Thursday, June 30, 2005

Border Freebies: Using The Race Card To Get An Education

Isn't hypocrisy an interesting thing?

A few weeks ago, Mexican President Vicente Fox uttered some remarks that many considered to be
racist toward African Americans. He later expressed "regret" over the comments but never apologized for making them.

And now CNN is telling us that the Mexican Government has issued a set of postage stamps that
features characters based on black stereotypes.

I remember that a few years ago the State of California passed a law requiring mandatory automobile liability insurance (or other form of financial responsibility such as a cash bond) for everyone operating a motor vehicle within the state. Drivers of automobiles and trucks with Mexican plates were expected to comply with the law like everyone else.

Almost immediately, officials of the Mexican Government began screaming charges of "Racism!"

Instead of confronting the rhetoric, the state government quickly backed down; drivers of autos with Mexican plates were (and are) exempted from California's financial responsibility law.

Of course drivers of American licensed vehicles are routinely arrested, taken to jail, and incarcerated by Mexican authorities for being unable to pay compensation when they are involved in auto accidents south of the border.

I also remember that a few years ago a number of school districts in California's "Imperial" Valley (where I teach) expressed concern over the large number of youngsters from the border city of Mexicali, Mexico, who were being driven across the border each morning in order to illegally attend Imperial County public schools.

Predictably, the local Mexican consul began the ceaseless cry of "Racism!" into the microphones of our local broadcast (English and Spanish) media.

Attempts by school officials to reduce the number of fraudulent enrollments by watching for cars bearing Mexican license plates dropping-off students (I've personally witnessed this.) near school campuses were soon abandoned.

During the last school year, several hundred students living in Mexicali took advantage of continued lax enforcement of residency requirements in order to obtain a free education at taxpayer's expense. A reporter for the local paper, The Imperial Valley Press,
just received an award for covering the story.

My guess is that nothing will change in the upcoming school year; hundreds of children living in Mexicali will continue getting a free K-12 education in Imperial County public schools courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. Ironically, many of these students are from relatively affluent families.

And nobody will do a thing about it.

In Mexico, students must pay tuition to attend public high school.
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What's In A Name?

What's in a name? Apparently, a whole lot of money when it comes to naming schools and other facilities in some districts around the country. It seems like this is a new trend:

A suburban Detroit school district has decided to sell naming rights to buildings and athletics facilities.

The Board of Education for Plymouth-Canton schools unanimously decided Tuesday night to allow the district to sell the rights.

A growing number of districts are establishing similar policies that allow for naming football stadiums, soccer fields and schools after corporate donors.

In approving the new policy, Plymouth-Canton board members said the state isn't providing enough revenue for the district.

"As long as (lawmakers) ... break their promise to provide adequate funding for schools, schools are going to have to ... look for additional sources of revenue," said board President Mark Slavens.

Parent Dianne Gonzalez said the district can't afford to turn down money. "We're to the point now where we just need money." Naming a new elementary school could cover up to 51% of its costs, officials said.

The district could create hyphenated names for schools, which may include a school name with a mention of a corporate sponsor.

"You're not going to see a 'Pepsi Elementary' or 'SBC Elementary,'" said board member Richard Ham-Kucharski. "You may see 'Dodson Elementary, presented by SBC.'"

I have mixed feelings about this. I realize that schools are more cash-strapped than ever, and by selling "naming rights," a school district may obtain a quick infusion of cash almost painlessly. On the other hand, some things just shouldn't be for sale. If we start selling even our schools' names to the highest bidder, what example does that set to the community? Would some infer that if this aspect of education is "for sale," what aspect isn't?

But then again, there is that prospect of having building costs "picked up" by the private sector and not by the taxpayer. It's a very enticing proposal.

But then again, are we really ready to accept something like "Stanford University presented by Colgate-Palmolive?"

Food for thought...

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Carnival Of Education: Week 21

Welcome to the twenty-first edition of The Carnival Of Education. Here we have assembled a variety of interesting and informative posts from around the EduSphere that have been submitted by various authors and readers. As with other editions, those entries that were selected by us appear at the bottom of the page. We believe that this collection represents a wide spectrum of topics, political/educational viewpoints, and writing styles.

We would like to say a great big "Thank You" to last week's guest host, Jenny D. Her work always helps to keep the carnival fresh and we are frankly envious of her ability to organize the midway in a most engaging fashion.

For those that would like to peruse "back editions" of the Carnival, readers will find a complete set of archives at the bottom of this post.

As always, the secret for having a well-attended Carnival is publicity. Please consider helping to spread the word. The more folks that know about this collection of exhibits, the more that will "drop-in" and visit the midway. Trackbacks, links, and mentions all help.

And, of course, your comments and constructive criticism are always most welcome.

An Invitation: All writers and readers of education-related posts are invited to contribute to the twenty-second edition of The Carnival of Education. Please send your submissions to: owlshome[at]earthlink[dot]net. Contributions should be received no later than 10:00 PM (Eastern) 7:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, July 5, 2005. The Carnival midway will open here at the 'Wonks next Wednesday morning.

And now.... let's see what the midway has to offer this week.

The first stop on the week's Carnival midway is at that of last week's guest host Jenny D. In a recent post, Jenny discusses questions that have arisen regarding a survey by the Educational Testing Service (EDS) that concluded there was a disconnect between the respective beliefs of parents and educators regarding a variety of educational outcomes, including achievement levels of economically disadvantaged/minority students as well as very different views regarding The No Child Left Behind Act.

Would you believe that there are actually superintendents out there who would take a teacher to task because the teacher concentrates on technology skills and worries about how his students will compete in the global economy? Writing at Remote Access,
Clarence has some thoughts about what educators should be doing to help prepare students for the new realities of the 21st century economy. Here is one key word from the post: China.

You would think that teachers should be able to pass a relatively-simple assessment of their knowledge in teaching techniques for non English-speaking students who are in the process of learning English. Megan, who is a teacher that practices in California, would like to know why
some teachers can't manage to pass this test. (As a California teacher myself, I've taken and passed the test, [known as the CLAD] and I can affirm that it's not difficult, at least for those who have studied the material.)

