Credit: John C. Osborn/EdSource Today

Here are some key results of the poll of Californians’ views on education conducted by the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and Policy Analysis for California Education. For more details of the survey, see below.

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An annual poll of Californians’ views on education contains bad news for teachers unions and advocates of the Common Core standards, good news for backers of charter schools, mixed news for preschool supporters and a warning for State Superintendent Tom Torlakson in his re-election campaign against Marshall Tuck.

The joint survey by the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and the independent research organization Policy Analysis for California Education, or PACE, questioned 1,005 registered voters earlier this month about a range of education topics.

The poll indicated that some of the doubts and skepticism about the Common Core State Standards that have gained sway in other states are taking hold in California, too. As opposed to many states, in California the new standards in English language arts and math have the full support of the majority of the Legislature, the governor, the State Board of Education and organizations representing teachers unions, school boards and the state PTA.

But of the voters surveyed, the more they hear about Common Core, apparently the less they like it. Of the roughly three-quarters of voters who said they knew something about the standards, more had a “negative impression” (44 percent) than a “positive impression” (38 percent). Parents with kids in schools, who made up about 30 percent of those surveyed, had identical views.

“Republican opposition solidified, and Common Core has become a political litmus test for the national Republican Party, therefore, with some active politicking in California,” said David Plank, executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education.

When read two statements, one presenting the case for Common Core and one against (see below), 32 percent of parents and of all voters surveyed said they favored the standards, while 41 percent of all voters and 45 percent of parents said they opposed them. Last year, when that question was asked, 36 percent of respondents, including parents, said they supported the Common Core and only 25 percent were opposed.

At the same time, the percentage who said they knew at least a little about Common Core increased from 29 percent of respondents last year to 47 percent of all respondents and 58 percent of parents this year.

“The response is striking,” said Julie Marsh, an associate professor at USC’s School of Education, who attributed the rise in negativity toward Common Core to an increase in national media stories about states pulling out of the two consortia that are creating the standardized tests for the new standards. She also said there is opposition to immediately holding teachers and schools accountable for test results.

At the same time, Marsh said, there has not been a lot of media attention in California on Common Core. “That creates a messaging problem potentially for Common Core advocates and the state,” she said.

David Plank, executive director of PACE, sees politics at work.

“Republican opposition solidified, and Common Core has become a political litmus test for the national Republican Party, therefore, with some active politicking in California,” he said. “We education folks have been mostly talking to one another about this and have done much to raise public awareness about why it is good for California schools and kids.”

Other issues in the survey:
Tenure and unions: Earlier this month, in Vergara v. State of California, a Superior Court judge ruled five teacher protection state laws – providing tenure within two years, mandating layoffs by seniority and creating complex disciplinary procedures – violated the state Constitution because they disproportionately harmed low-income and minority children’s education.

Of the 40 percent of voters polled who said they knew of the decision, 62 percent said they agreed with the decision, while 23 percent disagreed. Among parents, 67 percent agreed and 18 percent disagreed.

In addition, 35 percent of parents and of all respondents said there shouldn’t be a tenure system, while 41 percent of parents and 35 percent of all voters said granting tenure within two years after a teacher is on the job is too short a time to evaluate competency.

Of those surveyed, 66 percent of parents disagreed with laying off teachers based on seniority, while 20 percent supported it (about the same percentages for all voters).

Funding preschool: The poll found 62 percent of respondents and 64 percent of parents supported using public funding for preschool for low-income 4-year-olds. However, asked whether they’d support “a small tax increase” to pay for it, only 41 percent overall and 44 percent of parents said yes, while 49 percent overall and 48 percent of parents opposed the idea.

Race for state superintendent: In the June primary, incumbent Torlakson soundly defeated Tuck, a former charter schools executive from Los Angeles, 47 to 29 percent in a three-way race for state superintendent. The poll, however, indicates that the head-to-head runoff election in November could be close.

Asked who they would vote for if the election were today, nearly 60 percent of parents and voters overall said they hadn’t made up their minds, with 27 percent overall favoring Torlakson and 16 percent for Tuck. Among parents, 25 percent favored Torlakson and 16 percent favored Tuck.

Asked again, once they had watched a campaign ad for Torlakson and one for Tuck, which has not been widely viewed, the race became a toss-up, close to within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error. Among all respondents, 38 percent backed Torlakson and 36 percent preferred Tuck, with 27 percent undecided. Among parents, more backed Tuck (40 percent) than Torlakson (35 percent), with 25 percent undecided.

Charter schools: About half of the respondents said they had a very good or somewhat good understanding of charter schools, with the rest little or no understanding. After they were read a paragraph objectively describing charters, 57 percent overall said the numbers of charter schools should be greatly or somewhat increased, with only 11 percent favoring fewer. Among parents, 63 percent favored more charters, with only 9 percent favoring fewer.

Participants in the poll were selected based on party affiliation, geographic location and ethnicity, and took the survey online. The results of underrepresented groups were given extra weight. This includes Hispanics, who make up 26 percent of registered voters but were 17 percent of the participants.


 

*The arguments for and against Common Core in the poll are as follows:
California is right to implement the Common Core State Standards because they provide
a clear, consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. These standards have been adopted by California and 45 other states.

California should not implement the Common Core State Standards because they represent a Washington, D.C.-based, one-size-fits-all approach that increases our reliance on standardized testing and does not take account of regional and classroom realities. Many states that have adopted the Common Core Standards are now re-evaluating their decision.


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  1. KCM 2 years ago2 years ago

    Opposition to Common Core is rising in part due to changes being implemented by school districts in the name of Common Core. In particular, it has been widely used as an excuse to get rid of, or attempt to get rid of, advanced math options, especially in middle school. Those who wish to see Common Core welcomed by parents should probably find a way to discourage schools and school districts from attributing every … Read More

    Opposition to Common Core is rising in part due to changes being implemented by school districts in the name of Common Core. In particular, it has been widely used as an excuse to get rid of, or attempt to get rid of, advanced math options, especially in middle school. Those who wish to see Common Core welcomed by parents should probably find a way to discourage schools and school districts from attributing every change in curriculum or pathways to CCSS.

    Replies

    • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      No one has advocated total privatization of the educational system, let's be clear. Just as no one has advocated principals be able to fire teachers at will without a single round of due process. What we have now is a system in which it takes years and over 100k to fire a teacher and very few are fired. Teachers are not afraid if a principal criticizes their work, with 19 fired statewide … Read More

      No one has advocated total privatization of the educational system, let’s be clear. Just as no one has advocated principals be able to fire teachers at will without a single round of due process. What we have now is a system in which it takes years and over 100k to fire a teacher and very few are fired. Teachers are not afraid if a principal criticizes their work, with 19 fired statewide in 10 years for performance and 91 total, including for cause, yes including Berndt.

      This poll shows the union is out of step with the vast majority of parents and voters and change will come even if Vergara loses on appeal, via propositions.

      If the union wants to remain relevant, it has to stop claiming the only two choices are at will employment and no one fired ever. We can come up with a fair system in the middle, one in which teachers are nervous to call in sick. Imagine if # of sick/personal days was a factor in lay offs as it is in most jobs? At many tech. companies, non-vacation absence is under 1%. We could achieve that with schools. The use of substitutes on an average of 6% of days, or over once a month, hurts kids.

      This shows the writing is on the wall. Phrase it any way you want Gary, no one is buying what you are selling anymore. You are clearly in the minority. Clearly most voters do not agree with how we did lay offs and how difficult it is to fire a bad teacher. If you don’t propose a fairer system and only provide rhetoric, you will become irrelevant. Remember, even years after polls showed most opposed seniority only as a means of determining lay offs and after the movie ‘Waiting for Superman’ changed the way America feels about education, the union defended Mark Berndt so aggressively he ended up being paid $40,000 to appease the union’s demands. You simply don’t care what the people think.

      • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        As to the privatization, no one has advocated that. Charters were the only way you could have a few schools allowed to fire bad teachers and hire by talent/merit, not seniority. Charters and testing were necessary steps. The union says there's no evidence, so it became necessary to gather evidence. Without charters, you would have no means of making progress towards forcing teachers to work harder and be more focused. … Read More

        As to the privatization, no one has advocated that. Charters were the only way you could have a few schools allowed to fire bad teachers and hire by talent/merit, not seniority. Charters and testing were necessary steps. The union says there’s no evidence, so it became necessary to gather evidence. Without charters, you would have no means of making progress towards forcing teachers to work harder and be more focused. And let’s be clear, no one owns a charter, no billionaire is making profits off charters. Tuck wants the Vergara decision implemented now, whereas the union won’t focus on the big picture and will use intimidation to keep the current failed system going as long as possible, perhaps another 10 years, so electing Torlakson will mean the benefits of Vergara only come to a future generation of children and don’t help the current 6 million kids in public schools in California. That’s why I’ll be voting for Tuck, and I hope billionaires give him enough money to make this message clear because most Californians agree with him on the facts.

        Can anyone show me any proposal that public schools become private, for profit enterprises? Most parents who were happy about Vergara I know are strong advocates of public schools who reject private schools due to the segregation, cost, class separation, caste issues and various other issues, including a study which proved no benefit academically to private schools that came out last year.

        • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

          Yes, I've been answering this for years; many voices have advocated for total privatization of the education system. Start with the Cato Institute's writings and you'll find many others. And someone brought up my past mention of the Overton Window -- it's a classic case; the far right is shifting the window so this sounds less and less wild-eyed than it used to. Since you seem to have a lot of time on your hands, … Read More

          Yes, I’ve been answering this for years; many voices have advocated for total privatization of the education system. Start with the Cato Institute’s writings and you’ll find many others. And someone brought up my past mention of the Overton Window — it’s a classic case; the far right is shifting the window so this sounds less and less wild-eyed than it used to. Since you seem to have a lot of time on your hands, “Floyd,” Google Joseph Bast and I think you’ll find some stuff. The Heartland Institute, the Pacific Research Institute; the Center for Education Reform. The only reason this isn’t widely known is that a lotta people are going la-la-la-la-we-can’t-hear-you.

          • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

            Here's the holy grail, "Floyd." http://www.cato.org/pubs/briefs/bp-023.html "Public Schools: Make them Private" by Milton Friedman Our elementary and secondary educational system needs to be radically restructured. Such a reconstruction can be achieved only by privatizing a major segment of the educational system--i.e., by enabling a private, for-profit industry to develop that will provide a wide variety of learning opportunities and offer effective competition to public schools. The most feasible way to bring about such a transfer from government … Read More

            Here’s the holy grail, “Floyd.”

            http://www.cato.org/pubs/briefs/bp-023.html

            “Public Schools: Make them Private” by Milton Friedman

            Our elementary and secondary educational system needs to be radically restructured. Such a reconstruction can be achieved only by privatizing a major segment of the educational system–i.e., by enabling a private, for-profit industry to develop that will provide a wide variety of learning opportunities and offer effective competition to public schools. The most feasible way to bring about such a transfer from government to private enterprise is to enact in each state a voucher system that enables parents to choose freely the schools their children attend. The voucher must be universal, available to all parents, and large enough to cover the costs of a high-quality education. No conditions should be attached to vouchers that interfere with the freedom of private enterprises to experiment, to explore, and to innovate.

            This article appeared in the Washington Post on February 19, 1995. Reprinted by permission of the author and the Washington Post.

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      This is a great point KCM. our district even went as far as combining the two changes you mention into a single phased timeline, giving the impression they were inseparable (well, for us they are now, though no one realizes they didn’t have to be). There are so many new buzzwords flying around nowadays I almost think this is manufactured turmoil. Maybe the public was getting a little to close to understanding how things really worked. 😉

      • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        OK Caroline, but you still never addressed many other issues. Milton Friedman died. Maybe a tiny percentage of those who want to make it easier to fire bad teachers and want them to not call in sick unless they really are (over 60% of parents in all polls) want to privatize education, but this is a minority. Most just want teacher quality for all children, which you didn't address. It would … Read More

        OK Caroline, but you still never addressed many other issues. Milton Friedman died. Maybe a tiny percentage of those who want to make it easier to fire bad teachers and want them to not call in sick unless they really are (over 60% of parents in all polls) want to privatize education, but this is a minority. Most just want teacher quality for all children, which you didn’t address. It would be like me saying that those who want to maintain the current status quo believe in communism or socialism or $25 minimum wage or impeaching Obama because a few do.

        The point is, should we reform education and make teachers work harder to keep a job, or should we leave education as is? Let’s address that. Yes, a few radicals have proposed it, but it’s like your effort to paint a world where you can either almost never fire teachers or fire teachers capriciously wiht no protections. We can either have zero protections for poor students or zero for teachers, but you guys never propose something balancing both interests equally with the goal of increasing test scores.

        You never answered my question as to what system you would come up with to maximize test scores and math, reading and writing skills employers will pay for. You avoided it.

        • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

          I refuse to respond to rants and badgering. I did jump in to correct that misinformation.

          • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            It wasn’t badgering, it was a specific question, what system would you come up with? You seem to feel the way things have always been is the only way things can ever be. That’s OK with success, but our education is a failure by most measures. If you feel asking specific questions based on your statements is badgering, you have a persecution complex.

          • Floyd Thursby 1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            Should the majority be able to decide this issue, or a vocal minority because most don’t pay close attention and money ends up mattering most when it comes to advertizing and endorsements? Is it not OK for a billionaire to help change teacher tenure, but it is OK for the union to spend hundreds of millions to intimidate any legislator from listening to the views of the majority of voters, and parents? If so, why the double standard?

  2. CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

    An answer from a respondent who has no prior information about an issue shouldn't be considered valid, period. I've long thought that about the gazillion polls supposedly showing public support for Prop. 13. I once asked pollster Mark DiCamillo, and he told me that a large number of the people asked (though he couldn't tell me how many) had no information on Prop. 13 and just based their answer on one short descriptive paragraph. Sorry, … Read More

    An answer from a respondent who has no prior information about an issue shouldn’t be considered valid, period. I’ve long thought that about the gazillion polls supposedly showing public support for Prop. 13. I once asked pollster Mark DiCamillo, and he told me that a large number of the people asked (though he couldn’t tell me how many) had no information on Prop. 13 and just based their answer on one short descriptive paragraph. Sorry, that’s not valid. Either the pollsters need to keep asking people till they reach the target number of respondents who already had information, or they need to give whoever commissioned them a refund. I can’t believe this isn’t a widely shared opinion, but maybe I’m an outlier (I’m shocked — shocked if so).

    Replies

    • el 2 years ago2 years ago

      The thing is, Caroline, you don’t have to have an informed opinion to vote, and that’s what they’re testing here, what will happen if you put a particular issue to a vote within these parameters.

      • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

        Sure, if a poll of likely voters is intended to predict the outcome of an election, that's one thing. But lots of polls are intended purely to gauge public opinion (and often used thereafter to push it one way or another). In those cases -- such as my example of the 132,498,278 polls over the years used to back up the endless parrot-like squawk that Prop. 13 is the "third rail of politics" -- I … Read More

        Sure, if a poll of likely voters is intended to predict the outcome of an election, that’s one thing. But lots of polls are intended purely to gauge public opinion (and often used thereafter to push it one way or another). In those cases — such as my example of the 132,498,278 polls over the years used to back up the endless parrot-like squawk that Prop. 13 is the “third rail of politics” — I question whether the opinion of someone who has no information about an issue and formed an opinion on the spot based on two sentences’ worth of information is valid. In fact, I’ll go further and say it’s not valid and should not be counted. Don’t pay the pollster unless the pollster compiles a survey entirely of those who were already informed about the topic (obviously, this is self-reported, but people seem inclined to tell the truth about that).

        • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

          I’m inclined to believe this poll demonstrates that people report their knowledge truthfully but not accurately.

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      I haven’t read through all the commentary so pardon me if this was already raised but…. there’s seems to be some effort here to test the waters for a referendum on CCSS. Should Vergara be upheld the same kind of sentiment revealed here would make it very difficult to pass a replacement Constitutional provision for teachers as well.

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      Yes, we should recall all of the “polling” that indicated Romney was going to run away with the last election. I don’t believe it turned out that way.

  3. Jonathan Voss 2 years ago2 years ago

    I work for Lake Research Partners, a progressive polling firm that recently conducted a poll of 800 voters on education issues in California. The USC poll has generated headlines around parent’s negative views toward teachers unions and their impact on the quality of public education. We believe that such headlines miss the full picture of attitudes toward public education in California that other questions in the poll show, which are consistent with the recent … Read More

    I work for Lake Research Partners, a progressive polling firm that recently conducted a poll of 800 voters on education issues in California. The USC poll has generated headlines around parent’s negative views toward teachers unions and their impact on the quality of public education. We believe that such headlines miss the full picture of attitudes toward public education in California that other questions in the poll show, which are consistent with the recent research we have conducted.

    We agree with the USC’s poll finding that voters believe California public schools are underfunded. In the USC poll, 64 percent of voters and 70 percent of parents say “the state of California should be spending more on schools.” Our research found broad agreement that “California schools are underfunded” – 68 percent of voters and 79 percent of parents agree.
    But the ongoing discourse before during and after the Vergara trial decision has tried to blame teachers and further the idea that current policies keep ineffective teachers in low-performing school districts and perpetuate unequal outcomes. Our research suggests voters do not agree with this causality.

    California voters overwhelmingly reject the notion that teacher quality explains the differences between high-performing and low-performing districts. By more than 2-to-1, voters believe the main reason for differences between high- and low-performing districts is the resources of the parents and the community (62 percent). Just 28 percent say the quality of teachers in the district explains the differences between high- and low-performing districts.

    In contrast to the USC poll, our research shows voters favor due process protections for teachers so that they are not dismissed arbitrarily. The USC poll framed tenure as an “award” and tested two positions that equate experienced teachers with poorly performing teachers, and not surprisingly found a majority rejecting tenure. We asked if they favor or oppose providing tenure for teachers in their 3rd year of teaching after they have passed performance evaluations. Only 41 percent of parents oppose while a 52 majority of parents favor. But when we read the following before asking if they favor or oppose – “Teachers who have passed performance evaluations are eligible for tenure in their third year of teaching. This grants them due process protections from being dismissed arbitrarily” – we find 52 percent of voters and 59 percent of parents favoring tenure.

