The New Teacher Project complains that Delaware's tough new evaluation law does not "guarantee" that "demonstrably ineffective" teachers are fired in two years, even though a valid metric of student performance may never be possible. The TNTP consistently plays it cute when discussing its "effectiveness standard based predominantly on student growth." In schools where the graduating class is 1/3rd of the size of its freshmen class, however, there is enough failure to demonstrate on paper that any educator is "ineffective." I support any reliable system for firing incompetent teachers in such a school or any other. But how could the TNTP attract teaching talent to our toughest schools when test growth data would virtually guarantee that effective freshmen teachers would be fired before their first class of students graduates?
Reformers assume that teachers should be held more accountable for increasing student performance, and that hypothesis may or may not be thrown on the junkpile of history. But wouldn't students be better served if administrators concentrated on administration? Shouldn't principals just focus on discipline and refereeing the the diverse personalities in the complex social organizations known as schools? Wouldn't it make more sense to evaluate people on what they actually do and for addressing the circumstances under their control?
Kudos to TNTPNTC's Liam Goldrick for bothering to disclose what had previously gone unsaid: that LA and RI (and other unnamed states) wrote TNTP into their RTTT applications (Full Disclosure).
Would that other organizations (TFA, New Leaders, etc) that waged campaigns to get written into state plans would do the same. [Including NTC.]
As you may recall, the word was out during the winter that five or six big-name education groups had banded together to get into as many state applications as possible.
Reading Testing Limits, Nick Lemann’s 2001 New Yorker
story about NCLB (from my Biggest Education Stories Of The NCLB Era entry last week) is like opening a time capsule from the not so distant
past. So much optimism. So many early successes. So many problems, known and unknown. So many things (no hearings!?) you may have forgotten. It's an extremely useful reminder of how
school reform gets done and a good thing to consider as reform moves forward
via RTTT, FY11 appropriations, and – eventually – NCLB reauthorization. Read on for a refresher.
The Pentagon leaks, the White House leaks, but where are all the leaks in education? I can only think of a few. The RTTT winners stayed secret until they were announced. So did the judges' identities. Superintendent searches regularly remain closed until the winner is announced. Ditto for the announcement that Obama had chosen Duncan, though his name was no surprise. Hell, we don't even get mug shots of DUI state and district superintendents that the Drudge Report has made de rigeur for everyone else. It's not just recent events. Eight years later, no one's still detailed the conversations (or documents) that took place between the Hill and the White House that led Miller and Kennedy to say they NCLB appropriations should follow authorized levels. Is it that no one cares that much about education, or that education reporters are too close to their sources? Maybe it's FERPA. Yes, that's it. I blame FERPA. Exceptions? The list of 15 states getting extra help from Gates got out. News of the occasional test cheating scandal gets out, too. And I guess you could call Reading First. What am I missing?
From Seventeen magazine, via Jezebel, the best prom scenes from the movies, starting with this one from Twilight. Is your favorite in there? Plus the dance scene from She's All That below the break.
Over at GothamSchools, teacher C.W. Arp correctly explains how "‘I don’t care’ is one of the Gigantic Problems." Of course, elementary students like Arp‘s and teenaged students like mine actually "care." Cultivating a reverence for learning is so much more difficult, however, when schools must compete with so many other factors for the affection of our kids. Before the recession when my school had a student parking lot that had cars in it, too many students worked 35 hours a week or more. Some students struggled to support their families, some worked to support their cars, and most labored for a combination of the two. Now, the cell phone is the infernal contraption that students "care" the most about. What students really "care" about, however, is not their job or their possessions but the sense of respect, autonomy, and connectedness that comes with them. The question is: can teachers and school staff give those things to them?
David Remnick's got a new book about Barack Obama out, called The Bridge, which focuses in large part on Obama's life and career in Chicago. According to Remnick, it's not a pretty sight. Obama is measured, political, and profoundly ambitious. Not that there's anything wrong with that. No word yet whether the book delves into Obama's fascinating, somewhat elusive role in Chicago's local school control debate, which I covered for Slate in 2008, or the questions that have lingered about the depth and impact of his time as a community organizer. (I assume it does.) I'm counting on you to say whether there's anything new or interesting about Obama's role on education issues.
Much was made of the outside help that some states got from the Gates Foundation (and who dominated the RTTT finalists list), but this Minnesota Public Radio segment (Application called 'sloppy') reveals that at least one state isn't sure that it was helped all that much:
"A recent review of comments federal officials made on Minnesota's "Race to the Top" application...calls into question the quality of the application itself, prepared by New York-based consulting firm McKinsey and Company."
