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Should Students Sit on School Boards?

Curriculum Development, Education

23-04-2014

The Atlantic

For centuries, students have been agents of social change, their passion and idealism forming a critical part of the historical landscape; a lesson that, in education, teachers and administrators ignore at their peril. But figuring out how best to appropriate student interests raises difficult questions. Do students belong on school boards? Should they participate in budgetary evaluations and contract negotiations? Are teenagers—who can’t vote in governmental elections or legally purchase cigarettes—equipped to make long-term decisions about their education, or will they inevitably sink to the lowest common denominator? These are issues policymakers have battled for decades, most recently in Los Angeles, the country’s second largest school district, where students now have a voice on their local school board.

Earlier this month, after a series of protests, including one in which participants placed hundreds of empty desks on a street in downtown Los Angeles to represent the number of kids who drop out each week, the L.A. Unified School district accepted a petition to give students a non-voting seat on the school board. The protesters had wanted a peer-elected member. But instead, by a 5-1 vote, the board of education approved an amendment giving superintendent John Deasy 120 days to decide how a student member will be chosen, and the role he or she will fill.

The decision will not be easy. “From a teenager’s point of view, I have two conflicting opinions about students on school boards,” says Dr. John Bryan Starr a lecturer in Yale’s political science department and consultant to the Connecticut Superintendents Network. “During the first half of my tenure as an elected member on the [New Canaan, Conn.] school board, there were these two poor kids, who just sat there glassy-eyed in total boredom. They didn’t have a vote and virtually never had a voice. They realized they were just wasting their time.”

On the other hand Dr. Starr says, based on his Yale seminars, other students who sat on city and state school boards before college have had much more positive experiences. “While it’s highly unusual for them to be given a vote, students were able to assemble opinions, engage in deliberations and felt they were actively representing their peers’ interests.”

But ironically, students already may have too much of a stake in the outcome. Like numerous other states, New Jersey’s state board considers it a conflict if members have family working for the school district, and thus prevents them from voting on items like teacher contracts and selection of the superintendent. Students, too, face inherent conflicts of interests as they negotiate their daily life with teachers and peers at school.

Gene Maeroff, author of School Boards in America: A Flawed Exercise in Democracy and founding director of Columbia’s Hechinger Institute on Education and Media, believes that it’s better for students to have a non-voting role. But that doesn’t mean young people should be discounted entirely: “Of course, you can also get away from some of these problems if you have memberships of recent graduates, over the age of 18, who live in the school district.” And while current students are accused of short-sightedness, focusing on one or two pet issues (say, fewer homework hours or more sports funding), Maeroff points out that adults are also often guilty of pursuing a narrow agenda.

The idea of students on school boards emerges from the progressive notion that children should have a voice and that we should respect their views, explains Matthew Levey, founder of the International Charter School in Brooklyn. But Levey warns that while students can debate topics like cafeteria menus effectively, in large districts like LA and New York teenagers are ill-equipped to grasp the intricacies of financial tradeoffs, like whether a city should issue 30-year bonds. “Take curriculum and hiring choices. 99 percent of adults have trouble making thoughtful decisions,” says Levey. “There is a reason parents set boundaries and enforce rules. Most teenagers, while it’s wonderful how they can articulate their views on many important topics, are not in the best position to make complicated, long-range decisions for themselves or their community.”

In fact, teenagers have “islets of maturity,” according to Dr. Terri Apter, a psychologist at Cambridge and author of The Myth of Maturity: What Teenagers Need From Parents to Become Adults. High school students may appear highly rational in discussing an abstract issue but then revert to childish logic with a parent—say, complaining that something isn’t fair. Also, while adolescents can have as strong a grasp on probability and risk as any adult, their sensitivity to peer pressure can overpower their impartial faculties.

“Adults are so invested in our institutions,” believes Adam Fletcher, founder and director of Sound Out, an organization that promotes student involvement in education. “And we get very worried whenever we have to hand over any modicum of control to young people.” To claim that students are incapable of successfully engaging on school boards reflects a fear-driven perspective that “positions students as empty vessel of an adult-driven society. “If I’ve learned one thing in my work over the last decade, says Fletcher, “it’s that students are actively, passionately, and fully capable of transforming education.”

