Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy.

Posted by: KADmom

Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 06:05 AM

I'm seeing many changes in my state and my district I'm uncomfortable with. This trend toward putting money we don't have into technology (we can't pay teachers what they deserve or have teaching assistants, but we can afford to outfit every child and teacher with Ipads and schools with computer specialists), a trend toward unreasonable expectations (kindergarteners sitting for 90 minute uninterrupted ELA blocks, during which they can do nothing outside the directed curriculum, not even color a picture related to the story), a trend toward scripted lessons, and many more changes by the state that affect the lives and moral of the teachers.

Ds12 has not had a teacher in his Enrichment class (AIG) since the year started and he hasn't had a science teacher for four weeks because the one he had quit. There have been a variety of inadequate subs since then but things hit bottom for me when he came home and told me there was no one in the classroom two days ago, no sub, no teacher, no administrator, until 5 minutes before the class ended.

In our district, there seems to be a huge drive to make the numbers look better, and that is accomplished by teaching everyone the same way and assume everyone is on the same level. How will they accomplish this quickly and impressively? By keeping the ones who could soar, the AIG kids, down so the gap is essentially closed. Yes, my district loves that catch phrase: Close the achievement gap. And while I understand what the phrase initially meant, and I agree it's reasonable to work harder to help the disadvantaged, I think the idea has gone too far and the people in charge implementing this idea have lost their common sense along with their decency.

I'm hearing stories of the district office bullying and berating teachers, putting unnecessary pressure on them. One woman was put on medical leave because her hair was falling out. Teachers are quitting faster than the district can hire them.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I heard the district is doing away with the AIG program (the gifted program). I haven't heard the reason, but I assume because they've bought into the idea that the Common Core Standards are rigorous enough (but we know that standards are only standards and not curricula). I did hear that they will expect the teachers to differentiate and we all know how well that works out.

I feel completely helpless. Ds is missing two teachers and may lose another one if not more. Ds12 will be in high school by the time AIG is done away with, but it still matters to me, it still matters that gifted kids in my county get their needs met.

How do I protest this mess in my district? I can't keep up with the disturbing changes and the problems keep getting bigger.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 06:16 AM

Originally Posted By: KADmom

How do I protest this mess in my district? I can't keep up with the disturbing changes and the problems keep getting bigger.

You could write an opinion piece for your local newspaper or Patch web site and create a mailing list for parents in your town. Does your PTA discuss educational issues (ours is focused on things like fundraising and field trips)? If you are really willing to invest time you can run for school board. Does your school board have a public comment period at the beginning of each meeting, where you could voice your concerns?
Posted by: KADmom

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 06:30 AM

Thanks, Bostonian. I like your first idea, and I will investigate Patch.com.

As for our PTA, it's mostly fundraising (no field trips) and yes, our school board meetings offer a person three minutes to voice his concerns, but when a local teacher took that opportunity to voice her concerns over scripted lessons, the underwhelming Journeys curriculum, the fact that her African American students are pulled out for isolated instruction daily regardless of intellectual ability, the board sat like lumps and the one member I could see in the video looked anywhere but at the woman speaking. The Superintendent adjusted his seat and looked mildly uncomfortable for a moment, but then the moment was over and we were on to financial matters.
Posted by: Sweetie

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 07:03 AM

Our schools each have a school advisory committee that meets once a month (called SAC) made up of staff, parents, and community members/business owners. Then the district has an advisory committee too. And I think there are various district level committees for various topics...rezoning, ESE, gifted, ESOL, just to name a few, which ask for regular parent participants on the committee as a year long commitment as well as random community input (like a one time speech or attendance).

I keep thinking I should bring recess articles to next month's SAC meeting at my son's elementary school for discussion...but I don't want to get people mad at me.
Posted by: KADmom

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 07:14 AM

MON, this is a great idea. I may even start a facebook group.
Posted by: KADmom

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 07:17 AM

You're lucky. Our district seems to be very interested in controlling the message, so while I attend communicator meetings at the central office, the communication is usually district-driven propaganda to be distributed throughout the community.
Posted by: Gardengirl09

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 07:31 AM

KADmom, we must live in the same district! Attending their scripted meetings make me crazy:-)
Posted by: 22B

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 08:13 AM

KADmom, many people on this forum have bad experience with their schools and districts. But what you are describing in this and your other thread
http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...early_educ.html
is in a completely different league.

