Robyn Gee, Turnstyle News
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The New York State Department of Education recently released Teacher Data Reports (TDRs) to the media, reports that rate teachers based on the growth that their students have shown on state standardized tests. This “value-added” analysis is being incorporated into teacher evaluations all over the country, and creating controversy about how much of a teacher's performance can be captured by test results.
In New York, a teacher's value-added score is 40 percent of their evaluation. After the reports were released in the New York Times, the New York Post picked out Pascale Mauclaire -- a sixth grade teacher at P.S. 11 -- and called her the worst teacher in New York. They hounded her and her family for interviews until she had to call the police.
The funny thing is, Mauclaire’s students, fellow teachers and principal, vouch for her as one of the best educators at their school.
Stories like Mauclaire’s are popping up all over New York. The New York Times published an article about a school in Brooklyn where fifth grade teachers go above and beyond what is required of them, but whose data reports do not reflect the student growth in their classrooms.
Leo Casey, is the vice president of the United Federation of Teachers, and published an article in EdWize titled, “The True Story of Pascale Mauclaire.” The UFT fought the release of the data in the first place because they said the data was full of errors, and used test scores that were two years old.
Listen to a conversation with Casey above, and tell us what you think about releasing TDRs to the media.
The "Bully" documentary that recently premiered throughout the country inspired us to resurface this post about the CDC's research on the connection between bullies at school, and those who have experienced violence at home. For a young person's perspective on bullying, check out Colton Gillum's commentary.
In the Center for Disease Control’s Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report, they released findings that students who have experienced violence at home are more likely to bully others or be bullied.
The data comes from the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey in 2009. The survey was given to 2,859 middle school students and 2,948 high school students. Over 85 % of the students responded. The report divides the affected population into three categories: bullies, victims, and bully-victims (those who bully others and get bullied).
The data shows that bully-victims are most likely to have reported being physically hurt by a family member. In fact, 23.2% of bully-victims reported being physically hurt by a family member and 22.8% reported witnessing violence. Bullies are more likely to have experienced or witnessed family violence than victims.
Other interesting information in the report connects bullies and bully-victims with recent alcohol usage: Sizable percentages of both bullies and bully-victims acknowledged recent use of alcohol (32.7% and 22.7%, respectively, for middle school students; 63.2% and 56.3%, respectively, for high school) and recent use of drugs (32.0% and 19.9%, respectively, for middle school; 47.2% and 41.0%, respectively, for high school).
In comparison, smaller percentages of bullying victims and students who had been neither bullies nor victims acknowledged recent use of alcohol (6.9% and 8.1%, respectively, for middle school students; 31.7% and 38.5%, respectively, for high school) and recent use of drugs (5.0% and 4.5%, respectively, for middle school; 19.6% and 23.1%, respectively, for high school).
For more on bullying, check out Morgan Wilson's commentary.Read more...
By Malachi Segers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year, the share of young people who were employed in July was 48.8 percent, the lowest July rate on record for the series, which began in 1948. That percentage is even lower for young black people--the unemployment rate for whites is 15.9 percent, and for blacks it’s twice that.
Aaron Smith, the co-founder of Young Invincibles, talked to some of these young people on his 20 state bus tour. Youth Radio spoke to him about what that is, the most interesting stories that he heard on the road, why issues like unemployment are such a big deal with young people. Turns out that young people do a lot more than playing on people’s lawns.
Q. What exactly is the bus tour?
A. It’s a 20 state roundtable with youth from around the country. We talk about issues that youth have and how Young Invisibles can change them. We have more direct dialogue than the policymakers. Not all young people think the same, despite the stereotypes.
Q. What are some of the most interesting stories you’ve heard?
A. I remember talking to a young woman in Indianapolis, who was working three jobs, putting herself through school, and there was just a law passed that undocumented youth in Indianapolis couldn’t be eligible for in-state tuition. So she just had all these issues piled on top while she was trying to succeed and get that degree. She wanted to be a nurse, but despite all these challenges she rose above it. There’s a perception that young people don’t think about health care or don’t care about it, but when we go to some roundtables only half the people in the room have health care.
