Three Industries That Kill Middle-Class Jobs

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Paul Buccheit writes in the Nation of Change that three industries have actively contributed to the collapse of well-paying middle-class jobs in America. Corporations that kill middle-class jobs, contribute to inequality.


The pharmaceutical industry is notable for tax avoidance.


The high-tech industry eliminates jobs and outsources jobs:


Just 25 years ago GM, Ford, and Chrysler generated a combined $36 billion in revenue while employing over a million workers. Today Apple, Facebook, and Google generate over a trillion dollars in revenue with just 137,000 workers. Apple makes over a half-million dollars per employee; Facebook and Google are both over $300,000….


The insidious rise of “philanthrocapitalism” has allowed tech titans like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg to reduce their taxes — thus depriving society of infrastructure and education funds — while they assume the right to make high-level decisions about GMO agriculture, charter schools, and Internet usage. Much of this lost tax money actually goes to partner corporations that do the bidding of their billionaire benefactors.


The new “sharing economy,” such as firms like Uber and AirBNB, has also killed jobs.



Free-market enthusiasts look to the sharing economy (or “gig” economy, or “day labor” economy) for salvation, with companies like Uber and Airbnb and TaskRabbit enabling the dreams of Millennials, who, according to Time’s Rana Foroohar, “want to be their own boss…any Uber driver will tell you that having totally flexible hours is the best part of the gig.” But at the same time, Uber workers have no pensions, no health care, and no worker rights protection. Thus, says Foroohar, “the company also captures all the fear of the broken social compact in America.”



Uber, with a market valuation of $50 billion, has 4,000 employees along with 160,000 drivers who are not considered by the company to be employees. This is not a horizontal sharing process, but rather a hierarchical control structure, with tens of thousands of American workers denied the traditional employee support system.

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Warwick, R.I., Will Offer Online Courses, Despite Lack of Evidence

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The Warwick, Rhode Island, school committee voted 4-0 to offer online courses to high school students, despite the lack of any evidence that students learn well when taking such courses. The schools’ director of secondary education played a video touting the virtues of online learning before the vote. That was it.


Peter SanGiovanni, a teacher at Pilgrim, said the jury is still out on VHS.


“The U.S. Department of Education said there have been very few case studies done to prove this is an effective way of teaching,” he said.


SanGiovanni mentioned a study that was done by NPR that looked at more than 300 VHS-type programs and found that not only were two-thirds of those programs not educationally rigorous enough, but that when looking at students that participated in a full-time VHS program compared with full-time classroom students, the graduation rate for full-time VHS students was less than half of full-time classroom students.


SanGiovanni also questioned how VHS students would be policed in terms of taking exams.


Meredith McSwiggan, a special education teacher at Gorton, said her experience with VHS was not a positive one.


“I had a student years ago that was a struggling student and he couldn’t get through the English 9 course. I can’t say that he learned anything by taking the VHS course,” she said. “You don’t have immediate feedback with virtual courses, which is something that’s important for teachers.”


One of the parents that spoke during public comment, who recently completed a Master of Science online degree, said he didn’t get much out of the course and received almost no feedback from non-local teachers.


Superintendent Philip Thornton said VHS would be like a pilot program, with a very small percentage of students participating.


To my knowledge, there are no research studies showing the superiority of online classes over teacher-led, in-person, interactional classes. But there is a significant industry pressing hard to expand online classes and to make them a graduation requirement.

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NYSAPE & Class Size Matters strongly opposed to new NYSED student data privacy project

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The Following is a letter to Commissioner Elia and the Board of Regents, Re: NYSAPE & Class Size Matters strongly opposed to new NYSED student data privacy project, you can download the document here.


Download (PDF, 389KB)

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Educator: A Curious Test of Leadership, Designed by Pearson

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A comment by a reader:




I have been a teacher of special needs children in NYC for the past eleven years and also have an advanced degree in educational administration. I am now looking to utilize it.


Here’s my issue– I just took a Pearson test under the most arcane circumstances.


