Tuesday, February 28, 2012

VA Math Teachers Get Their Wish: Teaching To The Test? Poof, Gone

Anytime we raise the subject of Virginia's SOL testing we hear a loud chorus, in sweet harmony, proclaiming; "I spend all my time teaching to the test. Please allow me to teach my students without such restrictions". The Roanoke Times reports today that formatting changes on the middle and high school SOL math tests will likely result in a drastic reduction in accreditation. Why? Perhaps because it will now be near impossible to teach to the test. It appears the Virginia Department of Education does not believe our math teachers are up to the task, at least not yet.
Virginia Department of Education officials caution there may be a "temporary drop in pass rates as local curriculum and instructional strategies are adjusted to meet higher expectations for learning and achievement," according to a report released to division superintendents Wednesday. It is unclear how the new tests actually will influence accreditation standings in 2012 because, in addition to performance, there are two caveats. First, students taking end-of-course assessments for high school classes can retake the test and only the passing score counts. Second, a three-year average is used to calculate the pass rates that determine accreditation.
Hear that math teachers? They think it will take you three years to prove yourselves right. Prove them wrong.
About 24,000 Virginia students -- most of whom took the yearlong math courses during the first semester of this school year -- took the new math assessment in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. Charles Pyle, education department spokesman, provided the performance results of those tests but cautioned the sample may not be representative. Pass rates on the Algebra I test dropped from 84.1 percent in the fall of 2010 to 49.2 percent last fall. The test takers fared best on the Geometry test, which decreased from 78.5 percent in fall 2010 to 63percent last fall. Algebra II test pass rates declined more than 30 percentage points. "If the performance of the 24,000 students ... is a sign of things to come, there will be an impact on accreditation," Pyle said. [ellipsis in original]
It looks like Virginia's teachers will no longer be 'teaching to the test', but rather actually teaching math. the old SOL was multiple choice, while the new, interactive test requires students to actually know the subject.
The changes to the math assessments are multifaceted, including more rigorous standards adopted in 2009 and the addition of "technology-enhanced" [computer vs paper and pencil] questions. The questions will require students to demonstrate critical thinking, problem solving and math content knowledge. "Traditionally the Standards of Learning assessments have been multiple choice," said Todd Lewis, Roanoke's math coördinator.
The Roanoke Times also states:
Pyle, said the changes to the test's format and rigor were not done in an arbitrary way to make the test harder. Instead the revised standards are part of a statewide push to better prepare high school graduates for college. The new standards align with the national Common Core standards, although Virginia is one of only a handful of states not to endorse the initiative.
Alright Mr. or Ms. Math Teacher, now you get your wish. You are no longer allowed to teach to the test, you have been given the opportunity to actually teach your middle and high school students the methods, theories, and laws of math and Geometry as they apply to Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. Most likely in the same way you and I were taught. Certainly the same way they will encounter in college. Take this latest development as a challenge. Prove you were right all along. Let's see those math SOL scores soar Virginia.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Don't Want An Invasive Ultrasound? PP Says Don't Come To Us.

