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Home | Tag Archives: school

Tag Archives: school

Op-Ed: Expectation Of Use: Isn’t Just About Devices, It’s Getting Educators To Use Them Properly

Anyone watching the education technology news this week probably heard that Apple had an “Education Event” in Chicago, where the company rolled out their vision of education for the future. (You can watch the event here).

Along with the shiny new products, the tone of the event is what struck me most: Apple looks to creativity and the ability to be creative as the future of education and hence the workplace. Others, including Google with their inexpensive Chromebooks look to productivity as the future of education.

It is quite a contrast, and a debate that won’t be settled soon.

Personally, I am all for the creativity side of the house, where Technology and Humanities intersect, having been a teacher for gifted students and an acolyte to Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” idea that creative, problem solving employees will be more important in the future workforce than those that just can recite facts and compute figures.

You can see Apple’s view here in this short video:

which harkens back to the iconic “Crazy Ones” commercial, where those that are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.

But what struck me also during the event was not so much the new iPads, or the tools, or the philosophy. I kept going back to the school itself. It does not matter what tools are being purchased by schools and districts, if the tools are not being used. There has to be an expectation of use for the devices.

Every school or district that purchases equipment has an associated unwritten expectation of use. If a copy machine is purchased and placed in the teacher’s workroom, there is an expectation that there are going to be copies made on it. If books are purchased and placed in the school library, there is an unwritten expectation of use that the books will be checked out and read.

Same for texts, football uniforms, desks and pretty much anything that a district might want to purchase. In fact, it would be unusual to not have an expectation of use, otherwise, why purchase them?

However, for education technology, there seems to be a different dynamic in play. It is not unusual for one to walk into schools across the country where district 1:1 initiatives are taking place (where each student is checked out a laptop or tablet to keep like a textbook) and find students that are not bringing their devices to school, left them in their lockers or cars, are using their smartphones to do academic work instead, or simply are not using technology at all.

Teachers and students using alternatives to purchased district equipment or software are also common. One wonders what other organization would allow that kind of mindset where company purchased materials are disregarded in favor of random “other” materials.

Imagine an FAA flight controller wanting to use her cool flight tracking app to control arriving airplanes because she “just likes it more” than that old air traffic control software. Surely a UPS driver that decides his Dodge Caravan would make a better delivery van than the company one because he was “more familiar with it” would quickly find himself looking for employment elsewhere.

Imagine your dental hygienist deciding that the tools she had purchased on eBay at a bargain were better to clean your teeth than the ones provided by the dentist that hired her.

One would think, that at the very least, the minimal expectation of use would be that students would bring their devices to class every day, whether they are used or not, just like a notebook, a text, or a pen, yet, for some reason, that connection, that expectation is lacking in many cases.

Teachers should have a minimal expectation to use the tools provided by the district. If there are additions that teachers feel should be included, then so be it. But at least start with what is being provided.

I recently asked a high school student how often she is expected to use her district-issued laptop. Her answer was “Our teachers told us we could use our smartphones if we wanted to.” Expectation of use = 0.

An assistant principal I was speaking to recently told me that her students “Do all their work on smartphones, so we don’t ask them to bring their laptops to class if they don’t want to.” Expectation of use = 0.

That unwritten expectation of use, implied in almost everything else, is nowhere to be seen for some reason with ed tech, be it educator unfamiliarity with technology, simply ignoring the benefits and training, or tradition.

Unlike the copier, textbooks, or the football field, the purchased educational technology expectation of use is, in many cases, left up to the student, not the teacher or the campus. Like water, the student will take the path of least resistance, and defer to not bring their devices to class.

Some districts do a better job than others of having written expectations of classroom use of technology. Wichita Falls ISD has a written expectation of use that spell out for teachers and administrators what they are expected to do on a weekly basis with the classroom technology provided. The “Mindset” section of the document states “Teachers should support the District’s mission and vision regarding the use of technology in the classroom.”

The document then goes on to specifically explain how that support is demonstrated.

Districts hold responsibility when instructional technology is not used as planned. Deep professional development that is tied directly to how the devices should be used in the classroom needs to be provided and repeated. District leaders must expect campus leaders to put into place expectations of use that are enforceable, not merely suggestions that happen during annual appraisals.

