DESE Trying To Direct the State Standards Work Groups Already
- con·vene [ kən véen ]
- arrange meeting: to call people together for a formal meeting
HB1490 Truly Agreed to And Passed
“Whenever the state board of education develops, evaluates, modifies, or revises academic performance standards or learning standards, it shall convene work groups composed of education professionals to develop and recommend such academic performance standards or learning standards.”
Seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? The State Board of Education calls together a work group of education experts and parents to develop new standards. Aside from calling them together, there is no prescribed role for the SBE, or their agent DESE, in the standards development process (other than calling three public meetings and seeking comment on the Work Group’s proposed standards.) These are to be autonomous work groups who determine when they meet, how often they meet and where. They should also set their own parameters for how they will address the standards.
So what is DESE doing setting up a meeting schedule for the Work Groups currently being formed?
From discussions a staffer in Senator Dempsey’s office had with DESE we learned that dates for the first round of meetings for the working groups have been set.
September: Monday, Sept. 22 – Tuesday, Sept. 23,
October: Thursday, Oct. 2- Friday, Oct. 3 and
October: Monday, Oct. 20 – Tuesday Oct. 21
The dates of the meetings have been set? By DESE?
Note that all these preplanned meetings occur on work days and that they require an overnight stay. This is a challenge for teachers and parents as well. Teachers must lose two consecutive days of teaching which is problematic for them and their school district. And think of the parents on the k-5 Work Group in particular. They have young children. They must be away from them for three different overnights and that is just the “first round of meetings.” That would make single parents, or those whose spouses travel, less likely to seek or accept an appointment to a work group.
The teachers we have talked to would be more than happy to meet on weekends to do this work. They also realize that there is all this wonderful technology available to them (email, text, Skype, Go To Meeting, Webex etc.) that makes a face to face meeting much less necessary. One would think DESE would be all over the idea of using the 21st century skills and technology rather than thinking like a 19th century meeting planner.
It has been pointed out that there was no fiscal note attached to the bill. All appointees will be unpaid. There will be no reimbursements for travel, mileage will not covered. Lodging also will not be covered. How great is it that DESE set up meetings that require travel and lodging.
Not to worry. The applicants from adjacent senate or house districts could travel together and share transportation costs, except for the fact that HB1490 says that, “Work group members shall be chosen in such a manner as to represent the geographic diversity of the state,” meaning that, if done properly, we should not have a group of people coming from the same geographic starting point able to share rides.
Was DESE just trying to be helpful or were they trying to intimidate potential nominees? I guess that depends on how pessimistic you are.
We know that there was quite a bit of political pressure applied and monkeying around that took place in other states like Indiana and North Carolina who attempted to draft their own set of standards. Then there were the states like Arizona, Iowa and Florida who simply rebranded the CC standards and called them things like the “Next Generation Sunshine State Standards” to hide the fact that they didn’t change a thing.
DESE has already sent out word to school districts that they don’t expect the standards to change much, maybe 5%. This came in a memo from one district Curriculum Director.
“DESE expects School districts to incorporate the new English language arts Learning Standards into their curriculum and fully integrate the content expectations into classroom instruction for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years based on HB 1490. Students should have access to updated instructional content in order to provide preparation for the updated English language arts and mathematics state assessments which will be deployed in spring 2015.”
Sure doesn’t sound like the expectation is that anything will change after the Work Group process is done. How could that be?
HB1490 says that DESE “shall pilot assessments from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium during the 2014-2015 school year,” so districts could choose to move ahead with any curricular changes they have made so far. But HB1490 also says that “The results of a statewide pilot shall not be used to lower a public school district’s accreditation or for a teacher’s evaluation,” meaning that if your district does not have curricular materials that align to the SBAC, and if that should be the cause of lower scores by your students on SBAC, there will be no consequences to the district or its teachers. Not only that, HB1490 specifically states that, “The state board of education and the department of elementary and secondary education shall not be authorized to mandate and are expressly prohibited from mandating the curriculum, textbooks, or other instructional materials to be used in public schools,” meaning there is no “mandate” from DESE to select curricular materials aligned to SBAC.
The public needs to demand from our legislature that they hold DESE and the State Board of Education to the letter of the law and demand that DESE remove their political influence from the process by allowing the work groups to set their own meeting schedule and agendas in order to meet the deadlines of the legislation.
Speaker of the House Tim Jones (573) 751-0562 firstname.lastname@example.org
President Pro Tem of the Senate Ton Dempsey (573) 751-1141 email@example.com
Lt Governor Peter Kinder – (573) 751-4727 firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor Jay Nixon (573) 751-3222 http://governor.mo.gov