Teachers don't do all their teaching in the classroom. Over at Education In Texas, Mike
is telling us about how he and his nephew used to enjoy flying remote controlled aircraft together. That was then. This is now. His nephew, Marine Corps 1st Lieutenant John Simmons, will be receiving his aviator's wings next month!

A number of MSM articles have pointed out that students who write long answers on the essay components of high-risk tests such as S.A.T. are usually awarded higher scores despite the fact that responses may have been poorly organized and full of spelling and grammatical errors. Chocolate and Gold Coins
is asking a good question: Why do so many students simply regurgitate information without really organizing it?

"Student achievement must be a priority, but if style is getting in the way of that, then you need to change that [style]." These are the words of Minneapolis school superintendent Thandiwe Peebles, who has high expectations for student achievement and is determined to close the "achievement gap" between minority and white students. Scholar's Notebook
has all the details.

Do the laws of economics apply to teacher demand and supply? It has often been observed that if teacher salaries are high, the supply of teachers competing for those jobs will also be high. Over at Me-ander, Muse
links to a New York Times article (you may need to register) that illustrates the concept of Teacher Demand And Supply as well as answers to one of life's mysteries: What do some teachers do during summertime?

Alexander Russo is a well-published education writer whose site This Week In Education features a weekly roundup (published most Fridays) of education-related articles from online sources, print media, and posts from a variety of blogs. In
a recent post, This Week takes a well-reasoned look at the Times article that is referenced above.

I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or tear my hair out in clumps when I read this post from Number 2 Pencil. Would you believe that that State of Virginia is
phasing out a basic teacher certification test and replacing it with one that doesn't have a math component? This means that some teachers will become licensed without ever having passed a test in the most basic math concepts. As a teacher in California, I can affirm that the math on the test that California uses (the CBEST) is written at about the ninth-grade level and many would-be teachers have great difficulty passing it.

California teacher Darren, who blogs at Right on the Left Coast,
also has some thoughts on how much math a teacher should know:
Teachers, however, are another story. Teachers need to know more than what they teach. A third grade teacher who cannot do fourth grade math--and that includes fractions, folks--cannot adequately prepare students for the next grade. If they could, why not just have smart high school students teach elementary level math? They know plenty more than the third-graders.
It's graduation day over at the New York City high school where Girlontheescape teaches. Even though she's delighted to see her students graduate, the forward-thinking writer of Se Hace Camino Al Andar is already planning for next year. Now if only colleagues who have a problem would talk to their administrator first before complaining to the teachers union representative...

Should the United States military welcome gays within its ranks? Education commentator Jerry Moore
takes a high school counselor to task over the counselor's letter to the paper which was critical of an officers explanation of current Department of Defense policy.

What is a department head, and why would a school ever need one? Even though our fairly-large junior high school doesn't really have any department heads, (we sure could use 'em) many institutions do and David of Ticklish Ears
may have to get used to the idea of becoming a department head at a North Carolina University.

When is a school year finally considered to be over? Graduation day? Not if you work at the California community college where Radagast teaches. His school year doesn't end until after he has dealt with
all the students that are begging for grade changes. Don't miss the student that wanted "extra credit" for perfect attendance even after taking his brother to the airport!

Why do low-Socio Economic Status students do poorly on standardized tests? This is one of the hottest topics in education today. Quincy, over at News, The Universe, and Everything
discusses the incessant charge of testing bias.

Not being a Math teacher myself, I've only a nodding acquaintance with the debate over "ethnomathematics." Stephan, over at Ziggurat Math
is sounding the alarm that teaching "culturally sensitive math" would be counterproductive to increasing student achievement and therefore hurts the children that it is supposed to help.

Apples are to oranges what schools are to home-teaching. Did you know that some have tried to compare the "costs" of homeschooling vs. those of formal institutions? The Headmistress over at The Common Room
helps us understand that many of the "costs" of homeschooling really aren't costs at all.

Is there ever a time when students should be banned from displaying the flags and other symbols of ethnic or cultural heritage? At Rhymes With Right, Greg
expresses his concerns about how one school's efforts to ban student displays of the Confederate battle flag resulted in the banning of all flags (except Old Glory) and that this might have exceeded the bounds of constitutionality.

Have you ever personally struggled against an educational institution or teachers union? Perhaps you know someone who has? If you do, Stop The Blackmail!
would like to hear from you for a book that they are writing about "Education Martyrs."

My goodness, college isn't cheap. We all knew that. But did you know that Political Calculations
has come up with a nifty little device that shows you estimated costs after they are adjusted for inflation and your investments? They even use my alma mater, Florida State University, as an example. With a soon-to-be-college-age daughter, the math is scary...

Professor Plum has learned that the honchos of a Certain School of Education are very nervous about a proposed study to learn how much (or how little) education students know about how to teach reading. The Professor
shows us to what lengths they will go to in order to avoid being found out....

The proposal to require high school students in the Philadelphia school system to take a class in African history
got the attention of Eric over at Classical Values one morning. This led him to consider why so many kids are completing high school without having adequate skills in reading and writing as well as some possible remedies.

Should colleges and universities be training grounds for workers? Or should they be places that produce scholars? Over at Going To The Matt,
he wrestles with the concept that all students should be required to take 9 courses that cannot be waived. (If you were to choose a basic list of courses, what would they be? It's an intriguing concept...)

As the father of a 13-year-old daughter, (the TeenWonk) I immediately took a great deal of interest when I read this post. Multiple Mentality
has brought to our attention the fact that the Pentagon has hired a private company to compile a data base on most of the nation's 16-18-year-olds. (I try to keep impartial when compiling the Carnival, but I can see no viable reason why the government should allow any company to have access to confidential information about our children. The notion of any for-profit concern having this information greatly concerns me.)

At Crossblogging they
have published a resolution by The Southern Baptist Convention which calls upon members to take a critical look at their community schools curriculum, texts, and programs. The resolution also urges that parents participate in school activities and get to know their children's teachers.

Here is an idea that I've never heard of before: What if all children were to attend private schools? A mother of four boys, Holly Aho, who writes A Soldier's Angel,
urges just that. She firmly believes that private schools would do the best job of educating children, at least through the eighth grade. She bases her assertion on her own experiences as a student as well as those of her son, who attended public as well as private schools.

