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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

The numbers don't lie

Posted Friday, February 25, 2011, at 3:11 PM

As a former teacher, I've been reading with complete absorption and somewhat disbelief the plans and changes Indiana's government is prescribing as the "great fix" for our schools.

Utter dismay is a perfect word to describe my personal feelings. Since people seem to rely on facts so much, I spent some time today researching charter schools. I discovered a website called National Association of Charter Schools.

Readers might want to check this one out. I found that as of 2010, there were 61 charter schools in Indiana. Twenty-nine of these schools are located in the Indianapolis area. Twenty-three of these are sponsored by the Indianapolis mayor's office. Thirty-four are sponsored by Ball State University.

If I were to search a little deeper, I'm fairly positive I would find some major political influential connections. Not surprising. While I was at it, I checked four charter schools 2010 ISTEP scores. You can check these out on www.greatschools.org . (charter schools not being particularly synonymous with the term Great Schools).

I used schools from four different locations in our state. What I discovered here was not surprising. Charter School of the Dunes, grade three, four, and five posted the following scores:

* Grade Three, English/Lang. Arts, state average 79%; their students scored 63%.

* Grade Three, Math state average was 76%; their score 46%.

* Grade Four, science state average 75%; their students scored 46%.

* Grade Five, English/Lang. Arts state average 71%; their scores 50%.

I also checked the scores for the Joshua Academy in Evansville, Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School in Indianapolis, and Aurora Alternative in Bloomington. The figures don't lie. Most of these charter school students are scoring 10 to 25% lower on ISTEP. By spending some time you too can discover some truths.

Yes indeed, there are problems with public schools. But, what I've seen as I substitute in various school systems is that teachers are dealing with some frightening and devastating behavioral problems. Much of the behavioral issues can be traced to the student's home life and parents. This has a huge affect on the other classroom students ability to learn.

Frustration, anxiety, and fear shut down learning. My son, Josh, who is currently teaching at Hoosier Hills Vocational Center in Bloomington, has talked with me at length about the problems schools are experiencing. He does see solutions and ways to improve. He believes that student's problems need to be identified, a plan of intervention developed, and working as a school community, these problems can be solved.

The result would be that students are able to learn in a classroom situation. It will take diligence and commitment by administrators, teachers, parents, and students. The results will be producing classrooms with students who can learn.

Public classroom teachers are doing what they were trained to do and trained well: Teach. If there is blame, it needs to be placed where the negligence is originating. It begins at home.

I would also like to own up to my "math" mistake in a previous article. As I replied to John Coleman who caught the mistake, no one is perfect, least of all me and I do make mistakes, a lot of them ... I did learn that gold is sold by the troy ounce ... the calculations actually benefited my comparison ... each assistant ended up being worth over two million ... so true ... whether this mistake affected my teaching abilities?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Didn't cow rancher also correct/get it wrong?


-- Posted by chevygleen on Sat, Feb 26, 2011, at 4:11 PM

But doesn't everyone know someone in the workplace that they say, how do they keep their job?? I sure do as a nurse!

-- Posted by prissymom on Sun, Feb 27, 2011, at 2:08 PM

I guess we would just like the same rules that you and doctors and lawyers live by.

One out of every 57 doctors loses his or her license to practice medicine.

One out of every 97 lawyers loses their license to practice law.

In many major cities, only one out of 1000 teachers is fired for performance-related reasons.

-- Posted by wotownboy on Sun, Feb 27, 2011, at 3:29 PM

So what is your point wotownboy? Furthermore, if I am to take you seriously, where did you get your "facts". If your "facts" came from an impartial source I would be interested. However, if theses "facts" came from a website dedicated to bashing unions and teachers they lack general credibility.

-- Posted by Music Man on Sun, Feb 27, 2011, at 8:47 PM

Here is my point:

What we do know is that Indiana's current teacher evaluation systems rates 99% of teachers as effective or above. While I have no doubt that many of our teachers are effective, no profession has a 99% effective rating. Our current system is statistically invalid and must be refined to provide teachers with helpful feedback that encourages improvement and rewards success.


Would you please address it and not change the subject?

-- Posted by wotownboy on Mon, Feb 28, 2011, at 8:38 AM


I would say this: I will answer as I wish, with or without your permission.

Now, the IDOE saying I have an effective rating

means I meet their requirement. If there is doubt of that rating then your doubt is with the IDOE and not teachers. If you doubt the IDOE then you doubt Tony Bennett and if you doubt Tony Bennett then you most certainly doubt Mitch due, in part, to the fact that this rating system was developed on his watch. Going on. I do not know how to respond to the rest of the question as I do not know the quality of the "facts" you have presented. To those "facts" I cannot comment until you prove them to be authentic.

To the general supposition that no profession has a 99% effective rating truly depends on what the measure is. What is a "good" teacher is a statistical nightmare if there is not a hard and fast set of criterion you can use to assess this "goodness". If there is not such a criterion then you are left with opinion which is far from 99% true in general. If we use a test to determine a "good" teacher then the "test", i.e. measuring device, needs assessed. Quite a mess no?

-- Posted by Music Man on Mon, Feb 28, 2011, at 12:00 PM

Once again you dance around on the topic. Is it really that hard for you to admit that your profession has a few bad apples? All of this mumbo jumbo just makes you look silly.

So I will ask you for your opinion, not facts, not studies.

