I'm not sure why this is a Facebook comment or why this article cannot be copied or shared.
First, I would like to take the information in this article to show why it was that the long-time Baltimore City teachers may not have been able to attain achievement that Alonzo claimed was a matter of 'bad teachers'. Baltimore City teachers spent much of their time with these discipline problems and they were often left by themselves to do it. We all know that some teachers are not good at instruction, but we all knew that the massive dismissal of teachers and administration by Alonzo was bad policy and should have been illegal. Next, I would like to say that the policy of Baltimore City School Board of privatizing classrooms with Teach for America and VISTA....immigrant teachers etc in lieu of teachers that lived in these school's communities WAS AS BAD AS THEY GET. A policy could not have been more anti-education than this. At-risk students need stability more than any student and someone familiar with their struggles in poverty in Baltimore City. These temporary teaching staff that come and go are the opposite of what is needed and no doubt, far more acting out by students occurs because of this policy. Teachers from the community know better how to defuse tension....perhaps get better results with action. When schools are placed on a tiered level of funding with underserved students getting less and with classrooms integrated with special needs students all with one teacher who is no doubt unable to handle it all.....THIS IS A POLICY PROBLEM THAT MAKES MATTERS WORSE. Combine that with policies that have students online and without recess as some schools do and students get bored and angry. The level of poverty in Baltimore is equal to third world countries as public policy keeps unemployment close to 50%, social service cuts, and community public centers closing all of which cause these behaviors to escalate. So, strong public policy that sends money to all communities and community-based programs that give outlets for these students outside of classrooms is a must. As I hear, underserved schools can barely buy toilet paper, have maybe one nurse and a few councilors for 300-400 students. THE PROBLEM IS WITH A SCHOOL BOARD WITH NO EDUCATORS WANTING TO MAKE A BUSINESS OF OUR SCHOOLS!
ANOTHER COMMENTER TO THE BALTIMORE SUN ARTICLE:
The only part of your comment I agree with is the last one. If there aren't educators on the school board, it's like having a medical board with all Tailors on it. Schools educating teachers have programs to educate them based on what the schools themselves have idntified as needed. Many young teachers come in to the classroom without experience, and are put into mentoring programs. However, many of the schools are also administered by people who don't follow the rules.
I was placed in a high school as a physical science teacher - my education was in biology education - and I was told Science is science. I was also told to teach Consumer Math - the only minors I had in college were Swahili, and History - and I have severe dyscalcula, but I preservered. I was not given the names of students with IEPs, and it wasn't until by accident that I discovered that I inadvertantly did something that was within one student's IEP when I was talking to a special ed teacher who said - oh, he's one of our students! I didn't have any idea that the kid was only mainstreamed in my classroom, and no other. I complained about it, and was told that they didn't have time to do that. The only other IEPs I found out about were from the parents of the students and the ones I was involved in working out. In discussing it with other teachers in that district, I discovered that was the NORM rather than the exception. In a different district, as a long term sub in US History (also not my subject but one I had a life long interest in), the only IEP I got was one for a deaf boy, and I was told that he had an interpreter - his interpreter also told me he had a low IQ. Because I sign, we got along well. In that particular class, over 75% of the class were actually classified as special education.
Before you label teachers as ineffective, and bad teachers, you need to find out - are they teaching what they were educated to teach, and did the administration do their part to inform the teacher. You might be surprised that your ineffective Math teacher may have been educated to teach US History but was assigned to teach Math, and that he might be unaware of any IEP or special needs of his students beyond what he can see.
If you do not know that Race to the Top is about privatization of public education and ending humanities-based democratic education for 90% of Americans.....it is because the same people privatizing public education have corporatized all of US media.....even public media!
US Plummets In Press Freedom Rankings
The Huffington Post | by Jack Mirkinson
Posted: 02/12/2014 7:09 am EST Updated: 02/12/2014 9:59 am EST
The US in now ranked 46th on the RWB list, in between Romania and Haiti. It was ranked 32nd in the 2013 index. (Finland tops the entire list.)
