Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Measuring Student Achievement

In theory, measuring a superintendent’s performance only requires calculating and weighing three factors – student achievement, financial management, and maintaining a nurturing and safe learning environment. (Note: I have informed Dr. O’Malley that, independent of any board action, I will be devising my own performance benchmarks, which I expect to present before the end of July.)

A staff member’s performance can be measured by his contribution to the advancement of those same three goals.

Alas, the devil is in the details. How do we measure student achievement?

One of my common refrains is teachers teach to the test and students learn to the test. In other words, we expect people to work harder in those areas where they’ll be held accountable. My objective, then, is to devise a comprehensive test to measure student achievement.

I believe student achievement can be divided into two categories – academic and character. Since I cannot imagine any reliable fashion to measure character, I’m going to focus upon academic.

The following proposal will likely engender some controversy. However, the alternatives are to either do nothing or do something better.

I propose we develop a master exam for every class.

A master exam works as follows – Let’s say our final exams in math have a hundred questions. The master exam for math can have 1000 questions. Every question on that final exam will come will come from the master exam. All any student needs to do is become competent in the master exam to pass the final. No surprises. Of course, for someone to become proficient in 1000 questions, I doubt they would have any trouble with any exam.

Additionally, any student can opt-out of a class at any point by “mastering” the master exam – i.e. by answering all or most of the master exam questions and scoring 95%. (This can be done after school at the student’s expense.) Those students who excel will then be offered the opportunity to move ahead at their own paces.

A master exam offers several advantages –

  • Clarity – Every teacher, student, and parent knows what’s expected
  • Consensus – The community can have input on the curriculum by modifying the master exam
  • Consistency – Students are being given the same test regardless of teacher
  • Teaching In-Depth – The areas receiving the greatest attention on the master exam will likely be given the most time in class
  • Objective Measurement – Students and parents will have an objective measure of performance
  • Opportunity to Excel – Every student will know where he’s weakest and strongest. Those who can fly ahead don’t have to be held back
  • Practice – Just like a driver’s test, the students can practice as often as they like with whomever they like
  • Teaching Locally – No longer would we be driven by state standards. Our community can decide what’s important for our children to learn
The master exam can be finessed from year to year to reflect teacher and community concerns. It can demand that the final exam be proportioned so that different subject areas are adequately tested. It can include a variety of question types.

I don’t believe we need be concerned by teachers “teaching to the test” since we can always add questions to the master upon a teacher’s request. Nor am I concerned that students will try to game the system by “mastering” the master. In fact, I hope they try to do just that.

For short answer and essay questions, we’d need to develop some grading criteria and possibly an audit system to ensure teachers are grading according to expectations. Also, developing these exams would be a massive undertaking – I would budget $75,000 for the endeavor, most of it fees to the teachers developing the exams. (We could start with a pilot program and phase-in over three years.)

I’m certain I haven’t considered all the drawbacks (though I’m equally confident my readership will share them with me). Still, I believe this plan would offer dramatic improvements over the current system.

Please share your thoughts. >>> Read more!


Anonymous said...

Oh, sounds great, More evals based on performance and not RESULTS, more time for tests means less time for teaching, more stipends paid to teachers to make more tests. community input on making the tests??? If you did not heed ANY community input on giving 9.3% raises with their money why would you want their "non-professional" input into making students tests. Stop testing and start teaching. Stop talking and start listening. Start evaluating RESULTS not performance. PS How do you plan on replacing the revenue lost in budget by the Bayshore Jointure moving out of Central Office. Will you have to cut anything? Where will our own Students in the bayshore jointure now have to be bussed to? How will you pay for that additional bussing? Answer some of these concrete questions before you go on some elusive evaluation process that amounts to nothing if you don't get the superintendent to recommend it and the board to vote on it.

Aberdeener said...

Do you really think this tone gains you credence?

What's the difference between measuring performance and results?

How is there more testing? All classes already give finals. We're just setting parameters for the questions on the final.

As for Bayshore, who told you they're moving out? I have no such information. On the contrary, I'd like to use the space to develop our own in-house programs.

Lastly, the superintendent is open to constructive suggestions as is the board. I intend to make a number of recommendations but I am first seeking community input.

Unknown said...

I'd like to know how these tests would relate to the special education students.

Anonymous said... you get involved in the curriculum of you'r child's school? Are you setting benchmarks for the admin there and his/her teachers? How do you plan on measuring success at that school?

Anonymous said...

FYI:I heard that the Bayshore Jointure has decided not to move to Tinton Falls & that they have one more year on their lease. I assume with an option to renew.The comment about the revenue lost? We spend over 1.2 million there & get 126,000 back! Come on! Since when is it the MARSD's job to make a profit off of kids?

I am so sad that more lies are being spread about the Jointures plans. It is very upsetting to the parents of the students enrolled there. I do not see why we cannot use stimulus $$ to build our own in house program if or when they do decide to leave Aberdeen. That way our students get what they need & stay here in town; taxpayers won't be paying tuition & bussing costs.

On Topic: Not every child learns at the same way. Not every child excels in all subjects. I,too, am very anxious to hear your answer on how your theories apply to special needs students and your average student. What is your point here? Let's just make all kids take AP level courses, regardless of their strengths? Most of our students are average; not everyone can be at the top academically. That does not mean that they cannot and do not make the Merit & Honor rolls.

Based on how poorly our students perform on the standardized test in the MARSD, I do not know how anyone can say that the teachers are teaching to the test. Perhaps we need to figure out why our students perform so poorly on what already exists rather than change the method of assessing them. I do not know how to even begin to resolve that issue, but perhaps having a policy of every child reading at grade level by the end of third grade might help. There are plenty of typical kids who struggle with learning to read and comprehend what they are reading. How about the MARSD getting serious about that?

