Hope Street Group Seeking TN Fellows

Hope Street Group is seeking applicants for their Tennessee Teacher Fellows Program.

Here’s a brief description:

State Teachers Fellows serve as local spokespeople for educators’ ideas and perspectives. They have opportunities to broaden their understanding of state reform efforts; learn media skills; and receive continuous support in writing blog posts, op-eds, and letters to the editor. They meet directly with state policymakers to share the views of educators and to present educator-generated solutions. They also participate in statewide and national events for teachers engaged in teacher voice work.

Hope Street Group’s state teacher fellowship program was launched in Kentucky in 2013 and in Hawaii in 2014 in partnership with teacher associations. “KEA applauds Hope Street Group’s self-examination and desire to become even better at helping promote teacher participation in the issues facing public schools today,” said Mary Ann Blankenship, Executive Director of the Kentucky Education Association.

Complete Application Information

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Data between Neely’s Bend, Madison, and LEAD.

The ASD recently announced Neely’s Bend as the school that will be converted into a charter school by LEAD. There is currently a data war going on between both sides. Because of that, I wanted to just provide data on both of these schools. I will literally copy and paste data from the state for to decide. Many people in this data debate always discuss the Proficient/Advanced students. I will discuss the Basic and Below Basic students who are falling behind.

First, Neely’s Bend had 548 students last years. Madison had 756 student. The ASD picked the school with over 200 fewer students.

Using the Report Card from the state’s website, I found this information:

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.03.44 AM

This data shows that in Math, almost 74% of the school was Basic or Below Basic when it comes to Math. For reading, almost 76% of the school was Basic or Below Basic in Reading. For both of those tests, only a fourth of the population of the school was Proficient or Advanced.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.07.10 AM

Looking at the same data for Madison, we see that 81% of the students are Basic or Below Basic in Math. As for Reading, 76% are Basic or Below Basic. Comparing the two schools, Madison has more students struggling with Math (7 percent more) and the same amount struggling with Reading. Around a fourth of students at this school is Proficient or Advanced in Reading and Math.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.11.59 AM

When looking at TVAAS, we see the Neely’s Bend has an overall score of 1 and the rest of the scores were 2s.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.11.27 AM

Madison also had an overall TVAAS score of 1, but we see higher TVAAS scores in Numeracy and Literacy/Numeracy and lower score in Literacy compared to Neely’s Bend.

The ASD tells parents to look at the Brick Church College Prep because LEAD is currently converting a school there for the ASD. Below is the same information for Brick Church College Prep that I provided for the other schools. It should be noted the number of students is fewer (177) because they are converting one grade at a time.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.16.28 AM

At Brick Church College Prep, almost 60% of the students are Basic or Below Basic in Math (compared to 81% at Madison and 74% at Neely’s Bend). For Reading, almost 63% of the students are Basic or Below Basic (compared to 76% at Madison and Neely’s Bend).

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 11.19.35 AM

Brick Church College Prep had an overall TVAAS score of 5, higher than both Neely’s Bend and Madison.

Neely’s Bend Picked

In the match up between Neely’s Bend and Madison, the ASD went with the school with

  1. Fewer Students
  2. Worse TVAAS scores on Numeracy and Numeracy & Literacy
  3. Fewer students struggling with Math

Data

In education circles across the country, the word data is treated like a curse word. We need to use data in school systems to find out where our students are. It’s horrible that only a fourth of our students are proficient or advanced in Reading in Math at these schools. It’s not just Neely’s Bend and Madison where this is a problem. It’s all over, in both traditional and charter schools.

The hardest part in being trained as a researcher is that you must put your personal opinions asides and look at the data. It’s hard because I have a lot of strong opinions. I know many people will tell me the data is off with Brick Church College Prep. But at this point, Brick Church College Prep is doing better when it comes to the tests we are giving our students.

Elementary Schools

As a middle school teacher, I believe the changes that we need to complete should take place in elementary schools. In Metro Nashville Public Schools, we have changed the High Schools (academies) and the Middle Schools Preps. What we are lacking is the changes to the elementary schools. We have far too many students leaving elementary school behind. I strongly believe if we work to stop this in elementary schools, we can help our middle schools become stronger and stave off the take over from the ASD.

