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  1. #51
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Why is this debate being had? I mean the "teachers are cheating us somehow" debate. Because the US looks bad on international test score checks? Take it on the chin, US. You now suck.

    Let's all say it together, shall we? Your government doesn't want to provide education anymore. You'll have to get it on your own in the future. It is my hunch that this is what's behind the intensity of the stupid driving these "test score" and "evaluation" wedges into what used to be a public institution: they don't want it to be a public institution any more.

    Apparently, since they seem to be being compared again and again in public, it's this charter school idea they want set up as the new standard.
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  2. #52
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    I don't know much about the strike thing. What I can say is that other than a few select magnet schools, Chicago schools are really pretty bad. It's why everybody moves to the suburbs when they have kids.

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  3. #53
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    I agree with most of what you've said here. There is also a broad consensus that class size matters for kindergarten and first grade. It is after this point that the consensus dissolves.

    The Chicago district wants to allow classes as large as 50? Which classes? All of them? Or are they planning on holding some university-style lectures?
    That was not specified in the articles I read. In elementary school (K-3 or K-5), the grading requirement is less onerous since a teacher usually has one group of students all day, but these are also the years when the students are laying the foundation for their academic education, not only in content but also in study habits and navigating the school environment. For older students, about 20 seems to be the practical limit for a class where significant discussion is necessary - say social studies, or literature. In a larger group, it is impossible to involve everyone adequately. Yes, the college model of a lecture class might work for high school or even the more advanced sections in middle school. To follow this model, the teacher should be assigned a grader or recitation leader who can help provide the individual attention, and ensure assignments are thoroughly critiqued in a timely manner. I have long thought that (presumably lower paid) classroom aides are underutilized in most school systems. Some schools in my area use student teachers well to this effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    But can you argue with the contention that we should evaluate teachers?
    Teachers themselves don't argue with this. Most teachers I know would love to have a way to get rid of the deadwood within their shool systems, and every one knows some. They won't support an evaluation based primarily on student test scores, though, because those are strongly influenced by too many factors over which the teachers have no control. Also, they represent only part of what a student learns, and should learn, through their formal education. This is also the downside of being forced to teach to the test. A test can measure only what it is designed to measure.

    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    I don't know much about the strike thing. What I can say is that other than a few select magnet schools, Chicago schools are really pretty bad. It's why everybody moves to the suburbs when they have kids.
    This is unfortunately true of the schools in many (most?) large urban areas. I wonder if it is just an extension of the size argument - that smaller is better? Those magnet schools, and to some degree charter schools, seem mainly to concentrate the better students together. Those students may like it, and may thrive in that environment, but the ones left behind in the non-magnet schools fare far worse.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  4. #54
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    If someone could devise an objective and accurate means of evaluating teacher performance, most teachers would support it. An evaluation system based on factors that make poor indicators of teacher performance will certainly be opposed.
    What other indicators, besides test scores, can be objectively measured and utilized for accountability purposes? What do you think about weighting the test scores to account for disparate averages among regional, cultral, and socio-economic groups, to the extent that public records allow?

    Even an imperfect system of accountabilty seems better than the status quo to me.

  5. #55
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    How meaningful are test scores in the absence of some measure of student attachment to the subject? Two kids, same English teacher, one kid yearns to be outside in the sunlight playing basketball and the other loves reading--give the two kids the same standardized test and what balancing measure are you going to add in that'll show the first kid's bare pass is perhaps a more substantial indication of the teacher's ability to engage and teach a student than the second kid's distinction?

    Or for that matter, give the same test to the same teacher's class of twenty students and her other class of sixty students and what will the grade statistics tell you about the teacher then?

    I think in this political debate everyone had better give up the idea they're talking about teachers and teaching. They're talking about some other national requirement and keep on insisting on not naming it.
    Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."

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  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    How meaningful are test scores in the absence of some measure of student attachment to the subject? Two kids, same English teacher, one kid yearns to be outside in the sunlight playing basketball and the other loves reading--give the two kids the same standardized test and what balancing measure are you going to add in that'll show the first kid's bare pass is perhaps a more substantial indication of the teacher's ability to engage and teach a student than the second kid's distinction?

    Or for that matter, give the same test to the same teacher's class of twenty students and her other class of sixty students and what will the grade statistics tell you about the teacher then?

    I think in this political debate everyone had better give up the idea they're talking about teachers and teaching. They're talking about some other national requirement and keep on insisting on not naming it.
    It's becoming more and more clear that those on the other side of this debate would prefer no accountability at all.

