Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why I will not be speaking at Southeast TESOL next week

I will not be speaking at the Southeast TESOL Association Meeting to be held in Myrtle Beach next week, because of a disagreement about my keynote topic.  I learned only recently that the conference theme was supporting the common core, that it was  "dedicated entirely to providing teachers with strategies for working with common core and all of the states in attendance have adopted it."

I therefore changed my topic to "The case against the common core." This was rejected by the SETESOL Executive Committee.  I was told that "this topic cannot be presented to this group of attendees. "  

I cannot in good conscience speak at a conference dedicated to the common core without presenting what I know about it.  I offered to present on my original topic as an extra talk, but this was rejected because of lack of space and time.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Avoiding the toughest exam in the world ... so far.

A Sunday LA Times page one story had this headline: "China gives US schools budget help" (Oct 27). The subheadline: "Tuition-paying Chinese students are providing much needed money - and cultural exchange - to high schools here."

Our schools would not have these budget problems if we didn't waste so much money on standardized testing. And the budget crisis will get worse because testing will soon be online, which means massive and ever-increasing spending on technology.

Also, the article explains that a major motivation for doing high school in the US is to avoid the brutal gaokao the university entrance exam, considered by some to be the toughest exam in the world (

But American schools schools are catching up. How long will it be until American students from wealthy families go abroad for school to avoid the common core tests?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Maximizing comprehensible instruction and peer-interaction for English learners

Sent to the Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 22

Re:  "Los Angeles schools' plan for non-English speakers: Segregation or solution?" (Oct 21),
The purpose of the Los Angeles schools' plan for English learners, as I understand it, is to maximize comprehensible instruction while also maximizing opportunities for meaningful interaction among students. 

Beginning English learners will neither acquire English nor learn subject matter if they are placed in regular subject matter classes right away. We only acquire language when we understand what we hear and read. 

The most logical plan is to provide special ESL classes, and include them in subject matter classes that are comprehensible for beginners in English and that encourage comprehensible interaction with classmates, eg art, music and PE.  Classes that require higher levels of English are taught in the child's primary language. 

As students acquire more English and subject matter knowledge, they can participate in regular subject matter classes, those requiring less English at first (math, science) and those requiring more English later (social studies, language arts).

There is a great deal of evidence supporting the principles underlying this plan, as well as evidence showing that this kind of plan works.

Stephen Krashen

Krashen, S. and Biber, D. 1988. On Course: Bilingual Education’s Success in California. Ontario, CA: California Association for Bilingual Education.
Crawford, J. and Krashen, S. 2007. English Learners in American Classrooms. New York: Scholastic.

original article:

Does Chinese literacy need to be "revived"?

Sent to the Wall Street Journal, Oct 22

As is the case in the US, China thinks that literacy is declining and that part of the solution is a TV spelling bee in Chinese ("Chinese TV's Latest Hit Features a Character-Driven Plot: Show Aimed at Reviving the Country's Written Language Explodes."October 20).

There is no evidence of a decline of literacy in China and no evidence of a decline in the US.  The fact that only 30% of the adults in the audience of the TV show could spell spell "toad" correctly in Chinese characters suggests that there has been no decline: even adult Chinese speakers make mistakes.

It is interesting that  the winner of the spelling bee attributes her success to extensive reading for pleasure.  This agrees with research in both Chinese and English showing that pleasure reading is the major source of literacy development: those who read more read better, write better, spell better, have larger vocabularies, and better grammar. 

The way to prevent a decline in literacy is through more access to interesting reading materials: libraries, not game shows.

Stephen Krashen

No evidence of a decline: Krashen, S. 1993. How well do people spell? Reading Improvement 30: 9-20.
Pleasure reading  and development:
Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Portsmouth: Heinemann and Westport: Libraries Unlimited.
Krashen, S. 2010. Does the power of reading apply to all languages? Language Magazine 9 (9): 24-27.

original article:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Comprehensible instruction AND peer interaction (LA Times, October 22)

Published in the Los Angeles Times, October 22.

Re "An English-plan outcry," Oct. 20

Both sides are right in the debate in the Los Angeles Unified School District over grouping students with similar language ability together. Decades of research tell us that we acquire language when we understand what we hear and read. Our goal is thus to provide both comprehensible instruction and peer interaction.

A solution is to provide English as a second language classes for beginners, while including these students in classes that are highly comprehensible (art and music, for example). Subjects that are harder to make comprehensible for beginners are taught in the first language.

