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Obama chides California for not using test scores ...

Original post made by P-Towner, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Jul 25, 2009

Well teachers, a huge pot of money is waiting for you. You just have to play by BHO's rules ... Web Link

Comments (16)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2009 at 7:35 am

Why isn't California using test scores? I think tests are a good way to measure the learning that took place in the classroom. After all, standardized tests are a part of life: once a student is about to enter college, he/she must take the SATs, then the GRE to get into grad school, etc. The argument that standardized tests are unfair is not logical, since the kids will eventually have to take them to get into college. So teachers in California should not be against tests.


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Posted by John
a resident of Country Fair
on Jul 25, 2009 at 8:58 am

come on let's not kid ourselves here Obama is an idiot but not a complete idiot and he knows that the all powerful California teachers union would never allow it. He and they are just a joke. By the way, why won't he release his college transcripts? Maybe because his grades were terrible?


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Posted by Jon
a resident of Danbury Park
on Jul 25, 2009 at 10:19 am

Most states base teacher raises on students test scoresAccountability on the part of techers to earn their raises.

How well the children are learning, is a direct reflection of the teacher.

Ca unions allow step and colum and Cola raises even for burnt out and lousy teachers. In a union environments, after a certain point, it is more of a hassle to even try and hold an employee accountable, then it's worth.

Californian needs to get with the program. This is just another example of how we have failed ourselves as a state.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 25, 2009 at 10:20 am

Students are being tested, ad nauseum; so, the data are available. It could be used to "instruct" a teacher about weaknesses in their teaching delivery methods for any given learning standard/expectation. Some districts already provide this kind of information. It is a tool that should be seen as a way to improve instruction as a first priority, not as an immediate threat for removing a teacher. Any method used needs to acknowledge that each school year, student abilities can vary wildly and classroom makeup plays an important role.

Do the favored/better teachers get to hand pick the better students, elevating their overall scores? How classrooms are built at the elementary level, in particular, from year to year is a closed door process to parents; why is that? While I don't advocate for 90 or more parents trying to "help" with that process, it should be clear to families how their children were assigned to a particular teacher (beyond the balance of boy/girl ratio and ability). It's pretty common knowledge that certain families (the most involved, the squeaky wheels) always seem to end up with the most successful teachers. It should also be clear to parents on some level of evaluation, what teachers languish year after year (often moving from school to school when there is enough parent concern), without help to improve, and taking a valuable year of education away from the students s/he teaches.

While I would concede there needs to be a less than arbitrary way (and less than nearly impossible method) of removing bad teachers, tenured or not, parents and their children are the customers; it's our tax dollars; we need a guaranteed experience for those students, as much as that is possible. There are few places where people plunk down hard earned dollars and have so little to say about what is received in return.

Why are we paying $130,000+ (K-12 at $10,000/yr.) for a product with reaaaallllly fine print: it may or may not work; some years could be better than others; you have little recourse if there is a problem; if you persist in your claim about a problem, there may be unintended consequences; and so on.

To be sure, there are many, many wonderful teachers and many more who are giving to a fault. So while I would agree there needs to be some method for identifying, tutoring, and removing a bad teacher regardless of tenure, I would also want to reward those who are exemplary. Tenure and merit pay, however, are non-starters with CTA. Maybe the only possibility for change is for the president and governor to put pressure on this issue from one side and for taxpayers to do the same collectively from our side. As long as we remain focused on individual districts and don't connect statewide like CTA, we carry very little power in this equation.


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Posted by Jon
a resident of Danbury Park
on Jul 25, 2009 at 10:21 am

And John,

Obam is such an "idiot" that he managed to convince the majority of Americans to elect him as President of the United States OF America.

Obama may have strenghts and weaknesses like any other human, but he is by NO means an idiot!


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Posted by Jon
a resident of Danbury Park
on Jul 25, 2009 at 10:23 am

Kathleen,

Good to see your comments! Nice to hear from someone that makes sense!


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Posted by John
a resident of Country Fair
on Jul 25, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Jon,

If he is not an idiot nor or over his head then he is evil for what he is doing so you choose.


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Posted by Jon
a resident of Danbury Park
on Jul 25, 2009 at 8:47 pm

John,

Just what is it that "Obama is Doing" that is evil?


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Posted by Get Educated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2009 at 9:24 am

"Students are being tested, ad nauseum; so, the data are available. It could be used to "instruct" a teacher about weaknesses in their teaching delivery methods for any given learning standard/expectation. Some districts already provide this kind of information. It is a tool that should be seen as a way to improve instruction as a first priority, not as an immediate threat for removing a teacher. Any method used needs to acknowledge that each school year, student abilities can vary wildly and classroom makeup plays an important role."

