Tuesday, October 28, 2014


We are getting many hits this morning from our readers, probably waiting for a post on last night's BOE meeting. We hope to post something by Wednesday night. Thank you for your patience.  In the meantime, here is a short preview of the post that will be titled:  "Yellow Brick Road to Nowhere....."

"It is time for a new fairy tale, or as some of you may conclude after reading it, a horror story.  

There used to be a land of educational contentment. Parents moved there because the schools and teachers were outstanding, children loved to go to school and were excited to learn something new every day. Suddenly one day, the sky darkened and a fast moving tornado swept through the town, leaving devastation in its wake. The tornado scooped up teachers and students and carried them to a far away land, dropping them from the sky onto a vast landscape of unknowns -- some good, some bad. There was treachery lurking amongst fields of promise of a better education.  

When the teachers and students woke up from the storm, they found themselves in a field surrounded by a yellow brick road, a road that the natives of this foreign land told them to follow until they would reach a place called the Emerald City -- where they would find an even better educational system than the one they left behind. What's more, the natives told them that to guide them down the yellow brick road, they would be led by the best navigators they had to offer. By using these expert navigators, they would not get lost..."

Stay tuned for the rest of the story.......


Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that Dr. Schneider had the nerve to basically blame PARENTS and Board Members that the reason the math ridiculous pilot and teaching methods aren't working yet is because WE didn't allow for late start days AND because WE don't quite understand the radical theories he embraces! We parents have no idea what you and your staff do over the summer and during your multiple professional development days, but it is obvious whatever it was, it isn't working. That isn't our fault, it is yours.

Have you read this article? It is from the New York Times:

"Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom" By Vivian Yee, June 9, 2013

Summary: Placing students in clusters according to ability, a tactic once rejected over concerns that it fostered inequality, has re-emerged in classrooms all over the country.

Hmmm... I wonder why? If you read the article it acknowledges that for every claim that ability grouping does not work, there is a study to claim it does. There simply is not enough evidence that one is better than the other. In the absence of any solid and successful implementation of Schneider's "Emerald City" model, and with teachers overwhelmingly preferring cross grade, flexible ability grouping, schools are going back to what works and fine tuning it.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the previous poster-plus we have a TOP heavy Learning Dept! not just one, or two, but three people in the Dept- and obviously no one is analyzing data.

HMS parents- did you read on the D181 site the 3rd party suppport for the Agilemind pilot? (not sure how it can be considered 3rd party research when its on AgileMInd stationary) -

Schools sited-

Rio Grand HIgh School-Rio Grand City TX (on the southern tip of Texas and on the border of Mexico)-95% economically disadvantaged. High transitory population.

Perspectives Chicago Ill,- 89% of population on free or reduced lunch.

Pike Central Middle School, Indiana- half of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

I just don't understand how this pilot was approved. I'm guessing those districts aren't blessed with the caliber of teachers we have and the emphasis on education. Did the BOE see these studies? Why would any one think this might be better than our current math resource? Please someone help me out and explain it me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the poster who quoted-

Fairfieldmathadvocates.com-tons of excellent information.

Districts using Singapore math saw scores double.....

Hmm-wonder why that wasn't piloted?

Anonymous said...

Hey-Singapore math is good enough for Obama's daughters!- no fuzzy math being taught at their school.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone in our administration checked the Illinois Report Card stats on the percentage of poverty in D181? I have - it is 3%. Not a typo. Three percent.

So low that its the reason why our elementary schools don't offer hot lunch. It looks like the only person getting a free lunch around here is Schneider.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why this research has never been presented by the Department of Learning at Board Meetings?

ERIC Number: EJ982172
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Feb
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 12
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1784
Clustered for Success
Brulles, Dina; Winebrenner, Susan
Educational Leadership, v69 n5 p41-45 Feb 2012
Schools need to address the needs of their students with high ability. Not only does this raise achievement levels schoolwide, it also attracts students from surrounding districts and recaptures advanced learners who left the school because their needs weren't being met. One practical intervention--cluster grouping--provides an inclusive environment that takes into account the needs of advanced learners. In cluster grouping models, all students in a grade level are grouped according to their ability and achievement levels. A cluster of either gifted or high-achieving students--one or the other--is in every classroom, along with only two or three other clusters. These remaining clusters are composed of students in the average, low-average, and far-below-average ranges. Cluster grouping makes teaching in classes with a range of abilities more manageable and more successful. (Contains 1 figure.)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Cluster Grouping, Gifted, High Achievement, Charter Schools, Scores, Federal Legislation, Academically Gifted, Response to Intervention
ASCD. 1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714. Tel: 800-933-2723; Tel: 703-578-9600; Fax: 703-575-5400; Web site: http://www.ascd.org

Anonymous said...