Students are moved to classes that require higher levels of English as their English improves, first participating in classes that require less abstract language (science and math) and later in those that demand more abstract language.

This plan makes classes much easier to teach and promotes the development of academic language, not just social English.

Stephen Krashen

Re: "An English-plan outcry," October 20:
Sent to the LA Times, Oct 20

Both sides are right in the debate over English development: Decades of research tells us that we acquire language when we understand what we hear and read. Our goal is thus to provide both comprehensible instruction and peer interaction.

A solution is to provide ESL classes for beginners,  while including these students in classes that are highly comprehensible (PE, art, music). Subjects that are harder to make comprehensible for beginners are taught in the first language.

As Norm Gold mentioned in the Times article, students are moved to classes than require higher levels of English "in a timely manner" as their English improves, first participating in classes that require less abstract language (science, math) and later those that demand more abstract language (social studies, language arts).

Cheryl Ortega pointed out that this plan makes classes much easier to teach, and promotes the development of academic language, not just social English.

Stephen Krashen

original article:,0,1836196.story
This letter posted at:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chess in school: A good move or patzer move?

Submitted to the Sun Sentinel (Florida), Oct 19
Working with an organization called First Move, three Sunrise schools plan to include formal instruction in chess for second and third graders believing that it "provides big academic benefits," ('City incorporating chess at three elementary schools," October 19).
Neither the article nor the First Move website mention any evidence that chess helps school performance.
I was able to find only one study on chess and academic performance, published in 1992 by the American Chess Foundation: The Effect of Chess on Reading Scores, by Stuart Margulies: Fifty-three children in the middle-elementary grades in New York City voluntarily participated in a chess program in 1990 and 1991. It is claimed that these students made better gains in reading over the year than comparison children, moving from the 57.69 percentile to the 63.07 percentile, a gain of 5.37 percentiles. Comparisons, we are told, showed no additional gain.
A look at the actual scores shows that six of the 53 children made unbelievable (and highly unlikely) gains, ranging from 38 to 66 percentiles. If we remove these outliers, the difference between the groups is less than two percentiles, a very modest gain. The case for chess, in other words, depends on unusual gains made by six children in one study done 20 years ago.
In contrast there is plenty of evidence that improving school libraries helps literacy development. I wonder if the folks in Sunset have considered improving their school and classroom libraries as a means of improving reading and academic performance in general?
Stephen Krashen
patzer = weak chess player
Source: Margulies, S. 1992. The Effect of Chess on Reading Scores: District Nine Chess Program Second Year Report. American Chess Foundation.
original article: City incorporating chess at three elementary schools,0,5686643.story

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just Another Testing Boondoggle? ‘Fewer, Better’ Strategy Has Flaws

Education Week (in press)

Three scholars have recommended testing students only every few years and using “higher-quality assessments that encourage more productive teaching” rather than current multiple-choice tests (“Note to Congress: Fewer, Better Tests Can Boost Student Achievement,” Oct. 9, 2013). In their Commentary, Marc Tucker, Linda Darling-Hammond, and John Jackson note that these tests can be used without spending more money than we are spending now on testing. Phrased another way, they are saying that the new tests will cost just as much as we are spending now, which is a lot, and that the cost will continue to grow.
We will still be spending millions on tests, and billions more to administer them online, with costs increasing as equipment is replaced and technology “advances.”
The bottom line is that the situation will remain the same: a huge bleeding of funds, all going to the testing and computer companies.
But this time it will be more appealing to the public because the tests are supposedly better and students don’t have to take them as often.
Before doing any of this, it has to be shown that it is necessary to test every student. We already have the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or naep, given to samples of students and considered the assessment gold standard. And if the case is made that we need to test every student, it must be shown that the new tests are indeed higher-quality, through careful testing on small groups. They must be shown to have predictive validity, that they lead to greater and longer-lasting academic achievement.
This is hard to do when your goal is to make a quick buck.
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus of Education
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, Calif.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Stimulating Greater Thoughtfulness, Not Greater Strain