    Our research mirrors the USC poll in showing a rejection of a reliance on standardized tests. The USC poll shows voters and parents alike rejecting Common Core because it is a one-size-fits-all approach that increases our reliance on standardized testing.

    We did not test Common Core, but we found that voters and parents strongly believe that a child is “more than a test score,” and reject that standardized test scores are an effective way to measure teacher performance.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      Jonathan, you said: "...the Vergara trial decision has tried to blame teachers and further the idea that current policies keep ineffective teachers in low-performing school districts and perpetuate unequal outcomes. Our research suggests voters do not agree with this causality." and "California voters overwhelmingly reject the notion that teacher quality explains the differences between high-performing and low-performing districts. By more than 2-to-1, voters believe is the resources of the parents and the community … Read More

      Jonathan, you said:

      “…the Vergara trial decision has tried to blame teachers and further the idea that current policies keep ineffective teachers in low-performing school districts and perpetuate unequal outcomes. Our research suggests voters do not agree with this causality.”

      and “California voters overwhelmingly reject the notion that teacher quality explains the differences between high-performing and low-performing districts. By more than 2-to-1, voters believe is the resources of the parents and the community (62 percent). Just 28 percent say the quality of teachers in the district explains the differences between high- and low-performing districts.”

      You are conflating the acknowledged unequal distribution of effective teachers with the criticism that this specific test of constitutionality will not result in a cure all. “Perpetuat(ing) unequal outcomes” is not qualitatively synonymous with “the main reason for differences between high- and low-performing districts”. Vergara does claim to solve educational inequality. Brown v Board didn’t solve the education inequality. The distribution of effective teachers IS a significant factor in unequal outcomes whether or not it is THE most important factor,but it may be the most important in-school factor over which the educational establishment can exert some control if not legally hamstrung. The Vergara plaintiff’s case and the concurring decision acknowledge that such unequal distribution is a factor and, as such, it is unconstitutional based upon unequal educational opportunity. There’s no denying that some students are disproportionally exposed to lower quality teachers due to current law (pending appeal).

      Your point is that the Lake poll demonstrates Californians support teacher tenure and that the contrary USF poll results are a function of the manner in which the questions were posited. If your poll suggested that the constitutionality of the 5 statutes is the key difference rather than one significant factor in educational outcome, I would conclude that your bias as a progressive polling firm may be bleeding through to the results.

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        "Vergara does claim to solve educational inequality. Brown v Board didn’t solve the education inequality. The distribution of effective teachers IS a significant factor in unequal outcomes whether or not it is THE most important factor,but it may be the most important in-school factor over which the educational establishment can exert some control if not legally hamstrung. The Vergara plaintiff’s case and the concurring decision acknowledge that such unequal distribution is a factor and, as … Read More

        Vergara does claim to solve educational inequality. Brown v Board didn’t solve the education inequality. The distribution of effective teachers IS a significant factor in unequal outcomes whether or not it is THE most important factor,but it may be the most important in-school factor over which the educational establishment can exert some control if not legally hamstrung. The Vergara plaintiff’s case and the concurring decision acknowledge that such unequal distribution is a factor and, as such, it is unconstitutional based upon unequal educational opportunity. There’s no denying that some students are disproportionally exposed to lower quality teachers due to current law (pending appeal).

        if that’s true, why did chetty (a plaintiff’s witness, no less!) say in one of his papers:

        We estimate that the correlation between parent income and 8th grade test scores is amplified by at most 3% because of differences in teacher quality from grades K-8. This is not because teachers are unimportant–one could close most of the achievement gap by assigning highly effective teachers to low-SES students–but rather because teacher VA does not differ substantially across schools in the district we study.

        whoopsie. guess the judge missed that part too..

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          Sorry for the typo. Correction - meant to say "Vergara does NOT claim..." This case asked the question as to whether the 5 statutes met the test of constitutionality - not whether all of California's educational woes are a function of the 5 statutes. Poverty and other out-of-school ills are clearly correlated with low performance, but why should that preclude us from taking action when significant causes of in-school underperformance are unconstitutional? Serrano found … Read More

          Sorry for the typo. Correction – meant to say “Vergara does NOT claim…”

          This case asked the question as to whether the 5 statutes met the test of constitutionality – not whether all of California’s educational woes are a function of the 5 statutes. Poverty and other out-of-school ills are clearly correlated with low performance, but why should that preclude us from taking action when significant causes of in-school underperformance are unconstitutional? Serrano found the use of local taxation not to meet the test of educational equality of opportunity. That didn’t imply nor did it demonstrate in practice that removing said inequality would remove the achievement gap. I often hear detractors of the decision ask why the plaintiffs didn’t tackle the larger issue of adequate funding. This is subterfuge. The case was about the statutes. There is no magic bullet. The closest we might come to that is removing the shackles of Prop 13.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            i dont think the case did ask whether these statues were unconstitutional, rather (based on the resulting ruling) the case seemed to ask whether any kind of inequity exists at all. the judge did not state any causality--nor did the plaintiffs prove any that I could see--but seemed to then rule the way he did simply because those statues happen to be part of the system (and part of the problem in his own worldview). … Read More

            i dont think the case did ask whether these statues were unconstitutional, rather (based on the resulting ruling) the case seemed to ask whether any kind of inequity exists at all. the judge did not state any causality–nor did the plaintiffs prove any that I could see–but seemed to then rule the way he did simply because those statues happen to be part of the system (and part of the problem in his own worldview). if you dont have to prove causality, then you could pick anything to do away with based on that inequity.
            anyway, i was addressing your claim of the distribution. chetty’s comment is pretty clear. it should also be pointed out that earlier in that paragraph he said that differences existed within schools rather than between them, which of course flies in the face of the entire lawsuit (unless these statues also cause teachers in a single school to be assigned based on student income level–assuming cause is relevant anymore).
            In terms of serrano, that used a first-order measure of funding (easy enough to quantify) and by using opportunity as the metric, there is no side-effect path to be taken to reach the measure being inspected. In this case we have statues that cannot be proven to be the cause of the inequity (the first disconnect). And on top of that we are measuring the ‘inequity’ based on something other than the teachers themselves(there are actually two leaps of faith in that one–that teacher quality is a function of such a measure, and that such a 2nd-order, and normalized measure is reliable in the first place). in that sense, serrano is not a good analogy.
            i agree that nothing should stop us from taking action even when there are other forces at work. But neither should that point allow us to justify trying ‘remedies’ at random (or ad politicum). All I ask is we so something on behalf of the kids for a change, and not on behalf of political or budgetary interests.
            btw, i’ll repeat something I suggested a couple months ago. how about, within the current system, we allocate 5% of our budget to pay the most ineffective teachers to stay home. according to chetty and hanushek that would bring our performance results to the best in the world. wouldnt that be worth it if it were true?

            5%!!

            Why does no one take me up on this offer? Perhaps its the same reason that if vergara is upheld, you wont see any admin firings, nor any of the resulting saved money used to reduce class size as deasy claimed he is currently being prohibited from doing by these challenged statutes. Why is education such a game to so many people?

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Don't know why there is no reply button under your comment, Navigio. I understand you do not respect the plaintiff's case or the decision. There will be at least two more opportunities to change the ruling and to prove correct your opinion. OTOH, a stare decisis appeal ruling would vouch for the plaintiff's case and judge's decision. But the point is that YOU KNOW this WAS a constitutional challenge whether or … Read More

            Don’t know why there is no reply button under your comment, Navigio.

            I understand you do not respect the plaintiff’s case or the decision. There will be at least two more opportunities to change the ruling and to prove correct your opinion. OTOH, a stare decisis appeal ruling would vouch for the plaintiff’s case and judge’s decision. But the point is that YOU KNOW this WAS a constitutional challenge whether or not you personally find the case and ruling against the statutes credible. The losers almost always claim the case/decision was bogus.

            To that point, I believe you are looking for proof in the scientific sense and in fact social scientists were called from both sides to provide just that kind of testimony. But in the end, proof for academic outcome is hard to quantify. You can say smoking correlates positively with cancer, but you cannot prove that a cancer is caused by smoking because people get it without smoking. You can say that poverty correlates with low performance, but you cannot say low performance is caused by poverty because some poor students excel. You can say that an unstable/ineffective staff of teachers correlates with low performance but you can’t prove that a student failed due to a bad teacher. You can make a case and you may convince a judge, but proof doesn’t exist. If Serrano relied on proof that students fail due to less funding, what would Serrano say about today’s achievement gap? Constitutional challenges rely less on providing proof then they do on defining fundamental values. In the case of Vergara, do the statutes hurt students? The answer is yes because the statutes allow certain schools and their students to have less experienced teachers and disproportional turnaround.

            What would constitute demonstrable proof for you, Navigio, and is inequality acceptable short of it? Don’t such adult debates just leave children holding the bag?

