Intensive Tutoring, Ending ACT

Intensive Tutoring, Ending ACT
School’s closed today — but you knew that already.  Cold! Did you know that the pension fix may not be as robust as original projected, or that the New York Times has taken a look at an intensive tutoring program that’s been piloted in Chicago — should they expand it? — or that ISBE may cancel the ACT?  Elsewhere, a class action lawsuit against teacher job protections is going forward in California, and state education chiefs nationwide are pledging to protect student data privacy.  All that and more below.
Intensive Small-Group Tutoring and Counseling Helps Struggling Students NYT: A study of struggling African-American high school students in Chicago found that providing focused guidance sharply improved learning, but the approach is a costly one to replicate.

A Reading Teacher Who Lost The Ability To Read NPR: After a reading specialist at a kindergarten outside Chicago had a series of small strokes, she could no longer read. She’s using her skills to teach herself how to recognize words again, but those who suffer from alexia face a long road back to literacy.

Urban agriculture center creates more than green space WBEZ: In a former shoe warehouse on 96th and Cottage Grove, Chicago State University professor Emmanuel Pratt has turned a former shoe warehouse into an urban farm focusing on aquaponics. What exactly is aquaponics? High school senior Seville Bell, a volunteer at the space, explains.


CPS to close schools Monday Sun Times: “The safety and well-being of our students is paramount,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said. “The decision to close schools is never easy. However, based on the severity of the weather we are expecting Monday, I am confident that this decision is in…

Classes canceled Monday for CPS students WBEZ: Classes at Chicago Public Schools and most schools in the suburbs are canceled Monday. The nation’s third-largest school district canceled classes earlier this month when a deep freeze settled across much of the country with temperatures and wind chills below zero.

Chicago bracing for second deep-freeze in a month Tribune: For the second time in less than a month, predictions of dangerous subzero temperatures have closed many Chicago-area schools Monday.


Lawmakers at Odds over Pension Reform Savings WTTW: It turns out pension reform could save $15 billion less than legislative leaders initially anticipated. An actuarial analysis done by the pension systems affected by this bill say the real savings will be $145 billion, rather than the $160 billion originally advertised. Read an article.

Illinois pension law saves $15 billion less than first thought Tribune: New calculations show the state will save about $15 billion less than initially projected from the controversial major government worker pension overhaul that lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn approved last month.

State Board Of Ed Calls For $1 Billion Extra For Schools In 2015 Progress IL: Gery Chico, ISBE board chairman, rationalized the need for the extra $1 billion by noting that Illinois school funding has been slashed to the tune of $800 million since 2009.

Education officials consider flunking ACT Tribune: With new tests coming, college-entrance exam may no longer be administered free to Illinois students. The ACT — a crucial rite of passage for many into the world of higher education — has been given free of charge to Illinois’ 11th graders for more than a decade, part of mandated state exams for public high school juniors.


New charter teacher training headed for Chicago? Catalyst: The Relay Graduate School of Education, an outgrowth of a program previously at New York City’s Hunter College, has applied for operating approval and degree-granting approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education. If that agency and the Illinois State Board of Education approve Relay, it could potentially open its doors to serve as many as 50 students as soon as the fall.

Chicago Teachers Union Forming Independent Political Organization DNAI: Union President Karen Lewis said during last year’s protests over school closings, “No matter what happens … it is not over,” and she promised to enroll 250,000 new voters. Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey has also called out Ald. Joe Moore.


Lawsuit challenging teacher tenure, seniority protections goes to court EdSource via Hechinger Report: California is one of a handful of states that still grant tenure in two years or less. Over the past two years, the Democratically controlled Legislature has struggled without success to reach a compromise between the teachers unions and school boards and administrators on how to pare down the dismissal law.

Teacher tenure goes on trial in California courtroom Washington Post: The national debate about teacher tenure is the focus of a trial set to begin Monday in a fifth-floor Los Angeles courtroom, pitting a Silicon Valley mogul with a star-studded legal team against some of the most powerful labor unions in the country.

See also: Teacher Job Protections Vs. Students’ Education In Calif. NPR; Lawsuit takes on California teachers’ job protections LA Times; Protect good teachers, fire bad ones LA Times (editorial page).


State Chiefs Pledge to Not Share Student Data With Arne Duncan, Ed. Dept. PK12: Schools chiefs from 34 states have banded together to make a public declaration that they will not share personally identifiable student data with the federal government.


