• Classroom Visits – The Key to Success
    Here at John Sevier, Mrs. Ginny Boles (Assistant Principal) and I have the goal of visiting every classroom, every day.  This is not limited to classrooms, but also includes our cafeteria, gym, after-school program, and any other area where there are students, teachers, or personnel interacting. The benefits of our daily visits are numerous, but the three most noteworthy include:
  • 2011 NAEP Guide Where to Avoid Being Reincarnated as a Student with a Disability
    I present to you the states you want to avoid and those you want to pray to be born into in the next go-around if you happen to be born as a child with a learning disability, and you would like to learn how to read by the 4th grade.
  • The New No Excuses: Where Not to be Reincarnated a Rich White Kid
    TN has the 3rd highest middle & upper income white students scoring below basic on the 2011 4th grade reading NAEP
  • Tennessee Board of Regents Revamps Teacher Ed Programs
    Over the past two years, universities and community colleges in the Tennessee Board of Regents system have been rewriting course schedules, developing mentorships with local school systems, and rethinking the way teachers have traditionally been taught and trained in school. The initiative is expected to transform education programs across the state and help Tennessee turn the corner on improving teacher and student performance.
  • The Problem With Paying Teachers Less
    It’s not often that you hear teachers should be paid less. In fact, it’s almost always the exact opposite. From teachers unions to education reformers to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the refrain that teachers are underpaid is a constant. So, when conservative thinkers at the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation issued a paper on Tuesday arguing not only that teachers are overpaid, but when you factor in pensions, health care and other benefits, that total compensation for teachers is 52% higher than fair market value, it was bound to be controversial. To get to that conclusion, AEI and Heritage focused on three main findings:
  • HConfused over ‘accountability’ and ‘flexibility’
    Merriam Webster defines “accountability” as an “obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” Proposals to reauthorize NCLB approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Department of Education’s plan to give waivers from current law introduce another favorite word in education land: “flexibility.” It’s useful to ask whether accountability and flexibility can and should coexist. It’s even more useful to ask who is being served by flexibility and accountability proposals – systems or students?
  • Knox Co. teachers react to Superintendent’s support of new evaluations
    Some Knox County educators agree that the ideas behind the new state teacher evaluations are good, but they think the process is getting in the way of their jobs.
  • Tenn. lawmakers hear teacher evaluation concerns
    Some Tennessee lawmakers and teachers said Wednesday they would like this to be a pilot year for a new evaluation system that for the first time will use students’ standardized test scores as part of the process. Members of the House Education Committee heard testimony from school administrators and teachers about the evaluation, which is comprised of 35 percent of students’ value-added test scores that track students’ progress on standardized tests over time. The state Department of Education is considering changes to the evaluation process that could benefit teachers and administrators, such as reducing the number of times teachers have to be observed each year.
  • Jim McIntyre defends new teacher evaluation system
    Legislators beset with complaints about the state’s new teacher evaluation system were urged by Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre on Wednesday to make no changes in the “courageous and visionary” law.
  • Bad Charter Schools Are the Price of Innovation
    TIME got an exclusive first look at the most comprehensive evaluation of charter school networks ever, and although the study, which will be released on Nov. 4, underscores the challenge of creating quality schools, it also makes clear that it is indeed possible to build a lot of schools that are game-changers for a lot of students. The study found that, in general, students at charter-network schools outperform similar students at traditional public schools, although sometimes not by very much. But that overall average masks an enormous variation among different CMOs. High-performing CMOs are so effective they are providing the equivalent of three years of schooling for students every two years. But CMOs at the low end are so bad they are effectively costing students a year of learning every two years. Bottom line: 10 of the 22 CMOs are outperforming their public-school peers in math and reading, in some cases substantially; eight are middling; and four are serious laggards. This variation points to the most complicated question the study raises. How much risk and failure are we willing to tolerate to create much better schools for students who don’t have them today? Critics of charter schools say this choice is a false one and that we should instead focus on improving existing schools. But their argument ignores the immediacy of educational failure. We’re talking about communities where public schools are not failing just a little but where the catastrophe of broken lives unfolds every school year, places where less than half of high schoolers graduate and where fewer than one in ten students finish college by their mid-20s. And let’s not forget, despite all the noise about turning around persistently failing schools, that successful turnarounds are like snow leopards — more mythical than actually observed.
  • 2011 NAEP Scores Released
    The Nation’s Report Card, a biennial math and reading assessment of fourth and eighth graders, was released today by the U.S. Department of Education.  Both grade levels posted slight gains in math, while reading scores were flat.  In terms of overall student proficiency, the scores remained dismal. Since 2009, math scores went up one point (on a 500-point scale).  40% of fourth graders and 35% of eighth graders were deemed “proficient.”  Math proficiency rates, while low, are the highest since records were first kept in 1990. In reading, fourth graders stagnated while eighth graders improved one point since two years ago.  Only 34% of the nation’s fourth and graders are considered “proficient” when it comes to reading. The report is even bleaker for minorities and students from lower-income families: only 25% of fourth graders and 20% of eighth graders were proficient in reading or math.
  • Why does PSBA oppose what’s good for public education?
    Pennsylvania: “Why do you ignore the will of the people and fight measures that will help kids achieve academically? Why does the PSBA oppose common-sense measures that would reduce the cost of education and improve academic achievement? Why is the PSBA more interested in the employment of adults than the education of children?” If I were a member of a school board, I would save my constituents money and pull out of the PSBA. Its hypocrisy with public education has persisted for too long. It should focus its efforts on what matters most: opportunity and the academic achievement of our commonwealth’s kids. The overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians do want kids to attend the best schools possible at a reasonable cost. Our legislation — Senate Bill 1 — makes that possible.
  • Teacher evaluations differ for Tennessee, Hamilton County
    When he appears before the Tennessee State Board of Education meeting on Friday, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman will propose modifications to Tennessee’s newly overhauld teacher evaluation system, TEAM. If the board approves any changes to the new system, they won’t be felt in Hamilton County Schools—one of only three school systems in the state using their own evaluation program to measure teacher effectiveness.

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