Education Initiative Is Already a Success NYT: The Race to the Top initiative won’t solve this country’s education problems by itself, but it is focusing attention on the right issues and moving them up the national agenda...The Big Picture on School Performance Sam Chaltain: I have a scorecard to propose: the ABC's of School Success...School Leadership Daily Riff: Being on the search committee for a new school leader has made my bookmarks and bookshelves grow with various leadership books and writings to the point where various board members tagged me with the "go-to archivist" moniker...Bioethics Invades High School GOOD: Students are now discussing thorny quandaries such as who is most deserving of organ donations and their feelings toward genetically modified foods....How to make a rectangle out of a circle Ezra Klein: That's from a surprisingly terrific blog post about, well, math. Almost makes me want to dig out my high school textbooks. Almost.
Race to Top Rules Aim to Spur Shifts in Testing EdWeek: Two types of grants will be awarded—one for "comprehensive assessment systems" and one for high school end-of-course tests...Governor: Texas should move to online textbooks Associated Press:Gov. Rick Perry proposed Wednesday that Texas abandon using traditional textbooks in public schools and replace them with computer technology...Schools Warned Against Sex Education NYT: A prosecutor is urging schools not to follow a new state law which requires districts with sex education programs to tell students about contraceptives...New Orleans Schools See Progress Despite Troubles PBS: John Merrow reports on the use of alternative school programs in Louisiana and progress on negotiations between a teachers union and public schools in the nation's capital...Is Cash the Answer? TIME: In the city where Fryer expected the most success, the experiment had no effect at all — "as zero as zero gets," as he puts it. In the last city, something remarkable happened.
$350 Million 'Race to the Common Test' Starts Now EdWeek's Michele McNeil: The USDE will award grants to groups of states to create rigorous common tests to complement the common standards effort already...Prom Regulations Yglesias: The students in violation were allowed to stay at the prom, but the following week, each was given the option of receiving corporal punishment or accepting a three-day suspension from school...Details emerge on educator effectiveness bill EdNews CO Todd Engdahl: The long-awaited educator effectiveness bill would set new baseline standards for the evaluation and tenure of teachers and principals but leave the details to an appointed commission and the State Board of Educationl...Jaime Escalante changed U.S. schools forever Jay Mathews: Whenever I suggested that the great teaching I was seeing at Garfield might be the reason so many students were succeeding in AP, people at parties dismissed me as romantic and naive...What Adults Can Learn From Kids Daily Riff: New TED Talk By 12 Year Old (!) Literacy Advocate Who Sets Us Straight...The Bristol Palin Abstinence PSA Strategy Gawker: America's most famous teenage mother has a new commercial denouncing pre-marital sex...Corn Syrup Disguised as School Lunch Elizabeth Puccini and Anisa Romero GothamSchools: If a student chooses a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich with chocolate milk for lunch (an option that is offered every day in our schools), he’ll essentially be eating corn syrup disguised as a meal.
Late last month This American Life told the story of how General Motors tried and failed to transform itself. NUMMI, a collaboration between Toyota and GM, turned around one of America’s most dysfunctional assembly plants. The key was respecting the personal autonomy of workers and their desires to produce a high-quality product. Workers at NUMMI had also received the wake-up call of having their factory shut down.
Although I’d quarrel with some of Justin Cohen’s take on the NPR program, it does explain a problem with bringing reforms to scale. Educators need a sense of urgency. And conversely, turnaround specialists driven by urgency need to respect the autonomy of teachers as much as the autonomy of principals. Each individual must have the authority to sound the alarm that might shut down the assembly line when it is damaging children. And all of us should recommit to the values of individuality and creativity that made America great.
"The benefits of losing weak teachers in these schools are offset by the fact that such schools often restaff with new teachers." - Ed Week's Stephen Sawchuk on study showing weak teachers leave struggling schools
"Young writers who might have hungrily chased an editorial assistant job at Condé Nast a few years ago now move to New York with the dream of making it as a blogger — either launching their own blog into the big time, à la Perez Hilton, or getting snapped up by a prominent blog network like Gawker Media or MediaBistro." (The Rising Stars of Gossip Blogs).
A school in England reportedly gave students cell phones and encouraged them to text the principal about how their teachers were doing, according to an article in the Independent.
Brilliant! It's all part of the UK's controversial "pupil power" initiative to give students greater role in their education, including a role in hiring decisions.