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Actually I don't think I know that the case was about constitutionality. I know that the plaintiffs filed the case based on that principle, but just filing a case doesn't make anything about the claim true. Normally a judge's ruling could be used to make that determination but in this case there was no explanation that justified that claim, and given how short and vague the ruling was, and the fact that he also stayed … Read More

            Actually I don’t think I know that the case was about constitutionality. I know that the plaintiffs filed the case based on that principle, but just filing a case doesn’t make anything about the claim true. Normally a judge’s ruling could be used to make that determination but in this case there was no explanation that justified that claim, and given how short and vague the ruling was, and the fact that he also stayed the ruling, I’d not hesitate to think there is even something else going on here.

            I’m not looking for scientific proof, rather logical reasoning. The people brought in to provide proof were there to talk about validity and methodology as a basis for interpreting data. For me that’s not even the issue (though it’s a valid question) rather what I think is missing is an explanation of how these statutes only negatively apply to low income students and schools and apparently work fine everywhere else. This has always been the crux for me and to be honest I was even looking forward to how that discrepancy would be explained (because if it’s true there could have actually been something very important to learn from the case and the ruling).

            My point about Serrano was not what it should have been rather simply that I don’t think it was similar to vergara in process.

            I don’t know how you can say that the statutes hurt kids for the reason you claim when we have had inequality for as long as we’ve had our society and these statutes have been around nowhere near that long. Could we maybe be making better progress toward equality without them? Who knows? The case hasn’t been made yet. My own guess is given they work fine for other kids might imply something else is actually the problem.

            And which part of my comments imply that I like inequality? (!) The thing that concerns me with this trend is that things like this actually have the potential to exacerbate inequality and/or reduce overall quality even further.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Navigio, it seems to me that you are playing coy since the forces at work are plain and simple and fairly universal. Here in SFUSD most SF State credentialing program grads will be offered jobs at low-performing schools if they are lucky. A teacher already in the system who bombs out at a school will get an offer at a low-performing school and sometimes that is the only opportunity. They of course … Read More

            Navigio, it seems to me that you are playing coy since the forces at work are plain and simple and fairly universal. Here in SFUSD most SF State credentialing program grads will be offered jobs at low-performing schools if they are lucky. A teacher already in the system who bombs out at a school will get an offer at a low-performing school and sometimes that is the only opportunity. They of course get the jobs before the new hires due to seniority. These schools get a preponderance of both the inexperienced teachers and the unwanted teachers. They have much higher turnaround due to the new hire burn-out rate and are burdened with devastating layoffs when RIF occur. There is no argument over the disproportionate higher turnaround , though clearly the teacher quality issue is debatable as there’s no agreed upon metric.

            This was all laid out logically at trial and the preponderance of evidence didn’t require a detailed legal analysis.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            1 of 2.. Hi Don. There are two levels of response to this. The first is to question what it is that actually triggers this kind of turnover or RIFs. In recent years it has been budget cuts, without which much of this churn would never have happened. I have said many times that I don't think the people who legislated and designed LIFO took years of extended budget cuts into account, and this is admittedly … Read More

            1 of 2..
            Hi Don. There are two levels of response to this.
            The first is to question what it is that actually triggers this kind of turnover or RIFs. In recent years it has been budget cuts, without which much of this churn would never have happened. I have said many times that I don’t think the people who legislated and designed LIFO took years of extended budget cuts into account, and this is admittedly one of its flaws. Whether that is something that can be addressed independently is a separate question, though avoiding budget gyrations clearly a valid way to do that, and an indication that one should question whether this could truly be considered ‘the cause’.

            It also bears admitting that this kind of distribution dynamic can happen even under ‘normal’ circumstances, and that this is a function of more senior teachers having the right to choose an open position before a less senior one. Even if this does not happen all at once, over many years it can result in vast inequities that are then ‘exposed’ by things like seniority-based RIFs (sounds like we both recognize this problem).

            For me, however, it is critical that we keep in mind what it is that drives that dynamic, and I expected the lawsuit to at least highlight that, if not use it as a basis for its ruling. What that is, of course, is that these schools are more difficult to teach in; they have lower community and parent engagement, worse facilities, fewer resources, more stress as a result of lower performance and maybe most importantly of all, less support from their own districts in numerous and blatant forms. Where LIFO may merely ‘enable’ that distribution dynamic (under specific and extreme conditions), these things actually cause it on a real and daily basis.

            While this may seem pedantic and coy to you, it’s really where the rubber hits the road in this issue because in the end when these statutes go away they must be replaced with something. (note in an ironic twist that the seniority rules that give priority to internal candidates may actually work to prohibit this kind of dynamic at a district scope as opposed to a school level scope within a single district).

            cont’d..

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            2 of 2 ..resumed.. Again, I concede that it's not necessarily the courts place to define what replaces this (in fact the judge explicitly refused to do that here). However I will point out that the argument is that effectiveness or quality or some sort of similar measure is what should replace LIFO. While I don't think anyone would argue that we value having our most effective teachers in our school system, I think it's important to … Read More

            2 of 2
            ..resumed..

            Again, I concede that it’s not necessarily the courts place to define what replaces this (in fact the judge explicitly refused to do that here). However I will point out that the argument is that effectiveness or quality or some sort of similar measure is what should replace LIFO. While I don’t think anyone would argue that we value having our most effective teachers in our school system, I think it’s important to recognize that the same system that defines seniority for layoffs also defines seniority for priority in open position access. If we are going to argue that we want to use quality as a metric for defining that priority then you will effectively guarantee that the most effective teachers will have first choice in access to open positions. Given the argument against LIFO that quality is not correlated with experience the same way seniority might assume (even though that’s not the whole point), and given the fact that difficult teaching positions are a function of something other than LIFO (and thus won’t be addressed after vergara ‘solves’ everything), we are effectively going to guarantee that inequality is not only maintained but probably even exacerbated (for sure if ‘reformers’ are right) when using quality as a metric for comparison. Should we not care about that?

            Of course it’s possible to create laws prohibiting teachers from moving schools. Though of course when root causes are not addressed teachers will simply leave the system when not given the option of transferring to an easier school. It’s also possible to create incentives for great (or any) teachers to stay in difficult schools, something I would point out was supported by UTLA.

            When someone asks the question of the impact of something there two ways to look at it: independent of everything else, ie whether it impacts the question or not. The other way is to look at it from my net effect perspective. If removing something that (arguably) contributes to inequity creates even more in equity have you really reduced inequity?

          • el 2 years ago2 years ago

            navigio, thank you for your two eloquent comments (marked as 1 of 2 and 2 of 2, no doubt you hit the character limit) hopefully right above this post.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            1. Navigio, difficult teaching positions are, in part, a function of LIFO in that staffs are inexperienced and fluctuating in ways that prevent effective practices and continuity of instruction. 2. If you solve the problem of fluctuating budgets ( to prevent RIFs), please send me your autographed picture so I can frame it and say I conversed with the Great Navigio, redeemer of capitalism and society-at-large. 3. I'm sure we'd … Read More

            1. Navigio, difficult teaching positions are, in part, a function of LIFO in that staffs are inexperienced and fluctuating in ways that prevent effective practices and continuity of instruction.

            2. If you solve the problem of fluctuating budgets ( to prevent RIFs), please send me your autographed picture so I can frame it and say I conversed with the Great Navigio, redeemer of capitalism and society-at-large.

            3. I’m sure we’d all feel the full brunt of the CTA were teachers not allowed to move schools. Now that would really bring out the brass knuckles. Not only are you putting them in a box with evaluations and CCSS, now you are screwing down the box and burying it six feet under. You are on a serious roll, dude!

            4. As for incentive for hard duty, increases of the magnitude required to convince teachers to work in the trenches could only be made possible through great suffering and class size increases. That really only has limited potential, particularly in LAUSD.

            5. Lastly, SFUSD has been funneling funding to the 16 Superintendent Zone schools without regard for its affect on the rest of the district, a reversal of what you maintain is the case in LA, yet this district has precious little to show for it after a few years. Could it possibly be that the statutes, rather than some disproportionate equity-is- justice index are the culprits?

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          Im not sure why this new format leaves reply button out at certain points in the conversation. Navigio: I appreciate you point that the judge did not feel it was necessary to establish the causal relationship between the statutes and any negative effects thy might have on districts with poor and minority students. I'd suggest the same, but also offer that he could not have if he'd wanted to. A number of district administrators were brought into … Read More

          Im not sure why this new format leaves reply button out at certain points in the conversation.

          Navigio:

          I appreciate you point that the judge did not feel it was necessary to establish the causal relationship between the statutes and any negative effects thy might have on districts with poor and minority students. I’d suggest the same, but also offer that he could not have if he’d wanted to. A number of district administrators were brought into court to testify that they encountered little problems hiring effective teachers, or getting rid of some not effective (when that was necessary), under the current statutes. Even the Broad trained bumblers in LAUSD had increased the number of dismissed teacher dramatically when they put their “minds’ to it.

          There is also the point that CA, as a state, dismisses more than the national average of teachers with and without permanent status according to the NCES.

          Anyway, a real legal scholar, Erwin Chemerinsky, Professor and Dean at UC Irvine published an article in the Orange County Register (no less) protesting the attempted scapegoating of teachers and predicting the decision would not stand up to appeal because the judge provided no actual rationale for his decision. As I said, I don’t think he could have should he have felt the need, because there is no rationale.

