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Reform: Another Call For A Nationwide Audit Of District Testing Practices

A couple of weeks ago PBS NewsHour education correspondent John Merrow rightly pointed out that the moratorium on high-stakes use of testing to judge teachers was a start of sorts at addressing the overtesting that seems to have creeped into some American schools -- but still lacked a plan for any future action (So There’s A Moratorium. Now What?).

"This very limited moratorium means that scores on the new Common Core standardized tests won’t be used to evaluate teachers in many places.  That’s what some might call a necessary but hardly sufficient action This moratorium doesn’t mean that a truce has been called between the warring sides in the battle over teacher job protection and evaluation. That war is ongoing, sadly. And this moratorium doesn’t mean that school districts are now going to examine the role or amount of standardized bubble testing."

Towards further examination of overtesting -- the numbers and definitions out there so far are thin and uneven -- Merrow proposes a quick fill-in-the-blank questionnaire for superintendents around the country and suggests the National State Teachers of the Year to popularize the effort:  

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Yes, it's another test :-)  But something like this is probably going to have to happen, eventually. We need more information about what's going on out there -- and it's not students who will have to take this one. 

Last winter, I urged EdSec Duncan to get out in front of this and do some sort of audit (Unsolicited Suggestions).  A former Hill insider clued me in that the Senate ESEA proposal included something along those lines (National Audit Of Testing Proposed By Senate). Still no word on whether the USDE would endorse or even implement such a thing.   

Reform: It All Began 25 Years Ago In Charlottesville -- Right?

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Conventional wisdom has it that the current reform movement started in 1983 with the release of the Nation At Risk report, but EdWeek makes a pretty good case with this piece (Historic Summit Fueled Push for K-12 Standards - Education Week) that a better starting point would be 25 years ago (1989) in Charlottesville, Va.

Penned by Alyson Klein, the EdWeek piece reaches back to some of the folks involved in the 1989 summit and some of those who're working on national standards today. In a few cases - Achieve's Mike Cohen, for example -- they are still working at it.

My old boss, Jeff Bingaman, was a committed member of the National Education Goals Panel, which was one of the entities that came out of the standards movement of that time, and was a strong advocate for the voluntary national assessment that President Clinton proposed funding in his second administration in order to provide cross-state comparisons beyond NAEP and give the national standards that were being developed some extra emphasis in schools and districts.

Check it out.  It seems so long ago, it's almost a dream.  But it wasn't that long ago -- and many of the same issues are part of Common Core and whatever happens next. Image used with permission. Image used with permission from the Bush Presidential Library.

Morning Video: Katie Couric Explains Common Core, Duncan Reacts To Jindal

Watch Couric explain Common Core standards and then watch Arne Duncan take questions from Yahoo! News about the politics of it all (esp. Bobby Jindal).

Quotes: How Testing Has Made Schools 'Significantly’ Better

Quotes2We’ve begun, I think, to pay more attention now to interim assessments and formative assessments (which help teachers adjust in the middle of a school year to target student needs). We’re beginning to have just enough information where we can string some things together. - Oregon Deputy State Superintendent Rob Saxton (How a decade of testing made education ‘significantly’ better Washington Post).

Quotes: Top Obama Ed Official Endorsed Vergara Decision (ICYMI)

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The students who brought this lawsuit are, unfortunately, just nine out of millions of young people in America who are disadvantaged by laws, practices and systems that fail to identify and support our best teachers. -- Arne Duncan responding to #Vergara decision as quoted in the WSJ (Teachers Unions Under Fire)

Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking

Wow! I agree with Mike Petrilli on two big issues in one week! The revocation of Oklahoma’s NCLB Waiver, based on our repeal of Common Core, is a “terrible decision.”

I mostly agree with Petrilli’s thoughtful address to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. In an effort to understand the anti-reform backlash, he asks where his movement went wrong.

Most schools aren’t failing; the bigger problem is mediocrity. Most “failing” schools have teachers who are probably as good as those in higher-performing schools. 

I taught in “dropout factories, the dangerous schools …,” and my colleagues were far better teachers than those of my childhood. In the 1990s, our Curriculum Department and professional development were awesome.