The press freedom group was blunt in its explanation. It cited increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks, mentioning Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden in particular. It also condemned the Justice Department's surveillance of reporters, and the continued leak battle facing New York Times journalist James Risen.
RWB also criticized the United Kingdom for what it said were its "disgraceful" threats against the Guardian newspaper, and for its detention of Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda.
"Both the US and UK authorities seem obsessed with hunting down whistleblowers instead of adopting legislation to rein in abusive surveillance practices that negate privacy, a democratic value cherished in both countries," the group wrote.
The decision by RWB to rank the UK 13 places higher than the US, at 33, drew a great deal of skepticism from many in the media:
The US also came under fire from the Committee to Protect Journalists, which, in its annual Attacks on the Press report, said that press freedom had "dramatically deteriorated" in 2013.
The US was 20th on the list just a few years ago. It fell 27 places in the 2012 index thanks to the harassment and arrest of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street, before climbing 15 places in 2013.
Read the full RWB report here.
Below you see an education business.....one of tens of thousands created by Race to the Top all vying to be handed public education money to come into your community school to make policy. The report by corporate NPR/APM today speaks to just this....the need of yet more businesses to come into schools to teach 'new economy' lessons for our global competition.
OUR MISSION: EACH CHILD'S POTENTIAL We strive to develop each child's full potential with engaging, individualized learning. K¹²'s curriculum is available through full-time public and private school programs, worldwide through our online private school, and via individual courses for supplemental needs or homeschooling.
As all educators know, the younger the better for language for children and yes, having language in elementary schools and middle-schools makes sense. Computer science and writing computer code is a language and would be handled just the same. Yes, it will lead to low-income jobs that will drive people crazy which is why most people avoid it. You definitely have to have the personality to write code. Of course, if code-writers were paid salaries that attracted people that would help.
So, what the tech industry is doing is requiring that all people know how to write code so if you graduate with no career prospects.....you can write code.
My point is that we do not need a load of businesses tied yet again to our schools providing code and computer classes because it can be handled just as a foreign language by the same kinds of teachers. What technology companies need to do instead is to
PAY TAXES TO THE GOVERNMENT SO WE CAN TRAIN AND HIRE THE TEACHERS TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO DO JUST THAT! IT IS BECAUSE THE TECH INDUSTRY HIDES ALL OF ITS PROFIT AND PAYS LITTLE IN TAXES THAT SCHOOLS ARE STARVED FOR MONEY FOR THE TEACHERS NEEDED TO DO ALL THESE NEAT THINGS.
So, in lieu of paying taxes, tech industries are wanting to create tech coding businesses to soak more of public education money and classes controlled by those private businesses.
A Push To Boost Computer Science Learning, Even At An Early Age
February 17, 2014 3:39 AM NPR
Alex Tu, left, an Advanced Placement student, works during a computer science class in Midwest City, Okla. There's been a sharp decline in the number of computer science classes offered in U.S. secondary schools.
Sue Ogrocki/AP A handful of nonprofit and for-profit groups are working to address what they see as a national education crisis: Too few of America's K-12 public schools actually teach computer science basics and fewer still offer it for credit.
It's that in the next decade there will be about 1 million more U.S. jobs in the tech sector than computer science graduates to fill them. And it's that only about 10 percent of K-12 schools teach computer science.
So some in the education technology sector, an industry a year and growing, are stepping in.
At a Silicon Valley hotel recently, venture capitalists and interested parties heard funding pitches and watched demonstrations from 13 ed-tech start-ups backed by an incubator called . One of them is , which aims to teach kids five years and younger the fundamentals of programming through a game where you guide a Pac-Man-esque fuzz ball.
"As soon as you can start learning [coding] you should, because the earlier you start learning something, the better you'll be at it later in life," says Grechen Huebner, the co-founder of Kodable. She's working two computer screens to demonstrate how the game works in the hotel lobby.
