Archives for the month of: June, 2013

In 2011, after the unemployment rate doubled from 5 to 10 percent, the housing market crashed and the stock market took a nose dive, we took an early look at the impact of those economic contractions on teacher employment and found that, while there were isolated layoffs of significance (mostly in California), teachers had been relatively protected from job loss.


  • On average, teachers continued to get raises post-recession, but the increases were one-third to one-half of what they were at the start of the recession.
  • In 80 percent of the districts studied (33 out of 41), teachers had a total pay freeze or pay cut in at least one of the school years between 2008-09 and 2011-12.
  • 95 percent of the districts (39 out of 41) froze or cut at least one component of scheduled teacher raises (step increases or annual adjustments) at some point over the four years.
  • Of the forty-one districts in our sample, Chicago Public Schools had the highest average raise over the four years at 6.5 percent.

The Recession’s Impact on Teacher Salaries

“Sticky wages” are the reason for unemployment during recessions and depressions.

In recessions, money and wealth fall, but wages stay the same or even increase. Thus some people must lose their jobs altogether so that others can keep the salaries they had before.

Click image to enlarge
Teacher raises since crash
Wages: average for Irvington teacher compared to average Irvington
& Tarrytown residents

4% average increase in teacher compensation year-to-year
Highest IBM raise = 3.5%
Sticky wages: wage change in 2011
Work sharing: A strategy to preserve jobs during the global jobs crisis
Kuzarbeit scheme

No longer can a teacher be the sage on the stage
Common Core essential standards change how we teach
Become a guide on the side to engage
Common Core essential standards change how we teach

Focus on student engagement
Practices communication
Relevant data yes
Common Core essential standards change how we teach

No list of algorithms to memorize
Common Core essential standards change how we teach
Graphing calculators and real-world ties
Common Core essential standards change how we teach


These teachers are singing about constructivism.

Why Minimally Guided Teaching Techniques Do Not Work:
A Reply to Commentaries

Why educationists want to flip the classroom

Click image to enlarge
Screenshot Fordham US map | State Standards 2010

The State of State Standards — and the Common Core — in 2010
By Sheila Byrd Carmichael, Gabrielle Martino, Kathleen Porter-Magee, and W. Stephen Wilson
July 2010
Thomas Fordham Institute

The two dads in the video appear to be looking at the Zaner-Bloser Voices series.

Good Neighbors Theme Package
Sample Unit Zaner-Bloser Voices Literature & Writing 1
Common Core State Standards | Alignment to Voices

A friend gave me permission to post:

Employee evaluations are more effective than money — but they have to be managed carefully and employers have to be vigilant in their reviews.

For example, I set very specific goals for the employees – part of the goal is about making the number of course – but part of the goals are also about achieving other results. I specify exactly what I want them to accomplish for the year; then I break it out by quarter and I visit their progress in reaching the objectives at least quarterly. This reminds them of the commitment they made to me (…I also ask them to commit to the number on a quarterly basis and commit to their objectives).

At the end of the year, I ask employees to write their own evaluation as part of the review process. Part of the reason is to remind them about what they have accomplished for the year. I always have a view in my mind (and in a folder) about the important things they have accomplished. You would be surprised at how many employees forget the really good stuff and they love to see that I remembered. Other times I have to remind them that they look better on paper (sometimes employees sound like they are superhuman on paper and I have to bring them down to earth based on their actual performance).

I have seen that employees work toward achieving their goals and want to get good evaluations – they “work to the compensation plan” and they also “work to the review process”.

Question: How much time and energy is going into APPR?

Answer: A lot.

Richard DuFour raised student achievement when he stopped focusing on teaching and started focusing on learning:

Confessions of an Instructional Leader

When I entered the principalship a quarter century ago, the research on effective schools warned that without strong administrative leadership, the disparate elements of good schooling could be neither brought together nor kept together (Lezotte, 1997). I heeded the message and embraced my role as a strong leader with gusto. I was determined to rise above the mundane managerial tasks of the job and focus instead on instruction—I hoped to be an instructional leader. I asked teachers to submit their course syllabi and curriculum guides so that I could monitor what they were teaching. I collected weekly lesson plans to ensure that teachers were teaching the prescribed curriculum. I read voraciously about instructional strategies in different content areas and shared pertinent articles with staff members.

But my devotion to the clinical supervision process at the school was the single greatest illustration of my commitment to function as an instructional leader. I developed a three-part process that required me to be a student of good teaching and to help teachers become more reflective and insightful about their instruction.

During the pre-observation conference, I met with teachers individually and asked them to talk me through the lesson I would be observing in their classroom. I asked a series of questions, including What will you teach? How will you teach it? What instructional strategies will you use? What instructional materials will you use? During the classroom observation, I worked furiously to script as accurately as possible what the teacher said and did.

During the postobservation conference, the teacher and I reconstructed the lesson from my notes and his or her recollections. We looked for patterns or trends in what the teacher had said and done, and we discussed the relationship between those patterns and the lesson’s objectives. Finally, I asked the teacher what he or she might change in the lesson before teaching it again. I then wrote a summary of the classroom observation and our postobservation discussion, offered recommendations for effective teaching strategies, and suggested ways in which the teacher might become more effective.

The observation process was time-consuming, but I was convinced that my focus on individual teachers and their instructional strategies was an effective use of my time. And the process was not without benefits. As a new pair of eyes in the classroom, I was able to help teachers become aware of unintended instructional or classroom management patterns. I could express my appreciation for the wonderful work that teachers were doing because I had witnessed it firsthand. I observed powerful instructional strategies and was able to share those strategies with other teachers. I learned a lot about what effective teaching looks like.