Coach Brown teaches history at California's Ukiah High School. His site, A Passion For Teaching And Opinions, was one of the first to report the landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court called Kelo vs. New London. If you are a homeowner, (or hope to be) you might want to
consider taking a look at this post.

And now for some entries selected by the Editors:

Mz. Smlph is one of a number of teachers that have been participating in Teach for America. She has just finished her second year of teaching in an undisclosed southern town. With a little time on her hands, she
has written an introspective post about several different topics, including her summertime gig as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
has some important news regarding the untimely death of John Walton (son of the late Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart) and what it means to education.

Would you believe that a junior high school in California allowed all of its eighth grade students to participate in the school's "promotion ceremony" even though one fourth of them failed to meet the "graduation requirements?" Well, it really happened and Joanne Jacobs
has all the details.

Tim, at Assorted Stuff, is attending the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC). This is the place to be if you are interested in technology in the classroom. But if you are like me and can't attend, then don't miss Tim's
reports from the conference itself!

Dave Shearon
takes a thorough look at all the ballyhoo surrounding the recent improvement in test scores in Nashville's public school system. He concludes that appearances can be deceiving.

Finally, here at The Education Wonks,
we humbly submit for your approval our take on how two California school districts (including ours) modified their dress codes in response to gang violence in the schools.
Carnival Archives

The first edition can be seen here, the second, here the third, here the fourth, here, and the fifth, here the sixth, here the seventh, here the eighth, here the ninth, here the tenth, here the eleventh here the twelfth here, the thirteenth, here the fourteenth, here the fifteenth, here, the sixteenth, here the seventeenth, here the eighteenth, here the nineteenth, here, and the twentieth, over there. To get to EdWonk's main page, (with a variety of education-related posts) please click here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Testing Scandal In Long Island: Why Wasn't This Prevented?

An assistant principal of a Long Island, New York high school has been arrested and charged with giving his son the answers to the Regents' global history exam. This assessment is one of the Regents' Examinations that are taken by high school students in New York State. Students must pass five multiple-choice examinations in order to receive a Regent's Diploma:
Isben Jeudy, 40, was released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty at his arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead before Judge Valerie Bullard, said a spokesman for state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

According to Spitzer and state Education Commissioner Richard Mills, Jeudy was responsible for keeping the questions and answers to the year-end final exams secure as part of his duties as assistant principal at Jericho High School. The exams are administered by the state Board of Regents - the overseer of school policy.

Last Tuesday, an official at John Glenn High School in Elwood - about 20 miles east of Jericho - discovered Jeudy's son, Jerrell Jeudy, 16, had blue writing on his hand while taking the same global history Regents exam, Spitzer and Mills said in a joint statement.

A closer look by a teacher overseeing the exam found the teenager's hand allegedly had "an exact copy of the answers to approximately 35 questions" from the multiple choice portion of the test, the statement said.

Glenn school officials then contacted Henry Grishman, superintendent of the Jericho schools, who found that the global history Regents exam answer key had been unsealed. Under normal circumstances, the answer key is not to be opened until after the exam is over; in this case, that would have been several hours later, officials said.

Grishman said a letter is being sent to all parents of high school students in Jericho, telling them that the "incident will not compromise the validity of any of our June Regents examinations."
If Jeudy is adjudicated guilty of the allegations, he will pay a very heavy professional price for his alleged misjudgment in addition to whatever legal sanctions are imposed by the court.

He was to begin a new job as principal at the Uniondale School District, and regardless the legal outcome, his career prospects will probably be damaged.

Which would be tragic if he is innocent of the charges.

Of course the effect on Jeudy's son will be traumatic, as it is highly likely that he will mistakenly assume that he was responsible for ending his father's professional career. This would be a heavy burden for any young person to bear.

Let's hope that this is an isolated case, and that there were no other testing irregularities.

One question that needs to be asked is this: Why would the answers to such a high-stakes assessment be in the unsupervised custody of any school site or district administrator? Common sense would seem to indicate that those who would have an inherent interest in an examination (such as school site/district administrators) should never be in the possession of test answers.

The exams could be sent to one (or several) centralized locations for scoring. The establishment of such a protocol should be relatively easy to operationalize. Considering the high-stakes nature of these examinations, security should be a priority. Frankly, we are puzzled why this hasn't been done before.

This whole sad episode (and possibly others that have gone unreported) should have been avoided.
Entries for the 21st edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight by 10:00PM (Eastern) 7:00 PM (Pacific). Please send entries to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. The Carnival's midway should open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning.

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Carnival Entries Are Due!

Entries for the 21st edition of The Carnival Of Education are due TONIGHT. We should receive them no later than 10:00 PM. (Eastern) 7:00 (Pacific). Please note the time change. Send all submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. View last week's edition (guest hosted by Jenny D.) here.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the carnival's midway should open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning.

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Welcome To The EduSphere!

It's always exciting to learn of new voices in education. Today, we are adding not just one but two sites to the EduSphere:

BionicTeacher is a site that is written by Tom "W," who is an ex-English teacher soon-to-be technology trainer with a Virginia school district. We are very much looking forward to sharpening our own technology skills as we read what BionicTeacher has to say about the ever-increasing use of applied technology in educational settings.

Education In Texas is written by Mike, who is a science and technology teacher in Texas. Mike writes about a number of education-related topics, with an especial interest in how the "No Child Left Behind Act," and state-mandated high-stakes testing affect public education.
Entries for the 21st edition of The Carnival Of Education are due tonight by 10:00PM (Eastern) 7:00 PM (Pacific). Please send entries to: owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net. The Carnival's midway should open here at the 'Wonks Wednesday morning.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Gang Apparel In Schools: How Two California School Districts Reacted

In many areas, schools have become fertile recruiting-grounds for street gangs. In some districts, the schoolyard has become a battlefield where members of opposing gangs almost routinely engage in acts of violence. Oftentimes, the victims of such gang-related violence are innocent bystanders. In order to address this problem, many school districts have found it necessary to further modify their student dress codes. Sadly, this is now taking place in primary schools:
Due to rising gang concerns, elementary school students in Turlock may soon be held to the same clothing standards as middle and high school students, according to one school district administrator.

Ed Felt, Turlock Unified School District's assistant superintendent of secondary education, said trustees will vote on a proposal at their July 5 board meeting to add kindergarten through sixth-grades to the district's already-adopted gang-related clothing guidelines.