“Many teens are capable of complex budget discussions,” adds Dr. Apter. “Think of a school board proposing a budget cut. Those on the board should look at the overall well-being and functioning of the school.” However, it will be particularly difficult” for an adolescent to support a decision that disadvantages some of his or her classmates, even if it’s the best outcome for the school.

In general, there is a growing trend to take student input more seriously in educational reform, especially when it comes to their teachers. “There is strong research showing that student surveys can be very important tools and are quite predictive when it comes to teacher quality,” says Nancy Walser, editor of the Harvard Education Letter and author of The Essential School Board Book: Better Governance in the age of Accountability. For starters, the MET Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found a strong correlation between students’ experience in a classroom, as reported on survey questionnaires, and a teacher’s overall effectiveness. Beginning in the 2014-1015 school year, districts in Massachusetts will formally start incorporating student feedback into their teacher evaluations.

The problem in Los Angeles, however, is that a single adolescent voice will likely be drowned by adult members and could easily under-represent the interests of the student body as a whole, warns Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, a professor and author of the forthcoming book Inequality In The Promised Land: Race, Resources, and Suburban Schooling. School boards often pay disproportionate attention to families savvy enough to hoard educational opportunities among a narrow group. Conversely, those families impacted by homelessness and other social problems, says Dr. Lewis-McCoy, find it difficult to promote their—and their children’s—interests.

The debate over whether to include students in school decisions is an important one. But ultimately, putting one or two teenagers on a school board won’t make much of a difference if they don’t represent families traditionally left from the table in the first place.

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Sebi pitches for subject on capital markets in school syllabus

Curriculum Development

14-04-2014

The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Market regulator Sebi has made a pitch for inclusion of additional financial concepts related to capital markets in school syllabus.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India said it has followed up with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and HRD ministry on the proposal and has been informed that it would be given due consideration.

“Follow ups with CBSE and HRD ministry have been done and as informed by the ministry, the inclusion of additional financial concepts and a different approach of introducing such concepts shall be duly considered when the process of revising the syllabus and textbooks will be done in 2014-15,” Sebi said.

As part of its efforts to spread financial awareness, Sebi has been inviting students from schools, colleges and professional institutes interested in learning about the market regulator and its role since February 2011.

It has conducted 139 such visits so far. The participants belonged to different parts of the country such as Amritsar, Pondicherry, Goa, Bareilly and were pursuing different courses, including management, commerce, banking, law, arts and science.

“It is proposed to increase the number of such visits with new areas of catchment in terms of institutions even at the regional and local offices,” Sebi said.

For spreading financial literacy among more students, Sebi said the process of initiating ‘National Financial Literacy Assessment Test (NFLAT) has been started and will be completed by August.

The test is part of Sebi’s ‘National Strategy for Financial Education’ drafting, which was initiated in 2011-12 and has now been finalised.

“Additional resources will be deployed to make more efforts for organising such events (like the test) in future and involve larger section of society,” Sebi said.

 

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Ideo’s Sandy Speicher Reimagines Education in Peru

Curriculum Development, Private schools

20-03-2014

Bloomberg Businessweek

Billionaire Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor wanted to reform education in Peru, his native country. While Peru’s economy has grown and stabilized, its education system remains one of the world’s worst. Rodriguez-Pastor, the chairman of financial services and retail conglomerate Intercorp, envisioned a new kind of school he could build into a larger network across Peru—while keeping tuition at just $100 a month. In 2010 he bought three private schools in Lima to get started, but how do you create a school system from scratch?

“You don’t want to mess this up,” says Sandy Speicher, the head of education practice at Ideo, a design and innovation firm founded in Palo Alto that works with both public- and private-sector clients. It’s “about understanding what design can do to help education systems progress.”

Ideo is best known for developing tech products, including Apple’s (AAPL) first production mouse and Wells Fargo’s (WFC) most recent ATM interface. Ideo also has a growing portfolio of education programs. After meeting someone from the firm at the World Economic Forum in Latin America in the spring of 2010, Rodriguez-Pastor enlisted the company’s assistance. A few months later, the financier met Speicher and challenged her to develop a high-quality, low-tuition, scalable system.

