kitchen table math, the sequel: NY state technology standards

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NY state technology standards

I've just heard from a parent here....

My district is considering cutting French, Latin, and Greek --- and adding a technology teacher to K-5 in order to meet NY state's "technology standards."

I had no idea we had "technology standards," but come to find out, we do.

I do remember, back when David Steiner had first been appointed Commissioner of Education, attending a lecture at which he told us that the Board of Regents considered 'technology' very important. I think he may have said that he'd had some debate on the subject with one particular member of the Board, but I'd have to check my notes to make sure. Since checking my notes would entail finding my notes, that may not be happening. (Was I still using my AlphaSmart then?)

Does Common Core have "technology" standards?

Elementary and Intermediate Grade Levels

Standard 1 – Analysis, Inquiry, and Design
Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering
design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.

Standard 2 – Information Systems
Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using
appropriate technologies.

Standard 5 – Technology
Students will apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use,
and evaluate products and systems to satisfy human and environmental needs.

Standard 6 – Interconnectedness – Common Themes
Students will understand the relationships and common themes that connect
mathematics, science, and technology and apply the themes to these and other
areas of learning.

Standard 7 – Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science,
and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.

The whole megillah


Hainish said...

For NYS assessment purposes, the technology standards are wrapped up in the content standards (science and math). I think they are also some of the standards that NYS habitually does not assess. (They don't assess standards if they cannot do so on an exam; a standard on communicating with peers would be an example of such a standard.)

cranberry said...

How many students are enrolled in French, Latin and Greek?

Someone might point out the district isn't obligated to cut languages to make the budget work. I'm fairly sure, even without reading them, that New York State technology standards don't call for cuts in other programs.

lgm said...

The FL dept is the popular dept to cut once the music dept has been chopped.

Crimson Wife said...

Kids today are often far more technologically savvy than adults are. My oldest is currently working through a chapter in her Singapore math book on data analysis and I decided to supplement the problem sets with some practice using Excel to analyze data. Turns out I'm a bit rusty on my Excel and the current version installed on our laptop has changed some of the procedures for making charts since the previous version. DD got frustrated with my cluelessness and kicked me off to figure it out for herself. She very quickly got Excel to make the charts we wanted.

lgm said...

After listening to some of this year's school budget discussions, I'd hazard a guess that the tech teacher is needed to train the teachers and students in K-5. Poverty students just don't have the access at home, so they need to get it at school. Why? NY State is going to online testing...that requires some proficiency on everyone's part, at a higher level than the occasional Accelerated Reader test. K-5 teachers aren't too tech savvy around here...they haven't been provided with much in the way of tech in the classroom and what is there is very old in comparison to what they have in their homes...just like textbooks, PCs haven't been replaced in the last 15 years. Apparently there is funding from the state or federal for new laptops for testing purposes, but not for the humans. So, now the FL teachers are in the crosshairs.

Jen said...

But she isn't in a high-poverty district. Hint: the district is offering Latin and Greek. Those kids have computer access.

lgm said...

Jen, it doesn't matter whether Irvington is a high poverty district or not. I'm not in a high poverty district, and I'm seeing it too. The strings are being pulled at another, higher level. If you were to poll the pop here, they would get rid of Spanish, keep French, and put in Latin, Greek or Mandarin. Ain't gonna happen, 'cause the decision isn't made at this level.

Jen said...

Wait, I'm confused since you brought up the high poverty concept of lack of access. Do you see lots of kids in your district who don't have home access to computers? Who lack basic knowledge of computer skills? (For instance, I was in a 5th grade classroom the other day in which the teacher had to remind several different kids how to "X out" of a page.

Schools like that don't have teachers to cut -- that was done ages ago when they scraped the curriculum back to 2.5-3 hours of reading instruction a day and 1.5-2 hours of math. Those kids may have a science teacher and a social studies teacher they see once a week -- because that teacher teaches all the kids in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. In my city's district, most schools have a librarian one day a week. If they have a much bigger enrollment, they might get 2 days.

MY point is that parents in your districts can talk back and point out that your kids are likely not going to need intensive tech training to meet any standards and will be better served by retaining languages. Heck, you could even suggest coming up with an assessment (they do love those!) and having the kids test out.

