Comment history

First Bell: How's this for a homework excuse?; proposed school-finance plan ready for review

PeeEffSee... Can we assume you're getting that data for us? Is that why you're so quiet? Or did you lose your internet access on your ipad down at the "Occupy xyz" rally?

December 20, 2011 at 10:41 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Bond support builds, as consolidation plans for Lawrence elementary schools lag

Hey PFCMcBitchalot, another hit and run post?

December 20, 2011 at 10:37 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

First Bell: How's this for a homework excuse?; proposed school-finance plan ready for review

Sure, let me take a look at the original cost/benefit analysis of retooling the grading systems for 6th graders at West, South, Southwest and Liberty Memorial and also provide the actual costs as implemented so far. Finally, I'll need to take a look at the revised estimate to include all of the new planning, education, development work on skyward and the other grading systems (i.e. Engrade...) being tested by some teachers. Good news is, the district saved a bunch of money in the communication/publicity budget.

Where's Mr. Bradford on the implementation of SBG? Did the implementation adhere to the original plan and budget? How will this affect teacher turnover either by attrition or “You can work someplace else if you don’t like it”? Are we going to lose all those 6th grade teachers who signed letters to the district trying to stop SBG? What's the potential exposure for legal fees and damages when one of those teachers is fired for speaking out against SBG even though Dr. Doll told us all at the Southwest meeting that there was no district policy preventing teachers from speaking their mind about SBG? You may have missed it because that’s when Mr. Bradford interrupted him with “They can work someplace else if they don’t like it”. Check the doc’s in Ms. Bodensteiner’s report, you’ll see feedback was submitted that night from teachers saying they were afraid to speak out because of Bradford’s comments.

Wouldn’t you like to make sure the district isn’t wasting your money too?

December 15, 2011 at 9:51 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

First Bell: How's this for a homework excuse?; proposed school-finance plan ready for review

Someone needs a hug today... Congratulations on the "Person of the year" recognition by the way.

December 15, 2011 at 9:33 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

First Bell: How's this for a homework excuse?; proposed school-finance plan ready for review

Is it standard practice for the district to conduct a cost/benefit analysis before determining whether or not to go ahead with new projects? Considering the current fiasco of Standards Based Grading, it doesn't seem as though they do. At least they're saving money by making the graduate level training on SBG voluntary.

I bet we wouldn't have to look too deep to find at least one job that could be cut at the district level, that would also save us money by reducing further snake oil infomercial quality projects and implementation.

December 15, 2011 at 9:31 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Online petition backs standards-based grades

Without long term data, how can the "Hawthorne effect" be avoided or at least factored in? Personally, after weighing the “benefits” of SBG with the concerns based on real life examples and witnessing the passion of those supporting this untested (long term) and unproven system, I could completely see the potential for the "Hawthorne effect" creeping into the perspective of those supporters. I know that they are very passionate and caring and desperately want to help all the children succeed and we are very grateful for that. This is not intended as an insult to the teachers at all. I'm all for finding newer and better processes and technology that will help the students and staff succeed. Without long term evidence of SBG directly influencing an increase of productivity of a significant percentage of students across all performance levels, while not showing a decrease in performance of any, O’Connor and Marzano amount to nothing more than some guys on late night TV infomercials. Causation not corrolation!

I think the use of Rubrics on projects and assignment are valuable tools that help establish and communicate expectations as well as justifying grading results but beyond that I don’t see the value in changing from traditional letter grading to SBG and you can forget about the separation of “Learner Behavior” and 15 Fixes for Broken Grades. I’ve seen the use of Rubrics on assignments which were then given traditional 0-100 grades that were factored in for an overall traditional letter grade. That was a functional process that contributed to an environment that provided detailed information, motivation and productive feedback for all students.

The Hawthorne effect is a form of reactivity whereby subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behavior being experimentally measured simply in response to the fact that they know they are being studied, not in response to any particular experimental manipulation.

