Does Jeb’s Elf Writer Suffer from Amnesia?

Did Jeb order this elf for Christmas? It seems he must be straight from the North Pole and unaware of the realities of Jebucation here.  http://excelined.org/2012/12/scrooge-tiny-tim-and-education-reform/ It begins:

Strange to have forgotten it for so many years,” observed the Ghost. “Let us go on.”

And with that introduction from A Christmas Carol, here is my final blog of 2012.

We tend to forget the past when contemplating the present and future of education.

This puts reform at a decided disadvantage in the public arena.

Reform is Scrooge, tight with the purse strings and always demanding more.

Pass the test!

PASS THE TEST!

Insert:Missing from the elf’s knowledge base:  Several districts signed a resolution against the

overreliance on high stakes testing in Florida. Studies show high stakes testing does not increase student achievement.

Next, the elf writes..

Poor Tiny Tim retained in third grade.

His school publicly branded a failure.

“Spirit!” said Scrooge, “show me no more

Insert:Missing from the elf’s knowledge base is the research that retentions increase likelihood of dropping out and only show temporary gains, that the schools branded a failure have never served affluent student bodies , (discriminatory or just plain foolish?),  and the A schools can have a giant number of students who cannot read on grade level. Show me no more, equating to do this foolishness no more, would put a smile on many more faces than it would put frowns on the tiny number of fans of FFEIE.

Next our elf writes…

How much easier it would be to forego measurement.

To forego sanctions for not measuring up.

To promote everyone.

To graduate everyone.

To end the constant measurement.

Reform is a relentless taskmaster.

YIKES! Insert a spin detector alert. I have yet to hear a cry for no assessment. Yet I have heard for years a cry for an end to the misuse of tests. This elf must hear voices I have not. Why not include the lawsuit about failure to make education a priority which addresses both funding issues and accountabioity issues? Perhaps the elf was busy making toys and missed this pending action. I am rather confused by the graduate everyone when it fails to include how Florida makes it impossible for a student who fails to attain certain test scores to access vocational training while in high school. Does ths elf then endorse students going to school for 12 years and leaving without a future? 

The elf then writes…

For some, this brings nostalgia for the days when teachers and schools set their own standards.

Forgotten is that while this system worked well for the children of affluent parents who lived near the best schools, it failed a growing number of kids not born into such fortunate circumstances.

These kids, who came from poor homes and uneducated parents, were much harder to teach. And so schools dealt with them as might be expected in the absence of standards or accountability. They quietly promoted the students from one grade to the next,  even literacy was considered an optional skill.

Insert here, while cleaning my ears out, that A schools can have giant numbers of students who cannot read on level and the elf’s boss and sales staff seem to love boasting about the A schools to other states. Did the elf forget the study which showed retentions were being doled out in a discriminatory way in Florida? Didn’t that story break in the North Pole?

Anyway, the elf continues…

That got them to middle and high school, where they then quietly dropped out.

Yet social promotion was regarded as an act of compassion, a little white lie ostensibly told in the interest of preserving self-esteem. But conveniently, it also absolved schools of any responsibility for educating them.

Insert, as my eye begins to exhibit tics, the study of Figlio about Florida students being suspended around times of testing  and remind the elf that Florida legislators made it their business to assure that  some students will leave 12 years of schooling with no ticket to a future.

Continuing, the elf types…

And then came measurement.

In 1994, statistics from the National Assessment of Education Progress revealed that nationally about 70 percent of African American and Hispanic fourth graders were functionally illiterate.

They were about 3½ grade levels behind white kids.

A gap that began at birth because of unequal home environments was only magnified in the classroom. The best teachers often migrated to the best schools, where the work was easier and the pay the same if not better. Rigorous academic classes were practically non-existent in low-income schools because, as part of the curse of low expectations, it was assumed the kids could not handle them.

A kid who most needed a good education was least likely to get one. 