Do you believe that there is ONE teacher in this county that deserves to be let go for poor job performance?

You answer or lack of will show all where you stand.

-- Posted by wotownboy on Mon, Feb 28, 2011, at 12:16 PM

wotownboy, I might be writing a response to a bad apple for all I know as you are not able to grasp all my "mumbo jumbo".

My opinion is that there are indeed teachers in Indiana who could be seen as "poor performers". Now, how you determine that "poorness" is not going to be the same as me.

There has to be a measurement system in place that is unbiased and, dare I say, not driven by outside forces such as political alignment. Anything else would result in a failed measure of "goodness".

-- Posted by Music Man on Mon, Feb 28, 2011, at 12:27 PM

Thank you music man. you and I agree on many things. The current legislation, lets locals decide:

For months, IDOE has been working with teachers, administrators, education policy groups, teachers' union representatives, and higher education representatives to develop a model evaluation tool and implementation plan which will be made available to all Indiana school districts. Each district will then have the opportunity to adopt the state's model or develop its own tool and plan using state guidelines. IDOE also hopes to provide implementation support, particularly for struggling schools.


Personnel decisions of this nature should be made at the local level.

Looks good to me, what do you think?

-- Posted by wotownboy on Mon, Feb 28, 2011, at 4:34 PM

The statement "If there is blame, it needs to be placed where the negligence is originating. It begins at home." is something I agree with. I have pointed out time after time that when parents/guardians quit taking an active role in their child's education, then there will be an uphill battle to get that student through school. With that said I also feel, like others here, that the school system has many teachers that are sitting on their tenure. They are poor teachers who have not adjusted to new ways of teaching or trying to reach the kids that they are teaching. They feel that they have earned the right over time to just do what they want and have no fear of ever being evaluated. This group unfortunately gives every teach a bad name. So a system of evaluating all teachers needs to be put in place. What exactly that should be needs to be negotiated. But for any system to work "Honesty" has to be at the core and I have seen where human nature and "Honesty" do not go hand in hand. Teachers have to be "Honestly" evaluated by their peers, their students, and their administrators.

-- Posted by bhobbs on Tue, Mar 1, 2011, at 8:46 AM

I would like to respond directly to the article above - not to any of the other comments made here. First of all, Ms. Prudhomme, you state that charter schools is not synonymous with the term "great schools." That site also includes public schools. Many might say that "public schools" are not particularly synoymous with the term "great schools." It will depend on the individual school. Let's not lump everyone together and stereotype the schools.

You also list some statistics from the Charter School of the Dunes. And you state "The Numbers Don't Lie." Well, any statistics course that a teacher would take in college would cover the interpretation of data like this. Yes, those numbers are low. But what you don't report is those same student's data from their former schools. Most likely those charter school students are former public school students. How many of those students passed in their former schools? If they were at a failing school before, a 50% passing rate (at this particular charter school) would actually be higher than, say, only 30% of those students passing at their former schools. And -- if those particular students were far behind grade level at their former schools, it may take a few years to make up the ground. This is why one of the "reforms" that teachers are griping about is that scores will be tracked for individual students, and not for the whole class --(for example 2011 3rd graders vs. 2012 3rd graders. That is 2 differents sets of students.) I hope I made myself clear on that last point - I'm not sure I did. We simply DO NOT KNOW all of the data to interpret these statistics adequately. Be very careful!

You bring up behavioral problems, and the parents' responsibility. Hallelujah! If you want a jaw-dropping, I-can't-believe-what-I-am-seeing experience, sit through a day of classes at a middle or high school. Well, shoot, you might as well start at an elementary. If the behavioral problems weren't there, the teachers would actually have more time with the students. Hmmm. . . maybe even the test scores would go up. Nice thought!

Last point (sorry for a long post) -- public school teachers are doing what they have been trained well to do: teach. Yes, and many charter school teachers are doing that too. Some teachers in the public schools, sadly, are not. I expected my children's language arts teachers to be able to correctly puctuate a sentence with quotations marks. [Didn't happen :( ]

I expected my children's 5th grade math teacher to know where to place a decimal point in a multiplications problem. [Didn't happen :( ]

I am for reforms -- IF they are the right ones. I'm not sure I've seen the best solutions yet.

-- Posted by escapee on Tue, Mar 1, 2011, at 5:38 PM

Escapee: Very good post and well said. Thanks for keeping it civil. It is good to have a discourse on the topic to help those reading these things to get more educated.

-- Posted by bhobbs on Tue, Mar 1, 2011, at 9:14 PM

Thank you, bhobbs. I know I don't have all the answers. I respect those who disagree with me. (Goodness, I don't even agree with my spouse all of the time! lol) There's need for improvement, I wish parents would step up to the plate, and work WITH teachers. But I also know that teachers don't always have all the answers either. Just not sure where to go with all this.

-- Posted by escapee on Wed, Mar 2, 2011, at 8:28 PM

Too bad the kids don't have a percentage of passes equivalent to the effectiveness of the teachers.

A 99% effective rate flies in the face of the statistics quoted above:

* Grade Three, English/Lang. Arts, state average 79%.

* Grade Three, Math state average was 76%.

* Grade Four, science state average 75%.

* Grade Five, English/Lang. Arts state average 71%.

-- Posted by Lil' Hahn on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 3:20 PM

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