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Emerging studies presented recently at the American Educational Research Association national conference suggest new ways to emotionally support students during transitions—and how badly things can go wrong when students don’t feel supported.

2,119 students in 10 middle schools were interviewed across the country, with about 60 percent of students in poverty.

Students who frequently distracted themselves, accepted their emotions, asked for help, and reappraised the situation to change their perspective had higher levels of what the researchers called “school and general well-being.” Students who felt they had more internal control were coping in healthier ways.  By contrast, students who mentally rehashed the stressful situation—called “ruminating”—fared worse.

Results of which were a no-brainer to real parents… A revelation to “corporate educational “experts””.

The “test” applied strategies used to alleviate stress among college students, to those in middle school.

The students in the test were given made-up quotes allegedly written by real students the year before which showed they too had apprehensive stress.   “I felt like I had a knot in my stomach the first four months,” read one such quote..

At the year’s end, the results including grades, test scores, and surveys of general well being, were considerably higher in those classes who were led to believe that stress was a temporal factor, that teachers were there to help,  and given the inceptional idea that  “the knot” would disappear. It acted as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also important, an additional study focusing on those students who DID NOT get any well-being treatment. found that district policies can backfire when leaders don’t take students’ emotions into account.

In the 2016 book When School Policies Backfire: How Well-Intentioned Measures Can Harm Our Most Vulnerable Students, researchers found the school community felt betrayed by the closure—it had been assured the school would not be closed before the school board voted to do so—and students felt blamed for the closure even a year later.

The district had dubbed the closure a “rescue mission” intended to settle students into higher-performing schools and boost their graduation chances. Instead, students’ academic progress declined. While students had grown on average 20 points per year in math and 19 points in reading from 6th through 10th grade on annual district tests at their previous school, in the years after the closure they lost 2.3 years of typical score growth in math and 3.7 years in reading. Their likelihood of dropping out of high school doubled as their graduation rate fell.

It is obvious to all, that the push for testing has destroyed any emotional well being in students and therefore is the anathema to real learning and successful graduations.

Every parent and grown up adult, knows by experience in life, that learning and emotions are intermittently mixed.
Now, if we could only get some grown up adults in charge of the Delaware House and Senate Committees, on the state School Board, into the Delaware Department of Education, and even into Rodel, we as a state might begin the process of returning Delaware’s schools back to the progress they were making before “Corporate Reforms” came in and ruined absolutely everything….

They did, you know, ruin everything…

 

 

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District $ Per Student

Courtesy of Edweek.org

Vergara Ruling Overturned by State Appeals Court….

A California appeals court, reversing a trial court’s ruling in the landmark Vergara case, has found that California’s job-protection laws for teachers do not in fact violate the state constitution’s equal protection guarantee.

 

The appeals court ruled April 14 that the plaintiffs in the Vergara case had failed to prove sufficiently that the state’s teacher-employment laws, including tenure and termination provisions, “inevitably cause a certain group of students to receive an education inferior to the education received by other students.”

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Exactly what those of us who read the transcripts all said… We called it a kangeroo court because it decided it decision based on shots called down to it, and not on the evidence put before the court.  There was no way the evidence pointed to that decision.

 

This is good news.   In the national test-case for unions, Unions have been declared legal and can stand stronger now……

A similar case to Vergara was  just filed in Minnesotaand this decision may put a knife in it early up there.

Having read Kevin’s account of the Donna Johnson trying to make the case for banning public comment at State Board meetings, a case that baffled everyone in the room, it opens a door into what is really going on….

There is a standard question on corporate profiling questionnaires which asks whether you think it is funny when someone falls down…. Although the corporate answer to that is: what does the boss think, in real life outside the corporate world, the answer depends on how close our relationship is to the victim… if it’s our mother, it’s not funny.

