District Deeds Sunday Reads – October 13, 2019: Holding Schools Accountable; School District Spending Reviews; Teach Using Episodic/Semantic Memory

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Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…

ENJOY!

Holding Schools Accountable

Quote from Article:

Educational accountability is attracting a lot of political attention — or perhaps lip service — these days in California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed two bills touted as bringing more accountability to education.

One, Assembly Bill 1505, applies new controls on charter schools that receive public funds but are independently managed and largely exempt from the regulatory labyrinth Sacramento has imposed on traditional public schools. AB 1505 gives districts more authority to deny petitions for charters and imposes stricter standards for meeting educational goals.

Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 1340, a crackdown on private, for-profit colleges and trade schools that, critics say, often offer poor educations but saddle students with large amounts of debt.

AB 1340 will require the targeted institutions to disclose the employment outcomes of graduates, thereby allowing prospective students to make more informed decisions about their programs.

And…

Charter schools should be held to strong performance standards, and for-profit schools offering post-high school, employment-oriented instruction should give students more insight into their job prospects.

However, shouldn’t public K-12 schools and taxpayer-supported colleges and universities be treated equally?

And…

Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, persuaded the Legislature to base state support of community colleges, in part, on how well they prepare their students for employment or transfers into four-year colleges. However, Brown stoutly resisted any similarly strong accountability for K-12 schools, saying he trusted local school officials to do the right thing as he gave them extra money to improve outcomes for poor and English-learner students.

And…

Brown also resisted calls for a “longitudinal data system” that would track how individual students are performing from kindergarten through higher education and into the workplace, thereby revealing what’s working and what’s not.

Brown’s position reflected the education establishment’s fear that more data would translate into stricter accountability. Newsom, however, included $10 million to create such a system in his first budget and work on it has begun.

And…

Better tracking of how individual students are faring could, and perhaps should, morph into what’s called a “growth model” of accountability, replacing the state’s current “dashboard” system that uses a variety of measures, some nonacademic, and confines results to the school and district levels.

Morgan Polikoff,  an associate professor of education policy at USC’s Rossier School of Education, advocates the individual student growth model in a recent article published by Policy Analysis for California Education, a research consortium sponsored by the state’s major universities.

Policoff Study: On Growth Models, Time for California to Show Some Improvement

Polikoff points out that California is one of just two states that lack such an accountability model now, and is critical of the state’s “dashboard” as “insufficient for the task of contributing to continuous improvement.”

And…

“Forty-eight states have already done so; there is no reason for California to hang back with Kansas while other states use growth data to improve their schools,” Polikoff writes.

So will California get serious about holding public schools accountable for how well students learn?

If we’re willing to do so for for-profit schools, charter schools and community colleges, there’s no reason traditional K-12 schools should escape such scrutiny.

District Deeds Synopsis:

District Deeds strongly supports real accountability for ALL schools…Public, Charter and Private.

The problem is capsulized by the following quote from the article:

Brown stoutly resisted any similarly strong accountability for K-12 schools, saying he trusted local school officials to do the right thing

So, according to former Governor Brown, San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Stakeholders are supposed to “trust” incompetent Elementary School Superintendent )ESS) Cindy Marten and crooked Trustee “Tricky Dick” Barrera “to do the right thing” with all the extra money given to them for poor and english learner students.

What a gross misjudgement by former Governor Jerry Brown!!!!

Marten and Barrera are very good at spending the poor and english learner extra dollars”:

  • To hire their political and personal cronies to six figure SDUSD positions.
  • On extensive “bait and switch” SDUSD propaganda campaigns with lots of photo ops for ESS Marten and Tricky Dick. 
  • For lots and lots of SDUSD Legal Department support to squash lawsuits from “the poor and english learner” families trying to fight against abuses by the Marten and Barrera dictatorship.
  • To fully exploit the loopholes in the faulty California “dashboard” enabling the misrepresentation of Student achivement throught their multi-million dollar SDUSD Propaganda budget.

The only solution to this rampant budget abuse is a comprensive forensic audit by an indpependent audit firm of the corrupt ESS Marten and Tricky Dick Barrera SDUSD dictatorship.

Until then, poor and english learner…and ALL…SDUSD Students will continue to be abused.

States Gird for Spending Reviews of Worst-Performing Districts

Quote from Article:

Every Student Succeeds Act enshrines that in federal law, requiring for the first time that each state conduct a top-to-bottom review of how its worst-performing districts deploy their money, staff, and time to support school improvement.

It’s a nod to growing evidence that how districts spend their money can dramatically improve academic outcomes and recognition among district administrators that their spending patterns and staffing structures are incohesive and don’t line up with their academic goals.

And…

Beyond that, district administrators historically have been cagey and defensive of their budgets, the aftermath of political infighting. A resource-allocation review by state department overlords could touch on areas like teacher-pay incentives, central-office costs, and spending on long-cherished (but ineffective) after-school programs. Resource-allocation reviews could be seen more like an audit rather than an opportunity to make crucial changes, experts warn.