  7. #57
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    It's becoming more and more clear that those on the other side of this debate would prefer no accountability at all.
    Standardized test scores, alone, aren't enough. Student evaluations aren't reliable (teenagers are too likely to troll). Parental evaluations might be more reliable, but getting parents who aren't upset with the teacher to submit an evaluation might be difficult. Ideally, teacher assessment would be a combination of those 3 evaluations, along with evaluations by the school (principal, peers, etc). Some sort of working meta-evaluation is certainly possible, but getting it to work in practice is easier said than done. This is something that needs to be handled at the community level, though.
    "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."

  8. #58
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    From CNN:

    Chicago teachers' strike is a test for Democrats



    Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

    (CNN) -- Before this week, the last time the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike was September 8, 1987. It lasted until October 3, during which officials, teachers and parents clashed in the city's longest teachers strike ever. After it ended, I called the Chicago school system the worst in the country.

    "I'm not sure there's a system as bad as the Chicago system" were my exact words as U.S. secretary of education.

    The Chicago school system was a failure. Half of Chicago's 64 public high schools scored in the bottom 1% of schools on the ACT, an old metric used by many colleges for admissions.

    ''Forty-six percent of Chicago teachers send their children to private schools,'' I noted then, too. ''The people who know the product best send their children elsewhere.''

    In spite of this, the teachers union had the gall to demand a 10% raise with a 5% raise to follow the next year. After a month of jawing, they eventually wrangled a 4% raise the first year, with the second year determined by funding from elsewhere.

    Twenty-five years later, and in the midst of another teachers strike, it doesn't look like much has improved in Chicago.

    Today, the 26,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union are on strike because they can't accept a 16% raise over four years, tougher testing and accountability standards, and non-automatic rehiring.

    Once again, the Chicago Teachers Union is showing its true colors: self-serving public sector bullies more interested in their well-being than the well-being of students.

    Consider that public school teachers in Chicago make an average of $71,000 a year, while a majority of the roughly 350,000 public school students, overwhelmingly minority students, receive free or discounted school meals, meaning they are at or near the poverty line.

    What do these well-paid teachers bestow on the poor children and families of Chicago? Nearly 80% of eighth-graders in Chicago public schools are not proficient in reading or math, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

    In fact, little has improved in Chicago since the 1987 strike. Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times points out that "In 1987, 43% of incoming Chicago freshmen would drop out of high school without graduating. Today's drop-out rate is 39.4%, the lowest it has ever been."

    A dropout rate of nearly four students in 10 is a national disgrace. For 25 years, Chicago's teachers' unions have held the city's parents and students hostage while morally and financially bankrupting the city. Chicago public schools are $665 million in debt, and that debt is expected to exceed $1 billion next year. For 25 years, the union has blocked and impeded educational progress. The time for change is long overdue.

    For decades, conservative education reformers like myself have been pushing for performance pay, strict accountability, flexible rehiring practices for school principals and longer school days to improve our public schools. Now, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, through the Race to the Top grant requirements, are trying to implement similar measures in Chicago's public schools. Duncan, whom I sometimes agree with, and Emanuel, whom I almost never agree with, both seem to be taking the traditionally conservative side of this issue.

    We have in Chicago a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. Will Emanuel and Duncan succeed in curtailing the long-term ally and bulwark of the Democratic Party, the teachers union, or will the Chicago Teachers Union and its leader, Karen Lewis, once again strong-arm their own party for their own interests?

    President Obama has been noticeably silent. He shouldn't be. The nation deserves to know whether his allegiances lie with his political allies in the public sector unions or with Emanuel and Duncan. This power struggle will reveal much about the constitution of the modern Democratic Party.

    If Emanuel wins, the effects would be felt throughout the large, predominantly Democratic inner-city school districts across the country. For one of the first times in recent history, Democrats would stand up to their own entrenched inner-city public sector teachers unions. Should Emanuel lose, teachers unions will grow only stronger and more brazen, and the city of Chicago and its children and families may be set back for another 25 years.

  9. #59
    Senior Member Beargryllz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    It's becoming more and more clear that those on the other side of this debate would prefer no accountability at all.
    I can't think of a single person who would agree with this

  10. #60
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beargryllz View Post
    I can't think of a single person who would agree with this
    Seriously. I'd probably give a few teeth for some useful accountability in the public school system. My youngest son has been getting the educational shaft most of the time he's been in school. Part of it is probably due to crappy teachers, but standardized testing and budget cuts have made pretty good contributions to it, as well.

    It would be at least a part-time job to get him what he needs from the school system, despite the fact he is entitled to a free, appropriate public education. As things are, they will do as little as they can get by with as long as he can pass the standardized tests, which he can because he's not slow, just autistic. I finally gave up and am having him work through a GED book at home. At least he doesn't have to be smashed into an environment that resembles a cross between a prison and a feedlot that way.
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