Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Arne Duncan: A Discussion with Students

C-SPAN hosted a discussion between students and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this morning.

The topics covered a wide range, and there were questions asked of the students as well as Secretary Duncan.

I listened to much of it on C-SPAN radio, but plan to re-listen or watch on the Internet soon.

There was discussion about curriculum and local control. No Child left behind and state assessment tests were discussed.

My favorite comment from Arne Duncan involved whether a teacher that brought a student that was three grade levels behind in reading to one grade level behind in one year should be viewed as successful or a failure. Listen to the discussion. I wholeheartedly agree with Secretary Duncan on this one.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Graduate Exams: An attractive idea that turns out to be a disaster?

There is an interesting article in today's New York Times about the new Pennsylvania graduate exam. That is the new test that all high school graduates must pass to get a diploma.
A law adopting statewide high school exams for graduation took effect in Pennsylvania on Saturday, with the goal of ensuring that students leaving high school are prepared for college and the workplace. But critics say the requirement has been so watered down that it is unlikely to have major impact.
"The real pattern in states has been that the standards are lowered so much that the exams end up not benefiting students who pass them while still hurting the students who fail them,” said John Robert Warren, an expert on exit exams and a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Other states have used graduate exit exams, and many have lowered the standards so much that they are meaningless, wasting time, effort, and money, while still managing to hurt some students.

"Education officials in Pennsylvania estimate it will cost $176 million to develop and administer the tests and model curriculum through 2014-15, and about $31 million to administer each year after that."
Since school districts do not have to adopt the state test, but can opt for their own evaluation methods, DVSD will need to decide how they will implement the new graduate evaluation requirement.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Alcohol and college life

This year, The Princeton Review named Penn State the #1 Party School in America.

"This American Life" does a great job of looking at just what this means while investigating drinking at college.

Be careful; listening may change your perspective.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thank you!

I am very appreciate of the support I received from you for election to the Delaware Valley School Board. Thank you, and I look forward to continued collaboration regarding the present and future educational needs of our district and community. Please stay involved.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vote for the first FOUR (and Charles Pike)

Here is the official order of the candidates on the Nov 3, 2009 ballot:

Delaware Valley School District School Director
(Vote for not more than FOUR)

Pam Lutfy (Democratic/Republican)
Sue Schor (Democratic/Republican)
Jack Fisher (Democratic/Republican)
Bill Greenlaw (Democratic)
Robert Goldsack (Republican)

Vote counts from the primary:

Pam Lutfy (1,337 total votes)
Sue Schor (1,269 total votes)
Jack Fisher (1,132 total votes)
Bill Greenlaw (1,106 total votes)
Robert Goldsack ( 674 total votes)

For those that care about political parties: ALL the candidates in this school board race are registered Republicans.

Three of the candidates prevailed in both primaries, the other two candidates rounded out the field of four in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

Please ask all your Republican friends NOT to select the party line vote option, but to vote for the BEST candidates in the school board race.

PA law allows School Board candidates (and candidates for the Court of Common Pleas) to petition to be put on the ballot in the Democratic and Republican primary, regardless of the party affiliation of the candidate. Pennsylvania considers these offices as non-political All of the candidates sought to be listed on both the Democratic and Republican primary ballot.

Charles Pike is the only candidate on the ballot for the two year slot, so it looks like Chuck will be on the DV School Board starting in December. Early Congratulations to Chuck!

Get your absentee ballot aplication NOW!

There is less than a week left to get your absentee ballot application done! If you will not be in the County on November 3, apply for an absentee ballot.

The application must be received by the Board of Elections (in Pike County) by Tuesday October 27, 2009.

After the application is in, they will mail you a ballot. Vote and return the ballot.

You can cast one of the first votes for Greenlaw, Lutfy, Schor, Pike, and Fisher.

A link to absentee ballot applications (and other election information) can be found here: http://www.futureofpikecounty.org/Elections.html

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Merit Pay

There is an interesting discussion of merit pay at the Education Sector's "The Quick and the ED" blog.

The blog entry highlights a couple of perspectives on merit pay:
  • "money is an ineffective motivational tool" for encouraging effective teachers.
and, seemingly conversely, another view:
  • While beginning teacher turnover can be high, rewarding effective teaching may help "to make sure that it’s your most effective teachers who are least likely to quit"
The blogger feels that these perspectives may not be inconsistent:

  • "I don’t think there’s really much distance between these perspectives. Professionals engaged in creative work are more likely to be motivated by autonomy, and by the feeling that they are part of a larger, socially important enterprise, and by working for an organization that employs other similarly-minded professionals, and by being paid well. Successful organizations put all of these pieces together, because if they don’t, someone else will and hire away all the good people."
  • "To recruit and retain good teachers, schools need a lot more than merit pay–they need strong leadership, good facilities, safe working conditions, and the right kind of organizational culture. You can’t paper over the lack of those things by simply tacking on a salary bonus, even a big one, to the existing steps-and-lanes pay scale. That’s what most most “merit pay” plans have been, historically, and that’s why they haven’t worked."

The comments on this blog entry are interesting. On commenter indicates s/he has "served as a consultant to labor unions and a middle manager supervising unionized workers." The commenter makes the point that successful merit based systems should have bargaining unit buy-in and the the administration must be seen as an entity that will not abuse the system:

  • "The Denver ProComp system has survived, despite its struggles, in part because many Denver teachers saw the school superintendent (now a U.S. Senator) as a good-faith CEO who would block abuses of a performance pay system. The union’s participation in designing ProComp gave them a comfort level in supporting it."

I agree. For a merit-based system to be effective all stakeholders must participate in the design and it must be administered in a way that is seen as fair and impartial.