And…

“Too often, our low-income students, black students, and Latino students are given fewer advanced-coursework opportunities, fewer supports they need to succeed, forced to rely more heavily on novice teachers. … The list goes on,” said Ary Amerikaner, the vice president for P-12 policy, practice, and research for the Education Trust, an advocacy group that pushes for heavy accountability and greater spending on low-income schools. “These patterns are all too common across our country. This is an opportunity to unearth those patterns and then make changes to address them.”

And…

Forty-three percent of district administrators say their budgets don’t line up with their academic goals, according to a recent Education Week survey.

That’s hard to fix, they say, in part because spending data are often buried in outdated and hard-to-use software, making it virtually impossible to understand historical trends. And staffing and budgets are often an amalgamation of local, state, and federal priorities built up over decades and rolled over from one year to the next.

And…

ESSA requires that states “periodically review resource allocation to support school improvement” in districts that serve a significant number of a state’s worst-performing schools and in districts that have large and stagnant achievement gaps between student groups.

Travers said state departments are well-situated to conduct such reviews since they have access to district-level and statewide databases and can point out what’s usual and unusual about underperforming districts’ spending.

And…

Because the school turnaround process under ESSA just started last year, no state has yet conducted a resource-allocation review, a spokeswoman for the Council of Chief State School Officers said.

A survey by the Center On Education Policy at George Washington University conducted in 2017 found that more than half the 45 states that responded said they don’t have the staffing to conduct effective resource-allocation reviews for all qualifying districts.

Marguerite Roza, a finance researcher, advocate, and the director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, said departments she’s consulted with are confused about who exactly is responsible for conducting resource-allocation reviews, what an effective resource-allocation review would look like, and whether departments should correct inequities and inefficiencies.

“There’s a tricky relationship between state education departments and districts,” said Roza, whose organization conducted a webinar for state officials on the topic in late August. A lot of states hear districts saying, ” ‘Why are you asking us that? What do you mean?’ They’re pretty hostile toward the process.”

That sort of confusion and lack of guidance from the federal Department of Education has frustrated advocates like the Education Trust’s Amerikaner. Her organization pushed federal lawmakers to require resource-allocation reviews under ESSA after a half century of wrangling between federal and state officials over the effective use of federal dollars for low-income children.

“The department is silent on this, and that usually means that states aren’t taking it seriously,” she said.

District Deeds Synopsis:

As we mentioned in the synopsis above, a comprensive forensic audit by an indpependent audit firm of the corrupt ESS Marten and Tricky Dick Barrera SDUSD dictatorship is required to ecpose the wide variety of budget mismanagment and corruption.

Full disclosure – District Deeds is not a Democrat or Republican – we are registered as an “Indpendent”.  We subscribe to today’s District Deeds “Quote of the Week” at he end of this blog post by Groucho Marx.

Unfortunately the chances of a SDUSD forensic audit are extremely slim with Democrat super majorities/leadership at the:

  • SDUSD School Board
  • San Diego City Council
  • California Superintendent of Public Eduction
  • California State Assembly
  • California State Senate
  • California Governor

Another quote applies:

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. – Lord Acton

Absolute California Democrat power will allow the corrupt and incompetent SDUSD Superintendent and School Board to avoid a a forensic audit.

But there IS a pathway to a SDUSD forensic audit.

The United States Department of Education Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos!

Need a reason Ms, DeVos?

Here is the aborted SDUSD Resolution that was an insult to Ms. DeVos:

After an aborted snub attempt by gutless, corrupt Trustee Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrra as we described back on 2/13/13 in “Resolution Con Job Withdrawn!!! The San Diego Unified Board of Education/Supt. Marten Bullies Lose Their Nerve – Cancel Invitation Insult to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos!!!“, we are sure that Ms. DeVos would LOVE to have a reason to dig into SDUSD finances.

We invite our readers to Tweet this District Deeds blog post to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos  – https://twitter.com/BetsyDeVosED.

Here is your chance Secretary DeVos…let us know if you need our help to expose the Democrat SDUSD corruption under Democrat Superintendent Cindy Marten and Democrat Trustee Richard Barrera.

Nothing would make your boss happier!

The Best Way to Help Children Remember Things? Not “Memorable Experiences”

The difference between “Episodic Memory” and “Semantic Memory,” and what it means for teaching and learning

Quote from Article:

When we look back on our own school days, our strongest memories are probably a mix of big occasions—field trips, plays, and sports days alongside more personal events tinged with strong emotion. Things that happened that were really funny or sad, or that made us feel excited, interested, exhilarated, or angry. We don’t tend to remember vividly, if at all, actually learning the substance of math or English or design technology.

And…

All of which leads to us making the entirely reasonable hypothesis that if we want students to remember what we teach them, then we need to make our lessons more like the spectacular one-off special events, or, at the very least, involve something specially selected because it’s exciting and possibly unusual.