Last December, trustees voted guidelines in place for seventh- through 12th-graders, citing an attempt to be proactive in stopping possible gang violence on school grounds.

Among other restrictions, clothing guidelines prohibit solid red or blue shirts and the wearing of any hats that do not contain school logos.

"After meeting with principals, we thought the current guidelines should be extended to elementary schools," Felt said. "The goal is to have intervention and educational practices at the earliest levels to prevent gang activity."

Clothing is not only a way gangs display their colors, but it is an introductory method of gang recruitment, according to Felt.
It was in response to the high-level of violent gang activity that the California elementary school district in which I teach adopted a policy of "mandatory" student uniforms back in 1997.

Initially, the District's educrats and their tame school board refused to consider adopting any variation of a student uniform, but after a vociferous group of parents (numbering over 200) petitioned the governing board, the board relented and agreed to survey parental preferences. Questionnaires were then distributed to the parents at the various "open houses" around the district.

The board did this in spite of the fact that there was a smaller, but equally vociferous, group of (mostly affluent) parents who were opposed to any type of student uniform.

About 80% of the district's parents returned the survey. Of these, the district said that 91% had indicated a preference for student uniforms. In fairly rapid fashion, the governing board then adopted a "student uniform policy." The policy was implemented during the 98-99 school year.

On the first day of school, our junior high campus was a "sea of blue bottoms and white tops." We teachers noticed an immediate (and positive) difference in overall student attitudes and behavior. As a matter of fact, a number of us teachers also wore (and continue to wear) the "school's uniform" on most school days. It certainly does make it easier to buy my work clothes!

Even though in California parents can "opt-out" of any uniform policy, a surprising number of our district's parents choose not to do so. I don't have any figures, but it would be safe to say that less than 2% of our district's students "opted-out" and have a "uniform waiver."

For us, student uniforms worked. There was a significant reduction in the amount of gang-related violence in our district's middle and junior high schools. (Historically, there had been little gang activity in our district's primary schools.) And even though the administrators at the junior high school where I work have slowly "loosened" the uniform policy, the level of gang-related disciplinary incidents and violence has not returned to pre-uniform policy levels.

Because gang-activity and overall violence at the school sites has been reduced, there is now an on-going discussion in the offices of the district's educrats about whether or not there is a need to continue having "mandatory" student uniforms. Perhaps these district-level educrats have never forgotten that it was the parents (and not themselves) who introduced the notion of school uniforms in the first place. It's quite possible that these district-level educrats are resentful.

Most of us who actually work in the district's classrooms do not wish to see student uniforms go by the wayside. Generally, the district's teachers feel that the continued use of student uniforms helps create an environment that is more conducive to teaching and learning.

Certainly, student uniforms are not the universal solution to the "gang problem" in every school where such concerns exist. But for one mid-sized Southeastern California school district, student uniforms were (and remain) a part of the solution.

Will the new dress code in Turlock have any positive effect on their "gang problem?" That remains to be seen. What is truly sad is that Turlock had to expand it's policy in response to increased gang activity in its elementary schools.

I guess that it's a sign of the times.
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Welcome To The EduSphere!

Here at The Education Wonks, we are always on the look-out for new voices in the world of education. Today, we are pleased to be adding Mary's Madness to the EduSphere. The site is written by "Mary," who is a graduate of Oberlin College and recently earned her Master's degree. After a rough year in an Atlanta area middle school, Mary is actively looking to serve students in school where the focus is on teaching and learning.
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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Who Is The $46,752 Teacher?

Citing a study by the National Education Association, CNN is reporting what many of us who are in the classroom already knew. Teacher salaries are not keeping up with inflation:

Teachers earned an average of $46,752 last year, a slight raise that did not keep pace with inflation, a teachers' union says.

The average salary increased 2.1 percent in 2003-04, according to state figures compiled by the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

The inflation rate was 3.3 percent in 2004. Since 2000, the raise for teachers has ranged from 2.1 percent to 3.8 percent.

Salaries are often seen as an important reason why schools struggle to hire and keep teachers, particularly in subject areas or locations that have frequent shortages of instructors.

The NEA estimates the average salary will increase 2.1 percent again this year.

Over the past 20 years, the typical teacher's salary has grown $24,150, but adjusted for inflation, it has increased only $2,677, or 11.3 percent, the NEA says.

Over the past decade, 15 states have seen a real decline in average teacher salaries when inflation is factored in, the organization says.

In the most recent year, 2003-04, salaries ranged significantly across the states, accounting for cost of living differences and variations in how salary packages are set up.

The top state, Connecticut, paid public school teachers an average yearly salary of $57,337. The District of Columbia was next at $57,009.

South Dakota paid the lowest average salary, $33,236, while Oklahoma was next-to-last at $35,061. The NEA got its figures by surveying state education agencies.

As a classroom teacher, I find it ironic that what is expected of me as a teacher has substantially increased, and yet the rate of compensation that is paid to me has not even kept pace with the constantly-increasing cost of living.

I think it strange that each year folks expect teachers to do more (and better) work without really increasing what they are paid.

And isn't it ironic that the $46,752 "average" teaching salary is what is paid to outstanding as well as average and below-average teachers? But then again, if we were to pay outstanding teachers more than those that are "average" (or below) how does one objectively determine who the outstanding teachers are?
Get entry guidelines to next Wednesday's Carnival Of Education right here. See the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, (guest-hosted by Jenny D.) over there.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Principal Of Singing With The Pops

Here's one of those stories that'll put a smile on your face:
Frances Botelho-Hoeg of Kingston, principal of Duval Elementary School in Whitman, won Friday's POPSearch competition and will sing with the Boston Pops Orchestra at the annual Fourth of July concert on the Esplanade.

"For the first time in my life, I'm speechless," said Botelho-Hoeg, who was one of three finalists who performed Friday with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall.

The performance capped a series that began earlier this month when three semifinalists were chosen.

The three had competed on separate nights and won their respective groups.

The audiences, band and conductor Keith Lockhart all had votes in the semifinal round.

The mother of Friday night's grand prize winner, Beatrice Botelho of Rockland, said her daughter was very nervous before her performance.

"She said the competitors are so wonderful, 'I don't know how they're going to pick one,'" Botelho said.

