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Table: Smaller, Lower-Scoring Districts Had Higher Opt-Out Rates In NY

image from www.brookings.eduSo Brookings' Matt Chingos took a look at the available opt-out data for New York State, and then combined it with demographic information and 2014 test score results (Who opts out of state tests?).

What he found includes both the obvious ("relatively affluent districts tend to have higher opt-out rates," and "larger districts tend to have lower opt-out rates.") and the more surprising ("districts with lower test scores have higher opt-out rates after taking socioeconomic status into account.")

Why would lower-scoring districts have higher opt out rates, controlling for demographics?

According to Chingos, it might be "district administrators encouraging opt-outs in order to cover up poor performance, districts focusing on non-tested subjects to satisfy parents who care less about standardized tests, and parents becoming more skeptical of the value of tests when their children do not score well."

However, there's not enough data to determine whether lower- or higher-scoring students tended to opt out at higher or lower rates, notes Chingos. "It could be the higher-scoring students in those districts that are doing the opting out."

Thompson: Washington Monthly Spins NOLA School Reform Impact

The safest summary of evidence on the effectiveness of New Orleans school reforms is Politico's Caitlin Emma.  Emma's The New Orleans Model: Praised but Unproven explains that "mayors and governors from Nevada to Tennessee have sought to replicate the New Orleans model by converting struggling public schools into privately run charters and giving principals unprecedented autonomy to run their own staffs, budgets and curricula — as long as they deliver better test scores." But, she adds, "behind all the enthusiasm is an unsettling truth: There’s no proof it works."

Emma further notes that there have been "similarly mixed signals in other places where the New Orleans model has been tried." As we wait for better evidence, a newcomer to education, such as the Washington Monthly's David Osborne, could have contributed to the discussion on the lessons of New Orleans, but he would have had to have written an article that was far different than his How New Orleans Made Charters Work.

Osborne starts with the dubious claim by the pro-charter CREDO that charters receive less per student funding, but he did not mention the additional $3,500 per student funding provided for post-Katrina schools. He cites the objective researcher, Douglas Harris, who says that NOLA undertook “the most radical overhaul of any type in any school district in at least a century.” 

But, Osborne cites no evidence by Harris or anyone else that the New Orleans radicalism can work in a sustainable manner or that it could be scaled up. Instead, he devotes almost all of his article to praising true believers in unproven theories on school improvement.

Had Osborne dug deeper into Harris's research, he would have seen that the scholar's first report on NOLA strikes at the heart of reformers' claims that high-performing charters serve the same students as lower-performing neighborhood schools.  Neither does Osborne ask whether the test score evidence he cites is meaningful or not. But, Osborne's greatest failing was ducking an opportunity to consider his daughter's experience as a lens for evaluating policy issues. 

Osborne's daughter was a Teach for America teacher at a charter that faced closure if it did not raise scores dramatically. The school "pulled out all the stops on remediation and test prep. Its scores soared, the state raised its grade from an F to a C, and BESE renewed its charter. But the school continued to struggle with student discipline, and the next year it fell back to a D."

Continue reading "Thompson: Washington Monthly Spins NOLA School Reform Impact " »

Quotes: Former Labor Secretary Supports Charters That Do Right By Kids

Quotes2I don’t have anything against charter schools if they adhere to minimum public standards, and if they don’t select their students — skimming the cream off in advance — and don’t kick students out who don’t meet the grade. I mean those kinds of charter schools who really are taking on public responsibilities by accepting all students, or at least selecting on a random selection basis and keeping students who are difficult to teach, but keeping them in the classroom and doing the best for their students, then all power to them.

- Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich in the Huffington Post (How America Has Failed Its Students)

Morning Video: Pondiscio's "Complicated Relationship" With Testing

"Education reform runs on data, so to speak, and data is testing and when you opt out of testing you're basically robbing the system of the data it needs to make decisions," the Fordham senior fellow explained on NewsMax earlier this week (the show host is hilarious/awful). "You show me a kid who's being pressured on testing and I'll show you a teacher who's pressuring him." However, Pondiscio also admits that he's got "a complicated relationship" with testing. 

Click the link if the video doesn't load properly. There's also a new Oyler Elementary video from PBS but I can't find it -- help me out?

AM News: Jindal Loses Common Core Appeal

Jindal loses appeal on Common Core lawsuit in state court AP: A Louisiana appeals court Wednesday upheld a judge's ruling that barred Gov. Bobby Jindal from suspending testing contracts tied to Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards.

House Appropriators Prepare Fiscal 2016 Education Spending Bill for Markup PK12: The subcommittee markup is the first to occur in more than three years, as Congress has been dysfunctional in its ability to draft fiscal year spending bills.

Tough Tests for Teachers, With Question of Bias NYT: Minority candidates have been lagging whites in passing the tests, jeopardizing a goal of diversifying the teaching force so it more closely resembles the makeup of the country’s student body.

Elements of 'Portfolio' Strategy Taking Root in Some Districts District Dossier: A new snapshot from the Center on Reinvention Public Education (CRPE) looks at the progress school districts have made in implementing components of the portfolio model strategy.

10 Years After Katrina, the Education System in New Orleans is Still Evolving District Dossier: The annual "State of Public Education in New Orleans" report, which is published by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, examines the education reforms in the city's public schools since 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

Johnny on the Spot: Ohio Gov. Kasich, Common Core, and the 2016 Campaign State EdWatch: Unlike fellow Republican Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is a sitting public official and common-core supporter who has parried a variety of attacks on the standards.

