?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> Comments for California Father http://www.californiafather.com Educating Sullivan Wed, 30 Jan 2013 16:21:47 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Comment on Ableism by California Father /?p=4867&cpage=1#comment-2764 Wed, 30 Jan 2013 16:21:47 +0000 /?p=4867#comment-2764 Rebekah: If your son refuses to take the test because he is already a reader I’m not surprised. DIBELS is more about measuring a child’s phonemic awareness and phonics skills. The one component devoted to comprehension (appropriately named DAZE) measures vocabulary more than it does what a child understands. Maybe your son consents to taking the STAR test because it gives him time on the computer. Regardless, he sounds like a remarkable child whose talents cannot be appreciated with simplistic, standardized tests. Thanks for you comment/visit.

Comment on Ableism by Rebekah /?p=4867&cpage=1#comment-2763 Wed, 30 Jan 2013 14:12:18 +0000 /?p=4867#comment-2763 My son is hyperlexic (no official ASD diagnosis) and they have tried to give him the DIBELS test twice recently and he refuses to answer. It’s just so ironic because he’s been able to read fairly fluently since he was 3 (now 5) .. Don’t know if they are going to try again. He took the STAR reading test (computer based) and did fine.

Comment on Fort Hernandez by California Father /?p=6685&cpage=1#comment-2712 Tue, 08 Jan 2013 13:04:17 +0000 /?p=6685#comment-2712 You can credit it Califather (or not). Thanks for the visit!

Comment on Fort Hernandez by RH /?p=6685&cpage=1#comment-2710 Tue, 08 Jan 2013 06:29:35 +0000 /?p=6685#comment-2710 We like this photo from Fort Hernandez a lot. We are interested in using it in a zine we are putting together? May we? How can we credit you?

Comment on Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment System, Oh My! by Karen S. Molbert /?p=4023&cpage=1#comment-2355 Wed, 24 Oct 2012 11:10:45 +0000 /?p=4023#comment-2355 I wrote a letter that appeared in our local newspaper. Free Lance Star. I thought it might interest you. As a teacher I wanted parents to be aware of this new process and how it might impact their children. Here is a copy.

October 8, 2012

To whom it may concern:
I am a National Board Certified Special Education teacher in Spotsylvania County Schools. I have taught here for 10 years and have been a Special Education teacher for over 20 years. I am writing to you because of concerns that I have for the new alternative assessment (VAAP) for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
The expectation of the No Child Left Behind Act is that the majority of students with disabilities can and should participate in and achieve proficiency on state assessments. I teach a small percentage of students with disabilities who may not reach grade-level standards, even with the best appropriate instruction. These are students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (about 1 percent of all special education students.) The Title I regulations allow these students to take an alternate assessment based on achievement standards that are less difficult and more tailored to their needs. Their proficient scores can be counted in the same way as any other student’s proficient score on a state assessment. This alternate assessment is used for students who have IQs of 55 or lower. (Average normal intelligence is 100.)
My concerns are for the new changes to VAAP that have been put in place this school year. I teach at the high school level, and previously my students were held to an aligned standard in accordance with their academic level. The VAAP curriculum was aligned only up to the sixth grade SOL standard. Currently, they are being held to the same high school proficiency level as general education students. We are expected to increase our students’ knowledge by many years within a short period of time. This is not acceptable for students with significant cognitive disabilities. General Education students would not have to attain these levels in one year. All of my students follow an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that provides for a combination of functional and standards based curriculum that will allow them to be as independent as possible and promotes life-skills learning which will help them be self sufficient. (My students’ functional grade levels range from pre-K through third grade.)
Is it realistic to expect students with significant cognitive disabilities to meet the same level of achievement as all general education students? We cannot expect all students to be the same. This does not follow the IDEA guidelines of a free and APPROPRIATE education. There is nothing APPROPRIATE about a student with a 55 IQ or lower trying to learn Algebra. How will that help them in the future? Academic cognitive testing for these students is done by standardized psychological testing which provides the IQ scores. The outcome for many of my students will be staying at home with guardians, sheltered employment or employment with coaching. The IEP is established for the “individual” educational goals. When an educator is forced to look at grade level and not academic level, they are not really meeting the student’s needs.
We are speaking of the students who are not in SOL classes and have not had the prerequisites to attain those SOL standards. They are receiving an IEP/Special Diploma. With this in mind, I need to focus my efforts on skills that will help them with self help skills (i.e. cooking, personal hygiene, laundry, household chores,) functional vocabulary (i.e. survival signs, grocery words, restaurant words/fast food words, job words, community signs,) functional writing (i.e. thank you letters, personal information, expressive journals, ) functional math (i.e. money skills, basic add and subtract, measurement, time, calendars,) functional science and social studies (i.e. animal care, plant care, weather, maps and globes, character education, holidays,) and vocational skills (i.e. following directions, community jobs and expectations, time management.)
I feel that with the focus on these extremely high standards that my students will lose the skills that will help them be independent and thrive. Please take a look at the new VAAP guidelines put in place by the Virginia Department of Education. Ask yourself, if you had a child with significant cognitive disabilities, what would be important for them to learn?
Karen S. Molbert