But after hearing Botelho-Hoeg's rendition of "When You're Good to Mama," one of the judges, entertainment reporter Sara Edwards said, "You were very good to us."

The winner is expected to perform before an estimated crowd of 500,000 on the Fourth of July on the Esplanade in Boston. The PopsSearch 2005 winner is also expected to tour this summer with the Boston Pops for concerts in Philadelphia, Penn., and Washington, D.C.

Hoeg, 55, is principal of Duval Elementary School in Whitman and serves as the elected moderator in Kingston where she has lived for nearly 20 years with her husband Walter.

She won a spot in the semifinal with her rendition of "Send in the Clowns."
Singing for one's supper with the Boston Pops. We couldn't think of a better way to spend the summer!
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High Schools: Another Point Of View

Suzanne Ontiveros, a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times, argues that American high school students may have too much freedom.

Our hometown re-established the "closed campus" at our high schools some years ago...
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Friday, June 24, 2005

Let's Rodeo!

And now for something completely different. Up in Helena, they're having a great time at the Montana High School Rodeo Finals:
With over 250 different riders, ropers and bull doggers taking part there will be six stock contractors on hand to keep fresh horses, steers, bulls, and calves ready for the competitors. Big Circle and Red Eye Rodeo Companies will provide the bucking horses, Pistol Creek Rodeo Company brings the bulls, End of the Trail is in charge of all the timed event cattle, Peggy Smith has the goats, and Ranch provides the cutting cows.
Not to be outdone, the folks over in Pocatello, Idaho, are hosting their state's high school rodeo finals as well:
If you've spent any time out and about in Pocatello recently, you've seen the numbers plastered on the backs of kids wherever you go.

They're all over town: hotels, restaurants, the mall. You can't miss them.

Some of the numbers are laminated. Some are decorated. Some are draped to the side, attached to a belt.

Spot a cowboy competing in the 2005 Idaho State High School Rodeo Finals without one of these numbers and they're out.

In order to compete in the high school finals you've got to adhere to its rules. They're easy to follow, but they're strict. If you're in the arena without Western attire - long-sleeved shirt, hat and boots - don't bother coming back. If you mistreat your horse or any of the stock, start heading home and, again, don't forget that number.

"This is originally a cowboy sport, so I think it's just so you keep the tradition going," said Rigby bareback rider Tyson Smith, 18.

The kids are required to wear the numbers around town, "so people will know they're competing," said Paige Hyde, the secretary for the Idaho State High School Rodeo Association.
Bronco busting, bull-riding, barrel racing, calf-roping. Who would've thought that in these lawsuit-infested times that kids could still be allowed to have this much fun?

To learn the fascinating story of competitor Austin Martiny (pictured) click here.
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Thursday, June 23, 2005

More Testing Woes: How Does One Test Good Writing?

In North Carolina, the results of the latest administration of the state's writing test showed some disappointing results:
Statewide last year, fewer than half the students in the three tested grade levels earned passing scores. Fourth-graders improved from the previous year, seventh- graders showed little change, and 10th-graders lost ground.

Even though about half of the state's students scored below proficient levels, Fabrizio said thousands were within easy reach of passing the writing test. Tens of thousands of students are a couple of points shy of passing scores.

Students can receive a maximum of 20 points on the test, with a score of 12 as passing or proficient -- known as Level III in the state's scoring system. Among the 101,758 fourth-graders tested last year, for example, 24,187 of them scored a 10. Among seventh-graders, 38,032 of the 107,035 earned a score of 10.
As is so often the case, students from more affluent areas scored higher on the tests, but educators in these higher-scoring areas also expressed concerns about the test:
Performance was better in several Triangle school districts, but even in the highest-scoring system, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, fewer than 75 percent of students at any of the three grades received proficient scores.

But Triangle educators wonder whether the state has set standards that often are too difficult for students and schools to meet. In fourth grade statewide, fewer than 2 percent of students earned a score greater than 16 points -- which represents the top achievement rung, or Level IV. In seventh and 10th grades, fewer than 1 percent earned scores high enough to rank in Level IV.

Fewer than two-tenths of 1 percent of seventh-graders and fewer than three-tenths of 1 percent of 10th-graders scored in the top tier.

"Either the expectations are too high or the prompts are too difficult," said Diane Villwock, testing director for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro system. "Every year these scores come out, there's frustration. In schools where they've worked really hard, there's still a 20-point difference between writing and other state tests."

Villwock said that she would struggle to respond to the prompt 10th-graders were asked to tackle: "Write an article for a school newspaper about the meaning of individuality as it relates to being a member of a group." Students were told to draw from their own experiences, observations or readings as well as a series of seven quotations that they could use.
It seems to me that the prompt used for the 10th grade test may have been better suited to a college-level test, not for a test given to 15 and 16-year-olds.
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Racial Preferences Redux: The Seattle Story

In 2002, parents took Seattle public schools to court in order to stop the school system from using a pupil's skin color as a factor when reviewing applications from parents who were seeking to enroll their children in the public school of their choice.

The parents won, and the Seattle school system was forced to stop using race as a factor. Naturally, Seattle's educrats weren't very happy with the decision.

Now, in 2005, the
educrats and their pet board who run this particular school system aren't about to let the parents get away with telling them what to do.

Nope. The Seattle School District is
finally gonna show those parents who's boss.

Update: (6/27/05) Commenter Jonathan of Overeducation has supplied us with some very convincing evidence that the Seattle School District is indeed responsive to the concerns of parents. Therefore, we have been overly harsh in our criticism of the district's administration. Our assertion that "the educrats and their pet board who run this particular school system aren't about to let the parents get away with telling them what to do," isn't supported by evidence from the source.

Often, (as in my own district) superintendents do come to dominate a school district, and governing boards are simply "rubber stamps" for their (often authoritative) decisions. But absent evidence or intimate knowledge of this situation, we shouldn't have made that assertion.

We thank Jonathan for the Reality Check and for reminding us of the importance of not reading into a MSM source inferences that do not exist, and the importance of choosing one's words with care.

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The Helen DeBerry Story: Was Success Punished?