It was the eight hour marathon of the two-part school building leader exam. Throughout the exam on a computer that was not functioning right, jack hammers were being pile driven above my head (and other test takers like me) on the floor above the “Pearson Professional Building” test site. They gave us tight headphones to wear and the vibrations were still felt. It was insane! Fun fact, did you know that Pearson does not allow you to bring water into the testing room? It’s true. For four hours at a shot you have to find water elsewhere. Are they afraid I would find my answers to the 600 word essays floating in the bottle?


If you have to use the bathroom, or grab some water, it takes five minutes to leave the premises because first you raise your hand, and hope that your ‘proctor’ sees you behind the glass, comes inside, turns off your computer (which is still ticking down), then you have to have your palm scanned, and show them your ID then run the ten second hundred yard dash to a key in bathroom. Reverse the process when through. On part two of the exam (seven hours in) – I held my body in check with dehydration and hallucinations floating along simultaneously because I did not want to lose valuable time on the clock. In my exhausted opinion, these tests are more of an endurance meet then a skills test for the field. I felt like it was a cult indoctrination, or a cruel hazing ceremony from college before being expelled.


I wish the world of politicians and other loudmouths and crack-pots could see inside the vail of the Pearson testing empire. Thanks for reading!

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Why Integration Matters: NC Teacher of the Year

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James E. Ford, North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year, wrote this powerful article about his experience in an integrated school as a child and the reality of teaching in a segregated school now.


He begins:


ON THE FIRST DAY of every semester during my five years as a teacher at Garinger High School, I had a candid talk with my students about how the world perceives them. The school, sitting off of Eastway Drive in east Charlotte, is high-poverty, majority-minority, and distinctly urban. I knew, from my own experiences, exactly what “type” of school this was, and I didn’t shy away from telling the kids.


I told them that many people didn’t expect much from their population, because of where they live and what they look like. That they all fit into somebody’s stereotype. I told them that students who go to a school such as Garinger are less likely to graduate than students elsewhere. I told them it was a setup of sorts. Then I waited, reading the responses on their faces. Some pouted, sulking in a sense of internalized low self-worth. Others were visibly angry, as if I had confirmed something they never had the language to articulate.


I should say here that my teaching experience at Garinger was amazing. I enjoyed my students and labored passionately to ensure they received a great education. I even became the North Carolina Teacher of the Year. But I knew what was happening from the first day I arrived on campus.


This school, home of the Wildcats, was a symbol of our local system’s backward trend toward re-segregating along racial and socioeconomic lines—a startling shift for a system that, just a few decades ago, was the district referenced in the landmark Supreme Court case Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, a system that was once regarded as the vanguard of school desegregation.


At the end of that speech on the first day of each semester, I informed the students of the purpose of my presence: That I knew what it was like to be doubted and mistreated. That I was on a mission to make sure they broke out of this destructive system. That I needed their trust before I could teach them. Far more often than not, they gave it to me.


But the truth is, no educator should have to have that conversation with his or her students—ever.


Read his article and ask yourself: Do we care about children of color? Why are we not doing what we know is right for them? Why are we allowing our schools to be desegregated? What kind of society do we want to be?

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Revolutionary Idea: Elementary School Children Should LIKE School

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Laura Eberhart Goodman is a parent and a retired teacher. She is upset that her children come home from elementary school exhausted, frustrated, and listless. When she asks them about the good things that happened that day, they can’t think of anything unless it was during lunch or recess. They have been subjected to scripted learning and continual assessment. There is no play, no imaginative activities, no fun, no good memories. It shouldn’t be like this. Thanks, President George W. Bush. Thanks, Sandy Kress and Margaret Spellings. Thanks, President Obama. Thanks, Arne Duncan. You ruined childhood for millions of children.


She writes:



From a parental perspective, a good learning environment is one with positive energy. The teachers want to be there, and the children want to be there. No one is counting the minutes to the end of the day before it has even started.

