Schools may flunk testing

first_imgOne of the nation’s leading educational authorities reiterated Tuesday (April 6) her often-reported warning that American public schools are in peril — perhaps more than ever.What was unusual, however, about Diane Ravitch’s presentation at the Askwith Forum of the Harvard Graduate School of Education was her approach: What she once championed to save the system is now, she contends, leading to its demise.“The passion for test-based accountability has turned into a monstrous obsession with data that threatens the quality of education,” said Ravitch, an education historian who served in the first Bush administration’s Education Department.“I’m not actually opposed to testing. I believe testing can be very valuable when testing is used for informational and diagnostic purposes,” she said. “What I am opposed to is misuse of testing for accountability purposes.”She singled out “the naïve belief that test scores are infallible and certain.” Rather, “They should be used with caution.”“I’m not opposed to choice [in selecting to attend a charter school]. I think everyone should have choices. But I oppose choice when it is used — as it has been in some places — as a conscious strategy to undermine public education.”Once a vocal proponent of standardized testing and charter schools, Ravitch often clashed with progressives. But in her 20th book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education,” she decried the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB); indeed, she suggested that an alternative book title could be “Lies Our Policymakers Tell Us About School Reform.”Ravitch insisted she has not “done a 180” degree turn in her thinking. Rather, she said, she always has pushed for all children to have a quality education. “I’ve long been a critic of the rising tide of mediocrity,” she said. “I hoped, perhaps foolishly, that accountability and choice would help us reach [those ends]. And I think now I was wrong.”Schools and teachers are being punished for failing to reach impossible standards, so schools are “gaming” test results to improve scores, she said. Using 1998 to 2009 data that examines the skills of children who grew up under the No Child strictures, “there is not one iota of improvement,” she said.She compared using test scores to evaluate schools to judging a baseball player by a single at-bat, saying scores should only be only one element in evaluating a school. “Even Babe Ruth struck out more than he homered,” she said.Charter schools, once heralded as an alternative to regular public schools, do not get better results, she said. Moreover, they represent only 1.5 million out of 50 million public school students. The focus should be on the majority, she said.Ravitch slammed President Barack Obama for supporting punitive action against schools that fall short of standards. That, she said, encourages schools to recruit better students to raise scores, rather than help those most in need. She saved her harshest critiques for Congress, accusing lawmakers of knowingly passing impossible and unproven standards. “It is unethical for Congress to mandate remedies that are impossible to achieve,” she said.Ravitch’s new approach has plenty of skeptics and critics; two of them participated in Tuesday’s forum.Martin West, assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, hammered both Ravitch’s research and her conclusions, accusing her of a lawyerlike habit of choosing only those facts that support her case and ignoring those that don’t. Ravitch’s book, he said, presents “no studies showing choice destroys education.”Moreover, Ravitch “ignores the failings of the system that [reforms] were intended to improve,” West said.Daniel Koretz, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education, addressed Ravitch by wondering, in effect, where she was when the act was being formulated.“We didn’t have to wait for NCLB [to pass] to know these policies are impossible,” he said.Still, he agreed with Ravitch that education policymakers “charge along blissfully, unaware of evidence.”last_img read more

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RMO Targets Niche Audiences to Boost Tourism

