Results of Global Study on School Choice

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tyler B., Nov 10, 2017.

  1. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,718
    Likes Received:
    196

    Nov 13, 2017 at 9:07 AM

    We're in agreement here - I don't support school choice, and the demographic differences between Finland and the US are more likely the explanatory variables in performance difference.

    The challenge is that money is, at best, only a mediating variable - money creates more opportunities, but by itself it doesn't do much. So, in your PTA example above, I'd challenge you to take your example a step further and make an argument about how that money translated into better achievement results for those students.
     
    AlwaysAttend likes this.
  2. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Messages:
    1,893
    Likes Received:
    204

    Nov 13, 2017 at 9:18 AM

    My issue with the quality argument is that it often defaults back to "teachers are working as hard as they can." That frankly isn't relevant to the discussion.

    Here's another analogy:

    A construction worker's job is to hammer in a nail and he does so with all his might for an entire 10 hour day. He works harder than anyone could expect for the task at hand. At the end of the day the nail on which he started is still not set in the wood. It turns out that all day through all that work he was not hitting the nail at all. He missed the head every time. All he has to show for his work is a beat up piece of wood. He failed at his job.

    All that matters is what is happening to our kids. We can blame whomever we'd like, blame any conditions we like, absolve ourselves of responsibility all we like - none of that matters. Too many kids, and schools, are failing and shame on anyone who isn't willing to admit it.
     
    a2z likes this.
  3. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,082
    Likes Received:
    260

    Nov 13, 2017 at 9:58 AM

    I can't draw a straight line from our PTA money to higher achievement. However, in my present school, I have unlimited field trip funds (just for my class), a lab of 30 MacBooks in my class, a PTA budget of $4,000 for supplies and 16 parent volunteers on a weekly basis - including a heart surgeon, the head of psychiatry at the medial school, two university professors, and a slather of moms with postgraduate degrees. These people are eager to do anything to enrich my class.

    Teachers back at my low SES school are likely to have no room parents, even for parties, and a single field trip per grade level. Those teachers are also likely to have meetings nearly every day of the week for IEPs, PBIS, and other programs someone upstairs decided should be implemented to raise scores.

    You tell me if money is translating to better achievement. Every single student in my classes the last two years (except 2 IEP students) exceeded the state standards. At the poor school, I would have only 2 or 3 students exceed standards. I'm the same teacher.

    And Rockguykev, like all teachers, I can't tolerate incompetent staff members, although I rarely encounter people like this. I'm not absolving teachers of their duty to educate their students. I agree that all that matters is what's happening to our kids, and I applaud your passionate devotion to helping kids learn. However, you are wrong if you think poor kids can keep up with the rich without additional resources. I think that we should search for innovations that will allow poor kids to catch up, but choice doesn't work. That's proven.
     
    anon55 and Caesar753 like this.
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,659
    Likes Received:
    882

    Nov 13, 2017 at 10:22 AM

    While there is something to be said for making the best of a bad situation, there is also something to be said for determining the root cause of a problem (even if it seems like the blame game to some), because only then can we enact effective solutions that address the cause and not just the symptoms.

    In Ed's analogy this would mean creating initiatives to promote heart healthy culture among all consumers, and engage food providers and media towards this goal. While the heart surgeon can attempt to save as many lives as they can, if the culture of eating poorly doesn't change, they are likely to see increases in deaths from heart disease even if they are the very best at their job.

    Teachers often focus on only what they can do in the classroom and that is their primary wheelhouse, so it makes sense to want to ignore everything outside of it. But they sometimes forget that their influence often extends outside of the classroom. Teachers can often take leadership positions, in their school sites and in their unions to effect real change in schools, districts, or even the federal education system. Even simply participating as U.S. citizens voting on bills, teachers can make a change, and share their perspectives with other citizens to identify root issues and reasonable solutions as educational professionals. So I think it is useful to "play the blame game" in the long run, even if it might not affect anything immediately. At the very least, an awareness is built about what the issues are so that action can be taken when the opportunity arises.
     
    anon55, Backroads and Caesar753 like this.
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,027
    Likes Received:
    1,822

    Nov 13, 2017 at 10:31 AM

    One tier/level of my multi-level school is failing. We receive a lot of extra funding from a large grant. We are well-funded. Our scores have improved a lot over the past year, but we could still do a lot better.