Usher’s curriculum with ‘swag’ could help D.C. students find their passion Washington Post: The day started with a simple question: What’s your “spark”? The dozen teens, all students at Cardozo High School in Columbia Heights, shared their interests: Hip-hop, football, music, singing and pottery.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Jindal Loses Common Core Appeal" »

Quotes: And Now, A Word From President Clinton's Education Secretary

Quotes2We’re kind of in a testing era in the United States... If you have a problem, throw a test at it.

- Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond in the NY Times (Tougher Teacher Licensing Exams and a Question of Racial Discrimination)

Update: Deray McKesson Invited To Clinton Campaign Event

Last week's post about Deray McKesson ended with a question: "Which public official or candidate for office will try and get in a photo with him next? 

Sure enough, the Clinton campaign invited the TFA alum/social activist to her event over the weekend: 

McKesson supporters -- and perhaps TFA-hating Clinton allies, too -- might be reassured that the speech didn't wow him:

"I heard a lot of things. And nothing directly about black folk. Coded language won't cut it."

Related posts: Conservatives Critique/Elevate AFT Alum/Activist.

Campaign 2016: Like Obama, Clinton Writes Excuse Notes

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"If you have to miss school, make sure you have a note." Hillary Clinton Facebook page via Jenn Bluestein.

This will soon get old, but not yet. There were some Obama examples of the "candidate excuse note" way back in 2008, longtime readers will recall -- and to be sure examples before that we don't know about because there was no Twitter. 

Related posts: Excuse Note From Obama Doesn't Convince School Officials (2008); Obama Writes Excuse Note -- Again (2008); Another Obama School Excuse Note (2102).

Morning Video: Hillary Clinton Talks Early Education In NH

"Two days after a campaign launch in New York City, Hillary Clinton returns to New Hampshire to participate in a forum on early childhood education. Duration: 97:26" Via MSNBC

AM News: Tulane Report Says 2005-2015 New Orleans Changes Working

New Orleans school changes worked, Cowen Institute says NOLA.com: Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, have New Orleans' massive education changes worked? Tulane's Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives issued its answer in a Wednesday (June 17) report:

Ed. Policy Irony: Union Pushes Back on D.C. Plan to Shield Evaluation Data Teacher Beat: In a reversal of roles, the union says that the district is trying to hide crucial information on the controversial educator-evaluation system.

Schools official mistakenly leaks student data in PowerPoint document Washington Post: When the chief technology officer for Montgomery County schools gave a talk at a conference in Missouri a few years ago, he used a PowerPoint presentation that mistakenly included the names and photos of 16 Bethesda kindergartners, along with phone numbers.

Decriminalizing truancy while focusing on family engagement SI&A Cabinet Report: A landmark revision of truancy laws in Texas would give schools and the courts more options for dealing with scofflaw students other than sending them into the criminal justice system.

A Vision For Teacher Training At MIT: West Point Meets Bell Labs NPR: Arthur Levine, the former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, is launching a $30 million project that he says will shake teacher education to its core.

A Soft Eraser Won't Fix This SAT Mistake NPR: The College Board won't score two of 10 test sections after a printing error on the instructions for the exam given earlier this month.

After years of reform, a sign of hope for a rural Mississippi school Hechinger Report:The number of Mississippi third graders moving on to the fourth grade has jumped from 85 percent to 90 percent, according to third-grade reading test retake scores released last week by the Mississippi Department of Education. Still, 3,400 third graders could be held back a year. Jackie Mader went to one of the poorest areas of the state in the Delta to see how third-grade testing went where kids are most behind.

LAUSD summer school enrollment jumps 20 percent as graduate requirements get tougher KPCC LA: In years past, the college-prep course load was an option that L.A. Unified's academically inclined students could elect to take, but now the school board is requiring all students to complete the so-called A-G classes that are necessary for University of California or California State University entry.

Missouri Schools and Parents Are Divided on Proposed Fixes to School Transfer Law District Dossier: Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed the legislature's attempt last year to fix the controversial 1993 school transfer law, has until mid-July to act on this year's version.

Teacher Resigns After Reading Students Book About Gay Couple AP: NC teacher resigns amid outcry over reading 3rd-graders story of princes who marry each other.

Where's All The Ed-Related Conversation About #RachelDolezal?

Has someone prominent been revealed to have been "passing" as black in education? Not that I know of. But I can't believe it hasn't happened -- and even if it hasn't, race and privilege are everywhere in education. 

And so I'm sad to note that there's surprisingly little being said so far about Rachel Dolezal among the education folks I follow on Twitter and Facebook, and via Feedly.

That seems like a shame. It's an opportunity, right?  Let's not have it pass us by just because Dolezal headed a NAACP local rather than a school district.

Below are a few comments by education-related people that I've found via Twitter, just to get things started:

Nekima Levy-Pounds:

Deray McKesson:

Morgan Polikoff:

Liz Dwyer:

Laura McKenna:

Motoko Rich:

Camika Royal:

Some of the folks I'd love to hear from (more) on this issue include Karen Lewis, Cami Anderson, Michelle Rhee, @TheJLV, Linda Darling-Hammond, Chris Stewart, Ray Salazar, RiShawn Biddle, Xian Barrett, Sabrina Stevens, Deray McKesson, someone from TFA, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Agree or disagree with you, we need more voices here. 

Related posts: Educators & Advocates Need Authentic Conversations About Race, TooRace, Reconstruction, & The Nation"Big Patterns Of Disparity By Race"Sports Are What City Schools "Do Best".