first_img“Green Thumbs in the Green Mountains” is a cultural tourism marketing campaign sponsored by the Southern Vermont Regional Marketing Organization. The idea behind the campaign is to celebrate Windham County culture and the splendor of the landscape as the summer tourism season heats up.In honor of award-winning gardens and world-renown gardeners, the festivities will include garden tours and workshops, Iris and Daylily festivals, farmers markets, musical events, craft shows, puppeteers and all things Vermont.Statistics prove that cultural tourism is an important niche market for Vermont. This campaign highlights the region as one of taste, quality and culture and encourages visitors to discover the “undiscovered jewel” of summer in Southern Vermont.The promotion that packages over 50 summer events and venues, includes a press release and CD mailing to over 400 top travel media across the country, a special insert and editorial coverage in Southern Vermont Adventures magazine and an invitation to key travel media to experience the area and write about it.In addition, the campaign features a travel brochure ad in a special Vermont section of Better Homes & Gardens magazine, along with a print co-op campaign with the Vermont Department of Marketing & Tourism targeting the New York metropolitan market in regional additions of publications such as Bon Appetit, House & Garden and the New York Times. A calendar of over 50 events is available and downloadable on the southernvermont.com Web site.Nationally known local designer Skip Morrow created the “Green Thumbs” logo that will be featured in advertising and promotional materials.Other RMO marketing activities include desk side visits to key media in New York, development of a cultural heritage summit, enhancements to the southernvermont.com Web site, a special events outreach program, and enhancements to local tourism booths.The 2004 grants enhancement program has been developed by the Regional Marketing Organization’s roundtable board made up of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, the Mount Snow Area Chamber of Commerce, the Londonderry Area Chamber of Commerce, the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, in addition to Brattleboro Development & Credit Corp, Windham Regional Commission, Bellows Falls Downtown Development Alliance, RAMP, Townshend Business Association, and the Holiday Inn Express. The grant is approved by the Vermont Department of Marketing & Tourism. The RMOs activities have been designed to leverage earned media and improve and enhance existing marketing tools.last_img read more

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On the blogs: APS coal strategy bad news for customers

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy and Policy Institute:Arizona’s largest electric utility, Arizona Public Service, is back in front of regulators asking for its second rate increase in just over a year. In early September, Arizona Corporation Commissioners, the elected officials that regulates power companies in the state, heard testimony from APS and intervenors in a case regarding recently installed pollution control equipment at the Four Corners coal power plant. APS’s share of the total bill for the equipment and installation came to $400 million; the utility wants to have its customers pick up the tab. If the latest increase is approved, the plant will provide APS investors with not only a repayment of that expenditure, but also a tidy profit, while customers continue to foot the bill for an investment that environmentalists and consumer advocates warned would be unwise years ago. Those warnings have come true.At a time when utilities around the country were beginning to ditch their coal plants for economic reasons, APS wanted to invest. The utility convinced regulators to allow it to purchase a California utility’s interest in a coal plant. It was a decision that David Schlissel, now the director of resource planning analysis for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), called “the only instance that I can recall where a utility is seeking to replace retired coal capacity with another aging coal facility.” Schlissel was testifying for the Sierra Club at the time, and is planning to release a report later this year about the power plant and its impact on customers’ bills.Six years later, it has become clear that APS ignored the warnings about its uneconomic investment. The company made the decision knowing full well that investors would be able receive a profit. “Adding to rate base is a way for utilities to increase their profits. Buying the additional interest in Four Corners made no sense. It was uneconomical for ratepayers. Adding the pollution control equipment is also uneconomical,” Schlissel said in an interview with the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI). “Four Corners has had no benefit. It’s a very expensive plant that is just going to become more expensive.”The purchase of Southern California Edison’s interest in the Four Corners plant was a result of lawmakers in California enacting legislation to limit global warming pollution from their electricity sector. After the enactment of Senate Bill 1368, California regulators at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruled that Southern California Edison could not recover any money spent on the Four Corners plant from its customers if the investments would increase the life of the plant. The utility knew that it needed to invest in equipment at the plant to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Breathing air with high concentration of nitrogen oxide can lead to lung problems and can contribute to the development of asthma and other respiratory infections.APS was carefully watching the proceeding in California, and since Arizona didn’t have a global warming law, APS could take more ownership in the coal plant and force its customers to pay for any investments at the plant. That would generate a profit for APS investors. Indeed, only months after Southern California Edison agreed to sell to APS, in February 2011 an executive for the Arizona utility told a Goldman Sachs analyst that if the acquisition closes in the fourth quarter of 2012, then investors would get recovery in 2013; and, “it would be a matter of getting into service the following year or sometime after that” to get the profit for the pollution control equipment. James Hatfield, Chief Financial Officer for APS, estimated that return to arrive sometime after 2013.Immediately after the California PUC ruling, on November 8, 2010, Southern California Edison agreed to sell all of its 48% interest in units 4 and 5 of the Four Corners power plant to APS. The decision would make APS the majority owner of the two coal units that had opened in 1969 and 1970. Two weeks later, on November 22, APS opened a docket with the ACC to win their approval of the purchase. The docket lasted a year and a half, giving intervenors ample time to raise red flags about the project.More: Replacing coal with more coal: how Arizona Public Service’s Four Corners coal plant hurt customers, but earned investors profits On the blogs: APS coal strategy bad news for customerslast_img read more

