Thursday, April 25, 2013

Petrosino and Gustafson (2013). STEM Integration in a Research Based Engineering Curriculum Using Enacted and Prescribed Frames

The following is the acceptance letter for a presentation I will be making in San Francisco this weekend at the American Education Research Association. The session is entitled "Conditions for Establishing and Promoting Collaborative Research in STEM Learning Ecologies" and was organized by Professor Stephanie Knight (Penn State). My paper is titled "STEM Integration in a Research Based Engineering Curriculum Using Enacted and Prescribed Frames" and is co-authored with my colleague Katherine A. Gustafson. -Dr. Petrosino 

STEM Integration in a Research-Based Engineering Curriculum Using Enacted and Prescribed Frames
Paper Type: Roundtable Presentation
Unit / Sub Unit: Division C - Learning and Instruction / Section 1d: Science
Paper Role: Author
In Session: Conditions for Establishing and Promoting Collaborative Research in STEM Learning Ecologies
Scheduled Time: Sat Apr 27 2013, 12:00 to 1:30pmBuilding/Room: Sir Francis Drake / Empire

Dear Stephanie Knight,

I am pleased to inform you that the session submission, "Conditions for Establishing and Promoting Collaborative Research in STEM Learning Ecologies," submitted for consideration for the 2013 AERA Annual Meeting has been accepted, as a roundtable session. Congratulations on this accomplishment. AERA received more than 13,000 submissions this year. To ensure the highest quality sessions at the Annual Meeting, your submission was reviewed by highly qualified reviewers serving on a review panel constituted by the Division C - Learning and Instruction/Section 1d: Science. Reviewers' comments are now available on the All Academic System for your use.  To view comments, type into your web-browser.  Click ‘login’ at the top of the screen, and after entering your username and password, click on ‘My AERA’ located at the top of the screen.  Scroll down to 2013 Annual Meeting Online Portal and click on ‘Track Your Submission’.  Underneath the Submitter Menu, cli
ck on ‘Track a Paper or Session’.

All participants in your session will be copied on this notification. However, I encourage you, as session organizer, to share this exciting news with your colleagues. The online searchable program, which will include information on the date, time, and location of your session, will be available in early February.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that all participants in an accepted session (excluding the chair and any discussants) are required to submit a paper or commentary paper by April 5, 2013, the deadline for uploading final papers.  Papers or commentary papers for symposia are not limited in length but may be shorter than final full papers.  Commentary papers need to address all of the elements required for paper submissions. The All Academic System will  reopen in February so that presenters at your session may upload a copy of their paper or commentary paper. Access to uploaded papers is available to all session participants. 

AERA in addition encourages presenters of papers or commentary papers to participate voluntarily in the AERA Online Paper Repository. You and all presenters in your session will receive detailed information about the Online Repository when you receive notification that the All Academic System is open to upload final papers.

Copies of all 2013 Annual Meeting program related e-mail correspondence sent from the All Academic System are available online in your personal "Message Center." This link is available below the Submitter menu of the All Academic System once you have signed in. 

The Early Bird Pre-registration and hotel reservation for the 2013 Annual Meeting will open in mid-December. Please plan on registering early to take advantage of the early bird rate and select the hotel of your choice. 

If you have any questions, please contact the AERA Meetings Team at or 202-238-3200.  We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.


Kristen Renn
AERA General Program Chair

Saturday, April 20, 2013

2013 QSAC Results for Hoboken School District- Instruction and Program still lags

For yet another year, the Hoboken School District failed (score below 80%) to achieve a passing score in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM on the yearly Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) and its score actually fell by a percentage point. This is especially disappointing since a few short years ago, the INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM DPR score was 87%. This was shortly after the Hoboken Board of Education passed the curriculum I worked on with many teachers in the district. Perhaps it might be worth asking Hoboken Board of Education member and Curriculum Chair Ms. Ruth McAllister what is going on. No doubt she will come up with some rationale based on "years of neglect" rather than wanting to discuss the precipitous drop in INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM under her leadership. This marks 3 years in a row that the district has failed the INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM DPR after passing with a score of 89% due to the efforts of the previous Board administration and District leadership.  -Dr. Petrosino 

How Do You Evaluate Teachers Who Change Lives? By Dr. Lorraine Cella

Spring arrives- 5th and Madison
Street in Hoboken, NJ
Published in Education Week this commentary by former Hoboken High School Principal Dr. Lorraine Cella is both thought provoking and timely. Dr. Cella recently was awarded a judgement against the Hoboken Board of Education centering on her time in the district and how she was treated at the time of the leadership of Retired-Interim Superintendent Peter Carter and the political group known as Kids First although the terms of the agreement remain undisclosed by the request of the Hoboken Board of Education and other litigants. 
It was 1966 and my 9th grade year began in a suburban town in northern New Jersey. I strolled to school carrying my small assignment pad, which I needed for writing notes—the kind between friends in the hallway during change of classes. I walked into the old, dreary building and into the same old alphabetically arranged homeroom, expecting the usual mannequin-like teacher. I was worried because school as I knew it was deadly.