"Kids have to drag and drop symbols to get their fuzzy character to go through a maze so they learn about conditions, loops and functions and even debugging," Huebner says.
So should kids who've barely shed their pull-up diapers really learn to code? Huebner thinks it's vital. "We have kids as young as two using it. Five is just kinda the sweet spot."
My daughter's behind, I think. She's four and she hasn't started coding. Bad parent.
Even if kids aren't offered game-based computer science concepts in pre-K, there is growing consensus students should get exposed to basic computer science concepts early. Kodable and other startups hope to make a profit filling this enormous void in American public education.
"Ninety percent of schools just don't even teach it. So if you're a parent and your school doesn't even offer this class, your kids aren't going to have the preparation they need for 21st century," says Hadi Partovi, co-founder of the nonprofit . "Just like we teach how electricity works and biology basics they should also know how the Internet works and how apps work. Schools need to add this to the curriculum."
YouTube Through his , Partovi is working to get kids, parents and schools interested computer science curriculum.
'It's All Around Us'
Third graders at a public elementary school in Baltimore recently took part in a game-based Hour of Code to start to try to learn the very basics of coding even though they don't realize it. "So you're moving three blocks and then you press start," one third grader says. Gretchen LeGrand with the nonprofit is trying to bring computer science fundamentals to underserved, low-income kids in Baltimore. She says it's a huge challenge in a district with few resources.
"The computers are old or outdated. We either can't install the software we want to use to teach computer programming or the connection's slow." She's had to adapt to teaching about coding without a computer or what more teachers are calling teaching
Partovi says teaching computer science is not about esoteric knowledge for computer geeks or filling jobs at Google or Microsoft. Most of these jobs are not with big high tech companies. It's about training a globally competitive workforce and keeping most every sector of the U.S. economy thriving.
"Our future lawyers and doctors and politicians and businessmen — the folks in the other jobs — need to have a little bit of a background about how the world around them works," Partovi says. "It's all around us, and every industry gets impacted by it."
According to a study by the largest U.S. , only have adopted secondary school standards for computer science. At the same time, there's been a sharp decline in the last five years in the number of introductory and advanced placement (AP) computer science classes offered in U.S. secondary schools.
YouTube Ironically, that decline comes just as states tout improvements to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula. And several have voiced deep concern that the new Common Core state standards promote no significant computer science content in either math or science.
There are some bright spots: , Los Angeles, and ., have all recently boosted their commitments to expanding computer science offerings. But there's a long way to go, says Chris Stephenson who directs the Computer Science Teachers Association. She says a big problem is profound confusion about just what computer science is. Too many parents and administrators conflate gaming and basic point-and-click literacy with computer science — the principles and practices of computing and coding.
"I've had administrators actually say to me in all good intention, 'I know kids are learning computer science in my schools because there are computers in the schools.' And that is just not true," Stephenson says.
"I think that they just don't understand that having access to a computer isn't the same as learning computer science any more than having a Bunsen burner in the cupboard is the same as learning chemistry," she says. "There's a scientific discipline here you can't just learn by playing around with the technology."
The "guesstimate" is that only five to 10 percent of schools teach computer science, based largely on data on students who take the in computer science annually. The real percentage may be lower. Nobody tracks the figures nationally.
Some sobering stats from last year's AP data:
- In Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming, no girls took the computer science exam.
- In 11 states, no black students took it.
- In eight states, no Hispanics took it.
- In 17 states, fewer than 100 students took it.
So never mind the hardware-based digital divide, there's a growing digital information divide. Computer science education, it seems, is now privileged knowledge accessible mostly by affluent kids.
"The people that are most likely to succeed have access to it and other kids do not, and we really need to look at those facts and figures and be horrified by them," Stephenson says.
She says the Hour of Code — which has reached millions of students around the world — is a terrific start. But — for credit — she says the knowledge gap will only continue to widen.
If you can imagine the stress of being placed in a classroom for which you are most likely not prepared.....both as a teacher and as someone with culture exposure....you see where Teach for America is a failure. And yet, just as charter schools that do not perform any better or worse than public schools....they do not go away.
