Ed Goldwater 
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Re: “Mailbag

Ms. Bird, I think your under the misapprehension that Terri Proud wants to enrich her life with accurate information that will influence her thinking processes. I think you give her too much credit. As as one who has seen her speek in person, well...she could use a few lightbulbs in her life because hers are quite dim.

Parent X, agree wholeheartedly. While rhetoric may expound Jobs Jobs Jobs at the legislature, it's really not even an agenda item. :(

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Ed Goldwater on 03/15/2012 at 7:15 AM

Re: “Guest Commentary

Using Three Decades of Research to Improve Student Achievement
By Dr. Mary Kamerzell

Thirty-five years of research on school effectiveness show that there are a handful of factors at the school level that account for anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of the measurable variance in student academic achievement. As a result, we must pay attention to those school-level attributes that contribute to our students’ success.

In his What Works In Schools, researcher Bob Marzano names the five most influential school-level factors by order of impact on student achievement: a guaranteed and viable curriculum, challenging goals and effective feedback, parent and community involvement, a safe and orderly environment, and collegiality and professionalism.

The most influential factor of a guaranteed and viable curriculum is a combination of student opportunities to learn and the time to do so. Opportunity to learn is the discrepancy between the intended curriculum, what we call K-12 measurement topics and their grade level benchmarks in our Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD) schools, and the implemented curriculum or what teachers actually teach.

The benefit of time can make a viable curriculum attainable for students.

However, the number of school days that are typically part of an American school year is woefully inadequate to support learning achievement at a “proficient” level for all students.

The “Prisoners of Time” study by the National Education Commission on Time and Learning reported that U.S. schools offered a six-period day on average with approximately 5.6 hours of class time each day. Making an assumption that 5.6 hours are dedicated to classroom time 180 days a year, that means that students spend 13,104 hours in class (1,008 hours per year x 13 years of a K-12 school career). Note: In CFSD, we expect that at least seven hours of class time are part of the basic daily school schedule.

Not all classroom time is used for instruction. There are teaching disruptions caused by a variety of both planned and unplanned activities. These activities diminish the amount of time actually used to teach to academic standards. Although research studies vary widely in their conclusions about how much time is used for instruction in America, no study reports more than 69 percent. If we calculate 69 percent of the available 13,104 hours of class time, it means that only 9,042 hours are actually used for instruction in a student’s K-12 experience.

The second most important school factor influencing student achievement is challenging goals and feedback.

Sometimes this factor is referred to as the combination of high academic expectations and the monitoring of student progress toward achieving them.

It is one thing to identify essential knowledge and skills, it is quite another to define the level of performance expected from students. Providing timely and specific feedback to students about how their work compares to a quality standard will inform both the teacher and student about what should happen next, in terms of what the teacher does to plan for instruction and what the student does to learn.

The third school-level factor is parent and community involvement. Marzano defines it as “the extent to which parents in particular and the community at large in general are both supportive of and involved in a school.” He clarifies that not all types of parental or community involvement are beneficial to a school. Effective involvement falls into the three categories of communication, participation, and governance.

It is the responsibility of the school to initiate communication and provide an atmosphere in which parents sense that the school welcomes not only their ideas but their physical presence. Schools that involve parents and community in day-to-day operations report lower absenteeism, truancy, and dropout rates, attesting to what Marzano calls a possible “spill over” effect on the home environment.

Governance refers to the establishment of specific structures that give parents and community a voice in key, school decisions. In our Catalina Foothills schools, we enjoy the involvement of parents and other community members in defining an improvement agenda for the school, as teacher assistants and guest experts/presenters, and as members of a variety of advisory committees.

The fourth school-level factor that influences student achievement is a safe and orderly environment. The establishment of rules and procedures for general student behavior and for behavioral problems with enforcement of appropriate consequences will go a long way toward creating a productive climate for learning. A school that does not commit itself to this factor undermines its efforts at improvement.

Finally, the school-level factor of collegiality and professionalism pertains to the way in which staff members at the school interact and the extent to which they approach their work as professionals. Collegiality is characterized by the authentic interactions among staff that are professional in nature. In their book What’s Worth Fighting for in Your School?, researchers Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves described the behaviors as constructively analyzing and criticizing practices and procedures, demonstrating respect for each other, and openly sharing failures and mistakes. Collegiality is not about social interactions and friendship among teachers.

