Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Conference Roadtrip Musings

I'm a lucky guy to have a really smart co-worker to collaborate with on a daily basis.

In the car on the way to a conference together, several musings that evolved from our conversation on the current state of edu-affairs.

Does it worry anyone that the manner in which the Common Core will be assessed has the potential to derail the intent of the Common Core?

Sharing is the new form of social currency.  Share and share alike needs to be the new ethos for collaborative educators.  More importantly, teachers need to embrace collaborative tools in a fearless manner.  For example, film a 15 minute segment of your classroom (not the planned kind....just 15 random minutes), post it on YouTube for your Professional Learning Network to access (with appropriate permissions), and be open to professional dialogue and feedback. (This brings up a rhetorical question....how can you improve professionally if you only get feedback from administrative walkthroughs and observations.....which make up only a small fraction of the total teaching time in a year).  If you really want to move the needle on your professional practice, go all in with your PLN and create the conditions for continuous feedback from your peers.

The tools that teachers are exposed to at the top level of the Google Apps suite are just the tip of the Google tools iceberg.  How can schools use an Ed Camp model to proliferate powerful tools that will enhance professional practice and ultimately impact student learning?

UPDATE 6/25/13 - A Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial touches on the same concerns that are outlined below: http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/06/getting_better_value_from_valu.html#incart_river

Does the fact that the method in which value-added score calculations are derived lack transparency and a basic level of clarity concern anyone but me?  As value added scores have real world consequences for educators and school districts, there needs to be more to the how the scores are arrived at than the current 'Wizard of Oz calculate the scores behind the curtain and just trust the results approach'.  Systems breed mistrust when there is a lack of transparency and confusion about processes from start to end.  In the value added training manual from Battelle For Kids, they liken the calculation of value added scores to how the consumer price index is arrived at.  In essence, their argument is that no one understands how the PCI is calculated, but is it taken as truth, and therefore so should value added.  The only problem is, I understand the PCI formula and the basket of goods concept (although don't quiz me yet on the move to the Chain PCI model).  I don't, however, get the correlation between how V.A. scores are derived mathematically and the 'growth' that magically appears on value added reports.  There certainly has to be a better way than the current 'just trust me' approach that BFK takes with educators.  If you want your measure to be seen as legitimate, take the time to reach out to those the scores impact and educate them on how the measure is calculated and how it can be practically applied to meaningfully impact instruction.

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