Teays Valley Education Association

Formerly TVCTA

The Daily Update

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April 27, 2015

Leading the News

Minnesota House Republicans Pass $157 Million Education Budget.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune (4/26, Lopez) reported that Minnesota House Republicans passed an education budget bill that boosts spending by $157 million, which the paper says has been deemed “paltry” by DFL opponents. Republicans highlighted the bill’s increases for early education, the reduction of the impact of seniority during layoffs, and the easier licensing process for out-of-state teachers. House Education Finance Committee chairwoman Rep. Jenifer Loon said the bill will help with “tackling the achievement gap” and will add “flexibility” for school spending. The paper notes the Senate, controlled by the DFL, has proposed $350 million in new spending, while Governor Mark Dayton has proposed $695 million, which includes his proposal for universal preschool.

        The St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press (4/26, Magan) reported that lawmakers realize that lawmakers “realized a larger school spending increase was the key to a budget deal” and that Republican Rep. Anna Wills said before the debate began that she was excited to use the conference committee to help with “getting that number to rise.” Lobbyists for schools have argued that increases under 2 percent annually for general funds will lead to staff and program cuts. The House bill represents only a .6 percent increase. Loon said that the bill “focuses like a laser beam on initiatives to close the achievement gap.” An amendment to disbar students from using bathrooms that do not align with birth gender was added, which the DFL called “discriminatory.”

        The AP (4/26, Farhang) reported that the bill is “setting up a clash” with Democrats and that Democrats argue the funding won’t keep pace with inflation. The paper also noted that both the House and Senate “are passing” on Dayton’s plan to create high-quality universal preschool.

In the Classroom

Colorado Students Take Part In State Science And Engineering Fair.

The Fowler (CO) Tribune (4/26) reported that two students from Fowler took part in the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, which featured 340 projects between April 9 and April 11. The Tribune then detailed the award-winning projects, which focused on biofuels and animal science.

Harvard Professor Gives Framework For Schools To Work With Families.

The Oregonian (4/26, Wang) reports that Harvard lecturer Karen Mapp spoke at the Children’s Institute’s luncheon Friday and argued that successful schools have to treat families as partners rather than clients, supplements, or, in the words of the paper, “people who need saving.” She adds that working with families takes more time and energy but leads to better results. Along with the ED, Mapp has created a framework for working with families, which includes families understanding what their children are learning, building relationships between teachers and parents, and making families feel like they are real partners in the process.

School Cuts AP Testing Requirements, Passes As Many Students As Before.

The Washington Post (4/27, Mathews) reports that Oregon’s Corbett Charter School, which the Post previously deemed one of the most challenging high schools in the US, has decided to take “the unusual step” of reducing AP offerings, “illuminating a controversy about how much challenge students in top schools need.” Corbett fell from one of the top 10 toughest schools to 41st this year because the school’s leader “softened” his approach to AP tests, which drive up the score for the rankings. Superintendent Bob Dunton said that the change came as seniors were “overwhelmed” by AP courses, often “against their wills,” which he said was “unlikely to produce positive results.” The school allowed students to opt out and take non-AP courses this year, but the school had as many passing exams as before and a record rate of passage.

Florida Test Reduction Law Has Led To “Confusion.”

The Orlando (FL) Sentinel (4/26, Postal) reported that a Florida law intended to reduce testing “has so far led mostly to confusion” with some district eliminating tests while others believe “they didn’t think they could.” The repeal of “much-criticized” requirements that schools administer a final exam in courses as early as kindergarten and in electives such as yearbook has been lauded, but Orange County school districts have indicated that they believe student test-score requirements mandate the tests. Miami-Dade County school district’s superintendent eliminated 300 tests on Thursday, which the district superintendent said was “the most aggressive decommissioning of testing in the state of Florida, if not in the country.” The Florida DOE will provide “technical assistance” to schools by May 6.

Bronx Science Fair And Mentorship Allows Students To Work In STEM Fields.