High poverty schools DO need some way to teach kids how to use computers efficiently, but they also have nothing left to cut in terms of staff.

Catherine Johnson said...

The strings are being pulled at another, higher level.

There is something crazy, crazy going on with 'technology.'

Looks like the state has decided everyone has to administer tests ON COMPUTERS. (And this, in the middle of a depressed economy, in a state with the Triborough Amendment!)

There is ZERO money ANYWHERE for schools to buy whole roomfuls of computers AND hire full-time, tenured, unionized "technology teachers" to oversee the transition to computer-administered tests.

Here's the article:

Catherine Johnson said...

Hainish - Thank you! I was pretty sure these standards weren't going to be tested ---

The administration says we have to hire a technology teacher (or possibly re-hire) because the state is requiring us to meet the new technology standards.

I told the parent who seems to be leading the charge against this that the state doesn't enforce any of its mandates (outside SPED), and doesn't care what affluent districts do. I've known parents who have TRIED to get NYSED to intervene in their districts & were told, by NYSED, in effect: We make the laws, we don't enforce the laws.

Even if NYSED did care, we get virtually no state aid. We are net contributors of state aid to other districts.

There is absolutely no reason for this district to comply to mandates we don't believe in & to pay for our compliance by cutting programs we do believe in.

Catherine Johnson said...

btw, and I need to get a post up about this, my district is, again, in dire financial straits --- even though we spend $30K per pupil!

That's Triborough.

It doesn't matter how much money you have to spend on the local schools, Triborough followed by a crash means that you won't have enough.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm fairly sure, even without reading them, that New York State technology standards don't call for cuts in other programs.


nailed it!

Every year since the crash, the administration has threatened to cut foreign language instruction. Every year.

That gets everyone's blood up and then we have the annual blood bath over the budget and board.

It's time to take this thing to the union.

Catherine Johnson said...

MY point is that parents in your districts can talk back and point out that your kids are likely not going to need intensive tech training to meet any standards and will be better served by retaining languages.

I think you'd be surprised at the truly fantastic limits on 'talking back.'

I've been talking back for 7 years, and I managed to get two people elected to the school board (not just me, but I was a pretty big part of it).

The result:

* the old, expensive superintendent with a 5-year contract has been replaced by a new superintendent with a 5-year contract

* people now generally accept that it is legal to criticize the school

I actually feel that those two items are a real accomplishment. Before I began the Parents Forum, speaking 'ill' of the school was like speaking ill of God, or America. It was blasphemous **and** unpatriotic.

I used to say the school is the church of the state, and it's true. At least it's true here.

Jen said...

We're only one board member up so far here.

But there are three and maybe four who are not running for re-election. I think a couple of them have actually noticed that the things they've rubber-stamped over the last 6-7 years in the name of reform have had very few positive effects and have had many clearly negative effects. These are finally beginning to be seen by people without kids in the schools.

The administration that came in 6-7 years ago has done one thing very well for themselves, and that's their PR and self-promotion. While our schools have deteriorated greatly, the general opinion of people without any real contact with the schools was that they had improved. Now I think we may be at that moment where everyone realizes that the Emperor really doesn't have any clothes on.

Karen W said...

Re: computerized tests. The Iowa House approved a last minute amendment to mandate use of Smarter Balanced assessments. No one knows how much it is going to cost local districts yet to upgrade technology but there is a lot of talk of moving to "beyond the bubble tests." I also can't tell that anyone pushing for Smarter Balanced actually has any idea what will be tested. It looks distinctly reform math-y to me and SBAC acknowledges an agenda to push tech into math instruction through the assessments.

Last week, I attended a workshop where 6th grade math teachers discussed having trouble teaching long division and fractions to kids who don't know basic math facts and were trying to figure out how to motivate kids to learn the multiplication tables when the kids object since they always have calculators on hand. Doesn't seem likely that any of this changes for the better any time soon.

Catherine Johnson said...

Jen - wow.


I used to say we were lucky in our enemy. The superintendent I helped unseat was fantastically inept politically.

