorities.

At least get those two-year gains by school for low SES students, rank them and go see what the very high gain schools and school districts are doing differently. Pull their erasure rates while you are at it.

Go talk to Ed Sloat of Peoria, he always did a regression analysis that washed away SES to look at real performance. See if he has a true ranking for you for the schools of the state.

1 like, 4 dislikes
Posted by on 10/05/2017 at 12:23 PM

Re: “Gabby Giffords on Las Vegas Mass Shooting: "This Must Stop"

Tell us Peabrain. what law would have prevented any of this.

7 likes, 29 dislikes
Posted by CW13 on 10/05/2017 at 11:50 AM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

sabasabas, the law specifies that half or more of the results-based money will be allocated for teacher-related uses. Ducey has said frequently that half of that funding is earmarked for teacher raises.

If your school tells you something else, you should ask what "teacher-related uses" half the funds are going to be used for.

4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 10/05/2017 at 11:01 AM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

I have an open mind. Despite hundreds of documented attempts and likely thousands of actual attempts, results-based funding has never worked anywhere in the world. However, our letter grade system now has some unique characteristics to it. It incorporates not just the gain from last years test scores, same student to same student not average to average, but also the two-year gains from the year prior to that. This new aspect increases the very small sample sizes associated with gain calculations and also makes it more difficult to game.

Not only those changes but they also introduced the measurement of gain for low SES students as a separate component. Think about that. How many schools can keep 20 low SES students for two years and provide them with above average gains? Many currently A-rated schools aren't even competitive in this category because they cant' muster that 20. It will be interesting to see how many well-branded schools end up as "Bs" and as to whether the state board will grade inflate next year.

This pressure overwhelmed the board in 2014. Brace yourself for the next assault.

Disentangling the outcome of results-based funding will be a researchers case study par excellence - separating the wheat from the chaf. Arizona is already sporting the highest academic gains in the nation before this "innovation." And, we've had major policy makers waxing poetic about chaf following that outcome.

They key will be to follow the other letter grade states. I would assume that they will be falling in national rank as a result of the deleterious effects of letter grading. But, maybe not. Many of them are also doing multiple policy initiatives.

3 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by on 10/05/2017 at 10:59 AM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

Are kids attending schools that have classrooms staffed by a rotating cast of long term subs without teaching certification rather than by fully qualified, permanent teachers being given the best possible chance to get the highest test scores they are capable of? No. Every school that has not been able to secure qualified faculty for every teaching position should automatically be exempted from participating in this Hunger-Games-style competition for funding.

In answer to Nathan K: No, giving more left-leaning, unionized workers jobs is not the point. The point is giving all our young people the best possible opportunity we can give them to develop proficiency in the subject areas taught in school. If youd like to re-do the US Constitution, you can remove fully educating every citizen as a goal that should be achieved by our education system. Otherwise, youve got to keep trying to get the job done, in spite of the obstacles poverty presents. This is what underfunding the public education system and / or providing extra funding only for portions of it that produce certain test scores does: it actively undermines our ability to get the entire citizenry properly educated and to have a democracy that functions properly.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Democracy requires sufficient funding for ALL schools. on 10/05/2017 at 10:22 AM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

Maybe we should institute reverse results based funding, and give schools with students who have lower test scores more money. We can call it the "silk purses initiative". It would fail, obviously, just like Head Start and similar programs. But more left-leaning, unionized workers would get jobs. And ultimately, isn't that the real purpose of the public education industry?

2 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Nathan K on 10/05/2017 at 9:51 AM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

@Sabasas: if I recall correctly from your previous posts, you teach at University High School, which tests students for admission to its publicly funded programs and accepts only students with high GPAs and high score on tests of cognitive ability, I.e., you teach a cohort that is without question the easiest cohort in Tucson with which to obtain the high test scores that yield performance based funding. Because of the character of the student population of UHS, fully qualified, experienced teachers line up in droves to compete for any open position at UHS, and new hires often have years of documented history of success teaching AP courses at Catalina Foothills High School and elsewhere.

Should teachers at UHS be outraged that their salaries are not increased with the performance based funding they receive? Depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, all teachers in this state are shamefully underpaid, including those at UHS. On the other hand, UHS has to compete for top students with institutions like Salpointe, which recently introduced a 1:1 laptop computer program and built a multi-million dollar STEM Center, and Catalina Foothills High School, which has much better supplementary funding for technology and other purposes through its foundation than UHS does. UHS already has no trouble attracting qualified faculty because of the selectiveness of its student population, so if they are going to apply the money in a way that increases their ability to compete for top students, there is no reason for them to increase salaries rather than to beef up technology, which they need to do to offer services more comparable to their rivals.

