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Quotes: Sen. Warren Voices Concerns About NCLB Rewrite

Quotes2The idea that we would pass a major piece of legislation about education and, in effect, shovel money into states and say 'Do with it what you want', and not have some accountability for how that money is spent, I think, is appalling.

-- MA Senator Elizabeth Warren in NPR (Goodbye, No Child Left Behind)

Quotes: Latest Version Of NCLB Puts Obama In Tight Spot

Quotes2[The conference version of the NCLB overhaul] puts [President Obama] in a difficult position to be signing onto something that clearly empowers states to be less aggressive in addressing inequity.

-- Peter Cunningham, former assistant secretary at the Education Department and a past adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan (quoted in Politico (Growing anxiety on left over NCLB deal)

Morning Video: More About MA's Common Core Testing Decision

On the PBS NewsHour, the NYT's Kate Zernike expands on her Massachusetts Common Core testing decision story.

Or, listen to this WAMU segment on Kaya Henderson's five-year tenure as head of DC Public Schools.

Or, check out this WHYY Philadelphia story about a magnet school dropping its admissions criteria as part of a school consolidation plan.

AM News: NCLB Overhaul & MA Testing Decision

The fight over K-12 education appears headed back to the states Washington Post: A new education law would shift fight over teacher evaluations, testing from federal government to 50 state capitals.

Accountability and the ESEA Reauthorization Deal: Your Cheat Sheet PK12: The compromise agreed to by a congressional conference committee is, in many key ways, a U-turn from the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act.

Massachusetts’s Rejection of Common Core Test Signals Shift in U.S. NYT: As states have rejected tests tied to the Common Core standards, no about-face has resonated more than that of Massachusetts, known as a leader in education reform.

Chicago Teachers Union to flex muscle with downtown rally Chicago Tribune: CTU President Karen Lewis is scheduled to address the crowd during the afternoon rush hour "Winter Labor Solidarity Rally & Community Tailgate." The union has distributed leaflets urging members to "be a part of this striking scene." Buses will shuttle people downtown from some two dozen city schools.

Nevada releases Common Core test results after partial testing Mohave Daily News: Nevada was confident enough in the partial student results from its Common Core-aligned state test that it released them this week, even though 7 of 10 students weren’t tested because of computer glitches.

Five Years On, Henderson Keeps Up Pace Of Reforms In D.C. Schools WAMU: It was 5 years ago this month that Michelle Rhee stepped down as chancellor of D.C. public schools after a tempestuous three-year tenure. Her deputy, Kaya Henderson, took over as chancellor and continued many of her reforms. We explore how well schools are doing now.

Teen dead after shooting at suburban Las Vegas high school AP: Authorities are investigating a shooting at a high school in suburban Las Vegas that has left a 16-year-old boy dead....

Starting A High School From Scratch Hechinger Report: At 43, she is the founding principal of a charter high school that opened this fall in Brownsville, an impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood adjacent to where she grew up in East New York. Of all the educators in all the cities trying to get school right for students at risk, she brings the rare vantage point of someone who has learned not only from professional mistakes but tragic personal ones as well.

Teachers can make $15,000 more just by moving to the district next door Washington Post: A D.C.-area report shows that those in the top-paid district earn $20,000 more than those in the lowest.

AM News: Conference Committee Approves NCLB Rewrite

House, Senate ESEA Compromise Sails Through Conference Committee PK12: The compromise gives states acres of new running room on accountabililty, while holding firm on NCLB's requirement for annual testing, and data that shows how at-risk kids are performing compared to their peers. See also Washington PostAPNYT.

Study: Closing Low-Performing New York City High Schools Helped Students WNYC: According to the Research Alliance at New York University, most of the middle schoolers ended up going to smaller high schools that performed better both in terms of the achievement and attendance of incoming students. In turn, their overall graduation rate rose to about 55 percent compared to a 40 percent rate for the now-closed schools.

Rural schools pay more than double for slow internet Marketplace: The largest telecoms don't bother with these rural areas, leaving smaller companies to come in and fill the gaps. These providers find themselves with steep overhead but little or no competition.

Top 50 Local Education Foundations Ranked in New National Study EdWeek: A new study of the top 50 local foundations that support K-12 districts found that Florida and Texas are home to some of the top-performing nonprofits that support students and teachers in districts. It also shows that the Pinellas Education Foundation in Florida has, for the second year, taken the number-one spot among foundations with $2 million or more in revenues.

Congress blasts U.S. Education Department for vulnerabilities in data bases Washington Post: Department Inspector General Kathleen Tighe says her investigators were able to penetrate the department's data systems without being detected.

School Will Start Later For Many Seattle Teens Seattle Times: A lot of Seattle teens can hit the snooze button next school year. The school board voted 6-1 Wednesday night to push back start times for middle and high schools.

Charter-school ruling stands, except for one footnote Seattle Times: Charter-school supporters had asked the court to rethink its decision, hoping to preserve the publicly funded but privately run schools.

Utah school apologizes for terrorism poster assignment AP: A Utah school apologized Thursday for a classroom assignment in which students were asked to create a propaganda poster for a group such as Islamic State to understand the goals and methods of terror groups....

AM News: Congress Begins Final NCLB Revamp Stage

ESEA Conference Committee Kicks Off, NCLB One Step Closer to Extinction PK12: School districts and state officials have begged Congress to update the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act, and it looks like they're on the verge of getting their wish. See also: MinnPostSlate.

Is homelessness among U.S. kids declining, or surging? It depends on who you ask. Washington Post: HUD estimates there are 127,000 homeless children in the country. The Education Department says there are 1.3 million.

At least 500,000 students in 7 states sat out standardized tests this past spring Washington Post: A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education could not confirm those numbers, saying that states are not expected to report opt-out data to the federal government until December, and some have indicated they may not do so until February.

Here's what parents have to say about union efforts at Alliance charter schools LA Times: At a news conference Wednesday, a small group of parents, community organizers and United Teachers Los Angeles members complained that they felt pressured by Alliance College-Ready Public...

Does It Pay To Pay Teachers $100,000? NPR: A growing number of districts are looking to change that pay structure. The goal: Give teachers, even younger teachers, the chance to earn more. Reward them not for seniority or advanced degrees, but for how well they teach.

Texas Rejects Letting Academics Vet Public School Textbooks AP: Texas has rejected allowing university experts to fact-check its public-school textbooks in the wake of a 9th grade world geography book mistakenly calling African slaves "workers." It defeated 8-7 on Wednesday a proposal that would have included scrutiny from academic experts as part of its vetting process.

Dumbo School Rezoning Talks Didn’t Include Us, Say Some Parents WNYC: Families in Dumbo said they wanted to talk about school quality; the quickness of the rezoning proposal; how the city would help blend two communities with vast differences in wealth; and continued funding of P.S. 307 after the school's magnet grant for math and science ran out and if the school lost its Title I status.

Bloomberg’s early school closures benefitted future students, new study finds Chalkbeat: The new study did not examine how the years-long closure process affected educators, local communities that lost historic institutions, or surrounding schools that absorbed many challenging students. Over the years, the strategy became increasingly unpopular among parents and educators, eventually prompting lawsuits, rancorous public hearings, and scathing criticism by the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, who has largely rejected that approach.

Charter school supporters raise concerns about impact on LAUSD KPCC: “As part of the analysis of the Broad proposal, careful consideration should also be given to the effect of such alternative school expansion on the LAUSD. School initiatives in other cities have demonstrated that the intended reforms often fall short if they are done to communities rather than with communities,” the letter said.

Dave Isay On StoryCorps And The Great Thanksgiving Listen NPR: Since its inception 12 years ago, StoryCorps has recorded the conversations of 100,000 Americans. This Thanksgiving the oral history project hopes to double that number with the help of a new app. StoryCorps founder Dave Isay on "The Great Thanksgivig Listen" and the transformative power of the interview.

Charter group calls for closure of two of its own SI&A Cabinet Report: The state’s preeminent arbiter of charter school performance is calling this week for the closure of two campuses deemed to be falling short of meeting even minimum academic standards.