As leadership changes take place at Metro Nashville Public Schools, I look for a new Director of Schools who can hit the ground running to help our elementary schools.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport


 

 

Investing in Priority Schools

The Tennessee Department of Education today announced $5 million in grants to 5 school districts to be used to address priority schools in those districts. It should be noted that the funds are from federal dollars and do not represent new state investment in schools.

From the press release:

The Tennessee Department of Education has awarded nearly $5 million in federal funds to five districts to plan for how to best support their Priority Schools, the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the state, in terms of academic achievement.

“We believe this additional financial investment will help districts provide our Priority Schools with specific supports,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “For the past several years, our state has been focused both on improving overall performance of all kids in Tennessee, while closing achievement gaps and supporting students that are the farthest behind; we have seen results from these efforts and are excited to help districts plan for additional interventions.”

A new list of Priority Schools was identified last summer (see the complete list at http://www.tn.gov/education/data/accountability/schools_2014.shtml). These planning grants will provide resources for districts to plan for how to best support their Priority Schools, beginning in the 2015-16 school year. These funds can assist districts in engaging the community, recruiting teachers and leaders, and exploring additional resources that may be needed for Priority Schools.

Districts were awarded the following amounts:

  • Metro Nashville Public Schools, $1.3 million
  • Knox County Schools, $1 million
  • Shelby County Schools, $900,000
  • Jackson-Madison County Schools, $400,000
  • Achievement School District, $1.3 million

Additional funds will be made available through a competitive grant process in the spring of 2015 to further assist districts with implementation of their turnaround plans.

 

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

 

The Final Four

So, Education Commissioner Madness is down to the Final Four.

The entire process has been a fun way to engage people across Tennessee in a friendly conversation about who should be our next Education Commissioner.

I’m honored to be among the four finalists.

But, more importantly, I’m delighted to see so much engagement around education issues.

More than personalities, this contest has demonstrated that people are paying attention and really do care about the future of schools in our state.

I’m encouraged to hear stories about great education leaders and advocates from all parts of Tennessee.

Take just a few minutes and vote today!

For more from Bluff City Ed, follow @BluffCityEd

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Teachers Leaving TN School for the Blind

WSMV in Nashville has the story about how 31 teachers have left the Tennessee School for the Blind over the past two years. That’s a 50% turnover in teachers.

The WSMV story notes complaints from teachers and staff about leadership tactics at the school.

According to the report, state legislators are beginning to ask questions and may call a hearing on the issue.

The school, based in Nashville, educates blind children from all across Tennessee in grades K-12.

For more on education politics and policy, follow @TNEdReport

The Sweet Sixteen

Round 1 of Education Commissioner Madness is over and Round 2 — The Sweet Sixteen — is well underway.

The Round of 16 includes former legislator Gloria Johnson, Deputy Commissioner of Education Kathleen Airhart, and Williamson County Superintendent Mike Looney, who edged out Tullahoma’s Dan Lawson with a late surge.

The Sweet Sixteen also features PET’s JC Bowman and TEA’s Jim Wrye.

Head on over to Bluff City Ed and vote NOW for who should advance to the Elite Eight.

For more on education issues in Memphis, follow @BluffCityEd

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Ed Commissioner Madness!

It’s here. And it’s even better than March Madness.

Tennessee needs a new Education Commissioner.

Now, a joint project between Tennessee Education Report, Bluff City Ed, and Professional Educators of Tennessee brings you a chance to weigh-in on who should be our next Commissioner of Education.

Should it be a reformer from another state like Cami Anderson?

Should it be a teacher and blogger like Jon Alfuth?

What about Knox County Director of Schools Jim McIntyre?

Or, Jim Wrye from the TEA?

Find out all the details over at Bluff City Ed.

