Education Week - June 1, 2016 - (Page 10)

BLOGS Courts Often Don't Hold Districts Liable for Bullying SCHOOL LAW | Students who have been bullied in school long have had difficulty holding districts responsible for the acts of other students. A decision last week by a federal appeals court extends that streak, and in stark terms. A Massachusetts middle school student identified as R.M. was 12 when he faced alleged bullying by students at school in 2011. Court papers say one day R.M. was repeatedly kicked and punched by students belonging to "the Kool-Aid Club" gang. There is some evidence that R.M. had agreed to the beating for initiation to the club. But after he discussed the situation with the principal, he was bullied by the club more, because he had gotten them into trouble. (R.M. himself was disciplined for "delaying the investigation.") The suit alleges acts by fellow students of "tabletopping"-in which one bully pushes the victim backward over another who is on all fours behind the victim-as well as "pantsing," in which the victim's pants are quickly pulled down from behind. The court papers suggest that administrators at Lexington Middle School in Lexington, Mass., at times seemed to take seriously the complaints of R.M. and his mother, but that their responses to the bullying were ineffective. The suit also alleges school officials asked Lexington police to go to R.M.'s house to enforce the compulsory-attendance law when he refused to go to school because of panic attacks over being bullied. His mother sued, arguing, among other claims, that the actions of the district and its officials fell within the "state-created danger" theory of liability. That theory has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court for situations in which government acts create or worsen danger to an individual. The suit contends the district "turned a blind eye" to the bullying and took affirmative steps to disregard R.M.'s complaints. A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit, and in a May 23 decision in Morgan v. Town of Lexington, a three-judge appellate panel unanimously ruled for the defendants as well. It cited a 2005 case in which the court rejected any government liability in the case of a 15-year-old girl who had witnessed a murder and was told she would be provided police protection if she testified in the case. "She agreed; she was not protected; and she was murdered," the appeals court said. "We explained that it is not enough to allege something shocked | the conscience. The plaintiff had to show that governmental conduct caused the deprivation of the right. We said: The purpose of the due process clause is to protect the people from the state, not to ensure that the state protects them from each other." The court also rejected the family's state-createddanger claim. -MARK WALSH Gates Chief Acknowledges Common-Core Mistakes | CURRICULUM MATTERS | In a letter posted last week on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website, CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann acknowledged that the group had made some miscalculations regarding implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The Gates Foundation has backed the common standards, which more than 40 states are now using, since their conception. (The foundation helps support Education Week's coverage of college- and career-ready standards.) Over the past seven years, the math and reading standards have faced political backlash as well as objections from educators who disagree with their content. Teachers around the country also complained that they lacked the instructional materials and professional development necessary to use the standards effectively in their classrooms. The uproar has been most fervent in places where student scores on the common-core tests were linked to teachers' evaluations. In the letter, Desmond-Hellmann wrote: "Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards. We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators-particularly teachers-but also parents and communities so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning." The letter goes on to say that all teachers need access to high-quality materials. "But far too many districts report that identifying or developing common-core-aligned materials is a challenge, meaning that teachers spend their time adapting or creating curriculum, developing lessons, and searching for supplemental materials," DesmondHellmann wrote. The foundation is now "doubling down on our efforts to make sure teachers have what they need to make the most of their unique capabilities," she said. -LIANA HEITIN NEW E-BOOK FROM EDUCATION WEEK PRESS INSIDE THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT Education Week gets to the heart of a law set to reshape the education policy landscape for years to come. 10 | EDUCATION WEEK | June 1, 2016 | Study on Teacher Test Finds Mixed Results Candidates' edTPA scores are probed By Stephen Sawchuk Does testing make for better teaching? The first major independent research study on a closely watched licensing test for teachers that measures classroom skills, the edTPA, has some mixed answers to that question. New teachers who passed the edTPA on their first try tended to boost their students' reading achievement more than those who didn't, according to the study, conducted by the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, or CALDER. " I think some of what edTPA is picking up is your ability to communicate, either in written form or orally. DAN GOLDHABER National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research But passing the exam didn't seem to bear any relationship to students' math scores. And it's less clear whether posting small score improvements on the exam translates into student-learning gains. "This is a study where middleground findings make it harder to interpret," said Dan Goldhaber, the director of CALDER at the American Institutes for Research. The edTPA differs from most other licensing tests in that it hinges on a demonstration of classroom instruction, rather than on a stream of multiple-choice questions. Predictive Validity? Some 18,000 teacher-candidates took the edTPA in 2014, and 13 states now use or are planning to use the test for licensing, or to gauge the quality of preparation programs. The CALDER study takes a stab at the important question of "predictive validity"-that is, whether teacher-candidates who achieve a certain score on the edTPA end up helping their students learn more than those who don't. The researchers examined scores from some 2,300 Washington state teacher-candidates who took the exam in 2013-14. Then they analyzed the standardized-test performance of students taught by a subset of those teachers, using a "value added" methodology to gauge their impact on student performance. (Candidates did not have to pass in order to teach until January 2014.) The researchers found a significant association between candidates who achieved the Washington state cutoff score-35 out of a possible 75 for most certification areas-and students' test scores in reading. But in math, there was no consistent link between teachers who had passing edTPA scores and students' test-score gains. It's unclear why the link showed up only in reading, said Goldhaber. "It falls into the realm of speculation, but I think some of what edTPA is picking up is your ability to communicate, either in written form or orally. And those are skills sets that may be more important to teaching reading," he said. A Controversial Exam Proponents of the exam have billed it not just as a way of gauging teacher skills, but as a developmental tool that can help teacherpreparation programs improve their curriculum. To investigate that potential, the researchers also looked at whether students did better as candidates' scores improved. But the study found that the results were mixed in this connection, too. There was no association between edTPA score distribution and students' reading scores. In math, there was only modest evidence that a higher score consistently meant more effective teaching. The findings are likely to be closely analyzed, in part because the exam has proved to be controversial. Although it was designed by Linda Darling-Hammond-one of the country's most influential teacher-educators-and her team at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity, or SCALE, some teacher-educators say the edTPA diminishes their own responsibility to determine when someone is ready to teach. Others question whether the exam is vulnerable to cheating, or at $300 a pop, too expensive. Ray Pecheone, the executive director of SCALE, noted that valueadded estimates can be unstable. But he praised the study overall. "I find the results, while mixed, encouraging," he said. Pecheone added that he would like to see future research look at the link between edTPA scores and teachers' evaluations and to track results over time. "The first year of teaching is really a struggle for most teachers, ... and it takes certainly more than a year for them to really show powerful results, so I'd love to see this study continued over multiple years," he said. Coverage of policy efforts to improve the teaching profession is supported by a grant from the Joyce Foundation, at Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 1, 2016

Education Week - June 1, 2016
In Special Education, A Debate on Bias
Proposed ESSA Rules Aim to Strike Balance
Civil Rights Office Gets Aggressive
Charter Movement Fuels Boom For Public Montessori Schools
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Transgender Debate: What’s Next?
Free Website Expands on EngageNY’s Mission
Study on Teacher Test Finds Mixed Results
Blogs of the Week
Digital Learning Games Breaking Into K-12 Mainstream
Girls Outperform Boys on First National Test of Tech, Engineering
Oregon Creates a ‘Lens’ for Viewing Educational Equity
High School Takes Cue From Montessori
School Finance Suits: More Than Just a Legal Roll of the Dice?
Report Feeds Into Debate Over Racial, Economic Inequities
Blogs of the Week
Policing Girls of Color in School
The Plight of Black Girls in K-12 Schools
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Black Girls, Discipline, and Schools

Education Week - June 1, 2016