AM News: Educators Respond To Paris Attacks (Plus NCLB Rewrite Agreement)

The California student killed in Paris saw herself as a driven, independent Mexican American LA Times: Gonzalez, a 23-year-old design student at Cal State Long Beach, had arrived in the city in September. She had never been out of the country and was looking forward to the semester abroad. See also TODAY and Joshua Starr tweet reminding educators to be aware of issues that may come up in American classrooms this week.

Paris Teachers Prepare To Discuss Attacks With Worried Students HuffPost: On Jan. 7, 2015, there was suffocating alarm, horror and fear in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. The next day, wounds still fresh, it was necessary to keep going. It was a difficult day for schoolteachers in France, faced with students and their questions, and at times their anger.

Lawmakers Announce Preliminary Agreement On ESEA Rewrite PK12: Congressional negotiators announced they have a way forward to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with a conference committee to start working on a compromise soon. See also Washington Post.

Pell Grants, Sandy Hook Highlight Brief Nods to Education in Democratic Debate PK12: In keeping with the previous Republican and Democratic debates, there weren't any direct questions on K-12.

Four Chicago charter schools push back against sudden closings WBEZ: The school board passed a new policy 15 days ago, outlining which charter schools it deemed poor performing. A week later, district officials announced a list of four schools it wants to close at the end of this school year.

More than 11,000 school staff members are 'missing' from Virginia schools Washington Post: Study says that during the recession, school enrollment boomed but school districts didn't hire teachers and staff to keep up.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Educators Respond To Paris Attacks (Plus NCLB Rewrite Agreement)" »

Thompson: Jennings's Call for Education Policy Worthy of Our Democracy

Jack Jennings's Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools is a must-read for anyone seeking to improve our public schools. Drawing upon a half century of political and education research, Jennings writes a history of federal involvement in school reform and makes sensible suggestions for the next era of school improvement.

Jennings chronicled the first generation of federal education reforms and their results. The ESEA Act of 1965 had big goals and it was well-funded.  From the mid-1960s to the 1980s, often fragmented federally funded efforts only produced modest improvements and they did not bring equity.  But, those gains now look pretty impressive in comparison to post-NCLB outcomes, especially since their funding did not increase in order to meet the ambitious goal of closing the Achievement Gap. To produce equity for the most disadvantaged students, who disproportionately were concentrated in high-challenge schools, a far greater investment into their entire learning environments would have been necessary.

Jennings then documents how and why NCLB accountability failed. He bluntly reminds us that "Tests do not a good education make.”  Moreover, “When it came to measuring student progress in school, NCLB got it wrong.” Pulling it all together, Jennings’s analysis of NAEP testing results shows:

It is ironic that from the 1970s to the early 2000s. achievement generally rose and achievement gaps generally narrowed, which would seem to refute the Title I evaluation results used to support the shift to test-driven reform.

He also concludes:

The long-term NAEP results showed gains, especially for Black and Hispanic students, until 2008. A disturbing finding, though, is that since 2008, achievement has not increased for students except for 13-year-olds, nor have achievement gaps narrowed between racial/ethnic groups.

Jennings is judicious in summarizing the evidence about the effectiveness of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, telling Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post  “The record will show these policies brought about minimum improvement. ... They also did considerable harm.”

Then Jennings turns to solutions. First, he calls for a vigorous debate regarding the new direction that federal education policy should take. While I applaud that invitation, teaching in an era of failed test-driven reforms has made me more risk-adverse. But, Jennings’s closing paragraph has finally convinced me:

The biggest lesson I have learned over a half century of involvement in education politics and policy is that if you are not working to implement your own agenda, then you are working off someone else’s agenda. It is time public school advocates established their own ambitious agenda and set out to achieve it.

Continue reading "Thompson: Jennings's Call for Education Policy Worthy of Our Democracy" »

AM News: Duncan Presses On ESEA; NEA Ponders Clinton Endorsement

Arne Duncan challenges the country to deal with educational inequity Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan thinks the chances that Congress will replace No Child Left Behind, the main K-12 federal education law now eight years overdue for revision, took a nosedive with House Speaker John Boehner's decision to retire.

Rank and file revolt? NEA's expected backing of Clinton has members fuming Fox News:  "Hillary Clinton is a tested leader who shares our values, is supported by our members and is prepared for a tough fight on behalf of students, families and communities," AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a July press release. See also American Prospect: Hillary's Relationship Status with Labor: It's Complicated, also LA Times.

Suit to limit use of teacher union dues for political purposes is tossed Los Angeles Times: A federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed a lawsuit that, if successful, would have hindered the ability of teachers unions to raise money. 

Three quarters of traditional public schools in D.C. now require uniforms Washington Post: Most of the city’s affluent students don’t have to wear uniforms, following a national trend.

Three Urban Districts Lauded for Strong Governance, Strategic Vision District Dossier: The school boards in Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Lincoln, Neb., were awarded the 2015 Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence.

With D.C. Schools No Longer 'Broken,' Next Step Is More Relevancy, Chancellor Says WAMU: Graduation rates are up, truancy is down, enrollment is up, and now DCPS must start focusing on doing even more for students, Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in her "state of the schools" remarks and in earlier comments to reporters.

American Graduate Day 2015 celebrates efforts to build student success PBS NewsHour: Those efforts will be celebrated Saturday, October 3 on PBS with American Graduate Day, a seven-hour event featuring celebrities, public figures and journalists like PBS NewsHour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan exploring innovative solutions to the challenges that millions of students face every day.

A Tale of Two Schools WNYC: The Department of Education just released its new plan to rezone two schools in Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and Vinegar Hill.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

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AM News: Boehner Resignation Could Hinder ESEA Reauthorization

House Speaker Boehner, Key Architect of NCLB, to Resign From Congress PK12:&nbsdivp;Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, was the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce committee when Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, and played a key role in shepherding NCLB through the legislative process. See also Washington Post.

LAUSD board to vote on $6.4 million settlement proposal with Apple over iPad software KPCC: Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines told board members this week he’s negotiated a $6.4 million settlement with Apple Inc. and tech company Lenovo to resolve a dispute over faulty software on the tablets they sold to the district. Most of the settlement money will come from Apple.

Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, and Malala Yousafzai Unite to Push for Girls' Education
TIME: Women and girls took center stage at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City on Saturday night, with Beyoncé, Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai rallying more than 60,000 fans in support of girls' education. See also USNWR.

Study: Principals Satisfied with TFA Teachers Atlanta Journal Constitution: Most principals are satisfied with the Teach for America teachers in their buildings, according to a study released today by the RAND Corporation. 

Black math scores lag the most in segregated schools Hechinger: More than half of the achievement gap could be attributed to factors inside the school.  Only about 15 percent of the achievement gap could be attributed to inequities in funding and resources between schools. The remainder of the achievement gap is an unexplained mystery. See also Washington Post.

Test scores complicate the debate over expanding L.A. charter schools LA Times: As the battle to greatly expand charter schools in Los Angeles begins, both sides are touting statistics they claim make their case.

White House honors teenager who inspires girls to do computer coding Washington Post: Swetha Prabakaran, 15, runs a nonprofit to teach elementary schoolers about computer coding.

Education Department Restarts Peer-Review of Tests PK12: States that have adopted new tests, or made significant changes to their old ones, will have to undergo peer review by the U.S. Department of Education within the next four to eight months, according to department officials.

