Tag Archives: special education

Response to OpEd Criticism: Square Root of Stupid

Recently my OpEd critiquing the logic of tying federal special education reimbursement dollars was published in the Idaho Press Tribune.  As with its publication in Idaho Education News it was generally well received.

However, I did receive several messages from special education advocates arguing that special education students are capable of performing at academic proficiency and thus schools should be held accountable via Duncan’s plan to withhold the purse-strings of federal coffers for districts who are not proficient under revised guidelines for special education reimbursement.

Continue reading

The Square Root of Stupid

StupidRecently National Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that the federal government will be changing the way in which it allocates federal money for special education services to states.  Secretary Duncan wants to tie test scores for special education to the amount of money a state receives from the federal government for reimbursement of special education services.

The logic is simple:  states that send back high special education student test scores will get more money, those with lower scores will get less or even no money.  Surely this will improve student learning, right?  Clearly No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) emphasis of tying student test scores to federal money was a major success!  Cloning NCLB tools for special education students sounds like a real winner.

Continue reading

Superintendent Luna’s Response to Concern over Tiered Teaching Certification Proposal

LunaSuperintendent Tom Luna replied back to me regarding my recent OpEd article which laid out my concern about the proposed tiered teacher certification and value added model.

I do have a follow up commentary planned for his response soon, but for today I’ll let him speak for himself.  His response, in full, is below. Continue reading

Will they Respond?

By Levi B Cavener

why-you-no-replyDuring last year’s legislative session I sent dozens of emails to various state representatives and senators.

I understand that the session is a marathon of sorts with in incredible amount of work to be accomplished in a very short period of time.  I also get that during this time legislators are inundated with phone calls and emails from citizens across the state.

In other words, I get that they’re busy.  Yet, I was flabbergasted when I didn’t receive a single response from a single representative or senator.  None.  Zip.
Continue reading

Special Education Should be Concerned About a Model That Devalues

By Levi B Cavener

Levi B CavenerDuring this year’s Idaho legislative session a new tiered certification model was discussed as part of the recommendations from the Governor’s Education Task Force. Buried in this model has a barely discussed, but particularly insidious, implication for special education teachers and students.

At the core of this issue is the Value Added Model, or VAM. Part of the discussed tiered teacher certification model will rely on student achievement based on standardized student test scores; in Idaho this data will be collected in the form of  the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium,  or SBAC. Continue reading

Teachers with Training Wheels

By Levi B Cavener

image

Don’t worry about the swim instructor wearing floaties around his own arms while he “teaches” students how to swim. Oh, and ignore the training wheels attached to the cyclist instructor’s bicycle. Such is the advice given in Teach For America’s (TFA) response published in Idaho Education News to an Op-ed I authored in December critical of the organization.

The response, penned by TFA’s “special education specialist” Dhathri Chunduru, offers a detailed view of how the organization supports TFAers hired as special education instructors in Georgia. In her reply, Ms. Chunduru outlines the types of supports TFA provides to these new special education “teachers.”

To TFA’s credit, it appears that they offer some training critical to any would-be special educator. However, she seems to have missed the larger point. TFAers receive this training on the job. Yes, students and parents, your TFA “highly qualified teacher” has training wheels.
Continue reading

The High Stakes of Overtesting.

By Levi B Cavener

Levi B CavenerThe semester is drawing to a close for many secondary schools, including my own, across the state during the next few weeks. With this closing comes the ritualistic ceremony of the dreaded end of course exam.

Continue reading