  4. Tressy Capps 2 years ago2 years ago

    Do even the smallest research and you will quickly reach a sobering conclusion. Federal gov’t takeover of education will have dire consequences for our kids and the nation. Even the liberals don’t like it. It is completely illegal which seems to be the rule of the day lately. http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/zieve/130509

  5. Lee Lipps 2 years ago2 years ago

    Should a teacher be able to attain tenure with a specific school district upon completion of "only" two years of service? In my mind, the answer is a qualified, "Probably not." But you only tell part of the story, John, and context is important in this issue. For those of you who are old enough to recall, up until 1984, teacher tenure took three (3) years in probationary status in a district to attain permanence. However, if … Read More

    Should a teacher be able to attain tenure with a specific school district upon completion of “only” two years of service?

    In my mind, the answer is a qualified, “Probably not.”

    But you only tell part of the story, John, and context is important in this issue.

    For those of you who are old enough to recall, up until 1984, teacher tenure took three (3) years in probationary status in a district to attain permanence.

    However, if a district was going to fire a teacher for poor job performance, the teacher had some minimal due process rights.The district was actually required to give the teacher a reason(s) for termination and, upon request, the teacher was entitled to a hearing on the accusations by an impartial third party appointed by the state.

    This process was quick and efficient and cheap.

    It is extremely important to note, however, that the proposed decision of the impartial third party was NOT binding on the school district or school board, and it could accept or reject the proposed decision as it wished.

    At the very least, there was some semblance of transparency and due process involved in the termination.

    Then, in 1983, along came S. B. 813 with its myriad educational reforms. It gave us, among many things, longer school days and longer school years for students and teachers, mentor teachers, and shortened the tenure timeline to two years from the traditional, statutory three years.

    However, §44929.1 of the state education code gives school districts the right to terminate teachers and a series of court cases ruled that, yes, the probationary period for permanence is two years BUT that the dismissed (non-renewed) teacher had no right to a hearing and that the district did not have to give the teacher a reason for the termination.

    In short, for 30 years in this state, probationary teachers are “at-will” employees of the school district and can be terminated at school districts’ sole discretion. The teachers union can do nothing to save a probationary teacher’s job.

    There is no transparency, due process, or just cause required for termination.

    So, can a school principal evaluate a probationary teacher’s performance in two years? If not, why not? That’s a pretty long period of time to judge whether someone is cut out to be a teacher or not. Moreover, a principal can’t be challenged on his judgment as to a teacher’s efficacy. Only the school board can overturn a principal’s decision to fire.

    I would suggest that if a school district has a lot of sub-standard teachers that it is the result of Principals and Superintendents not doing the most important part of their jobs. The union can do nothing to draw out the process.

    I suspect that most teachers would gladly go back to a three-year probationary period in exchange for fairness, reasons, and a due process/just cause hearing before an impartial hearing officer.

    Only this time, the decision should be binding on the school district, not merely advisory.

  6. Bruce William Smith 2 years ago2 years ago

    The poll results indicate real room for Republicans to be competitive in California's education politics, if they can ever put up a credible candidate; or at least there is room for a more conservative candidate than those promoted by the Sacramento establishment. Not that everything Sacramento has done in the last four years has been wrong -- indeed, the state has appeared heroic, at times, in resisting some of the worst new ideas being promoted … Read More

    The poll results indicate real room for Republicans to be competitive in California’s education politics, if they can ever put up a credible candidate; or at least there is room for a more conservative candidate than those promoted by the Sacramento establishment. Not that everything Sacramento has done in the last four years has been wrong — indeed, the state has appeared heroic, at times, in resisting some of the worst new ideas being promoted by the managerial establishment on the East Coast. But details of the survey phrasing aside, the trends regarding the Common Core, teacher tenure, the superintendent’s race, and expanding preschool are all negative for Superintendent Torlakson, which should inspire some soul-searching among the policy leadership in the state capital. The potential for pushback against the Local Control Funding Formula is even greater than against the policy issues surveyed, once the public finds out there is no equal protection for their children in our state schools, and that some pupils are now worth more than others according to established law. If present trends continue, there is still more potential for a push towards vouchers, as ever more Californians have been withdrawing their children from the state schools that many of us have lost confidence in.

  7. navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

    its interesting that the schools were rated as succeeding more this year than in the previous two years, and i believe the last common core survey had fewer people against it. that seems contradictory (or more likely, measuring something other than what we think its measuring).
    btw, the 3 year trend tables have an error in 2012 for how local schools performed..

  8. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Interesting. You can only wonder if the question on teacher seniority rights in layoffs had been phrased: Solid research indicates that, on average, the more seniority a teacher has the better the chance that teacher has solid instructional skills. Current seniority rights in layoffs protect the senior and more skilled teachers even though they may be more expensive for a district to keep employed during budget cuts. Do you support current protections for senior teachers? … Read More

    Interesting.

    You can only wonder if the question on teacher seniority rights in layoffs had been phrased:

    Solid research indicates that, on average, the more seniority a teacher has the better the chance that teacher has solid instructional skills. Current seniority rights in layoffs protect the senior and more skilled teachers even though they may be more expensive for a district to keep employed during budget cuts. Do you support current protections for senior teachers? YES NO

    Also, the statement on the survey (p. 11): “CA schools currently operate under a ‘last in, first out’ policy,” meaning layoffs are dictated by seniority and most recently hired teachers are always laid off first.” [Nice touch with the “dictated by” verbiage. “Dictated” like very other law and statute on the books.]

    This statement is totally false. A district may decide to retain certain programs in times of layoffs and protect certain teachers with specific skills and credentials. These teachers, regardless of seniority status, may be skipped over and maintain employment while senior teachers without the qualifications are laid off.

    Also the language re seniority: “hurts students by requiring…[the layoff of] talented young teachers before low performing senior teachers” is downright “fair and balanced”..meaning it’s biased and prejudicial. What is the criteria for “talented” and “low-performing?”

    Then we get to the question about CA’s school funding compared to other states and 18% of those polled know this state provides much less funding per pupil than other states. Obviously, the public knows squat about educational reality, and that can only be expected when a private university and “public policy” group is doing this kind of “push-polling.” USC should be deeply embarrassed to be associated with this sham. Who provided funding for this exercise in ignorance?

    Replies

    • Zeev Wurman 2 years ago2 years ago

      “Solid research indicates that, on average, the more seniority a teacher has the better the chance that teacher has solid instructional skills.”

      Well, not exactly. The seniority/skills positive correlation (better yet — seniority/effectiveness) does indeed exists for the first 5-10 years, after which effectiveness plateaus, and eventually the correlation actually gets negative. Check your research.

      • Lee Lipps 2 years ago2 years ago

        Please cite your source(s) for your assertion(s).

        Five to ten years is a statistically wide spread.

        Moreover, how long does it take a new teacher to reach the “effective” level? In your opinion, is it OK to lay them off before they reach the effective level?

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        "While characteristics like experience, certification and education are not perfectly correlated with actual effectiveness in the classroom, they are certainly related. Experienced teachers, for example, are more effective in helping students learn than inexperienced teachers. Those with strong content knowledge—measured in both formal education and in content- heavy professional development—are more effective than those without it. Thus, a school that spends a lot on teacher salaries not only has teachers who are more highly qualified, … Read More

        “While characteristics like experience, certification and education are not perfectly correlated with actual effectiveness in the classroom, they are certainly related. Experienced teachers, for example, are more effective in helping students learn than inexperienced teachers. Those with strong content knowledge—measured in both formal education and in content- heavy professional development—are more effective than those without it. Thus, a school that spends a lot on teacher salaries not only has teachers who are more highly qualified, according to traditional measures, but is also likely to have teachers who are more effective.”

        Please note the above quote taken from the EdTrust West document: “CA’s Hidden Teacher Spending Gap: How State and District Budgeting Practices Shortchange poor and Minority Students and Their Schools.”

        You are familiar with the folks at EdTrust I’ll bet, Zeev. You can take your arguments up with them. You need to poke around on the net a bit to find the “study.” It was on their website when the fashion of the day was to attack the seniority rights teachers had in some district contracts to transfer from school to school. Today, just plain attacking teachers’ rights is the vogue and I am unable to find it on their website. At one time the title was there, but when you clicked on it you were told it was “no longer available.”

        For once, they actually made a point with considering. The “five year” plateau you are talking about relates to test scores which are a narrow way to look at educational best practice. There are many skills teachers acquire through education, training, and experience that cannot be adequately measured by simple student tests. And there’s plenty of research around to back that up. I’d hate to spoil the satisfaction you’ll enjoy finding and reading it.

        • Zeev Wurman 2 years ago2 years ago

          You quote EdTrust West. If I wanted to make a point, it would be "don't trust any organization that has trust in its name." Kinda like when someone says "trust me" you know he's lying (smile). Let's first parse what EdTrust is actually saying. Carefully. "While characteristics like experience, certification and education are not perfectly correlated with actual effectiveness in the classroom, they are certainly related." Well, they are indeed "not perfectly" correlated. In fact, certification is uncorrelated. … Read More

          You quote EdTrust West. If I wanted to make a point, it would be “don’t trust any organization that has trust in its name.” Kinda like when someone says “trust me” you know he’s lying (smile).