From an educator’s perspective, an environment that is engaging, hands-on, with opportunities for meaningful learning, practice, discussions, and creativity, makes kids happy. When kids are happy, they learn more, and without having to resort to bribery. It’s not rocket science.
When the learning environment becomes very serious, and relies heavily on assessment and grades, learning targets and goals, it is not as enjoyable. It is “work”, and children don’t enjoy work. It’s not in their nature to enjoy work; children are created to learn through play.

You will have as much success asking a tiger not to have stripes as you will asking children not to play. I was watching two children at the post office the other day waiting to get passports, and they had been there for quite a long time. They developed a game using one of their jackets, and entertained themselves nicely with it. It is as natural as breathing for children to play. What defines “play”? Any activity that engages the imagination and creativity, two skills that lead to innovation and problem solving when practiced often enough.

We can’t expect them to do work in the same way that an adult does work. We are not the same. They don’t have to pay a mortgage and I get to stay up as late as I want to. One is not better or worse than the other; they are different.

Just because students may have to sit in an office for 8 hours a day when they are adults, doesn’t mean that they should have to start practicing it now as children. It is like saying to a ten year old, “One day you’re going to pay taxes, so I’m going to keep 50% of your birthday money from Grandma because I want you to get used to it.”

There’s a proper time for everything.

Why has elementary school become the time for instructional and assessment methods that are more appropriate for high school and college students?

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A Letter to All New York Superintendents and Board Members: Who Will Stand Up for the Children? For Teachers and Schools?

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Tim Farley, school leader and parent in New York, wrote this letter to the state’s superintendents and board members. Farley is an active member of the directors of NYSAPE (New York State Allies for Public Education):



Dear New York State Superintendents and Boards of Education Members,


I write this letter to you on the eve of a new year.  The past year has brought many changes to education – a new Commissioner, a soon-to-be new Chancellor, new regulations on APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review), new Regents, a new testing company for the NY State tests, the Education Transformation Act, the partial moratorium of provisions of this Act, and the re-write of ESEA to ESSA. We are being told by some that everything is fine now, the parents can opt back in to having their children take the tests, the teachers can take a breath, and the children can stop stressing out. Let me assure you that this is not true.


Despite the well wishes of Commissioner Elia in her recent newsletter, it is doubtful that teachers will have a happy holiday. Ms. Elia tries to assuage the teachers’ fears in the opening paragraph with the following: “The emergency regulation removes any consequences for teachers’ and principals’ evaluations related to the grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Math State Assessments and the State-provided growth score on Regents exams until the start of the 2019-2020 school year.” Teachers can take a much needed sigh of relief. Or can they?


In the third paragraph of the newsletter, Ms. Elia writes: “The transition scores and subsequent ratings will be determined based on the remaining subcomponents of the APPR that are not based on the grades 3-8 ELA or Math State assessments and/or a State-provided growth score on Regents examinations. During the transition period, only the transition score and rating will be used for purposes of evaluation, and for purposes of employment decisions, including tenure determinations and for teacher and principal improvement plans. State-provided growth scores will continue to be computed for advisory purposes and overall HEDI ratings will continue to be provided to teachers and principals.” What Ms. Elia gives teachers in the first paragraph, she snatches from them in this one.


In the first paragraph one might infer that no matter how poorly students do on the state tests, it won’t count against the teacher. However, she later clarifies that, in fact, the student test scores can and will be used for “advisory purposes.” Does that mean that teachers can still be fired for “ineffective” growth scores based on their earlier growth scores? You bet it does. The moratorium that the Board of Regents recently put in place is for state-provided growth scores moving forward. However, if a teacher or principal already has two “ineffective” state provided growth scores (2013-2014 and 2014-2015) and receives an ineffective, under the new 3012d, if they receive an additional ineffective this year, they must be fired. In addition, the growth scores of the teacher must still be made available to parents.