Teachers complaining about the initiative cite instances in which candidates have been asked to sing songs and hired (or not) based on appearances.
From Slate's daily cartoons.
The last time Rick Hess submitted to a HotSeat interview was back in the dark ages of the internet (ie, 2006). Lots has changed since then and Hess has a book coming out next week so it seemed about time to check back in with the irascible and indefatigable AEI scholar. As you'll see, Hess hates NCLB more than RTTT. He's concerned about the current overemphasis on turnarounds and thinks that timid school leaders are as much a problem as union contracts. He modulates his thinking but says he doesn't flip-flop like Petrilli or Ravitch. He blogs, but he doesn't read your blog (and he claims he's not interested in Twitter). In contrast to his recent blog posts Hess comes off as sort of mellow (think Jeff Bridges) and doesn't seem to mind being made gentle fun of for his fancy vocabulary.
"Why does it remain acceptable to use isolated incidents to berate modern teenagers, particularly girls, as “mean” and “violent” and “bullies”? Why are we bullying girls?"
-- The Myth of Mean Girls NYT
Obama faces challenges to get rest of plans approved Journal Sentinel: Political observers, analysts and even some lawmakers say the chances are slim that the president will get much of his domestic agenda through Congress in the months leading up to the November elections...States Strive to Overhaul Teacher Tenure EdWeek: While Ohio has delayed the time it takes to earn due process, Delaware will tie the right to student achievement, and Florida has abolished it....Angry Fla teachers line up to testify against bill Martin Merzer, Associated Press: They arrived early, found strength in numbers but shared a sense of futility, their legislative battle almost assuredly lost even before they awakened Monday...Federal funds for drug-free school programs running out Journal Sentinel: A small pool of federal funds that Wisconsin school officials say helps pay for everything from safety officers to anti-bullying efforts is drying up this year, leaving local districts scrambling for alternative revenue sources....Three To Be Arraigned In High School Bullying Case NPR: Three classmates of a 15-year old high school freshman who committed suicide in January are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday for behavior prosecutors believe led to her death.
Last week's TQP grant announcement included over $11 million for a small, innovative teacher preparation program at the University of Chicago and $7 million for a program at Governors State University.
Michelle Rhee’s IMPACT evaluation system has been rightly attacked for its high-handedness. And one reason why the District of Columbia’s RttT proposal was correctly rejected was its "opening statement ... raises several concerns about use of RttT to thwart political resistance to the District’s human resources management style." The judge said that the Chancellor should focus more on developing human resources and "less on creating public notoriety."
Ouch. And yet, those who seek a green light for attacking unions and the rest of the "status quo" have not heard an unambiguous prohibition against the scourched earth tactics of NCLB. If you fire up a man or a woman for political combat, give him or her a multi-million dollar, federally-funded set of hammers, then you shouldn't be surprised if a lot of teachers and principals are seen as nails.
From Gawker TV: High Schooler Gets Rejected From Three Colleges On National TV Christen Caval is a high school senior who, like many others, is receiving word from the colleges of her dreams. Unfortunately for her, most high schoolers don't have to endure three consecutive rejections on national television...Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution This week, Jamie moves his food train of redemption to a local high school. Will the students eat anything besides pizza? Also, he gets some students to secretly prepare a gourmet meal for local leaders.
States Skeptical About ‘Race to Top’ School Aid Contest NYT Sam Dillon: Besides Colorado, a string of other states — including Arizona, California, Nebraska, South Carolina and South Dakota — say they have not yet decided whether to keep participating. ...Union fails to restrict charter schools LA Times: A lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles teachers union to block the city's school district from giving new campuses to charter schools was denied Friday by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. (PLUS: A student's challenges parallel his school's).
Washington State superintendent of schools Randy Dorn apologized last week for driving while intoxicated. It happened after a community crab feed. It sounds like he might have had his family in the car with him. But it took a lot of effort from beat reporters to get the documents that forced the apology, according to the paper that broke the story. And it's not the first time it's happened to a state education chief or other education muckety-muck. And sometimes it ends tragically.
The dropoff in NAEP Reading scores of 8th graders as opposed to 4th graders provides the best single indictment of No Child Left Behind. Sheila Valencia, an education professor, "said 'the Bush administration’s $1-billion-a-year reading initiative, Reading First, ... helped young students increase their ability to read words, but not their capacity for comprehension.'" Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution is half right when looking at fourth grade scores and concluding "our worst readers are getting better, but our best readers are staying about the same." The scores of 8th graders in the bottom 10th percentile have dropped by one point since 2002.