    Our teachers are very highly trained and highly skilled. I believe that most of our professional and licensed teachers are very effective. I believe that there are a lot of factors outside of school that contribute to our failing scores; I won't get into all of them here.

    One big thing that I think contributes to our failing scores, or at least does not contribute as much to our goal of passing, is that we have numerous teacher vacancy positions staffed by unqualified and underqualified long-term subs. We also have a number of TFA teachers on campus. While I believe that the hearts of these folks are in the right place, their skill sets leave a lot to be desired. It's hard to get our school's math scores up when fully half of the math classes are staffed with long-term subs who may or may not know math. You might wonder why that happens, and I'd tell you that it's for a number of reasons: salaries, reputation, stress, work-life balance, bell schedule (seriously), admin, etc. The unfortunate truth is that seasoned teachers often seek "cushier" gigs at "easier" schools. The schools with many open positions are the rougher schools with rougher student populations and rougher reputations. When there are numerous open positions and very few applicants, what choice does the school have but to staff open positions with just about any warm body who expresses even a cursory interest? This happens at many schools like mine. I'd go so far as to say that it's the norm at schools like mine. As a parent, I certainly wouldn't want my child "taught" by teachers who aren't professionally trained and licensed teachers.

    The whole system is a broken mess, one which I believe was intentionally caused by some very powerful people with deep pockets. If we have any chance of fixing the system, I think that we need to focus on failing schools and build them up with the resources necessary to level the educational playing field. This means money, yes, but money well spent. This means hefty longevity incentives to encourage successful, seasoned teachers to stick around. This means severely reducing programs that allow non-teachers into the classroom as lead teachers (perhaps they can work as instructional aides or student mentors or something). It probably means a lot of other things as well.
     
    anon55, Backroads and Tyler B. like this.
  6. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,082
    Likes Received:
    260

    Nov 13, 2017 at 10:38 AM

    Wow! Powerfully written! I feel guilty teaching in my cushy school. Thank you for your service.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,027
    Likes Received:
    1,822

    Nov 13, 2017 at 10:49 AM

    Don't feel guilty. Each teacher needs to find their own groove, but those grooves can be anywhere.

    I don't fault teachers for leaving failing schools. Not at all. These schools present very challenging work environments, and it's easy to burn out. I've said before that working in a rough school for one year is like working at a "regular" school for like 10. I don't feel like I'm exaggerating that at all, lol.

    I did my student teaching at a rural county school in the Midwest, and I taught college courses as an associate instructor during my graduate studies, but most of my teaching career has been in rough, urban schools. I love my job and I can't imagine doing anything else, but I've even felt the burn-out. Heck, I decided to switch into a specialist position because the burn-out was so bad at one point. For someone who doesn't truly, honestly, absolutely love the kinds of students you work with at these rough schools, such a setting is the wrong setting. You have to be in it 100% for it to work, for both you and your students. There's no shame in acknowledging that it's not the right setting for you.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,718
    Likes Received:
    196

    Nov 13, 2017 at 11:46 AM

    There’s definitely a difference between working as hard as you can, and being as effective as you can be - effort vs skill. Moreover, I think there is a difference between doing one’s personal best and meeting some kind of objective criteria of effectiveness. A teacher with little skill that is “doing his/her best” and “working hard” is not a teacher that should be permitted to practice.

    That being said, there are no great data on teacher effectiveness that are objective and span across all states, so it’s hard to any one person to make a sweeping generalization about the percentage of teachers who are effective. My personal experience is that a small minority of teachers are truly terrible, a small minority truly amazing, with most being somewhere in between. I’ve also found, again in my own experience (across probably 25 schools and 5 states), that there is a decent lag between “best practice” and what actually happens in the classroom, even with “good” teachers. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been relatively younger and had the benefit of having gone to a good school more recently, and been provided with more advanced knowledge about certain things (school psychology).

    That said, clearly there are people here that have had different experiences, and have found that most teachers they know are highly effective. That does, of course, beg the question as to how do each of us really know who is effective and who is not - for example, does an ineffective teacher know that s/he is ineffective? Do other teachers really get a chance to observe other teachers in action often? Are we confusing our personal assessments of our colleagues’ hearts and effort with their skill level?

    I’m getting into the weeds a bit here, but the point is that a lot of these questions about quality aren’t immediately answerable from a macro perspective, so it often makes little sense spending tons of time trying to theoretically isolate certain variables at the exclusion of others.
     
