Category Archives: Standards

What Happened in Your State This September?

During September, thirteen policy analysts published reports about what occurred in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act)

Arizona: Tricia Parker shared that Arizona’s ESSA plan was approved.

District of Columbia: Martha Cohen wrote that Secretary DeVos approves DC’s ESSA plan.

Oregon: Joanne Yatvin noted that the Oregon ESSA plan was approved.

Vermont: Anne Slonaker reported that Vermont’s ESSA plan was accepted.

Washington: Barbara Ward informed members that Washington was still seeking feedback on their consolidated plan until September 5, 2017.

PreK–12

Arizona: Tricia Parker described Save Our Schools Arizona as a grassroots organization fighting voucher expansion in Arizona. She also shared that YA author Meg Medina was the keynote speaker at the Arizona English Teachers Association [AETA]2017 Conference.  Tricia highlighted a number of bills opposed by AETA passed in Arizona’s 2016 Legislative Session, including replacing the word “teacher” with “person,” expanding the private school voucher program, and funding that did not provide a permanent salary increase for teachers and supported high-stakes testing.

Idaho: In Teachers Climbing the Ladder May Need a Boost, Darlene Dyer described the many steps teachers must take to qualify for a “Masters Teacher Premium.”

Louisiana: Jalissa Bates shared that Secretary Betsy Devos Visits Texas and Louisiana for Hurricane Harvey Relief.

New York: Derek Kulnis reported that New York City Offers Free Lunch to all 1.1 million students in the NYC public school system.

Oklahoma: Claudia Swisher described Deborah Gist’s volunteering to teach third grade in Amid Teacher Shortage, Tulsa Superintendent Returns to the Classroom. Claudia also reported that Jacob Rosecrants, a middle school teacher from Oklahoma, won a special election for House District 46. Claudia described the conflict over the accurate reporting of school funding in Is Oklahoma School Funding “Fake News?

Texas: In No Excuses, Teri Lesesne expressed the concern of many over the Commissioner of Education’s unwillingness to postpone state testing despite the impact of Hurricane Harvey on many students and schools.

Virginia: Leila Christenbury noted that public comments are open for standards of accreditation (8VAC20-131) until October 6, 2017. Comments can be submitted here.

Higher Education

California: Carol Olson reported that EdSource Expands Postsecondary Coverage in order to focus on the challenges faced by students graduating from high school.

Michigan: Robert Rozema shared that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Vows to Review and Repeal Obama-Era Sexual Assault Guidelines.

What Happened in Your State This August?

During August, thirteen policy analysts published reports about what occurred in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.

ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act)

Delaware: Zoi Philippakos shared the Approval of ESSA Plan for Delaware with “an ambitious and rigorous plan addressing graduation rates, ELA and math goals, and English Language Learners.”

Louisiana: Jalissa Bates also reported that Louisiana’s ESSA plan was approved.

Montana: Anna Baldwin described Montana’s ESSA Plan as relying on test scores and emphasizing graduation rates and school quality. Anna describes the disconnect over the treatment of English language learners and the bottom 5% of schools.

Ohio: In her Status Update on ESSA Implementation, Robin Holland relayed that after review by Governor Kasich, Ohio will submit its ESSA application to the US Department of Education in September.

Texas: In her ESSA Update, Teri Lesesne noted that despite stakeholders emphasizing critical thinking, raising salaries, and funding as important, the plan under review “relies on the same old, same old measures of ‘excellence,’ namely, test scores.”

Vermont: Anne Slonaker listed the additional information and revisions that the US Department of Education requested of Vermont.

Virginia: Leila Christenbury described the Accountability Plan Proposed for Struggling Virginia Schools as “far less draconian and also less prescriptive than previous Virginia-recommended school interventions.”

PreK–12

California: Laurie Stowell presented both sides of the Assembly Bill to delay middle and high school start times, concluding that if it passed, California would be the first to legislate statewide school start times.

