Some very interesting education-related news this week:
- Remember when I wrote that SFUSD is over-using the California Modified Assessment for students? Turns out it is a statewide problem, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee last weekend. The article was prompted by complaints from Doug McRae, a retired administrator with the California Department of Education.
- In 2007, San Diego commissioned a review of its special education programs, just as San Francisco did three years later. Voice of San Diego has now launched an in-depth investigation into San Diego’s move toward inclusive practices — much the same transition we are trying to initiate here in SFUSD. The first installment in the multi-week series indicates the work in San Diego has been rocky — general education teachers haven’t received as much training or support as many feel they’ve needed, while some special educators have been frustrated by what they see as their colleagues’ unwillingness to change. It’s very useful to have the lessons of San Diego so that SFUSD can hopefully avoid the worst pitfalls.
There were also some great blog posts/news articles about how the late Steve Jobs created technology that has really benefited children with disabilities, particularly the iPad. This one, by Tim Carmody in Wired, is the best.
Finally, hot off the presses, Governor Brown came through and signed SB 946 (Steinberg), which introduces a limited mandate for health insurers to pay for autism treatment — at least until the Federal health care bill is fully implemented in 2014. This is great for families who have been struggling to pay for autism treatment, or fighting with their insurance companies because autism treatment should already have been covered by California health insurance policies under AB 88, the state’s mental health parity law. It’s a big step forward and should provide the state budget with some relief, because schools and regional centers will no longer be the payers of last resort for autism treatment.
“It’s the old business of if you want your test scores to go up, don’t test the lower-scoring students,” said Doug McRae”
“As a result, some districts have posted gains on the regular STAR test that really don’t exist.”
This is what I’ve been saying for years… will school administrators start to listen now?
SFUSD releases its press releases about the STAR test results:
and boasts that the district is “closing the achievement gap”… but it is simply NOT TRUE — all they are doing is not including the lower-scoring students in their percentages. Fuzzy Math. The number of African American students taking the CMA instead of the star test has gone roughly from 1.98% to almost 12% since 2008 … the “gap” isn’t closing, IT IS GETTING WIDER AND WIDER.
If SFUSD cannot even be honest about the situation, how can they ever hope to make things better?