The proposed 150-hour pathways to Florida Endorsements in ESOL and in Reading are logically flawed. Part 1.

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Statewide ESOL Effort

September 25, 2012

Dr. Rosa Castro-Feinberg extends her statewide grassroots Call to Action to all  Florida Public Employees.

Sept. 30th is the deadline to respond to the Florida Department of Education survey on the proposed pathways. After browsing through these articles explaining the flaws and consequences of the proposals, please join in on this statewide effort to provide public opinion to education authorities. All it takes is one anonymous click. I’m voting NO. I hope you will too.

The survey form is here

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ESOLReading

Statement:

This statement addresses a major logical flaw inherent in the pathway proposals. The rationale for the proposed pathways is an analysis of potential overlap between the new professional development standards for ESOL and the new professional development standards for Reading. Eligibility to earn a second Endorsement with reduced training requirements through the pathways, however, would not be limited to teachers who earned credentials by meeting either set of the new requirements included in the analysis.

A subsequent statement will describe an additional flaw in the pathway proposals: the discrepancy between the proposed pathways’ reduced training requirements and the needs of English Language Learners and other students as demonstrated by their performance on state assessments.

Pathway Description and Survey Form

The Florid Department of Education’s (FDOE) description of the pathways and a link to a form to provide public input on the proposal is available at  http://www.justreadflorida.com/endorsement (the third and fourth links from the top of the page).

The survey form is available here:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ESOLReading

September 30 is the deadline for responding.

Background

The new pathways to Endorsements in ESOL and in Reading proposed by the FDOE are based on comparison of the requirements for the new 300 hour Endorsements in each of the two subject areas. Areas of potential overlap between the two sets of standards were identified. If Reading Endorsed teachers want ESOL Endorsement, or vice versa, and take the full 300 hours, the assumption is they will be studying the overlapping topics twice. The pathways eliminate the areas of overlap and provide a 150-hour alternative. The credit hours were calculated by the FDOE. The expert panel members identified essential content.

Reasons for disagreement with the assumption that overlapping topics common to the two fields constitute duplication of the same content are presented at   http://esolfl.blog.com/2012/09/17/the-proposed-150-hour-pathway-to-florida-endorsement-in-esol-and-in-reading-is-conceptually-flawed

Logical Flaw #1: There is a mismatch between the rationale for the proposed pathways and the eligibility criteria for earning credentials through the pathways’ reduced training requirements.

The analysis that supports the pathway proposals is comparison of the requirements for the new Endorsements in ESOL and in Reading but eligibility for pathway participation is open to teachers whose did not earn either Endorsement based on the new requirements. The analysis that serves to justify the pathways is disconnected from those to whom it will apply.

Teachers who hold ESOL or Reading Endorsement would be eligible to earn the other credential with only 50% of the 300 hour training program otherwise required for that credential. The FDOE has stated that the requirements for the new ESOL and Reading Endorsements are very different from the prior versions. However, teachers who never took the courses based on the new standards, and therefore have no real or imagined duplication to avoid, would be able to participate in the proposed pathways. They could earn ESOL or Reading credentials without ever getting the full course of study. Teachers would be thrust into teaching assignments with inadequate preparation for their teaching tasks, to the detriment of students, teachers, schools, and communities.

At the January 24, 2008 Senate Education Appropriations Committee, the FDOE’s selected expert, Dr. Maria Carlo, explained that neither the Reading nor the ESOL Endorsement standards [then in effect] adequately prepared teachers of Reading for ESOL students. Both Dr. Carlo and former Commissioner Smith give assurance that there would be a complete revision of the professional development standards to incorporate ESOL content and serve as a base for an additional ESOL course. The professional development courses have been completely revised. There has not yet been development of the promised new course.

The FDOE has known since at least January 2008 that the then current Reading Endorsement courses don’t provide enough help for Reading teachers to prepare them to teach ESOL students. They also know that the ESOL Endorsement courses don’t provide enough help for ESOL teachers to teach Reading. Former Commissioner of Education Eric Smith confirmed this conclusion. That’s why the current requirement is for endorsement in both Reading and ESOL for reading teachers with ESOL students.

Even after the serious limitations of the old Reading and the old ESOL courses as preparation for teaching reading to any students have been acknowledged, the Department of Education proposed rules that permit application of 120 hours from the old Reading courses to satisfy the ESOL training requirement for Reading teachers who gain ESOL certification solely through examination. That proposed rule is current under legal challenge. That the FDOE would also propose that Endorsement holders who earned their credentials through the old Endorsement courses be eligible for the proposed pathways is even more baffling.

Definitions

When describing the new ESOL Endorsement to the State Board of Education, the FDOE explained that standards are organized around domains, standards within each domain, and performance indicators for each standard. A domain can be seen as an overarching category of study that identifies a broad conceptual area.