          Let’s first parse what EdTrust is actually saying. Carefully.

          “While characteristics like experience, certification and education are not perfectly correlated with actual effectiveness in the classroom, they are certainly related.”

          Well, they are indeed “not perfectly” correlated. In fact, certification is uncorrelated. Experience is correlated in the way I indicated (rising, plateauing, and then dropping). Education is correlated if it is in content area (English, physics, math, etc. rather than general education nonsense) and almost exclusively at the high school level.

          “Experienced teachers, for example, are more effective in helping students learn than inexperienced teachers.”

          Correct as far as experience is correlated with effectiveness early on, so teachers with any experience are more effective than teachers with zero experience. But it says nothing about teachers with 15 years of experience versus 25 years of experience, which is the real question people wonder about.

          “Those with strong content knowledge-measured in both formal education and in content- heavy professional development-are more effective than those without it.”

          This is generally correct because it refers to content knowledge rather than pedagogical knowledge, and is almost exclusively limited to high school, as I mentioned already.

          “Thus, a school that spends a lot on teacher salaries not only has teachers who are more highly qualified, according to traditional measures, but is also likely to have teachers who are more effective.”

          An unsubstantiated and misleading conclusion. First, while true that novice and less effective teachers will cost less than, say, more effective teachers with 5-10 years of experience, there is no evidence that more expensive teachers with 20 years of experience are more effective than less expensive teachers with 10 years of experience. Second, there is no correlation between teachers’ content knowledge and his or her salary, so EdTrust’s implication that there is such correlation is misleading. Also note EdTrust own use of “traditional measures,” rather than Gary’s “narrow ways” – quoting you, Gary, I suggest “you can take your argument up with them.”

          All in all, EdTrust tries hard not to be caught in saying anything specific that is unsupported yet phrases its verbiage to leave the casual reader with the impression of unsubstantiated claims. As I’ve said, if it has a “trust” in its name and it says “thus …,” watch your pocketbook.

          Regarding the various correlations, here is a nice and short summary of research from the US Dept. of Ed. http://cecr.ed.gov/guides/researchSyntheses/Research%20Synthesis_Q%20A2.pdf

          • el 2 years ago2 years ago

            Don’t most school salary schedules have a specific number of steps that would be on order 15-20? After that, you only get raises if the whole schedule gets one. It’s not generally true, I don’t think, that a 20 year veteran would be moving to a new step. Most of the schedules I’ve seen only have >15 steps for staff with extra educational credits.

            (Certainly salary schedules can be arranged however the district and the union agree.)

          • Zeev Wurman 2 years ago2 years ago

            El, The reference I offer mentions that estimates of the period of increased effectiveness vary, from 1 year to, perhaps 20 years. The consensus is somewhere around 5 years ... much much shorter that the step increases. Which, incidentally, tend to not apply every year but every two-three years. So 10 steps is easily 20 years or more. But why not simply replace step increases with effectiveness-related increases? This will change the game all around. And the … Read More

            El,

            The reference I offer mentions that estimates of the period of increased effectiveness vary, from 1 year to, perhaps 20 years. The consensus is somewhere around 5 years … much much shorter that the step increases. Which, incidentally, tend to not apply every year but every two-three years. So 10 steps is easily 20 years or more.

            But why not simply replace step increases with effectiveness-related increases? This will change the game all around. And the research also shows the general lack of correlation of advanced degrees with effectiveness (barring some exceptions). Again, effectiveness-based salary schedule would flexibly address both the general trends and the exceptions.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            "Clotfelter, Ladd, and Vigdor (2007b) found that in contrast to findings that emerged from their earlier research on elementary school teachers, high school teachers who completed a master’s degree were more effective at increasing student achievement than those without advanced degrees." There is a quote from the "study" you linked to Zeev. Oddly, though they indicate that the collected evidence that they use leaves the question of teachers' experience and training and effects on achievement "controversial," … Read More

            “Clotfelter, Ladd, and Vigdor (2007b) found that in contrast to findings that emerged from their earlier research on elementary school teachers, high school teachers who completed a master’s degree were more effective at increasing student achievement than those without advanced degrees.”

            There is a quote from the “study” you linked to Zeev. Oddly, though they indicate that the collected evidence that they use leaves the question of teachers’ experience and training and effects on achievement “controversial,” the conclusions they draw seem to parrot those of the usual suspects, Hanushek, Rivken, the Hoover Institution, et al, and that it’s very specific and experience and education count for little. So I see where you get your opinions from.

            I guess the good people over at EdTrust West (ETW) will be just crushed when they see your critique. Perhaps this will cause them to slow down a bit in crafting “studies” of this kind. Then again maybe not. Their “sponsors” include Gates, Walton, etc, and, now that we know “money is speech,” those folks have a lot of money and that means ETW needs to really pound on that old keyboard. It’s a kind of “calling,” I guess.

            I certainly understand your reaction to the word “trust.” Words have power. I respond in much the same way to the word Hoover when it’s not attached to a dam or vacuum cleaner.

            But overall, I think your position re teacher experience and the opinions expressed in the “study” you cited, dependent as they are on student test data which is not only unreliable an invalid for evaluating teaching, but not particularly good for high stakes decisions about the kids who take the tests is just…dated. It’s so last decade, so NCLB burdened, so old paradigm (though I guess talking about paradigms is “old paradigm” so I’ll try and fit the word “silo” in somewhere).

            Did your hear that our great-national-self-proclaimed-education-expert-with-no-actual-expertise-in-education, Bill Gates, has changed his positions on test scores in evaluations and high stakes for CCSS based assessments? Turns out further analysis of his own MET study data revealed (again!) just how invalid and unreliable scores were in evaluations. Who’d have guessed? Embarrassing, I’m sure. And the various debacles in trying to use CCSS assessment without materials, teacher professional development, or time to instruct kids in the new standards have given him pause. And giving a billionaire pause in anything has got to be worth something!

            This could cause more trouble for our friends at ETW that goes even beyond your criticism. Not long ago they issued a pretty scathing condemnation of CA for calling a two year hiatus in “accountability” for CCSS and SBAC. Yikes! And now Gates (a sponsor!) is supporting the same thing. Maybe that ETW condemnation will go the same way as the “study” the quote I used came from. You know, it’ll kind of be like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, nothing will be left but a “grin.”

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            el, what can sometimes also happen is there may be a different number of steps for a given credential/degree class than another. so someone can be in one classification for many years and then only after a subsequent degree or certificate have another number of steps open up as an opportunity. (on a tangent, I think salary schedules as well as distribution breakdowns are something that should be included in data reported to the state, … Read More

            el, what can sometimes also happen is there may be a different number of steps for a given credential/degree class than another. so someone can be in one classification for many years and then only after a subsequent degree or certificate have another number of steps open up as an opportunity. (on a tangent, I think salary schedules as well as distribution breakdowns are something that should be included in data reported to the state, and/or better covered by the media).
            its appealing to try to think about unit value for teachers given the high disparity in step or class salaries. however, i think its also important to understand what the current distribution looks like. my own analysis from looking at a few districts is that up to 75% of teachers are already maxed out on steps (for their current class). And the vast majority of the rest are not at the lowest step levels. This may have been exacerbated in recent years by repeated budgetary pressures and increasingly difficult teaching conditions. but regardless of the cause, it also means the question of step differences (as large as they may be) may not be all that relevant at the moment. In fact, a fun hypothetical: I calculated for one district that it would be possible to pay everyone at the highest step and only increase teacher salary costs by approximately 13% (though this was before the increased district pension obligations). Thats not intended to be a policy suggestion, rather a way to highlight the fact that step differentials may not be playing as much of a role in our budgets as we might think they do at the moment (our own district has had larger single-year budget swings).
            One thing I’ve always found curious about ‘budget cuts as a policy strategy’ is that they effectively percolate teachers to the higher steps and thus make the per-teacher cost higher than they’d otherwise be (ironically counter to the goals of those strategists). This also creates a situation where budget cutting strategies consist primarily of trying to convince experienced teachers to retire. Over the past 5 years I expect this was probably the single most important task for our districts’ human resources people. When that becomes your ‘strategy’ the question of effectiveness plays 2nd (or 3rd) fiddle.
            That said, I do think steps are something we can look at again, primarily thinking about reducing the disparity between highest and lowest steps by raising the salaries at the lower steps. Some would also argue that this would increase the incoming talent pool.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Standardized testing in the US is low-stake compared with European and Asian models where students test into tracks. Currently the main purpose of testing is identify schools and demographic groups with higher needs. That is not to say that some families or particular schools might not use testing to pressure students, but in the main, the notion that testing is high stakes is really not valid at present. That said, testing doesn't make sense … Read More

            Standardized testing in the US is low-stake compared with European and Asian models where students test into tracks. Currently the main purpose of testing is identify schools and demographic groups with higher needs. That is not to say that some families or particular schools might not use testing to pressure students, but in the main, the notion that testing is high stakes is really not valid at present. That said, testing doesn’t make sense or yield useable data without some common curricular goals.i.e standards. Kind of goes without saying…

