Someone finally gets it.


distressThis week, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) met with Commissioner Pam Stewart regarding concerns with testing and the accountability system. At the conclusion of the meeting, FADSS indicated they would consider her comments and provide a statement reflecting the universal agreement of the organization. The superintendents of Florida acknowledge the Commissioner’s role and the difficulty of the tasks set before her. Florida superintendents have consistently defended and supported accountability, the new Florida Standards, and the need to accurately measure student performance. At this time, FADSS is compelled to provide a position regarding the recent actions of the Department of Education (DOE) and the State Board of Education (SBE).
Florida district school superintendents have lost confidence in the current accountability system for
the students of the State of Florida. As was stated in the recently released validity study by Alpine: “The precise magnitude of the problem is difficult to gauge with 100% accuracy, but the evaluation team can reasonably state that the spring 2015 administration of the FSA did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected with a high-stakes assessment program like the FSA.” (Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment Executive Summary, Findings, page 11).

FADSS Recommendations

1. Suspend any application of the results from the spring 2015 administration of the FSA to students, teachers and schools. In this high stake s environment students, teachers, and schools should not be impacted by a rushed and flawed administration of new, untried assessments. While direct negative consequences we re avoided for students, the results of a flawed assessment will impact teacher evaluations (VAM) and be used to judge the quality of schools.

2.Issue an “I” (Incomplete) if necessary, to all Florida schools for 2014-2015, based upon the availability
of limited and flawed data. For example, 5 out of 8 (63%) of the components for the elementary school grade will NOThave data available. In addition to significant issues with the initial administration of the FSA, validity, and lack of learning gains for the grading model are also concerns. It is important to note t
hat when faced with similar challenges atleast seven other states have modified their accountability system for the baseline year tomitigate negative consequences: Arizona, Colorado,Georgia, Michigan, Nevada,Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
3.Reject the concept that the standards set for the FSA mirror the levels of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). There is no evidence that NAEP is fully aligned to or measures the Florida Standards. This notion directly circumvents the work of the Education and Reactor panels composed of Florida education stakeholders. according to the National Assessment Governing Board, “NAEP is a representative-sampleassessment. It reports on the achievement of large groups of students, and does not give results for individuals or schools. Participating schools are selected by the National Center for
Education Statistics and its contractor according to a sampling frame in order to produce results that are nationally representative and also representative of participating states and urban districts.”
A specific question on their website asks, “Can I use NAEP results to find out how a participating school or student did?” Their answer, “No. NAEP is a representative-sample assessment, designed to report group results, and cannot provide accurate data on individual students and schools. By law, the assessment is required to make sure that all personally identifiable information about students and schoolsremains confidential.” [] Clearly, the two assessments have different purposes.
scott4. Conduct an extensive review of the accountability system, including the multiple changes that have been implemented over the last several years. Special attention needs to be given to learning gains so that a year’s growth in a year’s time is considered a learning gain. In addition to the negative impact on students, teachers and schools, a flawed accountability system will have an adverse economic impact on Florida communities.We have witnessed the erosion of public support foran accountability system that was once amodel for the nation. Florida school superintendents stand ready to work with all stakeholders andthe Department of Education to develop a viable accountability system and regain the trust of our students, teachers, parents and communities.
Media Contact: Diana Shelton Oropallo       850.591.2669


offshore havens

DSC_0386FCAT Incentive Plan
Dormeyster, Carole
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 1:11 PM
Calling all Akap Staff!!!!As testing season beginning we are looking for help providing incentives for our students. Each day we would like to have new small and large incentives for the students who meet intended attendance, behavior etc…i.e. gift cards small trinkets, books games, bikes and moreThat’s where you come in…..We can do this as individuals or teams for potentially larger items.If you know of any community groups/store/individuals that could help in this way that would be great as well.

With the Writing Test on March 3rd, we are looking for your help with some of this by Monday.

