AACTE’s Day on the Hill | Teacher Advocacy

Shawn Sriver, Dr. Sharon Robinson, and Dr. Ena Shelley at the AACTE Day on the Hill 2016.

Each year, Dr. Ena Shelley travels to Washington, D.C. for AACTE’s Day on the Hill where she visits our state’s Senators and House Representatives to discuss education, education policy and the impact that those policies have on education in our state.

 

 

 

Dr. Sharon Robinson preparing 120 AACTE attendees for Day on the Hill.

This year, Dr. Shelley, Shawn Sriver, and Ben Hunter, Butler University’s Chief of Staff, Met with Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly and House Representatives Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, Larry Buschon, and Todd Young.  They also attended workshops guiding them on providing journalistic access to education reporters. Providing access to classrooms opens up opportunities for these stories to be told. AACTE workshops also provided guidance on how to talk to the press and the best practices of interacting with senators and representatives.  They had successful meetings and we thank Dr. Shelley for her continued work to improving education policy!

Transforming Education—January 2016

TE Ena

Are you ready for a change?

As we welcome 2016, many of us make resolutions wanting to improve and change our lives. Change can be positive, but, sometimes, too many changes happening too fast based on too little information lead to chaos, frustration, and fatigue.

State Representative Terry Austin shared at a state meeting of the Indiana Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (IACTE) that the Indiana General Assembly approved 111 education “reform” changes in 26 legislative bills in just the past four years. If you are an educator, you have experienced the consequences of these rapid changes, and you may be feeling frustrated, too.

Often policymakers make changes without hearing the voices of those who are closest to the issues. But if we want to be heard, we have to speak up! Even though the current Indiana legislative session is a short one, I challenge you to advocate for changes based upon solid research and the knowledge of experienced educators. You can call or email your representative, write a letter to the editor (as I did), have your students invite policymakers to their school, or share links to good articles for them to read. I did the latter today and heard back immediately from two state representatives. You won’t know until you try, and you cannot expect someone else to speak for you.

On February 16, aspiring teacher education students from colleges and universities from across the state will hold the first IACTE Day on the Hill event at the Indiana State House. We want legislators to see the faces and hear the voices of those coming into the profession. In spite of the negative discourse that has surrounded teacher education and the teaching profession, we intend to introduce legislators to wonderful people who still desire to become teachers. We want the teacher education students to see the importance of being advocates for their chosen profession and for policymakers to see the talent that is coming into the field of teaching.

Gandhi’s inspirational quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a call to action by each of us. We don’t need 111 changes in four years.

Rather, what changes do you need to make, and what changes do we need to make to continually create strong schools in an ever-changing world?

So, gather your thoughts, your wisdom, and your passion and make your voices heard to your representatives. It is up to us to be the voice of the profession and advocates for children who do not have a voice in the process themselves.

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education

Mythbusting Monday – Teacher influence

mythbusting

Mythbusting Monday is a series of blog posts where we invite different faculty members from the College of Education to discuss education myths and how or what we are doing to combat the myth, fix the myth, etc.  We want our faculty to have a voice in busting these myths and we hope by making these issues personal we can promote and provoke conversations.  We will reference the book 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education by David Berliner, Gene V Glass and Associates, 2014.

Myth #9:  Teachers are the most important influence in a child’s education

Contributor: Dr. Kathryn Brooks

Good teachers matter.  Supportive schools matter. Every child deserves good teachers and schools. However, teachers and schools do not have a strong influence on student standardized test scores.  Teacher and school evaluation systems in most states are based on, at least in part, how well their students perform on standardized tests.  However, these systems are flawed because factors other than teacher and school level factors are the greatest influence over student performance on standardized tests.