S Krashen
NABE Perspectives just published an article that to me reads like a commercial for the Common Core. Prof. Anita Pandey interviewed three students,  four teachers, five parents and one administrator, and quoted a radio interview with the D.C. Schools Chancellor. All those interviewed presented a cheerful view of the common core curriculum, with only gentle criticisms, expressed as concerns. There was no mention of any of the serious criticism of the common core published in the professional literature and the media, including those in NABE  publications (Krashen, 2011, 2012).
The interviews included this segment, presented enlarged in a box on page 12:
Nick Rotoli (Assistant Superintendent, Haverferd School District, PA): Some teachers are asking: “Are our youngsters being asked to do things that many of them are not developmentally ready to do?”
Prof. Pandey: There’s only one way to find out, right?
In my experience, one is never too young or too old to learn, and it’s better to overestimate our children and to set the bar high than to underestimate them.
But there is another way to find out: Read the professional literature, interview teachers, and do small-scale pilot studies. There are apparently are no plans for doing this. Instead we are going ahead and imposing the standards anyway, deliberating erring on the side of too hard rather than too easy, and ignoring the words of Dewey: the value of what students do "resides in its connection with a stimulation of greater thoughtfulness, not in the greater strain it imposes." (Kohn, 1999).

Pandey, A. 2013. Concerned about Common Core? Conversations with students, teachers, parents,
 a policy maker, & a superintendent. NABE Perspectives 35(3):5-20.
Kohn, A. 1999. Confusing harder with better. Education Week, September 15, 1999.
Krashen, S. 2011. Poverty is the problem that must be solved: Our schools are not broken. NABE NEWS 33(4): 5-8.
Krashen, S. 2012. Do those who like the common core know the facts? NABE enews, July 12, 2012.

TABE Keynote 2014

Supported by Research or Not Supperted by Research? Keynote TABE 2014, S. Krashen
EARLY LITERACY IS THE ANSWER (early phonemic awareness and phonics)
Very early: phonemic awareness
  1. PA training > better in PA, not better in reading
  2. Low PA can read OK.
  3. Develops on it's owm – comparison groups of training studies improve
  4. The result of reading
A. Intensive systematic phonics/basic phonics/zero phonics
B. intensive better than lighter? But only for tests of pronouncing words outloud presented in a list; tiny or no impact on reading comprehension
Garan, Elaine. (2001). Beyond the smoke and mirrors: A critique of the National Reading Panel report on phonics. Phi Delta Kappan 82, no. 7 (March), 500-506.
Garan, Elaine. (2004).
In Defense of Our Children. Portsmouth: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. Does Intensive Decoding Instruction Contribute to Reading Comprehension? Knowledge Quest 37 (4): 72-74, 2009 (
C. rules yet to be described/many complex/different programs teach different rules. Predictors of later literacy attainment
PIRLS. Early literacy
= percentage of parents who report that their child can do the following "very well" before entering school “very well”:
A.Recognize most of the letters of the alphabet./B. Read some words./C. Read sentences/D. Write letters of the alphabet/E. Write some words.
Tasks have little or nothing to do with reading comprehension.
NEGATIVE Relationship to reading comprehension at age 10: r = - .38 (p = .011) Similar results from
Senechal, M and LeFevre, J. 2002.
Early lit (emergent lit) the result of "teaching"
Beginning of grade 1

Not a significant predictor of reading at grade 3
"... the impending shortage of scientists and engineers is one of the longest running hoaxes in the country" (Bracey, 2009).
There is a surplus: Two to three qualified graduates for each science/tech opening.

Emerg Lit
Par print
RC gr 3
Emerg Lit
Book Exp
Salzman, Hal, and Lowell, B. Lindsay. 2007. Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand. Available at SSRN:
Salzman, Hal, & Lowell, B. Lindsay. 2008. "Making the grade.: Nature 453 no. 1: 28-30.

Salzman, Hal. 2012. "No shortage of 1ualified American STEM grads" (5/25/12) qualified-american-stem-grads.
Teitelbaum, Michael. 2007.
Testimony before the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, November 6, 2007
The US is producing more Ph.D.s in science than the market can absorb. Weismann, Jordan. 2013. "The Ph.D bust: America's awful market for young scientists—in 7 charts." The Atlantic, Feb. 20. scientists-in-7-charts/273339/
About 1/3 of college-bound high-school students take calculus. David Bressoud. Calculus in high school: Too much of a good thing?
Abour 5% of jobs require this much math. Handel, M 2010. “What Do People Do at Work? A Profile of U.S. Jobs from the Survey of Workplace Skills, Technology, and Management Practices (STAMP)” (OECD, forthcoming).
Study 1:14 words in 20 hours, compared to doing nothing
Study 2: exposed ot 540 words in one year, only 135 learned
Study 3: Flocaboulary students do better on state tests. Sample sizes small. Previous

years' tests not included in analysis.
SIOP: Mixed bag – make input more comprehensible, but output, correction focused on.

