The Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal: Legal Issues and Effects of Schools

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In wrapping up my educational leadership program at Southern Connecticut State University, I took an interesting class in educational law.  Here is my final paper for the course, an analysis of the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal.  With all of the controversy surrounding high-stakes testing and it’s effects on administrators, teachers, and students, I think this essay not only discusses legal issues but offers some insight and solutions into the problems posed by testing in general.

Read on, and let us know what you think in the comments.

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How to Implement Rigorous and Relevant ELA Curriculum

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Leaders often look to best practices, scholarship, and other leaders before making changes in their organizations. However, much of my coursework in educational leadership has called on me to look to myself for answers. I find this to be valuable, as I do not yet have years of leadership experience to ponder; it does me good to envision how I will meet the inevitable changes and challenges I can expect when I assume a formal leadership role. Though I have opportunities to reflect in my coursework, prior assignments required me to ground my reflection in research. This may seem contradictory because most of us self-reflect without considering others’ thoughts, but academia demands explanation enforced by citation.

This post, though, is a reflective narrative reflection, a metacognitive exercise—a record of my thinking about my thinking. And in this instance I will write my way through the problem of implementing a rigorous and relevant ELA curriculum. Here is how I understand the issue.

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Reflection on Learning Theories

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Here is a short final paper I wrote for my class in learning theory.  Even though it answers questions posed by a specific writing prompt, I hope it sparks a little discussion here on the blog.  As school winds down, I hope to get back to publishing more about writing fiction, philosophy, and learning.  For now, please let me know if you’d like to further discuss this paper.  Thanks!

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Why I Love the Common Core State Standards Part II

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ed reform, ccss, common core, liz natale, diane ravitch

If you thought I was out there with my opinions last time.

I’d like to continue the ideas from my last post about the roll-out of the Common Core State Standards.  Recent outcry makes my view even more unpopular–especially among teachers.

A colleague of mine,  Liz Natale, recently wrote an essay lamenting CCSS and education reform that, rightfully, went viral.  Her writing is heartfelt and brave and I admire her for sharing her passion.

My union also distributed this speech by Diane Ravitch. In it, she details the history of the CCSS, how they were developed in a sort of secrecy, and why they may not be the best solution for education reform.  As usual, Ravitch is well informed and cogent in her statements.

I agree with Natale and Ravitch on many points.  Do I love the NCLB-esque focus on testing?  No.  Do I love the new models for teacher evaluation?  No.  Do I love the breakneck pace of implementing the Common Core and it’s correlated assessments that districts face, the whirlwind that has teachers questioning whether to remain in the profession? No.

I wrote my own critique of how Connecticut planned tackle education reform a few years back.  I still feel teachers aren’t given their due.  The old saying that teaching is a 5-9 job is more of a truism than a witticism, and even more unrecorded work hours will slip on by as we rally to meet all the new demands placed on us.

But there’s still something that bothers me about rejecting CCSS wholesale.  While many of my fellow teachers’ reactions range from frustration to righteous indignation to utter despair, I can’t help but notice the silver lining.  I am actually excited by the Common Core, and I can’t wait to effectively incorporate it into the curricula of the classes I teach.  And after even more reflection, I think I know why.  Originally, I thought it was because of the focus on independent learning.  Now I know it’s more than this. Continue reading

Why I Love the Common Core State Standards

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arne duncan, ccss

What did you just say about the Common Core? I am THIS close to giving you a detention!

I’m probably about to lose a few readers by posting this . . . but here it goes.

If you’re an average adult reading this post, then you may be looking for more information about education reform.  If you’re a parent or guardian, you may be seeking information about how to best prepare your student for the PARC or SBAC tests.  If you are a teacher who chose to read this post, then you’re likely looking for ways to argue with me.

Before you start reaching for your torches and pitchforks, hear me out.

There are so many reasons for and against the new Common Core State Standards.  Pros include improved student performance, better teacher support and accountability, and the promise of equity among school districts across the country.  Cons include educational control shifting from local to central agencies, an increased focus on standardized testing, and the possibility of a “one-size-fits-all” approach to curriculum and instruction.

I agree with many of the for and against arguments I’ve heard.  Both sides have good points.  But I can’t help but notice too many of the arguments are short-sighted and have veiled their true intentions.  Many teachers are just trying to guard their old lessons and content.  Arne Duncan may have a point about parents afraid to see their “honors” students struggle.  Policymakers and bureaucrats have a shiny new system to uphold.  Test companies have a ridiculous amount of money to make.  And politicians need to say they’re doing something about education and the economy.

Here’s my take: no one locked in this debate truly has students’ best interests in mind.

common core, standards, ccss, education
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