Anonymous said...

Your idol DrO brought NWEA testing to the district to help "teach to the test". DrO's boy Farell provided all MAMS teachers with so much test prep, I think the teachers and students were burned out by the time NJ Ask came around. It appears that the initiative to teach to the test comes from the man you just gave an outrageous raise to.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea that you realize we have a problem in our district with the current system and you are thinking out of the box to come up with a solution. But isn't that O'Malleys job and his double talking staff of administrators who don't have a clue as usual. For you to come up with a plan means you don't believe in his. Neither do I, and I believe after what he did with the raises, he is making sure he gets his money without measuring student achievement. You can't trust O'Connell and Kenny so don't expect them to support you on this. I suspect you will learn the hard way on what the true motives of this administration and board leadership really are. They will do everything in their power to not show O'Malley as a failure as others did with Quinn. Don't fall prey to the political world of the school system and don't let what just happened to us happen again. Student achievement and superintendents performance can be measured, but do they really want accurate findings?

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, answering questions with questions. Perhaps my tone is out of frustration for exactly that type of behavior.

Anonymous said...

You received lots of ocmmunity input on your decision to extend raises...why should we offer anymore input? I don't think there was a single post amongst the 88 posted that supported your view.

Aberdeener said...

To answer your questions -
1) I do not intend to review my 5-year old's kindergarten curriculum. So long as he learns to read Hebrew and English in a nurturing environment, I'll be pleased.
2) Could you explain your concern regarding special ed students? All I've suggested is that the final exams draw their questions from a pre-approved list. How would that change any other accommodations we currently provide?
3) Creating master exams does not affect teaching methodology except to ensure that specific skill sets are being properly tested. I would think all parents would welcome a way to test and help their children. How would this adversely affect struggling students?
4) I am not introducing any new exams. I am simply restricting the final exam to a set a pre-approved questions that will be created by the teachers with input from the community.
5) Dr. O'Malley's role and mine are similar to a taxi driver and his passenger. I determine the destination and sometimes provide direction but it's his job to get me there quickly, cheaply, and safely.
6) I am swayed by ideas and data but only opinions were provided. If numbers alone were enough to convince me, I'd be a Christian.

Anonymous said...

"If numbers alone were enough to convince me, I'd be a Christian."

Would you please explain your comment? It seems to me that you can only stand on your "freedom of speech" soapbox so long before you begin to reveal your true anti-Christian feelings. As a member of our BOE, you should watch your comments regarding ANY one particular religious group so as to not belittle anyone's religious affiliation with your snide and arrogant commentary.

Anonymous said...

2) Could you explain your concern regarding special ed students? All I've suggested is that the final exams draw their questions from a pre-approved list. How would that change any other accommodations we currently provide?

I was not the poster to asked the very important question, but I will answer.

Obviously you have no experience with special education.

Your suggestion is to have a list of 1000 questions for teachers to choose from for their exams. Those questions I am assuming are from the "regular" curriculum. What about the special ed. kids who do not follow the "regular" curriculum? What about the kids who have IQ's of 80? Do you suggest that we use the same questions for them? How about the kids who are under 75? Same questions?

You are suggesting that these kids with multiple disablities take the same exams as kids who do not have disabilities?

What about the special ed. kids who take 2x's sometimes 3x's longer to learn the same information?

What about the special ed. kids who are absent for many many days and are "exempt" from the district attendence policies? Are their teachers going to be held responsible for their test grades when they miss an extreme amount of days?( and please don't tell me it doesn't happen, it happens ALL the time)

Mr. Warren, your suggestion sounds good in theory, but in reality it is way off.

Aberdeener said...

To clarify, I'm not suggesting that all kids take the same exams under the same conditions. I'm only saying that final exam questions be drawn from a pre-approved list.

Could you provide a scenario where that wouldn't work?

Aberdeener said...

To the person who didn't get my "Christian" comment -

There are more Christians than Jews. If I made all my decisions based upon popular opinion, I'd have converted to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Aberdeener - take your foot out of your mouth. Your breath smells like a sandal.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that it would smell more like omalleys ass than a sandal

Anonymous said...

Performance, O'Malley drives quickly, cheaply and safely but result is you never arrive at the exact destination that you want. Talk to me when test scores actually have improved and every third grader can read! Isn't that we all want to be?

By the way, I believe you already knew the difference between performance and results but are just using your usual board double speak and I am not amused.

Aberdeener said...

What I wrote is O'Malley's job is to "get me there quickly, cheaply, and safely".

So, you believe "getting me there" isn't related to performance. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are proposing standardized midterms and finals at the high school. Those exams were put in a few years ago. Hasn't your director of accountability been checking those out. They should be. Not you.

Are you suggesting O'Malley has "GOTTEN YOU THERE" already? And just what DATA are you basing that on? I don't "BELIEVE" that one other person thinks we are where we want to be.

Aberdeener said...

I've seen the senior English exams. They barely test writing and reading comprehension.

Having a public master exam would force a change.

Anonymous said...

The director of accountability position is a joke. Accountability is even in the title yet no one gets held accountable. The board of educations main objective is to hold people accountable for results. No results, no money. Until someone demands accountability nothings going to change because they get the money they want anyway.

Anonymous said...