Comment on May Day by saralynne /?p=6646&cpage=1#comment-2198 Fri, 04 May 2012 16:10:56 +0000 /?p=6646#comment-2198 You are amazing mon vieux. I love you!!! You should send it to McKinley too. Awesome writing.

Comment on Why All Teachers Should be Treated Like They Teach at Scarsdale High by David /?p=6602&cpage=1#comment-2186 Fri, 20 Apr 2012 18:46:54 +0000 /?p=6602#comment-2186 I had the pleasure of working with Chris for 16 years. We shared office space. I taught social studies where i shared an office with an english teacher, and he shared the rest of the suite with our SS chair. He was special, as a teacher, as a department chair, and as a contract negotiator. I mention that because Scarsdale HS can be a model in so many ways for what good teaching in the USA can be. Naysayers will say, well it’s Scarsdale…they can afford good teachers.

Yes they can, but it is far more than salary scale that brings teachers there. In fact, any district with the brains and soul to do the right thing can. More than anything, what draws teachers to that district is how they are treated as professionals, working collaboratively, autonomously, creatively, with more time to meet with students, plan, and work more professionally than any other district in the USA….and, just like Finnish schools.

Chris, and the union leaders before him, understood how to work together with a board who represented a population that wanted teachers respected and to be able to work as professionals. Together they created that time, a mentoring program, more creative approaches to staff development, an inspired Teacher Institute that brought in gifted and noted researchers for our benefit, and an evaluative system that was non adversarial.

In fact, when you read Finnish Lessons, by Pasi Sahlberg, explaining why Finland’s school system ranks at the top, it is because they believe and do just as Scarsdale does. They attract teachers like Chris Douglass by the thousands.

Comment on Why All Teachers Should be Treated Like They Teach at Scarsdale High by California Father /?p=6602&cpage=1#comment-2184 Fri, 20 Apr 2012 04:47:11 +0000 /?p=6602#comment-2184 Fran, Thank you so much for the unique perspective you bring to this discussion. The pressures your kids face must be staggering. I have to hope, though, that a return to creative curriculum is possible. I also think that the pressure our children are under need not be so great, that with greater economic equality so will someday come a time when there will be greater opportunity and variety in the types of schools our kids attend. Why is there so much pressure? I think it is because the super-rich have denied America the middle ground where, in the past, students (including yours truly; yes, I am an Ivy League reject) have found a place to learn and prepare for life. Once the middle is restored there will be more breathing room for everyone. As my Occupy friends like to say, “We are unstoppable. Another world is possible.”
Thank you again for your visit. Please chime in at PEEPS United. We need insightful voices like yours.

Comment on Why All Teachers Should be Treated Like They Teach at Scarsdale High by fran /?p=6602&cpage=1#comment-2183 Fri, 20 Apr 2012 01:40:32 +0000 /?p=6602#comment-2183 Chris Douglass changed my life as well. That class with pulp fiction and Tennessee Williams! i must have been in it with you. I was not the most engaged student and Mr. Douglass took a great deal of time with me – teaching me thru my paper on Williams, how to write, step by step. I ended up being a lit major in college and I continue to use all of the techniques he taught me.

LIving in that same town and raising 3 children, I know there are still extraordinary examples of how a teacher can change a child/young adults life. and yet there are greater pressures now. Everything about school is much more intense than during the times in which you could have World Civ and learn about meditation and Batik. The push to succeed and by that mean get into a specific college shapes the curriculum. This is not just this town but its the other side of schools that can afford to pay what teachers are worth.

We were lucky to grow up in a time that greater freedom to create curriculum was supported by a culture that mirrored that value.

I loved reading your blog, it brought back wonderful memories of that class-

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and life on the internet.


Comment on Opting Out of High Stakes Testing by Glenda Hillman /?p=3458&cpage=1#comment-2159 Thu, 29 Mar 2012 18:35:13 +0000 /?p=3458#comment-2159 You absolutely can opt your child out of STAR testing under
California Education Code 60615 – STAR Opt-out. You must advise your principal in writing prior to the test (I’d do it a few days before) that you are opting out under this law. Hand-carry it, get it time stamped and make sure you get the name of the person you give it to. They must allow you to opt out and there is no provision for any repercussions when you do.


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