  1. Validity study. r2 = .22, 12 teachers, not enough subjects
  2. Studies comparing SIOP-trained teachers with non-SIOP trained teachers.
(1) small effect sizes,
(2) only 2/4 produce significant results,
(3) 3 of 4 done by SIOP creators;
(4) information missing on students, activities of comparison groups,
(5) SIOP teachers sometimes specially selected.
Krashen, S. 2013. Does SIOP research support SIOP claims? International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching. 8,1: 11-24.
Reading and Vocabulary
Review of research: Krashen (2004)
UK Study: Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. 2013. Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, University of London
more reported pleasure reading of books at ages 10 & at age 16 significantly related to scores on vocabulary, spelling and math tests given at age 16.

Predictors of vocabulary test scores at age 16
V ariable
SES: higher job status
Parent has degree
Higher income family
Read to everyday at age 5
Reads books often at age 10
Visits library often at age 10
Reads newspapers more than once/week at age 16
Reads comics/magaines more than once/week at age 16
Reads books more than once/week at age 16
Reading proficiency at age five
Pictoral vocab at age five
Reading proficiency at age 10
From Sullivan and Brown (2013), table 7, model 4, based on 3,424 subjects.
SES job status: Levels 1 to 3 in the Goldthorpe Schema, which consists of seven levels. 1 inclues "higher grade professionals", 2 includes higher-grade technicians, managers in enterprises, 3 includes routine non- manual jobs, 7 includes semi-skilled and unskilled workers.

Argument: students need to learn to read real-world demanding texts (1) Can light reading supply enough academic vocabulary?
Light reading as the bridge: Krashen, S. 2012. Developing academic proficiency: Some hypotheses. International Journal of Foreign Langauge Teaching, (2): 8-15. (available at
(2) ALL FVR/SSR studies involve fiction!
1) VAM is unstable, unreliable
Teacher-rating plan flawed (Chicago Sun-Times, April 2, 2012)
The Chicago Public Schools have decided that student test scores gains will be used as part of

teacher evaluation [“Teacher ratings overhaul forges on despite lack of union approval, March 31]. Everything is wrong with this plan. A number of studies have shown that rating teachers using test score gains does not give consistent results. Different tests produce different ratings, and the same teacher’s ratings can vary from year to year, sometimes quite a bit.
In addition, using test score gains for evaluation encourages gaming the system, trying to produce increases in scores by teaching test-taking strategies, not by encouraging real
learning. This is like putting a match under the thermometer and claiming you have raised the temperature of the room. We are all interested in finding the best ways of evaluating teachers, but using student test-score gains is a lousy way to do it.

Stephen Krashen,
Different tests produce different ratings: Papay, J. 2010. Different tests, different answers: The stability of teacher value-added estimates across outcome measures. American Educational Research Journal 47,2. Vary from year to year: Sass, T. 2008. The stability of value-added measures of teacher quality and implications for teacher compensation policy. Washington DC: CALDER. (National Center for Analysis of
Longitudinal Data in Educational Research.) Kane, T. and Staiger, D. 2009. Estimating Teacher Impacts on Student Achievement: An Experimental Evaluation. NBER Working Paper No. 14607; dent-test- results.htm
2) Is there a crisis in teacher quality?
International test scores near top of world when poverty is controlled. Products of our schools do very well: The U.S. economy is ranked fifth most innovative in the world out of 142 (2013 Global Innovation Index), based in part on the availability of education, new patents, publication of scientific & technical journal articles.