"Teaching Locally – No longer would we be driven by state standards. Our community can decide what’s important for our children to learn"

I hate to tell you Mr. Aberdeener, but teaching to the standards is mandated by the State... it is NOT the textbooks, teacher judgment, or parental decisions that authorize what is taught in public schools. It is purely STANDARDS. That is why they were created: to ensure equal access and to provide local school districts with clear and specific benchmarks for student achievement. Without them, each district would be left to create an arbitrary curriculum, which in turn might not ensure our students receive proper preparation for college since most entrance exams or placement tests are based on state standards. A district’s curriculum MUST be standard driven, or it is not considered appropriate by any means. For someone that is so insistent on “better preparing our students”, you seem isolated from the true realities of education and its demands. Your ideas seem be well intended, but you seem far removed from what is required from educators and administrators. If you claim to be so opposed to “teaching to the test”, then how can you contradictorily claim that teachers need to be held accountable by standardizing exams and curriculum?

Moreover, you seem to be completely oblivious to the needs of a significant population in every district: special education. On this blog, in writing, it sounds inspiring to claim that every student can be held to the same standards. But in reality, through life experiences, we know that everyone does not learn the same way and cannot be expected to attain the same goals. Like you stated, your ideas may not be well received, but it seems that it is due to poor judgments and misunderstandings of successful, current educational philosophies.

Anonymous said...

"Could you provide a scenario where that wouldn't work?"

I did, special education.

Anonymous said...

I am swayed by ideas and data but only opinions were provided. If numbers alone were enough to convince me, I'd be a Christian.

Funny, but the most important data being the results were not available/provided but you still insisted on voting for a ridiculous pay raise. Then you further insult everyone with your diatribe which may be fine at your backyard barbecues but as an "elected" official - sucks. Grow up.

Aberdeener said...

Are you saying the state prevents us from testing writing and comprehension skills? Or that state standards prevents us from emphasizing the accomplishments of great people in American history? Or that the state mandates we use multiple choice questions?

The state gives us the minimal standards, that's it. We retain full rights to mandate that our children learn beyond the state's minimalist standards and that our exams reflect the skills and knowledge we want our children to possess.

As for special education, I requested a specific scenario whereby a child's exam questions cannot be drawn from a master template. Or do the teachers write different exam questions every year that are unique to each special ed student?

Anonymous said...

Yes they do. Each special ed student has an IEP - Individual Education Plan. No two are alike. Each child's learning style, goals and objectives, short and long term bench marks and academic standards are different.
For example: A Downs Syndrome child mainstreamed into a science class may have to perform at a 65% level to achieve his/her "A" in the course. An autistic child in the same class may have to achieve an 80% standard for his/her "A". There will be high honor & Honor & Merit students and average students, unclassified, in the same classes.(especially at the k-5 level; hopefully this will happen more often at the 6-12 level)

So you can't have 1000 questions to pick from - each kid in the room would get a different test.

Aberdeener said...

Once again, I am not suggesting that all students get the same tests or are tested to the same standards or are tested under the same conditions.

All I'm saying is that the questions be taken from a public master template.

In the case of special ed students, how are the current questions being derived? Do teachers devise unique questions for each special ed student each year or are the questions being copied from somewhere?

Anonymous said...

If the district is following the student's IEP - & we must assume that it should be, or else that is a violation of the students free and appropriate public education & their civil rights - but I digress - Each year, each student that has a classification would get a different test. For every subject. Every child's IEP dictates if a child tested & accountable to pass, how the curriculum is modified to best meet the students needs, how the test is modified for the students best understanding, what accommodations are in place - small group testing, directions read, directions reworded, directions read by the student to the proctor, all questions & answers read to the student - except for reading comprehension passages - ... & the list goes on & on - each kid getting different things, each teacher giving different assessments - some kids get projects instead of a written exam.

There is no cookie cutter solution to this issue - whether your child is classified or is typical. What you are suggesting is overwhelmingly hard to apply effectively.

Holding EVERYONE to the same standard is hard; I believe that is why the current standardized testing has the bar fairly low. & some of our students do not make proficiency on that standard. Which, please remember Mr. Warren - is tied into our Title 1 money - a big chunk of change for this district's budget.

Anonymous said...

All you are saying is that the questions be taken from a public master template? Is that not the same thing as teaching to the test? Please differentiate the outcomes for us. Whether the tested items are from your “public-driven” question pool or derived from state mandated standards (yes, we know your strive for more than what is necessitated by the state) it is still “teaching to the test”. Regardless of where the questions originate from, the teachers still need to cover all required material in class. How is this different from the current practice? Are you saying that the current curriculum is not challenging enough (therefore indicating that the state standards are too minimal as guidelines)? Because it would seem that if you believe that the majority of our students are already underachieving, how is making the curriculum more challenging going to improve achievement? You cannot state that teachers need to be “made accountable” when in fact they are teaching the curriculum they are given. Unfortunately, Mr. Aberdeener, districts are held accountable by the state based on test scores, whether you like it or not. (Even though subjects like History are not tested, curriculums are always derived from those standards.) As a result, schools must make sure the curriculum covers the mandated standards because it is those standards that are being tested; not what they town public feels should be taught. How is raising the bar, so to speak, on student achievement by “standardizing district exams” in any way educationally sound? Furthermore, state standards do not prevent subjects from being covered (like American History) or in any way exempt students from writing proficiently. You clearly are unfamiliar with the NJCCCS. Looks like you need to read up a bit about state standards and their implications.

Aberdeener said...

What I am suggesting would create a situation whereby teachers teach to the test. But it would be a test the teachers and community have jointly agreed upon.

The situation we have now is a black box. We have students receiving grades that do not correlate with state exams. We have exams that do not test the skills or knowledge we expect our students to have.

What's wrong with allowing the community a say in what we expect our children to know and how they should be tested?