Insert: What?  How could it be low expectations in Florida was the problem, when the battle cry of NCLB yielded no great outcomes nationally. How can this elf boast of rigor in the curriculum when 54% of Florida’s college students require remediation? Why forget the retention policy mandated sfter 1994, elf?

Still, the elf has more to pass on…The school is not quite deserted,” said the Ghost. “A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.”

Call it a coincidence, but since the dawn of measurement, black and Hispanic fourth graders have advanced almost two grade levels in reading. In Florida, a pioneer in measurement and accountability, the advance is almost three grade levels.

What you see you can no longer hide.

Insert: Why does this disappear and why is it solely a grade 4 find? Could the absence of low scorers as they are retained in grade 3 color the results? High school data is awful via the NAEP. Why omit that, Mr. Elf?

The elf continues…

And now here we are in the present.  Once reform was a Democrat vs. Republican issue. But our first African-American president officially made it a bi-partisan issue. He understands the civil rights angle all too well.

President Obama has used federal grants to enact sweeping reforms on issues such as teacher evaluations and rigorous academic standards.

It was Nixon going to China.

As for what is yet to come?

Insert: Affection for money is a bi partisan issue. We can only hope the more ethical and informed voices win. Hasn’t the elf met ALEC yet??

Next, writes the elf…

If only there was a spirit who could show us that.

The next two years could be the most eventful in public education since desegregation.

Forty-five states will implement the Common Core State Standards in 2014-15. They set a much higher academic bar for kids from kindergarten through high school. These will come with more in-depth assessments in language arts and math

Insert:  There is a spirit which far outnumbers the 800 some fans of FFEIE. It is the spirit of the 330,000 voices of PTA who rejected the parent trigger. It is the 150,000 FB parent/ community/professional fans who devote time opposing Jebucation. It is the state’s worth of folks who demanded a veto of SB6. It is the spirit against tests misused, it is the voice against selling Florida’s kids’ minds to the lowest bidder so adults can profit. It is the unmasking of a profiteering agenda disguised as ed reform where research matters not. It is the knowing exposers of ALEC influence. It is the lawsuit aginst SB 736. It is the wsih that Florida districts could follow Chicago’s lead and pave the way for better things for Florida’s students. Certainly , the elf must have been in Santa’s workshop or he would have heard the screams as writing proficiency rates went from 80 to 30 to 80, and a phone call was the intervention.

Back to the elf..

Millions of teachers must be trained in these new standards in a very short period of time. The cost of administering the tests could be steep.

Given the greater high expectations, student scores will plunge as they transition from their weaker state standards. This will cause a public backlash, particularly as teacher job reviews now include student achievement, and a growing number of states are grading their schools based on test scores.

Odds are this will not go smoothly at first. And there will be much pressure to lower the stakes of test scores.

Insert: Florida teachers wil lose their jobs as the current status exists. In fact, they can lose their jobs based on student performance which they never effected. Odd thing to forget, elf writer.

Back to the loyal elf..

Some states also are ratcheting up standards in addition to Common Core.

By 2014-15, Florida will require students pass standardized tests in algebra, geometry and biology to earn a high school diploma.  The state also will require students to take courses in algebra 2 and either physics or chemistry for graduation.

Scrooge the reformer is demanding ever more, even as there is a backlash against standards and testing.

Insert: Could it be that the elf does know that the elections were horrid for Republicans and thus, time is short to push these profittering motives? Is that why Florida chose Indiana’s deposed Bennett?

Back to elf Mike Thomas..

“I wish I had him here. I’d give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he’d have a good appetite for it.”

But if Scrooge, the astute businessman that he is, understands what high school graduates must know to be successful, would he be advancing their interests by requiring less when the world is demanding more?

This is the most fascinating time to be involved in the education debate.

Have a wonderful holiday. And with all due apologies to Dickens for taking liberties with his quotes, God Bless Us, Every One!

Insert: IMHO, you have a right to free speech but owe Floridians the respect of a true presentation. I opine you have taken liberties with facts and omissions which mislead, Perhaps making toys is a better choice for you.

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