How One Principal is Trying to Get More Black Men Into the Classroom Washington Post: One Philadelphia principal is trying to do his part by launching a new organization that aims to bring together Philly’s black male educators and provide them with professional support to thrive in their jobs.
More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

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Thompson: Jack Jennings & the Insider's View of School Reform

One reason why I loved Jack Jennings's Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools is that it helped me grasp something that always perplexed me. NCLB, unlike Arne Duncan's test and punish agenda, had very little in terms of real sanctions for individuals.  Why didn't the normative education culture of compliance respond in the obvious manner - pocket the extra money and pretend to comply with the law? Why did systems actually impose test-driven accountability and juke the stats, rather than just play the numbers games and claim that they had really taken a pound of flesh out of educators?
Similarly, Jennings helps explain a phrase that became ubiquitous in my world. Our poor district desperately needed federal money, but it didn't dare spend it in the ways that would most benefit poor students. During years before and shortly after NCLB, I'd often hear the statement about Title I money: "Oh, that's just federal money." In other words, individual administrators wouldn't take risks in order to spend those modest funds more effectively; they’d stick with programs that were completely safe.
To his credit, Duncan subsequently spoke about flexibility in spending Title I. I'd cite his promises and suggest approaches focusing on the socio-emotional aspect of learning and invariably hear words of agreement from administrators. After all, our district was 90% low-income, so there was little chance that those researched-based approaches would unfairly benefit affluent kids. Then would come a statement like this: "But, what if some 25-year-old accountant disallowed it?" Often, the other administrators would offer the same few anecdotes about other districts that were burned by federal bureaucrats.
Jennings account of Title I is especially incisive. The ultimate insider with a half century of experience in edu-politics explains how Congress thought it was passing a general aid program with few strings attached. Reports of abuses prompted federal administrators in the 1970s to turn it into a categorical aid program, which led to regulations that could be burdensome. State and local administrators pushed back and gained some relief from the micromanaging. In return, the program became more focused on student achievement, as opposed to investing in the broader welfare of poor children.  
As Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools unfolded, my big question was addressed. I had been unaware of the long complicated story of how Title I had become more focused on academic accountability.  On the ground in inner city schools, we would have had to have our heads firmly in the sand to miss the justified pressure from the civil rights community to produce concrete metrics of academic growth for poor children of color but I, at least, had missed the parts of the story that Jennings recounts. Systems had been fighting multi-faceted battles over accountability and I’d just been aware of the disputes over test scores. So, even though NCLB’s test score targets seemed so utopian that it appeared unlikely that systems would go to illogical extremes to meet them, an overall foundation had been laid for a serious commitment to test-driven accountability.

Continue reading "Thompson: Jack Jennings & the Insider's View of School Reform" »

Quotes: Duncan Laments Belated NCLB Waiver Decision

Quotes2We spent a year and a half two years trying to finish No Child Left Behind in 2009 and '10 and '11... We let schools, we let kids suffer for another year. So, in hindsight, we should have done waivers earlier... I think [overall] waivers have gone pretty darn well. You guys don't cover it much. But we have 44 pretty happy customers across the political spectrum.

-- EdSec Arne Duncan in EdWeek (Duncan's Big Mistake?)

Thompson: Hess & Jennings Cast Doubt on NCLB

The conservative spawn of the devil, Rick Hess, writes: "The acid test, I'd think, is whether they [test score increases] carry over to what matters: success in high school, college, and beyond. A decade of stagnant high school metrics is not reassuring, and it's possible that NCLB's command-and-control effort to improve schooling could be delivering up a false sense of progress."
Our liberal pragmatist hero, Jack Jennings, writes that "the lack of congruence between state test and NAEP results throws into doubt the ability of NCLB's accountability provisions to raise general students achievement." Jennings concludes, "The recent stalling of progress on NAEP since 2008 ... suggests  problems with the NCLB accountability approach." 
Is there a dimes worth of difference between the American Enterprise Institute scholar's and the consummate insider/scholar's conclusion?
Seriously, there is a difference between Hess's "musing" in Of Head Start and SAT and Jennings's thorough analysis of what worked and didn't work in accountability-driven reform. Hess starts with an old-fashioned conservative argument, raising the question of whether Head Start's gains are lasting. He then offers a specific critique of conservatives who keep whistling in the dark when bad news is announced. In this case, it is the decade-long decline of average SAT scores from 1514 for the class of 2006 to 1490 for the class of 2015 that reformers (who are now the new status quo) are scrambling to explain away.
Jennings, in Presidents, Congress, and the Public Schools, documents the long-term increase in student performance since 1970s, explaining why pre-NCLB improvement efforts were more successful than commonly assumed, and documenting the negative, unintended effects of NCLB's test-driven accountability system. 
Both the conservative and the liberal are refreshingly grounded in reality. Hess gets to the heart of the matter, writing about test score gains, "What's been less clear to me is whether those results necessarily reflect meaningful learning."

Continue reading "Thompson: Hess & Jennings Cast Doubt on NCLB" »

Quotes: Elizabeth Warren, Reformers' (Unexpected?) ESEA Accountability Champion

Quotes2In many ways, this bill represents a significant improvement in federal education policy, moving away from rigid standardized tests and respecting the vital work that our teachers do every day--and I strongly support those changes. But this bill is also about money, and it eliminates basic, fundamental safeguards to ensure that federal dollars are actually used to improve both schools and educational outcomes for those students who are often ignored. -- Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in CommonWealth Magazine (On No Child law, Warren carries Kennedy torch)



Maps: All But 8 States Have NCLB Waivers Now

image from s3.amazonaws.com

In a piece titled Why No Child Left Behind must be fixed, in one map, the Washington Examiner (I know) notes that the waiver system we're operating under currently (thanks, Arne Duncan) has more strings than NCLB or its likely successor. 

AM News: At 22 Percent, Child Poverty Rate Still Higher Than Before Recession

More children are in poverty today than before the Great Recession PBS NewsHour: Today, 22 percent of children live in poverty, up from 18 percent in 2008. Minnesota led the United States in children’s overall well-being, followed by New Hampshire and Massachusetts. It’s the first time in nearly a decade that a state outside of New England has ranked first nationwide.

ESEA Rewrite: What to Expect From House-Senate Conference PK12: Representatives from both parties and both chambers will attempt to find common ground between their dueling reauthorization bills, which contain some stark policy differences. See also Washington Post.

ESEA Rewrite and Waiver Issue: When Should ELLs Count for Accountability? PK12: The House and Senate bills to write the Elementary and Secondary Education Act go in different directions when it comes to testing English-language learners.

Pat Toomey background check amendment: Why the No Child Left Behind rewrite won't include it. Slate: Among the more unfortunate casualties was Sen. Al Franken’s Student Non-Discrimination Act, which proposed extending federal protections against bullying to LGBT students. Other amendments were adopted in extremely watered-down form.

Judge Rules Against Miss. Districts in K-12 Money Lawsuit as Ballot Duel Looms State EdWatch: A lawsuit and two opposing ballot initiatives over school spending in Mississippi promise to create a complicated picture for K-12 spending in the state.

Chicago Public Schools Propose Selling $1.16 Billion In Bonds Reuters via HuffPost: Proceeds would be used to improve school facilities, refund outstanding bonds, and pay banks to terminate swaps used to hedge interest-rate risk on variable-rate debt, according to documents posted on the CPS website.

'Breaking Bad' Actor Runs for Albuquerque Seat AP: Actor Steven Michael Quezada (keh-ZAH'-dah) is jumping in a heated race for county commissioner in Albuquerque. Quezada is a member of the Albuquerque school board.

The Test That Can Look Into A Child's (Reading) Future NPR: Researchers say they've come up with a 30-minute test that can predict a child's language skill and diagnose learning disabilities.

NYC Parents, Teachers and Students Give Their Schools High Marks WNYC: Consistent with last year's survey results, 95 percent of parents who responded to the survey were at least "somewhat satisfied" with their child's education and with the school's response to their questions.  [But no class size question?!] See also:  ChalkbeatSchoolBook.

More news below (and throughout the day) at @alexanderrusso.

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AM News: What Next For NCLB Rewrite?

Senate Votes Overwhelmingly For Bipartisan No Child Left Behind Rewrite HuffPost: However, the bill’s next steps are unclear, since even its supporters concede President Barack Obama is unlikely to sign it in its current form. See also NYT, HuffPost.

Revising the No Child Left Behind Act: Issue by Issue PK12: Here's a look at the Senate and House bills to rewrite the NCLB law, and how they compare to each other, current law, and the Obama administration's waivers. See also AP, Washington Post, PBS NewsHour.

