Study: Teachers underrate minority achievers

Teachers give lower ratings to high-achieving black and Latino students than to white classmates with similar test scores, concludes a new University of Texas study published in Social Science Research.

However, teachers gave higher ratings to low-performing blacks and Latinos then their scores indicated and judged low-performing whites more harshly.

Sociologist Yasmiyn Irizarry compared first-graders’ scores on a series of cognitive and literacy tests to how teachers ranked the students’ abilities, reports Education Week.

Teachers rated average-performing students as average, regardless of race or ethnicity.

. . . high-performing students of color were underrated by their teachers in comparison to white high-achievers. Black or Latino students who scored in the top 10 percent of all 1st graders, were 7 to 9 percentage points less likely to be rated “far above average,” and they were generally rated one to two rankings lower (out of five) than white students who scored the same.

The gaps in teachers’ expectations did not close until minority students were in the top 1 percent of all students.

Teachers back college for all — at some schools

Fifty-eight percent of teachers at low-poverty schools said college and career readiness for all is a “very realistic” goal, according to an online survey by EdSource and the California Teachers Association. Only 20 percent at high-poverty schools agreed.

"Linked learning" -- programs integrating career and academic skills -- should be expanded, said California teachers in a new survey.

“Linked learning” — programs integrating career and academic skills — should be expanded, said California teachers in a new survey.

Only 30 percent of teachers said their districts have “clearly defined standards for what constitutes college and career readiness,” reports Louis Freedberg for EdSource. “Thirty-five percent say that their districts have standards, but that they are not clearly defined. Eight percent say their districts have no standards at all.”

Most high school teachers are confident they know how to prepare for college, but only 14 percent have received training in helping students pursue other options.

Teachers strongly supported offering more career pathways.

Most teachers supported Common Core standards “with reservations.”

In big cities, fewer black teachers

Fewer blacks are teaching public school in nine cities, in­clud­ing New York, Los Angeles and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Al­bert Shanker In­sti­tute. There are more Latino teachers in the classroom — and many more Latino students.

“Teach­ers of col­or are far more likely to leave the classroom than white teach­ers,” writes Emily DeRuy in National Journal. “They’re dis­pro­por­tion­ately likely to work in urb­an, high-poverty schools where the job is stressful and frustrating.

The per­cent­age of public school teach­ers of col­or has ris­en from 12 per­cent in 1987 to 17 per­cent in 2012, according to the Shanker report. Students of color are now a majority in public schools.

“Students, especially students of color, do best when their teach­ers are able to re­late per­son­ally to their ex­per­i­ences and cul­tur­al her­it­age,” writes DeRuy. “Stu­dents score bet­ter on tests and are more likely to stay in school.”

Teachers earn $16,000 more in low-poverty districts than in high-poverty districts, according to a Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress report.

Furthermore, segregation by race and socioeconomic status is growing.  “The av­er­age black stu­dent at­tends a school where two-thirds of his class­mates are poor, al­most double the rate for white and Asi­an chil­dren.”

Strike closes Seattle schools — except for charters

A teacher strike kept Seattle schools closed on the first day of school yesterday, reports AP. However, Seattle charter schools remained open, despite a state Supreme Court ruling denying state funding.

In addition to more money — Seattle teachers have gone six years without a cost-of-living raise — teachers want changes in testing and discipline policies and more preparation time,  said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association.

Second grade student Abigail Knodel walks with her mother, Gloria Fernandez, past a striking teacher in front of Abigail's West Seattle Elementary School and toward a nearby all-day camp. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Second-grader Abigail Knodel walks with her mother, Gloria Fernandez, past a striking teacher in front of Abigail’s West Seattle Elementary School.  Photo: Elaine Thompson, AP

Teachers earn $44,000 to $86,000, depending on experience and advanced degrees, according to the district.

Charter leaders are seeking private donations to keep the state’s nine charter schools open for the school year, reports the Seattle Times.

Late last week, the Washington Supreme Court ruled the state’s charter law is unconstitutional because charters don’t have elected school boards.

Pro-charter legislators could put a constitutional amendment authorizing charter schools on the November 2016 ballot. That would require a two-thirds’ majority vote in both the state House and Senate.

The teacher at the door

Teachers are visiting their students’ families at a growing number of schools, writes Blake Farmer on NPR.

“Traditional schools in Washington, D.C., tried out home visits after privately run charter schools used them to successfully engage parents, he writes. Now the National Education Association is encouraging more schools to try home visits.

