Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT
If you can grade effectively, which might be doable given time, I agree that
grading is fine and useful. The current system looks like it needs a serious
overhaul, but it was a good first attempt. Once the system works, parents
and teachers though will mostly see what they already knew. Higher
income areas have better schools. The reasons are complex but the
results are consistent across the United States. There will be
schools that will buck the trend given incredible leadership, $, and other
factors. Good for them. Too bad, we've yet to figure out exactly how to
copy and paste their formula of success to another school. "Education
isn't rocket science,...it's much, much harder."
Now that you have your data, what are you going to do with it? What steps are
the Utah Legislature now going to take to help troubled schools and improve them
"A school's letter grade is not a final judgment. It's just an
introduction and an invitation to engage."Engage in what? An
opportunity for you folks to bash public education and seek for vouchers? I
think we can all see where this is going."s a hypothetical
example, your favorite school may have fantastic, high-profile programs for
which they've received public accolades. However, if our Hispanic students
at that institution are dropping out"How is this a reflection on
the school and not on the socio-economic demographics of the community? "We've already seen misinformation and fear tactics used
against Utah's school grading policy"Yes. I too have seen
fear tactics, used by you folks, when we the people demand ethics reforms,
Common Core, and impeachment of a certain AG."There are good
people among us who will always be uncomfortable with transparency or
reform"Like you folks?"We have also spoken with
several individuals who see ways to make School Grading more accurate and more
robust."How many of these folks have been public educators? Or
are they all lobbyists for vouchers and Howard Stephansen? We all
know what's behind this.
The school grading SYSTEM deserves an "F." The criteria favors schools
from higher socio-economic areas. 40% of the score is based on proficiency.
Obviously, scores are lower in schools with more poor and at-risk students. If
it was based on IMPROVEMENT from the start of the year to the year's end,
it would be a valid indicator. I taught AP American History. My students scored
higher on tests than students of other teachers. Does this mean I was a better
teacher? 20% of the score is based on graduation rates. Again that rate is lower
in poorer schools. Using the a rate increase or decrease from year to year would
be a fair measure. Only 40% is based on "growth." Improvement should be
the only measure for all categories. Another problem is the
participation requirement. Viewmont scored higher than Bountiful and Woods Cross
(both got a B grade), but got an automatic F because 3 low proficiency students
did not take the test. Viewmont has about 1,750 students. 98% of their students
took the test. The creators of this grading system get an F-.
Does the letter grade reflect what is ailing Utah schools? Does the letter grade
provide information about how we can fix the problems? The answer is no. If the
legislature looked at the problem by asking the teachers about the problems they
face, the parents about the problems they face and fixed it according to those
steps you might have some answers.As a Parent I see our schools are too
big. They are built to hold 3000 students. The schools can’t recruit high
end students to be teachers. Teacher turnover is high and morale is low.
Parental involvement is low. Student engagement is dropping, and classroom size
and school district size is at an all-time high.This is a direct result of
squeezing the funding to pay a wage that a bread winner would say is fair and
reasonable to pay and it reflects the consolidation of schools into behemoths.
Lets stop supporting big schools and big school districts and more
administrators and focus on local schools and well paid teachers.
I don't have a problem measuring success in schools. We should. But we
should do it right. For example, what about kids who don't do well on ACT
but walk right into a job because of their CTE education. And why should we not
recognize high profile programs that improve teaching at a school for every
student. If teachers have AP training, then they teach all students better, not
just AP students. The focus has to be on every student having their own IEP (to
know what that is, ask an educator). Grading with this criteria says we are more
interested in content than in students. Instead of helping schools to change, we
write a law for School Community Councils to provide local control and
decision-making and then put so many restrictions on the use of the money that a
school can't really do anything with it. Let the schools do their job. And
it is time for the legislature to listen to public education families not just
to PCE. There are a lot more of us and it is our students. Why not ask us what
it takes for schools to succeed?
Wayne, have you noticed that no one has agreed with you? Have you read the
online comments on this article and the other one reporting these grades?
Despite their lack of popularity, do you still support them? Aren't you
elected to represent us and not just large lobbyist groups who want vouchers?We the people know what you are trying to do and don't support it.
You may get your handout to your real estate buddies who want to move the
prison. But we will never give you vouchers.
Dear Senator: You ignore the fact that Florida committed significant financial
resources to help those schools which were not getting high grades. Your
legislation provides zero dollars for remediation in those schools which need
help. Your legislation, by the very nature of the measures used, places every
alternative high school in the D or F category. Your legislation condemns the
schools in very low income to the D or F category. Your legislation does ZERO
nothing to help Utah schools.Dear public: Senator Niederhauser is
one of those who needs to be replaced. Give him an "F" and get rid of
him at the next election.