Watching Donna Johnson fall down and keep slipping as she tries to regain her footage each subsequent time, reminded one of that question. There I’m sure were some who gleefully watched her twist in the wind… But even Kevin says he felt sorry for her…

Things like this would be funny if it didn’t affect 130,000 of Delaware’s children… And the dialogue that took place under questioning from House Education members, made an overall picture very clear.

WE are in a transitioning phase…. The DOE which once was stacked to the top with corporate whores, now has those whores all heading for the door… What once made very good sense in a corporate bubble, now with no bubble walls to bounce off the echoes, lacks the high frequency of repetitions required to make it become absorbed as truth.

In the past, and correct me if I’m wrong, if Donna Johnson would make a nonsensical statement, Mark Murphy would chime in with nonsensical word salad, then Penny Marshall would add some nonsensical word dessert and Paul Hefferman would follow up with nonsensical word coffee and his word nuts, and listeners would be too full of words to take in anything else without first going to the word toilet….

And that is how so much crap became law……

Now without the support, the idiocy is wide open…  bringing us to this probably important question… Can the Department of Education do its job if it is seen as being staffed by idiots?

And no, they are not idiots.  They are smart people in the wrong place at the wrong time.. They have one agenda which is charter propagation…  In a water where everything is pro-charter they function fine.. If they have to leap out of that environment, before they could always trust gravity would  bring them back into the ocean in which they were comfortable.

But now, they keep coming down  on land…. And watching them flop about is kind of sad.

At stake is can the Department function with this rift?  And that is why I think Godowsky needs to set his future goals in public education,  determine which members of his staff can get him there and who needs to go elsewhere, and create one team all on the same page, so we can put the shenanigans forever associated with the tenure of Mark Murphy, behind us.

If there is anything a numbers person admires or appreciates, it is someone who does state budgets 7 years in a row.  Yours was a herculean task. Like Clark Kent, laymen will never understand the super powers that lay therein, but rest assured, some of us do know.

You are a credit to our kind…..

Welcome home, soldier…….

Ann Vasalli…

 

If you didn’t first see the legal expert’s video go here and then come back….

It is not a warning, but just a reality check as to what “could” happen you you as a parent if you allow your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment…

Moving forward now, here is what that new legislation should address.

Whereas behavioral, class attendance, class performance and traditional forms of data like grades have been collected, now there is greater interest in collecting metadata which is information about how a child is interacting with the program, interacting with the software, data which is highly marketable and a lot of companies are scrambling to obtain that data. They are looking at it to assess school products, to assess teachers’ teaching methods, and to assess a child’s future in order to open and close doors long before a child reaches the hallway those doors are on.

The question hereto unasked, unsolved and unanswered, is how are we going to structure that access to data…  so it is fair to children, to parents, to teachers, to schools….

The worst-case-scenario is abuse of these to harm children.. instances where they are improperly tracked and improperly labeled and improperly sent down wrong pathways they shouldn’t be sent.

All because of bad data practices….

Before going forward, we need to have “good” data practices implemented and have teeth in the law so even bad people will want to do good…

Necessary to this is a blanket protection on ALL data acquired on a child… All data is unavailable to anyone outside those directly involved. The scope of protection…. has to be very broad….

Next step is to establish very clear use restrictions…. as in what can this data be used for?… Make it open and shut… “Can this data be used by Skippy Peanut Butter?”  “Let us check the clear use restrictions.”  “No, it does not allow transference of data to Skippy Peanut Butter”….  Open and shut.

Then we need to add a flexible option, so educated parents can choose to “opt in” on having other sources of information disseminated about their child…  It becomes the parent’s choice whether their child’s data can be used and to whom those additional users may be.

And finally to all of these there should be added some type of repercussions, which are strong enough to make violating any of these tenants, financially risky.

Currently there is none. Nada.  The only restriction is in FERPA  The Federal government can withhold money from a school district if there is a violation of FERPA. In the 41 years of FERPA, that has never happened. If a school district violates your child’s privacy, if the State violates your child’s privacy, if a vendor violates your child’s privacy, as a parent, you have no private right of action.