Another point to consider when asking yourself if UHS faculty should be angry that their salaries are not being increased with performance based funding: from a supply-and-demand perspective and from an apply-the-money-where-it-will-go-furthest-in-increasing-quality-of-services-to-students perspective, when you look at the overall staffing situation in TUSD, it would make more sense for funding supplements to increase salaries to be applied in schools that have teaching positions they have been unable to fill with fully qualified teachers than to apply funding supplements to reward teachers of top students who are already rewarded by the relative ease of getting good test scores out of kind of students they teach. But the state legislature does not think that way, and it doesnt seem to occur to TUSD to apply its desegregation funding supplements that way, either, or at least not enough to fill the vacant positions in its schools serving low-SES, high minority schools 100% with qualified faculty.

Mores the pity.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Should UHS teachers be outraged? on 10/05/2017 at 9:37 AM

Re: “The Weekly List: 25 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next Week

The Jewish Museum block party is a collaboration with the Mexican Consulate and will also feature live music from Mexico City. Way more than just food trucks.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by More Than Food on 10/05/2017 at 9:11 AM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

Actually simply being well off (i.e., being able to afford to live in a good school district) is sufficient. Looks like a life of working hard, taking risks, saving your pennies, and making good choices pays off for your kids. That's a good thing!

2 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 10/05/2017 at 6:54 AM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

As a teacher at a school which will receive the results-based funding, I can tell you with confidence you are wrong about one aspect. Teachers will not receive one penny. The funds can only be spent on technology and professional development. At least that's what we were told. Should our teachers be outraged?

6 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by sabasabas on 10/05/2017 at 5:47 AM

Re: “Gabby Giffords on Las Vegas Mass Shooting: "This Must Stop"

Well, that was stupid. Next?

26 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Peabo on 10/04/2017 at 9:53 PM

Re: “Why I Keep Writing About Those Damn AzMERIT Scores

I agree with you. But your writing uses too much narrative. TLDR.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by jabberw0ck on 10/04/2017 at 7:45 PM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

Bottom line is you cant establish credibility as a supporter of EQUITY only by criticizing your political opponents policies. You have to prove that your political allies are capable of implementing equitable policies when they are calling the shots. Neither the policies and administrative actions promoted under the previous Democratic Board majority in TUSD Grijalva-Foster-Juarez (which included twice putting forward a patently inequitable Fruchthendler-Sabino pipeline plan) nor some of the actions contemplated by the current Board configuration (which include giving selective-admissions-University-High-School a separete site and removing its faculty and extracurricular programming resources from the Rincon High School campus where a non-selective neighborhood cohort currently shares them) can be understood to be making EQUITABLE access to excellent education a priority in district planning. If you listen to district reps explain the rationale behind their decisions, its not too hard to discern the pervasive, governing idea: Were desperate! Increase enrollment and suck more children into this operation by any means possible equity be damned if it interferes with us attracting more kids, especially when the kids we attract through inequitable programs we introduce can raise our test scores.

Its an ugly spectacle. So again: why should a network which has this track record in TUSD ask the public for the legislature and governorship in the name of EQUITY?

Get a handle on TUSD and turn it into something whose name is not a byword for self-serving mismanagement and injustice, and then come back and ask for control of the state, in the name of EQUITY.

9 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by And the best way to get your way in TUSD is to be...? on 10/04/2017 at 3:05 PM

Re: “Gabby Giffords on Las Vegas Mass Shooting: "This Must Stop"

We've always had lax gun laws. Indeed, our gun laws now are stricter than they've been during most of modern American history. But we haven't always had mass casualty attacks at this frequency. So guns can't be causing this. What's causing this is general cultural decay, a loss of faith, morality, and a sense of community. No one wants to talk about any of that, however, so we look for easier solutions.

8 likes, 32 dislikes
Posted by Nathan K on 10/04/2017 at 11:29 AM

Re: “The Best Way To Get Results-Based Funding Is To Be Well-Off and White

Yes, this is a stupid way of allocating funding within a states public education system and next year it will become stupider. State legislatures have the power to tamper with public education policy in dangerous, inadvisable ways.

So what now? I suppose your goal is to use the information presented here and elsewhere to get Democrats into the legislature and governorship.

Would a Democrat-controlled Arizona solve our problems with public ed or make education more equitable? Watch a TUSD Board meeting and ask yourself the question. Three of the five board members are or were Democrats. In last nights meeting, you can observe discussions of why the district seems to be moving in the direction of kicking Catalina High students off their campus and moving them to Rincon so University High School can have their site. The presenters on this topic were representatives of a committee composed primarily of a UHS faculty, parents, and alums. If I recall correctly, there were no representatives of Catalina High School on the committee, and representatives of Catalina High School were only notified at 1pm the day of this TUSD Board meeting that UHS would be presenting the recommendation to the TUSD Board that Catalina High School be kicked off of its site so UHS could have it.

Equity in action in TUSD.

9 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by How do we solve equity problems? on 10/04/2017 at 10:14 AM

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