Here’s a bracket:

Bracket2

And here is some background on each candidate:

  • Kathleen Airhart (TNDOE) – Deputy Commissioner of Education, prior director of Putnam County Schools since 2007, named TN Superintendent of the year in 2012. Has experience as a classroom teacher.
  • Lyle Ailshie (Kingsport schools) – Superintendent, former Director of Greenville City Schools (TN) – Greenville schools recognized during tenure as a high performing system, past president of Tennessee Organization for School Superintendents, 2005 Superintendent of the year. School district ranked second in the state by niche.com.
  • J. Worthington (Clarksville-Montgomery County) – Superintendent, worked to expand STEM integration into all 37 district schools. Previously served as CAO in the system, and as a principal and a science teacher. School district ranked thirty first in the state by niche.com.
  • Jim McIntyre (Knox County) – Superintendent, previously served as chief operating officer and budget director for Boston Public Schools. Has worked as a classroom teacher, went through the Broad Foundation Fellowship. Named outstanding Superintendent of the Year by state-wide PTA association from 2009-2011. School district ranked thirteenth in the state by niche.com.
  • Rick Smith (Hamilton County)– Superintendent, has 30 years of educational experience. School district ranked forty fourth in the state by niche.com.
  • Dan Lawson (Tullahoma City) – Superintendent, previously served as a professor of educational leadership in Murfreesboro, TN. Also served as superintendent in Mountain Grove, Missouri. School district ranked fourteenth in the state by niche.com.
  • Mike Looney (Williamson County) – Superintendent since 2009, previously served as superintendent of Butler County Schools and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Montgomery public schools in Alabama. School district fourth second in the state by niche.com.
  • Linda Stroud (Greenville) – Director of Schools, has spent entire career in Greenville City School System and has been a principal and assistant director of administration. Named Tennessee Mid Level Principal of the year in 2005, finalist for National Association of Secondary School Principals National Principal of the Year in 2006. School district ranked third in the state by niche.com.
  • Wanda Shelton (Lincoln County) – Superintendent, named Superintendent of the year for 2015 by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents. School district ranked fifth fifth in the state by niche.com.
  • Chuck Cagle (Education Lobbyist) – chair of the Education law Practice Group for Lewis Thomason’s Nashville office. Oversees representation of over 70 public boards of education and other private schools. Registered lobbyist for school superintendents, employee professional organizations and educational services corporations.
  • Del Phillips (Sumner) – Director of Schools, began career as a teacher in Mississippi, has also served as an assistant principal and assistant superintendent. School district ranked 20th in the state by niche.com.
  • Jesse Register (Nashville) – outgoing superintendent of Metro Nashville Public Schools. Previously served as Hamilton County Supt from 1996-2006. School district ranked thirty sixth in the state by niche.com.
  • Dorsey Hopson (Shelby) – Superintendent, worked as general counsel for Atlanta Public Schools, served as private consultant for Clayton County Schools in Georgia. Accepted role as general council from MCS in 2008, moving into interim Supt. Role and then Supt. Role. School district ranked eleventh in the state by niche.com.
  • Jim Wrye (TEA) – government relations manager and chief lobbyist for TEA. Previously worked for Alabama education Association, notably fought to stop charter schools in Alabama. Also served as the Deputy Commissioner for Alabama Dept. of Children’s Affairs and Assistant Director of University of Alabama.
  • Dolores Gresham (Senate Ed Chair) – elected in 2008, previously served three terms in TN Hous of Representatives. District located in western part of the state. Served in US Marine Corps.
  • Gloria Johnson (former Knox State Rep) – former rep, was defeated this cycle. Democrat, worked as a Knox County teacher for 26 years. Graduated from Knox County Schools.
  • Jamie Woodson (SCORE) – president and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, served for 12 years in Tennessee General Assembly. Chaired Senate Education Committee. Serves on TN Business Roundtable and TN Fish and Wildlife Commission.
  • Dale Lynch (Hamblen County) – Director of Schools in Hamblen County.
  • Mike Winstead (Maryville) – Director of Schools since 2013. Previously served as assistant director of schools. School district ranked first in the state by niche.com.
  • B. Smith (Giles County) – director of schools. Previously served as principal of a middle school.
  • Jason Vance (loudon County) – Director of Schools. School district ranked thirty third in the state by niche.com.
  • Bob Rider (Dean of UT College of Ed) – dean since 2004, previously served as Dean of college of education at Butler University from 2001-2004, as well as associate dean at Florida State.
  • Paul Conn (president of Lee University, Cleveland TN) – president since 1986, previously worked in the Lee College psychology faculty, won an award for excellence in teaching. Also taught at Appalachian State.
  • Candice McQueen (Lipscomb) – Senior Vice President of Lipscomb, taught in Elementary and Middle schools.
  • Terry Holliday (KY) – recently selected education commissioner for Kentucky. Previously served as superintendent in the state, and awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award.
  • Paul Vallas (NO) – former Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools and former Supt. of the Recovery School District in LA, as well as former CEO of Chicago public schools and Philadelpha Schools. Ran for Lt. Gov of Illinois in 2014.
  • Cami Anderson (NJ) – Superintendent of Newark Public Schools, formerly superintendent of alternative high schools for the NYC Department of Education. Served as ED of Teach for America NY, served as chief program officer for New Leaders for New Schools.
  • Jon Alfuth (teacher, Memphis) – teacher, writer, public commentator, serves as a Teach Plus policy fellow and Tennessee Educator fellow (hey, its our tournament!)
  • JC Bowman (ProEdTN) – Executive Director and CEO of PET. Fomer school teacher and VP of the National Association of Professional Educators. Served as chief policy analyst for the Education Policy Unit for Gov. Jeb Bush. Received 2003 SMART award from the National institute for Education options, and much more (hey, its our tournament!)
  • Andy Spears (consultant, Nashville) – Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, president of Spears Strategy, editor/writer at TNEdReport. Formerly a press secretary in the Tennessee State Senate (hey, its our tournament!)
  • Emily Barton (TN Department of Education) – Assistant Commissioner of Curriculum and Instruction for Tennessee. Served as Chief of Staff to Commissioner Huffman previously, and managed Teach for America’s DC region. Former 7th grade math teacher in Louisiana.
  • Chris Barbic (TN, ASD) – Superintendent of the Achievement School District, founder of Yes Prep charter schools in Houston, TX. Former public school teacher. Received 2004 Citizen Activist Award from Gleitsman Foundation.