The research unequivocally shows that there is no statistically significant relationship between student performance on standardized tests and school or teacher quality.  Basing high stakes decisions about schools and teachers on bad data will lead to bad decisions.  Thousands of research studies over the past 50 years have been consistent in showing that we cannot establish a link between student test scores and school/teacher quality.  This body of research is some of the most robust research that we have in education and psychometrics.  We could write thousands of pages about these studies, but the following statements capture the essence of this research:

  • 50+ years of extensive research on the impact of teachers and schools on student achievement indicate that typically only 7-10% of variability in student performance on standardized tests is attributable to teacher and school level factors (Coleman, 1966, Heubert & Hauser, 1999; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 1998; Schochet & Chiang, 2010).  Ninety percent or more of standardized test score performance is attributable to factors that are not related to schools and teachers. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences considers value-added measures of teacher effectiveness “too unstable to be considered fair or reliable” (Heubert & Hauser, 1999).
  • Using the growth model, based on error rates for teacher-level analyses, Schochet and Chiang (2010) found an error rate of 26% over three years of comparison data.  This means that more than one in four teachers were erroneously identified as underperforming or overperforming when they were average performers.  Schochet and Chiang (2010) also found that looking at just one year of teacher data has an error rate of 35%, and they estimated that school level error rates fall between 16% and 21%.  This means that more than 1 in 6 schools is likely to be falsely identified as low or high growth schools when the school is actually of average growth.  These error rates will be much higher for schools that do not reflect the average demographics for the state.  While Indiana has not released the error rates for our growth model, our model was based on the growth models studied by Schochet and Chiang.  The American Statistical Association (2014) calls the statistical underpinning of growth model systems unstable, even under ideal conditions, due to its large error rates.

The difficulty of connecting school/teacher quality to student standardized test scores relates to the myriad of factors that influence student performance on standardized test scores.  Non-school variables such as:

  • low birth-weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children;
  • inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance;
  • food insecurity;
  • environmental pollutants;
  • family relations and family stress; and
  • neighborhood characteristics (Berliner, 2009, p. 1),

exert a much greater influence on student achievement than do school-related factors.  Even Betebenner (2008), the developer of Indiana’s school accountability model, raised concerns about attributing a direct link between student growth and school performance:

As with student achievement for a school, it would be a mistake to assert that the school is solely responsible for the growth of its students…  The median student growth percentile is descriptive and makes no assertion about the cause of student growth (p. 5).

Non-school related factors create too much statistical noise for even the most prominent statisticians in our country to determine how schools and teachers influence student standardized test scores.

References

American Statistical Association (2014). Executive Summary of the ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf

Baker, E. L., et al. (2010). Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from epi.3cdn.net/b9667271ee6c154195_t9m6iij8k.pdf

Betebenner, D. (2008).  A primer on student growth percentiles. Dover, NH: National Center of the Improvement of Educational Assessment.

Coleman, J. (1966). Equality of educational opportunity. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Franco, M. S., & Seidel, K. (2012). Evidence for the need to more closely examine school effects in value-added modeling and related accountability policies. Education and Urban Society, 44(1).

Gong, B., Perie, M., and Dunn, J. (2006). Using student longitudinal growth measures for school accountability under No Child Left Behind: An update to inform design decisions. Center for Assessment. Available online at: http://www.nciea.org/publications/GrowthModelUpdate_BGMAPJD07.pdf

Heubert, J.P., & Hauser, R.M. (1999). High stakes: Testing for tracking, promotion, and graduation. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Hout, M. and Elliott, S., eds. (2011). Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education. National Research Council of the National Academies of Science. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12521

Jones, B., and R. Egley. 2004. Voices from the frontlines: Teachers’ perceptions of high-stakes testing. Education Policy Analysis Archives 12(39).

Jones, M. G., B. D. Jones, B. Hardin, L. Chapman, T. Yarbrough, and M. Davis. 1999. The impact of high-stakes testing on teachers and students in North Carolina. Phi Delta Kappan 81(3): 199-203.

Rivkin. S. G., Hanushek, E. A., & Kain, J. F. (2005). Teachers, schools, and academic achievement. Econometrica, 73(2), 417-458.

Schochet, P. Z., & Chiang, H. S. (2010). Error rates in measuring teacher and school performance based on student test score gains (NCEE 2010-4004). Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, United States Department of Education.

Stevens, J., & Zvoch, K. (2006). Issues in the implementation of longitudinal growth models for student achievement. In R. W. Lissitz (Ed.) Longitudinal and value added models of student performance (pp. 170-209). Maple Grove, MN: JAM Press.

Mythbusting Monday – High school exit exams and “college readiness”


mythbusting

Mythbusting Monday is a series of blog posts where we invite different faculty members from the College of Education to discuss education myths and how or what we are doing to combat the myth, fix the myth, etc.  We want our faculty to have a voice in busting these myths and we hope by making these issues personal we can promote and provoke conversations.  We will reference the book 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education by David Berliner, Gene V Glass and Associates, 2014.