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Kill the password

first_img 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr How ineffective are passwords as a means of authentication?Consider this key piece of information from Chris Doner, CEO/founder of Access Softek, a mobile banking software development firm:“All the fraud that’s reported to us—every single instance—has come from the member voluntarily giving the fraudster their password,” Doner says. “Even if you have fail-proof security and you have figured out a security system that doesn’t compromise security, members are still going to give up their passwords.”While in most cases members give up their passwords unwittingly, biometrics offers a much more secure alternative, Doner says.And just as importantly, he said, biometric authentication is no longer just around the corner; it’s already here. continue reading »last_img read more

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Syracuse ‘laid down’ in the 2nd half of 68-62 upset loss to Old Dominion

first_imgA young Syracuse fan with orange hair wanted his dad to take his hands off of him. The child, in an orange Syracuse shirt, was upset. But his father, wearing a sky blue, Old Dominion No. 1 jersey, was fired up. ODU had pulled off a massive upset, and the father wanted to run to the visiting tunnel at the other end of the Carrier Dome to see the Monarchs leave the floor.Just feet away, the same dichotomy took place on the court. Syracuse’s players sulked, their heads hung and shoulders drooped, off the floor toward the locker room. After the buzzer, Old Dominion’s squad ran to meet their teammates near the bench, smiling and clapping their hands, before exchanging high-fives.No. 25 Syracuse (7-3) struggled to pull away from Old Dominion (8-3) for much of Saturday’s first half. But the Orange pulled away for a 10-point lead at the break. Against SU’s season narrative, though, the Orange collapsed in the second half, giving up 45 second half points in a 68-62 loss. The Orange lost the second half by 16 points, their largest second-half deficit of the season.“We assumed they were gonna lay down, or I don’t know what we were thinking,” SU guard Frank Howard said. “But we just weren’t engaged and we just didn’t have that same intensity. You could feel it, you could see it. Our pace was slower. It’s just not who we are. That’s how we’ll lose.”For much of the Orange’s first nine games prior to Saturday, they looked like a different team in first halves compared to second halves. Entering Saturday, Syracuse’s margin in the first 20 minutes was plus-14, compared to a plus-73 differential in second halves. That threatened to be the case again Saturday, as with four minutes to go in the opening half, Syracuse led by a point.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOshae Brissett had picked up three first-half fouls. The Orange struggled to contain Old Dominion’s 7-foot-1, 285-pound center Elbert Robinson III inside. Syracuse’s offense was settling for perimeter jumpers, including inefficient long 2s, and ODU gobbled up rebounds to prevent second chances.Then, Tyus Battle helped awaken the Syracuse offense. After a Howard free throw, Battle scored eight-straight SU points followed by an Elijah Hughes 3. From a nail-biter, the Orange went into halftime comfortably up double-digits.But Syracuse again looked like a different team in the second half Saturday — just in reverse.“We got too comfortable,” Brissett said. “We didn’t really try to separate the game like we usually do.”More coverage:The Final Word: Syracuse upset against unranked Old DominionGallery: Syracuse falls to Old Dominion in Carrier DomeSyracuse bigs overpowered in loss against Old Dominion Published on December 15, 2018 at 2:17 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 Ahmad Caver and B.J. Stith, the Monarchs’ two best players, had been quiet in the first half, but both made plays early in the second half to tighten the score. Stith scored 18 second-half points after not scoring in the first 20 minutes. SU’s zone allowed driving lanes it hadn’t in the first half and gave up open perimeter looks to ODU.“They got four or five corner 3s,” Howard said. “On almost every 3 they hit today was something we talked about during the week.”Even when things went right for Syracuse, like 6-foot-8 Brissett blocking 7-foot Dajour Dickens’ dunk attempt, they didn’t stay that way. Stith hit a jumper on that same possession to make the block a moot point. Later, SU forced a contested corner 3 but it bounced up off the rim and fell through.ODU took a 51-50 lead with about five minutes to go when Howard and Battle both spread to guard players on the wings, but Caver stood at the top of the key, unmarked. He drained the 3. Then, a few minutes later, after Hughes missed an on-the-move 3, Caver set up Xavier Green for a catch-and-shoot triple from the right wing to go up four.“They made a couple big shots,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said.Old Dominion kept answering, and for the first time all season in a second half, Syracuse ran out of responses. Battle’s late pull-up jumpers that fell against Georgetown didn’t against the Monarchs, until one brought Syracuse within three but too late. Twice, the Orange tried to find 7-foot-2 Paschal Chukwu on lobs and threw the pass too high. And ODU made its free throws down the stretch, something SU couldn’t do, going 22-of-34 from the foul line. “We just didn’t play offensively in the second half,” Boeheim said. “…We’re just not making anything. That’s the bottom line.”In only three of Syracuse’s first nine games did the Orange manage a better point-differential in the first half than the second. Those three times, that first-half margin was large enough that Syracuse had no trouble winning.This time, Syracuse had a chance to win its sixth-straight game and a chance to head into Tuesday’s matchup with undefeated Buffalo as a ranked, Interstate-90 duel. It could’ve put the early two losses at Madison Square Garden further in the rearview mirror. But the Orange didn’t do that.Instead, on Saturday against Old Dominion, SU’s worst second-half differential of the season meant a positive first-half margin didn’t matter. It hadn’t been enough.“We just weren’t engaged in the second half,” Howard said. “We laid down. Lessons learned. We got beat.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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NBA free agency 2019 rumor roundup: A complete list of reported signings, trades from Day 4