Of course, the result is that the two dissident BOE members I helped elect, both of whom are friends (one a very close friend) helped hire this new guy who is not looking good at all at this point. Not at all.

Two very different boards have now hired supers who apparently interviewed brilliantly. The current board, all 5 members, LOVED this guy. I'm not exaggerating. All of them thought he was beyond fantastic.

Is brilliant interviewing not correlated at all with political skill?

Seems to me the 2 ought to be associated....but so far I haven't seen it.

Catherine Johnson said...

Karen W - Hi!

Good to see you! (Read you, I mean.)

I went to the Common Core confab the other night & there's a huge amount of mystery surrounding the tests. No one's seen them; no one knows what's going to be on them.

Catherine Johnson said...

LGM - I got the story from the parent who's involved. It's a case of "always worse than you think."

palisadesk said...

Is brilliant interviewing not correlated at all with political skill?

Seems to me the 2 ought to be associated....but so far I haven't seen it.

I can add n=1 to your data -- an administrator I know (but thankfully don't work for) who also happens to be one of the laziest people I've ever met, told me privately -- when I asked how she ever got promoted -- "I'm the world's greatest bull**itter, and I come across extremely well in interviews."

OTOH, I know a very effective assistant principal who has had no luck moving up to the next level, and suspect that the reason may be that she is simply too self-effacing in interviews and doesn't blow her own horn. She's always working behind the scenes, getting people together to get things done, liaising with parents and community, getting outside supports for kids, etc. etc., and not kissing posteriors. She's a doer not a yakker.

So maybe there's a pattern here...

Jen said...

Our last two supers have been Broad people. The first with no education experience, had to get special dispensation from the state.

But one thing Broad does seem to teach them in their 6 weekend learning sessions is how to present things and how to work the media. Basically our local paper prints the press releases.

Articles have literally said things like, "Parents claim [some easy to discern it's true statement]. District officials state that it's [not true/not what it seems like/just silly]."

The claim and state thing drives me up a wall!

Broad also will train board members for you...which effectively means they get indoctrinated (or in a couple of cases get a job or move on to paid elected office).


lgm said...

Jen, do you live in a diverse area of NY? I do. The majority of the minority children already have two languages. They don't see a third, or a re-teach of the first, as an advantage. They don't have PCs at home, but they do have video games, so they don't need much in the way of instruction there. What they need is what they are not getting -- direct instruction in the classroom to learn how to comprehend English above the sixth grade level and to understand math at all levels. The parents here consistently push for more aides and more remedial support. The majority has little interest in funding college prep courses such as a FL.

Jen said...

Nope, I'm in PA. From the website:

Diversity of Students:

Native languages spoken 46

Countries represented 57

African-American students 55%

White students 33%

Other races 12%

I'm frankly surprised there are that many native languages! We have a small ESL population relative to the size of the district.

However we do have plenty of poverty. So, there is a subset of high-achieving parents (of both races) who want high level courses. Then we have administrators promising that "ALL" classes will be high level and rigorous.

Those of us who have had kids in the system for a lot of years...since, um, 1996, we can see how all the levels have dropped -- both by adding in kids that have no interest in a higher level, faster moving class, but also by raising the "floor" to such a point that the gap between what some kids know and what is presented to them is so big that there is no way for them to get a foothold on it.

Those problems combined with a "leadership program" that trained new principals but forgot to tell them how to maintain a well-run, well-disciplined school has led to disaster. Discipline to many of the new principals consists of "talking to the kid" and then sending them right back into class. Throw things? Push people down the stairs? Swear loudly and repeatedly in class?

Those all indicate "non-engaging" teaching, not a lack of structure or discipline from above.

lgm said...

Sounds like your area's version of full inclusion did not include academic differentiation in the classroom.

The violence problem has been solved here by removing the ringleaders and placing them in alternative settings. It wasn't nonengaging teaching, it was a disagreement as to the purpose of attending school. The high school resolution includes the local judicial system and involves understanding the drug usage rules and acceptable methods of expressing one's anger in response to 'coming of age'. The middle school solution involved parents suing each other and the district to recover medical costs until the district decided to remove the perps to alternative.