Pennsylvania: Aileen Hower reported on the introduction of a bill to expand Pennsylvania’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program to provide funding for low-income students at private schools. She then provided a rebuttal by critics who claim that ESAs are “just vouchers by another name.” Aileen shared that Governor Tom Wolf announced a reduction in PSSA testing.

Texas: Teri Lesesne shared that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has created a new “parent portal” that provides information about the state test (STAAR) and Lexiles. She referred to Shona Rose’s blog post describing her phone call with TEA about the writing portion of STAAR. Teri also reported that school finance would wait two years until the Texas legislature convenes again.

Higher Education

California: Referring to the 2017 IES report, Carol Olson highlighted that “context (e.g., type of institution, SAT/ACT scores, age, and race) matters when it comes to remaining enrolled or graduating from programs.”

Florida: Jeffrey Kaplan delineated the struggle in Florida over Online Higher Education, with the governor wanting to expand the number of students taking virtual courses and legislators viewing such an expansion as detrimental to Florida having an “elite” higher education system.

New Mexico: Kate Mangelsdorf noted that New Mexico is “one of ten states in the country with the highest reductions in spending per student in higher education,” even though the “value . . . for students in New Mexico remains high.” She continued that Budget Cuts Affect University Writing Programs, with fewer students being served and successful initiatives being curtailed.

Both PreK–12 and Higher Education

Connecticut: In English Language Learners in Connecticut, Stephen Ferruci described the challenges that English language learners face in light of new ESSA requirements. He referenced H.B. 3865 that would have required bilingual education, but was never brought up on the floor, and a study concluding that dual-language programs are successful. He raised concerns over Connecticut loosening requirements for certification and employing the “use of the Relay Graduate School of Education, a program that fast-tracks certification . . . and . . . that has been rejected by Connecticut’s Board of Higher Education.”

New Mexico: Kate Mangelsdorf provided an Educational Equity Court Case Update regarding the lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty claiming that ELL, Native American, and low-income students were not receiving the “educational opportunities guaranteed by the New Mexico Constitution.”

What Happened in Your State This June?

This past month, nine policy analysts published reports about what occurred in the following states: Arkansas, California, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Higher Education

California: Daniel Melzer reported that the Cal State System Proposed to End Placement Exams and replace them with high school grades and course work, SAT, or ACT scores. He cited faculty concerns over “lack of local autonomy regarding assessment and placement.” Daniel also shared that the Report on Acceleration Writing Models in California Community Colleges revealed student success.

Michigan: In University of Michigan Offers Free Tuition for Low-Income Students, Robert Rozema described the Go Blue Guarantee program for high-achieving, low-income students.

New Hampshire: Alexandria Peary explained the House of Representatives Bill Requiring Annual Report of Remedial Courses. HB 180 would require postsecondary institutions to submit annual reports delineating the number and subjects of courses offered, enrollment, and costs.

PreK–12

Arkansas: Similar to her report last month, Donna Wake notes in Charter School Saved by External Resources that the Walton Family Foundation provided the funding to allow a charter school, initially slated for revocation, to remain open.

Idaho: Darlene Dyer shares that Preschool Funding and Enrollment Climbs Nationally but No Funding for Idaho, concluding that “If 90 per cent of Idaho’s 3- and 4-year-olds do not have access to preschool (as current figures purport), the impact will be felt for decades in the local economy.”

Montana: Anna Baldwin explains the Scholarship Tax Credit now allowed for contributions to a scholarship organization and the conflict over monies going to religious schools.

Pennsylvania: Aileen Hower reported, [Governor] Wolf to Sign Law Granting Career-track Students Alternatives to Keystone Exit Exams. These students would be able to demonstrate competency through their grades and alternate assessments or industry-based certifications.  In Report Reveals Eye-opening Data on English Learners in Philadelphia Schools, Aileen submitted an excerpt from Newsworks revealing how quickly immigrant students in Philadelphia learn English.

Washington: Barbara Ward described the state of Washington grappling with Funding Woes in a special session to address the high court’s demand that the state pay a fair share of costs for teacher salaries. Barbara also wrote about Possible Changes in State Testing Requirements for High Schoolers, allowing students who fail state-mandated tests in English language arts to show their proficiency in other ways.