As you are all probably well aware, the opt out movement has grown exponentially over the past three years, from about 20,000 in 2012-2013, to 65,000 in 2013-2014, to over 240,000 in 2014-2015. Why are parents opting out in such large numbers? What will happen this spring? Parents have been shouting from the rooftops what they want: the end of Common Core, the end of the developmentally inappropriate tests (both the level of “rigor” and the soul-crushing length of the tests), the end of high stakes testing (student testing tied to teacher effectiveness or school ratings), and the unfettered collection of their children’s data to stop. Additionally, Commissioner Elia signed a new contract with Questar without a full vetting or vote by the Board of Regents. Has enough been done to stop the opt out movement? I don’t think so.


  • We still have Pearson making this year’s 3-8 tests in ELA and math. As a matter of fact, Pearson will also be playing a role in next year’s tests according to this Newsday article. As reported by John Hildebrand, “State education officials said local teachers and administrators will be given a much bigger role, working with Questar to write new test questions. Those officials acknowledged, however, that questions developed by Pearson must be used in tests administered in April and in the spring of 2017, because of the time needed to review new questions for validity and accuracy.”


  • We will likely still have tests that are far too long and far too “rigorous.” Ms. Elia has stated that certain reading passages and some multiple choice questions would be eliminated, but admitted that these changes will not substantially reduce the length of the tests. The tests will still be administered three days for ELA and three days for math for grades 3-8. 


  • Despite a promise that onerous field tests would be eliminated if NYSED received $8.4 million to print different versions of the exam, they were provided with this funding but are still imposing field tests on the state’s students.


  • We still have tests tied to teacher and principal effectiveness ratings. As stated above, teachers and principals can still be fired based on state-provided growth scores in grades 3-8 tests from the last two years – and all other teachers will have their effectiveness ratings based primarily on local assessments or high school Regents exams.


  • We still have standards that are developmentally inappropriate and a Commissioner that is determined to make minor adjustments solely at the K-3 level.


  • We still have a system in place that collects enormous amounts of data on our children, without protecting the privacy of this sensitive information. According to Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, the Daily Mail reports, “Students’ names, emails, addresses, grades, test scores, disabilities, disciplinary information, health information, economic status, racial status and more,” are being collected by schools, districts and the state; with little or no restrictions on their disclosure.


Last year, the threat of losing any Title I monies for any district not meeting the required 95% participation rate was put to rest by Governor Cuomo, Chancellor Tisch, and then reluctantly, Commissioner Elia. They knew then that if they withheld any money that goes to the neediest students, it would have been political suicide. Yet, despite the fact that the new version of  ESEA, called Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA, specifically bars the US Department of Education from penalizing states that have high opt out numbers, they are still threatening the loss of federal money from any district not meeting the 95% participation rate.


According to this letter, dated December 22, 2015, from USDOE’s Ann Whelan – the threats/sanctions include:  


  • Lowering an LEA’s or school’s rating in the State’s accountability system or amending the system to flag an LEA or school with a low participation rate.
  • Counting non-participants as non-proficient in accountability determinations.
  • Requiring an LEA or school to develop an improvement plan, or take corrective action to ensure that all students participate in the statewide assessments in the future, and providing the SEA’s process to review and monitor such plans.
  • Requiring an LEA or school to implement additional interventions aligned with the reason for low student participation, even if the State’s accountability system does not officially designate schools for such interventions.
  • Designating an LEA or school as “high risk,” or a comparable status under the State’s laws and regulations, with a clear explanation for the implications of such a designation.
  • Withholding or directing use of State aid and/or funding flexibility.


Clearly, these threats are being made to quash the opt out movement. However, I assure you these tactics will have the opposite effect.


There are roughly 700 school districts in New York State. That means there are about 700 Superintendents who were hired by locally elected Boards of Education. These Superintendents work for their communities and they are evaluated by their Boards of Education. Superintendents know that VAM (value-added model) has been deemed invalid and unreliable in measuring teacher effectiveness. Superintendents know that the state tests are too long and are not developmentally appropriate.


One of the claims of the newly written ESSA was that it would re-establish state’s rights and “local control” with regard to education. Do these threats indicate more local control?  Instead, the US Department of Education, now led by John King, our former Commissioner, whose rigid authoritarianism was soundly rejected by our state’s teachers, parents, and students, seems to be intent on ignoring what should have been learned through his experience: that parents will be even angrier and more intent on resisting the more they are exhorted to submit. 