But, Petrilli gets the second part of his diagnosis backwards. My schools responded to “wave after wave of reform.”  Those half-baked reforms made them worse.

I share Petrilli’s doubt that districts can replicate the few successful high-performing charter schools. He might also be right; in ten or twenty years, high-poverty systems may be dominated by charter schools.

But, that would be the double nightmare scenario - bad for more kids in "No Excuses" charters and worse for students left behind in even more awful concentrations of poverty and trauma. High-performing charters have contributed to a “neo-Plessyism” which is bad for all constituencies.

Continue reading "Thompson: Two Cheers for Mike Petrilli's Reform Rethinking" »

Quotes: "No One Can Fire Parents"

Quotes2Even better would be widespread parent boycotts. No one can fire parents. They have it in their power to pull the plug on this mess. I hope it comes to that. - Diane Ravitch (Pick Your Fights Carefully)

 

Pictures: Michelle Obama's Tour of the Brown Museum In Topeka

ScreenHunter_02 Jul. 14 10.22The New Republic wonders if this is "the political photo of the year," which it probably isn't.  But it's still a prettyeye-catching image. (Michelle Obama Tours Brown v. Board National Historic Site)

 

 

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: White House Presses For Equitable Teacher Distribution

Arne Duncan Unveils 50-State Teacher-Equity Strategy - @PoliticsK12 ow.ly/ySqPl

When Beliefs and Facts Collide - NYTimes.com ow.ly/yRZsZ

Guest Post: In Defense of “Last-In, First-Out” | ON LABOR ow.ly/ySpVH From SEIU #Vergara

Percentage of U.S. public-school students/teachers who are racial or ethnic minorities : 42 percent /18 percent ow.ly/ySCj2

Next NEA leader's first task: Win back public -POLITICO.com ow.ly/yRqZ8 @caitlinzemma Is she on Twitter?

Why the anti-tenure lawsuit will fail  - NY Daily News via @ChalkbeatNY ow.ly/yRfj0  @campbell_brown

Thompson: The AFT Needs to Support the NEA's New Positions

DuncanThe National Education Association annual conference approved a national campaign for equity and against "Toxic Testing." It seeks to end the "test, blame and punish" system that began under President Bush and which has grown worse under the Obama administration. As outgoing NEA President Dennis Van Roekel says, "The testing fixation has reached the point of insanity," The delegates then called on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to resign.

Hopefully the American Federation of Teachers national conference will do the same this month.

The AFT should help the press write its lede. It sould adopt the same language, word for word, in order to make the key point. Both unions are on the exact same page in terms of testing and Duncan.

Nuance is appropriate when teachers discuss issues like Common Core standards or how we should deal with edu-philanthropy. But, the jury is in on the damage done by high-stakes testing. And, dumping Duncan is a doable shortterm objective. Let's also unite in sharing the bows when we finally force President Obama, who we helped elect and reelect, to repudiate his appointee who personifies complete fidelity to corporate reform. - JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via. 

Quotes: Did You Know Duncan (& Obama) Opposed Supreme Court Union Ruling?

Quotes2Collective bargaining is a fundamental right that helped build America’s middle class. I’ve seen firsthand as Education Secretary that collaborating with unions and their state and local affiliates helps improve outcomes for students. The President and I remain committed to defending collective bargaining rights. - Arne Duncan (Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Harris v. Quinn Ruling)

People: It's A Small, Small World [For Power Couples]

HiresCatherine Brown has been named to head the education policy team at the Democratic think tank Center on American Progress.  

At CAP, Brown will report to Carmel Martin, who held the job until she was promoted to head of domestic policy.  

Martin's previous job was as head of policy and planning at the USDE.  

That's the job Brown's husband Robert Gordon has been named to take.

To recap: Brown replaces Martin. Brown's husband replaces Martin. 

Plus: Does this mean Clinton's looking left for education advice in 2016?

Previous posts: Policy Wonk Named OMB Education PADFlashback To 2005 (How Much Has Changed?)On The Move: Miller Staffer Heads ...NYT Covers Wedding of NYC DOE & DFER Couple Power Couples: Emily & David Sirota.