Underserved children can feel this in the classroom and this makes it even more difficult for these young people.
Teacher Under Construction: Student Op-Eds on Teach for America
Stephanie Rivera February 12, 2014
For the past couple months, I’ve seen an increasing number of student op-eds being submitted to university newspapers. In honor of our Students Resisting Teach for America campaign led by Students United for Public Education, I figured it’d be useful to compile a list of these articles. Feel free to check them out and share! Make sure to check out our campaign website and our Facebook page to learn more.
- 2\4\14: University of Texas, “Teach for America can’t offer real solutions to educational inequality” by Lucy Griswold.
- 2\2\14: Ohio University, “Teach for America not best option for future educators” by Matt Farmer
- 11\25\13: Princeton University, “Beyond TFA” by Claire Nuchtern
- 11\5\13: Columbia University, “Superman is not coming” by George Joseph
- 10\23\13: Harvard University, “Don’t Teach for America” by Sandra Korn
- 10\10\13: Skidmore College, “Consider Before Applying for Teach for America” by Olivia Frank
THIS TEACHER NEEDS TO BE THE NEXT BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT!
Here is a good description from a teacher who knows what it requires to teach in underserved communites and as you see none of the things she lists is done in Baltimore City. I will send this to the Baltimore City school board and our City Hall so they may have a clue as to what is needed.
First, she points out that teachers in underserved schools should be the highest paid because they do the most and need the most skills to succeed. Baltimore instead makes underserved schools the least resourced and passes Teach for America through these schools all the time.
She points out that charter schools have a model that looks to simply burn teachers out with the idea of rotating new teachers into place as a temporary cycle that makes it look like they are doing something when in fact they burn out both teachers and students. Ergo.....attitudes. Not all charters are bad but most are and the goal of Race to the Top is to hand all public schools off to private charter chains.
Then, she points to the need for a myriad of different learning models just in one classroom with special needs students needing more. What Baltimore does is place most children in front of online lessons and let them work their way through it.
BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOL BOARD, THE BALTIMORE CITY HALL, AND GOVERNOR O'MALLEY ARE THE FAILURES AND JOHNS HOPKINS PUSHES THESE POLICIES!
Gatsby In L.A.
My year of learning about education in Los Angeles
by Ellie Herman
Why Teachers in Underserved Communities Should Be Paid More. A Lot More.
Posted on December 12, 2013
As I watched Kristin Damo teach one day at Locke High School in Watts, then watched Cynthia Castillo the next day at Augustus Hawkins in South Central, I suddenly understood why I was so often dogged by the suspicion that I was a fairly crappy teacher.
I mean, I know I’m passionate about my subject matter (who else would blog so much for no reason at all?), and inexplicably enjoy the ridiculousness of teenagers, but I’m gonna be honest: there was a lot that I was really, really bad at, and when I was in the classroom, it was all coming at me so fast that I could not pull apart and analyze how, exactly, I’d gone wrong. Now, watching Kristin and Cynthia, I suddenly see my key problem:
I am horrible at creating and implementing systems.
Systems! Who thought teaching was about systems? I thought I’d waltz in brimming with enthusiasm, give my students some great books, lead some raging discussions and everybody would be reading and writing like demons! I mean, all you really need is to work as hard as you can, know your stuff and never give up on your students, right? Isn’t that what good teachers do?
Wrong. It’s all about systems. At least it is if you’re teaching in an underserved, under-resourced community where kids are coming in at very low reading levels and very low trust levels. And what I’m seeing is that this job is much, much more complex than teaching in better-resourced communities—not just because of the emotional demands, but because you have to create and implement all of these systems on top of everything else.
The thing is, in high-performing communities where kids come in at the beginning of the year reading at or near grade level, with a good bank of trust from years of positive experiences in school and at home, a teacher can comfortably stand in front of the room and lecture or lead a class discussion; the job is not simple by any means, but relies primarily on a teacher’s curriculum, literary insight, questions, commentary on papers and ability to connect with students. All of this takes talent and a great deal of work.
