Monday, August 21, 2023

In Case You Missed It – August 21, 2023

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

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"Shifting blame away from the for-profit healthcare system and the government’s response to the coronavirus is part of what makes the learning loss narrative so valuable to politicians who have no interest in challenging existing patterns of wealth and power. It is a narrative meant to distract the public and discipline teachers. Here’s the recipe: 1. Establish that closing schools hurt students using a narrow measure like test scores; 2. Blame closure of schools on teacher unions rather than a deadly pandemic; 3. Demand schools and teachers help students “regain academic ground lost during the pandemic” — and fast; 4. Use post-return-to-normal test scores to argue that teachers and schools are “failing”; 5. Implement “teacher-proof” (top-down, standardized, even scripted) curriculum or, more insidiously, argue for policies that will mean an end to public schools altogether." -- From Rethinking Schools: The “Learning Loss” Trap"


New IREAD-3 scores show no significant progress among Indiana’s third graders on 2023 exams

This article explains how Indiana's reading test scores were declining even before the pandemic and the disparity in scores achieved by different groups of children. As you read the original article, note that the author equates "test scores" with "literacy."

Also note that this article could have been titled, "2023 IREAD-3 scores show slight improvement over 2022." Even "friendly" media has a tendency to cover education negatively. 

From the Indiana Capital Chronicle
One in five Hoosier third graders continue to struggle with foundational reading skills, according to new standardized test results released Wednesday.

Data from the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) shows 81.9% out of the roughly 82,000 third graders at public and private schools in Indiana passed the 2023 Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination, also called the IREAD-3 test. Tests were administered statewide this spring and summer.

The results are nearly stagnant from the last academic year, when 81.6% of students’ scores indicated reading mastery. The state education department’s goal is that 95% of students in third grade can read proficiently by 2027. As of this spring, 242 schools have reached that goal — an increase from 210 schools a year ago.

Latest results indicate Indiana’s younger students also still lag behind pre-pandemic reading fluency.

In response to the outcry about stagnant test scores, Indiana teacher, Justin Oakley, posted the following at Indiana Educators United, a private Facebook Group [note: edited for clarity and length].
Just some thoughts [about the] Indiana politicians going on news and or social media about "abysmal" 3rd grade reading scores...and "loss of learning/reading scores" in [the] past decade

Let's recap...

Who's been in COMPLETE CONTROL OF ALL LAWS AND POLICY in Indiana since 2011? Billions of dollars passed out [and] AWAY from public schools? (recently, a 740% increase...making $220,000+ to qualify for vouchers to private/religious/etc schools) (the federal poverty or qualifications for free/reduced lunch is family making $28,000) That seems pretty obnoxiously ONE SIDED...?

Also, with a straight face follow along with here: the same foaming at the mouth, wild eyed , snarling toxic culture warriors [are] pushing book bans and removing books. Quick question: can you simultaneously be mad at reading levels...[and] ban books? Can we say teachers ain't teaching your kid to read while you're pushing to remove books in same, sane, universe of consciousness? Or, am I missing something here coherent?

...the majority of our political leaders couldn't pass ILEARN or 8th grade Math and Language Arts testing. (Or, [get a] passing grade on Civics testing) OR better yet, make it one full day teaching in a local school they represent.

...Thanks to the hardworking teachers and education staff that have to listen to this insanity daily and still do a job!!!!!! *And, care about kids.


Who’s Indoctrinating?

"It's only indoctrination if I don't agree with it. Otherwise, it's fact."

From Sheila Kennedy
There’s a psychological mechanism called “projection,” — it’s when people accuse others of faults they themselves harbor. Several commenters to this blog have noted that the GOP routinely engages in projection.

Ron DeSantis’ Florida just shot down any lingering doubts about the accuracy of that observation.

Over the past few years, Republican culture warriors have become positively hysterical over the “indoctrination” of students by public schools and universities. To some extent, they’re right–after all, education imparts facts and–at best– enables critical thinking. A very expansive definition of “indoctrination” might stretch to include the broadening of a student’s frame of reference.

On the other hand, I have previously argued–and firmly believe– that what really upsets Republicans is the lack of indoctrination–the failure of educators to convey their preferred, albeit distorted, versions of history and science.


Pronouns law a ‘stunning waste of time’

In his School Matters blog, Steve Hinnefeld wonders whether the Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly don't know what they're doing or don't care. Perhaps it's both.

From School Matters
...why would Indiana legislators come up with a regulation that will cause extra work and confusion at the start of the academic year. Either they don’t know what they’re doing, or they don’t care.

The regulation comes from House Enrolled Act 1608, approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in the spring. Dubbed the “pronouns law,” it requires schools to notify a parent within five days if their child asks to be called by a different name or pronoun at school.

The intent is clear. Legislators wanted to be sure parents were informed if their child adopted a different gender identity at school. It’s part of their philosophy of supporting “parents’ rights.”

But they backed away from explicitly targeting gender identity, maybe because it would have invited a lawsuit, and made the law much broader. It says at least one parent must be notified if a student asks to change their name or the “pronoun, title, or word to identify the student” at school.

It would appear to require notification if, for example, a student named William asks to be called Will. That’s how many schools seem to be interpreting it: Any deviation from the name on enrollment records calls for telling a parent. In a large school, that’s likely to be dozens, maybe hundreds, of notifications.

The Dallas Miracle! Superintendent Wants Joy in the Classroom, Not Test Prep!

It's nice to read about a superintendent who understands that children are more than test scores.

From Diane Ravitch
During her state of the district address last May, superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said the district would soon eschew the numerous tests designed to find out whether students were ready for the STAAR in favor of, as she put it, more “joy” in the classroom.

In last year’s address, she declared teaching to the test was “officially dead,” and added that some schools were testing as frequently as every few weeks in preparation for the STAAR test, and doing classwork in between those assessments that also practiced STAAR strategy.

“How about we put them all together and we have a huge bonfire?” she said.


Former, longtime FWCS superintendent Wendy Robinson dies

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Wendy Robinson, whose career with Fort Wayne Community Schools spanned nearly 50 years, died Friday.

Robinson retired in June 2020, at age 69, as superintendent of FWCS, which this month welcomed nearly 30,000 students back to classrooms.

Julie Hollingsworth, an FWCS board member and former educator in the district, said Robinson was incredibly smart and politically savvy. She was always conscious of the district’s reputation.

“We had a very respectful relationship,” Hollingsworth said Friday. “She had a good sense of humor, and I enjoyed working with her as a colleague.”

Robinson’s impact at FWCS, Hollingsworth added, said a lot about her work ethic and dedication.

...FWCS released a statement saying the district was saddened to hear of Robinson’s death.

“Dr. Robinson was a lifelong advocate for children, and supporting public education was her passion. She truly believed educating all children to high standards was the moral purpose of all educators. She had high expectations for the employees of Fort Wayne Community Schools – no matter the position – because every staff member had a role to play in students’ lives,” the statement said.

Robinson was with FWCS for 47 years, starting as an elementary teacher.
Dr. Wendy Robinson visits an FWCS classroom.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is essential; one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information, go to [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


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