To the poster at 2:45, several of our D181 classrooms are using cluster groupings (also referred to as the "workshop model")in their inclusive classrooms. The problem with this model is that it limits the time all students get to learn with a teacher and means more time with worksheets, ipads, peer teaching and the like. There is just too much to do in one classroom. Time with teachers is the most significant factor in determining student performance. In an inclusive workshop model classroom, there can be no whole group instruction because there are so many varying ability levels - a whole group lesson would (is) meet only the needs of a small percentage of the students in the class. In this model, with 4 groups of students, each group would only get 15 minutes with the teacher which isn't enough time for her to teach a lesson, problem solve and really get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the students. Additionally, there are lots of SELAS issues associated with this model as students are forced to stay in the classroom with kids who are at a significantly higher ability level. Not to mention that it is very inefficient and difficult for teachers as different tests and homework must be given and graded.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Schneider forgot to highlight something important in our philosophy that he obviously doesn't know anything about: "D181 is committed to providing all students with the highest quality curriculum and instruction."

If you look at the circles on slide 19 of last night's presentation, there are only two circles that apply to the gifted programs, the advanced learning programs and the pull-outs. Schneider's focus is obviously to remove all the circles that are not associated with gifted education but he is using the LFA plan and gifted evaluation to achieve his goals. Do the special ed parents know what is going on?

Anonymous said...

To 4:34pm:

The only person Schneider is looking out for is Schneider. Not the gifted learners, the special education students, and not the kids in the middle.

He is very self-serving. Just look at that awful video he used to stall for time last night at the BOE meeting. Dr. Boaler is just another one of his social justice cohorts.

Anonymous said...

In response to the posters at 1:54 and 2:20, if you check the math pilot information on the district website you will see that Math in Focus uses Singapore Mathematics.

Anonymous said...

Math in Focus is a good program. If they had just stuck with piloting that and Big Ideas, no one would be nearly as upset. Adding Agile Mind and Investigations to the mix was a huge misstep. Who made the decisions to do this? Curriculum experts with experience in running pilot programs or novices and interventionists who have never done this before and were treating our kids as social justice and inclusive classroom guinea pigs. We also didn't need to be one of the first high performing districts to go to an on-line program. We should have waited for some success stories and for more technology.

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to understand why the Department of Learning keeps insisting on continuing the pilot of the Investigations material published by Pearson even though parents have spoken against it and the research shows it's a really poor choice.

Some of you may recall that Dr. Schuster, Dr. Stutts, Kevin Russell Kurt Schneider, Christine Igoe, and Dawn Benaitis tried to force through a pilot of this material in May 2013 because their sales representative told them it was good, but parents spoke out loudly and for once, the BOE listened to the parents and shut it down.

A year later, the Department of Learning snuck it back in for this school year. I, for one, am am not convinced that there aren't kickbacks floating around from Pearson in our district.






Anonymous said...

The following was included in a response to Ms. Garg's question to the administration regarding grouping:

"The ultimate goal is to flexibly group students heterogeneously within classrooms and/or across grade levels."

The above quote is far different than what I took away from the board meeting. My impression from the meeting was that the administration was open to flexible, ability based grouping (which is NOT tracking). This difference raises the hairs on the back of my neck in anticipation of yet another "surprise" change in the way our children are taught, a change that will further minimize student-teacher interaction and learning.

Parents who have concerns about the ability of teachers to effectively differentiate without grouping LIKE learners need to provide that feedback to the administration now.

jay_wick said...

Hey anything is possible.

Given the "ethical challenges" that some have pointed out on the part of some BOE members, the last thing we need going into an election cycle is some kind of publisher-funny-money fueled scandal.

The way to dispel any sense of impropriety is simple -- open it all up. Have the staff from the Math Committee step up and answer any questions about who championed any materials. Was any one likely to gain monetarily or through ongoing research opportunities?

If there is nothing to hide such an exercise should take just a few minutes of a regular BOE meeting.

The longer charges like these fester the more corrosive they become.

For matters like this one really needs to send the Superintendent and BOE emails to have this added this to the agenda ASAP -- "Emails sent to boe@d181.org will be automatically forwarded to all seven current board members, as well as copied to the Superintendent."