My head was down as I walked; my long, straight hair and bangs covered most of my face. I stepped from the hallway into the classroom and came upon an unusual sight. The kids were standing up, animated, buzzing with conversation. The room actually appeared bright. I wondered what was happening.

Then I saw him. A new teacher. A small, wiry man. Young, cute. Long black hair. Smiling. Talking with students, not at students. Sitting on a student's desk—not behind a huge oak barrier or a lectern. He actually had legs!

I moved to the outskirts of the circle of kids to watch and listen. Then he looked directly at me. I felt a bit uncomfortable partly because I was late, as usual, and partly because I was leery of and unaccustomed to teachers looking at me. Yet his look welcomed me into the circle; his eyes emitted warmth, and slowly I was drawn to the group.

"Hellllooo, I'm Mr. Pepperling. Call me Mr. P. You are ... ?"
He looked at me and waited for my response. My imagination gushed with possibilities. A distinct voice—it sounded powerful and purposeful. He was probably a singer with a rock-and-roll band. In 1966, I thought of everything and everyone in terms of the Beatles or Bob Dylan.

Perhaps he was an actor. Or an artist. Or maybe a writer. He was anything but a teacher. Plus, where was the reprimand for arriving late? And why was he smiling?

"Lorraine. Lorraine Bellon," I said, wishing my bangs were a little longer to completely cover my eyes. His penetrating gaze was still upon me, studying me. I looked at the other kids. This was all too strange. Everyone was talking, laughing, smiling, joking, asking questions. The man flipped through the schedule cards he held and handed me mine, trying to make eye contact with me.

"Good. I'll see you later in English. Period three. I'm the new English teacher. It looks like you have me as your teacher. And I'll be running a drama club. You'll join?" Transfixed, unable to move my jaw or my feet, I stood there.

Mr. Pepperling changed my life and the lives of others, as my high school buddies and I still recall. He showed us that being different was acceptable. He modeled for us ways around, yet into, the system. He was interesting to the students and interested in the students. He was different, outside the box, and a bit defiant to his superiors, I later learned, always questioning the status quo and "newfangled" initiatives.

He left my district after three years, but in that time he used the course content as a vehicle for us to learn about who we were and who we were becoming. As I think back to his class and about him, the lessons learned were greater than the literature; they were about the great and not-so-great world and our positions within it as active participants. He knew content, had the courage to be controversial, challenged us in ways that no one else had done, cared immensely, demonstrated creativity, and stayed connected to each student. Most important, he gave us confidence and a sense of our own efficacy.
In 2013, as a 35-year professional veteran of the public school system in New Jersey, having served in almost all roles—English teacher, staff developer, department chair, supervisor, principal, and superintendent—I am more worried now than I was entering 9th grade back in 1966.

Worried because I wonder how teachers like Mr. Pepperling would score on any one of the new teacher-evaluation systems adopted by New Jersey. How would his work with students be converted to a number or a score? Of course, as an administrator, I want every student to experience a Mr. Pepperling. Do the new evaluation systems ensure that? What score does a teacher get for making school a positive experience? For caring? For thinking differently? For teaching students to think differently?

How does a rubric with teaching standards account for the nuances of teaching? Would Mr. Pepperling pass or fail? Could he be fired for not meeting a data goal? For being different and noncompliant? And, today, how will nonmeasurable qualities be measured?

“How does a rubric with teaching standards account for the nuances of teaching?”
My greatest worry is that teachers will fade into deadly, robotic, fit-the-rubric nonentities and receive high scores, but offer nothing of substance to students—nothing to carry with them for a lifetime. I don't know if Mr. Pepperling's student-growth percentile would have gone up that year, but I do know that he changed my life for the better. Isn't that the goal of education? To change lives for the better?
Luckily for me, Mr. Pepperling's path crossed mine before judgment day—before education became politicized, commercialized, simplified, and quantified. How can teachers and teaching be reduced to a single digit? The question should be how do we continue to create teachers who change lives. How can we continue to help teachers learn to instill intellectual and critical curiosity? A recent blog post by the academic Ronald Joseph Granieri taps into the unknowns of teaching and education.

"One cannot say completely at any one moment exactly how an education has or has not succeeded in shaping an individual's life. There is an element of mystery in how it works that can elude even the most assiduous statistician. That is not something to be decried, but something to be treasured by anyone who values knowledge and teaching."