Teacher Prep: Former TC Head Launches New "Competency-Based" Ed School

There are at least a couple of cool-sounding new things about the grad school / research lab that's just been announced by the folks at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation:

They've been working the past few years to upgrade existing ed school programs around the country, but now they're showing how they think it should be done by creating their own  new grad school (dubbed the Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning).

In so doing they're creating what they describe as the "first fully competency based school." 

What's that mean?  According to Arthur Levine, "The WW Academy will ‘throw out the clock,’ shifting the focus of certification from ‘hours in class’ to proven competency in the skills and knowledge every teacher and education leader needs to succeed."

Why not partner with nearby Princeton University?  "MIT is doing incredible work on the science of learning, and has 125 different projects on campus already focused on the topic," Chief Communications and Strategy Officer Patrick Riccards explained via email. "So the ability of working with the entire MIT team, particularly in the development of the Ed research lab side, was a dream come true." 

Longtime readers will recall that Levine was for many years the head of Teachers College at Columbia University, wrote a series of scathing reports about teacher prep, and has in recent years been helping a number of states and universities revamp their programs (to what overall effect, I'm not sure).

Early this year, Levine put TFA on blast in the NYT

[TFA] was always going to have a half-life...It did wonderful things and attracted superb people to teaching and prepared a generation of leaders for the country... Eventually, we’re going to get to the point of trying to fix the system rather than applying a patch. 

In Education Next, Levine had this to say about the innovative Relay GSE teacher prep system:

For innovation to survive, it has to be self-sustaining. If something’s not self-sustaining, it’s not serious.

According to the WSJ (Teacher-Training Initiative Aims to Reinvigorate Profession), Levine et al plan to make this "like West Point & Bell Labs for educators."

So far they've gotten "about $10 million" from Gates, Amgen, Carnegie Corp -- and need $20 million more. 

Related posts: The Levine Method For Revamping Teacher PrepLevine Is Wrong About Teachers & Unions (Thompson); Levine Announces New Effort (2007); "Fix The System Rather Than Applying A Patch".

Thompson: What's the Real Harm in the Wasting of Post-Test Time?

In Do Lazy June Days Include Too Many Parties and Movies?, The Washington Post's Jay Mathews says that June 1 is "the traditional beginning of parental complaints about how little work is done as the school year nears an end." He cites an Arlington parent who complains, “Every year the standardized tests come and go, and after that the education stops.”

Well duh! The suburban dad should remember that education often stops when the annual test prep season begins. Moreover, this testing teaches lessons about life that I bet most parents would reject.

After further inquiry into what was happening at his son's suburban school after testing finished, the father discovered that more opportunities for learning were still being offered than many would have anticipated. But, he concludes, “Nearly this entire week seems like a waste of time to me.”  I believe Mathews reached a wiser conclusion, "He (the dad) has a point, but given the depth of what his sons have been learning during the year, I’d let it go."

I'd also ask whether schools today have too few parties and movies during their entire year. It is especially worrisome that films and videos aren't used enough to teach cultural literacy. My biggest concern, however, is that accountability pressures are teaching value systems that are disgusting.

My first principal said she could never figure me out - a liberal who held students to high behavioral standards. She wasn't surprised that a former academic's second rule was "work smart," "focus," and "learn how to learn." She couldn't wrap her mind around a free thinker, who taught "creative insubordination," but whose first rule was "work steady from bell to bell."  There were important academic reasons (like avoiding classroom distractions) why I insisted on a rigorous work ethic. The big reason, however, was the real-world need for teens to develop "inner-directedness" and self-control.

Continue reading "Thompson: What's the Real Harm in the Wasting of Post-Test Time?" »

Morning Video: A Different Kind Of (Charter) School Model

"Right away, when visitors walk into an Intrinsic Schools classroom, they notice its size. Each classroom holds roughly 50 to 60 students." (A Charter School Model Different from Most WTTW Chicago)

AM News: Common Core Reporting Slowdown, SAT Misprint, UPK For Hillary

State can’t explain slowdown on scoring of new Common Core tests Seattle Times: Scoring the new Common Core-based tests is taking longer than anticipated in Washington state, and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction doesn't know why.

Test Scores Trickling in after Statewide Delay Idaho Times News: Students across Idaho began taking new standardized tests months ago, but two weeks into summer break and most still don’t know how they performed.

Advocates Hope Common Core Will Rub Off on Special-Needs Students Education Week: As nearly all states adopted college- and career-ready standards in the past five years, many advocates in the special education community crossed their fingers, hoping that the trend would press the K-12 world to extend those higher expectations to students with special needs, too. But whether high schools are doing a better job building those expectations into their postsecondary-transition plans for students remains an open question.

After SAT Misprint, Two Sections Won’t Be Scored NYT: The College Board also says it will waive its fees for students who want to take the test again, afte, Ur an error regarding the allotted time for a reading section on June 6.

Inside Obama's Stealth Startup [18F] Fast Company: President Obama has quietly recruited top tech talent from the likes of Google and Facebook. Their mission: to reboot how government works. [Featuring USDE's "digital services" officer]

Teen shot and killed on Dorchester street was making gains in school Boston Globe: Hours before he was fatally shot while riding his bicycle to his aunt’s house in Dorchester on Wednesday, Jonathan “Jo Jo” Dos Santos enjoyed a special school outing that he had worked all year to earn.