AM News: Van Roekel Roars (Politico), Duncan Doubles Down (Vergara)

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NEA president blasts reformers Politico: Van Roekel referred to a full-page ad in USA Today that urged citizens to sue to “stop teachers unions from treating kids like garbage” and today's story inPOLITICO about the decline in union influence.

Duncan issues new statement with the ‘right lessons’ from Vergara trial Washington Post: In case you weren’t sure what to think about last week’s verdict in the “Vergara trial” — in which a Los Angeles court judge tossed out state statutes giving job protections to teachers — Education Secretary Arne Duncan issued a new statement on Sunday offering what he thinks are the “right lessons” from the case.

Home-Schooling Parents Rally Against Common Core AP: Home-schooling parents motivated in opposition to Common Core standards

L.A. school unions back separate candidates in Board of Education race LA Times: The two largest school employee unions in Los Angeles are on different sides of a key Board of Education race, as they maneuver for leverage over pay raises, job security and other matters.

Common Core, in 9-Year-Old Eyes NYT:  Chrispin Alcindor, a Brooklyn fourth grader, was once a top student. But rigorous new academic standards — and the exams that accompany them — have frayed his confidence.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Van Roekel Roars (Politico), Duncan Doubles Down (Vergara)" »

Quotes: No Obama Administration Over-Reach.... On Standards, At Least

Quotes2You can argue that some of the OTHER things the Obama administration has done constitute something of an over-reach, but not on standards. -- Achieve's Mike Cohen speaking at #EWA154 (at roughly the 8:33 mark)

Media: What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common Core (Plus Reactions Roundup)

 Yau Hoong Tang FlickrThere's a long piece about the Common Core in the Washington Post you should probably read -- but be forewarned that the view of events and the causal chain that's cobbled together in the piece isn't entirely accurate or fairly contextualized (and differs from other accounts of what happened and why).

Basically, the Post's piece makes the claim that Bill Gates was behind the Common Core's rapid spread over the past few years. Indeed, the headline claims that Gates "pulled off" the Common Core, like it was a heist or a grift. 

"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes." Both left and right -- Diane Ravitch and NRO's Stanley Kurtz  -- are already calling for Congressional hearings.

Gates' support is clear, and no doubt played a role.  There are some fascinating tidbits about that process in the piece.  But let's be clear: the idea for common national standards and tests goes back a long long way before Gates (and David Coleman), the spread of the Common Core in recent years wasn't merely a function of Gates' enthusiasm and largess, and the myth of the all-powerful billionaire is just that. 

Continue reading "Media: What The Post Gets Wrong About Gates & Common Core (Plus Reactions Roundup)" »

Quotes: When It Comes To STEM, Science Fairs Are The Easy Part

Quotes2It's much easier to say all your math teachers should have undergraduate degrees in math [under a 3rd of 8th graders do] than it is to make that a job requirement or pay what's necessary to attract the math majors. - Fawn Johnson in National Journal STEM Challenges

Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers

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I love Michelle Obama as much as I remain loyal to her husband, despite his awful test and punish education policy. When the First Lady is attacked, I am angered almost as much as when the Obama administration assaults public education.

The issues underlying both Michelle Obama's Let's Move healthy schools campaign, and President Obama's corporate school reform are equally complicated.

Time Magazine's Jay Newton-Small, in Michelle Obama Bites Back at Critics of Her Healthy School Lunch Standards, reports that a million fewer students ate school lunches in the first year of the program. The bigger problem is anecdotes and twitter photo campaigns featuring students who want their junk food back.

In light of the House Republicans' assault on anti-obesity efforts, Burkhard Bilger's 2006 New Yorker article, The Lunch Room Rebellion, should now be reread. As the First Lady explains, the "stakes couldn't be higher" in the battle to improve children's health, so the fight is worth it. But, given the difficulty Bilger described in providing nutritious meals in the affluent Berkeley, California schools, we must prepare for a long, frustrating struggle.  