After only one year, Helen DeBerry was fired from her job as principal of an Illinois charter school. It certainly couldn't have been because she wasn't busy:

The principal at North Lawndale's LEARN Charter School this year shepherded in a new curriculum, hired new staff, helped move the school into a new building and, ultimately, oversaw a 41 percentage point gain in reading test scores -- from 36 percent of kids at the national average to 77 percent.

Both reading and math scores increased -- from 53 percent of students at level in math to 89 percent. These gains were made largely by the same kids.

Her reward?

She was fired by the school's board just before the scores were released, over the objections of many staff and parents.

"The staff and parents have told the board this is the wrong decision, that they're getting rid of the best thing that's happening here," said teacher Kathleen Quinn, who is leading the effort to retain the principal. "We're on the way to being the best school in city."

Helen DeBerry was principal one year, the third principal since the charter opened in 2001 with nearly all low-income kids. Previously, she was principal at another Chicago public school, Earhart, where she also helped dramatically improve test scores.

Charters are public but have boards, often stacked with businessmen, as is LEARN's, that raise funds and make key decisions about their schools. Public schools have local school councils, which hire the principals but are required to give them four-year contracts.

The board president of LEARN (Lawndale Educational and Regional Network) wouldn't comment on DeBerry, saying the board doesn't discuss personnel matters. Local school councils are required to give a reason for a firing if a principal asks.

"I feel I've done everything to get this school established, to raise the level of achievement and put in place a good instructional program," DeBerry said.

Scuttlebut around the district is that real reason behind DeBerry's dismissal was because "a small group" of staff and parents were frustrated by DeBerry's high standards and stricter rules. Others said that she had been "divisive" and had fostered a "less welcoming" environment.
Get entry guidelines to next Wednesday's Carnival Of Education right here.

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The Watchers Council Has Spoken!

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest to see what are the most link-worthy posts from the conservative side of the 'Sphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council."

The Council has met and voted on this past week's submitted posts.

Council Entries: The Sundries Shack took first place with, What’s the Real Question in America? E-Claire placed second with What the Hell's the Matter With US?!? Dr. Sanity won third place with her post, The Media and the Rise of International Terrorism.

Non-Council Entries: Top honors were won by Winds of Change with Zimbabwe Changed My Mind: Guns Are a Human Right. La Shawn Barber's Corner took second place with Anti-Lynching Legislation.
Get entry guidelines for next Wednesday's Carnival Of Education right here.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

All Schools Need This

Does your neighborhood school have one of these?

And if the answer is no, why not?

If the answer is no, when will your school board do something about it?

All students need to feel safe and secure in order to learn...
Be sure to visit this week's Carnival Of Education which is being guest-hosted by Jenny D. The Carnival returns here to the 'Wonks next Wednesday. See entry details here.

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Raising The Bar (Again) In New York State

Related to our recent post about high school exit examinations, we've learned that in the State of New York, students will have to achieve a higher score on their battery of tests (known as the Regents' exams) in order to collect their high school diplomas:
The state Board of Regents announced Tuesday it is raising the bar for high school graduation.

By 2008, students in New York will be required to score at least 65 percent on all five state Regents exams. Right now the Board of Regents allows a passing grade of 55 percent.

The tougher requirements will be phased in over the next four years.

Students entering ninth-grade this fall will have to score at least 65 percent on at least two of the five exams required for graduation. Students must maintain scores of at least 55 percent on the three other tests.

By 2008, scores of at least 65 percent will be required on all five Regents exams.
This may be the start of a trend...
Be sure to visit this week's Carnival Of Education which is being guest-hosted by Jenny D. The Carnival returns here to the 'Wonks next Wednesday. See entry details here.

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It's A Great Day To Go To A Carnival!

The midway of the 20th edition of The Carnival of Education is open over at Jenny D's, with many informative and entertaining exhibits. There is something for everyone; Jenny has done an outstanding job organizing this week's showcase of great writing from around the EduSphere.

The Carnival returns home to the 'Wonks next week. Please send your submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net by 10:00 PM (Eastern) Tuesday, June 28th. The midway should open here next Wednesday morning.

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The Teacher Who Was The Millionaire Next Door

Who would have thought that the retired teacher next door would have done this:
A retired public school teacher who was so frugal that he bought expired meat and secondhand clothing left $2.1 million for his alma mater, Prairie View A&M -- the school's largest gift from a single donor.

Whitlowe R. Green, 88, died of cancer in 2002. He retired in 1983 from the Houston Independent School District, where he was making $28,000 a year as an economics teacher.

His donation shocked family members and friends alike.

"He was a very meager person. I didn't think he had a million," said Beatrice Green, a cousin by marriage. "He'd buy the cheapest things."

Sharon Green Mitchell, another cousin, said Green and her father stopped talking for a couple of years when Green denied owing her dad $6.76. On road trips, Green would equally divide the gas bill among the adults.

He often talked about leaving money to Prairie View, a historically black university. Green graduated in 1936.

"He sacrificed for this. He would always tell us to make your money work for you, and he did," Mitchell said. "I remember him saying, 'I'm going to help black children get an education.' He did it."
Beginning this fall, Mr. Green's generous bequest will be used to fund a number of scholarships, with each student being awarded $2000.

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Educational Capitalism In The New Age

Have you heard the one about the company that bought-up thousands of internet domains for 99% of America's high schools?

BDC Capital, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: BDCI - News) today announced that BDC Partners, its wholly owned subsidiary, has completed the acquisition of more than 23,000 high school and college web domain names. It is believed to be one of the most comprehensive acquisitions of a single category of domain names in e-commerce history.

"We believe that both the individual and the aggregate values of these largely undeveloped domain names hold promise as marketing, communications and outreach vehicles," said Richard Pomije, president and CEO of BDC Capital. "Most educational websites are designated by an '.edu' or '.org' suffix, which often are complex and difficult to remember. Ours are straightforward -- the name of the school and the mascot. And .com and .net remain the most easily memorized addresses."

The company said uses range from sports reporting and marketing, integrated marketing, alumni association membership and communications and contact information.

About 90 percent of the 22,000-plus high schools' domain names acquired by BDC Partners end in ".com," with a much lower percentage ending in ".net". Combined, this represents about 99 percent of all U.S. high schools -- as designated by the name of the high school and the high school's mascot name. For example, BDC now owns the names "" and "," the sites for Edina High School and Eden Prairie High School, in Edina and Eden Prairie, MN, respectively. It owns similar constructs for high schools in all 50 states.

