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Thompson: TNTP's False Guarantee

No-guarantees-480 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?

AM News: Lawmakers Question RTTT Funding Scheme

6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wiObama's plan to reward schools for innovation sparks debate Washington Post:  Most states will not receive a dime this year from the school reform fund. Some senior lawmakers say there's a limit to the value of competition at a time of enormous fiscal strain on schools... Union blasts city schools overhaul plan Boston Globe:  The Boston Teachers Union started galvanizing opposition yesterday to parts of Superintendent Carol R. Johnson’s plan to overhaul 12 underperforming schools, after she called for teachers to work dozens of additional hours without extra pay... Pension funds for teachers are short billions USA Today:  The multibillion-dollar pension funds that promise to pay lifetime benefits to millions of the USA's retired teachers are more than $900 billion ...NEA Plan for Rewriting NCLB Departs From Obama's EdWeek:  The teachers' union says its blueprint for renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act offers a fresh approach to the law.

Thompson: Mind Your Own Business

Elmoregif 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?

Real-Time Roundup [Tuesday]

Here's a rolling update of what's going on in educationland right now:

    Hit "refresh" to get newer items, or click here to get older items.

    Classrooms: Teach Sex Ed & Go To Jail, Says WI DA

    Evangelical DA Threatens Jail for Sex Ed TeachersWow.  

    A local DA in Wisconsin who claims he's not showboating to to get media attention says that he's going to prosecute teahers who follows state law requiring instruction about the use of contraceptives.

    Nine months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines is the possible punishment.

    via Gawker

    Evangelical DA Threatens Jail for Sex Ed Teachers

    Cartoon: Direct Lending & Marxist Professors

    image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com
    From Slate 

    AM News: Spring Testing, Spring Cheating

    6a00e54f8c25c988340120a77999a7970b-200wiBill Would Allow Layoffs of Teachers Despite Seniority NYT:  Education officials do not want to follow the rule of last hired, first fired, if they must lay off teachers for economic reasons....Ill. lawmakers may let schools adopt 4-day week AP:  The rural Jamaica School District in eastern Illinois spent $380,000 on transportation two years ago -- 9 percent of its budget and more than twice the percentage the average Illinois district spent....Award-Winning Former Educator Known As 'The Fixer' NPR:  In 1987, Marie Shiels Djouadi took the helm of Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia...  Additional scrutiny as local investigations continue into possible cheating last year AJC:  According to a report released in February by the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, 191 Georgia elementary and middle schools showed unusual patterns of erasures on the state's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests last spring... Strong Debate On Both Sides Over Bill Requiring Dissection Option In Schools Hartford Courant:  Now that the technology allowing virtual dissection on computers has advanced, more educators are coming around to the idea of offering students a guts-free alternative.

    Cartoon: Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, & T. Jefferson

    image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com
    From Slate 

    RTTT: Which Groups Written Into State Plans?

    Post_half_1270740588post_full__0b25294179 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. 

    NCLB: A Timely Reminder From The Past

    ScreenHunter_02 Mar. 31 18.28

    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.

    Continue reading "NCLB: A Timely Reminder From The Past" »

    Real-Time Roundup [Monday]

    Here's a rolling update of what's going on in educationland right now:

      Hit "refresh" to get newer items, or click here to get older items.

      AM News: Los Angeles Shortens Year To Save Jobs

      6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi Teachers agree to shorten LAUSD school year LA TImes:  Union members OK the deal that could save the district up to $140 million, save about 2,100 jobs and maintain class sizes. It will become effective if approved by the school board Tuesday... Subjects covered by standardized tests could expand Pittsburgh Times Review:  Under President Obama's proposed blueprint for education, students could take standardized tests in history, science and foreign languages — not just math and reading — to evaluate how well their schools are performing... Teacher tells NH police he didn't encourage shock Boston Globe:  The teacher of a high school class in which a New Hampshire student was critically injured by an electrical shock has told police he denied encouraging the shock, as some students told police...Bilingual Ed., Immersion Found to Work Equally Well EdWeek:  A randomized study shows students are as successful learning English through English-immersion or bilingual education programs...Wis. teachers, students mystified by sex education warning AP:  Mike Taake has taught sex education for 30 years, and he says he knows what doesn’t work: just telling students to wait...Role-playing games pull reluctant school kids into a supportive crowd CSM:  For kids with a troubled school life, role-playing games teach valuable life skills such as risk-taking and leadership.

      Media: Not Enough School Leaks

      image from assets.nydailynews.comThe 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? 

      Quote: Cash For Classwork Aftermath

      "I never said it was going to solve all education problems. I just thought it deserved to be tested." - Roland Fryer in TIME

      Video: 17 Best Movie Prom Scenes Of All Time

      image from www.seventeen.com 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.

      Continue reading "Video: 17 Best Movie Prom Scenes Of All Time" »

      Thompson: "I Don't Care" In The Classroom

      Idontcare 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? 