The people running your schools are severely wacko, and someone needs to shine a spotlight on these bizarre practices. You have to go to the media about this and bring the intense scrutiny this deserves.

Posted by: KADmom

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 08:55 AM

Gardengirl, Ha! I feel the same way.
Posted by: KADmom

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 08:57 AM

22B, I'll do what I can to bring attention to it, but I fear that this misguided drive to standardize education and improve test scores is happening all across the country, and if not, at least in certain pockets. I was hoping it was limited to my district, but the more I research, the more I learn it's not.
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 09:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Gardengirl09
KADmom, we must live in the same district! Attending their scripted meetings make me crazy:-)


Then we all live here. Who knew? wink

In all seriousness, I have no idea WHAT to do, KADmom. Bostonian has given you some really good ideas.

I just fear that the forces driving some of these shifts are about money and numbers, and that we have neither of those things on our side in advocating for GT education.

My DD's school has fired teachers, in spite of (as you noted) not being able to hire them fast enough to even keep up with attrition as it is. They definitely control the message, and heaven help you if you refuse to cooperate or play along. They will retaliate. We've seen it this year in how they've treated my DD's disability accommodations. It's just shy of actionable, and no way do I truly think that is accidental.

I'm just so tired that I can't really think of what to try next. I have tried everything I can think of-- parent advisory boards, application to be "selected" for a parent seat on the board (mysteriously, the current member opted to "stay on" in light of my packet, which they never even acknowledged receiving in the first place)... talking with curriculum and instruction administration, etc. etc. etc.





cry
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: 22B
KADmom, many people on this forum have bad experience with their schools and districts. But what you are describing in this and your other thread
http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...early_educ.html
is in a completely different league.

The people running your schools are severely wacko, and someone needs to shine a spotlight on these bizarre practices. You have to go to the media about this and bring the intense scrutiny this deserves.



Well, while having NO adult in the classroom (as reported in the first post in this thread) is certainly beyond the pale, everything else is stuff I was playing Cassandra about two years ago with Pearson's takeover of Connections (my DD's school).

There is so much rigidity and so little understanding of what education even is in this model that it is crazymaking. Truly crazymaking.

The people running this show from the top-down honestly believe (or they've drunk the Kool-Aid, anyway) that "education" can be "optimized" by mechanizing the process and removing the pesky "inconsistencies" produced when one allows individual teachers to script or interact with children and curricular objectives. Teachers are (I'm really not kidding here) seen more as a potential liability (a source of human error) than anything else, and curricular goals/benchmarks ARE the ultimate goals in the model.

It's not education that they are seeking-- it's efficient operant conditioning.

sick

But you can't say that. Well-- you can. But there is nobody listening. The only people who can hear that message are just as powerless to respond to it as we parents are.
Posted by: Val

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 09:53 AM

Originally Posted By: KADmom
...I fear that this misguided drive to standardize education and improve test scores is happening all across the country, and if not, at least in certain pockets.


I'm going to put in a plug for standards here. The Common Core is probably the single best development in US education in decades.

Our education system has serious problems. Fads like whole language reading, math with no right answers, and goofy tricks for solving problems are the norm. With so few subject experts teaching, there's a lot of susceptibility to these fads. The Common Core fixes a lot of that because the standards were developed by experts.

I agree with HowlerKarma (in another thread) that the rollout has been imperfect. However, the schools are as much to blame for this problem as anyone. It's not like someone came along and gave them a month to get ready. The change was scheduled and announced THREE YEARS ago.

Personally, my fear is that the textbook manufacturers aren't up to the task of writing books that accurately reflect the standards. The problem is worsened in math because many K-8 teachers don't understand mathematics. Many of them were taught fads or just had to memorize. Plus, contemporary textbooks don't offer any information about why stuff works, either.

So, it's no wonder that so many teachers are having trouble, but again, the schools have all known that the CC was coming for a long time. So did the textbook people. They all had plenty of time to look at this stuff and get ready. That's what professionals do.

I agree that the situation may be very frustrating for students and parents. But I also ask myself how many parents have bothered to look closely at the standards (very few, I suspect) and how many approached their school boards in 2010 or 2011 to ask how their schools were getting ready for the CC rollout. And I wonder how many parents are being fooled with misinformation coming from the shouters among us (a lot, I suspect).