Hillary Clinton Calls for Universal Prekindergarten PK12: The Democratic presidential candidate wants to give every 4-year-old in America access to high-quality preschool over the next decade. [what about universal kindergarten, too?] See also AP.

Big K-12 Dog Off the Porch: Jeb Bush Enters 2016 Race With Long Policy C.V. State EdWatch: Bush, who served two terms as Florida governor before leaving the office in 2007, has perhaps the most extensive and complicated track record in education among all the Republican candidates.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Reporting Slowdown, SAT Misprint, UPK For Hillary" »

Will Common Core Results Generate A New Wave Of Lawsuits?

In case you hadn’t noticed, most of today’s education debate takes place inside a very small, seemingly unchangeable stone box. But there are a few examples of advocates thinking big, going at fundamental problems that aren't just workarounds to the current situation:

In 2008, Matt Miller proposed ending local control of schools in an Atlantic Magazine article (First, Kill All the School Boards). He admitted that reducing the over-emphasis on local control “goes against every cultural tradition we have, save the one that matters most: our capacity to renew ourselves to meet new challenges.”

In 2012, former NYC chancellor Joel Klein (and Michelle Rhee, and Warren Buffett) half-jokingly floated the idea of “banning” private schools and assigning children to schools randomly (rather than by neighborhood or test score). I was annoyed at this spread of this "thought experiment" at the time and it still seems legally and politically unworkable but it expands the mind, suggesting other, possibly more achievable changes. It's apparently been discussed in other countries.

In the past few years, folks like Nikole Hannah-Jones (formerly of ProPublica, now headed to the New York Times) or Ta-Nehesi Coates of The Atlantic have reminded us of things like resegregation of schools in the South and the policy decisions that created the American ghetto

The most recent example I've come across is the notion of undoing the 1973 Rodriguez case that has seemed to have blocked progress on school funding issues for over 40 years now. Recently, civil rights leader Wade Henderson described the law as “a triumph of states’ rights over human rights.” Educator and activist Sam Chaltain wrote not too long ago that Rodriguez was arguably as important as the 1954 Brown decision may be and called for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing “an equal opportunity to learn.” 

Perhaps the most exciting (and terrifying) idea I've heard of in recent months is someone suing states based on their failure to achieve reasonable student proficiency percentages under the new Common Core assessments.  "All of a sudden the standards and test results [could] become something that state courts can refer to as a reasonable representation of states' Constitutional requirements," notes to school funding expert Bruce Baker (who's not particularly optimistic about this happening or working out well).

The point is simple: There are elements to the current education system that can seem so permanent, so intractable as to make them seem not work talking about. But that's a shame -- and a bit of an embarrassment.  What's the biggest, scariest, most fascinating education idea you've heard or thought of lately?

NB: This is a version of a post that was first published over at The Grade.  

Quotes: Clinton Echoes Union Rhetoric On Economic Equality

Quotes2While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, you see the top 25 hedge fund managers making more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined.  And, often paying a lower tax rate.

- Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in her weekend campaign kickoff speech, via the Washington Post

Live Event: Atlantic Media Education Summit Right Now In DC

Atlantic_LIVE #AtlanticEdu Click here if the video doesn't load (and to see the agenda, etc.)

AM News: Waiting For ESEA Reauthorization (& Common Core Test Results)

Refresher: What's in the House ESEA Bill? PK12: The measure was not on the Majority Leader's weekly schedule for action, but sources said it could be called to the floor as early as Wednesday.

Common Core tests largely over; now comes the wait for scores KPCC LA: California Department of Education spokeswoman Pam Slater said it’s up to each of the state’s 1,028 school districts to decide how to use the test scores. The state has put on hold any school penalties or rewards for standardized tests scores while students get used to taking the assessments.

More States Are Creating Turnaround School Districts District Dossier: Louisiana's Recovery School District is proving to be a model for many state governors who are intent on turning around struggling schools.

When Guarding Student Data Endangers Valuable Research NYT: Some proposed privacy laws for students could unintentionally choke off the data’s original purpose: assessing and improving education.

Union-backed group calls for pause in federal money for charter schools Washington Post: A labor-backed group is objecting to a U.S. Education Department proposal to expand federal funding for public charter schools, after the agency’s inspector general issued a scathing report that found deficiencies in how the department handled federal grants to charter schools between 2008 and 2011.

With clock ticking, mayoral control debate recedes for now ChalkbeatNY: With just days left in the legislative session, renewing mayoral control and lifting the state’s cap on charter schools seem like distant priorities in negotiations among state lawmakers.

Moskowitz finds a new way to undermine de Blasio Capital New York: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten accused Moskowitz of being a hypocrite. "[Moskowitz] totally wanted mayoral control when Mike Bloomberg was here but now that she doesn't like a decision the P.E.P. made, she's against ..

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

Continue reading "AM News: Waiting For ESEA Reauthorization (& Common Core Test Results)" »

Thompson: High Stakes Testing Is *Not* a Civil Right

The Education Trust's Katie Haycock, in Calling the Nation's Civil Rights Leaders Ignorant on Testing: Really? inadvertently illustrated the key issues involved in Common Core and Opt Out controversies. First, she blasted Marc Tucker for challenging her prime soundbite - that testing is a civil rights issue. Second, Haycock's venom shows how preoccupied she and many other reformers are with settling scores with teachers and policy people who resist their test, sort, reward, and punish approach.

Tucker's sin, in Annual Accountability Testing: Time for the Civil Rights Community to Reconsider, was calling on civil rights communities to reconsider the idea that annual testing is necessary to advance equity. He noted the critiques of testing by an array of highly respected education experts. Tucker also reminded civil rights leaders that the growth in student performance slowed after No Child Left Behind.  