Speicher, 39, grew up in Freeport, N.Y., and studied visual communications at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2004 she enrolled in the Learning, Design and Technology master’s program at Stanford University. She landed an internship at Ideo and has been there ever since. In 2013 she and others from Ideo were hired to help San Francisco’s public school system revamp its meals program. They sought to improve students’ eating habits, get them to buy more lunches, and enhance learning. Ideo’s recommendations focused on how, rather than what, children eat by offering varying seating options and technology-driven features, such as a menu app for students to plan their meals. The school district is looking to test the suggestions over the next year.

For Innova Schools (Rodriguez-Pastor’s name for the private equity-funded system), Speicher and her team of about a dozen designers were charged with developing a curriculum, designing physical spaces, and drafting a business model. The designers traveled to Peru in October 2011 to start their research, interviewing more than 90 teachers, administrators, parents, students, and investors. A big part of the Ideo process is to ask lots of questions and help clients come up with as many ideas as the designers themselves.

“They pushed us to think about everything from how desks are set and class size to methods of teaching and even business objectives,” says Rolando Núñez-Baza, Innova’s innovation director, who worked as the liaison to Ideo. “They  are able to pick up on the things that you’re not seeing because you’re in the middle of it.”

There were many heated discussions, Núñez-Baza says, given the mix of people involved—academics, investors, and the Ideo team. Speicher is “very principled and the sort of person who would come into a discussion, listen to what we were saying, and somehow elevate it,” he says. “She’s great at connecting dots.”

Rather than offer a traditional setting, with students sitting in a classroom under a teacher’s instruction, the schools take a blended learning approach. Students spend a certain number of days as part of a group but also have time on their own, to develop skills or conduct research. The physical spaces are flexible: Walls can be adjusted to accommodate more students or to break up spaces, and there are outdoor classrooms. Ideo also learned that curriculum was a challenge for the teachers, so Speicher’s team developed a database of about 18,000 lesson plans.

It took six months for Ideo to form a plan. Innova has since grown to 23 schools with 13,500 students and 725 teachers, and the number of schools is expected to double over the next three years. The tuition remains at $100 a month.

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Promote practical education; diversify work culture for a better India: Modi

Curriculum Development, Higher Education

Business Standard

12-02-2014

Kick starting his ‘chai pe charcha’ nation-wide campaign from Ahmedabad, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Wednesday said traditional Indian education has always laid a special emphasis on practical education.

“If a school teacher tries to instill civic sense in children, and implements a ‘safai abhiyaan’ programme, the media will start saying the teacher is making children work,” he said.

He said in ancient times, a king’s son and a common man’s son studied in the same gurukul, but today, those structures don’t exist anymore.

“You can’t live by degrees alone; every nation is stressing on skill development. In our whole education system, if we stress on skill development, we will have the manufacturing sector come in; there will be growth. Even in agriculture, we need skilled manpower,” Modi said.

“We should encourage research in our universities. No society can go forward without research and innovation. We should encourage research and innovation. We should have a national platform for innovations that aren’t confined to the university system only. In most developed countries, universities play a major role in policy formulation,” the Gujarat Chief Minister said.

Commenting on the Chief Minister’s fellowship programme, Modi said that for 12 to 15 jobs, the government received between 1200-1500 applications.

“The government must ensure that the programmes it devises reach the intended beneficiaries

They must also see that it benefits the target groups and the money is spent properly in the time allotted. The government should find beneficiaries of a project, and people shouldn’t have to search for projects that benefit them,” he added.

On the issue of government jobs, he said that it was a lamentable fact that fewer highly talented people were opting for civil service institutions such as the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Police Service, as there is wide disparity in terms of income earned and responsibility when compared to jobs in the more lucrative private sector.

“There is also a gap between the work culture of the governments and that of the corporate world

We need to make the work culture in the government more professional. The government and the society should work together. For instance, if there is a sports event, we can ask corporates to contribute their managerial skills and work with the government.  We must learn to work together – the government and the corporate,” Modi said.

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Poorly Taught Economics

Curriculum Development, Higher Education

Forbes

03-01-2013

Luis Miranda

A few weeks back I attended a talk by Prof Arvind Panagariya of Columbia  University, hosted by Gaja Capital. And I loved it. After a really long time I  heard someone in India talk about the role of markets in reducing poverty. Our  colleges are filled with socialist teachings on the subject and we seem to trap  our students in a time warp. So it was so refreshing to hear Prof Panagariya. He  talked about the need to grow the pie in order to redistribute wealth … if we  only have poverty then there is not much wealth to redistribute. He added that  the reduction of poverty is more important than the reduction of inequality.

