Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Is a 1 really a 1, or could it be a 3?

Below is a video I created to provide a little more understanding for parents concerning how students are classified as a 1, 2, 3, or 4 on state tests.   In the video I show how a student who scores a 1 on this year's exam could have been a 3 on last year's exam.  I also express some concerns and point out some things that do not make sense. Please pass this along to educate others.

Here is the link to the documents seen in this video.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Modules: Adopt, Adapt, or Ignore

The clip below is an exchange between Senator Seward and Commissioner King.  In the clip Commissioner King stresses that curriculum decisions are made at a local level and it is a district's choice to "adopt, adapt, or ignore" the modules created by the state.  I was relieved to hear this from the Commissioner.  There is a great deal of stress concerning module implementation and following the "script".  My relief comes from the fact that a withdrawal from module use or at least the adopting of them is a reality.  This is a short term change that local parents, teachers, and administration can bring about to alleviate some of the stress that exists in districts due to module implementation.  This clip can be a convincing factor for districts to back-off on the intensity of their module implementation.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

We are heading into the storm.

Here is another moment that was a highlight for me at the hearing.  Superintendent Diana Bowers of the Hamilton Central School District delivers her testimony.  It consisted of three points and all three were excellent.  I know what I would rate her, but what do you think?  This clip is brief and only three minutes, but does she sound like an ineffective, developing, effective, or highly-effective superintendent?

The Common Core is college ready. Is it career ready?

While attending the New York State Senate Public Hearing on education in Syracuse there were several incidents that stuck in my head.  In the clip below, Senator Betty Little questions Commissioner King and Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar about a concern she hears about schools not preparing kids to enter the workforce (those who do not go to college).  This should be of high concern to parents of children who are on this path.  Our curricula are focused on college readiness, but appear to have no focus on career readiness.  Here is another example of how the Common Core has been a rushed product.  It sounds like the students who are on the career ready path will have to hack their way through the college ready path.  Sounds like plans are in the making, but how long will this group have to struggle?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Our Discussion with Commissioner King

My wife and I with Commissioner John King.
My wife and I attended The Regents Reform Agenda: “Assessing” Our Progress  public hearing in Syracuse, New York held on October 1st.  The experience was very eye-opening for the both of us.  To our surprise, Commissioner John King was in attendance.  We did not expect this at all.  My wife and I introduced ourselves and I began our conversation by telling him that we have concerns with the Modules and implementation, but I showed him how I was trying to make it work with my students.  Do not get me wrong.  All my pint-up frustration and anger was still there in respects to everything that is going on, but I contained this because I wanted to become more informed and listen to what he had to say.  Needless to say, he was impressed with what I was doing, he wants me to send him a link to my materials, and he may even pay a visit to my classroom.

Now to the eye-opening part. 

As we addressed our concerns with module implementation and the fear that is out there with sticking to the script, Commissioner King asked us why do we think that exists.  He had us thinking.  He then went on to state that the modules are a resource and are not mandated.  He stated that he posted a message on EngageNY stating this and, in fact, in his testimony he stated that districts had the liberty to “adapt, adopt, or IGNORE”.  This alleviated some of my stress because I began this year under the impression that I had to adopt and follow them verbatim.  We discussed other issues, such as parents not being able to help with homework, but after the entire conversation my wife made the comment to me that Commissioner King appears to be perfectly fine with districts doing what they need to do to adjust to the Core.   She continued to say that perhaps it is district leaders who are “dropping the ball”.  I agreed with her and I was dumbfounded at the same time.  I found myself asking where is all the stress and anxiety coming from?  How much of it is the Commissioner’s fault?   NYSED’s fault?  Administration’s fault?  My fault?

Also, we found ourselves questioning the sincerity of the Commissioner’s sentiment.  Are districts really at liberty to do what they need to do?  Does the Commissioner truly believe that we have this liberty?  Districts are at the end of the puppet strings held by state testing.  Regardless of what he and other leaders say, can we really ever cut those strings and do what we need to do?