But if you’re looking at a roomful of students of widely different reading levels, many of whom are living in chaotic conditions and most of whom have spent years in dysfunctional, sometimes frightening schools where bullies were dominant and many teachers were burned out, you have a totally different job. On top of all of the jobs listed above, you also need to define, in your students’ minds, what education is, create trust in that idea, an idea that has failed them every day of their lives—and then enact that idea faithfully and transparently in a way that meets the extremely different needs of every student in the room, from the kid in Special Ed with extreme dyslexia who can’t read a word you put in front of her to the boy with his head bent over his AP Calc textbook, looking up at you only occasionally with disdain like, what, is this the five minutes when I have to listen? Which means you need systems. Lots and lots of systems. Because without them, you will have chaos.
Basically, you need to create order for your students, not only externally, but internally, so that they can begin to maintain that order themselves. These systems are not intuitive. They involve a step by step breaking down of the habitual practices of reading, critical thinking and class interactions so that you can describe them to your students. You need to engineer from scratch, in other words, a healthy educational micro-system.
At some schools, you are handed a variety of systems, sometimes with instructions to enact them precisely or face negative evaluations. These systems can be very useful. Or not. They rarely meet the needs of the particular class in front of you, so you have to adjust them accordingly for each class you teach. Often the following year, you’ll be handed an entirely new set of systems. Most teachers I know, whatever their instructions, take what’s good and ignore what won’t work for their students. It takes experience to know how to distinguish them, which is one of the many reasons, when I hear some charters talk about a vision that includes burning out teachers every three years and replacing them with fresh ones, I just want to weep.
To give you an idea, here’s a sampling of just a few of the systems I saw in action:
1. A classroom management system – Cynthia’s is a class contract they’ve all written and signed. Every single day, they recommit to this contract in writing. Kristin uses a point system, as I mentioned in my last post. These systems are posted, verbally reinforced continually, and need to be maintained through grading and occasional phone calls home.
2. A system for students who read far below grade level. If students come in reading at 3rd grade level, you can’t just throw The Great Gatsby at them and tell them to come back ready to discuss Chapter Three. There are a blizzard of techniques out there to encourage struggling students to tackle challenging texts. The last time I was there, Cynthia Castillo used a method called “Talking Partners” in which students are matched up with different class partners for each character in the book. Kristin Damo makes extensive use of reading circles and group presentations. All of these are extremely complex and time-consuming to plan, oversee and grade—far more time-consuming than leading a whole-class discussion. And you need to change up these systems regularly to build different sets of strengths.
For every reading, both Kristin and Cynthia also need handouts with prepared questions for students so that everyone is fully engaged in the reading; a whole-class discussion leaves too many kids out. These handouts also need to be scaffolded with options for various skill levels. And graded. And tracked.
3. A system for engaging resistant or hesitant students –, Cynthia and Kristin need to make sure that quiet students are not neglected or forgotten. They can’t just call on kids who raise hands; they need a system for making sure every kid answers most of the questions and has a chance to speak publicly. This is harder than it sounds; it involves at a minimum the creation of another tracking system, as well as developing ways to encourage shy or demoralized students.
4. A system to handle students with serious behavior issues – both Cynthia and Kristin have students in their class who will not sit down for longer than ten minutes at a stretch and who openly refuse to do work. As I mentioned in my last post, these students affect the entire class in a very negative way and cut into the work time and confidence of other students. After a while, even good kids can get demoralized and start acting out. I’ve seen teachers completely lose control of an entire class once this happens; it’s very hard to go back afterwards.
5.A system for getting, demoralized, resistant students to engage in class regularly and turn in writing assignments – Okay, I’m lying. Nobody has one. But this is a job expectation, and, like the blogger Shakespeare’s Sister, if you’re in a school where a significant percentage of students do not engage no matter how much you beg, tap dance and stay up all night developing a new system, your own personal struggle to overcome your sense of failure will become an ongoing battle. The many teachers I’ve talked to all have the same strategy: do your best and let it go. Please tell me if you have a different one (if it works) and I will post it in all caps.