Bilger told how a "haute cuisine chef," Ann Cooper, got schooled when she brought nutritious meals that were a hit in a progressive private school to a public system. Cooper's biggest problem was that children's food tastes (not unlike some of their learning habits) are established before they enter school. But, a seemingly absurd combination of political and institutional dynamics created unforeseen complications, even in a system where only 40% of students were eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Continue reading "Thompson: Michelle Obama, Meanwitchs and Stinkburgers" »

Quotes: Looking At The Common Core Glass As "40 States Full"

Quotes2I prefer to think of the glass as 35 to 40 states full rather than 3 to 4 empty.

- Gov. Wise Alliance for Excellent Education (@all4ed) via press release

AM News: Duncan Highlights Inequalities Among Schools

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Sec. Duncan amplifies [State Superintendent] King’s comments on segregation in city schools Chalkbeat: Duncan focused his remarks on the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and tied the continued push to implement tougher standards and increase accountability for teachers and schools to the need to address continued school segregation.

For Schools, Long Road to a Level Playing Field NYT: The United States, which lags most other industrial nations in educational performance, also has a persistent gulf in the test results between the rich and the poor.

Arne Duncan: Closing education gaps 'moral imperative' Knoxville News Sentinel: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, looks on as fifth grade students work at the board during a visit to Brick Church College Prep on Tuesday in Nashville. 

Delays Allowed on Healthier Lunches AP: The Agriculture Department will allow some schools to delay adding more whole-grain foods to meals this year, responding to criticism from school officials and Congress that the standards were too difficult to meet.

Bailout for teachers' pensions to cost California school districts LA Times: California's public school districts could face difficult cutbacks if state officials move forward with a plan to bail out the retirement fund for teachers, officials and educators say, but even those painful steps may fall short of curing the pension deficit if investments don't meet...

Why aren’t high school students graduating? New report sheds light PBS NewsHour: According to the report, 30 percent of participants said abuse was a major factor in their decision to leave high school–22 percent cited homelessness and 18 percent cited spending time in juvenile detention.

Video: Yearbook Devoted to Students With Children Sparks Outrage NBC News: Parents in Mesa, Ariz., upset over high school yearbook pages dedicated to students who have children, or who are expectant parents. KPNX reporter Krystle Henderson has the story. (NBC News)

Task Force Recommends Pushing Maryland Schools Start Date To After Labor Day WAMU: Comptroller Peter Franchot is praising a vote by a state task force to recommend a longer summer break for Maryland students.

D.C. approves three new charter schools Washington Post: The D.C. Public Charter School Board has approved three new charter schools: a residential school meant for children in foster care, a K-8 school targeted at students with special needs, and a middle school that emphasizes international education and foreign language.

University Of Phoenix Owner Buys Stake In South African For-Profit College BuzzFeed:  Laureate Education, an under-the-radar-private company in the United States, is the biggest player in the international market, with more than 800,000 students in 30 different countries. And earlier this year, massively open online course provider Coursera hired a new CEO, Richard Levin, in hopes of raising their profile in China and elsewhere.

LA school board ousts iPad critic from oversight commitee KPCC: Stuart Magruder, an architect, had unsuccessfully attempted to halt the iPad program's growth last fall after the district purchased 31,000 tablets for its pilot. 

Race for California school chief a referendum on change AP va LA School Report: The two agree the state spends too little on education, favor giving local districts more discretion about how to use their funding and share support for the Common Core State Standards, the national learning benchmarks that have generated a backlash over whether they undermine states’ rights.

More education news throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Maps: Missouri and South Carolina Might Join Indiana In

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"Missouri is on the verge of revoking its common-standards adoption...The newest addition to the "considering-unadoption" states is South Carolina." (EdWeek: Revoking the Common Standards: An Idea Under Consideration in Several States)

Maps: Which Are The 13 States Not Participating In Smarter Balanced or PARCC?

image from thumbnails.visually.netdna-cdn.comHere's the map of states, and links to a couple of education articles here and here

Afternoon Video: Will Chicago's BAM Program Go National?