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In any society, it is every citizen’s responsibility to obey just laws. But at the same time, it is every citizen’s responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” It is long past time for our education leaders to lead the charge. The parents will opt out in unprecedented numbers this spring.  However, what if the 700 Superintendents refused to administer the tests? What if their locally-elected boards directed them to do so? What if there was a test, but no one took it?


General Colin Powell once said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems, is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”


Who will stand up for the children? Who will stand up for the teachers? Who will stand up for the schools and for public education? Who will demand that we deserve better? If not you, who? If not now, when?

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CTU calls on Mayor Emanuel to Resign 

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Never let it be said that the Chicago Teachers Union is meek, mild, or fearful. They speak with courage and stand up to the powerful.

January 7, 2016 312/329-6250 (office)  


Chicago’s teachers vote overwhelming to officially call for the resignations of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez
CHICAGO –The Chicago Teachers Union ‘s (CTU) governing body voted overwhelming this past Wednesday evening to support efforts to force Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign from public service. This resounding call for justice came during the House of Delegates (HOD) meeting as growing local and national pressure for the mayor to “step down” intensifies in wake of the Laquan McDonald alleged 400-day cover-up conspiracy. School leaders made their views known through a resolution.
President Karen Lewis will discuss the Union’s position during her remarks at the CTU’s Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Breakfast, on Friday, January 15th at 9 a.m. at 2260 S. Grove Street. The special guest speaker will be outspoken scholar and Ferguson, MO, activist Rev. Osagyefo U. Sekou. The event is free and open to the public.
This week’s official support to remove the mayor from power should come as no surprise. Teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians have been vocal about Emanuel’s failed leadership of the school district and are petitioning state officials for an elected representative school board. In addition, educators are currently in roller coaster-style contract negotiations with the mayor’s hand-picked Board of Education. The Union also actively campaigned against Emanuel’s re-election which resulted in the embattled politician entering a run-off in the general election. Soon after winning-re-election in April, Rahm’s school chief Barbara Byrd Bennett was convicted of ripping off school students by benefitting from no-bid contracts.
Fed up with the attacks on their profession, CPS educators recently approved its second strike authorization since Emanuel took office in 2010. Teachers have said if the mayor’s handpicked CEO Forest Claypool continues to gut public education, fire veteran teachers and hurt students, they will withhold their labor– like they did in 2012– in order to fight for the school district their students deserve.
The HOD resolution reads:
“WHEREAS, for the past five years Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made a myriad of economic disinvestments and financial mismanagements that have resulted in the infliction of educational, psychological, and physical harm to Chicago’s public schools and working-class neighborhoods; and
“WHEREAS, during his first term in office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, by means of his hand-picked unelected school board, closed an historic 50 public neighborhood schools in predominately Black and Latino communities; despite strong student, parent, community and CTU opposition; and
“WHEREAS, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has failed to support an education system that provides schools with the necessary resources to deliver robust wrap around services (such as counselors, nurses, social workers, PSRPs, and psychologists); fully-staffed libraries; reduced class sizes; and clean and safe learning conditions; and
“WHEREAS, in April 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, against vehement community opposition, elected to close six of the City’s 12 mental health clinics resulting in 2,798 patients losing critical services; and
“WHEREAS, Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to mismanage Chicagoans’ tax dollars by diverting public funds meant for blighted communities, that also can be used to fully fund our public neighborhood schools, to wealthy corporations; and
“WHEREAS, these economic disinvestments and financial mismanagements made under the leadership of Rahm Emanuel contributed to the shocking and inexcusable murder of LaQuan McDonald, a 17 year old boy suffering from severe psychological trauma, whose fate may have been altered had his mental health needs been met both in and out of school; and
“WHEREAS, Chicago and the nation continues to learn about police cover-ups, and the deliberate political maneuverings of Mayor Rahm Emanuel surrounding the October 20, 2014 death of 17 year old Laquan McDonald, shot 16 times by uniformed Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who has since been indicted of first-degree murder; and
“WHEREAS, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel not only pushed for and approved the Chicago City Council to pass a $5-million-dollar settlement to the family of Laquan McDonald, but also fought for the better part of a year, spending hundreds of thousands on legal fees to block the release of the police dashboard camera video of the fatal shooting, until a Cook County judge ruled on November 19, 2015 that this violated the state’s open records law and ordered the video to be released to the public; and
“WHEREAS, both Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel orchestrated and intentionally delayed the release of these videos apparently for their own political gains in order to secure victory in their 2015 re-election bids; and
“WHEREAS, the actions of both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez impeded the criminal justice system, and in the process has led to the erosion of public trust and confidence in their leadership; and the only way to restore this trust is with their resignations; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the CTU support demands that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez resign immediately from public office for the unconscionable delay of their governmental institutions in addressing Laquan McDonald’s killing and other issues of excessive, unwarranted, unjustified, and lethal police force in the City of Chicago that have surfaced in the aftermath; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the CTU support demands for a public review of the incident’s cover-up by a civilian police accountability council; the creation of policies to prevent such cover-ups from happening in the future; a ban on the training or arming of local police by military institutions; and new training for the Chicago Police Department that emphasizes non-lethal ways for de-escalating the situation at hand; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the CTU work with Illinois State Representatives La Shawn Ford, Mary Flowers and other state legislators to pass House Bill 4356, which seeks to amend the Revised Cities and Villages Act of 1941 by establishing a procedure for an election recall for the Mayor of the City of Chicago.