first_img NBA free agency rumors: Lakers, 76ers will pursue Kyle Korver after he receives buyout from Suns Elsewhere, Markieff Morris signed with the Pistons while the Mavericks added backup center Boban Marjanovic.Here’s a complete list of deals from the fourth day of free agency(All trades reported by ESPN and The Athletic) Related News — The Grizzlies moved off of Chandler Parsons’ contract when they sent him to the Hawks in exchange for Solomon Hill and Miles Plumlee. The Grizzlies also acquired Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton and two second-round picks from the Suns, who received Kyle Korver and Jevon Carter in the trade. Phoenix is planning to buy out Korver.— The Pelicans could have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA next season. They re-signed wing Darius Miller to a two-year, $14.25 million deal. He hit 36.5% of his 3-point attempts last season. Rockets rumors: Houston hoping to trade for Andre Iguodala, sign JaVale McGee — The 76ers continued to fill out their roster by inking guard Raul Neto to a one-year minimum contract. — Markieff Morris is heading to the Pistons on a one-year deal. He has scored 11.6 points per game over his eight-year career. — The Mavericks added depth in the frontcourt. They inked veteran center Boban Marjanovic to a two-year, $7 million contract. — Quinn Cook became an unrestricted free agent as the Warriors rescinded his qualifying offer. Cook averaged 6.9 points in 14.3 minutes per game last season. — The Timberwolves continued to adjust their roster. They acquired Jake Layman from the Trail Blazers in a sign-and-trade. He agreed to a three-year, $11.5 million contract with Minnesota. “We’re extremely appreciative of how hard (Portland general manager) Neil Olshey worked with us to accommodate what we were trying to accomplish in this sign and trade,” Layman’s agent, Mark Bartelstein told ESPN. — The Pacers signed another guard Wednesday as they inked TJ McConnell to a two-year, $7 million contract. Indiana also added Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb earlier this week. The fourth day of free agency was filled with minor moves and a few trades.The Grizzlies may have been the most active team, as they reportedly completed a pair of trades. DeMarcus Cousins free agency rumors: Center switches agent amid reports he has ‘no market’last_img read more

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