The proposed 150-hour pathways to Florida Endorsements in ESOL and in Reading are logically flawed, Part 2

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Call to Action Alert

September 26, 2012

By: Rosa Castro-Feinberg, Ph. D.

Call to Action:

Students, teachers, schools, and communities could be harmed if the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) proposed pathways to Endorsement in ESOL and in Reading are implemented.

After you read the article, please join in a statewide effort to provide pubic comment to the FDOE on the pathways. With just one anonymous click, you can share your opinion with education authorities.

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

September 30 is the deadline for responding.

I’m voting NO. I hope you will too.

Rosie

Statement:

This statement addresses a second major flaw in logic inherent in the pathway proposals: the contradiction between the proposed pathways’ reduced training requirements and the needs of English Language Learners and other students as demonstrated by their performance on state and national assessments.

Pathway Description and Survey Form

The Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) description of the pathways and a link to a form to provide public input on the proposal is available a 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 rationale for the pathways to Endorsements in ESOL and in Reading proposed by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) is the potential overlap between the new professional development standards for ESOL and the new professional development standards for Reading. The overlap is considered duplication. By eliminating the duplicated topics, ESOL Endorsed teachers who seek Reading Endorsement would earn it with their training requirement reduced by half to 150 hours of professional development in Reading. Reading Endorsed teachers who seek ESOL Endorsement would earn it with their training requirement reduced by half to 150 hours of professional development in ESOL.

Eligibility to earn a second Endorsement 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. The analysis that justifies the pathways is disconnected from those to whom it will apply.

According to the FDOE, the new Endorsement requirements for each of the two subjects are very different from the old. The FDOE has acknowledged that the old Endorsement requirements did not adequately prepare Reading teachers to teach ESOL students. They have also acknowledged that the old ESOL Endorsement requirements did not provide enough help for ESOL teachers to teach Reading. Nevertheless, the FDOE proposes eligibility for participation in the pathways for teachers with Endorsements earned while the prior requirements were in effect.

Teachers who never took 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.

An expanded explanation of this logical flaw inherent in the pathway proposals is available at http://esolfl.blog.com/2012/09/24/the-proposed-150-hour-pathways-to-florida-endorsements-in-esol-and-in-reading-are-logically-flawed-part-1

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 #2: There is a contradiction 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.

The purpose of professional development is set forth in state law.

The purpose of the professional development system is to increase student achievement, enhance classroom instructional strategies that promote rigor and relevance throughout the curriculum, and prepare students for continuing education and the workforce. The system of professional development must align to the standards adopted by the state and support the framework for standards adopted by the National Staff Development Council.” (1012.98 FS School Community Professional Development Act. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=1000-1099/1012/Sections/1012.98.html)

The FDOE has stated that increasing the supply of effective teachers is one of the top priorities for K-12 schools.

In order to implement this imperative, it is recognized that students learn best when taught by the most highly-qualified teachers. http://www.justreadflorida.com/endorsement/files/reesol.pdf

The key phrases that appear in the state law and FDOE guidance quoted above are to increase student achievement, align to the standards adopted by the state, and increase the supply of effective teachers.

Is student achievement so high that it is no longer a priority to increase it? Can teacher preparation standards be safely ignored?  Should we aim simply to increase the supply of teachers and not worry if they have sufficient preparation to be effective or not? Review of the results of state assessments leads to the conclusion that the answer is no to each of these questions.

The achievement status of students in ESOL Programs

Recent results for Florida’s English Language Learners (ELLs) on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) determinations, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), graduation rates, and the number of years in ESOL programs are set forth below.

AYP

-The state did not meet AYP targets in Reading or Math for English Language Learners (ELLs) in 2010-2011

-Florida has not met AYP targets in Reading for ELLs for any year since 2003.  http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org/default.asp

FCAT

-2011  https://app1.fldoe.org/FCATDemographics/” \o “2010: 3% ELL Passing (Level 3) Grade 10 FCAT Reading; 23% Ell (Level 3)Grade 10 FCAT Math; 5% ELL (Level 3) Grade 11 FCAT Science” \t “_blank” FCAT High School Student Performance Results for ELLs are far below achievement goals.

6% ELL Passing, Grade 10 FCAT 2.0 Reading

33% Ell Passing, Grade 10 FCAT Math

4% ELL Passing, Grade 11 FCAT Science

-Elementary School ELLs do better on Reading but less than a fourth of the group scored at passing or higher levels on the FCAT. Slightly more than half of All Students scored at passing or higher levels.

2012 Results, Grade 3, FCAT Reading

23% ELL Passing or better

56% All Students, Passing or better

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/education/fcat-reading-scores-lower-20-percent-in-palm-beach/nPKc8

Seventy two percent of the state’s ELLs are Hispanic.