If you are willing to participate, please bring any and all incentive for our students small and large to Mr. Jones by Monday. This will get us started for Writing. After that we will be looking for additional things for the remainder of the tests.

Questions????? Let me know



Teacher Salary: $41,215 (average) – 9.4% below national average.

Assistant Principal Salary: $76,049 (average) – below national average.

Disney Chief Operating Officer Salary: Robert A. Iger 2013 $34,321,055

 psst- click on the picture to find out more!



Boo hoo, shame on you! A raise maybe, but NO step*, too.

Having successfully held up pay raises for 2 years and counting, they now have their pants on fire, after getting bad press for treating teachers so poorly. Blame it on the union for “holding up” getting out the ballots. Boo-hoo. 

February 11, 2015

Bargaining and pay raise update

 As a result of negotiations, the District and Classroom Education Teachers Association (CETA) have reached 19 tentative agreements, including instructional salary and health insurance. The District believes it is imperative that raises and bonuses be paid to the teachers as soon as possible. The School Board approved all tentative agreements at its February 10 School Board meeting, pending ratification by teachers. The only necessary action prior to distribution of teacher raises is ratification by the majority of teachers (CETA members and non-members).


Under state Statute, the ratification process for the bargaining unit is controlled by the CETA as well as the distribution of ratification ballots. The District hopes that the CETA will send out ballots for tentative agreements reached between the parties as soon as possible. The District has offered, as in the past, to assist with the printing and distribution, if needed.

*Step is a yearly raise given for each year of experience, the County has refused to follow the courts and give this pay over 3 years. While the School Board gets a part time salary of 42K and beginning teachers for years started at 37K. Teachers in most cases have 4 year degrees, most with education degree, and must pass state tests in order to be certified. In addition they must do an UNPAID internship, now for one year (junior, senior internship) in this county. Drug tests and fingerprinting are also costs incurred and taken out of their first checks. School board members win an election, need no education credits, and again, work only PART time.

Looney tunes & other baloney tales


Quarter 1 Visual Arts EOC Elementary Exam Meeting

Art Teachers, hello- 

The first meeting to discuss the Visual Arts EOC Elementary Exam will be on:
Thursday, September 25th, 2014
from 3:30pm- 5:00pm at
Serious Elementary
87 N. Cluck St.
Ohlanduh, FL 34222
 in the art room (room 229, upstairs)

Please bring any lessons you are teaching or have taught in quarter 1 that cover the standards from quarter 1. The goal of this meeting is to share ideas about each of our approaches for teaching the standards for quarter 1 and to discuss the idea of giving a post assessment each quarter to ensure students are learning what we are teaching.

 Refreshments will be provided 🙂

 Please RSVP by September 12th, as I only have 28 seats in my art room and if the response exceeds 28, I will have to have some of you come to our 2nd meeting instead of the 1st (in which case I will notify you).

 Thanks for your interest and I look forward to seeing you all!



I am a first year teacher and would love to sit in on this meeting. I could use all the help I can get. Tiffany.


From: Hope Ukango
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 2:03 PM
To: Joy Whadda-Uthink; Amy Histeria; VPA-Visual Arts (Elem)
Subject: RE: Visual Arts EOC Meetings

I am interested as well.


From: Joy Whadda-Uthink
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 12:13 PM
To: Amy Histeria; VPA-Visual Arts (Elem).;
Subject: RE: Visual Arts EOC Meetings

 Hi, I am very interested in meeting about this. Please keep me posted.  Thanks.

“I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” -Fannie Lou Hamer


From: Amy Histeria
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 9:26 AM
To: VPA-Visual Arts (Elem)
Subject: Visual Arts EOC Meetings

Hey Elementary Art Teachers!

Hope you are having a great start to the school year.

Since we have to give EOC’s exams this year, I am very interested in starting a group that meets about once every quarter to discuss how everyone is teaching the standards required for the EOC, exchange lesson ideas, and anything else regarding the visual arts EOC for elementary teachers.

