Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dr. Ann Sutherland, District 6, has filed TEA Complaint over SCAs




Welcomed news that Dr. Sutherland has filed a complaint with TEA regarding the legality of the SCAs.  While some may think this is something to do about nothing, let's just say that this goes to the hardcore of the classroom.  Allowing teachers and administrators on campus to do what is best for students.  District mandated tests are not allowed but twice a year, the law is clear.  Just because you break them down does not mean that they are any different.  Look at the format they are written in, test style and they are meant to prepare for the STAAR test.

Teachers have been taught to assess what they teach and they can assess after they teach a unit or however their curriculum is setup.

Thank you Dr. Sutherland for continuing the fight and we are behind you.  Keep us updated on the outcome.

We ask the rest of the board to speak up.  Mr. Ramos, where is the transparency you speak of? What is says to us is that you don't care about the entire FWISD staff but just your own recognition and use of the district for a personal agenda. Well known what your aspirations are and it's sad that you would use our children to advance your agenda.
 The rest of the board well we know they have no clue what is going on so we will leave it.

http://www.sutherlandforschools.org/Blog.html?entry=complaint-filed-with-tea

Friday, October 10, 2014

LEGAL OPINION ON SCAs (UPDATED)

REBUTTAL TO LEGAL OPINION

Refuting Rhonda Crass’ Legal Opinion

I think this is bad law and full of specious arguments. Crass hangs herself in her own opinion.  She says:

“When courts construe statutes, their primary goal is to discern the intent of the legislature "from the plain meaning of the words .hosen." State v. Shumake, 199 S.W.3d 279, 284 (Tex. 2006) (addressing statutory concstruction). Statutes and rules are interpreted as a whole rather than their isolated provisions.”

I totally agree with this statement. Legislative intent is the key to interpreting any statute and in this case, HB5 was intended to reduce the number of tests students had to take. (All tests)

Crass then goes on to quote the author of the bill:

“Representative Mike Villarreal, who authored the amendment to HB 5 that included Section 39.0263, issued a press release after the amendment was adopted explaining that the amendment “allows schools to continue to prepare students for tests but prevents the excessive use of practice tests that is all too common in Texas schools today.” (Italics provided)
  
Her interpretation of the word “prepare” is questionable:

“. . . the legislature intended the word “prepare” to address the practice of simulating the administration of the STAAR test that is often accomplished by simulating the time constraints and testing situations that often consumes a great amount what would otherwise be instruction time.”

I haven’t read the bill but I question whether it gives this definition to the word. I doubt prepare means only this simulation of test situations. I think the intent was indeed to (again, from the Crass opinion):

“The SCAs administered by the District as well as any type of evaluation instrument used by a classroom teacher could arguably “prepare students for a corresponding state-administered assessment instrument”, it is not likely that a challenge would be successful. Because the SCAs are short in nature, are for the purpose of measuring what mastery of the TEKS has taken place and what remediation is needed to ensure the mastery of the TEKS rather than to simulate testing conditions which provide a one time snapshot of a student’s mastery of the material presented, the overly broad argument that SCAs are benchmark assessments does not appear to be a valid reason for discontinuing SCAs at the District.”

I would argue that the SCAs are exactly what she describes above (in italics), and a challenge to an independent entity should be successful.



***************

The District sought an opinion on the SCAs to justify their right to require them.  As always they refer to the technical aspect of anything done because it justifies in their mind that they are doing the right thing for kids.  Instead of working with teachers or seeking advice from those that are working with children, they allow a legal opinion to proceed with what amounts to nothing in regards to improving instruction.

So we took a trip out to the field and looked at the SCAs and gathered input from administrators.   We came across a copy of the SCAs and could not believe how weak they are and look put together at the last minute.  I would ask the Board members to ask Sorum for a review of them and to specify what they are supposed to measure.  We were told that the SCAs are just something to give and that the district is not truly focused on them.  Sorum says they are not to be used for accountability.  Some tests took longer than a class period and then no time to meet to discuss results or time to plan.