-FCAT Reading results for Hispanic students are below par and demonstrate the persistence of an achievement gap.

Percent of Hispanic Students below grade level in Reading, 2011

41%

http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org/default.asp

NAEP

-2010-2011 NAEP results for ELLs lag far behind that of other students

2010-2011 NAEP READING – State Level Results 

Grade 4

ELLs 52% Basic and above, compared to 73% for All Students; 81% for White Students

http://doeweb-prd.doe.state.fl.us/eds/nclbspar/year1011/nclb1011.cfm?dist_schl=1_221

2010-2011 NAEP READING – State Level Results

Grade 8

ELLs 41% Basic and above, compared to 76% for All Students; 82% for White Students

http://doeweb-prd.doe.state.fl.us/eds/nclbspar/year1011/nclb1011.cfm?dist_schl=1_221

CCSS

Achievement at the basic level is not enough to ensure academic success under Common Core State Standards (CCSS) instruction and assessment. By 2013-14, kindergarten through second grade students will use Common Core, with implementation of CCSS with third- through 12th-graders by the 2014-15 school year.  http://www.news-press.com/article/20120916/NEWS0104/309160036/1006

-To cope with the requirements of the CCSS, more Florida students need to reach the proficient level in Reading. Currently, a minority of all Florida students and even fewer ELLs demonstrate Reading achievement at that level.

According to the most recent NAEP examinations, while 35 percent of all Florida students were proficient in fourth grade reading, only 15 percent of students with disabilities and 7 percent of ELL students were proficient. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/18/2956593/key-florida-reforms-end-climate.html#storylink=cpy

Graduation Rate

-While Florida is doing better than many other states in helping ELLs to graduate within four years of initial entry into ninth grade, 4 out of every 10 Florida ELLs do not achieve this goal.

2009-10 ELL State NCLB Graduation Rate (includes GEDs)

59. 5

http://doeweb-prd.doe.state.fl.us/eds/nclbspar/year1011/nclb1011.cfm?dist_schl=1_221

Length of Time in ESOL Programs

While ELLs should be served in ESOL programs as long as they need the service, results of studies suggest that extended participation in ESOL programs is associated with greater academic risk. Special programs for long term ELLs are implemented in New York and California.

-Five or more years in ESOL Program

18, 575 (8% of ELL population)

Florida 2011Spring CELLA Student Demographic Information  http://www.fldoe.org/aala/pdf/tesolconference.pdf

The low passing rates of ELLs on the FCAT Reading tests and on other markers of educational progress do not justify a reduction in requirements for teacher training leading to Endorsement in ESOL, all the more so as graduation requirements (and associated reading assessments) are becoming more stringent.

Clearly, ELLs are not doing so well that we can afford to slack off. Instead, these results suggest that professional development for teachers of ELLs must be strengthened, not weakened.

The Reading achievement status of all Florida students

In 2010-2011, Florida did not meet AYP targets in Reading. Neither did any subgroups. That includes White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Economically Disadvantages, English Language Learners, and Students with Disabilities. No subgroup met the standard of 79% scoring at or above grade level in Reading.

The 2012 results, described as the worst in twelve years for third graders in the Orlando Sentinel by education reporter Leslie Postal (http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-05-24/features/os-fcat-third-grade-reading-20120524_1_grade-level-reading-test-reading-scores), demonstrate that Florida students are already struggling with Reading. Implementation of the CCSS will bring even more rigorous goals and more difficult assessments. Full implementation of the CCSS will take place by the 2014-15 school year.

As Michael Putney pointed out,

Roughly half of all ninth and 10th graders in the state failed the reading FCAT 2.0. The scores for writing were so dismal for third and fourth graders — just 27 percent got a passing grade — that the state Board of Education held an emergency meeting and lowered the grading scale so scores would resemble last year’s, when 81 percent of kids were at or above grade level.

Still, roughly 9,000 third graders in South Florida stand a good chance of not moving on to fourth grade. And a higher-than-expected number of high school seniors may not graduate.  http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/29/2822793/fcat-testing-our-patience.html#storylink=cpy

The low passing rates of Florida students on the Reading tests and on other markers of educational progress do not justify a reduction in requirements for teacher training leading to Endorsement in Reading, all the more so as graduation requirements (and associated assessments) are becoming more stringent.

Reaction of state education authorities to 2012 assessment results

Governor Rick Scott’s reaction was to focus on funding and support for college and career readiness.

Our goal is to better prepare students for college and careers and our policies in the next budget and the next legislative session will be designed around that. http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_education_edblog/2012/09/scott-pledges-to-maintain-school-funding-aims-for-increase.html

Former State Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson identified the need to concentrate on student subgroups where there’s a gap in achievement on the test, particularly minorities, English Language Learners, and Students with Disabilities.