Each domain is defined by its standards which identify the core knowledge, skills, and dispositions that must be addressed within each domain. For each standard, the document lists a set of key performance indicators, which provide specific criteria for demonstrating mastery of the standards.  http://www.fldoe.org/board/meetings/2010_03_26/cover402451.pdf

The Reading Endorsement requirements use a slightly different nomenclature. The “domain” is referred to as a “competency”, defined by performance indictor headings. Each performance indicator heading relates to a set of key indicators, which provide specific criteria for demonstrating mastery.

The essence of both ESOL and Reading Endorsement training requirements, therefore, is their indicators. Although the term for the new standard or competency may be the same as the old, the indictors in the new Endorsement requirements redefine the standard/competency and are, according to the FDOE, very different from the old.

FDOE officials have stated that the new ESOL standards are very different from the old

The following comments about the ESOL standards were included in a September 2009 presentation by the FDOE to advise the State Board of Education on the status of review and revision of ESOL standards.

The old ESOL standards were described in these terms:

Performance standards are over 20 years old, outdated and no longer research-based; performance standards and Pre-service Indicators are not aligned; unclear alignment to Florida’s reading endorsement program

Steps to be taken included:

Review alignment of ESOL Performance Standards and Reading Endorsement Standards to redefine common standards; review professional development requirements for teachers working toward both ESOL and Reading Endorsement

The content in the new standards was described in these terms:

Addresses what teachers of ELLs need in order to be successful in the classroom; highlights importance of oral language development; emphasizes English language acquisition through content area instruction; affords ESOL students the opportunity to actively participate in class at some level (An Update on the Review and Revision of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Performance Standards, MaryJane Tappen, Deputy Chancellor K—12, Florida Department of Education, September 15, 2009.  http://www.fldoe.org/aala/pdf/SeptemberStateBoardFloridaESOLPS.pdf.

The highest number of indicators (12) in the new ESOL Endorsement was categorized in the English Language Literacy domain, reflecting emphasis on alignment of Reading and ESOL Standards in the new set of requirements.

On March 25, 2010, the State Board of Education approved an amendment to include the Florida Teacher Standards for ESOL Endorsement in Rule 6A-4.02451. The rule states that the standards set forth in Florida Teacher Standards for ESOL Endorsement 2010 shall be incorporated into all teacher preparation programs and district in-service add-on programs not later than September 1, 2011.

Differences between the old and new Endorsement requirements were highlighted in the following statement by the FDOE to the State Board at its March 2010 meeting.

Specific wording was added to Domain 1 to include knowledge about second language literacy and a separate standard for second language literacy was created (Standard 3).  http://www.fldoe.org/board/meetings/2010_03_26/cover402451.pdf

In other words, the new ESOL Endorsement requirements include Reading content that was not present in the old set of ESOL Endorsement requirements. The proposed pathways would credit ESOL Endorsed teachers who seek Reading Endorsement for Reading training incorporated into the new ESOL Endorsement requirements. Only teachers who began their preparation for Endorsement in ESOL after September 1, 2011 would have received that Reading training. However, according to the FDOE’s proposal, anyone with an ESOL Endorsement, regardless of when that endorsement was obtained, would be eligible to obtain the Reading Endorsement. Therefore, teachers only partially prepared to provide Reading instruction would be authorized to teach Reading, not only to ESOL students, but to all students.

Only those who have received the Reading training should be awarded Reading credit. The pathway proposals as currently stated would deny the ESOL Endorsed candidate for Reading credentials 50% of the training the state has deemed necessary to be able to teach Reading to all of Florida’s students and would therefore disadvantage students, teachers, schools, and communities.

FDOE officials have stated that the new Reading standards are very different from the old

On September 20, 2011, the State Board of Education approved an amendment to Rule 6A-4.0163 to adopt the Reading Endorsement Competencies 2011. The FDOE’s explanation to the State Board of changes from the old to the new Reading standards identified the following revisions.

The Reading Endorsement Competencies have been revised based upon the findings of the Report of the National Literacy Panel on LanguageMinority Children and Youth, The Rand Report on Reading Comprehension and findings of the National Early Literacy Panel.

The following types of revisions were made:

Competencies 1: Foundations of Reading Instruction, and 2: Application of Research-Based Instructional Practices 

Increased emphasis on oral language; Clarifying the alphabetic principle within the endorsement; Inclusion of accuracy, speed, and prosody when referencing fluency; Reflection the interaction of text, reader, and activity/purpose as a definition of comprehension; Emphasis of writing as a means to facilitate comprehension; Infused assessment throughout

Competency 2: Application of Research-Based Instructional Practices 

Increased the level of application using words such as “apply,” “create,” and “use”

Competency 3: Foundations of Assessment 

Increased emphasis on the purposes of the various types of assessments

Foundations and Applications of Differentiated Instruction 

Increased emphasis on using data to inform instruction http://www.fldoe.org/board/meetings/2011_09_20/40163.pdf