"In a report for the Hamilton Project, they propose allocating $400 million over five years to competitive program that would select forty cities, in each of which a local nonprofit would offer the program to 500 youths." (How Chicago is using psychotherapy to fight crime — and winning Vox)

Morning Video: Obama Introduces (AVID) Teacher Of Year

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Washington Post's Jay Mathews will be very happy that the National Teacher of the Year does AVID.

AM News: Indiana's "New" State Standards Could Be Expensive

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Indiana: Common Core Replaced With State Standards AP: One of the first states to adopt Common Core education standards became the first state to formally abandon the national benchmarks.

Separate Indiana education standards may be costly JC Online: Indiana schools are bracing to spend as much as $125 million to train teachers on proposed new education standards in the wake of the state’s rejection of national Common Core benchmarks. Via RCE.

Michigan Could Be Next State on Ed. Dept.'s NCLB Waiver Endangered List PK12: Michigan doesn't require that assessment data be used in teacher evaluations. And, like Washington, Michigan will need to seek a legislative change to include them. 

Steve Jobs' Death Inspired Goal To Get Kids Coding WAMU: Many public schools do not offer computer science classes, even though tech workers are in high demand. Now 30 public school districts have partnered with the nonprofit Code.org to get kids coding.

Arne Duncan: Donald Sterling should have no role in the NBA Politico: “I don’t think he has a place or a role in the NBA,” Duncan said without hesitation.

What Parents Need To Know About Big Data And Student Privacy WAMU: States are tracking students as early as preschool. Better data could boost the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning. But it can also be exposed to hackers and marketers.

The Public School Where The Duke Lives On WAMU: Nowhere is the legacy of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington — among the greatest composer/bandleaders in history — more profound than at the Washington, D.C., arts high school which bears his name.

School official: Texas student planned violence AP: A 17-year-old boy who hid a loaded AK-47 assault rifle in a school bathroom and two loaded handguns in his backpack intended to "commit a violent act," a school official said, but the plan was foiled when his parents discovered the weapons missing at home and alerted school administrators....

In Albany, officials wave pre-K warning flags for New York City ChalkbeatNY: Officials said they lack capacity to handle the extra work, mostly because the department received no new money for the job.

Brooklyn educators chronicle students' difficult matriculations NY Daily News: He’s guided more than a thousand Brooklyn students from low-income homes to college across the country — including ivy league Cornell — and he wants to help thousands more.

Politics: They're Naming (Another) School After Obama (In Chicago)

Screen shot 2014-04-24 at 7.10.30 PMChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to build a new $60 million school named after the current President, using TIF funding.  But not everyone thinks it's a good idea. 

For starters, there are already lots of schools named after Obama, and some of them aren't particularly high-performing ones.  

It's going to be the 11th selective enrollment school -- not a neighborhood one. The use of TIF funding is controversial, of course.Naming a school after a living individual is always risky business.

Then again, there's a shortage of seats in existing SE schools, and a dearth of college-educated families who keep their kids in CPS through high school.  Obama is closely identified with Chicago. He'll be done with his second term about the same time as the new school opens.

Lots of coverage -- and surely more to come -- plus an informal list of schools already in existence below.

Continue reading "Politics: They're Naming (Another) School After Obama (In Chicago)" »

Morning Video: What's "Quality" Pre-K, Anyway?

N

This nice little 5-minute video goes along with NPR's story from earlier today.

Morning Video: Oklahoma Backpedals On Common Core

 

Via the PBS NewsHour's Friday show: "Last month, Indiana became the first state to drop the Common Core standards it had already adopted... This month, Oklahoma became the latest state to take a big step toward repealing the Common Core education standards."

Morning Video: First Lady's Alma Mater Featured In New Documentary

 

This trailer describes both the history of the school itself and the stunning inadequacy of supply of seats given the talent and the demand.  Via CPS Obsessed.

Afternoon Video: Stephen Colbert Attacks Then Endorses Common Core

At first, Colbert is outraged at the idea of common standards and anything being promoted by the Obama administration, but then he begins to change his mind. TeachingNow Via @benjaminriley.

Morning Video: White House Pushes Tech Solutions

 

Here's a clip from Politico's edtech event yesterday, featuring Kumar Garg from the OSTP. Full video here. Story link here.