The results help us determine how and where we should focus our resources so students who are struggling with reading get the extra help they need to succeed. http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/education/fcat-reading-scores-lower-20-percent-in-palm-beach/nPKc8

Commissioner Robinson identified minorities and English language learners to Heather Carney of the Naples News as the majority of students scoring at a level one.

We need to make sure we target resources to try to assist that population. http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2012/may/24/20-percent-collier-3rd-graders-fail-fcat-reading

The following guiding principles are stated in statute 1003.413, Florida Secondary School Redesign Act.

(a)Struggling students, especially those in failing schools, need the highest quality teachers and dramatically different, innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

(b)Every teacher must contribute to every student’s reading improvement.

(c)Quality professional development provides teachers and principals with the tools they need to better serve students.

http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/statutes/2011/1003.413

These principles, set in statute since 2006, are diametrically at odds with the proposed pathways with reduced training requirements for Endorsement in ESOL and in Reading. Instead of targeting additional resources to the most needy, the FDOE would minimize them.

Despite the evidence of the 2012 depressed Reading scores for ELLs and all students alike; despite the obvious needs for expert Reading instruction for all students and for expert instruction leading to English language acquisition for ELLs; despite universal acknowledgement that better trained teachers get better results; despite state policy that supports subject specific professional development leading to greater student achievement; the FDOE proposes pathways to Endorsement in ESOL and in Reading that would cut training requirements by half.

If the FDOE believes that reducing training requirements for Reading and ESOL teachers will lead to greater academic success, why doesn’t the Department plan to apply the same peculiar reform to training requirements for all teachers of all students? If less is more, why have any subject specific certification or endorsement criteria at all?

The proposed pathways with reduced training requirements for Endorsement in ESOL and in Reading ignore the needs of English Language Learners and of all other students as demonstrated by their performance on state assessments and contradict current and long standing Florida education policy.

Harmful Consequences

As Justice  http://everything2.com/title/Benjamin+Cardozo \o “Benjamin Cardozo” Benjamin Cardozo noted, t http://everything2.com/title/risk+defines+duty \o risk defines duty” he risk reasonably to be perceived defines the duty to be obeyed. The foreseeable consequences from implementation of the proposed pathways are identified in this section.

Students

If ESOL Endorsed teachers are not adequately trained, ELLs will not acquire the English language or learn to read in English. Students who do not learn to read in English do not succeed in Florida schools. Without adequate training that ensures needed levels of knowledge and skills among their teachers, ELLs’ academic achievement, which depends on English literacy, would be severely hampered. Unsuccessful students do not graduate from high school. Students without a high school diploma find it difficult to get a job and may become embroiled in the legal system. Unemployed persons do not pay taxes, and in fact, often must apply for welfare benefits.

If Reading Endorsed teachers are not adequately trained, all their students will find it difficult to reach increasingly rigorous state mandated assessment goals in Reading and in other subjects which require reading skills. For all students, their promotion from the third grade, participation in summer school, class placement, freedom to chose electives instead of remedial reading, length of the school day, graduation status, and hopes for college and career success all hang in the balance.

The long range impact would result as a chain reaction from impoverished literacy instruction to academic retardation to increased remediation costs to augmented social programs required to deal with the consequences when students drop-out. Inevitably, the increased scope of these programs would results in pressures to increase taxes.

The proposed pathways would offer Endorsements in ESOL and in Reading after completion of 50% of the normal training requirements. Pathway completers would be authorized to teach Reading to all students, and to teach the English language to ESOL students.

No student would be well served if taught Reading by teachers with only an abbreviated foundation in the skills and knowledge needed to teach Reading.

ESOL teachers teach the English language. ESOL students would not be well served if taught by teachers with only an abbreviated foundation for teaching the language and for teaching ESOL students how to read in English.

When we abort the training sequence for Endorsement in ESOL or in Reading, we thwart our students’ educational aspirations.

Teachers

The pathways proposals do not meet the needs of students or of the professionals who serve Florida’s students.

Under the state’s new teacher evaluation and compensation policies, teachers denied complete preparation to teach Reading or to teach ESOL will not fare well in comparison to teachers who have received full training. There is nothing to gain from arbitrary denial of the benefits of the training made available to other teachers of the Language Arts who do earn ESOL and Reading Endorsements by completion of the 300 hour training requirements in each area.

Both Reading and ESOL teachers provided with short-cut training would be at a disadvantage when scrutinized under the new teacher evaluation systems that include student test results as a factor in decisions for continued employment and salary levels. Truncated training requirements for ESOL and Reading Endorsement place Reading and ESOL teachers at risk in the evaluation, compensation, and retention processes.

