Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Greenfield Virtual charter probation

Chester: previously an innovation school under Greenfield Public Schools

update on PARCC at Board of Ed

McKenna: "This is yours, Commissioner"
Chester: "This is ours, this is OURS"
PowerPoint here

Halfway through our two year process: last year "testing the test" looking at items being tested
this spring "using PARCC in a fully operational mode"
districts giving either PARCC or MCAS
a year from now, Board will need to choose
13 PARCC states: governing board has representation from each state
members of board serve without pay; serve as oversight of project
"other states very much look to us for guidance"
being done with two outside contractors:

  • PARCC, Inc: private non-profit set up for the test (spin-off from Achieve), has its own Board and staff
  • Pearson: testing contractor, to put test together, score test, provide results (as MCAS has a testing contractor)
each state contracts separately with those two entitities, though each has a lead state to arrange procurement; each state then joins, following their own procurement
as of 2010, 26 states signed on...now has dropped to 13 states, though two, Louisiana and New York, not expected to test this spring
Chester refers to himself as the color commentatory: New York Governor Cuomo said that it'll be four years before anyone in the state has to deal with the Common Core, and no one knows what he knows by that.
Louisiana having a face-off
"these issue have nothing to do with anyone's assessment of what is being done...they have to do with political calculus"
I believe many of us would disputed that. 
McKenna: are we the only one doing both?
Chester: we are the only state that is not all in this spring
McKenna: asking about SMARTER: do they have a test? (yes) how many states? (they don't know, but it's more)
it's going to cost more if there are fewer states
McKenna comments that the results of the November 4 election will have a lot to do with which states are doing what
Chester wants to be sure that Board has sufficient grounding in the information that you're ready to make that decision
Every month the state will give the board a slice of the information: 

  • testing time in November; 
  • process and evaluation for next fall will go over in December; 
  • sample tests in January
McKenna: our priorities should be reflected in the time we spend on things, you're spending an AWFUL lot of time on testing

Review of numbers (I'll post a photo of this in a bit)




Note that the majority of high poverty districts are choosing PARCC; it's about equal for not high poverty districts
Query that schools cannot lose status in accountability if they're using PARCC, only gain
also hearing that districts recognize that the test will change one way or the other, so they're switching
digital connection grants IT pilot project: $5M pilot phase of $38M bond
  • $2M for suburbs
  • $1M for rural
  • $2M for urban
districts will need to put up between 30% and 70% depending on their chapter 70 aid
Stewart: a lot of schools don't do keyboarding
Agreement, kids not used to using tools provided for the test online
devices "are getting cheaper and cheaper...districts will be able to replace them as they do textbooks now"
that's assuming we replace textbooks now
comment that many districts don't have enough bandwidth, though all have internet access

Tullio (Deputy Sec'ty): may have been about assessment, but not just about testing
convened a stakeholder group on technology: "right now the trend could not be clearer...all major assessments will be online"
districts get that
"the sooner we can get this money out, the better"
McKenna: plan to train test administrators?
"Hitting that hard"
train the trainer model. Develop regional sites
Revere deputy super: "look at our instruction...pilot PARCC in three of eleven schools"
continuation of technology based instruction
"we didn't do this alone worked with DESE, Mass Superintendents, MTA
elements that worked well, what we were challenged by, suggestions
Students were positive to test
average classroom teacher in charge of a room of students taking at test for the first time
teachers have varying degrees of comfort
reverse of roles, in many cases
(In Burlington, much of that done by technology department)
teachers became far more comfortable, better at troubleshooting technology glitches
time and energy taken to upload the student data; worked with Pearson to engineer future workarounds
"there were some growing pains...I'm sure that Pearson was ready to take us on...calling a call center and getting put on a priority line...we were on the phone on a wait line sometimes for a half an hour while testing was going on"
specific elements of PARCC test, our students didn't have experience with
"don't think those are overwhelming elements..." advocating that schools add to their day to day instructional knowledge (like expanding data entry cells, for example)
iPads didn't have screen width to display entire question; needed external keyboards
realized during the testing, the students unplugged the keyboard and used the onscreen computer
no longer allowed: graphic organizers, math (?) sheets
help Pearson improve their customer service
"look at urban technology divide...students walking into us who don't have access at home"
High praise from David Willyard, student member on Revere Public Schools
Noyce: how much time needs to spent to get students used to elements of test they're not used to?
"I would anticipate either in the realm of instruction or in technology classes, I don't think it takes much time at all"
Stewart (to Chester): loss of half of states. Have you discussed what happens if we get into single numbers? Wondering what our obligations are and what we're committed to
Chester: 12 states, 11 giving PARCC. We can walk away from it, depending on how we walk away from a contract, there may be some penalties. Assuming that if this proves its medal this coming spring, we'll be bringing this recommendation to you.
"we're not in it to see if it's a good test or not. We're in it to build a good test."
McKenna: have a survey out, results are back, have an RFP out for deeper results
Will we have information back?
Wulfson: hoping to come back in November with more information