In looking at the first grade test, come on, if the children don't know how to read and it's an oral test, how would they know what to bubble or know how to bubble.  Bubbling a test is not just something you throw at children.  If teachers have to bubble for students they need time to do it and for sure it won't take just one day.  These are things that administration does not take into consideration because it's easy for them to give a command and everyone is supposed to jump.

Back to the legal opinion, basically because no legal challenge has occurred, the district will make the pitch that they are legal.  The opinion states that it is a gray area and does fall under district mandated assessments.  The length of time may be an issue because the district can say it takes only the class period but they are not going to tell you if that actually occurred because they are not monitoring.  Remember that the district only says what will fall under legal not what is actually happening in the classrooms.

The fifth grade reading test had 3 questions, yes 3 questions that were supposed to measure student learning.  Tell us the research on that one Sorum!!

See for yourselves

LEGAL OPINION

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58nQYNsVgwwZ04yaHVfLTdsTWotWWM2VmNtcUtmR0NOaGFF/view?usp=sharing

SCAs
5th GRADE READING

 1st grade



 2nd Grade Writing



Thursday, October 9, 2014

QUICK UPDATES ON ONGOING ISSUES

This posting comes in light of what we saw in the STAR regarding the construction of Washington Heights and the proposed cost increase from the original bond proposal.

http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/10/07/6182614/despite-rising-costs-school-district.html

The biggest part that caught our eye is the use of the word "transparency" from North Side member Mr. Ramos.  As you read the article a bright shining light from above seems to indicate that perhaps constituents will be finally getting information on what goes on at the district level when it comes to decisions.


Then we reality hits us in the face as we reflect on it.  It's funny how now because they know that they messed up, they are using the, "we are giving what we promised" excuse to justify the higher cost of the school.  No one is against building a school that the voters approved but yet again we have incompetent people not budgeting correctly or projecting cost increases.  It seems that everything comes out after the fact and then they stick it to us by saying this is what you approved and so "we have to do what you said" for this time.  So the initial thought is a 40,000 sq ft. size school and now that they posted a 59,000 sq ft facility on the website, it must go.  Tell me how you missed that?  How do you not read the bond?  How dod you not follow it?  The bond committee has told you enough times that you are not following it.  Typical of the district to give us the finger!

FWISD TO THE TAXPAYERS

So Mr. Ramos since you opened the discussion on transparency, we expect it from now on.  Be open about what occurs that is not attorney-client issues, so that means everything else should be public knowledge.  This goes for the rest of the board, don't just sit there and think we are not watching and not expecting all of you to explain yourselves.  You are elected to serve, don't forget that!

This bring us to another issue that we have had and that is upper management raises.  We are waiting for confirmation but we got news that Sorum has possibly increased the income of Arispe, Creel and Sheffield.  We are asking for transparency on this matter because our teachers can't get laptops on time, furniture and the basics but yet they bask in money that our children need.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

CITIZENS TAKING ACTION!

Readers,

This is just the beginning of the uprising against the malice that the board and the administration bring to our declining district.  The actions they take are damaging any progress they speak and dream of because of the ineptness of their choices.  We will not stay quiet any longer until someone listens and takes action.

Below are two citizens who are moving forward with what we have posted on breach of trust and basic fundamentals of law breaking.

One other item that we focused on was the alleged "insurance" that is covering the unlawful appeal, well it's not true.  There is no insurance for appeals and the board does no get it.  Either they lied or they are completely nieve.  Therefore we must ask that they unveil the costs of the appeal and everything else that they are being sued for.

Below links to a few samples of Citizens in Action:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58nQYNsVgwwRFRGRjZPdHM2NFVSUm51c0RISklMWG1mOFhv/view?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58nQYNsVgwweXFvZHJzRnFZVWw2UHAtd2NlZFg3SUx6VE1N/view?usp=sharing

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: FWISD VIOLATES TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT


PETITION FILED TODAY FOR FWISD VIOLATING Texas Open Meetings Act




Recall that on August 12, 2014, the board had on the agenda to go into executive or closed session to decide on Palazzolo case.  At such time nothing was discussed nor decisions made in public.