Full rules and voting information over at Bluff City Ed.

Voting for the Round of 32 starts tomorrow and ends on November 23rd.

 

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

 

NEA President Visits Nashville

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia was in Nashville today to kickoff American Education Week.

While in town, the visited Shwab Elementary where she toured the school and served as a guest teacher in a first grade classroom.

After the tour and class visit, Garcia was available to the media.

Here are some highlights of what she had to say:

On education policymaking:

“Policymakers should respect educators. We don’t need top-down management of teachers. We need to trust teachers and treat them like professionals. When we begin trusting teachers and providing them with resources, we’ll unleash a true revolution education.”

On Common Core:

Garcia says she was initially a Common Core skeptic. But says she reviewed the standards for 6th grade, which she taught, and found them to be reasonable. She said Common Core is and should be a state initiative.

“Common Core belongs to the states and states should adapt it to meet their needs. In order for Common Core to work, we need to get back to trusting teachers. Common Core sets the standard. Teachers should decide how to meet those standards. Where Common Core has failed, it is because of top-down management. Implementation must include teachers and trust teachers to meet the standards.”

On Value-Added Modeling:

“Voodoo value-added models are silly. They are silly because the voodoo formula can’t control for factors like poverty that impact kids. They can’t control for the fact that a kid may be hungry or may be an English Language Learner taking a test in English instead of their native language.

“I was the Utah Teacher of the Year. I know that kids are more than a test score. I’m not afraid of evaluation, I welcome it. Data can be helpful, but high-stakes use of value-added data is not appropriate.”

On NEA’s Education Agenda:

“NEA wants to end No Child Left Untested,” Garcia said. “2014 is the magic year when all kids were supposed to be proficient. Now, we’ve got a waiver process because that goal is simply not possible with human students. This just shows that NCLB was a fraud.

“NEA wants the federal government to set standards and provide resources and then listen to teachers and local communities.”

On Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander’s Agenda with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee:

“NEA shares common ground with Sen. Alexander on the need for local control and an end to the waiver process for NCLB. We also agree with him on the need to focus more on National Board Certification for teachers.

“Where we differ with Sen. Alexander is on his push for privatization, whether it be vouchers or charters. If Sen. Alexander respects science and data, he’ll see that charters and vouchers simply don’t work.”

On creating an “all-choice” zone in East Nashville:

Garcia said she wasn’t familiar with the specifics of the East Nashville plan, but said, “Whenever you see people pushing grand plans to expand charters, they’re just not reading the research. The research shows that charters aren’t any better than district schools.”

She also suggested that the few charter success stories happen as a result of significant outside money being poured in. “If districts saw that kind of money coming into their schools, they’d see a difference, too.”