Digital tools should never be dumped only a classroom or campus with some kind of wishful thinking that the tools will magically be used.

Hope is not a strategy.

As Leslie Wilson from the 1:1 Institute said:

“”There’s nothing transformative about every kid having an technology unless you’re able to reach higher-order teaching and learning. If schools take all this technology, and use it like a textbook, or just have teachers show PowerPoint [presentations] or use drill-and-kill software, they might as well not even have it.”

Schools can purchase the latest best set of technology tools anywhere or the cheapest lowest end ones, but if there is no expectation that the tools will be used in the classroom, it really doesn’t matter. Each campus must set a high expectation of use, using the tools for much more than simple electronic replacement for pen and paper assignments, otherwise we are just throwing our money away.


Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

El Paso ISD Campus Teachers of the Year Announced

El Paso ISD announced the individual campus Teachers of the Year for 2018. Each teacher will now represent their school in the 2018 Teacher of the Year contest.

The District’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year will be announced on April 20.

Each of the winners will represent EPISD in the Region 19 Teacher of the Year contest for a chance to participate in the Texas Teacher of the Year program.

On their website, officials with EPISD shared, “Congratulations to the 2018 Campus Teacher of the Year winners and good luck to all the campus TOYs.”

Alta Vista Elementary School Denisse Bustillos
Aoy Elementary School Alejandra Escalera
Barron Elementary School Jenny Rodriguez
Beall Elementary School Maria Kuntz
Bliss Elementary School Sonia Delgado
Bond Elementary School Martha Laura Valdez
Bonham Elementary School Andreana Harkless
Bradley Elementary School Diane Mora
Burleson Elementary School Ruth M. Arzola-Muniz
Burnet Elementary School Richard L. Torres
Cielo Vista Elementary School Jessica Armendariz
Clardy Elementary School Mary Bocskocsky
Clendenin Elementary School Elsa Cortez
Coldwell Elementary School Ivonne Santacruz
Collins Elementary School Graciela Soto
Cooley Elementary School Lourdes Arenas
Crockett Elementary School Maria (Nicki) Diaz
Crosby Elementary School Andy Tolentino
Douglass Elementary School Daniela Garcia
Dowell Elementary School Lindsey Tettis
Fannin Elementary School Corina Gamez
Green Elementary School Allan Rodriguez
Guerrero Elementary School Barbara Kay Hersch-Haarstad
Hart Elementary School Guadalupe Vela
Hawkins Elementary School Tanya Yosioka
Herrera Elementary School Ginger Escarereno
Hillside Elementary School Lindsey Torres
Hughey Elementary School Rosalie J. Luckey
Johnson Elementary School Lourdes Minton
Kohlberg Elementary School April May
Lamar Elementary School Lety Webb
Lee Elementary School Zulema Estrada-Pina
Logan Elementary School Blanca Gaspar de Alba
Lundy Elementary School Yvette R. Hernandez
Mesita Elementary School ECDC Patricia Castano
Milam Elementary School Yubia Anchieta
Moreno Elementary School Andres Favela
Moye Elementary School Juli Porflit
Newman Elementary School Christine Wallace
Nixon Elementary School Dawn Hamilton-Conroy
Park Elementary School Teresa Gonzalez
Polk Elementary School Gloria Zafiro-Salazar
Powell Elementary School Adair Dayton Caras
Putnam Elementary School Carmen Holbrook
Rivera Elementary School Ski Noriega
Roberts Elementary School Michelle Hernandez
Rusk Elementary School Morgan Topp
Schuster Elementary School Susan E. Cole
Stanton Elementary School Alicia Yturralde
Tippin Elementary School Monica Mora
Tom Lea Elementary School Paula Abasta
Travis Elementary School Valarie Galindo
Western Hills Elementary School Monica Delgado
Whitaker Elementary School Benjamin Engels
White Elementary School Bertha Guerrero
Zavala Elementary School Laura Cadena