 This group would be considered a meeting, therefore you wouldn’t get points towards certification. However, it would be a great opportunity and very beneficial (and there will be refreshments at each meeting!)

 If you are interested, please e-mail me back so I can see how many people would like to join.

Thanks! =]


Tales of the Bad Art Teacher is not an original artwork, but based upon LOONEY TUNES MERRIE MELODIES comics produced by Warner Brothers in 1948. It was found on Big Blog Comics. The emails are actually the result of real teachers feeling bullied by the school district they work for.

New Year, New School: Pump it up


Mark Tansey (American, 1949-), The Innocent Eye Test

Hey staff friends!

So, I have made a sign to put on my door that has a cow on it.  It says “DO NOT Enter!”

When this sign is on my door…it means that I am pumping…baby at home J  SO, please take it seriously.  Last time I pumped with my first daughter, I had people trying to come in, even with the door locked!

I will be locking my door as well…

Mrs. St. John, also on my team will be doing the same thing.  We will have the same sign.

Thank you for your consideration!


Give Rick a(nother) chance?

Finally, someone from the press, a parent no less, got it right. Teachers DO NOT make policy at all! Find out where the money goes, in the continuing saga of the Right Wing privatizing public education with non-sense testing and Charter Schools!!! Maybe he will do a column on Marzano next! FCAT failures show test-obsessed teaching falls short Scott Maxwell, TAKING NAMES 3:55 p.m. EST, May 26, 2012 To fully appreciate how deeply flawed Tallahassee’s approach to public education is, you must look beyond the recent news of abysmal FCAT scores — and look at how we got here. You see, FCAT was supposed to be a simple fix for a complicated problem. If we could just get our students to pass this standardized test, supposedly everything would be swell. So we cut back everything from science curriculum to art classes to focus on these tests. And we spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars paying companies to develop and grade them. Teachers were no longer trusted to teach. Everyone was made to bow down at the almighty altar of FCAT. Yet this year — after more than a decade of FCAT obsession — more than 70 percent of our fourth-graders flunked the writing test. We saw similarly sorry results in eighth and 10th grades. Third-graders posted the lowest reading scores in years. Math scores dropped as well. This can mean one of only two things: Either the test-centered method of teaching is a failure. Or the test itself is a failure. There really is no option C. x x x x x x x x x Don’t you just ♥ Rick Scott, our $75,000,000 governor and State Senator Dr. (un)Wise get the kiss-but don’t tell awards! Yet all I’m hearing from state officials is excuses — such as maybe the teachers didn’t understand what was expected of them. Hogwash. You guys contrived this system. Instead of letting teachers and principals decide how to educate children, you did. (Together with Pearson, whose $254 million contract to develop and grade these tests should be re-examined.) And using your methods, they failed. So how about you guys stop pointing fingers? It’s time to demand accountability from the test that claims to demand it from everyone else. And, no, simply lowering the passing grade so that more kids pass isn’t a solution. It’s a cop-out. My son is actually one of the much-talked-about fourth-graders. He passed the writing FCAT — part of the 27 percent who passed before the state inflated the grades so things wouldn’t look as bad. Yes, according to the state of Florida, my son knows precisely what he should. Still, I’m here to tell you I trust his teachers and principals to decide how to educate him more than I do politicians and bureaucrats in Tallahassee. Test-obsessed teaching doesn’t produce well-rounded, creative-thinking individuals. It yields formulaic bubble-fillers. And apparently Florida isn’t even very good at producing that. The cost of this test-obsessed teaching is extreme. Science classes are dropped. Social-studies programs are shrunk. Art classes get cut. P.E. becomes irregular. Anyone with common sense knows that’s a problem. If politicians didn’t know that before, they know now that the system they created flunked the testing process they devised. Gov. Rick Scott says he’s paying attention. His Education Department even generated a report in response to the FCAT debacle titled: “Higher Standards: The Right Thing to Do.” Congratulations, Governor. You’ve got yourself a catchphrase. Now get something that actually improves the way our kids learn. The problem isn’t low standards. It’s this test-obsessed method of teaching. When most of us were growing up, government didn’t dictate every little thing we learned. When Mrs. Perkins wanted to teach me algebra, she developed her own lesson plans and her own exams. And you know what? We got to be a pretty darn successful country that way. Call it “socialized education.” Call it whatever you want. It worked. We led the world. America grew strong with community schools led by teachers and principals supported by parents and elected officials. There wasn’t an abundance of politicians demonizing teachers or sucking up campaign donations from companies that profit off school “reform.” Not everything was perfect. Reforms were and still are needed. For instance, I think merit pay is a must. Good teachers should be rewarded. Bad teachers should be shown the door. I think we need accountability and measuring sticks as well. We should track everything from graduation and college-placement rates to performance on nationally accepted standardized tests and even job placement. Standardized tests can play an important role. But they can’t be the be-all and end-all — especially at the expense of other crucial parts of learning. That’s a failed way of thinking. Don’t take it from me. Take it from the state’s own numbers. or 407-420-614