Posted by: KADmom

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 10:40 AM

Ah. So you've BTDT. This is not encouraging, but what you say rings true. I guess we're all along for the misguided ride whether we want to be or not.
Posted by: KADmom

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 10:44 AM

Val, I have two friends who have my utmost respect and are both experts in their fields of education and they both conclude the standards are excellent and what our children need. Their analysis is that the standards suggest teaching go deeper and more focused. Less skimming of the surface of unnecessary things.

That said, standards are not the same as standardized education, a one-size fits all idea: lets bomb the data producers (children) with a middle of the road curriculum and hope some of it sticks.
Posted by: polarbear

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 10:50 AM

Originally Posted By: KADmom

That said, standards are not the same as standardized education, a one-size fits all idea: lets bomb the data producers (children) with a middle of the road curriculum and hope some of it sticks.


ITA.

KADmom, aside from standards etc - were you able to verify that your ds' class was left without a teacher in the room for that entire day? That would have me very concerned - and I'm sure it's against your school district policy. That one thing would have had me on the phone to the principal first and then the school district superintendent.

polarbear
Posted by: KADmom

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 10:55 AM

It was one class, his morning class and apparently the other science teacher down the hall popped in for a minute to give them something to do then left to be with her class. Ds says they did what was asked of them and then talked amongst themselves. I imagine the principal is aware of the snafu and complaining about it after the fact might be counterproductive. Needless to say, I am keeping tabs on what goes on in there and luckily my ds is open with me.
I have a feeling that class is bonding nicely at the moment (being facetious here, but also not).
Posted by: puffin

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 11:10 AM

Common standards are good I feel. The problem is that when they are measured by testing and the results are reported etc kids get taught only what is in the test. That has obvious problems.

Also the whole point of having teachers is they can adjust and re-explain in a way that works for each kid. This doesn't work with a script (i thought you had teachers'unions?) or if the teacher is rigid and unsympathetic.

Like i said on another thread if you are going to give the teachers a script and not let them deviate from it you don't need trained teachers. It is hugely insulting to them to suggest they use such a script and i am not surprised if the ones that can afford it are leaving.
Posted by: polarbear

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 11:20 AM

Originally Posted By: KADmom
It was one class, his morning class and apparently the other science teacher down the hall popped in for a minute to give them something to do then left to be with her class. Ds says they did what was asked of them and then talked amongst themselves. I imagine the principal is aware of the snafu and complaining about it after the fact might be counterproductive. Needless to say, I am keeping tabs on what goes on in there and luckily my ds is open with me.


It's secondary school then, right? Sorry I forgot and thought it was elementary. This scenario wouldn't bother me smile

polarbear
Posted by: DAD22

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 11:36 AM

I'm not a math teacher, and my children aren't school age yet, so I have no real experience with CC. Having said that, my sister-in-law is a high school math teacher currently teaching CC and she is not a fan.

I just read this synopsis:

http://math.berkeley.edu/~wu/CommonCoreVI.pdf

and it leads me to believe that CC is largely the answer to made-up problems. They want me to believe that understanding similar triangles is a prerequisite for understanding the slope of a line? I don't buy that. I don't believe that everyone comes to an understanding of the slope of a line in the same way. A geometrically minded person might envision triangles. An arithmetically minded person may be happy to understand it as a ratio. Someone with cycling experience may imagine hills of different grades. Let's consider a line with a slope of 0, or infinite slope. Where are their triangles now?

One of the things my sister-in-law is dealing with is asking high school students who are currently learning English to explain all their math steps. It seems that CC is injecting more english into math class, and in doing so, they are inhibiting these students in the single area where they used to be uninhibited.

Beyond that, I put myself in the place of these students who are asked to "show" and "explain" mathematical concepts, and I ponder what that implies. Does anyone know? Are they looking for paragraphs? Pictures? Movies? I tend to think in moving pictures. How often will teachers mark the explanations of gifted students as wrong because they don't understand them? How will this affect students on the autistic spectrum?