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            I think it’s easy for us to attach high stakes to the idea of tracking as a result of tests because in our culture we generally associate the value of a person with their wealth or occupation. In Europe, at least, this kind of discrimination does not happen, at least nowhere near the same extent.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            The US is the only country that tries to attach student test data to teacher evaluations, or use school test results to fire staffs and administrators, or to determine funding, or that tests as often and as at length as we do. That is the nature of "high stakes." That is the cause of negative effects, like narrowing of the curriculum, cited by the National Research Council, of our testing and accountability jag of the … Read More

            The US is the only country that tries to attach student test data to teacher evaluations, or use school test results to fire staffs and administrators, or to determine funding, or that tests as often and as at length as we do. That is the nature of “high stakes.” That is the cause of negative effects, like narrowing of the curriculum, cited by the National Research Council, of our testing and accountability jag of the last decade plus. A testing and accountability system that has severely disrupted highly stressed neighborhoods by closing their schools and has demeaned the educational opportunities of kids from those neighborhoods by subjecting them to endless drill and kill exercises rather than a well rounded education. As someone said, high stakes are good for tomatoes, not kids. And the “all important” test scores, on international tests as well as the only national test, the NAEP, that the testing and accountability system was supposed to improve? Flatter than a pancake.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            All true, but we do not have students test out of going forward in the system in different tiers like European or Asian students so. Their tests have far more personal and far-reaching effects upon their lives. US testing is more geared to informing the system rather than pushing students into boxes.

        • Zeev Wurman 2 years ago2 years ago

          Gary, You seem to add nothing to the discussion beyond repeating what I already stated, except -- quite properly in my opinion -- grumbling about Bill Gates. The only other point I would make is that I did not point to a "study" (with or without the scare quotes). Rather, I pointed to a research synthesis (aka "summary of research") from the US Department of Education. Not from your beloved CTA, but also not from Bill Gates. If … Read More

          Gary,

          You seem to add nothing to the discussion beyond repeating what I already stated, except — quite properly in my opinion — grumbling about Bill Gates.

          The only other point I would make is that I did not point to a “study” (with or without the scare quotes). Rather, I pointed to a research synthesis (aka “summary of research”) from the US Department of Education. Not from your beloved CTA, but also not from Bill Gates.

          If you don’t like academic testing as a measured outcome, please suggest something else and demonstrate how it correlates with teacher experience, knowledge, salary, etc. I am quite sure you’d love test results as a measure if they showed that teacher experience correlates well with them. But since they don’t, you are just blowing smoke on results you don’t like.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            The "study" you cite is NOT from the USDE, it is a private group that received a grant from the USDE during the Bush Administration. A Bush financed study that finds that teachers' experience and education has little impact on student "achievement." Like Cpt. Renault in Casablanca, "I'm shocked." As to my resistance to using student test data for evaluating teachers' performance I go first to my 35 years as a classroom teacher. But what … Read More

            The “study” you cite is NOT from the USDE, it is a private group that received a grant from the USDE during the Bush Administration. A Bush financed study that finds that teachers’ experience and education has little impact on student “achievement.” Like Cpt. Renault in Casablanca, “I’m shocked.”

            As to my resistance to using student test data for evaluating teachers’ performance I go first to my 35 years as a classroom teacher. But what is that experience compared to the experience of working in Silicon Valley with no actual school experience? Not much it appears. And then there is my long experience as a teachers’ union officer representing other actual teachers in actual classroom’s doing actual teaching with actual students. That in itself, according to the self-styled reformers, must disqualify me from meaningful judgments on education policy.

            So, it must be a coincidence that my doubts are shared in Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis in findings by two scholars doing further analysis of data generated in the Gate’s MET study: “While value-added measures do provide some useful information, our findings show that they are not picking up the things we think of as being good teaching.” That’s what I meant by your position being of an “old paradigm.” And by “old” I mean Bush era. And that is where Gate’s comes into the picture.

            And then we have a report issued by the American Statistical Association in April that smacked down VAM as unreliable and invalid.

            [Interestingly, the Statistical Association report also said that an individual teacher’s contribution to the “variability of test scores” likely ranges form 1% to 14% which is in line with ETS reports suggesting NAEP “variability” is about 30% based on total school factors, with teachers being just a part of the 30%. Linda Darling Hammond in her book on the “flat world’ of education policy states teachers account for about 7% to 14%. This is interesting because the self-styled reformers are so intent on that 1% to 14% and ignoring the other 99% to 86% because that might mean doing something about wealth inequality and the inevitable “T” word.]

            And then there’s that old standby, the National Research Council. In the NRC’s letter to Arne Duncan re RTTT they state that not only do we not have the science to use student test data for evaluating teachers, but if we did have it we still shouldn’t use it because it narrows curriculum. Then the NRC went to a full scale report on NCLB like “test based incentive” programs in education and concluded that they had done little to improve educational outcomes over the course of a decade.

            I could throw RAND and ETS into the mix, but the dead horse seems suitably beaten.

            And, no, I would not support test based evaluation if it positively showed teacher effectiveness (which it does now in many cases) because of its “narrowing” effects.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            The end result of Vergara will be a new system that balances legitimate teacher protections with necessary students protections. A legal challenge was the inevitable conclusion to the failure to provide a legislative one. The decision will inexorably lead to a workable conclusion for the policy debate over a universal teacher evaluation metric based upon student outcome. That is not something that the most hardened unionists will tolerate. Therefore, I believe Gary is … Read More

            The end result of Vergara will be a new system that balances legitimate teacher protections with necessary students protections. A legal challenge was the inevitable conclusion to the failure to provide a legislative one. The decision will inexorably lead to a workable conclusion for the policy debate over a universal teacher evaluation metric based upon student outcome. That is not something that the most hardened unionists will tolerate. Therefore, I believe Gary is laying the groundwork to refute the validity of any student outcome-based accountability whatsoever. Is this a productive road forward? The appeal does not rest upon providing solutions or even validating what constitutes a failed teacher. The only real question that needs to be answered is whether the 5 statutes substantially alter equal opportunity for the worse for some students.

          • Zeev Wurman 2 years ago2 years ago

            Gary, Regarding the fact that the summary of research I cited (repeat after me : summary of research is not a "study") was not done by USED but rather by its contractor, you either are unaware how USED operates, or just throw smoke in the air for fun. Essentially ALL of USED studies, research reports, implementation guides, and summaries of research are done by subcontractors. USED does monitoring and review, and approves reports for publication … Read More

            Gary,

            Regarding the fact that the summary of research I cited (repeat after me : summary of research is not a “study”) was not done by USED but rather by its contractor, you either are unaware how USED operates, or just throw smoke in the air for fun. Essentially ALL of USED studies, research reports, implementation guides, and summaries of research are done by subcontractors. USED does monitoring and review, and approves reports for publication if they meet its rather stringent criteria. Even today that summary is the official USED position document and it hasn’t been archived. But if it makes you happy, you can keep blaming Bush for everything you don’t like.

            The fact that you switched subject to VAM, or that you cite this or that researcher whose findings are more to your liking, doesn’t change the reality. That’s what summary of research is intended to do — summarize the results from variety of sources rather than cherry pick the ones you happen to like. And in this case those results are pretty stable, and are NOT based only on VAM, but on all kinds of testing.

            Eventually, one must accept some kind of testing to judge success or failure, otherwise everything boils down to the anecdote. I appreciate that unions would love that — after all, if there is no objective measure of success, no teacher can fail — but that is not necessarily best for the parents or the kids … or for everyone else.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            “This is really important because it means that people must take sponsorship into account when evaluating whether they should believe the results of a study. This is still rarely done,” said Bero, who is in the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “ Zeev: The above quote came from an article on medical issues and "studies." The same sentiments have been expressed about "studies" in education. You have to "follow the money," and trace the source of funding, if … Read More

            “This is really important because it means that people must take sponsorship into account when evaluating whether they should believe the results of a study. This is still rarely done,” said Bero, who is in the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “

            Zeev:

            The above quote came from an article on medical issues and “studies.” The same sentiments have been expressed about “studies” in education. You have to “follow the money,” and trace the source of funding, if you want to evaluate the results of a “study.” If you poke around you can find scholars acknowledging that in educations’s case, and for some time now, your research had better support testing and VAM, be critical of teachers’ unions and increased spending, and (obviously) sound the alarm about the “crisis in the schools!!!” if you expect to get funding from government and many foundations.

            The “study” you referenced (again!) is interesting because even though it references work by Ladd and others showing positive effects of teacher experience and advanced degrees on achievement, and then indicates that the research for and against the case is controversial, it then goes on to draw very specific conclusions that teacher’s experience and advanced education do not positively effect achievement. The conclusions do not follow the evidence as it is established in the paper. The paper also based much of its content on work done by “scholars” at admittedly conservative institutions and the conclusions were obviously swayed by that work.

            That a “study” that called, basically, for undermining teachers’ compensation based on professional skills developed through increased experience and education was funded by the USDE under Bush was not–as I stated–shocking.

            What should Bush be blamed for? Glad you asked. Certainly he and others in the administration should have been held accountable for far more than they were in areas involving education and most other facets of government action.