One aspect of professionalism is a sense of efficacy on the part of teachers. In Building Collaborative Cultures, Kent Peterson explained that efficacy is grounded in teachers’ perception that they can effect change in their schools.

Another aspect of professionalism is the level of teacher participation in development activities that enhance the teacher’s pedagogical knowledge—how to teach the subject to various kinds of students.

If research-based reform of our schools matters to us, we need to pay attention to the more than three decades of study that define the factors at the school level that positively correlate to student academic achievement.

Teacher- and student-level factors influence academic performance too, but all of the adults, including parents and community members, who work or participate in some other way in the life of their school have much to say about its effectiveness.

Mary Kamerzell, Ph.D., is superintendent for Catalina Foothills School District.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Ed Goldwater on 11/10/2011 at 8:39 AM

Re: “Guest Commentary

I agree with your assessment up to a certain point. As a general education advocate, but a parent in the CFSD, I'd like to say that education in AZ isn't quite equal. It's one of the reasons I moved into this school district. However, there are campuses around Tucson that "look" like those in CFSD--which have 50+year old campuses in their district, btw. Vail, Amphi etc--any districts with newer schools have "newer" campuses. It's not just CFSD. So while the Foothills high school is a nice campus, so are others: Ironwood Ridge in Amphi, etc.

Secondly, what you are missing and overlooking as someone who comes into this district inconsistently and not at the elementary level is the level of expectation that is bred into these students from Kindergarten. There is a lot of education shaping that is done at the primary level that you see reflected in middle school and high school. That foundation is huge, and a LOT of work in done in those four elementary schools to create a level of expectation that students will be prepared to enter class ready to learn. This has nothing to do with funding. It's a philosphical & pedagogical movement that has been well thought-out.

Incidentally, there is a large open-enrollment population of students outside of district families that take advantage of this training, and open enrollment forms are available on the district website and it opens up on Dec.1.

However, until Arizona funds adequately, you will see inequalities. I agree 100%. But your argument for why the difference you note in your article is very surfacy, I have to point out.

Dr. Kamerzell, CFSD superintendent, recently had an op-ed that shows WHY are schools are doing what they are--because she has implemented these non-budgetary structures in place. Sure, some of them like a robust parent-involvement will relate to socio-economic conditions, but any crafty or forward-thinking principal could easily draft some of those "foothills do-gooders" down to the Sunnyside school district to help their schools.

I'll paste Dr. Kamerzell's article below. It's an excellent read.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Ed Goldwater on 11/10/2011 at 8:37 AM

Re: “Antenori: Majority of Mid-City Tucson Residents Don't Pay Taxes "Or Receive Some Gov't Subsidy"

Until people stop voting for him, he will be empowered to continue this kind of rhetoric. It's nothing new, unfortunately...

Posted by Ed Goldwater on 04/11/2011 at 4:52 PM

Re: “Mailbag

Ms. Wright, it's been my experience with Mr. Melvin that he doesn't care about objectivity and reason. He's a bully and an extremist. After the results of the election, I seriously considered leaving AZ when Melvin won again. Unbelievable.

Posted by Ed Goldwater on 12/01/2010 at 9:27 PM

Re: “Arizona Democrats in the Senate Devise Largely Useless Strategy for the Next Term

Give Chapira a break. What else can you do with an extreme super majority? As one who has watched him in committee, I think he has the personality needed to try to bridge relationships with the wackos. What else can the super minority party do? I'm surprised theyre even going to try. :(

Posted by Ed Goldwater on 11/04/2010 at 3:54 PM

Re: “Razing Arizona

Geez Antenori--are you getting kickbacks from the ambulance chasing lobbyists or what? What is your deal with lawsuits?!?! I'm sick of lawsuits. Please, devise to spend your time productively instead of thinking up way to create lawsuits, for Pete's sake.

Also, "Naps?" Really, Rich Cat? Might I remind you how bills work? The governor can only veto or sign into law bills. The Governor can't create legislative bills for revenues or expenditures. Only the legislature can. And the Arizona Legislature has been a Republican legislature for the last 40 years. Although it would be easy to point fingers at the last governor, it's illogical and un-factual.

Posted by Ed Goldwater on 10/21/2010 at 4:37 PM

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