The New York Times (4/24, Hu, Subscription Publication) profiles Bronx SciFest, a science competition run by Lehman college, which pairs students with mentors for research projects. The program is “the borough’s version of the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search,” and graduates have been accepted to top tier colleges and are studying STEM subjects.

On the Job

Oklahoma DOE Working On Teacher Equity Plan.

The Tulsa (OK) World (4/27) reports that the Oklahoma Department of Education is working to comply with Federal teacher equity requirements with its Educator Equity Plan, which must be submitted to ED by June. The piece explains the mechanics of the plan, which is meant to measure how often “minority and impoverished children are taught by inexperienced, unqualified or out-of-field teachers compared to rates in which other children are taught by those teachers.”

        Oklahoma DOE Working On Plan To Address Educational Inequity. The AP (4/27) reports that the Oklahoma DOE is devising a plan to help students receive “equitable access to excellent educators” as part of the ED’s Educator Equity Plan. The plan is due by June 1 and requires states to calculate “equity gaps” and analyze the cause of these gaps. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said that the solution will require better retention, noting that 40 percent of those with education degrees either leave the state or the profession within five years.

Los Angeles District Will Add Exceeds Standards Rating For Teachers If Tentative Deal Holds.

The Los Angeles Daily News (4/25, Himes) reports that “after years of union resistance,” Los Angeles Unified School District teachers will allow the district to determine if certain teachers “exceed standards” if a tentative deal with the teachers union holds. National Council on Teacher Quality Evaluation Monitor Nancy Waymack calls the move “a bit of a punt” because teachers “weren’t able to get what they wanted in negotiations.” Union members and board members will vote on the deal in May. The agreement includes over 10 percent raises next year and a one-time payout of 5 percent of annual salaries for this summer. The district hopes that the new evaluation system’s preservation of Federal funding will help cover the cost of the raises. The agreement also bars the firing of teachers that simply meet standards rather than exceed them.

Oklahoma Teacher Drought Worsens.

The Tulsa (OK) World (4/27, Eger) reports that Oklahoma’s teacher shortage “is worsening” and that vacancies for jobs remain, stretching current resources. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has called for five more days on the school year and $5,000 teacher salary increases within five years amid a budget shortfall. The state’s schools are 1,000 teachers short, and the state DOE has issued five times the number of emergency teaching certificates for 2014-2015 as it did two years ago. Hofmeister said that the state “cannot have higher academic attainment for kids without enough permanent professionals in the classroom.” A new law just signed eases the transition for out-of-state teachers to become certified.

Law & Policy

ED Rejects Colorado’s Bid To Let Districts With High Numbers Of Opt-Outs Escape Consequences.

Chalkbeat Colorado (4/24) reports that on Friday, ED rejected Colorado education officials’ request “to hold school districts harmless for high rates of opt-outs” from state testing. In a letter, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle told Colorado Education Commissioner Robert Hammond that such flexibility “will hinder efforts to improve schools and reduce inequities.” The piece notes that in some districts, “far fewer” than the required 95% of students have taken the tests. Delisle wrote, “High-quality, annual, statewide assessments provide information on all students so that educators can improve educational outcomes, close achievement gaps between subgroups of historically underserved students and their more advantaged peers, increase equity, and improve instruction.” The Denver Post (4/25, Gorski) also covers this story.

More Than 12 States Report Problems With Computerized Tests.

The “Answer Sheet” blog of the Washington Post (4/25, Strauss) reports that according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (“FairTest”), several states have reported issues in administering their computer-based Common Core standardized tests. Citing a list of headlines from across the US, FairTest says the ongoing problems “reinforces the conclusion that the technologies rushed into the marketplace by political mandates and the companies paid to implement them are not ready for prime time.”

States Planning To Hold Test Makers Accountable.