A few days before that I had met a consultant who had recently majored in  Economics from one of the leading colleges in India. When she was still in  college she had attended a course taught by a think-tank that I am associated  with, Centre for Civil Society (CCS). CCS, was set up by Parth Shah 16 years  back to open the minds of young Indians … to teach them about public policy … to  give them an opportunity to connect classroom theory with practical work … to  highlight the importance of making decisions based on data. And this young lady  said that she enjoyed the iPolicy sessions of CCS because they discussed a very  different type of economics from what she was taught in college and the theory  was validated by experiential testing. I recalled my college days in  Mumbai.  I was taught that the father of economics was Adam Smith and that  John Maynard Keynes was God. That was it – no mention at all about economic  theory after Paul Samuelson.  I then went to the University of Chicago and  was exposed to a branch of economics that I had never heard about in Mumbai. I  was introduced to names like Milton Friedman and was taught by Nobel Prize  winners like George Stigler and Gene Fama. Thirty years later the situation is  the same in our colleges, with a small tweaking … maybe one part of one paper  over 4 years would talk about ‘fresh water’ economics. The developments in  Economics over the past 30 years seem to be irrelevant in India.

I recently participated in a discussion on philanthropy with Rohini Nilekani  and she talked about how we should use markets as a force of good in  philanthropy, especially since a lot of recent wealth was created by  entrepreneurs like Azim Premji and the team at Infosys, thanks to the role of  markets.

Unfortunately after 60 years of independence we are still brainwashing our  students that socialist policies will get our country out of poverty. So I asked  Prof Panagariya how can we get more Indians aware about the role of markets in  economic development and the reduction of poverty. He said that the problem lay  with the faculty in our colleges. Those who are market-inclined either don’t get  teaching positions because their ideology clashes with that of the rest of the  faculty or they decide to take up corporate jobs. As a result, we have the same  antiquated knowledge being taught over generations in our classrooms by  so-called development economists who fail to realise that the world has changed  around us. I have still to see the curriculum of a top college in India devote  sufficient attention to new concepts like the Chicago School of Economics, the  Public Choice School of Thought and Behavioural Economics. And this gets  compounded when the faculty invariably comes from former students of the same  college. This inbreeding has to stop so that students get exposed to new  concepts.

I am not arguing that one theory is better than the other – all I am saying  is that students need to be exposed to different schools of thought. And  students should be encouraged to debate these theories and get hands-on training  in economic policy. At Chicago Booth the faculty consists of people like Gene  Fama and Richard Thaler who are on opposite sides of the efficient markets  hypothesis. We need to see such intellectual tolerance in our campuses in India.  About a year back I spoke about the role of markets to a bunch of post-graduate  students at Manipal University. I felt like a slave in Roman times being fed to  the lions. We argued a lot and most of the students felt that I was a total  idiot to talk about crazy concepts like the importance of incentives and  competition. I ended by saying that I wasn’t there to brainwash them that  markets represented the Holy Grail, but to expose them to other ideas and let  them debate these ideas amongst themselves. Their professor, Sundar Sarukkai,  subsequently told me that there was fierce debate on my talk after I left.  Mission accomplished.

I remember attending a 2-day seminar in Delhi a couple of years back where  faculty of Delhi University, JNU and the University of Chicago got together to  discuss the future of the study of humanities. One particular session stood out  – a presentation by a professor from Delhi on research being currently done in  Indian universities. Nothing in her presentation was backed by data and we  instead discussed frivolous issues. It was a fascinating couple of days which  highlighted the lack of academic rigour amongst some of the leading faculty in  Delhi and the total disdain to look at what the data says. Which is why Bhagwati  and Panagariya’s recent book, ‘India’s Tryst With Destiny’, is great – they use  data to debunk common myths about India’s journey over the past two decades. For  example, after markets took over from the state in 1991 poverty has declined  even for scheduled castes and tribes, growth has gone up, jobs have been created  and health and education has improved … this is, of course, only if you want to  look at the data. Panagariya is also a supporter of education vouchers and cash  transfers.