Flipped Classrooms & Khan Academy Fever:from a supplement to the core
No research but we should do it anyway? leadership/mar13/vol70/num06/Evidence-on-Flipped-Classrooms-Is-Still-Coming-In.aspx
Kahn: "In the description of his forthcoming book, he is described as having “established himself as an outsider, with no teaching background to tie him to
broken models." teach/2012/07/27/gJQA9bWEAX_blog.html
Online testing: all students must have access to the internet, up-to-date; constant upgrading and replacement. Untested and VERY expensive, with no end in sight.
No evidence of a teacher quality problem. Student attainment is good, products of educational system do well.
TFA – the evidence for math: very small effects, unusual sample of TFA teachers.
Comments by Rubinstein and Vasquez at:
3. Veteran teachers are vital.
In the Austin Statesman, in response to an essay on how new teachers are the best because they
are more enthusiastic & work harder, that we only need teachers for a couple of years.
Re: Sept. 6 column, “Rookie teachers provide energy, fresh approaches.”
When Esther Cepeda describes all the committed work and sacrifices of rookie teachers, doesn’t she realize that these same responsibilities apply to career teachers? Experienced teachers must continually rekindle enthusiasm to be effective, but their experience is invaluable.
For instance, one of the founders of KIPP, Dave Levin, was an intern at Teach for America. He was failing miserably in his high- poverty, Houston school with only six weeks of summer training. One day Levin visited the classroom across the hall and met Harriet Ball, a master teacher in her forties. He studied her techniques and incorporated them into his practice, as well as those of master teacher Rafe Esquith. He and Michael Feinberg later founded the KIPP schools on those principles.
The success of novice teachers depends on the experience and wisdom of career teachers. The ideal school blends the expertise of the master teachers with the enthusiasm of the best newbies. We learn from each other. If teaching becomes a rotation of two-year novices, as Cepeda advocates, we are in trouble.

Sara Stevenson
A CONJECTURE The .01% want as much of the (at least) 500 billion we spend yearly on education as they can get. One way to get a lot of it is replace teachers with temps, and technology > no more benefits, retirement pay, etc.
1.Keep pressure on teachers by making their lives as difficult as possible and their task totally impossible. The common core standards and tests are a major part of this.
2. Continue to attack the teaching profession: The message will continue to be that the US is in economic trouble because of bad education, which is because of bad teachers.The public, media, and politicians will then have no sympathy for teachers’ pointing out how difficult teaching has become, This will be seen as "whining," and teachers will then resign/quit in greater numbers.
3. Continue to stress the importance of teacher evaluation, This sends the message that teachers are not doing their job & that there are a lot of bad teachers out there who must be identified and fired.
4.Continue to push the idea that TFAs as just as good or better than experienced teachers.
5. Do not reward teachers for experience, for years of service. This will also encourage more experienced teachers to retire/resign, creating more room for lower-paid temps in the system. 6. Gradually increase the percentage of teachers who are temps as teachers retire and as they leave the profession because of frustration, This releases money because experienced teachers cost much more than temps. The result is more money for technology.
7. Continue to convince the public that all technology is wonderful. Use this to push flipped classrooms and glorify the Khan Academy. The role of teachers will then be diminished to the equivalent of TA’s. This reduces time spent in classrooms (lowers salaries even more), and lowers the status of teachers even more, as well as saving more salary money and increasing teacher frustration. Hire part-timers (no benefits) to serve as supplements to virtual teaching. This will be promoted as expanded opportunity for jobs, no teaching credential required. The public will accept this because they will have lost all respect for teacher credentials.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Invest in libraries, not more tests