Why not run a pilot program? We already hire high school teachers to write standardized final exams. Just pay them extra to build a massive template and share it with the public.

What's the opposition to a pilot program in the high school?

Aberdeener said...

If a special ed student is receiving customized test questions, then the program would not work for him. However, it's my understanding that, in most cases, the selection of questions is customized, not the questions themselves.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that everyone sees fit to have an opinion on issues they know nothing about? Aberdeener, you want to work on policy via the BOE, that's fine. Leave the teaching to the teachers. The more you write, the more ridiculous you sound.

Aberdeener said...

Teaching and testing are no more the same than coaching and refereeing.

Many final exams have already been standardized. Why not allow the public to see the exams and offer feedback?

Anonymous said...

Your understanding is wrong Mr. Warren.

Each special ed. student recieves specialized testing which includes a variety of different methods. Each year that special ed. teacher must customize each students tests according to his/her IEP. So, a special ed. teacher who has 30 kids a day may have to write 6 exams to accomadate different disabilities. A template of 1000 questions would not help that teacher or student in any way.

Example...non special ed. student cover chapters 1-10 for mid term. their text books are much more detailed then some of the special ed. text books. The special ed. kids may only cover chapter 1-5 in the same amount of time. they may only do well on multiple choice, or they may only do well with multiple choice with 2 answers instead of 4. They may not be able to do fill-ins, without word boxes, matching is difficult for a lot of them due to perceptual issues and essays for some have to be very limited and specific.

What is your degree in again Mr. Warren?

Anonymous said...

What you are suggesting is a master set of questions and answers like is available for the driving permit exam. If we gave the list of say 200 possible questions and 200 answers, kids would just memorize the correct answers and we would not really know if they learned anything that would stick after the test is over. (Remember the NYC regents exams?)

The written permit exam is not the "final exam" of driving. It is just the beginning of learning to drive. You eventually have to drive behind the wheel to get a license and then there are even graduated rules for minors. The list of master questions would prove nothing other than a good memory.

Tell the truth Aberdeener, you just want all the exams at high school revealed to the public because you think that the public would be shocked at the content. Then just say that already.

Hold the Pickle said...


Are you saying that the 100 question final exam questions will come from a 1000 question master exam? If so, who will determine what 100 questions out of the 1000 will be selected?

If you really want to help the students of Aberdeen you need to stop with this top down approach to fixing the school district. The issues on this blog never confront the issues being felt at the elementary level. If you want to have better students and increase student achievement, then you need to lessen class size at the primary level and offer more programs that attend to students who have difficulty in reading, writing, and math. Just like a snowball rolling down a hill, the student who is behind in first grade is then behind in second, third and the gap between that student who is struggling and those who are not grows and grows and grows.

Instead of trying to fix the problem at the high school end, try fixing the problems before they get too bad by lessening class size at the primary level and offering more remedial programs to get students caught up earlier rather than later.

NsectionJoe said...

I am very confused we have replaced BARZA with more educated people, who within the first two months are attacked constantly. A slanted attack content obviously, but nonetheless slanted. Give these people a chance to warm their seats and feel out the initial processes. All you BARZA defenders need to relax. Don't get me wrong I am very disappointed with the recent salary increases and the individual votes cast myself. But that is over for now.

I think positive change is coming but perhaps we need to let the process move forward a little more as we all watch it unfold very closely. I myself look forward to the special needs program improvements after the former debacle, along with the test score results soon to come to show all of us either significant progress or more stagnant test scores, as has too often been the norm in our district. One minor point of improvement here or there will not be the progress we need or pay for at $13,000.00 per pupil.

The average students and below average students often so overlooked or cast aside also needs marked improvement as well. All school districts have the honor roll students and merit roll students, our district needs to spread their opportunities and improvements across the board to show me anything on which to have based the raises as well as all of the shifting of positions. Special needs aside of course.

Happy 4th of July to all.

Please fly our flag proudly.

Aberdeener said...

If we use short answer and essay questions, I don't believe we'd need to be concerned about kids memorizing information for those kinds of questions. In fact, I think it would be a good thing.

The master exams could be sectioned proportionally with final questions selected randomly from each section so that they don't become skewed towards any one topic.

As for our current crop of exams, I think the public would be shocked by how little we test writing and analytical skills or how some teachers test to the level of the class.

Lastly, by setting master exams at all levels, we can raise expectations and hold our students and parents accountable.

The reason my focus is at the high school level is because my primary concern is the end product. I prefer to work at the high school level and then work backwards. Just as I want every high school graduate to be prepared for college, I want our middle school graduates prepared for high school and so on. Ultimately, we'd raise expectations at every level.

Lastly, I believe the community should have a say in determining what we want our students to learn.

Anonymous said...

Again, what is your degree in Mr. Warren?

Aberdeener said...

My degree is in economics. How is that relevant?

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain the reason for the a&b day schedule for the middle school? Don't you think that if the students had the same class everyday they might perform better?

Aberdeener said...

The middle school requested to move to block scheduling to increase the total amount of class time for certain subjects.

Anonymous said...

How is your degree relevant?

It is just further evidence that you are really don't have a clue.

Aberdeener said...

Ah, personal attacks. The final thrust of a failed argument.

Regarding testing special ed students, I've already confirmed my understanding with one reliable source and am waiting to hear from a second.

I hope you don't use the same attitude with your students.

Anonymous said...

Why do you assume the negative comments on this board come from teachers?

Hold the Pickle said...


