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  1. #31
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Thank you for demonstrating what I mean by "isn't intuitively satisfying".
    I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean.

  2. #32
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean.
    The data does not support your opinion, but your opinion still feels right.

    You have to keep in mind, this must all be economically feasible. Going from class sizes of 30 to 5 isn't feasible. When class sizes are reduced, what actually happens is they're reduced from 30 to 27 or 26.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  3. #33
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    The data does not support your opinion, but your opinion still feels right.
    The data doesn't support the opposite opinion, either. Like you said, it's inconclusive. So we're left to draw conclusions based on observation and experience.

    The link you posted was pretty scant, and made frequent reference to "student achievement." When I hear "student achievement" it usually translates to "test scores." And it didn't address the impact of school size or district size at all.

  4. #34
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    It's going to be fun watching the Unions and teachers try to justify their way out of the fiscal corner they've painted themselves into.

  5. #35
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Yeah, take that, teachers! Y'all suck and are bad!

  6. #36
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    The data doesn't support the opposite opinion, either. Like you said, it's inconclusive. So we're left to draw conclusions based on observation and experience.
    Inconclusive data does not make the use of anecdotes valid for drawing conclusions. That's a similar format to the 'God of the Gaps' argument. You could draw no conclusion at all. I'm personally agnostic on the issue of class sizes.

    Regarding school and district sizes, I was responding to Coriolis' post that mentioned bringing down class sizes. Have there been studies performed to show the importance of school and district size?
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  7. #37
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    Update on the Teachers Strike in Chicago


    Caption:
    Students picket with Chicago school teachers outside Lane Tech College Prep High School on September 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
    The caption says it all.

  8. #38
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    From Reason:

    Updated! Why Chicago Teachers Are Striking Despite an Offered 16 percent Raise Over Four Years

    Update: Read this story about how the 45,000 kids in Chicago's charter schools are still going to school even as their counterparts in traditional public schools are cooling their heels as teachers strike.

    As Reason 24/7 notes, Chicago's teachers are on strike. This, despite what seems like a pretty plum offer from city officials:

    Chicago offered teachers raises of 3 percent this year and another 2 percent annually for the following three years, amounting to an average raise of 16 percent over the duration of the proposed contract, School Board President David Vitale said.

    "This is not a small contribution we're making at a time when our financial situation is very challenging," he said.

    The school district, like many cities and states across the country, is facing a financial crisis with a projected budget deficit of $3 billion over the next three years and a crushing burden of pensions promised to retiring teachers.

    So what's the sticking point? In exchange for the salary increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others are insisting that standardized test scores play some role in evaluating teachers and that school principals be given more power to run their schools the way they want to. Teachers say they don't have enough control over their students' socioeconomic situations to be judged on what they teach kids. Responds a union official:

    "Evaluate us on what we do, not the lives of our children we do not control," [union head Karen] Lewis said in announcing the strike.

    More here.

    Come on. Nobody - even Rahm Emanuel, a man about as heartwarming as a bloody stool - is suggesting that teachers be held accountable for poverty, crime, you name it. But it certainly can't be that complicated to come up with a way of benchmarking student progress that takes into account the effect of specific teachers. One of the most ridiculous claims emanating from teachers unions is the persistent idea that teaching abilities can't be quantified in any meaningful way as it relates to merit. Somehow, every other profession on the planet - including teaching at the college level - finds ways to assess and reward good performance.

  9. #39
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Can I assume you believe $71,000 is too much to pay a teacher, regardless of the cost of living? I don't think it is. I wouldn't mind if that was the national average salary for teachers. I mean, that's a position that requires a college degree, and many teachers have graduate degrees on top of their bachelor's degree. That's not an unreasonable average salary given the education level.
    As an average salary? Yes, particularly when it comes to striking for more pay during a period in time where its known that local governments everywhere are in dire financial straits. I find it extremely unlikely that a teacher cannot live a solidly middle-class lifestyle at $71,000 somewhere within reasonable commuting distance of any school in Chicago. A particulaly good math or science teacher* (areas where American students are notably deficient and which require majors that often lead to much higher-paying jobs elsewhere) might be exceptions (not that teacher's unions would allow for it), but even then its unclear if local governments could reasonably afford it.

    *this is not to denigrate other subjects-I majored in IR/Comparative, and I think civics and basic economics courses are in fact more important for most students, but I think supply and demand would naturally favor math and science teachers.

  10. #40
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    From Bloomberg Businessweek:

    We Evaluate Doctors. Why Not Chicago Teachers?



    Can teacher evaluations be done horribly wrong? Of course. Evaluating teachers solely on the basis of their students’ scores on standardized tests can accidentally penalize good teachers while rewarding bad ones. It also gives teachers a strong incentive to teach to the test, which encourages what New York educator Kate McKeown calls RAMIT: “regurgitate, acculturate, memorize, isolate, and threaten.”

    But to say that evaluation can be done wrong is not to say it should never be attempted. We evaluate doctors. Why not Chicago teachers?

    A strike by Chicago teachers that began on Sept. 10 is keeping 350,000 students out of the classroom. “Onerous” evaluations are one of the union’s complaints. Illinois law requires student test scores to be a factor in new teacher evaluation systems by 2016. Chicago is getting a jump by introducing new evaluations in 300 schools this fall, the Associated Press reports.

    Aren’t Chicago teachers already evaluated? Technically, yes. But as of 2007, 99.7 percent of them received a satisfactory to distinguished rating, according to the AP. Evaluations so gentle do nothing to protect students from sub-par instructors.

    New research funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others shows that teacher evaluation can improve learning when it is done intelligently. That means supplementing test scores with seasoned judgment from independent evaluators and providing teachers with detailed, personalized feedback that they can use to do their jobs better.

    The Christian Science Monitor highlighted the new findings in an excellent article last month by staff writer Amanda Paulson called “Back to school: How to measure a good teacher.”

    The Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching study found that the most important elements in an evaluation are detailed observations of a teacher’s performance, test scores that try to isolate the teacher’s contribution, and surprisingly, students’ own ratings of their teachers on how well they support students, challenge them, and give feedback, Paulson writes.

    At Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Elementary School, a charter school in Connecticut, first-grade teacher Ted Eckert got an 11-page assessment at the end of his first year of teaching that included, Paulson writes, “the results of surveys from his students’ families, fellow teachers, administrators, and four observation scores: three formal ones, and a fourth score based on frequent informal observations.” Eckert called it “a really complete picture of not only me as an instructor and teacher, but as a professional on a staff with lots of moving parts.”

    The Chicago Teachers Union observes correctly that teachers can’t solve every problem that a student brings from home. “Instead of working on the factors that account for most of the achievement differences, such as health, poverty, mobility, segregation, and school leadership, legislation is focused narrowly on teacher evaluation,” the union says on its website.

    But the union’s point is pointless. Schools have no control over students’ health, poverty, mobility, and segregation. Only one of the factors that the union cites—school leadership—is under the control of the Chicago Public Schools.

    As for students’ test scores: They’re a flawed measure, but they do have predictive value, according to Darleen Opfer, director of RAND Education, a division of nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND. “Teachers who lead students to achievement gains in one year or in one class tend to do so again in other years and classes,” Opfer wrote in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 11.

    Chicago school negotiators originally wanted student scores to count for 45 percent of teacher evaluations. The teachers bargained that down to 25 percent, Tim Knowles, director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, told the AP. The percentages and the timing are still in contention. Is Chicago’s evaluation system perfect? Probably not. But it has to be better than one that found 99.7 percent of Chicago teachers are doing a satisfactory to distinguished job.

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