            That being said, in the realm of education, It cannot be said that the current administration has been any better. RTTT has, after all, been called NCLB on steroids. Both have been utter failures.

            If you were not referencing VAM as the “effectiveness-based” methodology for evaluating teachers and for compensation, what did you have in mind? AGT or some other euphemism for VAM?

            I am not against testing. I think a matrix type, low-stakes, performance-based, test administered at certain grades and used for diagnostic purposes at the state level could be useful. The reality, of course is, teachers are “testing”students both formally and informally all the time on the very content students are being taught in real time, getting the results back to students in a timely and meaningful way, using the results for diagnostic purposes, and then reporting progress to parents on a regular basis. The whole “anti-testing” accusation is a red herring.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Most parents don't care about these policy debates. They know empirically how grading works. That's why many parents are sending their kids to lower performing schools in SF so they can be part of the 4% eligible for UC. Historically, low-performing schools don't use the same standards as, for example, Lowell HS, an academic magnet school and other higher scoring schools. Based upon my years of experience, I would say that many students … Read More

            Most parents don’t care about these policy debates. They know empirically how grading works. That’s why many parents are sending their kids to lower performing schools in SF so they can be part of the 4% eligible for UC. Historically, low-performing schools don’t use the same standards as, for example, Lowell HS, an academic magnet school and other higher scoring schools. Based upon my years of experience, I would say that many students from lesser schools would have a hard time getting a C for an A or worse. When classes have predominately lower performers the grades inflate to accommodate the level. It is certainly understandable in practice and only goes to highlight that grading is anecdotal even at best. And one teacher may grade the comparable work of a student different than another. Colleges may claim to be putting more stock in grades than test scores, but that doesn’t allow us to determine which students know the curriculum. It doesn’t inform K-12 teachers, school, administrators and parents what they are doing rightly or wrongly to prepare. I’m no testing freak, but I want to know how my children are doing comparatively, from time to time, even if I support a humanistic and creative educational experience.

    • Ann 2 years ago2 years ago

      Really? That’s the way the question should be phrased? You’re funny!

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        Well, thank you, Ann. You picked up on the fact that I was being facetious. The way I phrased that question would be leading poll participants toward one particular response, wouldn't it? Pretty much like a number of the actual questions on the actual poll. And, if you read the quotes I presented from the actual (a link is found above) poll you can readily see that. It's what is called "push polling." And then … Read More

        Well, thank you, Ann. You picked up on the fact that I was being facetious. The way I phrased that question would be leading poll participants toward one particular response, wouldn’t it? Pretty much like a number of the actual questions on the actual poll. And, if you read the quotes I presented from the actual (a link is found above) poll you can readily see that. It’s what is called “push polling.” And then there is the blatant misstatement about how districts are “dictated” by current layoff procedures, totally disregarding the “skipping” process. It is not possible to ascertain if the pollsters were ignorant of the actual layoff process, or if it was another “push” item.

        Think of another example: CA layoff statutes dictate that young energetic teachers, with looks like Hugh Jackman’s, be laid off so that old decrepit teachers, with hair like Donald Trump’s, can be retained. Do you support this kind of layoff procedure? YES NO

        Push polling.

        • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

          Indeed, push polling.

          Last year, when similar blather came out of their survey, I did due diligence, read the questions, looked at the answers, etc..

          And, yes, it was push polling then. It can’t be anything else now, can it?

  9. el 2 years ago2 years ago

    On that preschool question, I wonder if the answer would have been different if the question was for universal preschool.

    If you’d asked me that question, I would have been confused, because the state already funds preschool for low income 4 year olds. So if you’re asking, do I want to have taxes raised to pay for a service that already exists… I would probably answer no.

    Replies

    • D 2 years ago2 years ago

      The question that preceded this one in the survey was “would you support the use of public funds for” the said low-income group for pre-school? The show of Support is 64%/66% and the Oppose is 29%/28%. So yes the question they decided to put in the article is a very poor representation of support or opposition to fund these kids.

  10. Tom Malarkey 2 years ago2 years ago

    The results on the Common Core question don't surprise me, given the language in the arguments for/against the Common Core. The language "for" the CC says nothing about them being an improvement on the previous standards and oriented towards critical 21st century skills. The language "against" the CC sounds like conservative fear-mongering, is inaccurate (Washington DC based approach), and seems to conflate the standards with approaches to instruction. Not a well-balance articulation of the question... Read More

    The results on the Common Core question don’t surprise me, given the language in the arguments for/against the Common Core. The language “for” the CC says nothing about them being an improvement on the previous standards and oriented towards critical 21st century skills. The language “against” the CC sounds like conservative fear-mongering, is inaccurate (Washington DC based approach), and seems to conflate the standards with approaches to instruction. Not a well-balance articulation of the question…

    Replies

    • el 2 years ago2 years ago

      I'd point out as well that Common Core actually has nothing to do with the increase in testing ... that is separate and separable, and that the argument "for" isn't actually a good argument for. It's not that Common Core is clearer or more consistent than California's old standards; the idea (if you are arguing for) instead is that it's a national standard so that kids aren't experiencing wildly different expectations state to state, and … Read More

      I’d point out as well that Common Core actually has nothing to do with the increase in testing … that is separate and separable, and that the argument “for” isn’t actually a good argument for. It’s not that Common Core is clearer or more consistent than California’s old standards; the idea (if you are arguing for) instead is that it’s a national standard so that kids aren’t experiencing wildly different expectations state to state, and so more curriculum can be shared. Others would point to the advantage of being able to compare state results more directly.

      The questions for California are: Is Common Core better or worse than the California standards we have, are the advantages in being on a national standard worth something to us, and is it what we should spend our money on now?

      • Ann 2 years ago2 years ago

        You are spot on in my view…

    • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

      I'd agree that either statement on Common Core is weak. So the reasonable answer would be "I can't say". But only 23% of people chose that answer. So one interpretation is that people still don't really understand Common Core. And remember this question was only reported for respondants who claim to know about Common Core. However weak the statements I think its still clear which statement is for Common Core … Read More

      I’d agree that either statement on Common Core is weak. So the reasonable answer would be “I can’t say”. But only 23% of people chose that answer. So one interpretation is that people still don’t really understand Common Core. And remember this question was only reported for respondants who claim to know about Common Core. However weak the statements I think its still clear which statement is for Common Core and which against. Which leads to a second possible intepretation which is people chose the statement that reflected their opinion regardless of their opinions of the accuracy of the statements. I’m prejudiced to believe the first interpretation is more likely accurate because in my opinion even the strong supporters of Common Core are hard pressed to decribe what they are. Jingoisms like 21st century skills being a prime example.

      All that said my main arguments against Common Core are dying out. We’ve already rushed into spending lots of money on something our education system isn’t prepared for. Although the increased testing costs and the new instructional approaches required for Common Core may yet demonstrate Common Core will be even more expensive. But maybe creating a crises is the only way to create change and I am just engaging in wishful thinking that a more careful approach is possible.

  11. Lynn Psaltis 2 years ago2 years ago

    You ask for an opinion between Torlakson and Tuck but they are both extremely pro Common Core. Doesn’t make any difference between those two. Too bad you didn’t ask if the voter would consider a write-in. which is available to the voter in this non-partisan state position.

    Replies

    • Sonja Luchini 2 years ago2 years ago

      There is a difference between Tuck and Torlakson. Tuck is the front man for those privatization corps and nonprofits wishing to see the destruction of public education at the expense of our children for their profit. Tuck's background is less than stellar: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2014/05/marshall-tucks-legacy-of-bigotry-and.html As a 'graduate' of the Broad Superintendent Academy, he had access to such gems as a toolkit labeled "How to Close a School" to reconvert it to a charter. http://thebroadreport.blogspot.com/p/broad-effect.html What … Read More

      There is a difference between Tuck and Torlakson. Tuck is the front man for those privatization corps and nonprofits wishing to see the destruction of public education at the expense of our children for their profit. Tuck’s background is less than stellar: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2014/05/marshall-tucks-legacy-of-bigotry-and.html

      As a ‘graduate’ of the Broad Superintendent Academy, he had access to such gems as a toolkit labeled “How to Close a School” to reconvert it to a charter. http://thebroadreport.blogspot.com/p/broad-effect.html

      What these guys did to the banking industry in ’08 will be done with public education – also the next big land grab (Broad comes from real estate development). They get their ideas from ALEC: http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Privatizing_Public_Education,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

      The general public tends to favor charters because they don’t know the dark side. Charters do not take students with moderate/severe disabilities, English language learners, Foster or homeless youth in the same percentages (if at all) compared to public schools. Easier to look good on paper, but it’s been a civil rights question for quite some time. Southern Poverty Law Center has filed suit against New Orleans regarding the closure and reconversion of public schools to charter and violating rights of students with disabilities. We should be doing the same here in California.

      Tuck will only promote discrimination and you will see less funding our our public schools with more decisions made in favor of the charter lobby. Why can’t our public schools have smaller classrooms instead of being forced to ‘share’ space with charters that aren’t fiscally sound enough to find their own sites? Co-location squeezes public schools even more – without sharing those “best practices” that were the reason for this ill-thought law in the first place. Seems the only “best practice” charters can “share” is discrimination – and that’s against the law.

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