Education Week - March 27, 2013 - (Page 31)

LETTERS to the EDITOR Principal Performance Unrelated to Test Scores To the Editor: In regard to the article “Principal Appraisals Get a Remake” (March 6, 2013), the Institute for Educational Leadership joins a steady chorus of researchers who assert that evaluating principals on the basis of student test scores is psychometrically indefensible, despite attempts at developing value-added formulas. A working paper published by the University of California, Berkeley’s education school proposes a tripartite approach to principal evaluation, including: • A survey instrument that uses feedback from multiple respondents who know a principal’s work firsthand and can report their perceptions objectively; • A leadership accountability report card that identifies quantitative metrics that principals have substantial influence or control over and that are leading indicators for improved student outcomes, such as attendance, teacher assignments, and discipline data; and • Evidence-based practice using a calibrated rubric and a revised cycle of inquiry that informs next steps using asset observations, short-term outcomes, and evidence. Since leaders do not have direct influence over student achievement and mediate instructional influence with students through teachers, we find that the use of student test scores as a measurement of leadership effectiveness is neither fair nor useful. School leaders have primary responsibility for teacher working conditions and teacher motivation; they do not teach students. Principal-leadership evaluation that uses student outcomes as a proxy for leadership effectiveness obscures our ability to understand which leadership actions lead to increased supports for achievement. We take issue with the use of student test scores for leadership evaluation, and we expect that the members of the leadership-research-and-practice community will enter into a discussion of alternatives that are more useful and productive. S. Kwesi Rollins Director, Leadership Programs Lynda Tredway Senior Program Associate Institute for Educational Leadership Washington, D.C. Children’s Sleep Health Affects Learning To the Editor: The Building a Grad Nation report revealed last month that, for the first time, the nation’s ONLINE n Joseph W. Gauld doubts that students can learn to weigh personal integrity in a world where achievement is more important than morality. Read his online-only Commentary. n 31 n Marc Tucker responds to Diane Ravitch’s recent rejection of the common core in his Top Performers blog. n Ken Kay and Bob Lenz in an online- only Commentary write that common-core implementation has the potential to serve either as a driver for change for schools and students or a continuation of the status quo. high school graduation rate is on track to reach 90 percent by 2020 (“Some States on Pace to Hit 90 Percent High School Grad. Rate by 2020,” College Bound, edweek. org, Feb. 25, 2013). This proves that progress is possible when educators, government, and the private sector combine their efforts for a common good. But there is an unrecognized condition that also contributes to the dropout crisis. While pursuing my postdoctoral studies at Stanford University’s school of medicine, I was fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Christian Guilleminault, the scientist who discovered sleep apnea in children, on research that played a pivotal role in describing sleep and its effect on cognitive Teaching the Common Standards in Math Explain why the x-coordinates of the points where the graphs of the equations y=f(x) and y=g(x) intersect are the solutions of the equations f(x)=g(x); find the solutions approximately, e.g., using technology to graph the functions, make tables of values, or find successive approximations. Include cases where f(x) and g(x) are linear, polynomial, rational, absolute value, exponential, and logarithmic functions. Remember the earlier example about the teacher showing the students how to solve a system of equations using a set of steps? The first sentence of the new standard, “Explain why the x-coordinates where the graphs intersect are the solutions,” really pushes the teacher to introduce and explain a new concept in a way that goes beyond one-dimensional instruction. What is an xintercept, and what does it look like on a graph? How is that related to the algebraic equation? Perhaps rather than starting a lesson with the steps for solving the equations, the teacher might first have students consider graphs of related equations, or better yet, a real-world example of a system of equations and what the values of the x-intercepts mean in that situation. This standard also challenges the teacher to present multiple types of equations from the beginning of the lesson so that the students can apply the concept of an x-intercept to many types of functions. For many teachers, myself included, this is a fairly significant change in instructional practice. MARCH 27, 2013 n A high school English teacher who specializes in digital-writing methods reflects on the course of his work under the common standards in this First Person Education Week Teacher essay. COMMENTARY Getting Rid of the GPS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29 n EDUCATION WEEK Although I have taught lessons on solving systems of equations using real-world applications and emphasizing graphical connections, I have not yet truly focused my instruction on the “why” behind the mathematics or given students opportunities to create their own understanding. So how do math teachers make that shift away from gps-ing students a reality? It won’t be easy, and we can’t do it alone. We need opportunities to collaborate, plan, and reflect with colleagues, both in our buildings and nationwide. We need quality resources and relevant, engaging professional development. We need time to learn from teachers who are already successfully implementing the common core, like Kansas educator Marsha Ratzel, who recently shared insights in her essay “The Talking Cure: Mathematical Discourse” (Education Week Teacher online, Dec. 31, 2012), on how her students’ mathematical-thinking skills evolved when she gave the students time and space to have conversations about math. We need administrators and parents to support us and play an active role in helping us transform our classrooms into places where students are truly engaged in what they are learning. In my daily classroom instruction, I am still sometimes guilty of gps-ing students. But I am hopeful that as I learn how to fully implement the common standards, I will become less and less dependent on steps and crossing standards off a poster. After all, my students really deserve to navigate themselves. n n Follow Commentary on Facebook. n Follow Commentary on Twitter. @EdweekComm function and performance. We never could have imagined how far-reaching our research would be. Today, we have irrefutable evidence of the link between learning ability and sleep health. Researchers have found that sleep apnea causes a reduction of oxygen to the brain and body. Sleep apnea in a developing brain, particularly in children, could lead to permanent neurological damage that affects learning and school performance. Children are rarely tested for sleep apnea. That needs to change. It should be routine to test children ages 3 to 14 who have key factors such as hyperactivity, snoring, attention difficulties, poor school performance, and obesity. We owe it to our children to deploy every remedy available to stop the dropout epidemic. Identifying and resolving the impediments to sleep health for children must be one of the remedies. Ensuring that every child in America has a fair chance for a successful future is within our reach. Asefa J. Mekonnen, M.D. Director, Premier Sleep Center Rockville Internal Medicine Group Rockville, Md. The writer is also chief of pulmonary medicine at Suburban Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, in Bethesda, Md. Tie Between Education, Military Is Tenuous To the Editor: I am puzzled, not to say perplexed, by the inclusion of the Commentary by Paul Kimmelman, “Learning From Military Leadership” (Feb. 20, 2013). I cannot begin to imagine what his intention was in writing it, nor yours in publishing it. Mr. Kimmelman’s argument is rife with logical inconsistencies. For starters, he fails to note that the military is organized in a strict, rigid hierarchy based on unquestioning obedience. I’d love to meet the principal whose school operates on this basis. Douglas C. Thompson Menlo Park, Calif. Critical Thinking Is the Key To Historical Reading To the Editor: Teaching adolescents to “read to learn” continues to be a challenge for contentarea teachers. The lessons presented in the Education Week Teacher partnership video produced by Teaching Channel “Reading Like a Historian” (, March 4, 2013) were well planned and executed, but the video should have been titled “Comprehension of Historical Topics.” There was no evidence of critical thinking, and the material presented did not represent how historians read, either. Historians read discerningly because they have depth of knowledge and context. The model presented in the video reflected a traditional classroom: Take notes or read a textbook for background and then look at a primary document and try to figure it out. Until content-area teachers are given some training in teaching adolescents how to read, the type of superficial reading portrayed in the video will continue to take place in social studies classes. Students need meaningful reading experiences that provide opportunities to explore. Instead of the topicdriven focus of “March on Washington” or the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident,” why not ask questions? The teachers could ask students: What shapes a social movement? The other prompt could have asked kids: What motivates and challenges leaders as they make decisions? Then the primary documents could be part of the students’ research. This also provides opportunities to explore these questions in relation to other topics or across disciplines. Historians read because there are questions they want to answer. They use primary documents as tools to gain insight into a time PAGE 32 >