One young woman in Detroit was uninsured. Her mom was uninsured too, and one day when her mom went to the hospital for a routine check and it ended up costing thousands of dollars. The young woman was also a full-time student, and she knew how dangerous it was to be in this situation. We also hear a lot of young people that want to start a business but don’t know how to get a loan to get started, so we’ve looked at polices that make it easier for them to start up.Read more...
For many young people, tattoo removal goes more than skin deep.
Simon Alison was in 9th grade and struggling with school when he got his first tattoos -- two clown faces, one happy one sad, on the tops of his hands. They matched his philosophy on life at the time: "laugh now, cry later." Thinking back on those days, Alison, now 21, runs his fingers over the dark ink lines and shakes his head. "I was a different person back then," he says. "Life moves on."
Alison is one of the participants of Project New Start, a free tattoo removal program launched by the Alameda County Public Health Department in 1994. The cost of laser tattoo removal can be prohibitive: from $196 to $1,445 per person, according to a 2011 program report. New Start participants can receive these services free of charge as long as they are between the ages of 13 and 25, complete 50 hours of community service, are enrolled in school, working or seeking employment, and sign an agreement to not get any additional tattoos.
It was an easy choice for Alison, who wants to join the US Navy but is not eligible as long as he still has tattoos that would be visible while he is wearing a uniform. He has several other tattoos, including a large cross on his the back of his arm, but he is only removing the markings on his hands. "Nobody told me if I got tattoos on my hands or my neck, I wouldn't be able to get a certain type of job," he says. "If I had known, I never would have gotten them there."
Trying to get a job is one of the top reasons participants in the program seek to remove their tattoos. Others say they want to make a major life change, such as leaving a gang to avoid violence. Many past clients (72% of men and 38% of women) say gang pressure was one of the reasons they got tattoos in the first place. This is why the program does not openly advertise the exact times and dates of its clinics. "Even coming here can be a risk for the young people," said Alice Kaida, a nurse at Highland Hospital who has been volunteering with the program for the last 18 years.
Since the Project New Start began, more than 400 participants have received laser treatment. Complete tattoo removal requires several laser sessions, and it can take up to two years for the ink to fade completely. Alison still has several more treatments to go, but says for him, it's worth the wait.
"I still plan on going into the Navy in three years," he says. "This way I have time to get ready mentally and physically."
“Be data driven, not data drowning,” is the slogan for Kickboard for Teachers -- an educational software, designed to help teachers and administrators collect data regarding their students’ academic and behavioral performance in one place.
Data is the name of the game in American education today -- in fact, Jennifer Medbery, the creator of Kickboard, was named a "Champion of Change" by the White House. She is a former high school math teacher and Teach for America corps member. Many of the people on the Kickboard team are former teachers as well. The software was introduced in 2009, and is currently in a closed beta phase for individual teachers.
The software allows teachers to record academic and behavior-related data in one place, and share it with other teachers and administrators who have a stake in student performance. Teachers and school leaders can keep track of good and bad behaviors like being tardy, not wearing a uniform, answering a difficult question and turning in homework. It functions as an online gradebook as well.
But the data go a level deeper than grades, according to Stew Stout, the Marketing Outreach Manager for Kickboard, also a former teacher. “One of the things I always struggled with as a teacher was, ‘What does a grade mean?’ So if I’m looking at a test and a student got a 75 or an 80, that doesn’t really tell me a lot. But in Kickboard we take the data one level deeper. Every question that a student answers that’s been recorded in Kickboard is based on a skill or a standard that a teacher is teaching... When you put that level of granularity you can really plan effectively. My students did well on this standard, and didn’t do well on this one. I’m going to prioritize what they didn’t do well on,” said Stout.
Kickboard claims that it can improve school culture, which seems like a trickier thing to prove. Stout says because Kickboard data allows all teachers to keep) track of the same behaviors, school leaders can ideally identify and address the behaviors that happen most frequently.Read more...
When white teachers were asked to give feedback on C-minus level essays, they gave more positive feedback when they believed the student writers were African American or Latino. That's according to a new study by Kent Harber, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University at Newark, that was sponsored by the Spencer Foundation.