Sent to the Houston Chronicle, October 9
Lisa Falkenberg ("Cutting libraries shows warped priorities," October 9) is right: Spending money on increased testing while cutting libraries and librarians is like investing in precise scales to weigh the animal, but neglecting to feed it. 
Decades of research show that the most important factor in developing literacy is self-selected reading, or reading because you want to. For children of poverty, the library is often the only place they have access to books. 
We hear pious pronouncements from politicians about the importance of reading, while their actions prevent it from happening. 
Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Cutting librarians shows warped priorities
By Lisa Falkenberg
Schools without librarians. Schools without any library at all. What are we doing to our schools?
Maybe I'm having an existential moment. Maybe I've spent too much time with Diane Ravitch's new book, "Reign of Error," which explores the disastrous implications of the "reform" movement pushing testing, privatization and punitive teacher "accountability."
But Ericka Mellon's front page story Tuesday on disappearing librarians and libraries struck a chord with me - an eerie, piercing, minor chord that is still ringing in my ears.
And although the loss of certified librarians is tragic, it was the mention of library-less schools that hit hardest. There are 35 schools within the Houston Independent School District that haven't reported to district officials the name of a staff member responsible for checking out library books to students, according to spokesman Jason Spencer.
That likely means there's no functioning library at those campuses, although Spencer said a clerk or volunteer could be keeping things going.
As a kid who grew up with few books in the home, the school library was a wonderland, a refuge, an All You Can Eat buffet for the mind. It was inspiration and independence; I could read what I wanted, not what I was assigned.
The library, and the librarians, taught me how to search and research, how to analyze, how to find things I didn't know I was looking for. That giant dictionary on the swivel stand was as addictive as any video game. Obsolete today, maybe. But its lessons are still with me, even when I'm typing my inquiries into
Life rafts for the poor
For poor children, many of whom live in homes with no books and neighborhoods with few public libraries and bookstores, libraries are life rafts. Studies have shown that less access to books means lower reading achievement, and more access can actually mitigate some of the effects of poverty.
Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California who writes about linguistics and language acquisition, has argued that books are as essential as a healthy lunch and health care. Although, the latter is at risk, too, not only for lack of insurance in our state. Principals are cutting school nurses as well.
Access to health care and books are two things Ravitch puts forth in her book as "solutions" to better educating poor children. "We know what works," she writes. All we have to do is look at the things advantaged kids have in their homes and schools - exposure to arts, sports, dance - and try to provide them as best we can in poor schools.
Ravitch's "solutions" can seem downright elementary: "Every school should have a library with librarians and media specialists," she writes.
Well, of course. But she knew something I didn't when I read those words. Librarians and libraries aren't a given anymore. They're not a priority. They're a luxury.
The quote in Mellon's story from Michelle Schmidt, a leader of the Pershing Middle School parent group, said it all: "In an ideal situation, all public schools would have librarians and art programs and P.E. every day, but no public school has it all," she said.
Books, art, exercise
In my day, which wasn't too long ago, books and art and exercise were the basics, what a kid needed to survive, to stay healthy and inspired and interested. They still are.
But some educators in our society, many of whom wear the "Reformer" cape, have other priorities. They have swallowed whole the mantra that our schools are in crisis, our children are in danger and our national security is at risk as a result.
As Ravitch suggests, they have come up with "solutions" that seek to undermine traditional public education, the foundation of our democracy, and replace it with a system of "choice," code for privatization, and "accountability," code for punishing and firing teachers whose drill-and-kill skills are wanting in this chilling dominion of the Almighty Test.
Here at home, HISD just received the coveted Broad Prize. The $550,000 in college scholarships that comes with the award is a wonderful thing. The reform-minded zeal behind the award is something else.
To some extent, HISD Superintendent Terry Grier is just following state laws that require certain amounts of testing, but he has chosen to continue tying teacher bonuses to student performance on standardized tests in a program known as "ASPIRE." So-called "merit pay" has been around for nearly a century, but there's no compelling evidence it works.
Yet, it is a priority for taxpayer dollars. And, thanks to the Texas Legislature, so is testing.
Merit pay = 20 Marians
Since 2007, HISD has paid out about $200 million on merit pay. Earlier this year, it paid $17.6 million in ASPIRE awards, about $12.3 million from local general funds and the rest from grants. If you're curious, those general funds are enough to pay 200 librarians.
Then there's the money for testing. HISD last year approved about $3.3 million for testing tools known as "formative assessments," which track what students are learning. In an alternative, test-free universe, that amount is enough to pay for about 55 librarians.
Principals' choice
Spencer, the HISD spokesman, stressed that the decision to cut libraries lies with principals, who are ultimately responsible for student academic achievement: "In HISD, we've decided for better or worse principals have this discretion," Spencer said. "If the board decided they wanted to make that nonnegotiable they could."
And what are the board's priorities? We'll get some idea of that on Thursday, when members consider a four-cent property tax rate increase. It would be the first since 2001. And HISD would keep its proud distinction of having the lowest tax rate among 24 of Harris County's school districts.
But then, if it passes, there's no guarantee any of it would go to libraries. Priorities are elsewhere: tests, data, teacher assessments. Everything else gets stuck on a shelf.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Cy Young argument for increased testing.

NEA president Dennis Van Roekel has made this argument:

"Under the No Child Left Behind law, states have released test results that supposedly tell us how many students are proficient in math and reading. The problem is, each state sets its own benchmark for proficiency, and different students are held to different standards.

Imagine if the batting average of one baseball player was based on at-bats against Cy Young winners, while another average was compiled from plate appearances in the minors. You couldn't tell much by comparing the two numbers."

My response: We already have a test that allows us to compare states: The NAEP. In fact, the evidence for differing standards on state tests comes from comparisons with the NAEP.