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Mike Klonsky: Rahm Will Not Apologize for Mass School Closings

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Mike Klonsky says Rahm is on an apology tour. But he is not apologizing for closing 50 schools.


Rahm appointed charter cheerleader to the Chicago school board, and more charters are on the way.


“The Guzman appointment and Rahm’s commitment to wild charter school expansion may seem puzzling to anyone looking at the underutilization list. The list contains dozens of supposedly underutilized high schools appearing side-by-side with underutilized charter schools.


“Among those on the list are several from the Noble Charter Network. That’s the group that was pushed back in its attempt to invade the north side recently. They just opened a new charter high school directly across the street from Prosser, even while many of their existing schools are stilling partially empty. Now Prosser is completely surrounded by competing charter schools.


“Among the many other charters on the list, are highly-touted Urban Prep, three Perspectives charters. and three KIPP charter schools.


“Isn’t it clear by now that CPS has to be taken out from under the control of City Hall?”



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Indiana: Governor Agrees to Pause A-F Grades for Schools

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Governor Mike Pence agreed to pause the A-F school grading program because of major problems with the testing program on which the grades are based. Superintendent Glenda Ritz had advocated such a pause and Pence has adamantly refused to consider it.


A-F school grades were first implemented by then-Governor Jeb Bush in Florida and have since spread to many states where privatizers want to embarrass, humiliate, and privatize as many schools as possible. New York City tried the A-F grading system for a few years under Mayor Bloomberg, but Mayor de Blasio stopped this irrational method of appraising schools.


In Indiana, the test scores drive punitive consequences:


State test scores are key factors in determining teacher pay decisions as well as school A-F grades. Because the state introduced new, more challenging standards in 2014, ISTEP passing rates are expected to drop 16 percentage points in English and 24 percentage points in math. That also means fewer schools are expected to get A’s, and more likely will receive D’s and F’s.

Schools that earn F-grades can have serious consequences ahead of them. For example, the state can take schools over, handing them off to be run by charter school networks or other outside groups, if they repeatedly get F’s for four consecutive years. Teachers who receive poor evaluations can be fired or declared ineligible for pay raises.


You would certainly not send home a child with a report card containing only one grade, A-F. As in, your child is a C for the semester. Report cards typically consist of multiple measures. Only a dunderhead with a slavish devotion to standardized testing would give any credibility to labeling a school with a single letter grade based primarily or wholly on test scores.



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