The AP (4/24, Ho) reports that education officials in Nevada, Montana, and North Dakota are considering their legal options to hold test makers and administrators “accountable over the botched Common Core assessments, as it becomes more likely that some schools won’t be able to meet the federal testing mandate.” The article describes the “logistical nightmare” in which New Hampshire-based testing vendor Measured Progress suffered a “widespread system crash,” stymieing test takers in several states.

Illinois Students, Parents Question PARCC Exam.

The Chicago Tribune (4/24, Rothschild, Huebner) carries a report from high school paper The Mash on concerns among students, parents, and educators in Illinois over the Common Core-aligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam. The article examines concerns about the test’s administration and students’ ability to opt out of taking it, noting that the option “raises the question of the effectiveness of increased standardized testing.” The article also notes that concerns over the amount of preparation students put toward the test reflect national trends that too much testing could diminish their desire to learn.

        Lawmakers Consider Formal Opt-Out Policy. The AP (4/24, Lester) reports that the Illinois Legislature is considering a measure “that lays out exactly how students can opt out” of the test; the bill follows a dispute between the state board of education and Chicago Public Schools over its implementation, as well as critics’ questions over the tests’ “difficulty and real benefit to students.” The bill, introduced by state Rep. Will Guzzardi and supported by the Chicago Teacher’s Union, would update school rules to allow students with written permission from a parent or guardian not to take the test. Noting that students are already choosing not to take the test, Guzzardi said, “The only thing that this bill will change is to create clear, concise rules about how that will happen.”

New Jersey Reportedly Considering Penalties For PARCC Opt-Outs.

According to the New Jersey Newsroom (4/27), the website NJ.com reported that New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe said the state’s Department of Education could implement a “corrective action plan” for public schools which fail to meet a 95% participation rate for the PARCC exam. Hespe reportedly said such action could involve additional informational meetings about the tests, meetings with parents, and consideration of a school’s participation rate.

Safety & Security

Opinions Over School Security Funding.

The Lansing (MI) State Journal (4/27, Greco) reports that 16 Lansing, Michigan area school districts have spent $6 million to upgrade security, an “expensive effort” that “some say is unneeded.” Northeastern University professor James Alan Fox argues that more building security doesn’t prevent shootings. Fox adds that there is “a tremendous abundance of hysteria and fear” that is “way out of proportion” with actual security needs. That said, 33 of the state’s 48 weapons-related expulsions took place in the Lansing school district. Grand Ledge Superintendent said that the district is “always looking for the next opportunity to make our kids safe” and is considering new technology to help lock down the school. The article then details district expenditures on security.

School Finance

Early Education Likely To Receive Much Of Oregon’s Education Priorities Spending.

The Portland (OR) Tribune (4/27, Wong) reports that early education programs “are the likely winners” in the “scramble” for $60 million Oregon has allotted to “targeted education priorities,” adding that the fighting for the money has been intense in part because the original request from former Governor John Kitzhaber was for $220 million. State Sen. Chuck Thomsen noted that early childhood programs have plenty of support, though the Tribune says Thomsen believes some other programs “deserve more serious consideration that he thinks they are getting.” These include plans to boost reading skills by age 10, teacher training, help for minorities, improving graduation rates, and more STEM emphasis. The final decision will come following a report on the state’s economy on May 14.

Friday's Lead Stories

 • Miami-Dade Ditching Most Standardized Tests.
 • Indiana ISTEP Testing Stymied By Glitches.
 • New Jersey Teachers Union Urges State Chief Not To Punish Schools For Opt-Outs.
 • New York Common Core Opponents Leak Test Images.
 • Tennessee School Voucher Program To Fund Disabled Students Passes Legislature.
 • Bullying May Increase For Some As School Year Ends.
 • DC Budget Hearings Targets Lack Of Investment In Schools.

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It's  ALL about the kids!

The Teays Valley Classroom Teachers Association welcomes you to our little website. Your association only exists for the service of the members, and we hope that this website will fit that role. The goals here are to place news from each of the buildings, from the Association, and from the state and national affiliates.





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