 

Morning Video: Obama Announces Grants For Real-World School Experiences

 

From the NYT. Story here.

Maps: Indiana Stands Alone (For Common Core Reversal)

Screen shot 2014-04-03 at 9.55.49 AMThe black-colored state is Indiana, which just formally withdrew from Common Core (though it's developing standards and assessments that will mirror them). Via EdWeek . Click below for the full version of the map and explanations.

Continue reading "Maps: Indiana Stands Alone (For Common Core Reversal)" »

Morning Video: "Big Patterns Of Disparity By Race"

Here's PBS NewsHour's coverage of the big Office of Civil Rights report (first in 15 years, apparently) that came out on Friday, plus an online explainer. The segment features USDE's Catherine Lhamon and doesn't mention differences in patterns by type of school.

Afternoon Video: Watch Obama Avoid Saying "Common Core" 10 Times

image from i1.huffpost.com
It's not quite a SuperCut, but HuffPost's Rebecca Klein has assembled a bunch of Obama speeches in which he talks about high standards but avoids saying "Common Core."

Morning Video: Duncan Talks Common Core At White House

 

On Friday, they let Duncan talk to the White House press corps and he ended up answering questions about the Common Core. via The Blaze. #someonepleasgifthis

Update: Parents Can't Opt Children Out Of Tests (In Illinois, At Least)

Dear-parentsParents are considered something close to the ultimate authority in most school situations, and can opt their children out of all sorts of things including sex ed, recess, and immunizations.  They can take their kids out of school (within limits). 

It hasn't always been the case, but in many states, they can now opt their children out of public education entirely, and homeschool.

But apparently the parental prerogative is not universal when it comes to standardized testing in Illinois, where the latest wrinkle in the opt out efforts of a relative handful of Chicago parents is the determination that they can't just sign a note or fill out a form.  

Read on for more details -- and some questions.

Continue reading "Update: Parents Can't Opt Children Out Of Tests (In Illinois, At Least)" »

Morning Video: High Intensity Tutoring (Plus Mentoring) Shows Impact

Tutoring plus mentoring (in Chicago the program is called Becoming A Man) can have profound results, according to recent research.  Via Chicago Public Television.

Afternoon Audio: Community Organizing & School Reform

I figure since I missed this 2011 WNYC segment featuring Mark ("Match On Dry Grass") Warren and Desiree Pilgrim Hunter (BCCC), maybe you did, too. I found it and lots of other videotape, etc. from the 2012 conference. Were you there? Did you already know about all these efforts? Have they been successful and effective, locally and/or nationally, since then?

AM News: Will Oregon Be Able To Keep Its NCLB Waiver?

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee seeks to keep waiver from No Child Left Behind law The Oregonian: Jay Inslee says he had a productive meeting with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sunday to discuss options to preserve the state's waiver from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. 

When Grownups Take the SAT The New Yorker: Since Kaplan set up shop, test-prep tutoring has come out of the basement. It’s now a billion-dollar industry whose primary product is heartache: college admission is, after all, a zero-sum game.

As High Schoolers Wait For College Notices, D.C. Fights To Get Students To Apply WAMU: Thousands of high school seniors across our region are waiting to hear if they've gotten into the colleges of their choice, but in the District, D.C. public schools are making a big push to get students — especially those from low-income backgrounds — ready for higher education.

Charters' desire for closed schools will be a difficult sell for CPS and city Chicago Tribune: The growing charter movement is one logical use for the 43 recently vacated CPS school buildings, but the district promised during the painful process of closing schools last year that it would not allow privately run charters into the buildings. CPS said it had nothing to do with Legacy's proposal.

After years of talk, MPS takes decisive action on the achievement gap MinnPost: When the announcement was made at the Minneapolis School Board’s February meeting that an office was being created to focus specifically on the welfare of black boys there was polite applause and a palpable wave of Minnesota Nice discomfort. 