The term was coined in 1950 by Henry A. Landsberger when analysing older experiments from 1924-1932 at the Hawthorne Works (a Western Electric factory outside Chicago). Hawthorne Works had commissioned a study to see if its workers would become more productive in higher or lower levels of light. The workers' productivity seemed to improve when changes were made and slumped when the study was concluded. It was suggested that the productivity gain occurred due to the impact of the motivational effect on the workers as a result of the interest being shown in them. Although illumination research of workplace lighting formed the basis of the Hawthorne effect, other changes such as maintaining clean work stations, clearing floors of obstacles, and even relocating workstations resulted in increased productivity for short periods. Thus the term is used to identify any type of short-lived increase in productivity.

December 3, 2011 at 12:11 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Online petition backs standards-based grades

So given that there is no data or evidence and we're only left with "strong feelings" and anecdotes, would you agree that implementing this new system amounts to nothing more than an experiment? In the computer geek world you NEVER install a beta system in a production environment. Even after the beta has been thoroughly tested and locked down, you don't roll it out without proper training of the end-users.

December 3, 2011 at 11:06 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Online petition backs standards-based grades

I would like to know if there was indeed a training session for USD 497 teachers on the 15 Fixes for Broken Grades. I've been told that there was a training session this past summer. Take the time to read through it and/or watch the web seminar linked above.

I can see where they’re coming from in wanting to isolate the teaching and learning of the standards that they will be tested on but I don’t see ANY details on what they’re going to do with “behavior “ other than the student will get a grade. How is the student’s behavior weighted in determining the students success and advancement?

December 2, 2011 at 9:58 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Online petition backs standards-based grades

Another BIG issue I have is with O’Conner, another major player in the SBG realm, and some of his core principles or frameworks of SBG. O’Conner is referenced often in USD 497 literature regarding SBG. SBG requires the separation of teaching to standards and “Learner Behaviors”. I understand the intentions of this, remove all the noise so you can drill down and identify to what extent the student actually knows the standards. However, if you dig a little deeper (Mr. Fagan) you’ll find more specifics. Take a look at a web based presentation by Mr. O’Conner himself, in it he discusses his 15 Fixes for Broken Grades.
Take note of items 1-6.

1) Don't include student behaviors (effort, participation, adherence to class rules, etc) in grades; include only achievement.
2) Don't reduce marks on "work" submitted late; provide support for the learner.
3) Don't give points for extra credit or use bonus points; seek only evidence that more work has resulted in a higher level of achievement.
4) Don't punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades; apply other consequences and reassess to determine actual level of achievement.
5) Don't consider attendance in grade determination; report absences separately.
6) Don't include group scores in grades; use only individual achievement evidence.

Standards Based Grading is SO MUCH more than just that the report cards look different than you’re used to in traditional letter grading. Please take the time to look into it further.

December 2, 2011 at 9:49 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Online petition backs standards-based grades

I have yet to see ANY long term published study that shows SBG being directly attributed to increases in students' performance in the middle school and high school levels.

The Round Rock Independent School District in Texas found itself in a very similar situation. After hearing from the parents and teachers and actually looking into dissenting opinions and research, they scrapped the SBG initiative in middle and high schools.

Read the Superintendent’s announcement here:

See some local news coverage here:

Read through the blog created by parents in RRISD here:

Here are a couple of quotes from the book, Formative Assessment and Standards Based Grading, by one of the leading SBG ”experts” Robert J. Marzano.

“Where there is interest in this system, however, there is also quite a bit of poor practice on top of considerable confusion about its defining characteristics.” (pg.17)

“While this system seems like good practice, without giving teachers guidance and support on how to collect and interpret the assessment data with which scores like advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic are assigned, standards-based reporting can be highly inaccurate. Indeed, at the writing of this book, no major study (that we are aware of) has demonstrated that simply grading in a standards-based manner enhances student achievement.” (pg.18)

It has been established, demonstrated and agreed upon by parents and board members at the meetings this week that there is absolutely no continuity/consistency in the use of SBG grading and reporting at this time. It’s not just a matter of the stupid parents being most familiar with the traditional letter grading system and are resistant to change, one of the major issues here is that the district is implementing a new process without proper preparation and training. As Marzano states, this scenario leads to highly inaccurate reporting.

December 2, 2011 at 9:48 a.m. ( | suggest removal )