Both PreK-12 and Higher Education

New Mexico: In State of New Mexico Sued for Inequities in Educational Opportunities, Erin O’Neill notes that the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty sued, “claiming that budget cuts and underfunding are preventing Native American students, ELL learners, and low-income students from receiving the necessary educational opportunities guaranteed by the state constitution.”

MLA 8: We Are Here, But Should We Have Come?

(American Attitudes toward the New Version of the Popular Documentation Style)

This post is written by member Beth Gulley.

I’m spending my sabbatical year teaching in Xi’an, China. As part of my work here, the faculty invited me to present something at an international workshop on comparative language education.  I wanted to speak on a topic important to US  teachers that would have relevance to the Chinese and European audience. I remembered that before I left the United States in August, faculty were wrestling with the new MLA guidelines. While I am teaching writing to English majors here in China, research and documentation seem to be absent from the textbook and other teaching materials. Teaching documentation could be a meaningful topic. I resolved to find out how American teachers thought the transition to MLA 8 was going.

In February 2017, I sent a query out to the Conference of Basic Writing listserv, the TYCA listerv, the Kansas Association of Teachers of English (KATE) Facebook page, and the Comp I listserv at my own institution—Johnson County Community College. (These are NCTE affiliate groups except for my own college.) I invited colleagues to send me answers to four questions:

1) Are you teaching MLA 8 to your students? If so, what level of
students are you teaching it to?
2) How are students responding to the change? Is MLA 8 easier or
harder for them to use than MLA 7?
3) What advice would you give to someone who was teaching MLA 8
for the first time?
4) What is the value of teaching a documentation style?

Shortly after I posed the questions, I received responses from all four of the places I asked the questions. In all, I collected nineteen responses that I could use; plus, three people responded just to say hello to me. Of course, English teachers are the best people in the world, and they often engage in the conversation in meaningful ways that do not in any way follow directions. Everyone wanted to share advice and resources, most people shared what they thought the value of teaching documentation was, but some people did not answer the question about how students are responding to the change.

In response to question one—Are you teaching MLA 8?—fifteen people said yes. Two people said they were teaching APA instead. Two people said they were still teaching MLA 7. The most important thing to me is that no one in the United States said they don’t believe in teaching documentation at all. The level of students learning MLA 8 included first-year composition students, basic writing students, English language learners, and high school students.

Fewer people responded directly to question two about students’ responses to the change. Of the people who answered, eight said they thought MLA 8 was easier for students. One said MLA 8 was harder for students. Four people were not teaching MLA 8. Six people did not answer the question. The main reason people thought MLA 8 worked better for students was because MLA 8 is more forgiving. The idea of the containers seems to connect with students as well. It doesn’t hurt that all the citation machines and writing center handouts were recently updated, too.

The richest part of the survey results were the answers to questions three and four. In fact, I was so honored and excited by the resources people shared with me that I built a website to house them so I could share them (MLA 8: We Are Here, but Should We Have Come?). In addition to the resources that are already there, I would be happy to add new ones that people share with me. The resources included handouts, presentations, lesson plans, and templates. One of my favorite lesson plans asked students to translate a works cited page from MLA 7 into MLA 8 after finding the sources from the page. Another teacher made pads of the MLA Practice Template for her students to use while working on their research papers.

After going through the responses, I found excellent arguments for teaching a documentation style. Mainly, in doing so we teach the values of our discipline—importance of authors, the location in a text, precise language. We help students think about the rhetoric of the citation as a way to evaluate their sources. We teach them academic honesty, to be excellent in small things, to use their handbooks, and to be organized. The complete list is on the resources website.

In the United States, we universally teach students to document their sources, but in China, teachers seem more apt to expect students to figure out documentation on their own. Despite this fact, my presentation was well received. Thank you to everyone who shared with me.

Beth Gulley teaches composition and basic writing at Johnson County Community College. She is currently using her sabbatical to teach English in Xi’an, China.