The intereesting parts of the recent push to increase graduation rates show that most students don't graduate because they can't pass the Global History regent's exam -- the culmination of a two year course. They can't pass b/c they can't read in any language at a level high enough to understand the exam questions, and they don't have the memory skills to memorize the data bank of questions. The refusal to differentiate reading instruction in K-6 is not going to help until instruction has been lowered to their level. Everyone else will then act up out of extreme boredom.

momof4 said...

We seem to have reached the point that essentially all problems, whether academic or disciplinary, trace back to ES and its failure to build a proper framework. Ed schools, admins, teachers and politicians all share the blame, but particularly the ed schools, which fail to restrict entrance to the academically qualified and interested, fail to increase knowledge of all the disciplines (including phonics,grammar and math), fail to restrict themselves to effective and efficient instructional methods and fail to teach classroom management. All of these failures are, of course, repeated on the master's and doctoral levels, so as to complete the indoctrination of teachers and admins into the cult of the fantasy, which proclaims that all kids can learn (the same material, in the same amount of time and in the same classroom - not) Meanwhile, politicians are insisting on "proficiency for all", "HS diplomas for all" and "college for all" - all of which are impossible at any meaningful level. Alice has returned to Wonderland and we're all trapped.

Anonymous said...

"The cult of the fantasy."

That's excellent. It's a very good description of what's going on.

I see the cult of the fantasy in ed school as entirely continuous with the sort of thing that goes on in other humanistic disciplines. For example, in literature you have the various cults of postmodern criticism. As in OMG Deleuze just blew my mind! It's all totally rhizomatic! Or OMG! Paulo Freire is so right! The oppressed absolutely need another journal article about this!

The difference is that in comp lit all you'll accomplish is a lot of crappy and vapid conference presentations and a truly idiotic thesis that nobody will read (and, yes, gentle reader, I am speaking for myself).

In ed school's cult of the fantasy you'll end up screwing up a generation of children, as your delusion of uniformity under constructivism both raises the floor and lowers the ceiling for actual kids whose outcomes may include dropping out or wasting years of valuable class time.

Anonymous said...

Another elephant in the room is the IDEA, as presently interpreted. Not only does it allow/mandate the presence of the uneducable in schools (as opposed to a custodial or respite care placement) but it allows the majority of kids to be held hostage to the minority of severely handicapped kids whose parents (or the school system itself) demand full inclusion. The education of the majority is damaged and the handicapped fail to get the instruction they need. Some kids can and should be mainstreamed successfully, for them and for the other kids, but some cannot and should not. The original proponent of mainstreaming specifically stated that the top 10% and the bottom 10% should be excluded, and that was in the era when the severely handicapped never entered school. He was also writing in the era when tracking wasn't a dirty word.

Anonymous said...

In the case of mathematics there is a long history of tradition and sense of continuity in standards. For the sake of common core, it works well. With things like advanced programming, standards work as well. In the case of the technology the elementary or intermediary students are going to be dealing with simple interface, some basic mathematical functions. When you have competing brands and software the interface changes so quickly it almost becomes moot.

Anonymous said...

Standards can quickly morph into brand names, for worried parents. I will never forget, in the early '90's, the day when a PTA meeting turned into a huge argument about what software should be purchased because some parents were convinced that without having been exposed to whatever was the latest (can't even remember what it was), their children were doomed to fall behind the competition.

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Unknown said...

I am amazed that your schools offer Latin and Greek. That's unheard of here in Oregon. I homeschool and get very strange looks from people when I tell them that my kids are learning Latin. I would have been the one giving strange looks until I learned how learning Latin can teach many different things besides the language.
Here there is no foreign languages taught in the public schools (for the most part- there could be exceptions) until High School. There they only teach French and Spanish. Our local Community College only offers Spanish. There is no longer any music instruction until High School. There is an after school program for the middle school (6th-8th grade) I had a third grade teacher tell me she only teaches three things- math, reading and writing. She has spent 2 plus hours a day on math alone to bring kids up to speed on standardized testing. Another teacher says she resists teaching only those three things because she sees kids burned out with school coming from such a class room. It's a sad mess all over the country.

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