I asked my former Chairman, Dr. Vijay Kelkar, why data is largely ignored in  public decision making and he paraphrased the sorry state of affairs with this  lovely quote of leaders in public policy – “Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Dr  Kelkar also reminded me of the famous quote of Prof Raj Krishna, of the Delhi  School of Economics – “India’s policy makers are knowledge proof.” So is the  media.

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Sex education in school spoils minds of children: Andhra HC judge

Curriculum Development

Hindustan Times

29-12-2013

Introduction of sex education in high schools has “spoilt” the minds of children of impressionable age, an Andhra Pradesh high court judge said in Hyderabad on Sunday.
“Introduction of sex education in high schools (adult education programme), launched in 2005-06, has only spoiled the minds of children in the impressionable age. Parents have responsibility to bring children on the right track,” justice L Narasimha Reddy said.

Justice Reddy, also the chairman of the High Court Legal Services Committee, further said the collapse of joint family system has created a sense of insecurity for children.

He was speaking at a sensitisation programme for stake-holders on the “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012”.

Speaking at the function, chief justice of Andhra Pradesh high court Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta observed though the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 was passed over a year ago, a lot needs to be done when it comes to its implementation.

“The last 20 years have witnessed growing incidents of sexual offences against children,” Sengupta said and emphasised the role media and police play in checking this.

“The incidents of child sexual abuse and exploitation which are reported at schools, rural areas, hospitals and other public places can be prevented through immediate action,” he said while stressing the need for the media to report such incidents only after ascertaining all facts.

State DGP B Prasada Rao said emergence of nuclear families has created a situation wherein parents are unable to give quality time and parental care to children.

“There (parents) responsibility is handed over to maids or wardens,” he said.

TV, cinema, internet and mobile phones are proving to be a distraction and also adversely affecting the behaviour of children, Rao said.

“Police have to be courteous with child victims of sexual abuse and they should not provoke them with abusive behaviour as child victims of sexual abuse are in a state of shock, trauma and fear,” the DGP said.

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Science-n-Sanskrit leaves teachers and students gawping

Curriculum Development

Bangalore Mirror

21-10-2013

By:Sridhar Vivan

The ninth standard Science textbook for 2013 is an unabashed cocktail of Sanskrit passages, bloopers and mythology

Consider a classroom scene, replicated in schools across the state, where the teacher is explaining the functions of the heart. He is lucid enough in the telling till he comes to a passage which would make a typical Bangalore pothole look like a minor hazard. He takes a deep breath and proceeds: “In Sangeetha Rathnakara, our ancients have mentioned about the blood circulation as…as …Dharmanyo rakthavaahinyahchathuvishathirithaha, Kulyabhiriva Kedharasthaabhidehobhivardhate (Sangeeta Ratnakara 2.105).” As he regains his breath, a student gets up to ask what the super-long enunciation was all about. The teacher, expectedly, has no answer. The book in question: the revised ninth standard Science textbook for 2013.

Dr G P Padmanabha, principal of Ramana Vidyaniketan, member of the Centre for Research, Development and Training in Education, and a Science teacher for the past two decades, points out that teachers across the state are in a fix as the textbook is not just dotted with Sanskrit verses but has errors aplenty.

Pointing to a verse, in a chapter on elasticity, that reads: “Ye ghana nibidaaha avayavasanniveshaaha thaihi vishishteshu sparvastu dravyeshu varthamaanaha sthithisthapakaha swashrayamanyatha kathamavanamitham yathaavath sthapaayathi purvavadrujuh karothi,” he told Bangalore Mirror, “I met a Sanskrit scholar to throw some light on it, but even he could not figure it out. If that’s the case, how will we or our students know what it is about?”

Coming to the errors, in one diagram the uterus is marked ‘ovary’, while elsewhere the fallopian tubes and the cervix are confused for each other. Padmanabha recounted another embarrassing moment when he read out a passage that goes: “The female reproductive system is found in the woman.” He said, “The moment I read it out, a young smart alec got up and said, ‘Oh sir, is it so, we did not know that it is only in a woman; till now we thought even men had a female reproductive system.'”

Consider some other examples of bloopers. A passage on cockroaches reads: “Malpighian tubules of the cockroach are fine hair-like structures arising from the alimentary canal.” Padmanabha said it should have been “hindgut of the alimentary canal”, as the alimentary canal extends from the mouth to the anus.

The excretion process is described as “elimination of poisonous nitrogenous wastes”, whereas it should have been ‘metabolic’, not poisonous, waste. Then again, the textbook describes the kidney as bean-shaped and about 10 cm long, but students themselves wonder why the width and thickness of the organ are not mentioned.

Dr Prakash BS, professor of anatomy in a city college, noted, “A chapter on the heart says the upper chambers are called auricles. But it should be atrium as the auricle is a part of the atrium. It is essential to be specific as we are teaching ninth standard students.”

The piece de resistance is a passage in the chapter on Reproduction, titled “Test-tube babies in ancient India”, which goes: “When one day Bharadwaja went to the Ganges for a bath, he saw a beautiful apsara named Ghritachi. He was overcome by desire, causing him to ejaculate. Bharadwaja captured the fluid in earthen pot, from which Drona was born.” Fortunately, no ‘Activity’ is prescribed nearabouts the passage, but Padmanabha is pretty certain he could hear his class whispering wickedly whether they could perform a Bharadwaja-like experiment!

Not just the Science textbook, in the ninth standard Kannada textbook Bheem has been described as the ‘middle Pandava’ whereas it should have been Arjuna.

START ON SANSKRIT NOW
Contacted by BM, an unfazed Prof G S Mudambaditaya, chief co-ordinator for curriculum revision and textbook preparation, said, “Reading Sanskrit should not be a problem as every student in Karnataka would be studying a third language, which would be either Hindi or Sanskrit. Moreover, if you cannot read it, it is for the simple reason that you have not been used to read such verses for the last 67 years. So, let us make a beginning from now.”

On the ‘first test-tube baby’, he said, “It is clear from the National Curriculum Framework 2005 that textbooks are not just for exams but for knowledge enhancement; hence, we have included this additional information for the knowledge of students.” When he was asked about the errors in the Science textbook, he said, “If there are errors, let them be brought to our notice and we will rectify them. Instead of going to the media, it is time people who criticise the textbook came for a debate.”

When contacted, one of the members of the textbook preparation panel said he had no clue how the Sanskrit passages had found their way into the book.

TEACHERS’ DILEMMA
D Shashi Kumar, organising secretary, Federation of Unorganised Schools in Karnataka, said, “Due to these errors in textbooks, we face a dilemma — whether to teach the wrong things for students to score marks or the right things, in which case marks will be cut (as exam evaluation is based on the textbooks).”

STUDENT’S DILEMMA
Chandan Raju, a ninth standard student, said, “It is not a science textbook but a tonguetwister of a book. When one of my teachers pointed out to a factual mistake in a paragraph, I asked whether I need to write a factual answer in the exam or a wrong answer as printed in the textbook. My teacher was as clueless as I was.”

A chapter on the heart says the upper chambers are called auricles. It is essential to be specific as we are teaching ninth standard students DR PRAKASH BS, PROFESSOR OF ANATOMY

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Education board won’t change schools’ grades

Curriculum Development, Global news

02-10-2013

IBJ.com

Indiana’s State Board of Education declined Wednesday to change the grades for a handful of schools following a review  of changes the former public schools superintendent made last year to the grading formula. The board decided that three high schools should keep the A’s they received, while four other schools should keep their  F’s. Indiana’s current schools superintendent, Democrat Glenda Ritz, abstained from Wednesday’s votes.
“These school are being penalized because we did not create a model that fits their school,” Tony Walker, a Gary   lawyer and Democratic member of the school board, said of the three high schools that had their grades lifted from B’s to A’s because of one change made by former Superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican.
“That’s no fault of theirs, that’s a lack of foresight that we didn’t know these schools existed out there   that we didn’t have a model for them,” he said. “These schools should at least be given the benefit of the doubt because we did not account for their configuration.”
Bennett made a pair of sweeping changes in the formula that carried the Christel House charter school from a C to an A. He  removed a limit on bonus points and changed how so-called “combined” schools were scored. Each change affected multiple schools, but Christel House was the only school to benefit from both.

Three high schools saw their grades lifted slightly, but four saw their grades drop from D’s to F’s after Bennett  decided to drop high school grades for certain “combined” schools in Indiana’s scoring model. Christel House’s high school had poor algebra scores and no graduation numbers because it did not include grades 11 and 12. But in the case of the other four schools, their high school performance was lifting up their grades.

Bennett resigned as Florida’s schools chief in August, a few days after The Associated Press published emails uncovering his changes to the formula. Bennett has maintained he did nothing wrong.
Inspector General David Thomas has confirmed that Bennett is the subject of an ongoing investigation but has declined to say specifically what is being reviewed.
Indiana has classified schools based on graduation rates and testing performance since “Public Law 221” was approved   in 1999. But Bennett sought more accountability for schools and successfully pushed for a new A-F system.
The grades are used to determine how much money schools get and whether “failing” schools are taken over by private                              operators. The grades have also become an important tool for realtors and homebuyers.
Indiana’s school board had already been tasked by state lawmakers earlier this year with creating a new formula by Nov. 15. That work continues.
The pair of analysts picked by Indiana’s Republican legislative leaders to review Bennett’s changes took questions   from the board earlier Wednesday. John Grew, a former Democratic Statehouse analyst, and Bill Sheldrake, a veteran Republican analyst, walked through their findings in the 58-page report.
The pair found that Bennett and his team rushed to release the school grades last year without properly testing the formula. They also discovered credibility problems with the scoring because Bennett and his team were not telling the public about changes they made.
Sheldrake ended with some final advice for the board as it works on the new grading formula: “Transparency. Transparency.                              Transparency.”

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Poor quality of curriculum hindering higher education system: Parliamentary Panel

Curriculum Development

10-Sep-2013

The Economics Times

 In a strongly worded letter to all affiliated schools, the Central Board of Secondary Education

(CBSE) has warned them to comply with the website policy. CBSE has warned that students of

schools, which fail to upload the mandatory data on their websites by September 15, will be

debarred from appearing in the board exam. The central board wants schools to upload data in

a particular format and mention teachers’ salary scales, enrollment status for each class,

infrastructure available, etc on their websites.

The letter sent by the affiliation department of CBSE says, “It has come to the notice of the Board

that some of the schools have not yet developed their own website and have not uploaded the

required information. Therefore to ensure the effective compliance, the Board has now decided

to link compliance by the school with the registration of std IX and std XI candidates of each

affiliated school. The school failing to comply with the above directions will not be able to

register their candidates for board’s examination and responsibility would lie with the school

management”.

This letter comes as no surprise as the Board has been trying for more than two years to get

affiliated schools online. TOI had reported in December 2011 how the Board was extremely

miffed with the schools across the country for ignoring its circulars on setting up a website. In

2012, a lot of schools had developed their websites and even started updating it.

In Nagpur, every school has an individual website, or has a sub-page for its branch if it is part of

multi-branch school group. Random check by TOI of school websites reveal that almost all

details asked by CBSE have been uploaded. The common data missing from these websites is the

salary structure for teachers, but since there is still a week left for compliance schools cannot be

blamed for it yet.

The central government controlled Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) have complied in totality with

the CBSE guidelines. There are five KVs in and around Nagpur and each one of them, except KV

CRPF, has completed the formalities. The only thing remaining for KV CRPF is uploading details

of staff salary for which they have already created a web link.

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CBSE stresses on heritage education, to hold workshop

Curriculum Development

3-Sep-2013

Hindustan Times

To promote Heritage Education, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is organising a Heritage Education workshop on behalf of Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC), government of Delhi.

The workshop, which will be free of cost, will be conducted by Navina Jafa, SRDC’s heritage consultant.

The board has asked schools to send two teachers-one from social science stream and the other from the natural science stream- for the workshop.

CBSE regional head RJ Khanderao said, “To discuss and develop a range of innovative Heritage Education activities, schools are being asked to participate in these activities. The idea is to make young citizens of the country aware of their roots and their idea of civilization identity. This is a crucial understanding in order to launch and position the youth in evolving and becoming global citizens.”

The workshop will be conducted on September 17 from 11 am to 4 pm at the Delhi Secretariat. The last date for registration is September 16. Schools can register by sending an email to srdc.heritageclubs@gmail.com.

CBSE had also launched a website on the subject of Heritage Education in October 2012 in association with Sahapedia.

CBSE aims at making a gradual development of the subject as a formal link programme for cross-disciplinary study between social and natural sciences.

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