Senate tweaks formula for Title 1 funds to educate children from poor families Washington Post: Burr rewrote the amendment so that the formula changes would not take effect until Congress funds Title 1 at $17 billion annually. It is unclear when that would happen; the program is currently funded at $14.5 billion, an amount that has been steady since 2012. In addition, the change in formula would affect only dollars spent by Congress in excess of the $17 billion benchmark.

Testing Revolt In Washington State Brings Feds Into Uncharted Waters NPR: As Congress debates the future of No Child Left Behind, one state falls short of federal testing requirements.

Crime stats show troubling trend at nation’s schools SI&A Cabinet Report: A general decline in serious crime on K-12 school campuses nationwide appears to be reversing, perhaps reflecting an upswing in violence in some of the nation’s largest cities.

Some schools are still testing students for drug use APM Marketplace: Many schools are still testing students for drug use, despite the end of federal funding and mixed evidence on whether it's worth the expense. Some are expanding their testing.Research shows that while drug testing is associated with a very modest decline in marijuana use, surveys sometimes find an increase in the use of other drugs. How? For one thing, drug tests aren’t always accurate. Case in point, Goldberg says, the athletes Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong. 

Lawsuit says SoCal schools among those breaking law in teacher evaluations KPCC: A lawsuit filed Thursday in Contra Costa County alleges that 13 school districts are violating state law because they aren't using student achievement data when evaluating instructors. The suit was filed by four parents and two teachers. It's backed by Students Matter, a nonprofit founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch. See also EdSource Today.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

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AM News: Senate Nears Finish To NCLB Rewrite

Senate Votes to End Debate on ESEA Rewrite; Final Vote Expected Thursday PK12: Senators also rejected a high-profile amendment from Democrats to beef up accountability measures in the underlying bill overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. See also AP.

Civil Rights Groups, Teachers' Union Spar Over Accountability PK12: The National Education Association sent a letter Tuesday to senators urging them to oppose a Democratic amendment that would beef up accountability in the Senate's ESEA rewrite.

Emanuel taps Claypool to take over at CPS, sources say Tribune: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to soon appoint longtime City Hall troubleshooter Forrest Claypool to head up the embattled Chicago Public Schools, two sources told the Chicago Tribune late Wednesday.

Why are Latinos teachers such a minority in Chicago? WBEZ:  That slow increase of Hispanic teachers comes at a time when Hispanic students make up the largest ethnic group in CPS, at 46 percent.

'Mr. Spider' Says Goodbye: An Art Teacher's Final Day At School NPR: For nearly a quarter century, Mathias Schergen taught in one of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. Now, he's moving on.

Gov. Cuomo continues to bring in money from donors with education ties ChalkbeatNY: he contribution is part of $2.4 million in donations Cuomo’s campaign reported receiving over the last six months — a slice of which again came from a cadre of money managers, executives, philanthropists, and lawyers who support charter schools, tougher accountability rules, or weaker job protections for teachers.

What was the Mark Twain quote that landed a teacher in jail? LA School Report: It apparently started when a technology coordinator who was in his Hobart Elementary School classroom on March 19 thought that what he said may have been a bit too much for his fifth graders, according to a chronology of events in the letter. She told the principal, Jonathan Paek. When he confronted Esquith, the teacher said the quote should be taken in the literary context that it was made.

Teachers back in school to master Common Core standards EdSource Today: Interviews with officials in six large California school districts and a major charter school system have found that several hundred of their teachers have signed up for – and in many cases by now already completed – summertime professional development programs provided at their schools to help them transition to the new standards.

Court Hands Major Victory to PARCC, Pearson in Challenge by Vendor EdWeek: Because the AIR lacks legal standing, the judge ruled, the other substantive complaints it made about the contract award—specifically, that it was biased in favor of Pearson—were effectively thrown out, too.

Thompson: What Explains the Remaining Support For NCLB Testing?

The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton, in Even As Congress Moves to Strip His Power, Arne Duncan Holds His Ground, begins her portrait of the last days of Arne Duncan with an anecdote documenting the sincerity with which he approached his job as US Secretary of Education. She also writes, "In a town where many like to talk, Duncan is regarded as a good listener. 'Arne is a great sounding board for the president,' said Valerie Jarrett, the president’s close friend and adviser."

It's too bad that Duncan listened so well to the Billionaires' Boys Club and ignored the professional judgments of teachers and education researchers. Now, even the Third Way, which seeks education policies consistent with corporate reform has to admit, “The question is not whether we’re going to put handcuffs on Arne Duncan,” said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky of Third Way, a centrist think tank. “The question is how many handcuffs.”

One top education expert, Jack Jennings, concludes in regard to Duncan's policies, “The record will show these policies brought about minimum improvement, ... They also did considerable harm.”

And that is the essence of Duncan's competition-driven reform and its test, sort, and punish approach to education. Some students may benefit but only at the cost of inflicting harm on other children. 

Its ironic that the market-driven movement - that still pretends it is a civil rights movement - is going out with such an ignominious whimper. Output-driven reform not only damaged poor children of color by treating them as test scores, it has undermined liberals and Democrats who seek a larger agenda of equity and justice. So, a crucial short term battle is the civil war between progressives, with teachers determined to prevent Hillary Clinton (or anyone else) from repeating Arne Duncan's agenda.

Continue reading "Thompson: What Explains the Remaining Support For NCLB Testing?" »

Morning Video: Dual Credit STEM Courses In Chicago High Schools

Chicago Public Television: "At five CPS neighborhood high schools [including Lakeview High], students are earning college credit through a number of dual-credit courses [including STEM]" CPS' Early College Stem High Schools. Or, watch Rick Hess and Bob Wise discuss what comes next for NCLB on the PBS NewsHour.

AM News: Senate Debates NCLB, New York Drops Pearson

Some states would lose big money with proposed education funding changes Washington Post: Congress’s debate about rewriting the nation’s main education law has featured high-profile disagreements over testing, vouchers and school accountability, but there is another issue that has just as much potential to derail the legislation: Money. See also Hechinger Report.

Senate Rebuffs ESEA Amendment to Let States Opt Out of Federal Accountability EdWeek: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., slammed the A PLUS amendment, knowing that if adopted it would have sunk his chances of getting the ESEA reauthorization across the finish line. See also AP

What should replace No Child Left Behind? PBS NewsHour:  Hari Sreenivasan talks to Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute and former Gov. Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Students' Reading And Math Skills Are Still All Over The Map NPR: A federal report out today reinforces that states have huge differences in their definition of "proficiency." See also Boston Learning Lab.

N.Y. Has 'No Current Plans' to Give PARCC EdWeek: The Arkansas state board voted to use the ACT Aspire test instead, concluding a public spat over which common-core exam the state would use next year. See also WNYCNYTChalkbeatBuzzFeedWSJ.

Smarter Balanced Opt-Out Rates Top 25 Percent for Washington State 11th Graders EdWeek: Officially, 27.4 percent of eligible students were "confirmed refusals" for taking the Smarter Balanced English/language arts exam, and 28.1 percent of them were confirmed refusals for the math exam.

Duncan's Children to Attend Private School in Chicago EdWeek: Duncan's children will attend the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where he himself attended and where his wife will return to work. See also Washington Post, Politico.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Senate Debates NCLB, New York Drops Pearson" »

Update: Nuzzel Gathers Contrasting Views On Hot Twitter Topics

One of the great things about Nuzzel -- you should be using it by now -- is that it lets you see not only what the folks you follow are tweeting about, and what the folks they follow are tweeting about, but also the different ways that folks are tweeting things out:
Sirota nuzzel 2

Take for example this item from Larry Ferlazzo's feed about a David Sirota story on the reauthorization of ESEA that's going on this week:

At bottom (tweets are listed in reverse chronological order) you've got Bruce Baker RTing Sirota's original tweet: "Senate quietly passes stealth bill to let Wall St rake in federal money meant for impoverished school kids"

Towards the top, you've got Ulrich Boser's RT of Andy Rotherham: "Of all the crap Title I money gets spent on, people are now outraged that some might get spent on saving money?"