How can you possibly think that working from the top down is the best approach? Did you teach your child to walk before he could crawl? The only way to get the end product you are looking for is to begin when children can be molded into good students. You will never achieve the success you are looking for if you continue to ignore the fact that smaller class sizes at the primary level will result in better students. By simply focusing on the high school you are putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.

Aberdeener said...


In my entire life, I've never heard anyone but a teacher argue that only teachers are qualified to comment on what our children should be expected to learn.


Allow me to explain my perspective. Let's say I want students to be able to complete Calculus BC by the time they graduate. That means they'll need to complete Calculus AB by the end of their junior year. Therefore, they'll need have had three years of high school math by their sophomore years. Therefore, they'll need to be prepared to take Algebra by eighth grade. And so on. By starting at the end, I can lay a road map from grade 1.

As for class size, my understanding is that once classes are below twenty students, the resources necessary to reduce class size even further could be better used elsewhere. Do you have information to the contrary?

Regarding special ed students, the information I have is that the vast majority of special ed students are tested using standard questions. Sometimes the questions and testing conditions are modified to meet that student's special needs (as had been explained by a prior anon comment) but the basic questions themselves are generally not unique to that student.

Anonymous said...

Aberdeener, why should PICKLE have to disprove your assumption with "other information"? Since you believe you are correct, YOU prove your assumption about class size. Post a study, an ACTUAL peer reviewed research study, proving your point that once the number of students in a class falls below 20, outcomes are indifferent. Instead of placing the burden of proof on a blogger, try accepting resposibility and prove your statements.

And contrary to your stated belief that all anon posters are teachers, you could not be more wrong. Although I wish more teachers would speak their minds about these ridiculous ideas.

Anonymous said...

I happen to be in the psychology field, so once again you are wrong.

I'm wondering though why you are so insecure that you find someone disagreeing with you a personal attack?

I guess you feel that you are superior to most teachers and that you while being in the business field still trumps those who are in the profession. You know because someone told you so.

Aberdeener said...

Here's an article from the CATO Insititute that strongly argues reducing class size will not improve student performance. Here's the study he cites. I believe the study's findings are reproduced here.

Does that suffice?

By the way, I never said nor suggested that all anon posters were teachers. I referred to one anon commenter.

If you wish to have an honest debate, please don't mischaracterize my statements.

As for the latest "personal attack" from a person claiming to be in the "psychology field", you should know better.

Anonymous said...

You mean like you "claiming" to know enough about the educational field to make suggestions like you do?

I do know better that is why I asked you what filed you were in.

Do you think someone with a degree in economics has more understanding about educating children than teachers? You should know better!

Anonymous said...

Aberdeener, I have seen YOU mischaracterize others statements many times. Isn't it frustrating when it happens to you?

Aberdeener said...

Really? I do try to be careful. Can you provide an example?

Anonymous said...

Again, you ignore the parents of this district. You keep shoving examples of studies down our throats, but you do not listen to the parents. You are NOT the expert on class size, child development and curriculum and instruction. The teachers, while obvioulsy more important than you, aren't even the "experts" in this field. IT IS THE PARENTS. You should be less willing to quote studies that do not pertain to our district, and more willing to listen to the concerns and input from the parents who know BETTER THAN ANYBODY how their child learns.

Your refusal to send your son to our district's schools should have been our first red light with you. Don't hand me that garbage about you wanting him to learn Hebrew. The truth is, you think your children are too good to be fully immersed in our school system. As a parent, I understand your feelings towards your child, however, I don't trust you to make decisions for MY child when you are obviously looking down your nose at us.

In my opinion, there is a vast difference between "education" and "learning." Education should be defined as the raw business end of teaching with test results as the overall evaluation of the program. Learning, however, is the "thing" that happens when each child in a class gathers his/her own ideas on a subject and is able to make his/her own conclusion/inference. Even if a teacher presented the exact same lesson from a scripted plan, each child in that class will hear something different and will have a different "take" on something. That is simply the way human brains are wired. I hear way too much about "education" from you, and not enough about "learning."

You can keep your facts about "education" and stuff your numbers-crunching mind with other useless studies. I want a district that will enable each child to learn (i.e understand)and not worry so much about what the tests show. Stop worrying about the numbers and what we will or will not be entitled to due to the numbers, and start worrying about teaching to the core of each child and not to the test.

When your children are older, and their strengths and weaknesses are more apparent and they are struggling to make sense of the world around them and the changes happening in their bodies, I dare you to tell me that your only assessment of their capabilities will be how they score on a test. Children are not machines in which you can input information and check for their output. They're much more complex than you categorize, and their learning must be adjusted to each individual. Your "one size fits all" quick fix will not work here, nor is it welcomed.

Anonymous said...

and there is the other tricky thing that you do. Answering comments with questions.....reeealllly annoying. I have plenty of examples of your "mischaracterizations" but I am wise enough not to put them in front of you to further mischaracterize.

Unknown said...

After having the district fail the children, year after year, suddenly, in high school, the kids are going to be held to a higher standard?

Before you start expecting them to be able to pass all these tests, are you going to offer them remediation so they can reach the levels that you expect them to conquer?

And I'd like to say that a special ed student, who is reading 4 grades lower than his/her peers will, indeed, need different questions than their peers on a test.

Some use different text books, some move slower than others in grasping ideas, etc. Having a cookie cutter set of questions is not going to work for these kids.

I would seriously ask you to contact and discuss this with some of the special ed teachers before you go any further, and see exactly what they say.

Anonymous said...

Round and round we go. Aberdeener makes a statement about class sizes, he’s asked to provide a study that backs up his assertion. He proceeds to cite such a study and is called an elitist for “shoving examples of studies down our throats”. All I can do is laugh.