All in all, I'm not impressed. I am an engineer, and I make use of mathematical properties daily that I can't recall the names of. A concept by any other name works just the same, after all. I've commented before that I see mathematics as its own language, and offering a written explanation of a mathematical concept is asking for an unnecessary translation.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with students demonstrating mastery by solving numerous varied problems on a theme. What goes on in their heads is their own business, and their ability to relate that to others is an issue wholly distinct from mathematical mastery.
Posted by: kcab

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 11:48 AM

Originally Posted By: KADmom
Ds12 has not had a teacher in his Enrichment class (AIG) since the year started and he hasn't had a science teacher for four weeks because the one he had quit. There have been a variety of inadequate subs since then but things hit bottom for me when he came home and told me there was no one in the classroom two days ago, no sub, no teacher, no administrator, until 5 minutes before the class ended.
...

I'm hearing stories of the district office bullying and berating teachers, putting unnecessary pressure on them. One woman was put on medical leave because her hair was falling out. Teachers are quitting faster than the district can hire them.
To me, these speak to poor management at the district level. Perhaps poor administration at the school too, but largely a district level issue. I would be making noise about this and I would keep the focus on this specific, local, issue. I do think creating a parent group could be helpful, this level of mismanagement has probably been annoying to many parents in the district.

One plus of moving around a bunch is that I've seen a variety of ways for districts and schools to be run, and I've been in one that was functioning the way you describe. One thing that helped in that district was a superintendent change - and importantly the board set up the search process so that there were several ways for public opinion (other community as well as parents) to be heard regarding what to look for in the new super. The new super that was hired does have the style and values that the community requested and has done a good job since. There were several principal changes that happened the same year; I'm sure those helped as well.

So I think I'd be looking for ways to start building a community that was willing to speak up.
Posted by: Val

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 12:10 PM

Originally Posted By: DAD22
I'm not a math teacher, and my children aren't school age yet, so I have no real experience with CC.

..and it leads me to believe that CC is largely the answer to made-up problems.



DAD22, I'm going to put it to you that if your kids aren't in school yet, you probably aren't aware of the full horror of US math "education." It's a disaster from start to finish. To summarize, there are two basic paths to teaching math in this country:

1. Memorize and Regurgitate. See most big-publisher textbooks (e.g. Sadlier-Oxford). These programs teach nothing about concepts in mathematics. They present algorithms to be memorized and provide worksheets with 35+ identical problems. 35+64= 48+89= Again and again and again. And more of the same tomorrow night!


2. Reform math. See Everyday Mathematics or EnVision math (there are many options on this menu, however). Reform systems use gimmicks, faddish approaches, and calculators in a largely botched attempt to teach concepts. The people who made them were right about students not learning concepts, but their solution is as bad as the problem it purports to solve. In these systems, standard algorithms are b-a-d and we need to teach several different approaches to [insert operation], no matter how kooky or mathematically incorrect. Look up partial products as one egregious example. Partial quotients is another. Guess-and-check assumes that you have all day to solve a single division problem.

Originally Posted By: DAD22
They want me to believe that understanding similar triangles is a prerequisite for understanding the slope of a line? I don't buy that. I don't believe that everyone comes to an understanding of the slope of a line in the same way.


A huge problem in math education in this country is that there are way, way, WAY too many approaches to teaching an idea. Most of them are created (and taught) by people who don't understand mathematics. You, as an intelligent engineer, may be able to see different correct ways to teach the slope of a line, but what you probably don't understand (YET) is that the vast majority of current curricula botch it completely.

Originally Posted By: Wu document
I should mention in passing that CCMS makes the e ffort to teach similarity in grade 8 not just for making sense of the concept of
slope. It also serves the larger purpose of laying the groundwork
for high school geometry.

This is part of CCMS's overall e ort to maintain grade-to-grade continuity.


IMO, his points about the slope of a line show the beauty of mathematics. Look kids! This stuff is part of algebra! And it's part of geometry! It all fits together.

Originally Posted By: DAD22
Let's consider a line with a slope of 0, or infinite slope. Where are their triangles now?


There is no slope in the former case. And you can't calculate it in the second one. You could still use right triangles, though, if you really wanted to.


Originally Posted By: DAD22
What goes on in their heads is their own business, and their ability to relate that to others is an issue wholly distinct from mathematical mastery.