Hmmmm. I wonder if anyone up on the hill is listening. Probably not. Now
they have their grades for the schools. Now what? This grading
system is so seriously flawed that I don't even know where to start. What is even more incredible to me is the senator has the audacity to
write an Op Ed for the newspaper claiming it is a great thing for us
families.It is horrible legislation.It does NOTHING to
help our local schools. What are the schools with low scores supposed to do
now? Do they ask all of the low income families to move out of their
boundaries? Do they ask them all to learn english in the next month or two?
Where do they sign up to get appropriate funding to fix the problems? Oh wait
there isn't any funding to help the schools? Then why did we waste all of
this money to grade them?This is such a complete joke it is
laughable. Nice work Senator. Now tell us what the
real reason was.
This sounds like a broken record, but how about grading schools on things
schools can actually control? We have virtually no control over anything that we
are graded on. We can't control who walks through the door; we attempt to
educate everyone. We can't control whether kids come to school, whether
they do their work, whether they do their homework, whether they read outside of
school, whether they understand English, what the state testing is like, what we
are expected to teach, and on and on it goes. We can't discipline, we
can't hold students responsible for anything, we can't hold them back
if they can do the work but refuse to do it. My school will always fail because
the grades of the cluster students are averaged in, and most of them can't
even score 10% on the CRT's. But everything that happens in
schools seems to be the fault of the teachers. Please.
A school like Quail Hollow with 98% white student body in a financially
prosperous neighborhood gets an "A" and a school like Midvale Elementary
with 97% free and reduced lunch gets an "F", a comparison which on
it's face is inaccurate and useless because every school, especially these,
are unique and reflect the combination of all the unique individual students
that make up that school. Then you claim this new "transparency" as a
legislative victory. Then, Neiderhouser and his talking point minions actually
suggest that now that we finally know who is "failing" and who is
"successful" we can have those "successful" teachers go down to
Midvale and help those "failing" teachers finally get the right
technique in place? That's their solution to the vast inequities of life,
the challenges of second language learning, and the cure for the crushing
effects of poverty, violence, and discrimination--some magic formula that some
"failing" teachers just haven't been able to grasp? That is what
is so offensive to actual teachers in actual classrooms. And for those teachers
who take on the massive work of at-risk schools, after all their hard work
it's just another kick in the teeth.
I forgot to add: I'm grading Senator Neiderhauser with an
"F""Now we have transparency
The way this so-called grading system is set up is on a bell curve. I think
that's what leads to some of the reservations many have with this system
despite the legislators feeling that opposition to their work means they're
right. This means that no matter what the percentage scores in the formula
suggest, there will be a certain amount of schools with "F's" and a
certain amount with "A's". Even if every school in the state
showed marked improvement and student growth, some would still have to be
"F's". About 10% will be "Failing schools" every year no
matter how well they may improve that year. That is why this grading idea,
founded on some out-dated behaviorist 1950's statistical tradition, is
offensive to modern thinkers. What purpose will this serve from year to year?
What is the real reason for all this?Why do legislators work so hard
to to find a way to shame a school and it's work with an "F" grade
even while ignoring the work of supporting all schools with the necessary funds
and resources to do their work.
Grading with a bell curve ensures a loser in every competition and maybe
that's how our legislators see life--as a sorting mechanism for losers and
winners.It's like if we were the audience watching the amazing
runners at the Olympic Marathon finish their race, and then we all stood and
pointed fingers of shame at those runners who didn't make it on to the
medal stand because, well, they're the "losers". Real educators
know and believe that there are no losers in their classrooms, just wildly
different and unique individuals who are all running their "race",
sometimes, their way, but hopefully towards a finish line. And real educators
are at that finish line cheering for each one as they make it across, not the
just the perfect few.
Painting a pig doesn't make it prettier. The criteria chosen for grading
needs serious examination. My school had top 10 test scores. TOP TEN in the
state. We had a couple of low achievers whose parents refused to bring them in
to test. We dropped below the sacred 95% test taker ratio. We had over 90% of
the students in our school tested. Our students were then told the school and
all of their efforts were a failure because a few knuckleheads took test week
off. What kind of a pathetic design is this? How denigrating and discouraging
to a hard working studentbody and faculty to fail the whole school because a few
kids refused to take a test.
I encourage all parents of students to boycott the end of year tests. The tests
cost millions of dollars to create and administer and do not one thing to
actually add to the knowledge a teacher has of his or her students'
understanding of either math, science, or English. No other subjects are
tested. Those millions should be put into hiring more teachers to make class
sizes smaller.Do something radical that will annoy the legislature.
Boycott the tests.
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