What I mean is, as we start to talk about “merit” pay and accountability, I’d like to factor in the systems aspect of the job. How many systems does the teacher need to design, implement and maintain? The more you have to use in order to meet the complex needs of your students, the more complex and challenging your job is—the more you should be paid.
I mean, we’re all talking about business models, right? So why not start by paying teachers that way?
I have not met a single parent who want children tied to computers all day long and then come home and again go to computers for social media and online gaming. All this is very, very, very bad policy and Maryland is trying to install this as fast as possible with no public input at all!
We know that underserved schools are getting the brunt of this and indeed children are sitting in front of computers looking at boring online lessons where they check a box and go to the next question. Baltimore is full of this and no one likes it.
Combine this with the policy of no recess and you have the environment of children losing tempers and interest in learning.
Critics Battle Over Online Learning
July 30, 2008 09:44 AM by Christopher Coats
A rousing debate has emerged about the effectiveness and quality of online learning, with some suggesting the Internet has the power to redefine the way we learn, teach and ultimately think. 30-Second Summary Share Critics have been quick to dismiss online reading and study practices as offering a less than complete educational experience, providing quickly digestible snippets of information, rather than an entire picture.
Observers also suggest that faced with an abundance of information from so many different sources, Internet users, young and old, have more trouble concentrating on one subject for any amount of time.
However, proponents of Internet learning have suggested that reading online can provide a fuller experience thanks to the variety of different resources they can find on the same subject.
Further, they argue that the quick pace of life online has the potential to redefine not only what we learn, but also how we learn and think.
Such changes in style and strategies, they argue, would mean a dramatic shift away from what they see as outdated educational models as well as the tools necessary for assessing the performance of students.
Existing approaches to testing have revealed positive statistics for both sides of the argument, finding that although some students’ reading levels have suffered with increased Internet use, others thrived.
Still others have been seen to improve research and analytical skills, which many not be as readily measurable thanks to traditional testing methods. Headline Links: ‘Literacy Debate’ The debate surrounding the effectiveness of reading online has led some to suggest national testing guidelines are in order. While some traditionalists insist that digital reading cannot compare to the written word, others have argued that reading online does not hinder a child from learning as much as redefine what learning is. Source: The New York Times
As this article shows, foundations like Fordham/Bill Gates are the places from where come all research saying these privatization policies work. Look below to see how none of this research is done properly and often does not make sense. The object is only to take the goal and create a model to get there. They want children sitting in front of computers doing online lessons with only an education tech in the room and these are the policies to get there. Along the way......education data that can be sold from pre-K to college will pay for the costs of these private charter chains.
You can see the idea of good/really great teachers means nothing. To load a great teacher with more students thinking they can handle it is ridiculous. It is just a pretense to doing just that.
School Finance 101: Rightsize This? When Simple, Ignorant Solutions & Simulations Just Don’t Cut It
Bruce D. Baker February 11, 2014
Recently, TB Fordham Institute released a report by AIR researcher Michael Hansen on “Rightsizing” the classroom. Hansen based his analysis on data from the state of North Carolina, using distributions of teacher value added scores and class sizes to derive conclusions about how “great” teachers could be given larger classes, thus reducing students exposed to “bad” teachers, leading to overall benefits in terms of student outcomes. This dreadfully oversimplified, a-contextual (even taken out of the constraints of its actual context) extrapolation has since made the rounds across reformy outlets.
The solution to all of our woes is simple and elegant. Just follow these steps.
- Step 1: Identify “really great” teachers (using your best VAM or SGP) who happen to be currently teaching inefficiently small classes of 14 to 17 students.
- Step 2: Re-assign to those “really great” teachers another 12 or so students, because whatever losses might occur in relation to increased class size, the benefits of the “really great” teacher will far outweigh those losses.