In this environment, your child’s data once acquired, is available to all. John Carney can even acquire a list of marginal students and call their parents to get their votes.  Everything is wide open.

As a society we often venture into new territory first, learning as we go.  The first cars didn’t have brakes because you just previously told the horse to slow down; the thought did not cross their inventor’s minds until racing down the road. When we went into Iraq, we didn’t have a plan on how to govern once we took over.  Dick Cheney didn’t think of it. We’d just take it and suck out their oil.

Today, we don’t let just anyone drive. They have to demonstrate they know how. Likewise today we don’t let anyone set up and operation room and extract live organs. They have to prove they are capable in knowledge and ability.

Therefore we really shouldn’t allow the Smarter Balanced to go forward until we fix these problems it leaves in its wake. Should we?

Here is the approach which should be taken. WE need a figurehead bill put up that WHEREAS’s all the facts listed above, to preface a bill advocating the immediate eradication of the Smarter Balanced for security reasons, as our one test in Delaware. This won’t pass nor is it intended to.. It’s purpose is to create a lightning rod for all educational wonks on both sides to focus their attention upon. Despite a probable prognosis for failure, the full-press  floor fight for its passage should be passionate, since that is what drives public scrutiny and shapes public opinion.

Then invisibly, under the radar, 4 new bills need to be quietly slipped through, addressing the plugging of each of the 4 holes illuminated above…  Bill 1) We need state blanket protection of all data. Bill 2) We need to determine exactly who, what, where that data will be allowed to go. Bill 3) We need to allow parents the right to “opt in” into allowing further data to be disseminated. And finally Bill 4) we need some type of gigantic bankruptcy-causing-punitive-damage and jail for anyone violating a child’s privacy without the express permission of his parents.

By then (if our crystal ball is correct) the Smarter Balanced will most likely have been replaced with another test (unless it scores a magnificent save this year) and the above protections will be in place long before any new test (if any at all), materializes…

 

There is now no protection of children’s privacy and therefore by implication, their parents’ privacy…

As a parent if anyone violates your child’s privacy, such as putting your child’s data on a porn site, you the parent have no private rite-of- action….

We cannot emphasize it more clearly… Opt Out Your Child Today…….

When besieged by fake arguments from corporate marketers, I think it is fair to demand that they find one person who was actually helped by taking a standardized test…  Someone who was failing in regular classes then took the Smarter Balanced as an example, then suddenly decided to show grit and determination and became a most excellent student…

Because barring any evidence, we have spent over $500 million towards standardized tests with not one single success story to show for it.

Shouldn’t we demand proof of some results before throwing more money away?

Keep in mind there are millions of stories being told at school boards across the nation, where a good student gave up after taking standardized tests…. Are there any where standardized tests “saved” anyone?

 

Under No-Child-Left-Behind, large numbers of mandates were decided in Washington DC by the Department of Education…

State Boards had to wait to find out that which they would have to deal,  then decide how to work with it…

Under the new ESSA that is changed.  State Boards are the ones now given the ultimate power to decide education in that state…  In a theoretical contest between Washington DC and the state, the state is now given top-right…

Many state school boards are not prepared for this… whether their state elects or has their governor appoint them, they are laypeople who are far removed from the daily grind which education extracts.  Often having never set foot in a classroom since their high school graduation, they are now thrust into making policy that affects ever child under their control.

Often meeting only 8-10 times a year as a ceremonial function,  they are now tasked with overseeing policy. Over the past several years, the membership of state boards has become younger and more diverse. While, in the past, sitting on a state board was the crown jewel for an accomplished educator, board members now range from bankers, lawyers, and doctors to outspoken parents of action.

As an example of who can be on these boards, residents in the East Texas region will soon decide whether to elect to the state board Mary Lou Bruner, a retired kindergarten teacher who has said in widely publicized Facebook posts that she believes that a young President Barack Obama worked as a gay prostitute, that the country should ban Muslims, and that the Democratic Party killed President John F. Kennedy.