Hobgood Elementary fourth grade teacher Ashlee Barnes introduces herself to one of her new students at a Murfreesboro apartment complex. Photo: Blake Farmer, WPLN

Hobgood Elementary teacher Ashlee Barnes introduces herself to one of her new fourth-grade students at a Murfreesboro apartment complex. Photo: Blake Farmer, WPLN

Ninety percent of students at Hobgood Elementary in Murfreesboro, Tenn., come from low-income households., while most of the teachers were raised in middle-class families.

“Once a year, just before school starts, they board a pair of yellow buses and head for the neighborhoods and apartment complexes where Hobgood students live,” writes Farmer.

Principal Tammy Garrett wants teachers to meet their students’ parents and see their challenges. “If a kid doesn’t have a place to sleep or they have to share the couch with their siblings at night and there are nine kids with one bedroom or two bedrooms, it’s important for them to see that — not to be sympathetic,” she says. “It’s to empower the teachers to change the lives of the kids.”

Treat pro athletes like teachers

Key and Peele’s TeachingCenter skit inspired dreams of teachers treated  like pro athletes, but we need to treat pro athletes more like teachers, writes Matt Barnum on The 74 Million.

“After all, when you don’t count our poor kids, we have one of the best education systems in the world,” he writes.

By contrast, the average professional sports team, which wins no more than it loses, could learn from our public schools.

For example, we should stop paying athletes for performance. “Basketball star Lebron James can earn more than $20 million in a single season, while a teammate earns less than $1 million for doing the same job.”

It is well known that merit pay is an idea that “never works and never dies” according to education historian Diane Ravitch. After all it assumes that athletes only play for financial incentives rather than the love of the game. . . . Many pop psychologists have also pointed out that incentive pay will lead to a reduction in collaboration and intrinsic motivation. Instead, athletes should be compensated solely based on experience and whether they have a master’s degree in the sport that they play.

To prevent cheating, “we need to immediately stop evaluating teams and players based on narrow quantitative metrics, like wins and losses. A team is more than a score.”

Finally, it’s time to “stop the war on veteran athletes,” writes Barnum. “Our teams deserve experienced, qualified players — not young kids straight out of college or even high school who are supposedly faster and more athletic.”

Study: White teachers expect less of blacks

Non-black teachers have lower expectations for black students than black teachers, concludes a recent study.

“We cannot determine whether the black teachers are too optimistic, the non-black teachers are too pessimistic, or some combination of the two,” writes researcher Seth Gershenson. But it’s likely that teachers’ expectations “shape student outcomes.”

Two teachers for each 10th grader were asked to predict the student’s educational attainment.  “When a black student is evaluated by one black teacher and by one non-black teacher, the non-black teacher is about 30 percent less likely to expect that the student will complete a four-year college degree than the black teacher,” writes Gershenson, an assistant professor of public administration and policy at American University.

Racial mismatch in the classroom is a growing issue, reports USA Today.

The teaching force remains mostly white, while a majority of students are Latino, a fast-growing group, black, Asian and other.

“If you have a school where the student body is of color and the teaching body is entirely white, it sets up a dynamic that doesn’t foster cohesiveness and does not inspire students and can be problematic,” said Ulrich Boser, a senior researcher at the Center for American Progress.

A Florida study found that black, white or Asian students performed better when assigned to same-race teachers.

Of course, the only way to achieve that would be segregation.

New Orleans improves — with black teachers

A new generation of black teachers are part of New Orleans’ schools revival, writes Citizen (Chris) Stewart, who grew up in the city and attended neighborhood schools.

The Orleans Parish School Board — not “white school reformers” — put the city’s teachers on unpaid “disaster leave” because the schools were closed, he writes. That enabled teachers to collect unemployment benefits.

When schools reopened, the Recovery School District required that teacher candidates pass a basic skills test. “One third of the returning teachers failed that test,” writes Stewart.

“Veteran” and “experienced” don’t necessarily mean “quality,” he argues.

(Critics say) the fired black teachers “knew the kids” and “were the backbone of the black middle class.”

. . . The children of New Orleans deserve every shot at a good life we can proivde them. We can’t get there by viewing schools as a jobs program for the black bourgeoisie.

. . . Yes, some of the previous NOLA schools had many lovely, dedicated people working hard in a deeply dysfunctional system that blocked them from doing their best work.

At the same time, many others needed to go.