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

 

Diane Ravitch Coming to Nashville

Education historian Diane Ravitch will be visiting Nashville on Wednesday, November 19th.

Here are the details from a press release:

Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE), Tennessee BATs, and Momma
Bears today announced a special event featuring acclaimed historian, best-selling author, and former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch. Ravitch served in the administrations of President George H.W. Bush, where she worked alongside then-U.S. Secretary of Education and current U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, and President Bill Clinton.

The event, “Educating Nashville,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19, in
Nashville. The venue will be announced via TREE’s Facebook page, http://facebook.com/TNExcellence, on Monday, Nov. 17. Dr. Ravitch will be introduced by local officials and will hold a question-and-answer session after her remarks regarding the hoax of education privatization. Following the program, attendees are encouraged to stay and meet
with public education advocates from across the state.

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Ravitch to Nashville,” said Lyn Hoyt, president of TREE. “She has seen and studied the effects of education privatization across the country and
is the nation’s foremost expert on what works and doesn’t work when it comes to
reforming our public schools.”

Ravitch frequently writes about topics including Common Core, charter schools, vouchers, and standardized testing and is well respected across partisan lines. Tennessee’s own Senator Alexander urges readers of his “Little Plaid Book” to “[r]ead anything Diane Ravitch writes
about education.”

The event is free. Parents, teachers, elected officials, policymakers, and members of the media are encouraged to attend. To RSVP, visit http://ravitchnashville.eventbrite.com.

About Diane Ravitch
Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She blogs at dianeravitch.net, a site which has had nearly 8.3 million page views in less than a year. From 1991 to 1993, she was Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of George H.W. Bush. From 1997 to 2004, she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. She was appointed by the Clinton administration’s Secretary of Education Richard Riley in 1997 and
reappointed by him in 2001. From 1995 until 2005, she held the Brown Chair in
Education Studies at the Brookings Institution and edited “Brookings Papers on
Education Policy.” Before entering government service, she was Adjunct Professor
of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has
authored 11 books and edited 14 others.

About TREE
Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE) is a
statewide volunteer advocacy organization rooted in fighting for strong,
equitable public education, and committed to growing child-centered education
policy.

About Tennessee BATs
Tennessee BATs (Badass Teachers) is an affiliate of the national BATs organization and is a rich and diverse group of education professionals and concerned citizens/families who
strive to engage in discourse that improves their profession.

About Momma Bears
Momma Bears is a Tennessee-based grassroots organization of public schools advocates who defend and support children and public schools and recognize quality public education
as a right for every child.

Here’s our 2013 interview with Diane Ravitch

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Heyburn Named to Lead State Board of Ed

From a News Release:

The Tennessee State Board of Education announced Friday morning that Sara Heyburn will become the board’s executive director upon the retirement of current executive director Gary Nixon.

Nixon, set to retire at the end of this year, was recognized at Friday’s board meeting for his decades of service to Tennessee students.

“Dr. Nixon provided excellent leadership over the last decade, and we believe that Dr. Heyburn is the right person to follow in his footsteps,” Fielding Rolston, chairman of the state board, said. “The board was impressed with Dr. Heyburn’s leadership in key areas over the past years. We also have been impressed with her ability to build consensus among different education groups and her willingness to meet with and listen to all stakeholders.”

Heyburn has served as the assistant commissioner for teachers and leaders at the Tennessee Department of Education since 2011, where she leads the state’s efforts related to increasing teacher and leader effectiveness. Prior to that, she served as an education policy adviser for the state and also worked for Vanderbilt University as a policy analyst at the National Center on Performance Incentives. Heyburn holds a B.A. in English and a master’s degree in teaching, both from the University of Virginia, and she earned an Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2010. She began her work in education as a high school English teacher in Jefferson County Schools in Kentucky and Williamson County Schools in Tennessee.

“I am humbled by the board’s decision,” Heyburn said.  “It is an honor to work on critical issues affecting Tennessee children, and I will work diligently to ensure that the board continues to pursue student-centered policies.”

Wayne Miller, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS), added, “Dr. Heyburn has always been very easy to work with and open to the ideas that TOSS brings to the table. I look forward to many opportunities to collaborate with her and the state board as we continue to improve the academic experience for all of Tennessee students.”

Heyburn will assume the role early next year.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport