IL didn’t make it to the top

August 24, 2010 at 11:05 am 11 comments

Looks like Illinois wasn’t in the 10 states that got the Race to the Top money from Arne.  Not sure if that’s good or bad.  I feel like our poor state has such a bad rap right now, I guess I’m not surprised.  I *would* like to know (or actually would like someone in CPS to know) what the ideas were that helped the winning states get the money.

Boy, I am seeing a reality TV show idea where teams of parents compete to win money for their school district.  When I think of some of the uber-committed parents I’ve met at various CPS schools over the past few years — get them together as a team and they’d be utterly unstoppable.  In addition to eating bugs, etc there could be challenges like “work your way through the bureaucratic tape” or fundraisers on a corner in Time Square.  OK, I’m off to call the networks….

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I’m sure I’ll write this same post every year… Education Documentary: Waiting for Superman

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. RL Julia  |  August 24, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Be sure to have challenges where the teams are transferred on the phone through five different offices and then hung up on, where they are given time sensitive information requiring a response with the response date two weeks previous to the actual date, and my favorite – “the system is down”

    Oh yeah – bonus points for finding a white boys sweater in size 12-14 and then finding an actual boy who would willingly wear such sweater – and keep it clean for more than 20 minutes.

  • 2. Christine  |  August 24, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Here’s some detail on what NY included.

  • 3. LR  |  August 25, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I guess I haven’t been following this story, but something seems a little twisted about this idea to me. They (the feds) have money and they make states compete for it? How do they decide who wins? Is it the states that seem most in need of it? Or is it who presents the best ideas for reform?

    I don’t get it…

  • 4. Hawthorne mom  |  August 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

    There were a number of criteria to win the funds, including lifting caps on charter schools, tying teacher pay to student performance, signing onto a nationwide standard initiative and other things.
    I am so torn on all of it. While on one hand, I think I’d take money for education from anywhere at this point after looking at all the economic projections for the next 2-3 years. On the other hand, I see charters allowed to stay in operation that do no better and often times worse than their neighborhood counterparts. And I support tying pay to performance IF and only IF it is done fairly and with serious consideration for the kinds of family lives and community lives kids come from. There is simply no fair way to compare the kids at my own children’s school to the kids at the schools I have taught in. And assuming that children in a poor, gang infested, violence prone, high poverty area can learn just as much as kids at Hawthorne if they only get a “good” teacher is BS. Yes, a good teacher can make a big difference. But a good home and community life can make 10x the difference that a good teacher can.
    But all of that is a moot point. It is already law that in the next few years, teacher pay will be tied to student performance. Watch, once the economy improves, there will be a mass exodus of teachers from bad schools. Bad schools will have to staff their schools with first year teachers and non-certified staff because noone will go where they can’t come close to successful.

  • 5. Mom  |  August 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I don’t know how the law in question operates. If the way student performance is tied to test results is that x percentage of students must meet/exceed standards, then, yes, that seems to put teachers who teach in high-poverty schools at a disadvantage because it will be harder for them to get a high percentage of the class to meet/exceed standards. But, there could be fairer ways to do it. If the measure were that performance on the tests needs to increase a certain percentage each year from wherever it was the year before, then teachers in high-poverty schools might have an advantage because there is so much more room to grow than in low-poverty schools. I’m probably not expressing it well, but it seems to me they could think of a way to measure whether student performance is improving in a particular school (such that the teachers’ warrant raises) that accounts for the fact that there are going to be many more students in high-poverty schools who perform poorly on tests and such than there are in low-poverty schools.

  • 6. Mayfair Dad  |  August 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    @ LR Obama, Duncan and the rest of the UofC education think tank have very specific notions about school reform. Race To The Top uses the carrot approach – cash money to the school districts who embrace the data-driven reform ideals favored by the current occupant of the White House. NCLB used the stick approach for schools who failed to meet standards determined by the previous occupant of the White House. Everyone thinks holding teachers accountable for student outcomes is a good idea, but not everyone agrees what should be measured or how to measure it. Teachers can’t solve all of society’s ills, but they should be able to teach.

  • 7. Hawthorne mom  |  August 25, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Evanston district 65 actually has a decent way to tie pay to performance. Essentially, each teacher has to raise one student per year to the “meets standards” rating in order to get a good rating themselves. Then if they do that, they are eligible, along with having to meet other criteria, for a yearly raise. Students are assessed the first and last month of school. ISATs are not used (which they are not supposed to be used for purposes of judging teacher quality, even the ISAT statement says that).
    The main idea is that if every teacher in the building raises one kid up to where they need to be each year, then by the time kids leave the building, they’ll all be up to par.
    Here is one key thing: this sort of assessment was done WITH the input of teachers, not TO them. Teachers decided, in part, how they thought teachers should be judged. CPS is famous for “doing to” teachers and then they wonder why it isn’t successful!

  • 8. @#7  |  August 25, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    What I hink is ghastly is how do they pick which lucky student gets all of the teacher’s attention!

  • 9. Hawthorne mom  |  August 26, 2010 at 7:45 am

    I don’t think it works like that. My understanding is that if there are 7 kids below standards, the teacher differentiates to make sure all of those 7 have a better chance of getting where they need to be. And the hope is that then, at least one of the 7 will move far enough along to be considered not at risk anymore. It, of course, if better if 3 or 4 of the 7 are not at risk, but the minimum is one.

    It isn’t like the teacher “picks one” to succeed!

    And it isn’t like she/he ignores the other kids either. It is just a minimum standard to make sure a school is making progress. I can see how someone might imagine it as you presented it, #8, but it is just one way to help kids and judge teachers. Noone is singled out for “all the attention”!

  • 10. mom  |  August 26, 2010 at 8:59 am

    It seems to me if that if we constantly focused on the lower performing students in a class, then the middle to higher performing students can’t get ahead themselves. I just don’t know what the solution is, but this has been my gripe all along with the schools we have been in–building up the bottom at the expense of the middle to top kids.And when you ask for differentiation so kids can be grouped according to ability, the schools act like you are asking for the moon. Maybe I don’t really understand the Race to the Top program–but to me it sounds like an accident waiting to happen. At least they are trying something–and of course, there will always be people who will challenge the idea. (I was not fond of NCLB either)

  • 11. Mom  |  September 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    @ 10 — I’m not sure that anyone in CPS is building the bottom at the expense of the top — in fact quite the opposite –resources are going into SE, magnet, special schools that could be much more “effectively” spent on the remedial education necessary for the bottom half. Why do we care about the tippy top when the bottom half of the population (dropping out, doing drugs, shooting people, etc.) is going to have a much more (negative) impact on the population than those “middle to high performing students” you care about? They will do just fine with their parents’ guidance. The bottom half doesn’t have that advantage. I’m much more concerned about the allocation of resources for the bottom. I can take care of my own child who is in the top half. Controversial on a blog such as this, I recognize.

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