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Links of the Day:

– The Buffalo teachers union refuses to drop a clause in its teacher evaluation agreement with the district exempting students with bad attendance. The state won’t approve the plan, which could cost the district millions of dollars. The union is getting a ton of heat from the Buffalo News editorial board:

So, is that it? The Buffalo Teachers Federation shrugs at tens of millions of dollars and walks away, all because of an issue that will affect only 20 percent of members’ evaluations? Welcome to Buffalo’s own Twilight Zone, a place where the tail wags the dog of public education, not to mention the entire city’s prospects of economic revival.

All that was necessary to get that money was for Buffalo’s teachers union to do what other urban teachers unions in New York have already done: accept an evaluation system that includes the performances of chronically absent students. It didn’t. Instead, the union’s council of delegates jammed a thumb in the eyes of every student of the Buffalo School District.

But teachers say absences are a gigantic issue:

More than half the students in Buffalo high schools missed 18 days or more — 10 percent of the year — in 2009-10, according to a study released last June.

Included in that number are the one-third of high school students who missed more than seven weeks of school, or 20 percent of the year. That’s the group known “severely chronic” absence levels.

While the problem is most severe in high school, it is also evident among the youngest children. About 4 in 10 kindergartners missed 18 or more days of school in 2009-10, including the more than 1 in 10 who missed more than seven weeks.


Many teachers say, though, that until attendance improves dramatically, they do not want to be held accountable in their evaluations for the educational growth of all students, regardless of attendance.

The Rochester City School District’s original agreement with the teachers union had an exemption for students whose attendance was below 80 percent. The updated agreement does not have the clause, presumably to comply with state regulations. (There are a lot of documents and rubrics about evaluations posted to the district’s website. You get a sense of the enormous paperwork ahead.)

Do you think it’s fair to judge teachers on kids who don’t show up to class?

– An extremely disturbing video of a fight between a male Rochester City School District paraprofessional and a female student was uploaded to YouTube. It’s now gone viral. We are only beginning to learn how the district and police handled this incident. Stay tuned.

– Speaking of fights being uploaded to social media, it’s become an issue in Batavia.

– Call it the “Wegmans effect.” Small stores in Massachusetts are feeling the pinch after Wegmans moved to town.

– Rochester’s exports have been in the news this week. It’s a source of pride. This link from Brookings shows just why we’re on the map.

3 Responses to Should Attendance Count?

  1. This continues to be one big boondoggle… the tests are unreliable, some never intended for accountability purposes… the research, used as a poor attempt to validate them, was preliminary using CUNY students and NAEP… the “growth model” doesn’t exist, let alone account for variables such as attendance and other learning factors… the appeals process still has to be negotiated… the potential exists for appeals of every observation and evaluation… could be lawsuits galore… this is the work of amateurs… implementation will be a nightmare…

  2. March 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm Lynn E responds:

    This is putting an argument where it shouldn’t be. Of course attendance is important if students are to be educated. But how stupid is it to force changes on schools by using money as a force of change. It pits those who don’t have money against those who have money. That really shows that there is really no discussion or thought about what is happening to education. Money is everything regardless of how it is used and to what purposes. This is blatant union busting by the government to the detriment of the nation.

  3. March 10, 2012 at 2:59 am Eduardo Ricardo responds:

    Someone said half of success is …just showing up.

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