And, so, the big questions remain: How do we create the teachers we need? How do we attract teachers who will take their craft to the limits? In my life as a student, certain hard-to-measure qualities that Mr. Pepperling brought to the classroom made all the difference. And, now as an educator myself, I know that we need to take those mysterious elements seriously—even if they don't show up on a test.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Florida Teachers Sue Claiming Invalid Evaluation System

Petting Zoo- 6th and Willow Ave
Holy Innocents Church
A number of Florida teachers have brought a federal lawsuit to protest job evaluation policies that link individual performance ratings to the test scores of students who are not even in their classes. The suit, which was filed Tuesday in conjunction with three local affiliates of the National Education Association in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Gainesville, says Florida’s two-year-old evaluation system violates teachers’ rights of due process and equal protection. 

Under a 2011 law, schools and districts must evaluate teachers in part based on how much their students learn, as measured by standardized tests. But since Florida, like most states, administers only math and reading tests and only in selected grades, many teachers do not teach tested subjects. One of the plaintiffs was rated on the basis of test scores of students in a different school in her district.  Another claimant teachers vocational classes to students interested in being health care workers, and was rated based on test scores of students in grades and subjects she had never taught. “This lawsuit highlights the absurdity of the current evaluation system,” said Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Jersey Department of Education Releases 2013 Report Cards: Hoboken High School's Academic Performance "significantly lags in comparison to schools across the state" -NJ Dept. of Education

Some members of the Kids First Hoboken Board of Education
who inherited a high school in 2009 recognized for excellence by
New Jersey Monthly and US News and World Report.
Information on mandatory State Report Cards as part of the NCLB law were made available recently by the State of New Jersey Department of Education. The following is the 2013 NJ State Report Card for Hoboken High School. Before reading what the State of NJ's Department of Education had to say, I believe it is critical to understand that Hoboken High School was voted the 2nd Most Improved High School in the State of New Jersey by NEW JERSEY MONTHLY magazine in 2008 and was a back to back awardee in 2008 and 2009 of the US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT Bronze Award medal for high schools in New Jersey (only 41 of 300 schools were awarded a bronze of silver medal in those years). 

Here is what the State of New Jersey's Department of Education has to say about Hoboken High School- now under the leadership of the political group known as "Kids First" for the last 4 years: 

This school's academic performance significantly lags in comparison to schools across the state. Additionally, its academic performance lags in comparison to its peers. This school' college and career readiness lags in comparison to schools across the state. Additionally, its college and career readiness is about average when compared to its peers. This schools's graduation and post-secondary performance lags in comparison to schools across the state. Additionally, its graduation and post-secondary readiness lags in comparison to its peers. - NJ Dept of Education 
After 4 years of Kids First majority leadership, the picture at Hoboken High School is substantially different and not for the better. Is the teachers? No, essentially, the same teachers are there. Is it the students? Well, there are now 8th graders in the high school and a fair amount of students from Jersey City (policy decisions made by Kids First) but there is no evidence that these students are any different than students from 4 years ago.

What is different is that Hoboken High School has had 4 principals  in 3 years. What is different is the district has had 4 superintendents in 3 1/2 years. What is different is the influx of interim administrators and permanent administrators with little to no experience in either Hudson County or the City of Hoboken. 

Full reports for all Hoboken Schools and Schools in New Jersey: Click HERE

Monday, April 8, 2013

Teacher’s resignation letter: ‘My profession … no longer exists’ By Valerie Strauss, Updated: April 6, 2013

Increasingly teachers are speaking out against school reforms that they believe are demeaning their profession, and some are simply quitting because they have had enough. I shared this letter with my pre-service teachers for their comments. 
The letter lays out why, after several decades, Conti believed he had to call it quits. Conti points the blame at legislators who "failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education," a testing company. He argued the New York State United Teachers union failed its members by not mounting an effective campaign against standardized testing, and said there's now a "pervasive atmosphere of distrust" preventing teachers from developing their own tests and quizzes.

"After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists," Conti wrote in the letter. -Dr. Petrosino 

Here is one resignation letter from a veteran teacher, Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, N.Y.:
Mr. Casey Barduhn, Superintendent
Westhill Central School District
400 Walberta Park Road
Syracuse, New York 13219
Dear Mr. Barduhn and Board of Education Members:
It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than twenty-seven years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.
As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I know that I have been fortunate to work with a small core of some of the finest students and educators on the planet.
I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation. With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that  “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.
A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian. This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?
My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom. Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven. Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.
After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.
For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.
Sincerely and with regret,
Gerald J. Conti
Social Studies Department Leader
Cc: Doreen Bronchetti, Lee Roscoe
My little Zu.