- Step 3: Enter underpants Gnomes.
- Step 4. Test Score Awesomeness!
For most students above the third grade, the evidence points to at most a small class-size effect, if any at all.15 (Using the North Carolina data, I likewise estimate small class-size effects in fifth and eighth grades.)16 Thus in effect, it would take an increase of at least ten to twenty additional students in a good teacher’s class to dilute his productivity to that of an average teacher.17 Put another way, assigning a few extra students to the class of an effective teacher can translate to big gains for these students, while making only very small reductions in that teacher’s performance for everyone else in the class. (page 9)
Further, that the impact of “great teachers” is far more important. Thus, as the report puts it:
Intensively reallocating eighth-grade students—so that the most effective teachers have up to twelve more pupils than the average classroom—may produce gains equivalent to adding roughly two-and-a-half extra weeks of school (see figure ES-1).
While this is a fun/playful thought exercise… simulation, etc… much like the Chetty study extrapolation of the great teacher increasing a classroom full of 3rd grader’s lifetime income by $250k, this simulation ignores so many layers of reality that it’s just mind boggling.
While it certainly makes sense that we’d want to be able to assign more students to our “best” teachers (heck, why would we want to have anything but good teachers on our staff?), the practical constraints to implementing this elegant and oh-so-obvious solution are many:
- successful implementation requires that within our school we can actually identify with some consistency, those teachers who are measurably more effective? (and that we have some of each…??)
- that those “great” teachers have small enough class sizes for us to add those students without significant consequence and within room size/space constraints?
- and that their effectiveness is not particularly sensitive to the size of classes they’ve been teaching (which likely varies across teachers)
- that adding 12 students to each of 5 or 6 sections of daily workload for a teacher will not have some cumulative negative effect (on grading/quality of feedback they provide/retention of “great” teachers). That’s 60 to 72 more students. Individual classes are not the only relevant unit of analysis here! Total workload matters. At even 10 minutes of grading per week for each student, we’ve added 10+ hours of weekly work.
Let’s consider above constraints in the context of New York City.
First, can we figure out who those “great” teachers in 7th/8th grade are… even in Math where value-added scores tend to be more stable, and in the school with the largest number of them in the value-added data released a few years back.
Here are the 8th grade math teachers and 7th grade math teachers with their year over year value-added percentiles. For example, we see that in 2008-09 Dorothy is below average (left of vertical line) but in 2009-10, Dorothy is above average. The same is true for Natalie. Donna is above average both years and two (overlapping) are below average both years. Looking back an additional year, we only have one carry over teacher, Dorothy, who is above average again.
Donna does show up for 7th grade (below), and is above average there as well, but only average back in 2005-06. Otherwise, a) we don’t have that many teachers who even persist in the school from year to year, and b) those who do have percentile ranks that jump all over the place.
So, it’s not really so easy to find those persistently excellent teachers.
And then what of that class size issue? Do we really think that Donna is going to have an inefficiently small class into which we can shove 12 more students?
The likelihood of that occurring in New York City is not great. Here are school average class sizes in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Here’s a statewide look at the percent of classes already over certain thresholds.
In higher poverty settings, most 8th grade class sizes already exceed 23 students and most in New York City far exceed that. It would be utterly foolish to extrapolate the assertion of minimal downside to increasing an NYC 8th grade math class from, say, 32 up to 44 students (if the room could even hold them).
One might assert that affluent suburban Westchester and Long Island districts with much smaller average class sizes should give more serious consideration to this proposal, that is, if they are a) willing to accept the assertion that they have both “bad” and “good” teachers and b) that parents in their districts are really willing to permit such experimentation with their children? I remain unconvinced.
As for leading private independent schools which continue to use small class size as a major selling point (& differentiator from public districts), I’m currently pondering the construction of the double-decker Harkness table, to accommodate 12 students sitting on the backs of 12 others. This will be a disruptive innovation like no other!