Haycock responded by condemning Tucker's "arrogance" and accusing him of "subterfuge." Neither did she miss an opportunity to blast teachers unions that supposedly "dupe parents into sabotaging the best tests we have ever had just because those tests also are used in the evaluation of some teachers."

The essence of Haycock's tirade is:

What is so especially galling, though, is that Tucker’s attack is simply subterfuge for the real point he is trying to make, which is not about the accountability that the civil rights leaders have been working so hard to sustain. He doesn’t approve of the use of tests in teacher evaluation.

But, then she accidently points to a solution.

Continue reading "Thompson: High Stakes Testing Is *Not* a Civil Right" »

Quotes: NYC Teachers Now Favor Modified Mayoral Control

Quotes2The thing is, in New York, everyone thinks it's mayoral control or nothing. That's not the case. Every city that has mayoral control has different versions of it but the idea of mayoral control, yes, we do not want to go back to the school boards and the Board of Education.

-- UFT head Mike Mulgren in Capital New York  (Teachers' union leaders talk of changes to mayoral control) Has BdB responded yet? Doesn't this help Cuomo?

Morning Video: Karen Lewis Addresses FairTest Event (Plus Bonus Pasi Sahlberg)

 

Here's Chicago's Karen Lewis talking about testing and other issues, via Diane Ravitch. Let's pair it with a Pasi Sahlberg essay on fallacies in reform-minded teacher improvement efforts, via Valerie Strauss.

AM News: NY Teachers Call For Modified Mayoral Control

Teachers' union leaders talk of changes to mayoral control Capital NY:  The U.F.T., Mulgrew said, wants the mayor to have less control over the Panel for Educational Policy (P.E.P.), the governing body of the Department of Education. See also NYDN.

Cuomo Seeks to Link Bills on Rent Regulation and Private School Tax Credits NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he was trying to play mediator by getting Assembly to approve the tax credits and the Senate to continue rent regulations.

CPS acknowledges errors, takes steps to count dropouts correctly WBEZ Chicago: “CPS is committed to ensuring the accuracy of our data, and we are taking four additional concrete steps to further guarantee the integrity of our data,” Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz said in an email sent late Wednesday.

Arkansas Board Rejects Switch From PARCC to ACT, Defying Gov. Hutchinson State EdWatch: The Arkansas Times reported that the board's 7-1 vote not to switch to the ACT Aspire test for 2015-16 school year was a "surprising rebuke" of Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Student teaching key to teacher retention, report says EdSource Today: The report, “A Million New Teachers are Coming: Will they be Ready to Teach?” found that 82 percent of teachers who were trained by  UTRU, which partners with both San Francisco Unified and Aspire, the charter school organization that has 36 schools in California, were still teaching after five years on the job. In contrast... only 28 percent of TFA's teachers remain in the profession after five years.

Police Allegedly Enrolled Kids in School Illegally Washington Post: The District is suing two D.C. police officers for more than $224,000 in back tuition and penalties for allegedly enrolling their three children in D.C. public schools while they lived outside the District.

Texas Teacher Fired After Disturbingly Racist Post In Response To Pool Party Incident HuffPost: A teacher has been "relieved of her teaching duties" after posting a racist Facebook rant in response to recent events at a McKinney, Texas, pool party.

Federal Money for [Higher] Education Surpasses States’ Contributions NYT: Much of the growth of federal higher-education spending has been increases in veterans’ education benefits and Pell grants.

City Offers Summer 'Bootcamp' for Aspiring CTE Teachers WNYC: New York is among five communities receiving funds from the American Federation of Teachers to work with local business leaders on career and technical education opportunities. See also ChalkbeatNY.

Colorado schools to track marijuana offenses by students AP: Colorado schools will begin compiling data on students who get busted for using or distributing marijuana, an effort aimed at gauging the effects of the drug's legalization in the state....

Renovation Reveals 98 Year-Old Treasure NBC News: When it came time to renovate an Oklahoma City high school, no one had any idea what would be found behind the walls; the original blackboards complete with lesson plans and drawings intact, 98 years later. 

Pre-K Year Two; Public Pools; Biking and Breathing WNYC: Seventy thousand rising pre-kindergartners received their acceptance letters for year two of New York City's universal pre-k program. Deputy Mayor Richard Buery answers parents' questions about registration and other educational matters.

Transgender student files lawsuit against schools over bathrooms Washington Post: A 16-year-old transgender student has filed a federal lawsuit against a Virginia school board, calling its policy on school restrooms discriminatory.

'D' grade may get LAUSD students out of high school, but not into 4-year college KPCC LA: Ten years ago, the district established a requirement for students to pass college preparation courses that would make them eligible to enter University of California and California State University campuses. Starting with the Class of 2017, students would be required to pass the courses with a "C" grade to get them college ready.

Embattled Dallas Schools Chief Defies Board, Fires Principals District Dossier: Superintendent Mike Miles' own job security has been a hot topic of late after several school board members tried, but failed, to fire him in April.

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.

Charts: A Surge In Restarted Schools Shows Promise, Says MSDF

image from www.msdf.org
The folks at the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation are big into Restarted Schools, citing states like Louisiana, Tennessee, and Michigan, Georgia and Nevada, and (soon?) in Pennsylvania that have created Achievement School District laws, as well as NJ, MA, and IN where there are direct state takeovers. Charter management organizations, long hesitant to get involved with restarts (also known as turnarounds) are finally getting into the game thanks to strong signals from authorizers.