Given a choice of a teacher for my child, (and I apologize in advance if that phrase offends anyone) I would take an economist over someone with a degree in education any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Nice try, Mrs. Warren!

Anonymous said...

Given a choice of a teacher for my child, (and I apologize in advance if that phrase offends anyone) I would take an economist over someone with a degree in education any day of the week.

That doesn't surprise any of us Joey!

Anonymous said...


Why is it that you ask the people of this community what they think? Will it alter your beliefs or will you vote the will of the community? I think you showed your contempt for the common man with you vote to reward our administrators. The people who vist this site left nothing to the immagination, yet you chose to ignore them. Why would it be diffeerent in this case or are you hoping they agree with your beliefs so you can vote the way you were going to anyway but trick us into believing that you are listening?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm starting this statement by saying it is probably politically incorrect, and many of you might ATTACK. However, I hoping there might be a few posters that will have an open dialogue without the attacks.

Here goes:
Based on all comments above, most of this discussion is about "Special Ed" students. I am curious as to the percentage of special ed students in the district. I don't think it is more than 10%. Why than do most of the comments seem to want to lower the standards for the other 90% of the student population, to accomadate for the 10% of special ed children? Can't we have two sets of goals, if IEP students do not have to meet the same level to achieve their "A" grade? (I'm basing this comment/ question on the previous poster that seemed to have knowledge of different % requirements for each student based on the type of disability, ie: down syndrome, autistic etc.).

I know the recent thought is to mainstream children as much as possible, but does this mean it is done by lowering the standards for the rest of the population that are not IEP students? I'll ask again, please refrain from attacks.

Since, according to the previous comment about 65% or 80% being an "A" for IEP students, doesn't that allow for not lowering the standards for the other 90% of the students?

Please let the dialogue begin...

Aberdeener said...

As I've said before, I'm swayed by ideas and data, not opinion polls.

I've commented previously on the Freehold case and don't believe it has any relevance to this blog. If this blog could have been legally silenced, it would have been.

Regarding special ed, the question was whether the plan could be used for special ed students as well. That doesn't suggest we need to have a one-size fits all plan or that it's in our best interests to do so. Merely, would it work.

I've checked with a number of people and the idea is feasible for special ed students.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it the job of the guy making $185,000 a year to decide how best to measure student achievement. Isn't it because of his schooling and smarts that you give him the big fat monies, so let him do his job. OR did you give him the big fat monies so that he will measure student achievement the way you want it done. Think about it.

Mim Song said...

Citing a Cato Institute study -- what a laugh! That's a right wing (okay, "libertarian") think tank whose sole idea is to shrink the public sector. I know not what others prefer, but I don't want my child drowned in their ideological bathtub.

Ideology is a lazy substitute for the hard work needed to first understand and then reform education. When you can speak knowledgeably about actual educational research, you will regain some credibility with me. Many factors contribute to educational success; class size is certainly one. Having clear objectives is another. Parental modeling, participation, and school-home coordination are others. It's complex; no simplistic formula will work. I hope we can get beyond slogans and appeals to partisanship.

Unknown said...

As a parent of a special ed student, I actually applaud the fact that you asked the question instead of just accusing the parents that comment. Thank you. A lot of people are not as polite - you would be amazed at some of the comments that parents like me hear regularly about our children.

Students with disabilities have an IEP. And individualized education plan. It only applies to them, not the rest of the children in their class.

The standards can be set as high as possible for the other children, without affecting the children with disabilities in the class, and the learning level of the child with disabilities will not affect the rest of the class.

They are graded as to what they are capable of doing.

Parents of children with disabilities in this district do not want to take anything away from the other kids - most of us have "typical" kids in the district as well, and want the same thing for them that everyone wants for their children.

We do, however, want the district to do what is right for ALL children - something the district has historically NOT done - though with the "new guard" that has been hired/elected recently, that seems to be changing.

You may see a lot of comments about special education because, as parents, we have no choice but to be very involved in our children's education, and have fought for years to make sure they are granted the very simple basics that they are entitled to.

I hope that answers your question.

Anonymous said...

The above post is right on the money! Please understand, parents of classified students absolutely do not want the classroom standards lowered at all. We have typical children also and they need an education also!

I wonder about the average kids however. Most of our kids are average. Will this testing - which is supposed to reflect on curriculum and the delivery of the curriculum - help the average student? There are plenty of kids who work really hard to get good grades - why that doesn't seem to be reflected in the state testing results is worrisome.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Blogger case - the headline does not tell the story. In the "Freehold" case the blogger encouraged specific action against individuals. The Aberdeener has only exposed action BY individuals:

- underpayment of taxes by Vinci
- overpayment for land for Gumbs
- township sponsorship of pay-to-play
via Norman Kauff

Other posters on this site have made other accusations or claims, but did anyone advocate or promote harm to others? No.

A criticism of public behavior is not against the law. The Aberdeen accepts well deserved criticism for himself; but he has never advocated harm to others. That is unless the revelation of bad behavior by public officials is considered personally harmful.

Hold the Pickle said...


The argument I am making is not to decrease class size across the district. It is to decrease class size in grades K-3.

Here are some studies that may be of interest to you.;col1

Diana said...

"Since I cannot imagine any reliable fashion to measure character,..."

Actually the elusive objective of measuring character may ultimately prove the richer road to travel. It IS harder to "measure", but fairly easy to assess.

Developing good citizens and harnessing this value to improve the world marks the success of a civilization. The imperative to do so should come from district's Mission Statement, and the goals and objectives of the district with regard to citizenship.