Public schools recruiting international high schoolers USA Today: Newcomb is one of a number of school districts -- both public and private -- quietly taking advantage of a growing interest in an American education by cash-ready international students. Federal statistics show that the number of international high schoolers arriving in the USA on F-1 visas has jumped from about 6,500 in 2007 to 65,000 in 2012. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Will Oregon Be Able To Keep Its NCLB Waiver?" »

Afternoon Video: President Won't Give Up Student's iPad

Taken at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland on February 4, 2014

#EdGif Of The Day: Duncan Shines In NBA Celebrity All-Star Game

GIF via SBNation Via

Update: National Audit Of Testing Proposed By Senate

Screenshot.16Curious about just how much testing is going on in schools, and frustrated with the anecdotal reports and hyperbolic accounts?  

So was the Senate HELP Commmittee, way back in 2011-2012.

That's right. There was language in the bipartisan Harkin ESEA bill calling for the creation of a national commission that would have, among other things, been charged with "determining the frequency, length, and scheduling of such tests and assessments, and measuring, in hours and days, the student and teacher time spent on testing."

The Senate language was proposed by Senators Alexander and Bennet.  

Indeed, Bennet introduced standalone legislation last year. Colorado has been working on auditing and coordinating tests for several years, according to this 2011 Durango Herald opinion piece. Alexander is listed as a co-sponsor.

Since then, the noise surrounding test proliferation and/or test uses has risen exponentially -- warranted or not, we don't really know.  Chicago and DC have already initiated testing audit/streamlining procedures. 

The TeachPlus report that came out the other day indicated that there were large variations around the country, and that official and classroom views of the testing burden are very different.  However, the report was limited to a small set of districts. [See here for some updated information on why its Chicago numbers were initially wrong.]

I proposed something along the same lines in my latest Scholastic Administrator column: "Secretary Duncan has at least one thing he could do with his remaining time in office that could be both effective at preserving his initiatives and popular with educators and parents. He could begin to address concerns over test proliferation...  Serving as a watchdog against overtesting, he would also effectively be protecting the Common Core assessments during a very vulnerable time."

Hardcore testing opponents would not be appeased, of course -- look no further than the reactions to the New York State attempts to compromise on Common Core implementation for evidence of that. But, depending on the results such an audit provided, everyone else might be reassured and glad to know how different states and districts compare.

No word back yet about whether the USDE had taken a position on the language or not -- or what they think of the idea now.   

Maps: 17 States Forced To Adopt Common Core But Rejected ObamaCare

image from blogs.edweek.org

Much has been made of the fact that states were "forced" to adopt Common Core for financial and other reasons, but if that was the case then why would 17 of them have adopted Common Core but not the Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act? EdWeek's Andrew Ujifusa delves into the apparent paradox.

Unsolicited Suggestions: A National Testing Audit*

TestauditduncanscholasticMy new column for Scholastic Administrator proposes that the Obama administration undertake an audit and establish some testing guidelines for states and district to work with -- not a mandate, just some parameters.

Why bother?  Earlier this year, I noted that for all the hullabaloo surrounding overtesting we didn't really know all that much about test proliferation beyond anecdotal reports and isolated (and sometimes hyperbolic) media accounts. There is no national data that I've found. FairTest doesn't track this information comprehensively.  

Some parents and teachers seemed to feel like there was way more testing than in the past.  Some were just objecting to new, harder tests or to  new, controversial uses of the test results (to rate teachers not just schools or kids).

Last week, Teach Plus took a stab at answering some of the questions about test proliferation and variations among districts and states.  Even with findings revised to reflect changes in Chicago, there were clearly large differences among districts in terms of how much testing and time were involved -- and large differences between official time for administration and teachers' accounts even before test prep time was included.

Of course, the USDE has its hands full with test-related issues over which it has more direct control than whatever add-ons states and districts have layered onto federal requirements. The Secretary has given out 5 "double-test" waivers (CT, MS, MT, SD, VT) and has another 10 under review (CA, IA, IL, IA, KS, MD, MA, NV, OR, WA). Three states (ID, MT, and SD) are going to use their new field test assessments.  Connecticut is going to use the field test assessments for 90 percent of districts.  California is going to use them for elementary school accountability. 