"We see more and more charter school authorizers in cities with large charter market shares (like Washington, DC, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, New Orleans) are starting to encourage high performing charter school operators to take over and restart low performing charter campuses."

According to MSDF, most of the new schools in NOLA since 2009 have been restarts.

Thompson: The Perils -- And Potential -- Of "Right-Click" Credit Programs

image from apps.npr.orgNational Public Radio committed fourteen reporters to an investigative series, The Truth about America's Graduation Rate, which identifies three major ways that school systems try to improve their graduation rates.

NPR finds that some districts did it in the proper way, by "stepping in early to keep kids on track." 

Too many improved graduation rates by "lowering the bar by offering alternate and easier routes when students falter," or "gaming the system by moving likely dropouts off the books, transferring or misclassifying them."

NPR's excellent series should push us to ask some tougher questions, such as what is the harm of "juking the stats" in order to graduate more students? Credit recovery is the alternative route that might have the most potential for helping students graduate, but when abused, it has great potential for harm.

In the early years of NCLB, my students shunned credit recovery as "exercising your right-click finger." But, as credit recovery expanded, the practice literally became dangerous. In many inner city high schools, most of the chronic disorder and violence is prompted by students who attend irregularly and/ or who come to school but don't go to class.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Perils -- And Potential -- Of "Right-Click" Credit Programs" »

Morning Video: Conservatives Critique/Elevate AFT Alum/Activist Deray McKesson

Conservative media are going pretty hard at TFA alumnus Deray McKesson (top left) these days, including both a Fox News segment (Sean Hannity and guest accuse activist Deray McKesson of being a ‘race pimp’) and a Michelle Malkin rant in the NY Post (The militant takeover of the ‘Teach for America’ corps).

On Fox News, Hannity and conservative radio host Kevin Jackson questioned McKesson's role in publicizing protests and tried to undercut his legitimacy by portraying him as a professional protester. (McKesson asks if the questions he's getting would be asked of someone who's not a person of color.) If the video above doesn't load properly, you can watch it at RawStory. Salon and Medialite also posted it.

In the NY Post, Malkin takes a somewhat different approach. She's no less critical of McKesson, but her focus is on his connection to TFA: "TFA’s most infamous public faces don’t even pretend to be interested in students’ academic achievement. It’s all about race, tweets and marching on the streets."

Former talk show host Montel Williams also tried to take McKesson on, pointing out that he was no MLK. Read all about what happened next on that here.

Conservative media doing what it does isn't anything new. But TFA has been the subject of a series of critiques from the left, and so this critique from the right must be a welcome change.  Or as education writer Amanda Ripley tweeted, "Best publicity I've seen for TeachForAmerica in a while....Priceless"

It's also a chance for TFA and other reform groups to see the power (and peril) of pushing hard on social justice issues.  

As I and others have noted several times in the past, reform advocates have generally been slow and tentative in embracing social justice issues, and over-reliant on outside elite voices rather than people of color with some connection to the communities being discussed.

It's also a challenge for reform critics to have someone so closely identified with TFA take the lead in a national discussion about race, class, and inequality. 

Which public official or candidate for office will try and get in a photo with him next? 

Related posts: Stories I’d Like To See: The Rise & Evolution of DeRay McKesson 

AM News: Common Core, Charter Groups Spending Big In Iowa & NY

Pro-Common Core Group Tops Political Ad Spending in Iowa via Sunlight Foundation: The advertising campaigns have not targeted a particular candidate, but there is no doubt it benefits former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who is announcing his campaign next week and will travel to Iowa on Wednesday, June 17 for an event at the Molengracht Plaza in Pella at 5:15p.  The ads will also benefit the only other prospective candidate who hasn’t backed away from Common Core, Ohio Governor John Kasich who is coming to speak at a Greater Des Moines Partnership event on June 24th.

NY groups spend more than $13 million to push education reform NYDN: The study from Hedge Clippers, a union-backed activist group, says New York City-based Families for Excellent Schools has spent more than $10 million on ads and lobbying since January 2014 to lift the charter school cap and allow for the creation of more of the publicly funded, privately run schools.

Fairfax County Supervisor Gross fights off challenger in Democratic primary Washington Post: in the last quarter, Swanson outraised Gross nearly four to one, mostly due to a large donation from Leadership for Educational Equity, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that helps teachers and other educators run for public office.

House Looks to Resurrect ESEA Bill for Action as Early as Next Week PK12: The stalled renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act could start moving again in the U.S. House of Representatives, sources say.

As Congress debates No Child Left Behind: Who should decide which schools are failing kids? Washington Post: From Rand Paul on the right to Elizabeth Warren on the left, members of the Senate education committee pushed aside their policy disagreements earlier this spring when they voted unanimously in favor of a bipartisan revision to the widely reviled No Child Left Behind law.

Fact Checking Gov. Scott Walker on His Education Record PK12: Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., is expected to announce his presidential candidacy really, really soon. So exactly what might his education platform be? And how have his policies played out in Wisconsin? See also APJS Online

Former Florida governor’s reforms – acclaimed by Obama – may become a liability Hechinger Report: When he was asked about the Common Core during his recent visit to Iowa – a sparsely populated state that nonetheless enjoys great influence because it’s the first to select the parties’ nominees for president – Bush never referred to the initiative by name, and insisted that he opposed the federal government’s meddling in education.