Death of the Birthday Cupcake

Today I was told (my daughter’s birthday) that unfortunately you can’t bring in a fruit tray brought from a store (per letter sent in Jan. and our school ideas for healthy snacks website) that our school is “steering” away from birthday celebrations, a tradition that has been followed for decades. It’s unfortunate that principals, staff, teachers, etc. do not have the “time” to honor a child’s birthday with her classmates!  I know it’s a lot on the teachers behalf to facilitate this by his or herself (our children are being punished by those who have ruined the freedom of parents coming to assist. Societies random acts of violence has a domino effect on us all)! Therefore, once again our wonderful teachers have yet another burden of responsibility! To act alone and help our children celebrate their birthday with their classmates/friends! I know it’s not an easy task. However, Elimination should not be the conclusive answer (especially not on the day of without ANY prior notice). What about the child who relocates, and doesn’t have any friends, except the students she engages with daily?  They look forward to sharing that moment with classmates! Perhaps working in a specific date ahead of time to incorporate within the classroom so teachers can celebrate student’s birthday for that month is feasible. For example, the last day of each month have a celebration for all the students whose birthday fell within that month… a simple 30 minute time frame! It can be done. I’m very disappointed!! This should have been directly stated and not subliminal enforced! I could have made other arrangements (as well as other parents who has faced this same problem)!!!! Now it’s too late and my daughter will be affected! I’ll have to mend a broken heart and explain why she couldn’t have 30 minutes of a day to celebrate with the only friends she have!!!!!

Sincerely a disgruntled parent


From the Principal of Never Never Land Elementary

February 21, 2014

Dear Parents and Families,

Since our January notification to parents about cupcakes and other not-so-healthy food choices, there have been many questions generated regarding the continuation of student birthday celebrations at our school. The good
news is, “we still continue to recognize and celebrate student birthdays at school”, however, we no longer encourage the celebration or recognition to include food, whether it be healthy or unhealthy, as many of our
students are, indeed, allergic to healthy food, as well. In addition, all families aren’t always able to send in healthy snacks and/or favors for an entire class when it’s their own child’s birthday, so we often,
unintentionally, do more harm to those students and families who can’t, or choose not to do the same.

Instead of the traditional cupcakes, ice cream, candy or even fruit, cheese or crackers, many teachers choose to honor birthday students by singing songs, playing special games, announcing names on orning announcements, wearing special hats or banners, having access to the birthday chair, facilitating leadership roles of honor in the classroom etc. In lieu of food or sweet treats, some families are choosing to send in party favors such as pencils, books, stickers, movie tickets, or party invitations.

Our goal for honoring student birthdays within the school day and during non-instructional time is just to make your child feel extra special on their special day. It is of my opinion, that together we can accomplish this
simple goal without the inclusion of food. As our teaching and learning schedules do not permit time for birthday parties, our teachers creatively find time to honor and recognize their birthday students during the non- instructional part of their day; such as at the end of the lunch period, at recess, or at a scheduled snack time.