This is true also for teachers who do not teach ESOL or Reading. As noted in a Tampa Bay Times editorial, teachers in K-2 and teachers of subjects for which there are no FCAT or End-of-Course exams will be judged by the average FCAT score for their school.

Most school districts haven’t had the time or money to develop or purchase the beginning and end-of-course assessments needed to determine exactly how much a student learns in a given course. So instead, students’ performance on the problem-riddled FCAT will determine anywhere from 40 percent to 50 percent of a teacher’s performance evaluation. And that formula is used even for those teachers whose students do not take an FCAT exam in their course. Teachers such as those teaching kindergarten through second grade, or of a non-FCAT subject like physical education or Spanish, could find their evaluation affected by the average FCAT score for their school. Those evaluations already determine performance bonuses in some districts. Starting in 2014-15, they will also determine who is eligible for raises — assuming districts actually have the money to give any raises. http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/plan-for-improving-teaching-founders/1251615

Teaching is a complex activity, requiring extensive preparation. Yet Florida’s requirements for a cosmetology license (1,200 hours of instruction with 16 hours of http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/plan-for-improving-teaching-founders/1251615

According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), research findings point to teacher quality as the single most influential school-based factor affecting student achievement. Therefore, the most important thing that schools and policymakers can do is to ensure that every student has a highly accomplished teacher.

http://www.nbpts.org/the_standards/the_five_core_propositio  Five core propositions form the basis for the NBPTS definition of highly effective teachers. The following core proposition illustrates the complexity of teaching and the foolishness of trying to take short cuts with teacher preparation.

Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.  Teachers have mastery over the subject(s) they teach and have a deep understanding of the history, structure and real-world applications of the subject.  They have skill and experience in teaching it, are very familiar with the skills gaps and preconceptions students may bring to the subject and are able to use diverse instructional strategies to teach for understanding. http://www.nbpts.org/policy_center/education_policy_prek-1/redefining_teacher_quali

Teachers that match this definition are not prepared on the fly. They are formed in interaction with teacher trainers who are specialists in the field for which the teachers are being prepared. These conditions would not prevail under the provisions of the pathway proposals.

Schools and Districts

Inadequate teacher preparation not only negatively affects student assessment results. It also affects school report card grades which reflect students’ results. These grades in turn determine school funding, schedules, teacher morale, and levels of community support. A school’s failure to meet accountability goals several years in a row can lead to transfer of students to schools far from home, a change in school management, dispersal or layoffs of faculty and staff, impetus for privatization, even school closure.

Communities

The success or failure of schools and school children affects the whole community. The impact is felt in real estate prices, tax rates, emergency room costs, welfare expenditures, success in attracting businesses to the area.

Inadequate teacher preparation can start a cycle of events that lead to school closures and turnarounds. These events are destabilizing to children and families and contribute to the instability families face.  http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/voorheesctr/Publications/DD2012_Report_2_21_2012.pdf

Education is vital to Florida’s economy. If our children are to succeed in a new global economy, the state must provide world-class education. And, as research shows, the cornerstone of an excellent education is a highly qualified teacher

Summary

There is a contradiction between the proposed pathways’ reduced training requirements and the needs of English Language Learners and other students as demonstrated by their performance on state and national assessments. It defies logic to reduce training requirements for ESOL and Reading teachers when students are struggling under current achievement goals and more rigorous examinations are around the corner.

It makes no sense to propose reducing requirements for teachers trained under the old standards on the basis of an analysis of new standards. This is all the more true when the old standards have been declared inadequate to prepare ESOL teachers to teach Reading or Reading teachers to teach ESOL.

Look at the scores! In the era of accountability, we have to be able to demonstrate success with students before we consider lowering standards for teacher preparation. Decreasing training standards for teachers will not help students to increase their reading achievement or to learn the English language.

Truncated training requirements for ESOL and Reading Endorsement place Reading and ESOL teachers at risk in the evaluation, compensation, and retention processes. This risk extends to teachers who do not teach ESOL or Reading but are judged by the average FCAT score for their school.

If the pathway proposals are implemented, teachers only partially prepared to provide Reading instruction would be authorized to teach Reading, not only to ESOL students, but to all students. Student, teacher, and school evaluations would suffer.

If the pathway proposals are implemented, teachers only partially prepared to provide instruction to ELLs would be authorized to be their instructor not only for Reading, but also for ESOL. Student, teacher, and school evaluations would suffer.

Since the foreseeable consequences from implementation of the proposed pathways would be harm to children, teachers, schools, and communities, the FDOE’s duty is to withdraw the proposal.

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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