On the contrary. Being able to explain something is critical, if for no other reason than because it teaches you how to explain something in a logical way. This skill is critical in the workplace and elsewhere. But explaining it also proves that you understand it. Richard Feynman used to say that if physicists couldn't explain an idea to freshmen physics students, they didn't really understand it to begin with. This was taken as a sign to keep trying to figure it out.

Again, if your kids aren't in school yet, you probably haven't plumbed the depths of how bad our math education system truly is. It's kind of hard to believe it when you haven't witnessed it. I have a 13-year-old, and I'm still discovering new layers of horror below the ones I've already found. Just when you think they've hit rock bottom, someone comes along with something insane and you discover a whole new system of caverns of badness.

If your kids are lucky, the CC may save them. But it's more likely that they'll come home with 35 examples of the same problem to do, or will be using boxes or lattices or calendar-like-constructions to do basic arithmetic. And with each passing year, you will try many different reasonable approaches at advocacy, and all or nearly all of them will fail. You will tear more of your hair out until, like KADmom (and me, and HowlerKarma, and most others here), you will begin to feel that gut-wrenching desperation-resignation that results when you finally realize that how bad the schools truly are, public or private, with very few exceptions.


No, I am not making this up. frown
Posted by: 22B

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 12:36 PM

Originally Posted By: DAD22
They want me to believe that understanding similar triangles is a prerequisite for understanding the slope of a line? I don't buy that. ... Let's consider a line with a slope of 0, or infinite slope. Where are their triangles now?


In that case they'd be degenerate triangles. Aha! Proof that Common Core will undermine the moral fabric of this country!
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 01:03 PM

Originally Posted By: puffin
Common standards are good I feel. The problem is that when they are measured by testing and the results are reported etc kids get taught only what is in the test. That has obvious problems.

Also the whole point of having teachers is they can adjust and re-explain in a way that works for each kid. This doesn't work with a script (i thought you had teachers'unions?) or if the teacher is rigid and unsympathetic.

Like i said on another thread if you are going to give the teachers a script and not let them deviate from it you don't need trained teachers. It is hugely insulting to them to suggest they use such a script and i am not surprised if the ones that can afford it are leaving.




No, you DON'T need trained teachers. Just people to sit as "monitors" and make sure that the students are safe while they are plugged into electronic "delivery systems" which are perfect at content delivery.

This is the entire idea.

It's literally the sole conclusion that I can come to regarding my attempts to get a look inside the "machine" at the Pearson division that we're within...

Let those rabble-rousers leave. They cause trouble, and slow down production.

sick

No, I'm really-- REALLY-- not a conspiracy theorist, but I'm deeply disturbed by Pearson's move away from print textbooks. They are taking over instructional delivery-- period. That IS their long-range plan.
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 01:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Val

Again, if your kids aren't in school yet, you probably haven't plumbed the depths of how bad our math education system truly is. It's kind of hard to believe it when you haven't witnessed it. I have a 13-year-old, and I'm still discovering new layers of horror below the ones I've already found. Just when you think they've hit rock bottom, someone comes along with something insane and you discover a whole new system of caverns of badness.


YES.

frown


I know that plenty of members here thought it was crazy that my DD (a high school senior and prospective math major) was NOT going to take AP Calculus prior to leaving high school.

However-- many of those same people have not yet seen the how-low-can-you-go Limbo game that has become math instruction in K-12.

No teacher, because that would "interfere" with Pearson's
"optimized" delivery of "content."

Teaching not for understanding, but to the AP test.

Yeah, no thanks. Most of my friends still in STEM in higher ed support our decision and applaud it, in fact-- because they see too many kids who "aced" calculus in high school AP classes, but who don't really understand the math.

I want my daughter to learn calculus from someone with a firm grip on advanced mathematics, and from a person who isn't relying on a SCRIPT to deliver instruction. She'll wait and take it as a college freshman. You only learn calculus the first time once. Why not do it RIGHT rather than doing it "right now?"

Posted by: Val

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 01:13 PM

Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
..but I'm deeply disturbed by Pearson's move away from print textbooks. They are taking over instructional delivery-- period. That IS their long-range plan.


My opinion? E-books are profitable, pure and simple.

You license them instead of buying them, so when the license expires, they POOF! out of existence. And you can't buy a used e-book. Oh, no. That would not do. And you get to pay whatever price they decide to set, every time.
Posted by: Zen Scanner

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 01:27 PM

There are much fairer e-delivery content options out.