Then we have the release of the communique from the district that they have decided to appeal the case.  Remember also that the attorney Brandt has taken the case because he has to prove that he is right and because TASB is paying for it, then he feels that he can take any decision without approval of the elected body who represents the PEOPLE.  Board of Trustees you have all allowed this to go on for too long.  Read the suit presented today.

Exclusively here at CIA, standing up for the voices who have been silenced for far too long.

FILED PETITION

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B58nQYNsVgwwd20wOE40MHIwRTUtZjBRb2xwZGdnY2hFUVNr/edit?usp=sharing


FWISD PRESS RELEASE

https://docs.google.com/document/d/17ydLvfQM-fK0yeJkXjhPVvvSI16C2V9qBN_pn5-HK8s/edit?usp=sharing

Sunday, September 21, 2014

WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT SCAs?


We can tell you that we would be better off without them.  Below are comments made to Dr. Sutherland on the SCAs and how teachers are having more time taken away from instruction.  Funny how one thing Sorum forgot to mention is accommodating students who have an IEP, 504, etc.  You also have dual language that needs tests in Spanish and then some make them take both.

Please read the comments below and see if this is how it went in your classroom.  Board and anyone who listens, what have you done to completely disrupt the educational flow?  We told you so!

Readers comment on the first SCA

by Ann Sutherland on 09/16/14
I received a copy of the testing schedule today--fifth grade has 48 tests in English and 38 in Spanish--and on some days the teachers have to do BOTH tests.   (I didn't count the other grades.)


*Unrealistic expectations for first 3 weeks. Items are not field tested, consequently there is no data on reliability nor validity. Instruments are questionable at best. Translations from English to Spanish are questionable. Tests take 1 1/2 days to complete. Time wasted on test administration. Time wasted on searching for information on Eduphoria and an internet system that consistently collapses. Let's go back to CBA's!! We went from the frying pan to the fire!!

*I observed the same things commented on by the teacher. Additionally, students needing special test accommodations were pulled out, had to find additional space, and their testing took at least 1 hour for each test. The loss of instructional time is horrendous! The ISIP testing is going on within the same window of time causing more loss of instuctional time. The portion of HB5 you posted says "no more than 2 assessments related to the STAAR", but those 2 exclude other tests traditionally given including PSAT, SAT, ACT, IB and regular tests given by the classroom teachers trying to make their own assessments to inform their teaching, which the SCAs don't. Also, this first one at least is really a picture, not of this year's teacher, but previous teachers. These SCAs are intrusive to the regular flow of the academic year. This is a lot of data. Where is it going? What is its true purpose? Some wonder if someone at central admnistration is working on a doctorate and needing data to analyze. Is this a possibility? This is just another disaster that will produce no good results and further limit valuable instruction time. These SCAs were treated like the CBAs in that the tests were put under lock and key and lines formed outside the test coordinator's offices so that teachers could turn in their test stuff. There were long faculty meetings following. Is this going to be every time?

*Reflections on the first SCA:
           What was supposed to be a 30 minute test ended up taking an hour and 
a half.  (This was for the 3rd  grade math test.)

           Because of the reordering of the curriculum, we taught Origo Module  
7 which covers graphing first, our students had not been exposed to many of the 
topics embedded in the test yet this year.  For example,  all ten questions     
required the students to add and subtract two digit numbers.  Although this was 
taught in 2nd grade, there has been no refresher on this in 3rd, because we     
taught the Origo Modules out of order.            

6 out of the 10 questions were “How many more questions.”  This made it a test  
less of graphing and more about subtraction comparison questions which has not  
been reviewed this year and is one of the most difficult concepts for students  
to understand.