Friday, January 20, 2017

Pittsburgh Public Schools Advised to Repeat Same Mistakes Over and Over and Over…

Pittsburgh Public Schools Advised to Repeat Same Mistakes Over and Over and Over…

Posted by Steven Singer 
Steven Singer
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
-Albert Einstein (attributed)

-Charlie Brown

If I crash my car right into a wall, the worst thing to do would be to get into another car and crash it right into the same wall!

But that’s what the Pittsburgh Post Gazette thinks city school administrators should do.

new comprehensive report about Pittsburgh Public Schools concludes that standardization and Common Core have produced zero progress in the district over the last decade.

And the editorial board of the city’s largest remaining newspaper says this means administrators should stay the course – indeed, double down on test prep and uniformity.

The 175-page report by The Council of the Great City Schools affirms that the district showed little to no improvement in the last 10 years.

“In fact, analysis of student achievement trends shows little to no improvements since 2007,” the report went on. “Although some scores went up and others went down over the period, achievement gaps are about the same — if not wider — than they were when the work started.”

You would think this would be a scathing indictment of administrators during this time who focused on test prep and uniformity to the exclusion of more student-centered reforms. In particular, during the same time covered in the report, administrators paid for new curriculum designed to standardize instruction across schools and grade levels. They instituted a value-added bonus system rewarding principals who run the schools with the highest test scores. They even increased the length of the school day to drive achievement.

They did all this, and it didn’t help a bit.

Some might see that as proof of the error of past ways.

But not the Post Gazette.

In the minds of the editorial board, this is a ringing endorsement of those policies that got us nowhere.

Mark Roosevelt, superintendent from 2005 to 2010, and Linda Lane, superintendent from 2010 to 2016, are actually singled out by the paper as heroes of reform!

Wait a minute. These are the people in charge when the district apparently was stalled. If anything, these functionaries should bear the blame, not get a pat on the back. We should do anything BUT continuing their work which lead to this dismal report.

But instead, the editorial board writes, “[T]he work of Mr. Roosevelt and Ms. Lane was not in vain. They inaugurated a coherent system of reforms, made the federal benchmark known as ‘adequate yearly progress’ twice in three years, restored the district’s credibility with the foundation community, forged a closer relationship with the teachers union and generated a new sense of optimism. The course they charted is worth revisiting.”


Voters are fed up with number-worshipping flunkies who don’t see kids as anything but data points. That’s why the community has consistently replaced number crunching school directors and administrators with people who have a new vision of education – a community schools approach.

The editorial board may look down their noses at current Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet who took over just this summer and the positive changes he’s been making with the new progressive school board, but he’s only doing what the public wants. And given this new report, a new direction is exactly what Pittsburgh Public Schools needs!

In the ivory tower of big media, they don’t see it this way.

In fact, the PG goes so far as to imply that Dr. Hamlet and the new board are somehow responsible for Roosevelt and Lane’s failures.

“It may be that they [Roosevelt and Lane] did not stay long enough for their efforts to take root,” writes the Post Gazette, “that the reforms became too cumbersome to manage or that they were unable to fully impose their will on a sprawling school district with many constituencies.”

Please. Dr. Hamlet’s presence has not halted Roosevelt and Lane’s march toward progress. This report demonstrates that they achieved very little. Moreover, Dr. Hamlet has only been in office since June. He hasn’t been in the district long enough to flush student test scores down the toilet – especially when for more than nine of those years he was working in Florida.

Neither can you blame the community for being fed up with corporate education reforms that apparently don’t work.

No. If this report by a consortium of the nation’s 70 largest urban school districts shows failure in ‘burgh schools, that belongs to the bosses at the top during the last 10 years. If this is a failure, it is Roosevelt’s and Lane’s, not Dr. Hamlet’s. Nor can you place it at the feet of school directors, most of whom are new to the board.

But the media mavens can be forgiven slightly for coming to such an odd conclusion, because it’s supported by the organization that wrote the report – the Council of the Great City Schools. After all, the Council suggested this push toward standardization in the first place.

In February 2006, this same Council advised Pittsburgh to “recommit to a standardized, districtwide curriculum to ensure that every classroom is focused on a common set of rigorous expectations for student learning.”

And now that same Council is saying that doing so resulted in a fat goose egg.

Great advice, Guys!

Pittsburgh residents spent $156,545 of taxpayer money to find that out.


Thursday, January 19, 2017


Golden Lord with Us from the Main Forest: SOME THOUGHTS ON

I wrote this over two decades ago. Still holds in this time of greater tribulation for immigrants.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Testing Resistance & Reform News: January 11 - 17, 2017 FairTest Links

As FairTest's first-generation leaders move toward retirement., the organization has begun the process of planning for a smooth transition. The first step is hiring a consultant to develop a new strategic plan to make the assessment reform movement even more effective. Working with current staff, board, and other stakeholders, the ideal candidate will also be interested in taking over as FairTest's executive director in 2018.  For details, see:

 January 19 Day of Action to Reclaim Our Schools Includes Demands to Reduce Testing Overuse
National States Expanding Tool Kit to Assess School Quality Under ESSA
National How to Support Public Education Under Trump

Grading the Test Graders; Legislature Gets an "F" for School Ratings

State School Board Chooses New Ways to Measure Academic Progress
California New School Dashboard to Monitor Student Achievement

Students Stage a Satirical Take on Testing

Superintendent Candidate Urges Parents to Opt Out

Legislature Considers Ways to  Ease School Testing
Florida A Bad Model for DeVos-Style School "Reform"
Florida Is State Taking a Turn Toward Sanity?