Crosswalk

The FDOE’s “Crosswalk from the Old Reading Endorsement to the New Reading Endorsement” demonstrates that the differences between the old and the new Reading Endorsement requirements are extensive. Without exception, all the many new indicators in the Reading Endorsement Competencies 2011 are ESOL items.    http://www.fldoe.org/profdev/pdf/cwonre.pdf

The Crosswalk table reflects the correspondence of indicators from the requirements in the old Reading Endorsement to those in the Reading Endorsement adopted by the State Board on September 20, 2011. New items are marked in yellow by the FDOE. Every new item, every item marked in yellow, also has an asterisk placed on the item by the FDOE to indicate it correlates exactly (or nearly so) to an indicator in the Florida Teacher Standards for ESOL Endorsement 2010. The Crosswalk is available at

According to Rule 6A-4.0163, adopted by the State Board of Education on September 20, 2011, the standards set forth in the Reading Endorsement Competencies 2011 shall be incorporated into all teacher preparation programs and district in-service add-on programs no later than August 1, 2012.

The proposed pathways would credit Reading Endorsed teachers who seek ESOL Endorsement for ESOL training incorporated into the new Reading Endorsement requirements. Only teachers who began their preparation for Endorsement in Reading after August 1, 2012 would have received the ESOL training identified in the Reading Endorsement Competencies 2011 as part of their Reading courses. However, according to the FDOE’s proposal, anyone with a Reading Endorsement, regardless of when that endorsement was obtained, would be eligible to obtain the ESOL Endorsement through the reduced training requirement of the proposed pathway. Therefore, teachers only partially prepared to provide instruction to ELLs would be authorized to be their instructor not only for Reading, but also for ESOL. Only those who have received ESOL training should be awarded ESOL credit.

The pathway options are based on comparison of the content in the new Endorsement requirements for ESOL and for Reading. According to the FDOE own statements, the new content in ESOL and in Reading is different from the old.  Eligibility for Endorsement in the additional area under the proposed pathway options must be limited to those whose preparation for Endorsement in either area was based entirely on those same new standards.

The pathway proposals as currently stated would deny the Reading Endorsed candidate for ESOL credentials 50% of the training the state has deemed necessary to be able to teach Florida’s vulnerable English Language Learners (ELLS) and would therefore disadvantage students, teachers, schools, and communities. The higher the enrollment of ELLs the greater the resulting disadvantages.

Summary

There is a major logical flaw inherent in the pathway proposals: the mismatch between the rationale for the proposed pathways and the eligibility criteria for earning credentials through the pathways’ reduced training requirements.

The rationale for the proposed pathways is analysis of potential overlap between the new professional development standards for ESOL and the new professional development standards for Reading. Eligibility to earn a second Endorsement with reduced training requirements through the pathways, however, would not be limited to teachers who earned credentials by meeting either set of the new requirements included in the analysis.

According to the FDOE, the new Endorsement requirements for ESOL are different from the old. According to the FDOE, the new Endorsement requirements for Reading are different from the old. The rationale for the pathway proposals is based on comparison of the requirements for the new Endorsement in ESOL with those for the new Endorsement in Reading. Yet, the FDOE proposes that the pathway options be available to those to whom the analysis does not apply: those who did not begin to satisfy their Endorsement requirements after the new requirements were in effect.

Further, since at least January 2008, the FDOE has known that the then current Reading Endorsement courses don’t provide enough help for Reading teachers to prepare them to teach ESOL students. They also know that the ESOL Endorsement courses don’t provide enough help for ESOL teachers to teach Reading. Therefore, prior pathways based on the old standards should be eliminated.

The proposal to allow a reduced training standard for teachers who have not completed their preparation under the new standards makes no sense.  Teachers whose Endorsement in either Reading or ESOL was based on the old standards will not get all the training they need to serve their students or be fully prepared for the new teacher evaluation and compensation systems that include student tests scores. The proposed pathways should be available only to those whose preparation for Endorsement in either area was based entirely on those same new standards. Since the field of Reading and ESOL are not the same, Reading courses should be taught by Reading specialists; ESOL courses should be taught by ESOL specialists.

Implementation of the proposed pathways would result in harm to children, teachers, schools, and communities. Teachers should not receive the benefit or incur the obligations of teaching credentials unless they complete the necessary training for those credentials as identified by the profession and adopted in state board rule.

Rosa Castro Feinberg, Ph. D.
Associate Professor (Retired)
Florida International University
Manager, Sunshine State TESOL Advocacy Mailing List
Vice President and Education Committee Chair, Florida Embassy LULAC Council #7220
LULAC State Commissioner for Education Policy and Special Populations
International Director for Education Policy and Special Populations, LULAC International Embassy
SALAD Board Member and Education Committee Chair

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