Posted by: Val

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 01:39 PM

I was referring specifically to companies like Pearson. I suspect HK was, too.
Posted by: puffin

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 01:49 PM

Can I ask a slightly off topic question. Pearson do some materials for the NZ curriculum (my kid's teachers don't use textbooks at this point (y2/g1) but I want to know what it is they are supposed to be learning. The etexts are a lot cheaper for just a look but I was wondering would they work on windows XP or on a windows phone? That is all I have right now.
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 02:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Zen Scanner
There are much fairer e-delivery content options out.



There are.

But those don't come with marketing teams that visit large school districts, and they don't come bundled on iPad (TM) devices, either.

I seriously object to the idea that education is reducible in the ways implicit in the messages of those who are now using CCSS to market themselves.

Makes me ask where we're going... and why we're in this handbasket.
Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 02:22 PM

Originally Posted By: puffin
Can I ask a slightly off topic question. Pearson do some materials for the NZ curriculum (my kid's teachers don't use textbooks at this point (y2/g1) but I want to know what it is they are supposed to be learning. The etexts are a lot cheaper for just a look but I was wondering would they work on windows XP or on a windows phone? That is all I have right now.


Only if you purchase access-- or if you work through a web-portal that is a subscriber.

They are major data hogs, too-- so do be aware of that if you're working on a plan with a cap on your data. They're pretty clunky in terms of navigation, but sure-- for just a look-see, as long as you don't mind paying...

They are so-so in terms of user friendliness, and also so-so in terms of writing and content. They certainly aren't better QUALITY than the standard print editions, and I suspect that they'll get worse with time, as textbook manufacturers (Pearson chief among them) figure out "why try harder" as they have so much market share and entrenchment into exclusive partnerships that quality is really not even a consideration.

I give it five years before the EIC (educational-industrial complex) makes the MIC (military industrial complex) look like child's play for mind-boggling waste and incompetence. Unfortunately, CCSS isn't really to blame for this chain of events, but that certainly seems to be how it's playing out.

As Val hinted, many school districts, feeling so cash-strapped that they simply COULD not (er-- or "would not" anyway) invest in CCSS until they became MANDATORY... were left with few alternatives but to turn to a high-cost, turnkey approach when the time eventually came, as all days of reckoning seem to...

Enter Pearson (and a few other really big players) who were gambling on just that attribute (inertia) in the educational establishment.
Posted by: puffin

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 03:53 PM

Thanks. I did think there might be a data issue. The one I want to look at is only about $7 NZ but I have a very tight data cap (tends to be tighter and more expensive here) and slow so maybe not. I might just buy the printed version.
Posted by: 22B

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 05:35 PM

The situations described by KADmom and the situation described by HowlerKarma look totally different to me, despite superficial similarities.

HowlerKarma's case is analagous to McDonalds corporate headquarters dictating uniformity among its franchises.

KADmom's case is analagous to a local city official decreeing that all local restaurants have to have identical menus, and cook their food exactly the same way, and everyone has to eat the same thing at the same time.

I really don't believe that any "national trends" have anything much to do with KADmom's situation. It's very much a local situation, and I would bet that the extreme weirdness of the situation can be best understood by viewing the responsible individuals in the following terms:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_disorder
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy




Posted by: HowlerKarma

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 06:34 PM

LOL-- I'll go you one further and say that it is analogous to McDonald's running ordering through an automated phone system at corporate headquarters, and having no human counter staff-- just a sliding window that produces your fries in a uniform 90 seconds. grin



Originally Posted By: puffin
Thanks. I did think there might be a data issue. The one I want to look at is only about $7 NZ but I have a very tight data cap (tends to be tighter and more expensive here) and slow so maybe not. I might just buy the printed version.


Continuing ot here, momentarily, could you use a wi-fi hotspot like a coffee shop instead of your data plan?