But I still think that it'd be a good idea for someone to take a national snapshot of where we are on the testing burden front.  Right now, the whole discussion is happening in the absence of consistent and reliable data. Image via @scholasticadms *Fixed link - thanks, KL

Morning Video: DC Mayor Touts Early Childhood (With Duncan Assist)

 

DC's City Paper notes that EdSec Duncan makes a cameo appearance  -- in Mayor Vincent Gray's latest education video, and that his predecessor worked hard to get an endorsement from Duncan (but never apparently got one).

Quotes: Obama Bashes Art History Majors

Quotes2You can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education... as long as you get the skills and training that you need. - President Obama last week (via Medialite)

Photos: Three Things To Do With This USDE SOTU Pic

Unnamed (3)Three things you can do to show off using this @EDPressSec photo taken during the SOTU last night:  

(1) Correctly ID at least three of the faceless bureaucrats who are depicted.

(2) Correctly ID exactly when during the speech the image was taken.

(3) Come up with a better caption than these two:

"See, we told you he was going to talk about schools"

"Hey, no pictures. My spouse thinks I'm out playing poker."

Update: Private Vs. Public, Ugly Gentrification, & Weighted Lotteries

image from gothamist.comPicking schools is one of the most intense debates in education. So it's no surprise that there are 350 comments and counting on this January 17 Gothamist blog post in which a NYC newcomer asks a NYC veteran (pictured, as a youth) whether to send their kids to the public school in a gentrifying neighborhood or do the private school thing?

What makes the post extra interesting is that the local public elementary under consideration -- PS 9 -- recently lost its Title I funding and is now hard to get into from out of zone and is precariously close to flipping (like Petrilli et el described in a recent Washington Post oped).They proposed various measures to help schools encourage and support diversity rather than flip entirely (that whole ugly gentrification thing).

Some good news is on the horizon, though.  Just this morning, the USDE put out some new charter school guidance that allows them to use a weighted lottery to prevent flipping, which they were formerly prohibited from doing if they wanted to get the $500K charter school startup money.  There are a handful of diverse charters in Brooklyn near PS 9, and a few more opening.  I wrote about diverse charters like DSST, Community Roots, and Brooklyn Prospect in Educatoion Next not too long ago.

Update: USDE Doesn't Subscribe To POLITICO After All

Fist-of-Money-1Late last night I came across a CJR article noting that Politico's much-discussed Pro subscription model was likely to work because there were enough folks in DC with the need and the budget to buy it -- with a specific mention of the USDE's Office of Communications.

Indeed, there was a link to an official-looking RFP from December in which the USDE does indicate an interest in getting in on the Politico coverage. Nobody else can provide the "timely breaking news & in-depth, targeted coverage POLITICO Pro provides," according to the RFP.

However, the USDE is not after all a Politico subscriber, says the USDE's Massie Ritsch: 

“Politico has assembled a team of talented reporters and editors who have quickly contributed news and insight to the ongoing dialogue about education. The Department explored subscribing to Politico Pro but we were unable to negotiate a reasonable price to justify signing up.”

One issue that may have come up is that it's not clear if you can subscribe just to one vertical (education, health, etc.) or whether you have to get them all.  CJR says that it's $8,000 for five users, but that  might not be accurate.  CJR also notes that at higher price points Politico doesn't actually need that many buyers.

Anyway, we're still looking for someone willing to tell us that they subscribe to the Pro version of the site.  Come on, it's OK to brag.  Screenshot or it didn't happen.  Image via wow that's an old clip art.

SOTU 2013: Four Great Education Ideas Obama Won't Mention Tonight

image from www.wired.comSo far, at least, I've come up with a measly handful of things that President Obama could propose and implement without Congressional approval -- neither of which is likely to get mentioned tonight or done anytime soon.  

But they're good ideas -- take a look, White House speechwriters! -- and others have lots of ideas. They're not going to happen, either -- and hey, it's possible that something could come out of tonight's speech.  Unlikely, but possible. 

Herewith, 4 Russo recommendations (none of them really my ideas) for actions Obama could take on the education front in his speech tonight, related to high-intensity tutoring, charter school diversity, an audit of testing, and a renewed call for equitable teacher distribution (Vergara!).

Image: The Dialectic, via Wired

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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.