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Hite’s Action Plan falls short

By the Notebook on May 20, 2014 02:55 PM

Hite’s Action Plan falls short

Response to April 28 post, “District redesigns school evaluation,” by Dale Mezzacappa.

Superintendent William Hite’s plan for the District, “Action Plan v2.0,” references value-added models (VAM) that purport to identify high-performing teachers. Hite cites the famous Chetty/Friedman/Rockoff study, which says “when a high value-added teacher enters a school, end-of-school year test scores in the grade he/she teaches immediately rise and students assigned to such high value-added teachers are more likely to go to college, earn higher incomes, and are less likely to be teenage mothers.”

There is not a hint throughout the Action Plan that there is any controversy over this, as if the study has not been the object of intense discussion over its content, policy decisions that followed, or over VAM in general. An action plan that actually took in the opinions of parents and teachers would at least acknowledge the issues around value-added models. 

The financial supplement ignores all other proposals put forward as if the people and groups proposing them don’t exist. The School Reform Commission has supported a narrative that gives ammunition to Gov. Corbett for laying the blame on teachers.

The Action Plan supposedly supports, as “highly effective instructional practices,” measures like “curriculum-driven opportunities to engage in evidence-based conversations” and “opportunities to use evidence from multiple sources on the same topic to compose an original text or to evaluate composition.”

I would love to see time in the curriculum for students to read and study Hite’s Action Plan, together with other sources of information, so that they can evaluate whether it is an adequate example of the kind of “evidence-based conversations” that we wish to have.

Seth Kulick 

The writer is a parent of a 6th grader at Greenfield Elementary and works at the Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Fight for our rights

Do you think your children are getting a good education? Under Gov. Corbett, schools are defunded to such an extreme that the minimum learning materials are not available, especially to poorer school districts. In short, all the public schools in Pennsylvania are deprived of the basic supplies to learn.

In addition, school districts have problems with classrooms and with other school activities. Most schools do not have enough money to spend on school libraries; there is not enough money to employ qualified librarians. Worst of all, there are not enough qualified teachers. It is clear that without qualified teachers, students’ behavior and education will go downhill. Everyone has to remind themselves that qualified teachers are the backbone of a superb education system. 

It seems like Gov. Corbett’s intention is to ruin public education by withholding the basic funds for public schools. He has caused more budget cuts in poor areas than the wealthy school districts. 

We as students have to do something. We should all protest against this unfair treatment and get Gov. Corbett to give school districts enough money to buy resources to provide a good education. Education is everyone’s right!

Reshma Davis

The writer is a 7th grader at Greenberg Elementary. 

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