I do that sometimes for streaming video or something. Just hit the wifi button and make sure I'm using that and not Verizon.
Posted by: puffin

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/22/13 08:09 PM

Thanks. I could use the library (it has a free hotspot) but I think it would be too hard to read on my phone and the experimental browser on my kindle may not be up to it. Might be worth a try though. I would just like to know what a textbook for the NZ curriculum actually includes so i can work out how much of the next couple of year's work he knows. I think he is assessed a year or so ahead but he is not really being given work past what the other kids are getting - but i could be entirely wrong. Our national standard assessment of "above standard" only means 6 months ahead and i have only seen 3 very poor maths samples all year.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/23/13 12:24 AM

Originally Posted By: 22B
Originally Posted By: DAD22
They want me to believe that understanding similar triangles is a prerequisite for understanding the slope of a line? I don't buy that. ... Let's consider a line with a slope of 0, or infinite slope. Where are their triangles now?


In that case they'd be degenerate triangles. Aha! Proof that Common Core will undermine the moral fabric of this country!


LOL!
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/23/13 12:32 AM

Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
Originally Posted By: puffin
Common standards are good I feel. The problem is that when they are measured by testing and the results are reported etc kids get taught only what is in the test. That has obvious problems.

Also the whole point of having teachers is they can adjust and re-explain in a way that works for each kid. This doesn't work with a script (i thought you had teachers'unions?) or if the teacher is rigid and unsympathetic.

Like i said on another thread if you are going to give the teachers a script and not let them deviate from it you don't need trained teachers. It is hugely insulting to them to suggest they use such a script and i am not surprised if the ones that can afford it are leaving.




No, you DON'T need trained teachers. Just people to sit as "monitors" and make sure that the students are safe while they are plugged into electronic "delivery systems" which are perfect at content delivery.

This is the entire idea.

It's literally the sole conclusion that I can come to regarding my attempts to get a look inside the "machine" at the Pearson division that we're within...

Let those rabble-rousers leave. They cause trouble, and slow down production.

sick

No, I'm really-- REALLY-- not a conspiracy theorist, but I'm deeply disturbed by Pearson's move away from print textbooks. They are taking over instructional delivery-- period. That IS their long-range plan.


I can corroborate that. Yesterday, I conducted a field interview with an afterschooling shop as market research, and the whole premise of the business model, modeled on Pearson, was to (in his words), "ensure that even the most mediocre teacher can deliver content". The organization had given up on paying for quality instructors because they hurt the bottom line. Eliminate the learned intermediary and districts are reliant on Pearson and other content providers to design whole curricula. Then, they'll devour whatever intellectual pablum the monopolistic content provider supplies.

It's nefarious--and surprising that ministries of education aren't foreseeing the inevitable plan by Pearson to breed dependency then jack up prices. This isn't the cost-saving panacea some administrators believe it to be. E-delivery is the ARM of the education market.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/23/13 08:06 AM

Originally Posted By: puffin
Common standards are good I feel.
Agreed. Stating a common expectation or floor for academics is beneficial. However flexibility is needed.
1) Those students who are not at the prescribed level, who have problems with learning and/or achievement at that level, are officially behind; Districts cannot easily create other criteria and then announce that when these students are meeting modified criteria they have met the standard. They have met modified criteria. Yet this may represent a huge success for these students.
2) Parents on gifted forums have sometimes expressed disappointment with the model of mastery utilized by some afterschooling companies, when that model of mastery required the student to achieve 100% accuracy on a large body of work, with no errors. Mastery of common standards may easily take this form when success is measured by a standardized test result, facilitated by teaching to the test, and only a "floor" level standard or expectation is known.
3) Some have said that having a Common Standard provides portability, for example the ability for military families who are frequently reassigned to know with confidence and certainty which grade level their child/ren will fit academically. Yet this is only true if all districts are teaching only at the level of the "floor" of the standard, and none are teaching higher. This is also only true if all pupils in military families are learning exactly at the yoked pace of the standard, none higher or lower.

Originally Posted By: puffin
... The problem is that when they are measured by testing and the results are reported etc kids get taught only what is in the test. That has obvious problems.
Agreed. Again there are two sides to the coin: To individuals who want to have free minds and learn in depth and breadth according to their own interests and abilities, teaching to the test may be limiting. However, to the opposition, those who would have all humans achieving the same educational outcomes at the same pace, stamping out interchangeable cookie-cutter humans with a one-size-fits-all education may be ideal. Parents may unite against this but source documents containing facts about standards assessments and student data collection have been difficult to find, have been copyrighted, and links have been broken/moved. Among several companies whose websites link to each other, as factual data disappears from the website of one inter-related company to appear in different format on a website of another, without benefit of re-directing link (readers experience a broken link)... the sense of a shell-game comes to mind. At best, the process lacks transparency.

