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A holiday hiatus

Chicago winter. Photo from IMLS DCC'S site on flickr.com/creativecommons

Happy holidays, TheTruthHurts, Cranky Teacher, Nextset, Harlemmoon, Sue, On the Fence and the rest of you who read and share your views on this blog!

I’m heading to Chicago in a few hours, but The Education Report will be back in full force next week.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • harlemmoon

    Wishing you good tidings and cheer, Katy!

  • TheTruthHurts

    Enjoy your time away. Sounds like you’re going to have a white Christmas for sure. Brrrrrr!!

  • seenitbefore

    May you have safe travels… and joyous celebrations!

  • Nextset

    Hope those airports are manageable! Enjoy your time off and Merry Xmas!!

  • harlemmoon

    Nextset, I dare say, that was positively positive.
    Is this an attempt to avoid a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking? Or has the brave new world suddenly become more benevolent?

  • Let’s Get Real

    Happy holidays, Katy!

  • Steven Weinberg

    Enjoy you vacation Katy.
    Here’s something to keep the pot bubbling in your absence:

    The LA Times has printed a very misleading article about teacher quality today. The article begins with the statement “Years-long efforts to improve Markham Middle School in Watts included changing the curriculum, reducing class sizes and requiring uniforms. But real progress occurred when more effective teachers were brought in,” implying that teachers were replaced based on some measure of their effectiveness. In fact, the change in the school teaching force was based entirely on district lay-offs and seniority.
    The Times is running a series of articles based on its own “value-added” analysis which purports to show the effect that individual teachers have on the test score changes of their students. The paper has stirred considerable controversy after it published a list of thousands of LA teachers and their “effectiveness” scores. This article was designed to show the importance of looking at teacher effectiveness in this way, but if one takes its findings seriously, it would support the current system of seniority in layoffs because when that system was applied test scores went up.
    Actually the article shows the intellectual bankruptcy of “value-added” analysis based entirely on test scores. Look at these paragraphs from the article:
    “Apparently, the layoffs had an upside. Many of the replacement teachers Sullivan picked from the district’s hiring pool proved more effective than their predecessors.
    “Twenty-one teachers who were laid off in 2009 ranked, on average, in the bottom fifth among district teachers in raising students’ English scores and in the bottom third in boosting math scores. They were replaced by teachers whose effectiveness was close to average in both subjects.
    “In addition, many of the low-performing teachers who survived the layoffs got significantly better, jumping to near average effectiveness compared to their peers districtwide.”
    Pay particular attention to the statement that “many low-performing teachers…got significantly better.” You would not expect that to happen if teacher effectiveness, measured by past test score changes, was really the crucial factor in educational improvement. If teachers who were ineffective in past years suddenly improve it would indicate that the crucial factor was not the teachers but some other element of the educational program. In fact, the school in question received a huge influx of school improvement funds as part of a multi-year program. Last year was the second year of the program. Past studies have shown that it often takes two years for a new program to show positive effects. This explanation would be consistent with school improvement results in Oakland, where for the past two years the middle schools showing greatest improvement have all benefited from class size reduction funded by the QEIA program.
    One problem with “value added” analysis based on test score improvement is that when test scores go up, for whatever reason, the scores of the teachers at those schools improve automatically, and when the test scores go down for any reason the scores of the teachers go down. To answer the question “why?” one needs to dig deeper.

  • On the Fence

    Happy Holidays to you, Katy, and to everyone on the blog! I hope everyone can rest and refuel for the new year!

  • Nextset

    Harlemmoon: Don’t mistake my political commentary here for what goes on in my own life. I have friends who are nearly at Salvation Army shelter level. And wealthy friends. I have relatives (a very few) who are on welfare. All blacks seem to, that’s an interesting aside. I once lived in the flats of North Oakland, a very long time ago. Relatives went to St Columba’s.

    One of the reasons I suppose I feel as strongly as I do is that I know how close people can be to not making it in Oakland and the difference grades 1-12 make in who makes it and who doesn’t. The same families can be directed towards doing very well or living in the gutter. I’ve grown up seeing both. I work in the courts with wealthy and with homeless.

    If the public schools did their jobs like they used to you would have less misery in society. I went to Catholic grade school but public high schools. So did most of the siblings & cousins. It is too bad OUSD kids don’t have the quality of schools we had. We can see the difference in the class reunions. Our school screwups and poorer kids turned out pretty well, every one of them could read and write. Even the getaway driver is literate. And she is quite charming also, could always find a job even on parole. She’s a granny now though.

    My work is trying to fix people’s problems (problems they created for themselves by indiscipline for the most part). I think it shows. So I blog.

    I think black kids in Oakland are being shortchanged by people (with “liberal” political agendas) who don’t want to expend energy on them. But that’s only my point of view.

    Am I positive? My well to do friends and relatives seem to like the Brave New World. My main beef with them is that they are blissfully unaware of what I perceive as growing dangers (of sudden violence or casualty loss). They couldn’t see Katrina problems coming and I could. My poor friends and relatives? Not only are they facing fast lowering standards of living they are also seeing creeping social and economic isolation which they don’t care about but I see as dangerous to them.

    I used to be able to find jobs for people with a few phone calls. Not so easy now. It’s not that there aren’t jobs. It’s that the employers are no longer as tolerant of losers in life. If you don’t fit in you are not getting in anymore. And my poor people are not about to get their teeth fixed, stop smoking, loose visible tattoos, get an appropriate haircut, learn to speak proper conversational english, etc. In the Brave New World people wear their tribal dress and speak dialect – and everybody else knows right away what to expect from them – which rules they go by. You see, they went to different schools.

    And the different schools don’t mix. Not anymore.

    Which is why families are ready to fight to get their kids into the correct pre-school and grade school.

  • http://www.movingforwardeducation.com Lacy Asbill

    Katy, thank you so much for your thoughtful moderation of this educational dialogue. You are appreciated! Please enjoy a well deserved break, and say hi to my fave Chicago spot–Hot Chocolate!