Lessons for de Blasio in New Jersey’s Free Pre-K NYT: The programs in 31 low-income districts in New Jersey are widely acknowledged for strong results. But they are also more expensive and intensive than what many officials — including Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York — have proposed.


New York teachers turn on Common Core Politico: The board of the New York state teachers union this weekend unanimously withdrew its support for the Common Core standards as they have been implemented. See also Teacher Beat.


U.S. Cites Evidence of Anti-Semitism in School District NYT: A United States attorney’s office said evidence in a lawsuit filed by Jewish families “could support a conclusion” that authorities in Pine Bush, N.Y., were ineffective in ending harassment.

Video: Homework Diner Has Real Food, Real Community NBC News: A New Mexico school is combining homework time, dinner time and tutor time with its Homework Diner.

Catholic School Won’t Re-Hire Gay Vice Principal, Mark Zmuda, After His Same-Sex Marriage HuffPost: A Catholic school in a Seattle suburb says it won’t rehire gay Vice-Principal Mark Zmuda, who was forced out in December after his same-sex marriage.


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  • "Those students learned in an eight-month period the equivalent of what the average American high school student learns in math over three years of school, as measured by standardized test scores, over and above what a similar group of students who did not receive the tutoring or counseling did. "

    Wait...What?? I was assured by the CTU and Ravitch that this couldn't happen without fixing poverty first. I'm feeling misled.

  • In reply to Donn:

    What might be the best way of funding intensive and masterful tutoring?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Rather than exploring intensified educational opportunities, wouldn't it be easier for the CTU to send someone over to Harper and explain to these students that poverty is destiny? Maybe print out some research from CTUnet and bring it along as a handout.

  • school's closed tuesday, too -- any complaints, or are they doing the right thing?

  • Video and transcript from last week's @ajam segment on Match math tutoring and Chicago Crime Lab study also covered in today's NYT. thoughts?

  • OMG you mean the ultimate student /teacher ratio of 1:1 works,
    quick write a paper.

  • I know of a high intensity reading program developed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham that has had amazing success for students with mild cognitive disabilities. But the problem is the intensity is so high it leaves very little time for any thing else and the student teacher ratio is so low, about 5 to 1 that it is cost prohibitive.

    So yes academic deficits among poor and very disabled students can be remediated to a higher degree than now, but our society is simply not willing to extend the educational costs for our nation to allow it to happen on a mass scale. Even with these interventions for the most part middle class students without disabilities will out perform these students at a lower cost per student due to family support.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I have pulled out three groups for special education services-12 in one group, seven in another and 5 in another-caseload/workload 24 students. I would pull-out for the three groups for a period each and then push-in for a period each for the same groups into their gen ed setting. It is a ridiculous set up, the minutes are not met and requires a phenomenal amount of planning in order to be successful/show growth on diagnostic/standardized tests.
    CPS refuses to hire more special education teachers and is actually discouraging teachers who pull-out students by promoting wholesale
    push-in due to the large caseloads/workloads.

  • The sad thing, Rod, is that high intensity reading programs are the only thing that really is shown to work. The CPS is willing to spend lots of money on computer based reading programs that don't have research that shows their effectiveness just so it can say that something is being done to improve reading.

    On another note, Is anyone else concerned about PARCC supplanting the ACT and the impact this is going to have for college admissions for Chicago's students?

    I teach English at World Language. On average, our students start with an English Explorer score of below 11, which is among the worst in the city. This is to be expected as so many of our students speak Spanish at home and with friends. They also have not had a lot of basic grammar instruction by the time they reach high school because that's not what's tested at the elementary level. By the time those students leave World Language, because of our focus on the college readiness standards, the average English ACT score will be over a 17 and over half of them will be considered college ready. Because of the ACT's research, I know that if my student is considered college ready, there's 75% likelihood that the student will earn a C or greater in a freshman year English course.

    My students need intensive focus on conventions of standard English, punctuation, and grammar. With the PARCC, this won't be as important to success.

    This gives me an ethical dilemma. I need the students to do well on PARCC in order for my REACH rating and for the school's survival. The students need to be sure that they do well on the English ACT for college admissions. They need a solid foundation in conventions of standard English to access positions of power. Which test will I focus on next year?

  • Emanuel vows to expand promising program that combines math tutoring and mentoring Voices | Voices

    also -- there's a small-group version going in in NYC with middle school students in math -- 20 schools, funded by ford, robin hood, and the DOE there.

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