Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #43

Happy 2023, and welcome back to Hall Pass! We hope you had a restful holiday! 

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over retesting
  • In 2022, 114 school board members faced recall efforts
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

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On the issues: The debate over retesting

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

Should teachers allow students to retake tests? Today, we’ll look at perspectives on both sides of that question.

Anthony Palm writes that policies allowing students to take tests one time and that penalize late work are best for student learning. He says these policies motivate students, prevent student procrastination, and give teachers more time to plan lessons.

Thomas R. Guskey writes that retesting should be a standard process of assessment, correction, and reassessment. Guskey says retesting motivates students to improve with a second chance at success and helps to prevent struggling students from falling behind.

The Case for Not Allowing Test Retakes | Anthony Palma, Edutopia

“Deadlines and consequences for late work provide scaffolding for students to learn self-control. These policies provide the extrinsic motivation students need to build study habits and time management skills. In my experience, reform policies rely too heavily on students already having strong self-control and intrinsic motivation. … Retake policies also allow students to dig themselves into “late holes” that cause preventable stress and anxiety. My math class builds sequentially: Mastery in early units helps students be successful in the following units. In my experience, traditional policies motivate students to maximize their learning in the first unit, which helps them on every later unit. … Reform policies can be effective if the teacher has time to implement them well. However, every minute writing and grading retakes or grading long-overdue work is a minute that I’m not planning effective and creative instruction, grading current work so students receive timely feedback, or communicating with parents.”

Why Should We Allow Students to Retake Assessments? | Thomas R. Guskey, EducationWeek

“But assessments alone do little to improve student learning or teaching quality. What counts is what happens after the assessments. Just as regularly checking your weight or blood pressure does little to improve your health if you do nothing with the information, what matters most with formative assessments is what students and teachers do with the results… To bring improvement, Bloom stressed formative assessments must be followed by high-quality, corrective instruction designed to remedy whatever learning errors the assessments identified. … When the correctives are completed after a class period or two, Bloom recommended students who engaged in correctives be given a second, parallel formative assessment for two reasons. First, the second assessment helps teachers determine if the correctives were effective in helping students remedy their learning difficulties. Second, and perhaps more important, it gives students a second chance at success and, hence, has great motivational value.

In 2022, 114 school board members faced recall efforts

In June 2022, we walked you through our annual mid-year report on recall efforts. We found that in the first half of the year, school board members were the subject of more recall efforts than any other type of officeholder—continuing a trend we saw in 2021. Now that the year is over, let’s look back at recall efforts throughout 2022. 

We tracked 250 recall efforts against 419 officials throughout the year, with city council members leading the list. Although school board members were the objects of more recall efforts in the first half of the year, they finished the year second to city council members. A total of 167 city council or town board members faced recall campaigns in 2022, while 114 school board members faced recall campaigns.

Overall, 56 officials across all office types were recalled in 2022. 

In 2021, school board members faced more recalls than other types of officeholders for the first time since 2012, when Ballotpedia began tracking recall efforts. Previously, city council members faced the most recalls. 

We tracked 50 school board recall efforts against 114 board members last year. Recall elections against school board members were held on Jan. 11, Jan. 18, Jan. 24, Feb. 15, March 29, April 4, and Nov. 8, 2022. The school board recall success rate was 7.0%.

Here are a few notable school board recall efforts from 2022:

  • Recall elections against Dave Brown and Brian Shannon, Zone 6 and 7 representatives on the Newberg School District school board in Oregon, respectively, were held in January 2022. Both members retained their offices with 52% of the vote opposing the recall. The recall effort against Shannon started after the board voted 4-3 on Aug. 10, 2021, to remove Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride flags in district schools. The ban also included political signs, clothing, and other items. The effort to recall Brown began after the board voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock without cause. Morelock had been under contract through June 2024.
  • In February 2022, voters recalled San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga. Recall supporters had said they were frustrated district schools remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also noted the time the board spent voting to rename 44 buildings in the district instead of focusing on opening schools.
  • An effort to recall three members of the Richland School District school board in Washington—M. Semi Bird, Audra Byrd, and Kari Williams—began in the spring of 2022. Recall supporters said the board members violated the Open Public Meetings Act; violated district policies, procedures, and code of ethics; and voted to make masks optional while a statewide mask requirement was in place. All three board members denied any wrongdoing and appealed the petition to the Washington Supreme Court. Requires “acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office or violation of oath of office” for a recall to move forward. If the state supreme court rules the petition drive can begin, supporters will have 180 days to collect signatures equal to 35% of the votes cast for the school board seats in the last election.
  • An effort to recall three of the seven members of the Salem-Keizer Public Schools school board in Oregon did not qualify for the ballot after organizers did not turn in the required number of signatures by the November 2022 deadline. The effort began after the school board voted 4-3 to approve a resolution prohibiting concealed guns on school property.

You can read more about our year-end recall analysis here. Click here for more information about school board recalls specifically. 

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Madison Klovstad Miner, who won the general election for Orange Unified Board of Education Trustee Area 4 in California, and Staci Martin, who won in the general election for Virginia Beach City Public Schools District 4 in Virginia.  election for Virginia Beach City Public Schools Distr

Here’s how Miner answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“I am concerned with the overreach from special interest groups in our childrens’ schools. Our hard earned tax dollars should be spent in the classrooms and our teachers need better support. Our children are all different and deserve opportunities for more individualized curriculum.”

Click here to read the rest of Miner’s answers.

Here’s how Martin answered the question,“What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“I am personally passionate and knowledgeable about how education impacts economic development and household wealth acquisition. We lose too much human potential to the lack of a few hundred dollars in resources. I understand the connections between creating growth opportunities that generate revenue for a locality and how investing some of that revenue into education continues a self-reinforcing growth pattern that keeps taxes low. I understand that our city has a debt cap and that the debt must be allocated with education as its highest priority and with economic development as its second highest priority. From there, our locality revenues will maintain a growth pattern against the backdrop of an educated workforce, entrepreneurship, and innovation.”

Click here to read the rest of Martin’s answers.