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 27, 2013

Education Week - March 27, 2013
N.Y.C. System School-Match Gaps Tracked
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Educators Questioning Timing of
Resident Teachers Are Getting More ‘Practice’
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Race to Top Districts ‘Personalize’ Plans
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study Finds Gaps in ‘College Ready’ Math Offerings
Early-Algebra Push Found to Yield No NAEP Boost
Math Teachers Break Down Standards For At-Risk Students
More Teachers Group Students by Ability
San Diego Superintendent Pick Has Deep Parental Ties
Partnership Combines Science Instruction and English Learning
States’ Score Cards Pinpoint Problems Of School Climate
Experts: Later School Start Helps Sleep-Deprived Teens
Blogs of the Week
Project Aims to Expand Web Access
New NAEP Demands Application of Knowledge
Elementary Students Tackling Windmills
Policy Brief
'Parent Trigger’ Laws Catching Fresh Wave
School Angles Seen in Same-Sex-Marriage Cases
‘Sequester’ Cuts Still in Place Amid Budget Wrangling
Political Storm Rages as Acting N.M. Chief Presses on With Job
Congress Eyes Pre-K
REGIS ANNE SHIELDS & KAREN HAWLEY MILES: Want Effective Teachers? Think About Your Value Proposition
ALISON CROWLEY: Getting Rid of the GPS: Teaching the Common Standards in Math
STEPHEN R. HERR: Celebrating Without Accomplishing
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment
AMANDA GARDNER: The Many Keys To Radical Classroom Change

Education Week - March 27, 2013