We do continue to encourage parents who celebrate their children’s birthday parties at home, or on the weekends to please send in enough party invitations for their child’s entire class membership, so that teachers
might distribute them on your behalf and with enough time left for you to plan and host attendance at your child’s special event. Thank you for your understanding as we work to celebrate all of our students’ successes, academic and otherwise, in a responsible, respectful and safe manner.

The Administration

So you want to be a . . .teacher?

Photo, Teaching a deaf-mute to talk, OK, Lewis Hines, April 1917, LoC   Let’s talk tests. . .

Test Fees and Payment Policies

Florida Teacher’s Certification Exam Test Fees

Registration Fees First Attempt Retake
Subject Area Examination $200 $220
Professional Education Test $150 $170
General Knowledge Test (any combination of subtests*) $130 $150

* You may register to take all or any combination of the 4 General Knowledge Test subtests for a single test fee.

Or become a principal? FELE Test Fees

Registration Fees First Attempt Retake
Any combination of subtests* $215 $225

You know this is non-refundable, and there is no compensation for it, right? Passing it does not guarantee you a job.

Photo:  Lewis W. Hines









Teachers: Earn less than he pays his secretaries at Microsoft!

Reprinted from the Washington Post/ The Answer Sheet Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 11/30/2010

“Diane Ravitch Answers

Bill Gates

In a paean to Bill Gates, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter calls Diane Ravitch the Microsoft founder’s “chief adversary.”
It’s the world’s richest (or second richest) man vs. an education historian and New York University research professor.
Gates, through his philanthropic foundation, has invested billions of dollars in education experiments and now has a pivotal role in reform efforts. Ravitch, the author of the bestselling The Death and Life of the Great American School System, has become the most vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s education policy. She says Gates is backing the wrong initiatives and harming public schools.
In the Newsweek piece, Gates poses some questions aimed at Ravitch. I asked her to answer them. Below are the questions Gates asked, in bold, and the answers, in italics, that Ravitch provided in an email.Gates: “Does she like the status quo?”
Ravitch: “No, I certainly don’t like the status quo. I don’t like the attacks on teachers, I don’t like the attacks on the educators who work in our schools day in and day out, I don’t like the phony solutions that are now put forward that won’t improve our schools at all. I am not at all content with the quality of American education in general, and I have expressed my criticisms over many years, long before Bill Gates decided to make education his project. I think American children need not only testing in basic skills, but an education that includes the arts, literature, the sciences, history, geography, civics, foreign languages, economics, and physical education.
“I don’t hear any of the corporate reformers expressing concern about the way standardized testing narrows the curriculum, the way it rewards convergent thinking and punishes divergent thinking, the way it stamps out creativity and originality. I don’t hear any of them worried that a generation will grow up ignorant of history and the workings of government. I don’t hear any of them putting up $100 million to make sure that every child has the chance to learn to play a musical instrument. All I hear from them is a demand for higher test scores and a demand to tie teachers’ evaluations to those test scores. That is not going to improve education.”
Gates: “Is she sticking up for decline?”Ravitch: “Of course not! If we follow Bill Gates’ demand to judge teachers by test scores, we will see stagnation, and he will blame it on teachers. We will see stagnation because a relentless focus on test scores in reading and math will inevitably narrow the curriculum only to what is tested. This is not good education.“Last week, he said in a speech that teachers should not be paid more for experience and graduate degrees. I wonder why a man of his vast wealth spends so much time trying to figure out how to cut teachers’ pay. Does he truly believe that our nation’s schools will get better if we have teachers with less education and less experience? Who does he listen to? He needs to get himself a smarter set of advisers.