State Reduces Testing to Stem Tide of Teachers Leaving Profession

Educators React to Potential Delay in Replacing Discredited Exam
Indiana Test-Based School Grades Called "Irrelevant"
Indiana Educators, Lawmakers Urge End to Basing Teacher Evaluations on Test Scores

Governor Seeks "Hold" on Move to Smarter Balanced Exams

Governor's Panel Recommends Dropping School Letter Grades

North Carolina 
Scores Are Not Only Measure of Academic Achievement

One-Size-Fits-All "Accountability" Creates Destructive Cycle

 Online Testing May Be Hurting Some Children

 Parents, Educators Say "Ignore Stupid School Letter Grades"
Texas State Needs to Toss Out Standardized Testing
Texas Houston Schools Suspend Use of Test Scores to Determine Grade Retention

Virginia Testing Does Not Equate with Educating

 Schools Tracking Absences as Non-Test Indicator of Academic Progress

West Virginia We Can Do Better Than Faulty A to F School Grades
West Virginia State Board of Ed Considers Replacing Smarter Balanced Tests

Canada Effective Education Goes Beyond Multiple Choice

College Admissions Should Biomedical Graduate Schools Ignore GRE Scores

Worth Reading How Test-Driven School "Reform" Hurts Low-Income Young Children
Worth Reading Fairness is Elephant in the Room for "Value-Added" Teacher Assessment

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468

Monday, January 16, 2017

Links on Testing FairTest January 2017

Links on Testing  FairTest  January 2017
A reporter, who called FairTest today for a comment on a breaking story, said it well, "Every time I read your news clip compilations, I'm shocked at how much testing reform activity is going on across the country." We hope these weekly summaries are just as helpful in making your work more productive. Please send us links to articles and resources from your local area that merit broader attention.

How Testing Policies Have to Change in U.S. Public Schools
Multiple States Changes to Test-Based Teacher Evaluations Plans Under Consideration
Multiple States Using Local Flexibility to Translate ESSA Blueprint to K-12 Reality
California Time to Leave Behind NCLB's Catch-22 on Calculating English Learners' Progress
Florida Legislators Look for Ways to Streamline School Testing
New York  Teachers No Longer Gagged From Discussing Test Questions

Texas Educators Criticize Provisional "A to F" School Grades
International Are PISA Test Results Rigged to Benefit Asian Nations?
Worth Reading Test-Taking Accommodations May Fall Short for Students with ADHD

Worth Reading Grading and Ranking Does Not Improve Educational Quality

Sunday, January 15, 2017

“In today’s economy, Texas cannot afford to fully educate some students and not others. We just can’t.”

Dr. Robledo Montecel: “We need to be honest about the fact that we plan for 25 percent attrition, and we budget for a two-tiered system. We assume that fewer students will graduate than started in kindergarten. This assumption is built into teacher hiring practices and into curriculum decisions about which courses will be offered and to whom. Student attrition is built into facilities planning and funding decisions. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Friday, January 6, 2017

Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline (Gwinnett SToPP)

Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline

Marlyn Tillman’s 15-year-old son was suspended from school for trivial, and as she discovered, racist reasons. She challenged the school and eventually organized a group of parents who were having similar problems. When she first started investigating the problem, anecdotal data pointed at the punitive and excessive punishment especially of students who were black male and had special needs. Eventually the families collected enough data to discover a pattern of excessive punishment of students of color. Black boys with special needs were the most vulnerable to disciplinary actions that were sending them to alternative schools and eventually pushing them out of the school system. Even white students with special needs were affected. Eventually Marlyn’s son was given information on his ADHD-caused behaviors and became an honor student in high school excelling in International Baccalaureate classes.

The Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline (Gwinnett SToPP) seeks to build and strengthen relationships within the community through public awareness, empowerment, and advocacy. The organization has other concurrent activities that are all related to advocating for an excellent and equitable education for all children. They collect relevant data, influencing policy and practice locally and statewide and transforming their neighborhood public schools.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

“Liderazgo Familiar Intergeneracional: Intergenerational Family Leadership as a New Paradigm of Family Engagement”

“Liderazgo Familiar Intergeneracional: Intergenerational Family Leadership as a New Paradigm of Family Engagement”

Comunitario projects in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley offer a community-based alternative to traditional parent involvement models, fostering the participation and collective leadership of youth. 

Check out the latest issue of VUE (Voices in Urban Education) magazine has an article by Aurelio Montemayor, IDRA, and Dr. Nancy Chavkin, Texas State University!