Quotes: Duncan Policies = "Minimum Improvement... Considerable Harm"

Quotes2The record will show these policies brought about minimum improvement. They also did considerable harm. -- Jack Jennings in Washington Post profile of Arne Duncan (Even as Congress moves to strip his power, Arne Duncan holds his ground)

AM News: Accountability Divide Behind ESEA Reauthorization Push

Day One of Senate ESEA Debate: Rift Over Accountability Grows PK12: Below the surface of pleasantries and backslapping, a policy split continues to grow over whether to beef up accountability provisions in the bill to overhaul the education law. See also HuffPost, AP, NPR, Washington Examiner, Washington Post.

Conservatives likely to lose education reform battle in Congress Washington Examiner: But the amendments aren't likely to make it into law, and the underlying House bill will likely be pushed to the left by House and Senate leaders eager to move the bill out of Congress and onto the president's desk for signature.

PARCC test pros and cons debated at Massachusetts Board of Education hearing Mass Live: More than 100 people, most of them educators, attended the public hearing at Springfield Technical Community College. Some shared overall concerns about excessive testing and others argued the PARCC test is needed to ensure children are prepared for the future. See also Modesto Bee.

Texas Textbooks And Teaching The Civil War And America's History Of Racial Segregation WAMU: This fall five million public school students in Texas will use textbooks that critics say misrepresent the Civil War and the nation's history of racial segregation. The battle over how the Civil War is taught in public schools. See also Slate

Ken Wagner, top state ed deputy, a finalist for Rhode Island ed chief job Chalkbeat: Wagner has effectively helmed the department alongside acting Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin over the first half of 2015 after John King’s departure last year. Wagner would be the latest in a string of state education officials to leave over the last year, which has been marked by tumult over education policies and the end of the state’s Race to the Top funding, as well as the choice of new Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who started Monday.

Rahm Emanuel on Budget Cuts and Teacher Layoffs The Atlantic: At an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Thursday, Emanuel was defiant. “Everybody’s going to hate what they’ve got to do,” he said. But the budget arrangement is “what we call a grand bargain, or a fair deal.” Emanuel made it clear that he harbors no love for the education-reform movement. For example, he said, the common debate that pits public schools versus charters is “nuts.” “I am not an education reformer,” he said. “My job as mayor is to make sure you have quality.”

Marco Rubio’s Education Plans Echo Some Obama Ideas NYT: Many of the ideas on higher education outlined by Senator Marco Rubio in an economic speech on Tuesday sounded similar to policies that President Obama has called for during his time in office.

On Talking Race to Young Teens, Teachers Say It's Been a Tough Year WNYC: One morning in May, Stephanie Caruso had a question for her seventh graders at West Side Collaborative Middle School. She wanted to know if they’d ever been stopped by police when leaving the Upper West side campus for lunch.

AM News: All Eyes On Possible ESEA Reauthorization

White House: ESEA Rewrite Needs to Focus on Struggling Schools and Students PK12: The Obama administration worries the House and Senate bills to rewrite ESEA don't do go far enough on accountability. see also National Journal.

House Could Vote on Parent's Right to Opt Out of Tests Under ESEA PK12: The opt-out movement hasn't really been a key issue as Congress wrestles with reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but that could change this week. See also Washington Post.

NEA 2015 Convention Wrap-Up: Mixed Messaging Teacher Beat: Final details of this year's convention include the union's legislative war chest, mixed messaging on race, and other matters. See also EIA.

Are Test Scores Proving Fears About Common-Core High School Math Correct? State EdWatch: In three states that released preliminary common-core test scores in July, high school students failed to meet predictions for math proficiency. Did experts warn us this was coming? See also: Idaho Smarter Balanced Test Scores Largely Beat State's Projections

Lawsuit: L.A. Schools Failing Needy Students, Flouting California Funding Law State EdWatch: A California lawsuit filed last week claims that the Los Angeles Unified School District is failing to abide by the state's Local Control Funding Formula.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On Possible ESEA Reauthorization" »

Quotes: A Performance Contract Version Of ESEA

Quotes2Does the education world have some kind of time-tested system–something could be brought to bear on ESEA reauthorization–for combining real accountability with real autonomy? Yes, we realized. That’s precisely what chartering is all about. - Andy Smarick (Ahead of the Heard)

Afternoon Video: Former Education Staffers Debate ESEA 2015 Chances


Check out this video from yesterday's Brookings event, Getting education bills to the finish line, which among other things includes former education staffers' best guesses at the chances that Congress will act on ESEA reauthorization this year. (Or if you prefer, check out the twitterstream using the hashtag #EdBills.)

My favorite moment is when Bethany Little highlights the impact of waivers on Congressional momentum in 2011.  What's yours? Featuring Chingos, DeLisle, Little, Flanagan, and West.

Next time, maybe they could include a leadership staff alumnus to give the larger, more political perspective. Committee staff are great and smart, but also sometimes in their silos.

Quotes: Common Core Tests Restore Some Strengths of 1990s Tests, Says Linda Darling-Hammond

Quotes2Before NCLB, Vermont, Indiana and Kentucky had students write in different genres and assessed their work. Connecticut and New York had multiday science activities... With Smarter Balanced, the performance tasks will only take about 180 minutes over one or two class periods. But they will be meaty tasks figuring out complex problems and asking students why they made a decision. This will begin to approach what some states were doing in the 1990s.

- Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond in USNews (Are New Common Core Tests Better Than Old Multiple-Choice Exams?)

Quotes: Patty Murray's Remarkable Negotiating Skills (Are They Enough?)

Quotes2[Compromise] doesn’t mean that you come in here and say, ‘Lamar, I’ll do whatever you say. I want a bill out of here and you write it and I compromised because I’m with you... That’s not compromise from either side.-- US Senator Patty Murray in TNR (Patty Murray's Negotiating Skill Has Made Her the Democratic Dealmaker)

Events: More Visuals From Today's Senate NCLB Markup, Please?

Heading into Day 2 of the Senate education committee markup of #EveryChildAchievesAct (aka #ESEA or #FixNCLB), we can't help but wish for a little more Campaign 2016-style coverage by traditional media and everyone else who's there.

We've got near real-time images of Hillary ordering at Chipotle and talking to community college kids in Iowa:

But there have been precious few visuals coming from all the lobbyists, advocates, staffers, and journalists in the Senate markup so far.

Washington Partners' @DellaBCronin was among few who were giving us an inside view of the markup:

The official Republican @GOPHELP account provided an image:

You're at the Coachella of education, and frankly we don't need all of you tweeting the same basic information. Serious or silly (or a little bit of both), what we need is some Twitter pics, maybe a Vine, or even some Periscope/Meerkat. Snap someone's great tie, or shoes.  Make a sleepy colleague (or rival) Twitter-famous for a few minutes. 

Livestream here.

AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch

Senate Attempts To Revise No Child Left Behind Measure NPR: A Senate committee begins work on a bill that would overhaul the education law. That measure — once considered a great uniter of politicians on the left and right — has since become a great divider. See also NPR

Parents Get An Earful on Opting Out of the State Tests WNYC: Last year, 1,925 students opted out, according to the city's Department of Education. In 2012, 113 students opted out of the tests, education officials said.

Some Parents Oppose Standardized Testing on Principle, but Not in Practice NYT: Even parents who are uncomfortable with the exams are discovering that it is hard to push the button on the nuclear option — refusing to have their own children take them.

Atlanta Judge Urges Talks on Sentences in School Cheating Case NYT: Judge Jerry W. Baxter said, he thought an appropriate sentence for educators convicted of altering test scores would mean sending them to jail. But then he had a change of heart. See also Washington Post: Judge urges Atlanta educators to accept plea deals in test cheating case.

Marco Rubio's education plan is pretty much like President Obama's Fusion:  and Obama both support the idea of early childhood education. Rubio even said on CBS' Face the Nation that he thinks programs like Head Start, which Obama has championed, are well-intentioned.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: You Watch The NCLB Markup, I'll Watch The NY Testing Launch" »

Morning Video: Arne Duncan's Impenetrable Wall Of Talking Points

Last week, MSNBC's Chris Hayes tried valiantly to get past EdSec Duncan's talking points (Why is Common Core so controversial?) Curmudgucation tears it apart here. At least Duncan now limits his "race-to-the-bottom" claims about NCLB to 20 states.