“Of course, we need to make teaching a profession that attracts and retains wonderful teachers, but the current anti-teacher rhetoric emanating from him and his confreres demonizes and demoralizes even the best teachers. I have gotten letters from many teachers who tell me that they have had it, they have never felt such disrespect; and I have also met young people who tell me that the current poisonous atmosphere has persuaded them not to become teachers. Why doesn’t he make speeches thanking the people who work so hard day after day, educating our nation’s children, often in difficult working conditions, most of whom earn less than he pays his secretaries at Microsoft?”

Gates: “Does she really like 400-page [union] contracts?”

Ravitch: “Does Bill Gates realize that every contract is signed by two parties: management and labor? Why does management agree to 400-page contracts? I don’t know how many pages should be in a union contract, but I do believe that teachers should be evaluated by competent supervisors before they receive tenure (i.e., the right to due process).

“Once they have due process rights, they have the right to a hearing when someone wants to fire them. The reason for due process rights is that teachers in the past have been fired because of their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, or because they did not make a political contribution to the right campaign, or for some other reason not related to their competence.

“Gates probably doesn’t know this, but 50% of all those who enter teaching leave within the first five years. Our biggest problem is not getting rid of deadbeats, but recruiting, retaining, and supporting teachers. We have to replace 300,000 teachers (of nearly 4 million) every single year. What are his ideas about how to do this?”

Gates: “Does she think all those ‘dropout factories’ are lonely?”

Ravitch: “This may come as a surprise to Bill Gates, but the schools he refers to as “dropout factories” enroll large numbers of high-need students. Many of them don’t speak or read English; many of them enter high school three and four grade levels behind. He assumes the schools created the problems the students have; but in many cases, the schools he calls “dropout factories” are filled with heroic teachers and administrators trying their best to help kids who have massive learning problems.

“Unless someone from the district or the state actually goes into the schools and does a diagnostic evaluation, it is unfair to stigmatize the schools with the largest numbers of students who are English-language learners, special-education, and far behind in their learning. That’s like saying that an oncologist is not as good a doctor as a dermatologist because so many of his patients die. Mr. Gates, first establish the risk factor before throwing around the labels and closing down schools.”

Gates: “If there’s some other magic way to reduce the dropout rate, we’re all ears.”

Ravitch: “Here’s the sad truth: There is no magic way to reduce the dropout rate. It involves looking at the reasons students leave school, as well as the conditions in which they live. The single biggest correlate with low academic achievement (contrary to the film Waiting for Superman) is poverty. Children who grow up in poverty get less medical care. worse nutrition, less exposure to knowledge and vocabulary, and are more likely to be exposed to childhood diseases, violence, drugs, and abuse. They are more likely to have relatives who are incarcerated. They are more likely to live in economic insecurity, not knowing if there is enough money for a winter coat or food or housing. This affects their academic performance. They tend to have lower attendance and to be sick more than children whose parents are well-off.

“The United States today has a child poverty rate of over 20%, and it is rising. This is a national scandal. The film compares us to Finland, but doesn’t mention that their child poverty rate is under 5%. Mr. Gates, why don’t you address the root causes of low academic achievement, which is not ‘bad teachers,’ but poverty. It won’t involve magic, but it would certainly require the best thinking that you can assemble. And if anyone can afford to do it, surely you can.

I don’t mean to suggest that schools as they are now are just fine: They are not. Every school should have a rich and balanced curriculum; many don’t. Every child should look forward to coming to school, for his or her favorite studies and activities, but those are the very studies and activities likely to lose out to endless test preparation. Schools need many things: Some need more resources and better conditions for teaching and learning; all need a stable, experienced staff. Teachers need opportunities for intellectual growth and colleagueship. Tests should be used diagnostically, to help students and teachers, not to allocate bonuses and punishments. Teachers, principals, administrators, parents, and local communities should collaborate to create caring communities, and that’s happening in many places. I know that none of this is the “magic way” that you are looking for, Mr. Gates, but any educator will tell you that education is a slow, laborious process that requires good teachers, able leadership, willing students, a strong curriculum, and willing students. None of that happens magically.” “