In the end, many students will forget much of what they learned in geometry or world history. But their value as people of good moral fiber will be apparent to the community and the world they live in for the rest of their lives.

Pat said...

When I vote for a BOE candidate, I am not looking for a post-graduate degree in education. A board with a good mixture of educational backgrounds, cultures, and experiences makes for a fine board. The paid staff are more than able to bring expertise with their education degrees and professional experience. I think it is admirable that Aberdeener is seeking ways to measure student performance and am only somewhat surprised that he has to play Whack-A-Mole with his readers' accusations and recriminations. Wikipedia invites its editors to challenge one another, but the basic rule is to assume good faith on each others' parts. That seems to be a concept that is utterly lacking in many of these remarks. Do you really assume ill intent? I think Joey is looking for feedback, but not suggestions that his wife is writing clandestine supportive posts.

Anonymous said...

All these educational issues and concerns will be solved by our $185,000 per year Superintendent.

Thats why this board voted for his raise...

Anonymous said...

Dear Pat, I don't just assume ill intent, I know it! To all those who have any contact with Aberdeener, on the web or in person, please remember to check for the target on your back after he pats your back. You have been warned.

Aberdeener said...


Thx for the articles. The Center for Public Education puts an upper limit of 18 students in a classroom, which we exceed in Ravine Dr. and Strathmore. Let me do some more research in the area and get back to you.

In addition to hiring additional teachers, I also need to see if we have the space for the extra classrooms.

Thx again. I'll definitely look into this.

Pat said...

Yours is truly a sad testimony, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Thursday i was told by my employer 3.75% raise for this year.The company was unable to give. Thanks sir i wish i was employed by you 9% raise after 1 year, with no results. Sure does not bother you you child is going to Hebrew school and your wife pays the taxes on your house. Oh wait a minute in her name because of your business. Bull on paperwork she is the homeowner. You sir are not. Maybe sometimes things are not what seemed to be.

Mim Song said...

Let me second what Dusty said above about character and citizenship -- they should be an essential part of education. It may be difficult to measure them objectively, but outstanding citizenship (school, community, state, nation, even world) should be rewarded so that its value is recognized by all.

I don't mean the "class president" kind of hollow electroral exercise, although clearly class presidents can do a lot of good. I'm thinking about how all students can learn to think of themselves as members and leaders of larger entities, whatever those be. (A note to the many ideological hair-triggers here: I'm not talking about suppressing individuality or ignoring the need to educate for personal excellence -- those are essential.)

One thing I've noticed as a MARSD parent is how little group work is assigned in our district. I don't know of many adults who work entirely on their own, so why is our educational system designed that way? Cooperating, communicating, negotiating, scheduling -- aren't these going to be necessary skills for our students?

Beyond the school, we should consider adding a service learning component; many other districts have this, either mandatory or optional. Students work in their communities, usually with existing organizations, to achieve specific objectives that improve the community. Here's one place you can learn more:

Aberdeener said...

Mim Song,

Can you tell me which district makes this mandatory? If extra curricular activities can be required for graduation, I would support requiring X number of hours of community service.

Anonymous said...


"Requiring" community service at what grade level? I think you ought to consider our test scores & the need for more study time and the fact that many of our students have after school jobs and other obligations before you put another "requirement" on their backs. Let's pull our school district out of the gutter before you start instituting such socialist idealism.

Anonymous said...

Two words:


Anonymous said...

Only a close minded idealogue would immediately jump to such name calling as "socialist" and " hitler youth". Do you call such things to Boy or Girl Scouts? To 4H Club members? I hope not! Back in our parent's day, they all took mandatory Civics classes. They were taught the rudimentary expectatons of a committed member of the American community and were expected to be someone who participated. They turned out pretty darn well for the instruction, don't you think? And the country benefited. Relax and please try to suppress such mean reactonary attacks to ideas that do not strictly conform to your apparently very narrow view.

Anonymous said...

What would you call mandatory work without pay? The study of civics and volunteerisim is a whole different ball of wax than "required service" with a mandatory number of required hours. Just where do you think these kids will volunteer? What if there are families who can't manage to drive their kids to these required jobs because of conflicting schedules? There is so much more to look into than just "go help a neighbor" type of thinking.

First off, as a school activity, the MARSD will be required to carry insurance on these kids for when they are doing their "required" activites. If they are not employeed by a business, they will not be covered by their insurance. I guess your taxes aren't high enough already. In addition, when this district requires that I give a blood sample and a notarized statement from the chief of police just so I am "cleared" to volunteer at a book fair, who will do the background checks on these people who will oversee my child during the "mandatory" service? This isn't the 1950's anymore where kids could ride their bikes downtown to polish the counter at the soda shoppe and help grocer stock shelves just for the sake of being a civic-minded individual.

Secondly, Boys Scouts and 4-H aren't mandatory to join in order to gain enough credits to graduate. If a child should WISH to join these groups, then so be it. What the Aberdeener and Mim Song are referring to is not something that will be considered optional. It is conscription.

Thirldy, who is supposed to be chapperoning these kids? Are they going as a group during school hours? Who will be keeping track of their programs? Do you think the teachers in this district want more work? We can't get them to do the things they're SUPPOSED to do!

Last, but certainly not least, I teach my children about being a responsible member of society. They DO volunteer because they WANT to, NOT becuase it is just another thing they HAVE to do for school. Furthermore, this program will not teach kids to be more responsible. To be TRULY a civic-minded neighbor, it should be something that comes from the heart or out of the realization that something needs to be done, not mandated by Joey Warren of the MARSD BOE.

I have enough faith in the parents of this district to believe that each family is more than capable of teaching their own children about being responsible members of society.