  9. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,718
    Likes Received:
    196

    Nov 13, 2017 at 11:54 AM

    Your line about “being the same teacher” but having very different results is really a great one, and I think is a great anecdote of how non-teacher variables are so important. I might say, though, that it’s also possible that your skills or strategies may be more effective with one group compared with another. For example, you’ve often vocally advocated against skill groups (e.g., guided reading groups based on skill deficits). Maybe your whole class/heterogeneous grouping strategy is more effective in higher wealth schools because there is less diversity of skill need? I don’t mean to take away from your very valid point, though, that context matters.

    In terms of money and resources (e.g., parent volunteers), I guess I’d continue my challenge to you as you move forward in your career to think more deeply about what those resource sets offer you. I don’t say that to question that resources matter, but to say that we should really understand the “mechanisms of action” in those resources so we can become more efficient in cultivating those resources and deploying them effectively.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,718
    Likes Received:
    196

    Nov 13, 2017 at 11:57 AM

    Fully true. Since you quoted me, I’d say that I did begin my statement by saying that it certainly can be helpful to dig down to the root of the problem. In reality, most of us probably spend very little of our actual work days addressing broad issues like poverty or general US teacher quality, so when we get a chance to talk about it on a forum, it’s helpful and valuable for us to be able to actually talk about these things that matter, but are often out of our control.
     
  11. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    2,406
    Likes Received:
    471

    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    Many schools in NJ recieved over 20,000 and are still considered “underfunded”

    Is the school St. Benedicts Prep? It’s not completely free though they do amazing work http://www.sbp.org/news/60minutes
     
  12. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    2,406
    Likes Received:
    471

    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:49 PM

    Sadly, this would lead to many relatives getting jobs, not simply the best and brightest. Only way to actually achieve that is by limiting who is capable of becoming a teacher. If there are only so many seats available in colleges, the herd would be thinned
     
  13. Been There

    Been There Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2017
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    41

    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:51 PM

    Over twenty years ago, I worked at a chronically underperforming school in San Francisco that was under court order (consent decree) to improve student achievement. More than a million dollars was spent on renovating the school. The "academic elementary school" boasted every conceivable intervention program, small class size, a full complement of ancillary staff, model after-school programs, parent training and all the latest curriculum materials a teacher could wish for (not to mention many PD release days that they did not wish for!)

    In 2017 the school ranked worse than 98% of elementary schools in California.
     
  14. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    2,406
    Likes Received:
    471

    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:53 PM

    What dollar amount per pupil is enough Tyler?
     
  15. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    2,406
    Likes Received:
    471

    Nov 13, 2017 at 3:59 PM

    You’ve solved it! We will take poor children away from their families upon birth and give them to rich people!

    How do I nominate you for a Nobel Award?
     
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,659
    Likes Received:
    882

    Nov 13, 2017 at 4:55 PM

    It might have been. I don't recall specifically. I think I saw it as an ad in NYT magazine.
     
    AlwaysAttend likes this.
  17. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,082
    Likes Received:
    260

    Nov 13, 2017 at 5:24 PM

    So what are you saying? Since you found an example of an apparently well-funded school unable to produce high test scores, we should privatize low achieving schools in the name of choice? I just did a check of elementary school rankings in SF and the lowest are charters. Maybe we found that other 2%.
     
    anon55 likes this.
  18. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Devotee

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,082
    Likes Received:
    260

    Nov 13, 2017 at 5:28 PM

    I developed my grouping strategies in low income schools. They also work well with students in high income schools.
     
  19. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    2,406
    Likes Received:
    471

    Nov 13, 2017 at 6:26 PM

    Is this a super secret grouping method or are you sharing?
     
  20. a2z

    a2z Phenom

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    4,735
    Likes Received:
    770

    Nov 13, 2017 at 7:21 PM

    I do not believe that hefty incentives in terms of money will make seasoned teachers stick around and those that do will not necessarily continue to be effective. Money can only temporarily replace staff, but when the real conditions that caused the staff to leave does not change, even highly paid staff will not stick around. If they do they will be burnt out and getting a large sum of money for ineffectiveness.
     
    Peregrin5 likes this.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. eddygirl,
  2. anna9868,
  3. anon55,
  4. greendream,
  5. miss-m,
  6. AlwaysAttend
Total: 496 (members: 9, guests: 341, robots: 146)
test