Already seen it? Watch this Engadget blog post about a new video game, No Pineapple Left Behind. ("You're a principal lording over pineapples, making sure they do amazingly well on standardized tests because that's what begets more funding for your school...")

AM News: Emanuel Wins Chicago Re-Election, Plus Senate ESEA Plan

Rahm Emanuel wins runoff in Chicago Politico: In an interview with The Atlantic, AFT President Randi Weingarten said that forcing Emanuel into a runoff was a win for labor — a point echoed by progressives after the vote. See also Emanuel wins re-election over Garcia in race for Chicago mayor (WBEZ), Emanuel Wins Second Term as Chicago Mayor After Tough Runoff (EdWeek).

Senate Plan to Revise No Child Left Behind Law Would Not Measure Teachers by Test Scores NYT: The proposal retains the requirement for yearly tests, but the federal government would no longer prescribe how the states handle schools with continuously poor scores. See also Sens. Alexander, Murray propose bipartisan measure to replace NCLB (WP), Senators Announce Agreement to Update Education Law (AP).

California teachers unions face new legal challenge over dues Washington Post: Four California teachers are suing their unions over the use of member dues for political activities, opening a new legal front against unions that are already facing a separate challenge to their ability to collect dues from all teachers

Mexican-American Toddlers: Understanding The Achievement Gap  NPR: A new study finds Mexican-American toddlers are lagging behind their white counterparts.

First-Generation Students Unite NYT: These young pioneers, the first in their families in college, speak out about who they are, where they come from and the income inequality on campus.

As new teacher evaluation system looms, NY's Tisch defends need for state tests ChalkbeatNY: As state education officials have been tasked with crafting a new teacher evaluation system, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch on Tuesday continued to defend the need for a state test as a necessary measure to address longstanding inequities.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso and on Facebook).

Continue reading "AM News: Emanuel Wins Chicago Re-Election, Plus Senate ESEA Plan" »

Quotes: Why NCLB Can't Just Give States/Schools The Money

Quotes2The worry is that if you leave it to the states, they will drop the ball, as they did in the past.

-- HGSE professor Martin West (Schools Wait to See What Becomes of No Child Left Behind Law)

Quotes: Both Sides Have "Lost Their Minds" On Annual Testing

Quotes2On one side, you have a group of reformers who say that getting rid of federal mandates for annual testing would be apocalyptic, and that’s crazy.... On the other side, you have people who think that getting rid of it would lead to utopia. I think both sides have lost their minds on this. -- Author and Emerson Fellow Amanda Ripley in the Washington Post (Some parents across the country are revolting against standardized testing)

AM News: Common Core Sabotage, Chicago Standoff, & ESEA Veto Threat

Unable to repeal Common Core, foes try sabotage Politico: Conservative lawmakers in state after state are running into difficulty rounding up votes to revoke the academic standards outright.. See also NJEA launches ad campaign against PARCC.

White House Issues Veto Threat Against House GOP NCLB Rewrite PK12: Why doesn't the administration like this bill? For one thing, they're not happy about what they see as a big step on back on accountability, particularly for the poor and minority kids that NCLB was designed to help. See also AP,  Obama threatens veto of House education billWhite House threatens veto of GOP bill to fix No Child Left BehindNo Child Reauthorization Has No Shot.

CPS in a bind over snub of state-mandated test, official says Tribune: Chicago school board President David Vitale said during Wednesday's board meeting that the district's effort to administer the exam to just 66 of its more than 600 schools has been "clear and consistent." But, he acknowledged, "The response we've gotten from other authorities is also clear." See also Sun-Times: Which CPS schools will be tested in 2 weeks still unknown.

De Blasio calls for permanent mayoral control of schools ChalkbeatNY: Before mayoral control, the city’s school system was balkanized,” de Blasio said. “School boards exerted great authority with little accountability and we saw far too many instances of mismanagement, waste and corruption.” See also The Atlantic: NYC's Tale of Two Pre-Ks.

Rift escalates between Los Angeles teachers, district AP: Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district are in an escalating rift with Los Angeles Unified officials over higher wages. See also LATimes: Charter school group is political force in L.A. Unified board election, LA Weekly Charter Schools Take on Charter-Hating LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser

 More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Former Montgomery schools chief Joshua Starr sets up business to open way for consulting Washington Post: Montgomery County’s former superintendent, Joshua P. Starr, has established a new consulting business, according to Maryland state records and a statement relayed through the school district.The limited liability company, called Education Solutions LLC, was registered with the state Feb. 17, a day after Starr’s resignation took effect, according to online records from the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation.

'Call Out Cuomo' teachers' rally at Massena High Saturday urging residents to ... North Country Now: Carlisto said the “Call Out Cuomo” events are expected to feature American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee and others

Arne Duncan talks early childhood education at Alexandria school Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday got a first-hand glimpse of early childhood education in a busy Alexandria preschool classroom, where he got down on the rug with youngsters playing with blocks, chatted up students building a “neighborhood” with sand and talked to a young girl about her writing.

5 Lessons Education Research Taught Us In 2014 NPR: Lessons from a handful of the most viewed papers from the American Education Research Association last year.

Dissecting A Frog: A Middle School Rite Of Passage NPR: In science classrooms across the country, middle-schoolers will take part in an iconic activity this year: frog dissection.

Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy Tribune: A CPS spokesman said the district makes training available to all schools on subjects including restorative practices and classroom management. Roughly 100 (of 600) schools have "restorative practices coaches" in the building weekly, and behavioral health teams work at 66 schools. Those resources are allocated to schools based on behavioral data, the district said.

Controversial Schools Tech Contract Wins NYC Approval WNYC: A contract to expand internet access in New York City schools as well as proposals for sharing school space moved forward despite concerns. Oh, and the cell phone ban was lifted.

Employee sues LAUSD superintendent third time alleging sexual harassment KPCC: The latest suit alleges Cortines made sexual advances to Graham in 2000 soon after Cortines helped Graham get a job with the school district’s real estate leasing operations. Cortines left the school district that same year and Graham didn’t report what allegedly happened, according to the suit.

The rise of Chicago's Casimir Pulaski Day WBEZ: The story behind this most “Illinois” of holidays involves Casimir, of course, but it’s more of a story about a strong community that was willing to spend political capital to honor him.

One District Will Have Saturday School to Make Up for Missed Days ABC News: A North Carolina school district will be in session on Saturday and parents aren't too happy. The Gaston County school district made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook and on its web site.

Thompson: Asking the Wrong Questions regarding NCLB and Testing

The Shanker Institute's Matt DiCarlo, in The Debate and Evidence on the Impact of NCLB,  issues a typically nuanced, precise and (I'd say overly) cautious summary of what quantitative researchers may have proved about the meager positive effects of NCLB, as he overlooks the extreme "mis-naepery" of non-educators who support test-driven accountability.  

DiCarlo correctly asserts that it is invalid to "use simple, unadjusted NAEP changes to prove or disprove any policy argument." But, he ignores a more meaningful and relevant reality. It is possible to use NAEP scores to disprove disingenuous claims that NAEP shows that NCLB worked. 

DiCarlo concludes that "(test-based) school accountability in general" (emphasis in the original) "tends to have moderate positive estimated effects on short-term testing outcomes in math, and typically smaller (and sometimes nil) effects in reading. (emphasis mine)

The quantitative researcher then concludes, "There is scarce evidence that test-based accountability policies have a negative impact on short-term student testing outcomes." Such a narrowly worded statement is not false.