This outfit has already done the same thing for most of the country's colleges and universities.

Even though we have to give them an A+ for creativity, only time will tell what the grade will be for profitability.

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Hey Look, Muffy! Here's A Site Just For Us...

Would you believe that there is a such thing as The Association of Boarding Schools?

Believe it.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

California's High School Exit Exam Woes

From the San Jose Mercury-News, here is a pretty good opinion piece about all the problems with California's High School Exit Examination. (Known as CAHSEE, see the State's website here.) The test's implementation was postponed two years ago. It is planned that beginning in 2006, students who do not pass are to be denied their diplomas. One key passage from the article:
Our research on state graduation policies shows that states that have successfully raised standards and improved graduation rates have done several things California's policy does not yet do:

First, as currently proposed by Assemblywoman Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, AB [Assembly Bill] 1531 would consider students' academic records and performance assessments such as essays, research papers, science experiments and senior projects along with the exam when making graduation decisions.

States like Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island -- all higher achieving than California -- require these kinds of performance assessments as part of the graduation decision. This is both to ensure that the decision is valid -- testing experts agree that important decisions should not be made on the basis of a single test -- and to ensure that students will encounter the kinds of challenging work they will need in college and the real world. Most research finds that too much teaching to multiple-choice tests ultimately "dumbs down'' the curriculum, whereas tasks that require research, writing and oral presentation increase instructional quality and rigor.

Second, nearly all other states have also developed appropriate and valid assessments for students with disabilities and those who are limited-English-proficient -- something California has not yet done. Such alternatives are essential to make the exam legally and educationally defensible, and their lack poses a major problem for California and its students. A recent study, for example, found that 70 percent of California's special-education students have failed the exit exam. So have more than 40 percent of students in the state's 144 lowest-performing schools -- schools that typically lack qualified teachers as well as adequate textbooks and facilities.

Third, they have invested significantly in improving education for at-risk students. Texas, for example, not only offers alternatives for students with special needs, it also allocates $1.1 billion annually to support low-achieving students in high-need districts. By comparison, the recently passed bill by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, SB 517, promises only 5 percent of this amount to support California's struggling students. The handful of states that have enacted exit exams without alternatives have experienced sharp declines in graduation rates, and researchers have found that schools sometimes boost their accountability ratings by pushing out students who score poorly, so that the average scores will go up. Emphasis on drilling for the test has often led schools to neglect higher order skills. One recent study found that states using exit exams as the primary graduation measure not only had higher dropout rates for at-risk students but declines in SAT scores for students as a whole.
My guess is that when it comes time to actually implement the test, one of three things will occur: it will be postponed yet again, "dumbed down" so that a larger percentage pass, or the test will be shelved altogether.

Another alternative is that the exam's importance may be reduced as non-testing factors (such as those addressed by AB 1531) are considered which would allow students to graduate without passing the test.

In 2004, more than 25% of the state's students
did not pass the test. Passing the test was not a requirement for graduation.

The reasons why the test will probably not be implemented as planned have more to do with realpolitik than with pedagogy. When push comes to shove, a significant number of students, possibly as many as 1 in 5, will be unable to pass this examination. It's my opinion that the EduCracy (and their legislative masters in the State Assembly) will be unwilling to deal with the political firestorm that would be caused by the thousands of unhappy parents who will be undoubtedly outraged because their children will not be graduating (in spite of passing report card grades) with their class.

It's going to be a very interesting to see how this plays out.

Entries for tomorrow's edition of The Carnival of Education (Guest hosted by Jenny D) are due tonight by 10:00 PM Eastern. Submissions should be sent to: jdemonte [at] comcast [dot] net. To view last week's Carnival, (as well as entry guidelines) click here.

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British Modesty: Just Saying "No" To Skirts In School

In the United Kingdom, they also have controversies over school dress codes. One middle school in England has now banned skirts on female students:
A school has banned female pupils from wearing skirts so that they can "maintain modesty" in lessons, it emerged today.

Broadstone Middle School in Poole, Dorset, will impose the ban from January next year and rule that all pupils wear full length trousers at the 673 pupil school.

Headteacher Marilyn Warden said the decision had been made by the school’s governors so that boys and girls can join in the same lessons.

The news was given to parents in a newsletter from the school, which teaches children aged nine to 13.

"In order to give girls the same opportunities as boys for a safe, active and healthy lifestyle, while maintaining their modesty, it has been considered by our school governors that trousers for all pupils is a practical and appropriate dress requirement,” Mrs Warden said.

However, some parents are unhappy at the ban on skirts especially in hot weather and think that it has been imposed because of some girls wearing short skirts.
Since this new policy is aimed specifically at female students, some might consider it as a bit of a drag.
Entries for tomorrow's edition of The Carnival of Education (Guest hosted by Jenny D) are due tonight by 10:00 PM Eastern. Submissions should be sent to: jdemonte [at] comcast [dot] net. To view last week's Carnival, (as well as entry guidelines) click here.

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The Marlborough Man Rides Off The Magazine Pages In School Libraries

This is a good idea that's long overdue:

Tobacco ads in school library editions of Time, Newsweek, People and Sports Illustrated magazines will be eliminated under a nationwide agreement announced Monday.

The deal between publishers, tobacco companies and states attorneys general follows a 2003 agreement by publishers and tobacco companies in which tobacco ads were banned from classroom editions of the magazines.

Monday's agreement _ necessary according to officials since school libraries often don't subscribe to the classroom editions _ provides for "selective binding" of those editions beginning this summer. Tobacco companies have agreed to a publishing method that will keep their ads from school library subscriptions.

A survey by the New York State Department of Health Tobacco Prevention Program found 70 percent of libraries in 223 middle schools and high schools had copies of Time, Newsweek, People and Sports Illustrated with tobacco ads. School libraries said the magazines are among the most popular with students.

"About 2,000 kids become new smokers every day, and about a third of them will eventually die prematurely from smoking-related disease," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, co-chairman of the association's Tobacco Committee. "Every step we take is important to reduce this terrible death toll."