Myth: #45  

High school exit exams guarantee that our graduates will be “college ready” and prepared to succeed as workers in a global economy.

Contributors: Dr. Susan Adams, Dr. Catherine Pangan, Dr. Katie Brooks, Dr. Arthur Hochman, Lindsay Williams, Cassandra Pixey

How do college admissions teams know which high school graduates are most ready for success in college? It might surprise you to know that cumulative high school GPA-what most people consider to be subjective, unreliable data-is the strongest predictor of college success. Standardized test scores are much less predictive of college readiness and success than teacher-made assessments. Why is this? Classroom teachers use multiple measures, whether homework, projects, participation, and a wide variety of summative and formative assessments, to measure student learning. In the College of Education at Butler University, our pre-service teachers develop critical thinking expertise, collaboration skills, and creativity that serve them well in the classroom as they design meaningful and engaging learning and assessment opportunities for K-12 students.

In our laboratory school partnerships at IPS Shortridge and IPS Butler-Lab School 60, we are seeing the power and impact K-12 students communicate through project-based assessment, multimedia documentation panels, and inquiry-based group. We assess our teacher candidates using similar measures: portfolios, credential files, and video analysis of our candidates teaching with local students. A standardized assessment could never tell the full story of what students know, are able to do, and are ready to do. Good assessment practices involve the extensive use of formative and summative assessments that students produce over time.

In our global economy, project-based and inquiry-focused assessments better measure the knowledge, dispositions, and skills required in college and in the workplace than do multiple choice and short answer standardized assessments.  The marketplace has told us that our approach to assessment and teacher education is what is necessary and needed, by hiring our teacher education, school counseling, and administrative graduates.  Our students learn a wide variety of assessments so that their toolbox is as full and comprehensive as possible.  We need to tell the full story of each child, classroom, school and district through authentic assessment that is as equally varied, deep and rich. Every student deserves the opportunity to learn from a teacher who is highly skilled and well prepared to teach these creative, collaborative and project-based skills as preparation for participation in this global economy.

College of Education faculty represents Indiana at the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative!

Front row (L-R) Amanda Culhan (IDOE), Melba Salmon (Guidance Director at John Marshall High School), Second row (L-R) Dr. Tom Keller (Butler University, Program Director for Graduate School Counseling), Susan Kleinman (Butler University, Coordinator for Licensed Mental Health Counselor Program), Dr. Brandie Oliver (Associate Professor, Butler University), Matt Fleck (CCR Consultant), Dr. Nick Abel (Associate Professor, Butler University), and Amy Marsh (Chamber of Commerce).

Front row (L-R) Amanda Culhan (IDOE), Melba Salmon (Guidance Director at John Marshall High School), Second row (L-R) Dr. Tom Keller (Butler University, Program Director for Graduate School Counseling), Susan Kleinman (Butler University, Coordinator for Licensed Mental Health Counselor Program), Dr. Brandie Oliver (Associate Professor, Butler University), Matt Fleck (CCR Consultant), Dr. Nick Abel (Associate Professor, Butler University), and Amy Marsh (Chamber of Commerce).

Several of our faculty from the College of Education Graduate School Counseling program were invited to be part of the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative, which is focusing on college and career readiness.  This convening was a partnership between the White House’s College Opportunity Agenda and the Reach Higher Initiative.  Dr. Tom Keller and his Butler colleagues were honored to have been chosen to be part of the team that represented Indiana for the event.  The Reach Higher Initiative is a part of President Obama’s plan to improve the value of college, remove barriers to innovation and competition, and ensure student debt remains affordable for all students.  The First Lady continued this call to action by creating the Reach Higher Initiative, which strives to encourage every student to complete their high school education, be it through a professional training program, community college or four-year college/university.  This particular event concentrated on the impact of school counselors and how they can influence college enrollment.  The College of Education is really excited about the opportunity to help shape this national conversation!

If you’d like more information about the COE Graduate School Counseling program or the Reach Higher Initiative and Butler’s involvement, please feel free to contact Dr. Tom Keller, Program Director of the Graduate School Counseling Program.