Thanks Kathleen for pointing out a practice that schools in Pleasanton have been doing for years. Examining test scores for ways to improve classroom instruction has been very instrumental in changing the way information is delivered. We also have taken it a step further by examining individuals who are not having success, creating action plans for how to meet their needs and creating interventions to help them master standards. This is the work that takes place on teacher work days and during Wednesday collaboration times. Instruction has improved because of this practice and it shows in rising API scores.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 26, 2009 at 9:53 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The article isn't about PUSD or the other CA districts (a handful - according to the article) that are utilizing the data. It is about a California law that prevents the data from being used to evaluate "teacher effectiveness" State-wide and the subsequent withholding of federal "Race to the Top" stimulus funds. It is about forcing districts, like LA Unified, who do not utilize the data, to start utilizing it (we're all paying for it already, they should use it) by repealing/modifying the CA law. It is about equality of educational quality across all CA districts. If utilizing the data in PUSD has been so effective, then students in LA Unified should also benefit.

"California ranks 41st among states in collecting and using data to evaluate teachers, according to a 2008 survey by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit based in Austin, Texas."


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 26, 2009 at 10:11 am

Get Educated: Yes, it is great that Pleasanton and other districts have seen success with this approach. Do you know the status of the position at the district office that was responsible for disaggregating the testing data?

What are your thoughts about proposals to get CTA, specifically, to allow testing data to be used as a measure of teacher effectiveness? Do you have a comment on how best to address those who should be guided to a profession other than teaching or how the community can have better access to information about classrooms/schools and more say in what they receive for their tax dollars? I think it would be a worthwhile discussion that could lead to a group effort for finding reasoned change.


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Posted by P-Towner
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Obama Uses Funding to Get Education Changes
Using the promise of $4 billion in federal aid -- and the threat of withholding it -- he tpresident hopes to strong-arm schools into embracing reform. The (Washington) Post's Michael Shear and Nick Anderson sat down with the president to discuss his education agenda. Watch the full video interview, or click through the transcript. Web Link


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Posted by P-Towner
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Rafe Esquith is teacher at Hobart Boulevard Elementary School, the second-largest elementary school in the United States, located in Los Angeles, California. A graduate of UCLA, Esquith began teaching in 1981. His teaching honors include the 1992 Disney National Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, a Sigma Beta Delta Fellowship from Johns Hopkins University, Oprah Winfrey's $100,000 Use Your Life Award, Parents Magazine's As You Grow Award, National Medal of Arts, and Esquith was made an honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth.

Esquith's fifth-grade students consistently score in the top 5% to 10% of the country in standardized tests. Many of Esquith's students voluntarily start class at 6:30 each morning, two hours before the rest of the school's students. Most of his students come from immigrant Central American and Korean families and are learning English as a second language. They volunteer to come early, work through recess and stay as late as 6:00 pm, and also come to class during vacations and holidays.

Each year the Hobart Shakespeareans, as Esquith's students are known, perform one of Shakespeare's plays. They have opened for the Royal Shakespeare Company, been hired by Sir Peter Hall to perform A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and appeared at the Globe Theater in London.

Source: Web Link

Among Mr. Esquith's most fervent critics are his fellow teacher and administrators at Hobart.

Esquith is a passionate teacher who believes that children always come first. He also believes the customers in the public school system are the parents and the tax-paying public.

Search Amazon for Rafe's great books on teaching at Hobart - amazing stuff.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 27, 2009 at 6:46 am

P'Towner, Great information on Mr. Esquith. There are many other teachers who work this hard without the recognition. Districts that are able to reward excellence in teaching will most likely attract and retain the best. The benefit to students could only be positive.


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Posted by Get Educated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Kathleen- the testing and assessment position has been cut and another person in the DO is taking over.

I would love to answer your other questions but at this time I don't feel comfortable posting my opinions on this site. I don't want my opinions to be taken out of context or to come across as representing others in PUSD. I hope you will join us at PTA meetings, school board meetings etc. so we can talk in a positive environment that is conducive for finding solutions, not attacks. (I don't mean to imply from you, it is the recent postings from Schools and Kids)


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 30, 2009 at 9:05 pm

GE: Thank you for confirming the loss of the assessment and evaluation position. The position taking on this work isn't likely to have sufficient time to devote to reviewing, disaggregating, and disseminating the data.

On another thread, momof2 notes her children's STAR test scores rose by 100 points in one school year after pulling her students out of PUSD. That may be a unique result and certainly isn't enough to draw conclusions, but it is unfortunate this position, a direct benefit to teachers and their students, was eliminated over other district positions.

Conversations and debates are sometimes messy, even face to face. This format makes it tougher. I'll participate where I can. I've just started a book, "Disrupting Class-How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns" by Clayton M. Christensen. Looks interesting; may be a good place to start on finding solutions..


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