First grade benchmark tests

First graders in Houston ISD now take practice tests to prepare for state STAAR tests that they will not take until third grade. So much for HB 5 reducing benchmark testing. Here, below, is an excerpt from a first grade benchmark exam. In this question the teacher reads the prompt to the children. The children are supposed to sound out the pictures. What do you think the second and third images represent? Your guess is as good as mine.  Read more

Ratliffs: The Rotary 4-Way Test vs School Vouchers

Is it the truth?Is it fair to all concerned?Will it build good will and better friendships?Will it be beneficial to all concerned?To school vouchers, the answers are no, no, no and no. Bill Ratliff, longtime Texas State Senator and Lt. Governor and Thomas Ratliff, current member of the State Board of Education, write about vouchers below. Bill Ratliff famously once said that "I am a Republican because I agree with the Republicans at least 51 percent of the time." Our state would run better with more moderating voices like them.  Read more below. Read more

Should Texas Continue Giving a Blank Check to Charters?

On November 17 the Senate Education Committee will meet to discuss charters, vouchers and choice. It is a preview of the next legislative session and privatization of public education. As charters receive public money and are essentially given a blank check to open schools wherever they want regardless of societal needs, it is important for our State Legislative to implement some controls on charter proliferation. What should be up for consideration is a targeted approach to charter school approval which takes into consideration the geographic location (so as to not disrupt neighborhood schools) and student needs. This hearing will be webcast live and will be archived and can be found here.   Read more

Civil Rights Groups Demand Accountability for Equity in Public Education

Eleven civil-rights groups were out this morning with a letter calling on local, state and federal policy makers to focus on equity when designing school accountability systems. They argue that schools should get credit not just for boosting test scores, but for prioritizing integration; supporting students' emotional, cultural and physical well-being; creating an equitable disciplinary system and developing services that build on the "cultural and linguistic assets children bring to schools." The groups also call for a new focus on engaging parents, especially those who speak languages other than English. And they seek better teacher preparation, including programs to help educators recognize implicit bias. Signatories include the National Urban League, the NAACP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.  Read more

Failing Grade for Testing

A Dallas teacher, in The Dallas Morning News on October 17, 2014, writes that "the worship of data and the hyperreliance on the acquisition of test data lead to a disastrous loss of instructional time in the classroom. Every minute spent testing (and evaluating test results) is a minute that could be spent on actual instruction. Read more

Grier asks DA's office to criminalize teaching

Do you believe that the DA's Office should be spending taxpayer dollars investigating allegations of teachers cheating on high stakes testing? Last year, one of the teachers Grier accused of cheating on the STAAR test was on medical leave during testing. The local investigation showed no evidence of cheating and the state indicated that the erasure record showed no evidence of cheating. Now Grier wants to revisit the issue and has asked Harris County District Attorney Anderson to investigate. Is Devon Anderson using our children to win an election? At what cost to our kids? Read more

School standardized testing is under growing attack, leaders pledge changes

Did you know that standardized testing is coming under increasing attack? An Oct 15 Washington Post story by Lyndsey Layton starts with "The standardized test, a hallmark of the accountability movement that has defined U.S. public education since 2002, is under growing attack from critics who say students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade are taking too many exams." Read more

Anatomy of Educational Inequality & Why School Funding Matters

School Finance 101 Blog By Bruce BakerPosted on September 13, 2014 There continues to be much bluster out there in ed reform that money really isn’t all that important – especially for traditional public school districts. That local public schools and districts already have way too much money but use it so inefficiently that any additional dollar would necessarily be wasted. An extension of this line of reasoning is that therefore differences in spending across districts are also inconsequential.    Read more

To Fight for Public Schools Is to Fight for Democracy

The Network For Public Education (NPE) formed in 2013 with a singular goal:to mobilize the allies of public education against the powerful forces supporting privatization and high-stakes testing. The leaders of NPE have faith in the power of democracy and the value of our greatest democratic institution-public education.   Read more

To close the achievement gap, we need to close the teaching gap

Address inequities that undermine learning: Every international indicator shows that the U.S. supports its children less well than do other developed countries, who offer universal health care and early childhood education, as well as income supports for families. Evidence is plentiful that when children are healthy and well-supported in learning in the early years and beyond, they achieve and graduate at higher rates. The latest PISA report also found that the most successful nations allocate proportionately more resources to the education of disadvantaged students, while the United States allocates less. Read more

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