And…

As reasonable as this seems, this is a myth. It is a myth because human memory works in two different ways, both equally valid but one of which is much better at enabling us to transfer what we have learnt to new contexts. This transfer is an essential prerequisite for creativity and critical thinking.

The two forms of memory are known as episodic and semantic memory. Episodic memory is the memory of the ‘episodes’ of our life—our autobiographical memory. This takes no effort on our part, it simply happens. We don’t have to try consciously to remember what happened yesterday. Those memories just happen automatically. But there is a downside. Episodic memory is “easy come, easy go.” If you try to remember what you had for lunch yesterday, you will probably remember. If you try to remember what you had for lunch a year ago today—unless that happened to be some very significant date and some particularly noteworthy lunch—you will have no idea.

Semantic memory, on the other hand, involves much harder work. We have to expend effort to create semantic memories. This is the kind of memory we use when we consciously study something because we want to remember it. Unlike episodic memory, it does not just happen. The upside, however, is that the effort involved results in a long lasting memory.

And…

Episodic memory is highly contextual—memories come bundled together with the sensory experiences and emotions we experienced at the time. So when we recall our course, we remember the vicious air conditioning, the awesome lunch, the snazzy stationery. 

And…

Semantic memory does not have the limitations of episodic memory. Semantic memories are context free. Semantic memories have been liberated from the emotional and spatial/temporal context in which they were first acquired. Once a concept has been stored in the semantic memory, it is more flexible and transferable between different contexts. Semantic memory is central, therefore. to long-term learning, learning that can be put to use in novel contexts to solve unexpected problems. Semantic memory is what we use when we are problem-solving or being creative. Those involve applying something learnt in one context to another, novel context. Episodic memories, by contrast, aren’t flexible and don’t easily transfer, because they are anchored in specifics.

And…

This explains the frustration teachers feel at the beginning of each school year when children they have been assured are very competent appear to have absolutely no clue. It is not that their previous teacher was lying or deluded when they said they understood fractions. It was that the previous teacher had not realised that this understanding was not yet secure in semantic memory and was still highly reliant on episodic memory. It was therefore highly dependent on strong contextual cues to be remembered. Move the child to a different classroom, with a different teacher, sitting next to different classmates, and, without the familiar context, the learning simply cannot be recalled. This is bad enough when children move from one class to another but is greatly amplified when children change schools, such as moving from primary to secondary school. Here the context is hugely different, different building, different journey to school, different uniform, much that is familiar gone. No wonder secondary teachers often think primary teachers over-estimate what their former pupils know. With so much familiar context removed, only what has been securely remembered in the semantic memory will be able to be transferred to life in year 7.

And…

Episodic memory might appear, at first glance, the more ‘human’ of the two forms of memory, the memory of people, feelings and places that makes us who we are. Semantic memory seems colder, more robotic. Yet it is our amazing ability to store culturally acquired learning in our semantic memory that makes as so successful as a species. The key purpose of education is to build strong semantic memory, to pass on the knowledge built up over centuries to the next generation; how to read and write, how stories work, how to use mathematical reasoning to solve problems, science with its amazing predictive power and the myriad of other concepts, ideas, and practices. That is not to say that building semantic memory is the only purpose of education. We want to help form children who are emotionally literate and morally responsible too. That will involve thinking about the kind of episodic memories we try to build for our children. If we treat our children with kindness and respect, they will have episodic memories of what it was like to be treated kindly and respectfully, which makes it more likely they too will treat others with kindness and respect themselves. 

And…

Strong emotion makes things stick in episodic memory, as does novelty. So doing some sort of less routine, novel or exciting event to round off learning about something might complement semantic memory—a trip at the end of a topic of work for example. Returning to the early example of teaching angle using water pistols, maybe doing this after a series of more traditional lessons might be a good way of reaping the benefits of both forms of memory, as might be doing that science experiment that proves the concept you have been learning about. It is not a simple binary choice between always only doing one or the other. Nor is it the case that episodic memory is in some way “bad” or inferior. It’s just different. The deliberate building of semantic memory is much more likely to result in long lasting, flexible and transferable memory than putting most of your energies into the episodic basket, so should form the bulk of what we spend our time on. But not every moment of every day. Knowing the limitations of both forms of memory can help us make wiser and more productive choices.

District Deeds Synopsis:

A fascinating article that we had to read twice to fully understand the concepts provided regarding semantic and episodic memory.

As a parent it has always been a challenge to have our kids retain instruction for tasks and chores in our home.  We have also had a large number of parent/teacher conferences where we were told that our kids were struggling in retaining things as simple as homework or classroom rules.

We learned a lot from this article and we hope it assists parent and teachers develop strategies to improve student learning retention.

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” – Groucho Marx

Have a great week!!!

__________________________________________________________

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