Transparency in Teaching (Stuff) Podcast

040 Mastery Learning: What are teachers Really Grading?

It’s Anne here with a mini-episode of Transparency and Teaching Podcast, the News Edition. We used to start our episodes with education news, but you know, uh, we got so long-winded as we talked about the main topics that we decided to cut that out. Well, lucky for you, I’m retired, so I have all kinds of time to update you on what’s happening in the education world.

The News Edition will share news about the current policies and politics that affect our teaching world. So this little in-between bonus episode will show up in your feed now and then to ensure you’re up to date on the latest ED news.

his episode features three news stories that I feel may set the tone for schools and districts nationwide. As we know, one district’s policies and often the politics that give birth to them can act as a bellwether that encourages other education establishments to adopt them—knowing what is happening and why is vital for being prepared for what might soon be coming to a district near you.

Here’s a preview of the stories in this episode:
1). The Office of Civil Rights determines penalties for Forsyth County book bans. After a recent review of the situation by the US Department of Ed, Forsyth County Schools has entered into an agreement with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the O C R, about how to rectify the creation of what was deemed a hostile environment in schools, due to the removal of certain books from school libraries. The district was accused of removing books from school libraries that dealt with LGBTQ plus and BIPOC topics.
The district, however, claimed to be reviewing books for sexually explicit materials they deemed inappropriate for certain age groups. Some students and families complained that this was creating a hostile environment for some students and that the district had made no effort to discuss the impact of book removals with students.
2). Our second story is about Nebraska, which has just approved taxpayer-funded school choice through the Opportunity Scholarships Act. The Opportunity Scholarships Act bill approved last month gives a generous $25 million in tax credits to people who donate to a scholarship-granting organization.
These organizations will fund and then distribute the scholarships to parochial and private schools allowing low-income families to afford to attend private schools. This could eventually be raised to a hundred million dollars. Depending on the demand for the credits. Taxpayers can donate half of their state tax liability, up to $100,000, to private school scholarships.
Senators on both sides of the aisle have opinions on the possible outcomes of this new tax break on schools.
3). Finally, Tennessee is to implement a retention policy for non-proficient third-grade readers. I recently did a podcast on Tennessee retaining third graders who are not reading on grade level, and I mentioned I’d update you on whether or not the bill was passed.
Well, the bill passed on April 20th and was sent to the governor’s desk for signing. It is not scheduled to take effect until the next school year, 2023-24. That allows this year’s third graders to move along without meeting the grade level mark. Fair warning, this year’s second graders and their parents, you best be doing a bunch of reading over the summer because next year, you’ll not move on if you are not at grade level!
I hope you find this news update enlightening and valuable. Please let us know how you liked the episode by leaving us a comment or voice message. Your feedback helps us improve our show by presenting the information you want.
For a list of the resources used to produce this episode, visit our website at
What would be the consequences of holding back so many students? For one, it is expensive. You will need more teachers and classrooms to manage the overflow. Could an exception be made for this group? The article states, “Parents, advocates, and educators say it’s unfair to base the decision on one assessment, especially for students who were in kindergarten when the pandemic hit. But state officials and Republican legislators argue it’s wrong to promote students who aren’t ready.” Gotta say I’m siding with the state officials on this one.
For a written version of today’s episode, Click here.
For links to all the resources used in today’s episode, go to and see “Third Grade Reading: The Key to Academic Everything

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