In Hot Pursuit of the Wrong Questions

Eventually, after years as a principal, I realized that even though my efforts had been well intentioned—and even though I had devoted countless hours each school year to those efforts—I had been focusing on the wrong questions. I had focused on the questions, What are the teachers teaching? and How can I help them to teach it more effectively? Instead, my efforts should have been driven by the questions, To what extent are the students learning the intended outcomes of each course? and What steps can I take to give both students and teachers the additional time and support they need to improve learning?

This shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning is more than semantics. When learning becomes the preoccupation of the school, when all the school’s educators examine the efforts and initiatives of the school through the lens of their impact on learning, the structure and culture of the school begin to change in substantive ways. Principals foster this structural and cultural transformation when they shift their emphasis from helping individual teachers improve instruction to helping teams of teachers ensure that students achieve the intended outcomes of their schooling. More succinctly, teachers and students benefit when principals function as learning leaders rather than instructional leaders.

May 2002 | Volume 59 | Number 8
Beyond Instructional Leadership Pages 12-15
The Learning-Centered Principal
Richard DuFour

Common characteristics of high-achievement schools 6/13/2013

  • A focus on academic achievement
  • Clear curriculum choices
  • Frequent assessment of student progress and multiple opportunities for improvement
  • An emphasis on nonfiction writing
  • Collaborative scoring of student work

High Performance in High Poverty Schools 90/90/90 and Beyond
Douglas Reeves

Beefed-up teacher evaluations do not appear on this list.

APPR will not raise student achievement.

13 years of school, 100+ standards per year, 10+ standards per month.

2.5 standards per week.

0.5 standards per day.

Who’s Minding the Schools? by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus | New York Times | Published: June 8, 2013

In today’s New York Times:

“Who’s Minding the Schools?” quoted from a Common Core English Language Arts test given to New York State eighth-grade students. The test challenged the students to draw a conclusion from the following text:

“Local pride in the preservation of cultural things that belong to the old days should be stimulated wherever possible, particularly in the minority groups. Remember that the Anglo-Saxon music that we are inclined to think of as the only ‘American’ kind is a relatively recent importation on this continent, exactly as the Hungarian, Finnish, and Armenian folk musics are.”

The correct answer is F, for the test’s own failing grade. What does it say about an English Language Arts test partly written in prose so clumsy that one hopes it will never be imitated by students taking the exam?

Katonah, N.Y., June 10, 2013

LETTERS | Will Common Core Improve Schools? Published: June 11, 2013

Click image to enlarge
Screenshot Little Figures That Are Not There
Statistics taken out of context can be misleading.

“The little figures that are not there” is the title of Chapter 3 in Daryl Huff’s 1954 classic, How to Lie with Statistics.

Irvington Insight | Budget | May 13, 2013 | page 1 (pdf file)

(hat tip: David Graeber)

Budget % Budget
Enrollment Per pupil
2004-05 $38,543,225
1,998 $19,290
2005-06 $42,154,726
9.37% 1,959 $21,518
2006-07 $45,691,508
8.39% 1,961 $23,300
2007-08 $48,432,999
6.00% 1,942 $24,939
2008-09 $50,583,424 4.44% 1,888 $26,792
2009-10 $51,009,065 0.84% 1,799 $28,354
2010-11 $49,896,676 -2.23% 1,798 $27,751
2011-12 $50,324,892 0.91% 1,747 $28,806
2012-13 $51,156,000 1.65% 1,801
1,799 (5/10/2013)
2013-14 $54,070,000 5.70% 1,801
2014-15 $56,294,000 4.1% 1,795 $31,361.56
2015-16 $57,664,000 2.4% 1,760 $32,763.64
  • Average percent increase past 9 years 2004-2005 to 2012-2013: 3.9%
  • Total percent increase in per pupil spending across 10 years’ time: 55.7%
  • Total percent increase in CPI inflation across the same 10 years’ time: 20.2%
  • If spending had risen at the rate of CPI inflation, next year’s budget would be $46,342,246.80
  • Percent decline in students: 9.86%

Student achievement did not rise with spending.

Curriculum quality fell.

Sources (2004-2005 to 2012-2013):

UPDATE 4/23/2016


NOTE: “Calculated” budget numbers are based in percent-change figures drawn from Budget to Budget Percent Increases/Decreases | 2005-06 thru 2010-11 | page 36 from IUFSD Proposed Budget  March 1, 2011

Enrollment as of 6/10/2013: 1801

The question below is drawn from the New York Common Core assessments, 8th grade test. (NOTE: The goal is to answer the question correctly without reading the passage it’s based on.)

Why does the author write that the Portuguese and the Spanish have been in California longer than the “Americans?”

A. to broaden the reader’s idea of what should be considered “American” folk music

B. to argue that Hungarian, Finnish, and Armenian folk musics are not truly American

C. to suggest that “American” folk music is music that has not been imported to the continent

D. to convince the reader that the Portuguese and Spanish should not be considered minority groups in California

33 abstentions this year:
(budget overrides the tax cap)

 YES   1027  59.7%
 NO   659  38.3%
 ABSTAIN   33  1.9%
 TOTAL 1719

249 abstentions last year:
(budget below tax cap)

 YES   904  57.3%
 NO   425  26.9%
 ABSTAIN   249  15.8%
 TOTAL  1578

An abstention is a polite ‘no.’

You may be able to download the vote count from the district website: IRVINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT | OFFICIAL VOTE COUNT | MAY 21, 2013. If the district link isn’t working, use this one: 5.21.2013 | Offical Count-Web

Budget surpluses since 2008-2009