But, DiCarlo then states that "the vast majority of evaluations of test-based accountability policies suffer from an unavoidable but nonetheless important limitation: It is very difficult to isolate, and there is mixed evidence regarding, the policies and practices that led to the outcomes." That conclusion ignores the vast body of qualitative evidence by journalists and scholars who do not limit themselves to regression studies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Asking the Wrong Questions regarding NCLB and Testing" »

AM News: Ramping Up For Friday's House ESEA Reauthorization Effort

More Conflict Over Cutting Federal Role in Education NYT: Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday produced data that he said showed that poorer districts would suffer under a Republican plan expected to clear the House of Representatives this week.

As House Prepares to Vote on NCLB, Advocates Push for Preschool Funding U.S. News & World Report: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, noted the first bill, passed in 1965, was a bipartisan effort, as was its reauthorization in 1994. "It would be a very good signal to America if something that has bipartisan support ...

How Would the House NCLB Rewrite Affect Funding for Minority Students? PK12: The White House report, released Tuesday, warns of cuts of more than $1.3 billion over 6 years to more than ten districts that serve high concentrations of African-American students. But, these top-line estimates, while powerful, are essentially a worst-case scenario that's highly unlikely to play out in real life, especially if you consider them over six years. There are a number of reasons why.

Schools using new tools to make teachers better Seattle Times: How to help teachers improve? A new system of in-depth observation by trained evaluators and principals, soon to be required in schools across Washington, shows what can help. See also: Seattle ranks high in suspending elementary-school students with special needs.

Suspended students lose millions of days of instruction while out of school Washington Post: Suspension rates dropped for many of the nation’s school districts — including some in the Washington region — but U.S. students still lost about 18 million days of instruction to out-of-school punishments in the 2011-2012 school year, according to research released Monday.

Suspensions at city charter schools far outpace those at district schools, data show ChalkbeatNY: One-third of charter schools reported suspending fewer than 5 percent of their students, and many schools said they did not give out any out-of-school suspensions. But 11 charter schools suspended more than 30 percent of their students — a figure likely to draw added scrutiny amid a nationwide push to reduce suspensions and a debate over allowing more charter schools to open statewide.

Chicago sets early voting record in last weekend before mayoral election WBEZ: About 90,000 Chicago voters cast their ballots during early voting, including more than 21,500 votes on Saturday, which set a single-day record for a municipal election.

Christie’s Truce With Teachers Could Pay Dividends in ’16 NYT: Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey Education Association are cooperating to grapple with the state’s crippling pension costs, and that may help the governor’s presidential ambitions.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Ramping Up For Friday's House ESEA Reauthorization Effort" »

Charts: Reconsidering NCLB's Bad Rap

  Screenshot 2015-02-10 12.50.00 Screenshot 2015-02-10 12.50.10These pretty charts from Third Way (Did No Child Left Behind Work) will change no one's mind, if we've learned anything about minds being changed, but I will share them anyway (with permission), and recommend you read their writeup of the reality behind NCLB's bad rap.

AM News: Schools, Parents Track Measles Outbreaks & Vaccination Levels

Five children at Chicago-area day care diagnosed with measles WBEZ: Public health officials say students, staff and faculty at the facility have been notified and anyone who hasn't been vaccinated for measles has been instructed to stay away from unvaccinated individuals for the next three weeks.

See also Texas Tribune: See Vaccine Exemptions by School District, AP: A Look at Some Vaccine-Related Legislation in Several States, HuffPost: These States Don't Require Vaccinations For Home-School Students, FiveThirtyEight: Much Of The World Is Better At Giving Their Kids Measles Vaccines Than The U.S., The Atlantic: Schools May Solve The Anti-Vaccine Parenting Deadlock.

House Democrats discuss updates to ‘No Child Left Behind’ law PBS NewsHour: They crowded into a small Capitol Hill hearing room Thursday for their own forum on changing the law in protest of Republicans’ handling of the issue. Votes on a GOP bill are anticipated soon. See also PK12: House Democrats Hold Their Own Session on Rewriting the NCLB Law.

U.S. Department of Education Remakes School Improvement Grant Program PK12: Under the regs, states that want to cook up their own turnaround interventions for low-performing schools using federal SIG dollars and submit them to the U.S. Secretary of Education for approval will need at least one rigorous study to back up their approach. 

Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America NYT: The group has warned school districts and charter school chains that the size of its corps of teachers this fall could be down by as much as a quarter.

The Education of Jeb Bush National Journal: GOP presidential hopeful has question for post-industrial America: "Can we shed a skin and renew ourselves?"

LAUSD school board candidates face off in debate KPCC: In a debate Thursday night featuring candidates for the Los Angeles Unified's school board District 5 seat, differences emerged on issues such as charter schools, testing and the problem-plagued student data system known as MiSiS. See also LA School Report: AFT president Weingarten visits town to give LA teachers a boost.

More news below (and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso).

Continue reading "AM News: Schools, Parents Track Measles Outbreaks & Vaccination Levels" »

AM News: House Democrats Holding Solo NCLB Reauthorization Hearing

Not a lot of comity on the House education panel, members split on how to rewrite law Washington Post: Scott and other committee Democrats announced they are holding their own hearing on Thursday, calling it a “forum,” with witnesses. It is unclear if they are going to file dueling legislation, Levin said.

Education secretary visits Maryland for town hall meeting WBAL Baltimore:Secretary Arne Duncan said the meeting, in part, was organized to give parents, teachers and administrators a chance to share their concerns about the current education law, No Child Left Behind.

California Seeks NCLB Waiver From Feds Over Use of Test Scores PK12: State officials are essentially arguing that because the Smarter Balanced exam is new, AYP can't be calculated by comparing Smarter Balanced exams to student scores on prior tests.

'No Illusions' For Starr As He Prepares To Leave Montgomery County Schools WAMU: The Maryland county's superintendent is leaving his job under public uncertainty about what conflicts led to the decision. See also Washington Post: Schools chief’s exit leaves many in Montgomery with questions.

Bush offers impassioned defense of his education record The Hill: Jeb Bush deviated from his prepared remarks at the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday to give an impassioned defense of his education reform record.

Ed. Commissioner Gist Set to Leave R.I. to Lead Tulsa Schools State EdWatch: Deborah Gist has been Rhode Island's chief state school officer since 2009, and has overseen several significant changes to K-12 policy during her tenure.

Classroom coaches critical as teachers shift to Common Core EdSource Today: To break down the isolation that many teachers experience in their classrooms, California schools are using instructional coaches as a key tool to help teachers adapt their instruction to implement the Common Core standards in math and English language arts.

Opt-out advocates get attention from city’s most powerful couple ChalkbeatNY: De Blasio and his schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have stopped short of encouraging parents to opt their students out of the tests, and Fariña told state lawmakers on Tuesday that she supports the tests and their role as a challenge for students.

Karen Lewis: New CTU contract will cost city, but members willing to strike for itChicago Sun-Times: With less than a month before the mayoral election, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewismade two things clear Monday: The new teachers contract being negotiated is going to cost money, and her 30,000 members who went on strike in 2012 for ...

2 Students Hurt in Shooting Outside Maryland High School ABC News: Shooting outside Maryland high school basketball game wounds 2, sends people running for cover.

Charts: Big Cities Will Get Much Less Money Under Alexander Bill, Says CAP

Screenshot 2015-02-04 14.29.26Enough with these high-minded policy debates over annual testing and teacher evaluations and vaccinations (!). Let's talk about the Senate bill's formula "portability" provisions determining which states and districts get more or less funding than under current law. According to CAP, the Alexander bill would be a big loser for large districts and high-poverty states. Click the link to get all the details. No response yet (that I know of) from the Alexander office. Image used with permission.

USDE: Illinois Could Lose $1.2B In Funding Over Chicago Refusal

Image 1Here's the letter from the USDE to Illinois about Chicago's refusal to administer the Common Core assessment this spring, dug up just yesterday by Crain's Chicago's Greg Hinz.

According to Hinz, "Politically, the problem is that, given national wrangling over school standards, Duncan cannot be seen as being easy on Chicago, said one source close to the center of the flap. That doesn't mean Illinois would lose all of the money, but a sizable hit is likely." 

I'm not sure that's how it's going to happen but it' certainly interesting to see what the USDE is saying and how ISBE is playing things.