Armendariz Middle School Sylvia Herrera
Bassett Middle School Lorenzo A. Duran
Brown Middle School Anthony Michael Stokes
Canyon Hills Middle School Ricky Ramirez
Charles Middle School Alfredo Garcia
Guillen Middle School Cesar Montanez Jr.
Henderson Middle School Edgar G. Mejia
Hornedo Middle School Paulette Adams
LaFarrelle Alternative Middle School James R. Riddle
Lincoln Middle School Leslie Ritchey
MacArthur Middle School David Camposano
Magoffin Middle School Ruby Doty
Morehead Middle School Julio Jose Escajeda
Richardson Middle School Angel Cesar Carmona
Ross Middle School Rose Ann Villegas
Terrace Hills Middle School Laura Mowad
Wiggs Middle School Luis Diaz
Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy Rebecca Nicole Guerrero


Andress High School Sofia Ellis
Austin High School David Alba
Bowie High School Luis Loweree, Jr.
Burges High School Alice L. Drury
Chapin High School Jacob Heidenreich
Coronado High School Mary J. Compton
El Paso High School Dan Favela
Franklin High School Heather Kendrick
Irvin High School Mercedes Brissette
Jefferson High School Maria Luevano
Silva Health Magnet High School Monica Nicole Cortez


Transmountain Early College HS Leo Wallace
Center for Career & Technology Education Victor A. Ramirez
College, Career & Technology Academy Marie Cauffield
Delta Academy Stephanie Sacco
Telles Academy Alfonso Vasquez Jr.

Texas Educators Criticize Discrepancies Between new A-F and Past Ratings

Educators argue the preliminary A-F grades contradict past distinctions they have received from the state. Proponents of the new rating system say it more accurately represents how schools are doing.

Kevin Houchin saw the praise roll in for McGregor Independent School District when the Central Texas district’s high school received top marks from the state in 2016 for high academic achievement and preparing students for college.

So the superintendent was surprised to see an F grade on the district’s report card this month.

“Our kids are doing very well. To get an F is just preposterous,” he said.

Other educators were bombarded with questions from concerned parents. “At morning duty, I had parents coming in and asking questions, asking, ‘What does this mean?'” said Elizabeth McMurtry, principal of Chisholm Trail Elementary School in Belton ISD.

All public schools and districts received preliminary grades in four categories this month, as part of the transition to a new state accountability system that will be officially rolled out in August 2018. Educators are arguing that the preliminary grades are not representative of their work in schools, are based on math too complex for parents to understand and often contradict previous school ratings.

They have also argued that schools and campuses with higher percentages of low-income students have scored poorly. Supporters of the school rating system say this is only partially supported by statewide data.

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Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has been clear that these grades are not official and that the calculations behind them will change by 2018. House Bill 2804 required the Texas Education Agency to submit an early report to legislators.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Wednesday that A-F ratings are not going away, despite widespread criticism from teachers, principals and superintendents. The low grades show students are graduating unprepared for college, he said.

“If we can grade our students — if their futures are impacted like that — our schools should be under the same grades,” he said recently.

The preliminary grades are for four categories: student performance on the STAAR state test, student progress on STAAR, closing the achievement gap and college and career readiness. McGregor ISD received an F in the last category, meaning they were considered to have failed in preparing students for college.

Houchin, the McGregor ISD superintendent, said he was disappointed with the F because it contradicts assessments of past performance.

“It doesn’t give us a clear picture at all of the college readiness of our kids,” he said. “That’s a natural outcome of a very poorly designed system. It’s confusing. It’s complex, and it doesn’t give an accurate portrayal of our campuses.”

In the existing accountability system, the TEA rates schools as either “met standard” or “improvement required.” Schools can also earn distinctions for high performance or significant progress in specific areas, including college and career readiness, closing performance gaps, student progress and academic achievement in a few subject areas.

The calculations for these distinctions are different than those for A-F grades in the new rating system.

“You can’t compare the two, ‘met standard’ or ‘improvement required,’ with a new system that doesn’t go into effect for another 18 months,” TEA spokeswoman Lauren Callahan said. “They’re different systems and should be treated as such.”

Additionally, the preliminary grades do not yet include all the data necessary to make them accurate, especially for calculating college and career readiness, she said. The official grades in 2018 will be complete and accurate.

But education officials have been comparing the systems and noting what they view as major discrepancies.

The TEA granted McGregor ISD’s high school a distinction for college and career readiness, based on 2015-16 data. This year, McGregor ISD was one of just 22 Texas districts recognized by the College Board for increasing access to AP courses and improving performance on the exams. But it received a preliminary grade of F in that category in this month’s report.

