Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Did you sign the Less Testing, More Learning petition yet?

We the undersigned parents, caretakers, students, teachers, community members and taxpayers petition our governor, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Massachusetts legislature to:
  • Place a moratorium on the high-stakes uses of state-mandated tests and 
  • Begin a state-wide effort to design a better assessment system that can help our students reach their full potential in our democratic society.
Should you agree, you can sign the petition here

Yet one more thing in education that the state has decided to change RIGHT NOW

I was tipped off this evening to a hearing that's being held just for teachers, and only for 75 of those (pre-registered) here in Worcester tomorrow by DESE regarding educator licensure. Those hearings are:
  • Tuesday, 10/21 – Western MA (Springfield College) 4:30 pm-7:00 pm
  • Thursday, 10/23 – Central MA (Worcester Technical High School) 4:30 pm-7:00 pm
  • Saturday, 10/25 – Boston (Simmons College) 9:30 am-12:00 pm
  • Wednesday, 11/19 – Metro Boston (Malden High) 4:30 pm-7:00 pm
  • Thursday, 11/20 – Southern MA (Bridgewater State University) 4:30 pm-7:00 pm
You can read the letter explaining it here; the explanation of where this is coming from is here. The short version is that the Council of Chief State School Officers (aka: the Commissioners of education) are running a two year pilot in six states, and, lucky us, we're in. This is being run by the Keystone Center ("established to independently facilitate the resolution of national policy conflicts."), which it appears is paid for their work. They set as their three principles (from their 2012 annual report, which is the most recent one online): 
  • dialogue and consensus building
  • public engagement and outreach
  • leadership and capacity building
Someone may want to tip them off that they're failing at number 2 already.

Frankly, the amount of lingo in this is so deep that you need one of their 'buckets' to bail it out, but basically they're deciding that making educator evaluation complicated, "data driven," and tied to student results was such a swell idea, that they should do the same to licensure. The executive summary of their report looks benign, until you realize:
  1. that there are thousands of teachers in Massachusetts (heck, there are thousands of teachers in Worcester!) and they talked to...63? teachers and principals statewide.
  2. the focus groups were Keystone-moderated (hard to tell what that meant without being there)
  3. ...and from this we are drawing conclusions. Except, it's not clear that the conclusions are bearing out even the limited input that they received.
If you go back to the link on the letter, the pages following sketch out what the plan is. The trick? Teachers showing at these limited-admission, tightly moderated hearings can only make suggestions ABOUT THE PROPOSALS; they can't say, "hey, this is a bad idea." I hear "stakeholders" and "collaborative working environment," how about you? 
Their proposals: just to get a chance to student teach, you have to do some version of this: 
 To enter the classroom, candidates must complete an approved prep program, show content knowledge (BA + MTEL), demonstrable evidence of perseverance, grit, and demonstrable evidence of consistent high achieving results. During preparation, candidate must have experience working with diverse student populations.
Let's remember that generally speaking, we're talking about 22 year olds that have just graduated from college. What precisely is the state expecting from them in "demonstrable evidence of perserverance"? Finishing college? Marathon running? How about "grit"? A summer doing hard labor? Escaping a life of penury? And "demonstrable evidence of consistent high achieving results" (sic; I assume they mean "consistently")? They scored a lot of goals for the soccer team? They have a high performing investment porfolio?
THIS IS NONSENSICAL.
New graduates are great, but for most, this is a silly list of requirements for them; it's a silly list of requirements for anyone who's not coming back from some sort of military assignment overseas. This is not a practical requirement, and it has too many silly buzzwords.

I'm not even going to get into the three different ways that a teacher can renew his license once he has it; suffice to say that 'student impact' is all over these, 'though the MTA did
AND the remarkable thing is that this is being touted as simplification of the licensure process (check the last page)!

Were I back applying to MAT programs, planning on teaching, one look at these and I'd go sign up for the LSAT.
The state keeps expressing concern over people leaving the profession. They express concern over top quality candidates choosing to do something else. Here's the thing: people realize that they can get other jobs that don't have to deal with this level of nonsense. They're going to go take those jobs instead.
This is the sort of nonsense that drives people out of the profession.

Foundation budget review commission public hearing dates

Just came over the wire:

Public Hearing Schedule & Notice:
As discussed at our first meeting, the commission plans to hold six public hearings across the state.  The tentative dates for these hearings are listed below.

MondayNovember 17 @ 4:30PM  North Shore
Monday, December 15 @ 4:30 PM South Shore
Saturday, January 10 @ 11:00 AM Western MA
Saturday, January 24 @ 11:00 AM Central MA
Saturday, February 14 @ 11:00 AM Cape
Monday, March 9 @ 4:30 PM Boston

Locations all TBA and I'll post them once I have them. 

Tweets from yesterday's Board of Ed meeting

Not everything made it into the liveblog. Most ('though not all) of the tweets (mine and others) from yesterday's Massachusetts Board of Education meeting.




And, should you decide this all sounds like too much fun, and you'd like to join us: