PROJECT: Trying to Find Y

Trying to Find Out Y_FACEBOOKParents, Teachers, Students:

We need your help!

We have significant concerns regarding Florida’s current advanced math sequence and the associated EOCs.  We have written several blogs expressing some of our concerns (Algebra 1, Math Problems, Algebra 2).  We even travelled to Tallahassee for a face to face meeting with the Department of Education in January.  At that time, DOE officials felt certain that the low scores on last year’s Algebra 2 EOC were the result of teachers being unfamiliar with the new standards and that student scores would improve this year.  We were less confident.

As students start to take the Math EOCs this year, we are not seeing much reported improvement over last year.  Indeed, there seems to be more concerns regarding the content of the Algebra 1 EOC. Students are, again, feeling crushed and demoralized. We feel something needs to be done.

We are concerned with the appropriateness of the standards.  We hear from teachers that the students, immersed in our test focused, Common Core classrooms, don’t have the firm grasp of basic skills needed to be successful in higher math courses. We hear stories that it may not even be possible to teach the course content in the time allowed.  We have seen the pacing guides that include the teaching of new material in late May, well past the EOC administration. We don’t understand why a state assessment is even needed for courses that are not graduation requirements, like Geometry and Algebra 2. We hear stories of these EOCs destroying students’ GPAs and confidence. We believe 30% of the course grade is much too high.

If you are a parent or a student, please share your stories with us. (If you are a teacher, please read to the end of this post. There are questions specifically for you, there.) We strongly encourage everyone to, ALSO,  share your story with your local school board, your state representative (who votes on the legislation that mandates these exams), the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education (who set these policies). They need to understand what a “math mess” there is in Florida. We have included email addresses below.  The overriding question we would love students and parents to address is this:

  • The Math FSA EOCs are required for all students enrolled in Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2. They are mandated by state law to be worth 30% of the course grade.  What do you want the legislators, who mandated these exams, to know about them?

In addition, consider discussing the following:

Parents:

  • How has preparing for the Math FSA EOCs affected your child?
  • Do you feel your child was well prepared?
  • What factors contributed to your child’s state of preparedness.
  • What was your child’s experience with the EOC?
  • Did you child require a one-on-one tutor in order for your child to stay on track?

Students:

  • Please describe your experience preparing for and taking the Math FSA EOC.
  • Do you feel your teacher prepare you well?
  • Were there items on the test that were not covered in class?
  • Were test questions easy to understand or confusing?
  • How did you feel when you left the test?
  • When do you expect to learn your score?
  • Do you worry about the impact of this exam on your overall GPA?
  • For some students, entrance into magnet programs rely on passing certain EOCs.  Were you in this predicament?  How did you feel knowing that you had extra pressure to do well on this EOC test in order to gain entrance into your selected high school?

Where to send your stories:

Please send your stories to Accountabaloney by posting, or private messaging us, via our Facebook page, Accountabaloney , or emailing us directly at accountabaloney@yahoo.com. Please, please, please send your stories to your state legislators, the Commissioner and the Board of Education. Email lists are below.  It is imperative that they hear these stories and understand the impact of their legislation and policies.

Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart – Commissioner@fldoe.org

State Board of Education Members:

Chair, Marva Johnson – Marva.Johnson@fldoe.org
Vice Chair, John Padget – John.Paget@fldoe.org
Tom Grady – Tom.Grady@fldoe.org
Rebecca Fishman Lipsey – Rebecca.Lipsey@fldoe.org
Gary Chartrand – Gary.Chartrand@fldoe.org
Andy Tuck – Andy.Tuck@fldoe.org
Michael Olenick – Michael.Olenick@fldoe.org

Follow this link to determine your State Senator and Representative: https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find

If you are a Math Teacher in Florida, we need your expertise.  Please share your experiences/concerns with us.

  • Do you feel that your pacing guides properly paced the curriculum?
    What percentage of time did you dedicate to test prep verses actually teaching?
  • Did you hold review sessions outside of the regularly scheduled class time?
  • Did your students have access to Math Nation/Algebra Nation?
  • Do you feel like the books you are using properly aligned to the test content?
  • Did you feel like you have the proper time to properly truly teach the standards in the time allotted?
  • Did the FSA testing season changes of schedule impede your ability to properly prepare your kids?
  • What were some of the greatest challenges you faced this year?
  • Do you feel it is fair to have the EOCs count for 30% of the student’s course grade?
  • Have Math teachers in your area been discussing this?  How do you believe teachers can most effectively impact the current situation?
  • Would you be interested in participating in a focus group to address these issues?

Please comment or private message us via our Facebook page or email us at accountabaloney@yahoo.com OR fill out the form below.  We strive to keep teacher involvement confidential.

Thank you for contributing to our project: Trying to Find Y.

Stay tuned, here, for updates.

 

Feb 16, 2016, Accountabaloney Press Release: Parents ask Lawmakers to “Smell the Baloney”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Parents ask Lawmakers to “Smell the Baloney”

Today, a group of Florida parents will be delivering red foam clown noses to Governor Scott, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, the Board of Education and all 160 legislators, in an attempt to draw attention to what they believe is a flawed Education Accountability system.

Their accompanying message is “We want a fair and valid education accountability system that holds not only schools and teachers accountable, but policy makers, as well. We think our current system is accountabaloney and we are inviting policy makers to join us in our campaign to call out the baloney when you smell it,” according to Sue Woltanski, a Monroe County parent and co-founder of the education blog “Accountabaloney.” She hopes the gift of a red foam clown nose will inspire more legislators to “take a critical look at the current accountability system, to smell the baloney and to work towards solving the problem.”

Inspired by Jon Stewart’s closing monologue, which encouraged people who smelled “baloney”, to say something, the Accountabaloney movement is asking for a complete re-evaluation of the current education accountability system, which relies on standardized test scores, often with questionable validity, to evaluate teachers, administrators, schools and districts. Currently, performance on state assessments can result in retention, remediation and, possibly, failure to graduate with little or no input from classroom teachers.

The women at Accountabaloney are concerned that the resulting test focused system has led to a significant narrowing of curriculum with some schools feeling little more than test preparation factories. They fear this high stakes accountability system is leading to the destruction of the same public education system it was designed to monitor.

More information regarding the efforts of Accountabaloney can be found on their blog at accountabaloney.wordpress.com.

Click to download the pdf format of the press release.

Kit Contents:

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Become a Warrior in a Twitter Army!

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We have heard from countless teachers and parents who want to advocate for common sense, non-test focused accountability but are concerned about push back from their employers and/or community. Teachers in particular worry about threats to their livelihood if they publicly speak out about #accountabaloney. For those people, or for those who want to increase their advocacy work, we present this brief beginner’s guide to advocacy through Twitter. Specifically, we encourage you to help us broadcast our message via Twitter.

First, a reminder, Twitter is a conversation. Be someone with whom you would want to hold a conversation. When using social media, try to be respectful, accurate, and tell the truth.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a microblogging platform on which users make posts, or status updates, known as tweets. A tweet is limited to 140 characters.
TRANSLATION: If you can say something concisely, you can influence education policy.

Twitter affords activists a free platform for the promotion of blog posts, cause-based literature, event dates, petitions, protests, etc.
TRANSLATION: You can directly share your concerns, articles, videos with policy makers.

Retweets allow a user to share tweets of others with their followers. As such, a retweet (RT) is simply a tweet that has been shared.
TRANSLATION: Retweeting allows you to amplify the voice of advocates.

Twitter Basics:

If a tweet containing a hashtag (a hashtag looks like this #) is sent from a public account, it is possible for anyone who searches for that hashtag to find your tweet.

When tweeting, activists are encouraged to use hashtags extensively. Hashtags will enable other like-minded activists to locate and follow your feed on Twitter.

IMPORTANT: Hashtags can be monitored by policy makers to see how people are thinking about an issue.

Why Twitter for Education Advocacy?

  • You can be a voice for public education and remain fairly anonymous (details below).
  • Share links to press releases, images from events, and other information in 140 characters or less.
  • Tweet directly to members of the media and bloggers to encourage them to cover your efforts.
  • Tweet directly to local organizations that you want to partner with in your efforts or that might be able to help you spread the word )influence your union, your District, the DOE).
  • Tweet directly to members of Florida legislature or your Superintendent with the action you want them to take.
  • Use hashtags, such as #FSAfiasco #accountabaloney #LetUsOffThisCrazyTrain to categorize your tweet, so others can find it.
  • Monroe County Schools uses #mymcsd and Monroe County residents  should consider using this in almost every tweet about our schools. Find out what your county uses. FEA and UTM should have a list of recommended hashtags.

Do you want to Tweet more anonymously? Please recognize there is never a guarantee of anonymity when using social media, but there are some steps you can take to protect your privacy.

How to Sign up for Twitter:

  1. Create an email address for twitter: for example we use accountabaloney@yahoo.com.  If you are less concerned about anonymity, you can use your regular email. Educators are advised to NOT use their school based emails.
  2. Go to http://twitter.com and find the sign up box, or go directly to https://twitter.com/signup. (if you already are on twitter you can create a second account, it is easy, follow the directions here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5ygqCpv7YI )
  3. Enter your full name, email address (the new one you created), and a password. I suggest using a pseudonym here, something that represents you. FLTeacher, LoveMyStudents, MathTeacher
  4. Click Sign up for Twitter.
  5. On the next page, you can select a username (usernames are unique identifiers on Twitter) — type your own or choose one we’ve suggested. They’ll tell you if the username you want is available or offer you alternatives. Try to choose a short memorable username. For Accountabaloney, I use FLBaloney. Too many letters will use up too many characters when people try to add you to a tweet.
  6. Double-check your name, email address, password, and username.
  7. Click Create my account. You may be asked to complete a Captcha to let us know that you’re human.
  8. Twitter will send a confirmation email to the address you entered on sign up, click the link in that email to confirm your email address and account.
  9. I suggest you “jazz up” your account to make it look more established: Add a profile photo (don’t be an egg). Choose a photo that represents you but doesn’t identify you. Write a short bio and identify your county, state (this will allow politicians and district leaders to know they represent you). We used our logo for Accountabaloney and our bio reads: “Everyone believes there should be accountability in our schools, but the current system is destroying, not evaluating, our schools.”

Who to Follow?

To get started, consider following:

  • Education Advocates: @MinimizeTesting, @FLBaloney, @PublicEdNation, ‪@bustedpencils, ‪@DEY_Project,  ‪@NetworkPublicEd, ‪@FairTestOffice ‪@DianeRavitch,  ‪@palan57
  • OptOut:‪@OptOutFLNetwork, TeachNotTest ‪@Lfayhee, ‪@OptOutOrlando
  • Especially for Teachers: Lily Eskelsen García ‪@Lily_NEA, Fl BadAss Teachers ‪@FLBATs, FEA @BetterSchoolsFL, Andy Ford @andyfea
  • Follow your Superintendent, and Florida legislators: Rick Scott ‪@FLGovScott, John Legg @SenatorJohnLegg, FL Dept of Education @EducationFL, Dwight Bullard ‪@DwightBullard, Jeff Clemens @ClemensFL, Alberto M. Carvalho @MiamiSup
  •  Common Core: FLParentsAgainstCC ‪@FPACCIgnite, FSAMustgoaway ‪@OptOutStLucie, Uncommon FL ‪@UncommonFL
  • Education Reform (the “other side”): ExcelinEd ‪@ExcelinEd, Foundation for Florida’s Future @AFloridaPromise
  • Press: StateImpact Florida ‪@StateImpactFL, Jeffrey S. Solochek ‪@JeffSolochek, Jessica Bakeman ‪@jessicabakeman, Valerie Strauss ‪@valeriestrauss, HuffPostEducation ‪@HuffPostEdu

Using Twitter:

If you see something you like, retweet by clicking the two-arrow rectangle.

To direct a tweet towards someone specific, add their twitter handle into your tweet, or “Quote Tweet” and add the twitter handles of those you want to share the original tweet with.

TIP: If you start a tweet with @twitterhandle that tweet is only seen by that person and/or his followers. Prevent this by starting such a tweet with a period in front of the @twitterhandle.   For example use .@minimizetesting check this out NOT @minimizetesting check this out

These are the basics. Through Twitter, you can help impact the upcoming legislative session and, hopefully, help advocate for real change in our #accountabaloney system.  What are you waiting for?  Sign up today.  It’s time for your voice to reach a larger audience!