      Obama: What Does Barack Really Think About Education?

      image from www.randomhouse.comDavid 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.  

      RTTT: Did Sloppy McKinsey Work Cost Minnesota?

      Resized_Parking_Meter_1Much 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."

      News: Peformance Pay Is All The Rage

      11111111111news States push to pay teachers based on performance AP:  For parents and politicians hungry for better schools, the idea of paying teachers more if their students perform better can seem as basic as adding two and two or spelling "cat."...R.I. Ed. Chief: Failing Schools Need Sweeping Change EdWeek:  Gist said she was troubled by the state's continuing poor test scores, noting only 17 percent of low-income students were proficient in reading, according to the 2009 Nation's Report Card...Philly charter schools risk taxpayer money USA Today:  An investigation of Philadelphia charter schools has found that questionable financial practices are putting public funds at risk of fraud, waste ...Groups oppose Okla. education-spending initiative AP:  A coalition of business and labor groups said Thursday it will work to defeat a ballot initiative to dramatically increase spending on public education that coalition members said would devastate the budgets of many other state services and possibly force tax increases.

      SCOTUS: A Clinton Ed Staffer On The High Court?

      image from seattletimes.nwsource.com Former Clinton-era USDE staffer Goodwin Liu is being groomed for the Supreme Court, according to this Miami Herald article, and conservatives are lining up to delay and oppose his possible nomination, according to The Hill.  None of this matters to me.  I'm only interested because he's a pro-charter education guy of sorts (I think he worked on National Service), and his wife is Ann O'Leary is formerly of the HRC, which I guess counts as school reform too.*  You've read about them here before.  Both helped set things up at the USDE during the Obama transition last year. And they got mentioned as an education "power couple" back in 2007. Thanks to the friend of the blog who tipped me off and others who helped fill in. *Correction /clarification:  HRC = Hilary Rodham Clinton not Human Rights Campaign.

      Blog Roundup: Making A Rectangle From A Circle

      04preppy_CA2-articleInlineEducation 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.

      Don't Make Too Much Of The DC Teachers Contact

      07teachers-art5-popup News outlets gather reactions to the DC teachers contract and predictions about its relevance to other cities facing contract negotiations:  D.C. Deal Puts Merit Pay for Teachers on the Syllabus WSJ:  The Washington school system is financing part of the performance-pay system with $64.5 million from four private foundations. Some school districts are likely to look at that figure and conclude that a merit-pay system can't work without help from deep-pocketed donors... D.C. Deal With Teachers Union A Model For U.S.?  NPR:  The plan's $64.5 million price tag would come from an unprecedented arrangement with four foundations all involved in the city's efforts to turn around struggling schools...Foundations Would Help Fund D.C. Teacher Contract EdWeek:  In what is believed to be a first of its kind arrangement, four foundations have committed nearly $65 million for performance pay. The general response seems to be that the contract won't lead to wholesale changes to other contracts but could prompt adjustments and efforts in other districts.

      Video: "Funny Or Die" In The Classroom

      The folks at FOD take on classroom cuts with a video putting actors Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox at an overcrowded and underfunded LA elementary school (I think it's Wonderland).  The kids are pretty funny, as is the guy playing an idiotic Schwarzenegger aide. 

      AM News: Cash Incentives Not All Failures

      6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wiRace 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. 

      Quote: What If Policy Is The Problem?

      "I used to think that policy was the solution. Now I think that policy is the problem." - Richard Elmore in the Harvard Education Letter (discussed by Deborah Meier and The Line).  

      Roundup: DC Teachers Contract-Free Edition

      Tvad-enzyte-smilingbob $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.

      Thompson: Learning From NUMMI

      ScreenHunter_10 Apr. 07 12.12 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.

      Quote: 'Bye, Weak Teachers -- Hello, Newbies

      "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

      Media: Blogging Grows Up (Sort Of)

      01gossips_CA0-articleLarge "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).

      Cartoon: Broke Down US Skools Bus

      image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com

      "Hang on," says the US Skools bus driver to the kids about his broke down bus.  "Another 20-30 years and we should be on our way."

      News: Schools Address Teacher-On-Teacher Bullying

      11111111111newsEducation Dept. to give $350M to states that revamp testing USA Today:  The U.S. Department of Education is looking to hand out up to $350 million to states willing to revamp how they test students...Schools tackle teacher-on-teacher bullying USA Today:  A few states, such as North Carolina, Florida and Utah, include school employees with students in their measures, a USA TODAY review of those policies showed....Report: Foster Kids Face Tough Times After Age 18 NPR:  A new report finds that these teens are more likely than their peers to end up in jail, homeless or pregnant...Prom in Mississippi lesbian case is a flop LA Times:  Most of Constance McMillen's classmates attend a different event without her...Students learning English at U.S. schools show improvement AP:  Schoolchildren who are still learning English made progress on state tests over the last three years, according to a report that may indicate ...

      Classrooms: Kids Provide Real-Time Teacher Feedback Via Text

      image from i.dailymail.co.ukA 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. 