Mind your own business when it comes to what I do with my own children after school hours.

Aberdeener said...

Here's a link to the NJ service-learning program. It certainly merits more discussion.

Anonymous said...

You newbies are so adorable. The MARSD BOE has been approving service learning for St. John Kids to work in our schools for years. It's not really a new idea, just something you would think a board member would already know about. I know kids who took it as an elective class in Matawan about 5 years ago. I think it was discontinued because the oversight was poor with kids not really performing the hours and getting the credit. I would tell you to ask someone but everyone involved has since left or been non-renewed since then. Hey, Joey you would be wise to start learning from the past instead of running from it.

THE TRUTH said...






Anonymous said...

Don't "NSecJoe" and "The Truth" have the same writing style?


Yes they do. I met the truth about a month ago and nsecjoe is not him. First thing you should know is that the truth is hispanic 47, divorced and lives in cliffwood and really hates kauff. Nsecjoe says little about the benefactor that hired him. Nice try though. Next thing you are going to say is that the truth is the aberdeener as well as all of the people who post on it.

Anonymous said...

TRUTH, you are indeed an idiot. How can you see the candidates for the Republicans at a town council meeting that you never attend! They are there, show up and see for yourself.

TheMadPostersofATunite said...






THE TRUTH said...


Anonymous said...

I applaud your efforts to improve the district and attempts to come up with means of measuring student achievement. I also commend you for putting yourself out there for public criticism. And although I'm sure you will not and should not mention other BOE members by name, I was wondering if you feel the rest of the BOE is as determined and of the mindset of "time is of the essence" as you, to improve things?

Aberdeener said...

Thanks for the compliment.

At the last BOE meeting, I stated I was not pleased with the rate of progress. We have not tackled any big ideas. We have not set district goals for our administrators. We have not updated any of the policies. Measured in BOE meetings, 10% of my term is already over.

I believe the board has a mindset that things take time, we're just volunteers, and the administrators handle all the daily stuff.

Given the urgency and importance of ensuring our students receive a sound education, I believe it's a grave mistake to rely upon the administration for every good idea or allow things to take longer than necessary.

Every board member would like to see things move faster but I don't see the pushing. At the next meeting, I intend to start pushing and I'm hoping to have the board's support.

Anonymous said...

That reminds me, where are the vision and mission statements?

Anonymous said...

And the amendments that never seem to be listed from Mrs. Irons.

Aberdeener said...

Dr. Gambino is organizing the feedback we received on the world cafe night. I had originally hoped to have a new mission and vision statement prior to the school year but I now think it's more likely to happen in December.

As for the attachments, I believe they'll be posted in the future. Should Ms. Irons forget and it's not confidential, I'll post the attachments.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Dr. Gambino, is his master's and doctorate from an on line university? Did he get them on line?

Anonymous said...

To say you are not pleased with the rate of progress, one must assume that progress has taken place. Many of the board members have been on this body for years and they are the only ones saying progress is taking place. Still, no proof just a lack of progress. By pushing, do you mean the administraion or the board?

Aberdeener said...

Point taken. By rate of progress I was referring to the world cafe night, an open board brainstorming session, prioritizing policies that need to be updated for Qsac, creating a technology committee, and the elimination of political factions within the board.

However, you're also correct that progress refers to board actions, not good intentions, and there haven't been any board actions aside from the usual board business.

By pushing, I'm referring to the board, though I won't push for anything without checking with the administration to see if it's feasible and appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Why do people waste time on who is writing what and who is this person who makes these claims? Who may be expressing themselves is the key not that one person writes like another. I write like I want don't you? This writing analysis person is so foolish and just trying to cast doubt away from the topic and our input. It is the information and thoughts of all of us that matter the most. I write like me and I talk like me and I am me. Attack away.

Anonymous said...

Ummm...didn't we change the subject already?

Anonymous said...

here's something to check out... the block scheduling system at the middle school. it stinks. one of my kids had block gym which meant gym-lunch-gym. another had the foreign language cycle as 26 days of spanish in the fall and then 26 days of spanish in late spring. on the 2nd day of class in spring the teacher gave a pop vocab quiz from the fall's work. i vote for NO block scheduling till High school and then it should be on semester block the way the rest of the world does it.

Anonymous said...

any comment on Dr.Gambino's education Mr.Warren?

Aberdeener said...

This blog has already discussed Dr. Gambino’s education ad nauseum. You’re welcome to Google past comments.

Anonymous said...

If he wasn't your buddy wouldn't you just post the link like you do with everyone else you can't stand? True colors shown again.

Aberdeener said...

If you want to investigate irrelevancies, you're welcome to waste your own time.

Anonymous said...

All of the things you mention except eliminaton of political factions could be taken care of in a week or two with a little effort. Maybe meeting two nights a month is not enough. This district needs action, not rhetoric. Where is the resistance coming from?

Aberdeener said...

It wouldn't be appropriate for me to point fingers but I would like to see the board moving at a much faster pace. Once we've gotten some big things out of the way, we can take a relaxed pace. But not now.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain how we got lost a teacher like this Holdel seems to be pretty impressed GMnews article According to the release, during the second round of interviews, Jones demonstrated an excellent command of the content areas, a deep understanding of pedagogy and strong problem-solving skills.

According to the Holmdel school district, Jones will replace Mary Schwartz who retired from the supervisor post. Jones' previous administrative position was in the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District where she was also a math and science supervisor.

She was also a math supervisor at Vineland public schools and, prior to that, was interim principal in the school district of Philadelphia. Jones has also taught mathematics in North Carolina, Georgia and Philadelphia at the secondary and college levels.