Even though cigarette advertising has been banned from television and radio since 1971, tobacco advertising is still commonly found in popular magazines.
Entries for tomorrow's edition of The Carnival of Education (Guest hosted by Jenny D) are due tonight by 10:00 PM Eastern. Submissions should be sent to: jdemonte [at] comcast [dot] net. To view last week's Carnival, (as well as entry guidelines) click here.

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Brinkmanship In Pennsylvania: Teachers' Jobs On The Line

A labor dispute in Pennsylvania's Crestwood School District has become so acrimonious that a union chief has threatened a possible mass resignation if there is no contractual settlement by next fall:
Teachers in a northeastern Pennsylvania school district could find themselves looking for jobs after their union chief said that they would be "unwilling to work" the next school year without a new contract.

The Crestwood School Board took the statement by union president Joseph Chmiola Jr. as a call for mass resignation. The district is threatening to let the entire teaching staff go - a move that labor officials say would be unprecedented in Pennsylvania.

The union contends that Chmiola does not have legal authority to resign anyone but himself and was merely trying to get both sides back to the negotiating table. But school board president William Jones said the meaning of the letter was clear.

The board and the 177-member teachers union have been at each other's throats since 2002, when the last contract expired. But the level of rhetoric ratcheted up considerably last week when Chmiola handed a brief letter to the district's superintendent stating that unless the two sides reached an agreement by fall, "we will be unwilling to work the 2005-2006 school year."

The letter was not a resignation, said union negotiator John Holland. He accused the board of trying to intimidate teachers into accepting an inferior contract by threatening their jobs. If the board does let go of the staff, "they do so at their own peril and they place the district in significant financial jeopardy," Holland said.
According to MSNBC, there are 180 teachers in the district. They confirm that the district is indeed interpreting Chmiola's letter as a mass resignation. The Board will meet on June 28th. On the agenda is a motion to accept or reject the resignations. Teachers desiring to rescind their resignations must do so before the meeting. Meanwhile, the district is planning to advertise for "replacement teachers."

The Times-Leader has the text of a letter from Pennsylvania State Education Association Northeastern Representative John Holland to Crestwood School Board Solicitor Jack Dean. In the letter, Holland insists that there is no resignation:
"I want to make it perfectly clear that no member of the Crestwood Education Association has resigned from their position, nor has, nor could the Crestwood Education Association resign any individual from their position within the Crestwood School District."
The teachers actually did go out on strike last fall, but a judge ordered them back to work after one day. There is to be one last attempt to negotiate a settlement before the "showdown" on June 28.
Entries for tomorrow's edition of The Carnival of Education (Guest hosted by Jenny D) are due tonight by 10:00 PM Eastern. Submissions should be sent to: jdemonte [at] comcast [dot] net. To view last week's Carnival, (as well as entry guidelines) click here.

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Carnival Entries Are Due!

All submissions to this week's Carnival of Education are due tonight by 10:00 PM (Eastern) 7:00 PM (Pacific) at Jenny D's place. Submissions should be sent to: jdemonte [at] comcast [dot] net. The midway will open at Jenny's tomorrow morning. Jenny has the info here.

The Carnival will return here to the 'Wonks next Wednesday. Get more details at last week's edition here.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

The Ultimate In High-Stakes Testing

The ultimate in high-stakes tests are now being given in several areas around the country. The idea is simple: If the student fails the test, then he or she repeats the grade. Not surprisingly, this has sparked a fierce debate:

New York City fifth graders faced a nerve-racking challenge when they sat down in April to take a key citywide achievement test. For the first time, their scores would count. Pass, and they'd move on to sixth grade. Fail, and they would likely be held back.

Such high-stakes exams are becoming more of a fixture in American school systems, and a growing number have learned that the threat of retention can be a strong incentive - although the effect on kids who are held back remains a topic of dispute.

Some New York kids will get a letter over the next few days inviting them to summer school, but most will have reason to celebrate, officials say.

The number of fifth graders who tested proficient in reading on the citywide exam soared 19.5 percent this year - the first in which the class had to pass the test to advance a grade. The number proficient in math climbed 15.2 percent, the school district said this month.

A year earlier, 14,695 fifth graders failed one or both of the tests, but with a grade promotion on the line, that number dropped to 5,636.

New York is learning what some other cities have already learned. Chicago saw achievement test scores rise in the late 1990s after it began requiring children in the third, sixth and eighth grades to pass to advance to the next grade. The best gains came among students in danger of being held back.

Florida saw scores tick higher two years ago after it began requiring third graders to pass a reading test to advance a grade. Texas implemented a similar requirement for third and fifth graders, and also saw scores rise.

"When you have a tough retention policy, at every grade level, the children get better," said Paul Vallas, who was the schools chief in Chicago when it adopted high-stakes testing and now leads the public schools in Philadelphia.

New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said school officials are still looking for the best ways to help those children, but the answer isn't returning to automatic promotions.

A better solution, he said, is devoting more attention to children before they fail.

"The level of our intervention is much more sophisticated now than it has ever been," he said.

In the past two years the city has boosted aid to struggling students, including holding extra classes on Saturdays.

The most recent tests showed that pass rates were higher among students who attended the extra day of sessions. Scores for third, sixth and seventh graders also went up, even though only the third and fifth graders needed to pass a test to advance.

Other help has come from "intervention" experts like Patrick Kutschke, a reading teacher at Public School 101 in East Harlem.

Kutschke spends his time working with groups of five or six children having trouble mastering basic skills. This week, he assessed children headed for summer school, trying to find out why they were having trouble.

Those that are opposed to this particular type of testing point-out that those students who repeat one or more grades are much more likely to fall behind and drop-out of school altogether:
Over time, many of the children forced to repeat a grade fell further behind, dropped out, or languished in special education classes, said University of Chicago researcher Melissa Roderick. Part of the problem, she said, was a lack of remedial help.

"These kids were really, really, really far behind," Roderick said. "For the kids who are being left back, retention does not work."

"These kids were really, really, really far behind," Roderick said. "For the kids who are being left back, retention does not work."
At the California junior high school where I teach, we do have a written "retention policy." But this policy exists only on paper. In practice, we "promote" to the next grade-level even those children who have failed every class and have refused to even attempt school work. (Parents can "veto" any recommendation to retain.) In our 900+ pupil campus, no children have been retained in the past few years.

Social promotion is very much alive and well in Southeastern California.
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