      Cartoon: Firing Teachers Over Kids' Low Scores

      image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com

      From Slate's daily cartoons.

      HotSeat: Rick Hess, Revisited

      Rick hess 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.

      Continue reading "HotSeat: Rick Hess, Revisited" »

      Updates: Tuesday News & Commentary

      Icon_news_32Icon_news_32 Updates and links from around the interwebs: 

        Thompson: Nashville Cuts Despite $500M Tenn. Win

        EquityYet another sign that RttT isn't any instant solution for state and district budget woes:  NPR reports that one of the "least controversial" ways to make up an education deficit is to cut $5 million from the wages and benefits of 600 Nashville school custodians. The district will also reduce the pay of bus drivers by 1/8th. This "Race to the Bottom" occurs as Tennessee will receive a $500 million RttT grant. In just two line items, the state will be investing $46 million for data as Nashville saves $12 per day per bus driver.

        Quote: Media Bullies Girls With Cyberbullying Hype

        "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

        News: States Try Taking On Tenure


        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.

        USDE: $18M For Chicago Teacher Prep Programs

        Tumblr_l084f4JZ4N1qa42jro1_500Illinois may not have gotten any first round RTTT money but that doesn't mean that Arne Duncan and  Barack Obama aren't taking care of their friends back home.

        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. 

        Continue reading "USDE: $18M For Chicago Teacher Prep Programs" »

        Thompson: Mixed Messages From RTTT

        Actions_speak_louder_than_words 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.

        Updates: Round-The-Clock News & Commentary

        Icon_news_32Icon_news_32 Updates and links from around the interwebs: 

          Cartoon: "Trap Door" Teaching In Florida

          image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com

          Video: Student Rejected On "Good Morning America" - Three Times

          ScreenHunter_06 Apr. 05 08.49From 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.

          News: States Hesitate Over RTTT Participation

          11111111111newsStates 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).

          DUI: Drunk Driving Infractions By School Leaders

          ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 29 12.15Washington 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.

          Continue reading "DUI: Drunk Driving Infractions By School Leaders" »

          Teachers: The Blind Side Of Classroom Assessment

          image from media.pegasusnews.com The best part of "The Blind Side" was watching teachers figure out that just because "Big Mike" can't read doesn't mean he's dumb and begin to accommodate their assignments and assessments to his learning needs.  Not without reason, teachers complain mightily about the inappropriateness of standardized testing.  But as this fictionalized depiction shows they're not always vigilant about their own instructional strategies and classroom assessments. It's difficult, cumbersome work to adapt instruction and assessment to kids' needs -- but far more important I'd argue than adapting annual state tests. [corrected- thanks!]

          Cartoon: Prayer In The Schools

          image from content.cartoonbox.slate.com

          From Slate's cartoon roundup. 

          News: Massachusetts Supe Details Bullying Prevention Efforts

          Mass. school head defends response to bullying  AP:  The superintendent of South Hadley schools is defending his administration's reaction to reports of bullying at the high school that prosecutors say contributed to the suicide of a 15-year-old freshman girl...New York to End Program to Give Cash to the Poor NYT: An unusual a6a00e54f8c25c988340120a7f7436e970b-200wi nd much-heralded program that gave poor families cash to encourage good behavior and self-sufficiency has so far had only modest effects on their lives and economic situation, according to an analysis the Bloomberg administration released on Tuesday...Prepaid tuition bailouts may come at expense of low-income families It's been a politically popular move for lawmakers to bail out prepaid college tuition plans that are now going broke, but doing so raises some ...Busing Fight Highlights Struggles With Diversity EdWeek:  A North Carolina school board's decision to stop busing for diversity comes as districts elsewhere adjust to a changed legal landscape...A message for Washington on schools: Don't mess with Texas Washington Post:  As vendors sold yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags nearby, Texas State Board of Education member Don McLeroy assured a gathering of Tea Party activists one recent evening that President Obama was going to keep his hands off the schools in the Lone Star State. [NB I'll be on Twitter the rest of the day.]

          Thompson: NAEP Scores Indict NCLB

          The dropoff in Read 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.

          Continue reading "Thompson: NAEP Scores Indict NCLB" »

          Media: Banchero Becomes WSJ Education Reporter

          image from www.chicagonow.com News is out that the Tribune's award-winning education reporter Stephanie Banchero is headed to the Wall Street Journal, where she'll be the national education reporter.  Though mostly focused on state and national issues Banchero also wrote about Chicago Public Schools and was one of the few journalists who braved to comment on this site using her own name.  Banchero may be best known for her in-depth series about a little girl named Rayola Carwell who changed schools under No Child Left Behind. (What's your favorite Banchero story?)  Her awards include two first place awards from the national Education Writers Association, a first place writing award from the Missouri School of Journalism, The Harry Chapin Media Award, and honorable mentions from the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families. She was on leave last year as a Knight Fellow. Tomorrow is her last day at the Tribune and she will begin at the Journal in a few weeks. 



          Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.