There was a Board meeting for CPS yesterday but I haven't seen any indication that the district is backing off its decision not to give the tests.

There's a mayoral election in a few weeks, which is likely heading for a runoff, according to the latest polls.  Yes, a runoff for Rahm. Chicago schools are in an estimated $1 billion hole, budget-wise -- not counting pension obligations. 

Full letter below, via Crain's. 

Continue reading "USDE: Illinois Could Lose $1.2B In Funding Over Chicago Refusal" »

AM News: More Districts Taking Curriculum Purchase Decisions From States

States Are Losing Power Over Classroom Materials, and Districts Are Gaining It State EdWatch: The number of states that exert direct control over districts' choice of instructional materials through state funding has dipped from roughly 25 to 18 in recent years.

White House Won't Seek To End 529 College Tax Break NPR: All 50 states and the District of Columbia sponsor 529 plans. Critics had called the proposal to limit them a tax hike on the middle class. See also WSJNYT.

Senate Ed. Panel Unlikely to Require Teacher Evaluations in NCLB Overhaul PK12: The lack of teacher-evaluation language in the reauthorization will likely stop in its tracks the Obama administration's efforts to push states to adopt evaluation systems based in part on student test scores and performance-based compensation systems, both of which were at the heart of U.S. Department of Education's NCLB waivers.

As numbers of homeless kids rise, resources fall short Marketplace: The number of students experiencing homelessness in the U.S. has increased 85 percent since before the recession, according to Department of Education data. But the resources available to help them have remained flat.

States Move to Make Citizenship Exams a Classroom Aid NYT: Arizona became the first state to require its high school students to pass the test that is given to immigrants who want to become United States citizens.

Football As A Tool In The Hands Of A Master Craftsman NPR: Our 50 Great Teachers series profiles a football coach who's made academics ... and a sense of family ... part of his winning strategy.

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Quotes: Vast Majority Of Testing Required By Teachers, Schools, & Districts

Quotes2Let’s be clear: 90% or more of the “testing” that occurs in schools is under the control of the teacher and the school district.  -- NH State Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather in testimony before Senate HELP Committe (as prepared)

Quotes: Show Taxpayers [Test] Results If You Want More Of Their Money

Quotes2Taxpayers provide about $600 billion each year to fund public education in America. They have a right to know if the system is working. And if we want the public to spend more money on education, we need to show them [test] results.

-- Ed Post's Peter Cunningham (Fewer, Better, Fairer Tests)

Thompson: John Merrow's Wish/Hope List for 2015

PBS’s John Merrow, in What’s Ahead in 2015?, starts with an astute observation about the watch dog who didn’t bark. Outcomes-loving Arne Duncan had just said that his predictions for the upcoming year were more, more, more and more increases in non-controversial supports and squishy targets.

Such input-driven goals were once seen as Low Expectations!, and they supposedly made tough-minded data-driven accountability necessary. Merrow notes that Duncan skipped an opportunity to address quality, not just quantity, or to take a stand as to whether students will have better classroom experiences in 2015 due to Common Core.

Rather than make predictions for the next 12 months, Merrow offered “a wish/hope list for 2015.”

Merrow wishes we could “make it harder to become a teacher but easier to be one. Right now a lot of our policies and rhetoric are making it downright unpleasant to be a teacher.”

He wishes Duncan would back away from value-added teacher evaluations, "but that’s not likely to happen. … Mr. Duncan is doubling down, not seeking common ground.”

I agree with Merrow’s next wish, although I'd emphasize a different part of his aspiration. He wishes that “the critics of testing and ‘test-based accountability’ would get together with their opponents and agree on some fair, effective and efficient ways of evaluating teachers.” Since unions have long advocated for practical policies such as peer review and the New Haven plan, the key words are “get together.” Those who seek better means of dismissing bad teachers mostly need to take “Yes” for an answer.

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Quotes: Reform Crowd Getting Played On "Annual Testing"

Quotes2The more freaked out the “education-reform crowd” is about annual testing, and the more singularly they stay focused on “annual testing” to the exclusion of what are equally important issues, the easier it is for Kline and Alexander to take everything else off the table. - December blog post from DFER's Charles Barone (Annual Testing in ESEA Reauthorization: A Red Herring?)

AM News: Senators Murray & Alexander Push To Revamp NCLB

Democrats and Republicans Agree: It's Time To Rewrite No Child Left Behind HuffPost: Murray articulated a similar position on testing in an interview Tuesday. "We have to fix the redundant and unnecessary testing within the system broadly," she told The Huffington Post.  But, she said in her speech, "That doesn't mean we should roll back standards or accountability." She further defended the need for some degree of standardized testing by invoking a reason more often used on the right: taxpayer money.

Senators set stage for debate about federal education law Washington Post: Top Republican and Democratic negotiators over federal education law each took to the Senate floor Tuesday to lay out their sometimes conflicting visions for rewriting No Child Left Behind.Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chair of the Senate education panel, emphasized that he wants to shrink the federal footprint in local education, saying the Obama administration has acted as a “national school board” and that Congress ought to cede power back to states to decide how best to educate K-12 students. 

Why Google Didn't Sign Obama-Backed Student Privacy Pledge Wall Street Journal: Other Google student-privacy policies are more nuanced than the pledge Obama endorsed Monday. The company says it doesn't sell Google Apps for Education data to third parties and it only shares personal information with third parties in “exceptional ...

The Most Controversial Woman in School Reform NY Magazine: Even in school reform’s new lawsuit era, hand-to-hand combat is still the preferred mode of resolving—or not resolving—­conflict. Brown has become the latest vilified figure in a decades-long PR battle—between the teachers union, one of the last powerful unions in the U.S., and “reformers”—to rival the ugliest type of corporate warfare.

Teacher survey: Change tenure, layoff laws EdSource Today: Gov. Jerry Brown said last week he's open to changing tenure and other teacher employment laws at issue in the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit, and most teachers in a new survey say they want to change them, too.

Speak & Spell: A History Hacked Education: The Speak & Spell – one of the most iconic toys of the 1980s – is a teaching machine. By that, I don’t mean simply that it’s an electronic, educational device. It is that, sure. The Speak & Spell is a teaching machine specifically in the tradition of B. F. Skinner, reflecting some of both Skinner’s design principles and his theories of learning, decades older than the popular Texas Instruments device. Rather than selecting the correctly-spelled word in a multiple choice quiz, for the example, the Speak & Spell prompts the user to construct the response. It praises; it corrects.

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AM News: Duncan Support For Annual NCLB Testing (Is This News?)

Administration Doubling Down on K-12 Priorities, Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan Declares PK12: Duncan is making it clear he doesn't think that Republicans in Congress—who could introduce draft proposals that make significant changes to federal testing mandates as early as this week—are on the right track. 

Arne Duncan Wants To Drop 'No Child Left Behind' — But Keep Its Tests NPR: The secretary of education calls the law "tired," asserting that much of it ought to be scrapped. But he still wants to keep the annual exams that serve as the law's centerpiece.

Duncan lays out priorities for education law: Testing, preschool funding, teacher evals Washington Post: Education Secretary Arne Duncan spelled out his priorities for a new federal education law Monday, calling on Congress to build in funding for preschool, add $1 billion annually in federal aid for schools with the neediest students, and maintain the federal mandate that says states must test students every year in math and reading. See also: Education groups, leaders weigh in on Duncan’s speech.

White House Still Backs Annual Testing in Schools NYT: Arne Duncan outlined the administration’s priorities for a revision of No Child Left Behind, indicating that testing was important to measuring achievement.

Obama to Call for New Laws on Data Hacking, Student Privacy NPR: The Obama Administration wants to create some new regulations that would alert consumers to the potentially unavoidable dangers facing them in the era of Sony's hacks.  See also Daily Caller.

NYC DOE reveals elusive data for 13 charter schools: How many students leave each year ChalkbeatNY:  The limited student mobility data challenges that [Farina] argument, to a degree. The schools with the highest average mobility rates over the past four years are also the ones that are performing the worst academically.

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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.