Update on Level 5 Schools (Board of Ed)

five schools statewide: UP Academy Holland & the Dever, in Boston; Morgan in Holyoke; John Avery Parker in New Bedford

Speaking of Greenfield Virtual Charter probation

...made the Globe today, including a comment from me.

Testimony before the Board of Ed

I come before you today full of hope--
Not only did Commissioner Chester open our school year with the assurance that he looked forward to hearing from us, but you and your colleagues have made it clear that you already have been listening.
You have been listening to students like Mr. Willyard describe the time lost to test prep,the curriculum narrowed to the push on ELA and math scores, the lockdown conditions during testing.
You have been listening to teachers lament the loss of elementary science and social studies instruction, deplore watching their children struggle with items on tests that make no sense, and protest the non-research-based tying of teacher evaluation to student test scores.
I could go on, but I hope that this will be just the beginning:
I hope that you will listen when students tell you the richness of what they imagine for their futures.
I hope that you will listen when teachers point out that having a licensure system evaluated and designed by an organization that has been explicitly anti-teacher since its earliest days makes no sense. I hope you will listen to teachers when it comes to professional questions around evaluation and licensure, as we would in any other profession.
I hope that you will listen to administrators protest the unfairness of the sword of Damocles--Level 5 status--that could fall at any time, as there is no concrete calculation and it (and Level 4 status) are apparently imposed by whim.
I hope you will listen to parents exhausted by budget fights every spring, who just want what our state Constitution guarantees: a full, rich education for their children. Too many of us are not doing that due to budgetary constraints. They and we need an appropriate Chapter 70 formula.
I hope you will listen to school committee members describe meeting increased need with decreasing resources; we are well beyond the point of “doing more with less.” I hope you will hear us clearly when we tell you that what our schools DO and the growth our students show is more than a “technicality” or a political game. Stay strong on student growth, or just fess up and start ranking us by parental income and education level. It would be more honest.
I hope that you will each make a point of listening, not only to those who can afford to come before you at 8:30 on Tuesday morning in Malden, but to so many who cannot.
It is you who bear the Chapter 5, section 2 charge of the state Constitution to “cherish the interests of literature and of the sciences” “for the preservation of our rights and liberties.” When John Adams wrote those words in 1779, we did not yet have a country. The Worcester schoolmaster recognized that ultimately we would not keep a democratic republic without a full, rich public school system available and accessibile to all.
Ultimately, the vision of public education in Massachusetts goes back not to the oft-cited 1993 ed reform law, nor to the 2011 Act relative to the achievement gap: it goes back to the state constitution that you and I both swore to uphold and defend. That should be the touchstone of this Board. That is where your accountability ultimately lies.
No less than democracy depends on you.

Public comment at the Board of Ed

as per usual, I'll do my best on names or at least associations on speakers

Posting from the Board of Ed today

You can find the agenda here.  I'll post as there is reason to, and also I'm livetweeting here.
And sure enough, the charter supporters are out in force. I've heard that it was announced last night that there will be a hearing--date and time TBA--on the Fitchburg and Brockton applications.