Similarly, the TEA recognized Round Rock ISD’s McNeil High School in 2016 for student progress, closing the achievement gap and college and career readiness. But the school received C grades in the preliminary A-F ratings.

“It doesn’t feel appropriate at all to the work educators on this campus are doing,” McNeil Principal Courtney Acosta said. She has promised teachers she will not change school policies to try and get better grades on the final ratings. Watering down AP courses and getting as many students to take them as possible could result in better grades for the school, she said, but “I’m not going to do that.”

Acosta is also the parent of a third-grader and fifth-grader at an elementary school that received two Bs, a C and a D in the preliminary ratings. She attributes the two lower scores to the school’s higher population of economically disadvantaged students. “I’m absolutely not going to hold that against my kids’ school. I love the fact that they’re in a diverse community,” she said.

The TEA data shows districts with more low-income students scored lower in the first category, student achievement on the STAAR exam. But the other categories saw weaker or no correlations with the percentage of low-income students.

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But proponents of the A-F ratings argue that the new accountability system actually helps schools with more low-income students to judge their progress because one category grades how well schools are closing the achievement gap.

As a former teacher, “I think this system would be very actionable for me as a teacher in my own classroom and school community,” said Courtney Boswell, executive director of the conservative education group Texas Aspires, which supports stricter accountability and graduation standards.

As legislators have passed laws in the past several years attempting to ease the high stakes of standardized testing for public school students, the accountability system ceased to be useful for representing school performance, Boswell said.

Some educators say they worry that the preliminary grades will provide fodder for some legislators to pass a “private school choice” bill, giving parents public money to attend private schools.

Patrick said during a Texas Public Policy Foundation keynote address Wednesday that he is backing “school choice” policies so that students can choose education opportunities outside of public schools with D and F grades.

“That’s why we need school choice. Because no parent should be forced to send their child to a school that’s a D or an F or a C, or frankly any school that they don’t think serves their child,” he said Wednesday.

Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, who is on the short list to head the House Public Education Committee, said he agrees with Patrick that A-F grades should remain. But he said he wants to simplify the calculations behind the grades so parents can easily understand why their school or district received an A or an F.

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Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, filed House Bill 843 last week proposing a return to a prior accountability system that would deem schools exemplary, recognized, acceptable or needs improvement, instead of grading them. “I knew even before the ratings came out that I would work hard to repeal A-F,” she said.

She said her bill does not solve all the problems educators have with the accountability system but is a good start. “If we’re going to have a system, at least let’s not have a system that negatively stigmatizes students and communities,” she said.

Read more here:

  • The 10 most populous districts in the state received more Ds than As in the new A-F rating system, according to a preliminary report out to educators Friday. By comparison, the 10 biggest charters saw more As and a smattering of Fs.
  • The state’s new system of grading public schools and districts from A to F is barely starting to kick in, and many educators are already intent on killing it.

Disclosure: The Texas Public Policy Foundation has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that McGregor ISD got a preliminary grade of D in the category of  college and career readiness. The district got a preliminary grade of F.

Author:  ALIYYA SWABY – The Texas Tribune

State Rep Mary González files bill to Replace ‘A-F accountability Rating System’

Texas State Representative Mary González has filed House Bill 843 to replace the A-F accountability rating system for schools in Texas.

González’s proposal replaces the grade-like scale with the labels exemplary, recognized, acceptable, and needs improvement.

“The simplicity of A-F ignores the complexity and diversity of our schools, such as differences in funding or concentration of poverty. Unfortunately, it will target low-income and communities of color as ‘failures’. It is unjust and hardly transparent.” Rep. González said.

The A-F rating system was added as an amendment to House Bill 2804 after it was left pending in the House Public Education committee as Senate Bill 6 during the 84th Legislative Session.

“There is a dangerous domino effect here- the failing label causes stigmatization and punitive action to schools and their community, which does nothing to promote improvement.” Rep. González said. “This harmful effect makes repealing A-F urgent and necessary.”

The original H.B. 2804 included many improvements to the public school accountability system, and the A-F system was able to slide through the House on the bill and become law.

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