Governor Bob McDonnell released this statement today regarding SB484. In this release Governor Mcdonnell states, (emphasis added);
"I am pro-life. I believe deeply in the sanctity of innocent human life and believe governments have a duty to protect human life. The more our society embraces a culture of life for all people, the better country we will have. Over the course of my 20-year career in elected office, I have been glad to play a leading role in putting in place common-sense policies that protect and defend innocent human life in the Commonwealth. One of those bills was Virginia's informed consent statute, of which I was the chief patron in the House of Delegates, finally seeing its passage in 2001. This session, the General Assembly is now considering amending this informed consent statute to include a requirement that any woman seeking an abortion receive an ultrasound in order to establish the gestational age for appropriate medical purposes, and to offer a woman the opportunity to voluntarily review that ultrasound prior to giving her legal informed consent to abortion.
He ends the statement with;
"I have requested other amendments that help clarify the purposes of the bill and reflect a better understanding of prevailing medical practices. It is my hope that the members of the General Assembly will act favorably upon these recommendations from our office. We will await their action prior to making any further comments on this matter."
This issue has generated static all over the country, including late night comedy TV. Frantic claims from Democrats, from those who should know better, or at least have better research departments, such as Saturday Night Live to Comedy Central, to those who know better but assume you do not such as Planned Parenthood. All claiming that Virginia is codifying into law the "rape" of women seeking an abortion. Their basis for this claim is that a first trimester ultrasound [sonogram] requires a "trans-vaginal" probe. (Sorry Dad, there ain't no polite way to put it.)
What each of these has failed to do is truthfully explain the current recommendations from NAF, (National Abortion Federation). Their 2012 clinical policy guidelines state clearly that, in the first trimester, a sonogram is required to determine the gestational age of the little guy in the uterus.
Policy Statement: Proper use of ultrasound can inform clinical decision-making and enhance the safety and efficacy of abortion care.
Standard 1: Staff members who perform ultrasound exams and clinicians who interpret those exams must either show documentation that they have completed a program of training or must complete such a program developed by the facility. Training must include a period of direct supervision. Documentation of this training must be maintained. Following initial training, a system for evaluation of ongoing proficiency must be in place and documented.
Option 1.01: The Ultrasound Training in Abortion Care CD-ROM developed by ARMS, NAF, and CAPS is a good resource for training and may be utilized as part of a training program.
Standard 2: A system of clinical privileging must be in place for staff members who perform ultrasound exams and clinicians who interpret those exams. This system must include periodic review and renewal of these privileges.
Standard 3: Patients must be informed of the purpose and limitations of the ultrasound exam in the abortion care setting.
Option 3.01: This information may be provided in writing and the patient may be asked to sign a form acknowledging receipt of this information.
Standard 4: The findings of all ultrasound exams and the interpretation of those findings must be documented in the medical record. Photos or another method of storing the ultrasound images must be included as part of the documentation. This documentation must also include the name(s) of the staff members who performed and interpreted the exam.
Recommendation 4.1: A standard form for documenting findings and interpretation should be used.
Standard 5: In the first trimester, the ultrasound exam must include the following: a. a full scan of the uterus in both the transverse and longitudinal planes; b. measurements to document gestational age; c. views to document the location of the pregnancy; d. evaluation of fetal number; and e. evaluation of the presence or absence of fetal cardiac activity.
5.1: When clinically indicated, evaluation of other pelvic structures (i.e., adnexal structures and the cul de sac) should be performed and documented.
Recommendation 5.2: Technology permitting both abdominal and transvaginal scanning should be available.
Standard 6: In the second trimester, the ultrasound exam must include the following: a. fetal measurements to document gestational age; b. views to document intrauterine location of the pregnancy; c. evaluation of fetal number; d. evaluation of the presence or absence of fetal cardiac activity; and e. placental localization.
Recommendation 6.1: When placenta previa is suspected in a patient with a prior uterine scar, or when other placental abnormality is suspected, a referral for further diagnostic imaging should be made.
Standard 7: A procedure must be in place for further evaluation or referral of a patient in whom an intrauterine pregnancy has not been definitively identified or for whom an initial finding on the ultrasound may affect abortion management or future patient care.
Standard 8: Real-time ultrasound scanners must be used. Ultrasound equipment must be properly calibrated and maintained.
Standard 9: Ultrasound transducers must be disinfected between patients according to applicable infection control standards.
4 Adequate precautions must be taken to protect both staff members and patients from the potential toxicity of chemical agents.
To its credit Planned Parenthood follows these guidelines explicitly. They do not, however extend to the patient the courtesy of observing the results of this procedure.
SB484 merely requires that ALL abortion clinics follow these NAF abortion guidelines, and requires that a patient who desires to do so be allowed to view the result.
I'm disappointed in Governor McDonnell for caving to an obvious smear campaign. But I applaud him for keeping Virginia out of such an obnoxious propaganda battle.
Cross posted at Bearingdrift.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Want To Burn A Flag?

I've often said I fully respect one's right to burn the flag. I do always include these two conditions; First it must be your own flag. And second, you should have the strength of your convictions to do it on the grounds of a VFW post. I never factored in the alcohol effect, though.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Inspecting Lunch Boxes? Really?

The Federal Government decides a turkey and cheese sandwich is inferior to three "chicken" "nuggets", which we all know is not really chicken anyway.
Preschooler’s Homemade Lunch Replaced with Cafeteria “Nuggets”
USDA agent inspects sack lunches, forces preschoolers to purchase cafeteria food instead
RAEFORD, N.C. — A Hoke County preschooler was fed chicken nuggets for lunch because a state worker felt that her homemade lunch did not have enough nutritional value, according to a report by the Carolina Journal.
The West Hoke Elementary School student was in her More at Four classroom when a U.S. Department of Agriculture agent who was inspecting lunch boxes decided that her packed lunch — which consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips — “did not meet USDA guidelines,” the Journal reports.
It's stuff like this that almost makes me want to be an anarchist.

OK. We all fall for one every now and then. Along with many others it appears that I did too.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Catholic Or Not, This Is Important

I'm not Catholic but the issue of the day bothers me greatly.

If the Catholic Church is forced by our Government to go against its conscience, tradition and, most importantly, its deeply held religious beliefs, then religious liberty in America is not safe.

If religious liberty is no longer safe in America, you and your church, (even if that church is godless atheism), are not safe.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Revolution Revelation

Those of us who grew up in the sixtys and seventys remember John Lennon as a radical leftist, sort of like our current day "occupy Wall Street" crowd. I remember well the protests, demonstrations, sit-ins, and all around civil disobedience directed at our war effort in Vietnam. Many involved in those protests asked Lennon and his band mates to contribute to the anti-war effort. Finally Lennon relented and wrote, along with Paul McCartney, perhaps his most well known work, "Revolution".

How many of us have actually listened to the meaning behind the words of Mr. Lennon? I'll have to admit that I never paid much attention to them. To me it was a good sound. A well crafted piece of music. Never much more than that.

Today that changed. This iconic song came on the radio while I was not otherwise distracted and I actually listened. I mean really listened. For nigh on to thirty years I had typecasted John Lennon. I had him, and this song, completely wrong. I was never a real Beatles fan, and perhaps that's why it has taken me this long to experience this epiphany. You might have noticed it the first time you heard the song. I finally know that John Lennon was not an "Occupy Wall Street" type at all. He had seen the violence, anarchy, and lawlessness of the anti-war crowd and wanted no part of it. Read the lyrics.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money 
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right, all right

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah...

You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
All right, all right
All right, all right, all right
All right, all right, all right