Unfortunately this does create a scenario for losing ground for gifted advocacy, and jeopardizes the academic freedoms of all pupils and life-long learners. This does not mean parents ought to give up, however parents may first need to address issues of transparency to provide groundwork for effective advocacy.
Posted by: indigo

Re: Losing Ground for Gifted Advocacy. - 11/23/13 01:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Val
Fads like whole language reading, math with no right answers, and goofy tricks for solving problems are the norm. With so few subject experts teaching, there's a lot of susceptibility to these fads. The Common Core fixes a lot of that because the standards were developed by experts.
It has been said that to the degree that Common Core is a set of standards, representing the floor or minimum of what students need to know in each grade level, it does not preclude the method by which a standard/outcome is taught/learned; To the degree which Common Core may dictate the method by which an outcome/standard is taught/learned, it may be considered a curriculum.

Originally Posted By: Val
... the rollout has been imperfect. However, the schools are as much to blame for this problem as anyone. It's not like someone came along and gave them a month to get ready. The change was scheduled and announced THREE YEARS ago... They all had plenty of time to look at this stuff and get ready... how many parents have... approached their school boards in 2010 or 2011 to ask how their schools were getting ready for the CC rollout...
It is my understanding that there may be an ongoing disconnect between those in positions to sign their States on to Common Core, and those responsible for implementing it. While those signing on may have found the possibility of Race To The Top funding and waiver from NCLB to be positive incentives, it is my understanding that for many districts the Race To The Top dollars did not materialize, districts found themselves with the expense of updating systems to track more data points, some found an analysis of their current standards was deemed more rigorous therefore no change to curriculum/textbooks was deemed necessary, and others decided it may be fiscally wise to see what form the new standardized tests may take before making changes as the student performance on the new standardized tests was to be the system by which students/teachers/schools/districts would be evaluated... possibly focusing more resources on the bottom performers than even NCLB did. Combined with union rules and the expense of hiring subs to free teachers to attend CCS meetings, some have expressed that this timeframe was inadequate/rushed. With CCS standardized assessments reportedly in play in NY in Spring 2013 mis-matched to curriculum, and these new assessments now being implemented in other States, the difference between the sales/marketing and the reality/implementation may be becoming more apparent.

These possible discrepancies and lack of transparency have re-mobilized parents, teachers, and administrators to take a second look at what they are implementing and why.

Originally Posted By: DAD22
... understanding similar triangles is a prerequisite for understanding the slope of a line? I don't buy that. I don't believe that everyone comes to an understanding of the slope of a line in the same way. A geometrically minded person might envision triangles. An arithmetically minded person may be happy to understand it as a ratio. Someone with cycling experience may imagine hills of different grades...

One of the things my sister-in-law is dealing with is asking high school students who are currently learning English to explain all their math steps. It seems that CC is injecting more english into math class, and in doing so, they are inhibiting these students in the single area where they used to be uninhibited...

... I make use of mathematical properties daily that I can't recall the names of... I've commented before that I see mathematics as its own language, and offering a written explanation of a mathematical concept is asking for an unnecessary translation.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with students demonstrating mastery by solving numerous varied problems on a theme. What goes on in their heads is their own business, and their ability to relate that to others is an issue wholly distinct from mathematical mastery.
Agreed! smile

Originally Posted By: KADmom
In our district, there seems to be a huge drive to make the numbers look better, and that is accomplished by teaching everyone the same way and assume everyone is on the same level. How will they accomplish this quickly and impressively? By keeping the ones who could soar, the AIG kids, down so the gap is essentially closed.
I'm sorry this is happening, and it is becoming a common refrain. The softening of the national economy to a veritable game of musical chairs in employment in many career areas has possibly exacerbated the situation. As unpalatable as this may seem, the only known cure may be living debt-free and within one's means... from families to governments at every level, including school districts, States, and our Federal Government. Meanwhile, students may be well-served without additional cost if allowed to attend classes at their appropriate challenge level of readiness and ability in each subject, regardless of grade level or chronological age.