Harber calls this phenomenon the positive feedback bias. In administering the study, Harber and his team asked white teachers to leave comments on essays about anything--spelling, grammar, punctuation, ideas, persuasiveness. Then, the teachers completed a special rating form, which they thought would be a private correspondence between them and the student.
“That’s important," said Harber, "because we believe the bias occurs due to white people’s concerns about appearing prejudiced in their own eyes - they want to maintain a self-image of themselves as egalitarian."
So in what scenarios did white teachers show the positive feedback bias?
... In dealing with African American students, when teachers reported feeling less supported by their fellow teachers and school administration.
... In dealing with Latino students, regardless of how supported teachers feel at their school.
Why bring in the ‘teacher support’ factor?
According to Harber, research shows that teachers perform better when they have support from their fellow teachers and administrators. They have less burnout and better pedagogy, he said. In other words, less-biased behavior.Read more...
The following aired on KCBS.
By: Meisha Sanders
For a while it wasn't easy to turn off my mind when I turned off the lights.
A couple of months ago I wasn't able to sleep. I had been really irratable at home, school, and even at work I was told i was being moody and sensitive. I wondered, what's wrong with me?
I did some research and came a crossed the word insomnia. Teens are supposed to get eight and a half hours of sleep at night and I was getting four.
My doctor described medication. My sleeping problems improved, but I still felt down. I decided to write in a notebook to release my thoughts, and so far it seems to be working. Writing in the notebook it makes me feel free.
Medicine only helped with my symptoms of my insomnia like anger and lack of sleep. But it came with side effects. I felt tired and lazy as soon as I took it, plus it didn't change my stress level.
By taking the time to write in the journal, I'm able to clear my mind and hopefully I'll eventually truly relax.Read more...
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The campaign urges teenage girls to send “phone babies” to their guy friends. The phone baby consists of a 24-hour series of text messages simulating a baby’s regular needs. For example: “Uh-oh, we’ve got a situation downstairs, I need a diaper change ASAP.”
Alysha Bologno, the lead campaigns associate working on the campaign, said the texts have a little more attitude than the egg babies or mechanical babies of the past, that were entrusted to students to test their abilities as teen caregivers. “We’re putting a modern day twist on it because we know teens communicate best through their cell phones. …It has a very sassy kind of, Stewie from Family Guy-type voice,” said Bologno.
How it works
Someone decides to send you a phone baby. You receive a message saying, “Ur pal wants u 2 raise a text baby for a day & see life as a teen parent. Take the challenge+ enter 2 win $2K scholarship...”Read more...
At a time of so much hype over digital creations -- ahem, Facebook IPO -- the Maker movement has built momentum around the bold and fun idea that there are still people inventing real, physical things. Things made of metal and wood, cogs and gears. And things that are made out of the vibrating air molecules that bump into each other to create sound.
From our students, comes a crowd-sampled remix of this weekend's Maker Faire soundscape. Throughout the day, youth producers attending the fair as Makers recorded ambient sounds from the San Mateo, Calif. fairground, then edited them on the spot into electronic music and beats.
Earlier this month, Youth Radio remixed Marvin Gaye's legendary What's Going On Concert at the Kennedy Center. And it's their second time rearranging the Maker Faire's hubbub. Today, they put a new spin on their 2009 production by adding a DJ on turntables. Gosh, that was a bad pun. But there's nothing that's bad about the music -- listen to it in the above video.
The team of youth remixers included Meles Gebru, Jaylyn Burns, and Christian Hernandez, with production help from Ben Frost, Dave Hunter and James Rowlands. Video produced by Denise Tejada and Chaz Hubbard.
Your apple-scented shampoo may have a nice, pale green color to it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's "green." Chemically speaking, that is.
Youth Radio's Brains and Beakers series welcomed Leah Rubin from UC Berkeley's new green chemistry center to discuss ways to make the dyes in our food and hygiene products healthier for our bodies, and more sustainable for the environment. Check out the video to learn more about green chemistry and find out how to make your own natural dyes at home.Read more...