What Can We Learn From the Investing in Innovation Program Five Years Out? PK12: The Investing in Innovation program will have been worthwhile, even if some of the grantees haven't yielded the results they were initially hoping for, a top official at the Department said.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core, Charter Groups Spending Big In Iowa & NY" »

Update: Summer's Here, "Hot For Education" Is Waiting

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Not following Hot For Education? You're missing out on lots of fun. On Twitter (@hotfored), on Tumblr (don't be scared), and on Feedly/Digg RSS here.  

Thompson: Petrilli Endorses Integration & Segregation & Trusting Relationships for Some

If the purpose of school reform is improving education and not union-busting and privatization, reformers should do some soul searching after they read Robert Putnam's Our Kids. Had they known twenty years ago what Putnam documents today, would accountability-driven, competition-driven reformers have rolled the dice and sought to increase equity by holding teachers accountable for raising test scores?

Would they have believed that education failures produced by the stress of generational poverty could have been reversed by the stress of high-stakes testing? Would they have pretended that increased segregation produced by school choice could have been the cure for segregation created by economics? Had they recognized the importance of trusting social relationships, would reformers have demanded a basic skills testing regime that would inevitably degrade the learning cultures of poor schools and replace holistic instruction of poor children of color with nonstop remediation for primitive bubble-in tests?

I've long thought that conservatives like Fordham's Mike Petrilli, who now criticize value-added teacher evaluations, would be especially open to the insights of Putnam and others who help chart an escape from the constraints imposed by top-down micromanaging of classrooms. And, yes, Petrilli seeks to liberate some students from the social engineering known as "school reform." 

Petrilli's How Schools Can Solve Putnam's Paradox offers support for Putnam and advocates for socio-economic integration like Richard Kahlenberg. He writes, "If loneliness, isolation, and extremely fragile families are big parts of the poverty problem, then connecting poor children with thriving families and communities can be part of the solution." Even better, Petrilli seeks to, "Build on the social capital that does exist in poor communities."

I think Petrilli's next proposal, "Build social capital by creating new schools," is weird, but he offers a reality-based disclaimer. He admits, "But the people who run these schools are often not from the community, and that creates inevitable conflicts. It’s also something of an open question whether these brand-new schools can create true social capital beyond their four walls."

Continue reading "Thompson: Petrilli Endorses Integration & Segregation & Trusting Relationships for Some" »

HotSeat: The "Real" RiShawn Biddle Is Too Hot To Handle

Rishawn biddle 2015
Let's spend a little time with RiShawn Biddle, the self-identified education "editorialist" who's one of the most provocative, controversial, and perhaps hardest-working people in education media.

According to his About page, making change "isn't purely academic for me. These are kids, young boys and men, who look just like me. Many of them are growing up in neighborhoods that look like the one I grew up in..."

I know him from his 2011 work unearthing an AFT attack memo against the parent trigger, and from his 2014 work revealing that some of the groups protesting against TFA on college campuses were AFT-supported. He's one of very few folks out there tracking union issues in education, albeit from a very critical point of view.

But he's not just all about bashing the union. Earlier this year, he was one of very few who predicted (correctly) that the House attempt to revamp NCLB would end up getting pulled.  And he's bashed reform folks for several things including inattention to diversity, weak efforts on social justice, and more. 

Admired by some, he's reviled by others -- including some reformers who agree with him on substance but who find him abrasive, overly aggressive, or simple too independent-minded for their liking. Among other things, he calls for "a revolution, not an evolution, in American public education."

Asked about him, Chris Stewart (aka @citizenstewart) wrote, "I think his faith is an important driver in his understanding of the world. And, his time as a journalist and some of the fall-out with the black community in Indianapolis adds complexity to his story." 

On the HotSeat, Biddle tells us how he gets it all done (and pays the rent), dishes on who his favorite writers are (I'm not one of them), complains (justifiably) about how he's treated by trade and mainstream reporters (you know who you are), tells us what he thinks of like-minded reformers (be afraid), and predicts what's (not) going to happen in the rest of 2015. (Spoiler alert: No, he doesn't feel the need to answer your question about what happened at the Indy Star.)

Continue reading "HotSeat: The "Real" RiShawn Biddle Is Too Hot To Handle" »

Quotes: Clinton On Testing

Quotes2Are tests important? Yes. Do we need accountability? Yes. But we’ve gotten off track in what we test and what we test for that we sacrifice so much else in the curriculum, in the school day and school year.

-- Hillary Clinton (Washington Post via HuffPost Hillary Clinton Sounds Off On Education Issues)

Morning Video: Some Districts "Code" Kids to Supress Dropout Numbers

"In just nine states and the District of Columbia, students must complete required classes to be considered “college-ready” and to earn a diploma. Twenty-three states allow students to opt in, or out, of a more rigorous path to graduation. That leaves 18 states with requirements below what experts say students need for their next step in life." via PBS NewsHour.

Or, watch this local news coverage of the First Lady's speech to the graduating class of students that would have included Hadiya Pendleton. Click here.

AM News: LA School Board Retreats On College-Ready Course Requirement

 As 22,000 students risk not graduating, LAUSD board eases requirements KPCC: The school board is modifying a commitment made a decade ago to require so-called A-G courses, the classes required to become eligible for University of California and California State University entry, to earn a high school diploma. See also LA Times.

Senate Gears Up for ESEA Floor Debate PK12: Alexander said that he and his staff have been working in close concert with the President Obama and his staff on substance of the reauthorization. See also NatJourn: Sen. Alexander Vows to Block new Obama Education Regulations

Raising Graduation Rates With Questionable Quick Fixes NPR: The nation's high school graduation rate is at a record-high 81 percent. Why? Because states are doing good things ... or using some sleight of hand. [does ECCA fix/address this?]

