Monday, December 7, 2020

In Case You Missed It – December 7, 2020

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention in NEIFPE's social media. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

Be sure to enter your email address in the Follow Us By Email box in the right-hand column to be informed when our blog posts are published.


Combating Standardized Testing Derangement Syndrome (STDs) in the English Language Arts

Are standardized tests worth all the expense? Are they worth the time it takes to prepare, administer and return the tests? Are the results accurate and worth all the effort?

Bob Shepherd Online
The dirty secret of the standardized testing industry is the breathtakingly low quality of the tests themselves. I worked in the educational publishing industry at very high levels for more than twenty years. I have produced materials for all the major textbook publishers and most of the standardized test publishers, and I know from experience that quality control processes in the standardized testing industry have dropped to such low levels that the tests, these days, are typically extraordinarily sloppy and neither reliable nor valid. They typically have not been subjected to anything like the validation and standardization procedures used, in the past, with intelligence tests, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and so on. The mathematics tests are marginally better than are the tests in ELA, US History, and Science, but they are not great. The tests in English Language Arts are truly appalling. A few comments about those...


For Teachers, “Silence of Our Friends” May be Worst Part of Pandemic

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Teachers want a safe place to work.

But in 2020 that is too much to ask.

As the global COVID-19 pandemic rages out of control throughout most parts of the United States, teachers all across the country want to be able to do their jobs in a way that won’t put themselves or their loved ones in danger.

In most cases that means remote instruction – teaching students via the Internet through video conferencing software like Zoom.

However, numerous leaders and organizations that historically are supportive of teachers have refused to support them here.

The rush to keep classrooms open and thus keep the economy running has overtaken any respect for science, any concern for safety, and any appeal to compassion.

I’m a former district leader. Here’s what Indiana schools will need to reopen with confidence.

Hope is not a plan.  Former Washington Township Superintendent lays out the needs for a safe plan to reopen schools. He emphasizes increased funding, COVID-19 testing for all, and an end to standardized testing.

From Chalkbeat*
In my more than 30 years of experiences in roles from classroom teacher to Washington Township superintendent, I’ve learned that there are no simple solutions to complicated problems.

Re-opening our public schools is one of those complicated problems. Let’s face it: Indiana is not going to recover economically until our more than one million school children go back to school. “Who will care for my children when I’m back to work?” needs an answer, or our efforts to restore the economy will fail.

Getting students back into school buildings, though, is going to be tougher than many realize. If I were a superintendent today, I would be assuming that at least 25% of the parents in my district would be reluctant to send their kids to school because they don’t think schools will be safe. I’d bet the percentage would be similar for employees, from teachers to bus drivers, custodians, and food service employees. Parents do not knowingly put their children in dangerous places, and teachers and staff do not want to work in dangerous places, either.


Keep Your Promises

NEIFPE is proud to be one of the organizations to sign this statement from the Network for Public Education.

From NPE
We congratulate President-elect, Joe Biden, and Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, on their historic victory. We look forward to working with them as they fulfill their promised commitment to our nation’s public schools.

The promises made during the campaign drew support from public education advocates across the nation. With those promises in mind, these are the top five K-12 priorities that they should keep at the forefront as they govern.

1. Rebuild our nation's public schools, which have been battered by the pandemic, two decades of failed federal policy, and years of financial neglect.
2. Reject efforts to privatize public schools, whether those efforts be via vouchers or charter schools.
3. End the era of high-stakes standardized testing--in both the immediate future and beyond.
4. Promote diversity, desegregation (both among and within schools), and commit to eliminating institutional racism in school policy and practices.
5. Promote educational practices that are child-centered, inquiry-based, intellectually challenging, culturally responsive, and respectful of all students' innate capacities and potential to thrive.


The telling things Barack Obama wrote — and didn’t mention — about his education policies in new memoir

From the Answer Sheet
Obama’s education agenda surprised many of his supporters, who had expected him to address inequity in public schools and to de-emphasize high-stakes standardized testing, which had become the key metric to hold schools accountable under the 2001 federal No Child Left Behind law.

But Obama did not. Instead, he allowed Education Secretary Arne Duncan to push a strident education overhaul program that made standardized testing even more important than NCLB had, and that became highly controversial across the political spectrum for different reasons. Critics called it “corporate reform” because it used methods more common in business than in civic institutions, such as using big data, closing schools that underperformed, and eliminating or weakening of teacher tenure and seniority rights.


Student teachers learning to adapt

A free article from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
As K-12 schools navigated their first full semester during the pandemic, student teachers not only conducted lessons in traditional and nontraditional ways, but also managed responsibilities during quarantines -- theirs and their mentor teachers'.

Dan Torlone of Saint Francis described student teachers' challenges another way.

"Is it beneficial that your rowboat is sinking, and you have to learn how to swim?" Torlone, director of field experiences, asked. "What they're all understanding is a power of collaboration with their peers."

*Note: Financial sponsors of Chalkbeat include pro-privatization foundations and individuals such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, EdChoice, Gates Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and others.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has changed its online access and is now behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both, are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information go to


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