Often these board members approach education only from a philosophy and are intent only on forwarding that philosophy onward, often putting them at odds with those who have a more practical focus on how to educate children.

In the past, board members were inconspicuous stewards convening in sparsely attended, daylong meetings where they debated education policy.

The ESSA law now adds plenty more to their plate. In the coming months, boards will be tasked with revising teacher evaluations, school report cards, and ways to intervene in their lowest-performing schools…..

Which means the window of opportunity to make changes to our state’s education system exists from now till June 1st.

Delaware citizens have a tool in a General Assembly at their disposal and policy elected and signed, does set the parameters of our state boards.

So whereas some may think OPT OUT is a dead issue, suddenly it becomes live again.  Whereas some may think we are solidly committed to the smarter balanced future, suddenly getting rid of it becomes a real possibility again.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says more than 500 bills regarding state standards and assessments have been proposed across the country so far this year.  Resentful that a massive wave of common-standards adoptions four years ago bypassed their chambers and subjected them to intense political heat, state lawmakers are taking steps to claim some of the authority that state boards of education have traditionally held over academic standards.

So now is an important time.. It is the equivalent of maneuvers done during the advent of the No-Child-Left-Behind which set policy for 15 years hence.

As a state we need to steer to these future goals which are open yet structured enough to insure that every child gets a first class education worthy of the First State…..

  • Let teachers teach. They know your children best.
  • Work toward an 11:1 student/teacher ratio in all classes k-5 and 9th grade where the school lunch level is over 50%.
  • Divorce teacher accountability and school accountability from tests.  Use tests only to benefit the child.
  • Replace the Smarter Balanced test with one that is beneficial in giving us information on how well our child is doing….
  • Begin phasing out charter schools by making their authorizer the district board in which their school resides…

Parents who step up can now make great changes in education for years to come.

 

 

Big items in the ESSA:

States will no longer have to do teacher evaluation through student outcomes, as they did under NCLB waivers.  The NCLB law’s “highly qualified teacher” requirement is officially a thing of the past….

States are required to adopt “challenging” academic standards. That could be the Common Core State Standards, but doesn’t have to be.  The U.S. Secretary of Education is expressly prohibited from forcing or even encouraging states to pick a particular set of standards (including the common core)…

States can create their own testing opt-out laws, and states decide what should happen in schools that miss targets….

Up to seven states can apply to try out local tests for a limited time, with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education….

Districts will work with teachers and school staff to come up with an evidence-based turnaround plan.States will monitor the turnaround effort.If schools continue to founder, after no more than four years the state will be required to step in with its own plan. A state could take over the school if it wanted, or fire the principal, or turn the school into a charter.

Only 1 percent of students overall can be given alternative tests. (That’s about 10 percent of students in special education.)

Districts that get more than $30,000 have to spend at least 20 percent of their funding on at least one activity that helps students become well-rounded, and another 20 percent on at least one activity that helps students be safe and healthy.

The current Title I funding formula remains intact, but there are some changes to the Title II formula (which funds teacher quality) that will be a boon to rural states.

A pilot program will let 50 districts try out a weighted student-funding formula, combining state, local, and federal funds to better serve low-income students and those with special needs.

States have to figure in participation rates on state tests. (Schools with less than 95 percent participation are supposed to have that included, somehow.) But participation rate is a stand-alone factor, not a separate indicator on its own.

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Recommended new State Actions to deal with the new law.

A.  General Assembly: create bill prohibiting linking teacher accountability with test scores in the state of Delaware.

B.   General Assembly: remove Delaware from the Smarter Balanced Assessment and come up with State test designed by real educators.

C.  General Assembly:  pass bill that says all those applying for OPT OUT before March 1st, will not be counted in the participation rate of test takers. They will be a separate class removed from the formula in figuring participation rates. Participation rates will be figured based on those students who did not opt out before the deadline.

D.

 

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