Today,  54 percent of NOLA teachers and 58 percent of RSD school leaders are black, writes Stewart. Blacks make up 59 percent of the city’s population.

“Great black school leaders and educators are working hard in a new system with many hopeful new possibilities,” he concludes. This time, growth of the black middle class is linked to “academic results for poor black children.”

Education Week‘s excellent series, The Re-Education of New Orleans, includes an interview with a veteran teacher who wasn’t rehired after Katrina.

Resurgence, by Public Impact and New Schools for New Orleans, analyzes what’s changed in NOLA.

74 Million’s Matt Barnum answers critics who downplay progress in NOLA schools.

Music is vital for community and culture, reports Ed Week.

Teachers as ‘social justice warriors’

Teachers have no right to indoctrinate students, writes Darren on Right on the Left Coast.

If he’s asked his opinion, he’ll answer — if it doesn’t get in the way of a math lesson.

But teachers who think they should turn their students into “agents of change” or some similar term, that seems a bridge too far for me.  Should teachers be requiring students to write letters to legislators or executives  about specific proposals?  In most cases I’d probably say no.  Teaching kids that they should work for change in their communities–why, exactly?  You may think the community needs changing, plenty may not.

“With the election season in full swing, expect a tide of union-led anti-reform, anti-choice and anti-Republican politicking in our kids’ classrooms,” warns Larry Sand, a retired teacher. At the recent National Education Association convention, Sand notes, Executive Director John Stocks told NEA members they should become “social justice warriors.”

cantbeallyoucanbe.jpgA West Point graduate, Darren has his alma mater’s posters and pennants from the other service academies hanging in his classroom, as well as pictures of President Reagan, President Bush and Queen Elizabeth II. He was horrified by another teacher’s anti-military poster, he writes.

The poster showed gravestones with the text: “You can’t be all you can be if you’re dead.”

“Imagine how you’d feel if, upon walking into a classroom, you saw one of those aborted/dismembered fetus posters that some pro-life protesters display,” he writes. “I’m sickened by this poster.”

Readers, what do you think? Is the anti-military poster out of line? What about a picture of President Reagan — or Obama?

Who wants to teach?

Schools are scrambling to hire credentialed — or almost -credentialed — teachers in many parts of the country, reports Motoko Rich for the New York Times.

Math, science, special education and bilingual teachers are in short supply. There’s nothing new there. But some districts have vacancies for all sorts of teachers.

Louisville, Ky.; Nashville; Oklahoma City; and Providence, R.I., are among the large urban school districts having trouble finding teachers, according to the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts. Just one month before the opening of classes, Charlotte, N.C., was desperately trying to fill 200 vacancies.

. . . (California) districts have to fill 21,500 slots, according to estimates from the California Department of Education, while the state is issuing fewer than 15,000 new teaching credentials a year.

Bay Area schools are in a hiring frenzy reports Sharon Noguchi for the San Jose Mercury News.

In San Jose’s East Side high school district, Associate Superintendent Cari Vaeth says teachers start at nearly $52,000 with a bachelor’s degree. In eight years, with a credential, salaries can reach $81,000. The district has 110 job openings.

Is There a Teacher Shortage? asks Ross Brenneman in Education Week. In some areas, such as California, Kansas, Nevada, Arizona and Indiana, schools are struggling to recruit teachers.  Yet, nationally, “the student-teacher ratio has remained relatively consistent,” he writes. “The problem appears to be that available teachers aren’t always located where they’re needed most.”

Teacher-education enrollment is down significantly in many states.

Many experts chalk up such declines, as well as regional teacher shortages, to the Great Recession and ensuing cutbacks in public spending. Others have charged that poor teacher working conditions, such as low salaries and test-driven school cultures, are nudging existing and potential educators toward other professions, especially with the economy improving.

However, some states have plenty of teachers. “New York has a major surplus of certified teachers,” according to state education data.

It’s the economy, writes Chad Aldeman, citing new research linking the choice of college majors to business cycles.  “When recessions hit, both men and women were less likely to want to become teachers and instead turned to fields like accounting and engineering.”

While the declines are not good news for schools–it means they’re competing for a smaller number of candidates–a recent paper found that teachers hired during the recent recession tended to be stronger than those hired during better economic times.

As districts raise wages to attract new teachers, more young people will seek careers in teaching and the shortage will vanish, writes Aldeman.

U.S. schools employ over 150 percent as many teachers as in 1970, to teach only 109 percent as many students, writes Andrew Coulson on Cato.