Duncan: Soon-to-be educators need more time in classroom Chalkbeat New York: Denver Public Schools is “way ahead of the curve” in teacher preparation due in part to the Student Teacher Residency program offered through the University of Colorado Denver, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

Oregon Opt-Out Bill Could Lead to Loss of Federal Dollars, Ed. Dept. Warns PK12: The state's House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would inform parents twice a year of their right to exempt children from standardized tests.

Student poverty, lack of parental involvement cited as teacher concerns Washington Post: Student poverty is a major barrier to learning, according to teachers polled in a new national survey of educators released Tuesday. Lack of parental involvement and overtesting were also identified as big problems, as well as student apathy, according to an online Public Opinion Strategies survey of 700 elementary and secondary teachers across the country.

Hillary Clinton makes a promise to union leaders: I'll listen to teachers Washington Post: Hillary Rodham Clinton told the president of the National Education Association that she would listen to teachers if elected president, a simple promise Monday that impressed the president of the nation's largest labor union.

Weingarten, de Blasio to announce five-city 'compact' Capital New York: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten will announce a compact with five cities to increase career and technical education offerings in New York City this Thursday, and will be joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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

Continue reading "AM News: LA School Board Retreats On College-Ready Course Requirement" »

Documentaries: #MiddletownFilm Chronicles "Midpoint" Students, Blended Learning

Duy in chargeIf you're lucky enough to be following Duy Linh Tu's Facebook page, you know that he's already been through a lockdown and been put in charge of class (pictured).

It's all part of a new documentary the Columbia University multimedia guru has been working on, in partnership with Digital Promise, focused on Middletown NY schools.

The district is trying blended learning, and a "midpoint" program for kids not quite ready for 4th grade, among other things.

Want to know more? Friend him on Facebook here or follow the ‪#‎middletownfilm‬ hashtag on Instagram.

 

 

Campaign 2016: AFT Already Spending For Ads In New Hampshire

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Here's  a tidbit from PK12's Friday Reading List: "The American Federation of Teachers is launching a digital advertising buy in New Hampshire, in an effort to raise the profile of education issues in the 2016 primary. It will run on social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as in local papers, like the Concord Monitor. How much did it cost? A "substantial" amount, AFT says." 

Update: Top Ed Tweeters 2015 Are Arrogant White Reform Critics

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Mike Petrilli's latest foray into Twitter analytics attempts to determine not just rankings (via Klout) but also tone and emotion:

"What does Twitter say about the tone of the education policy debate?... It appears that many of the leading tweeters in education policy are “arrogant/distant,” meaning we are “well read” and “use big words.” Good for us!"

On Twitter, EdWeek's Stephen Sawchuck notes that the list still doesn't include number of followers, and as a result doesn't include any EdWeek reporters.  (Petrilli claims that followers can be bought. Knowledge Alliance notes that some folks use lists rather than following individuals.  I've noted in the past that advocates are leaving journalists behind on social media. )

I don't give much credence to the emotional analysis. My only other thought would be to note - as I have several times before -- that reform critics tend to do better on Twitter than reform advocates.  

Xian Barrett, Anthony Cody, Jose Vilson, Mark Naison, and Sabrina Stevens all join Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten near the top of the list. Reform advocates are limited to Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Andy Smarick, and Tom Vander Ark. 

The list is also super-white, it should be said -- especially the top reform-friendly members. Chris Stewart, Rishawn Biddle, and Gwen Samuels among others are on the rise but still not at the top.

Related posts: This More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters" Needs More Names*New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate.

Morning Video: Senator Bennet Laments Exacerbating Impact of Higher Ed

 

 

 
Here's some video of US Senator Michael Bennet talking about how higher education seems to be exacerbating the inequities of our society and our schools. Via Facebook.

"Our system of higher education combined with our system of K-12 education is conspiring to compound income inequality rather than relieve income inequality in this country. We have to figure out, as a country, working with states and local governments, how we’re actually going to provide a deal that’s different than the one people are getting today and looks more like the one people had when we had a rising middle class. Otherwise, we aren’t going to have a rising middle class."

Bonus activity: Name the staffers behind the Committee members and tell us what they're thinking.

Or watch a news segment on the discovery of old school chalkboard lessons in Oklahoma City.

AM News: This Week, Hillary Clinton Meets With The NEA

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Hillary Clinton Meets With NEA, Talks Testing, Accountability
 PK12: With the AFT, she talked about the importance of teachers, and made it clear that they shouldn't be "scapegoats" for broader problems in K-12.  And in speaking to the NEA, Monday Clinton sounded, perhaps, a shade or two more skeptical of standardized testing than she has in the past. And she hit on another issue that many parents and educators (and their unions) consider critical: the need to invest in arts, music, and other enrichment classes, alongside academics.

Hillary Clinton makes a promise to union leaders: I’ll listen to teachers Washington Post: The NEA will make its candidate videos and questionnaires available to its members, according to Carrie Pugh, the union’s political director. NEA leaders have not decided if the union will make an endorsement before the primaries, Garcia said.

MI bill reduces impact of test scores on teacher evals  SI&A Cabinet Report: Although many support the move toward allowing for more local control, others are concerned that the bill could stall progress districts have already begun to make in upgrading their evaluation systems.

Teachers union continues to push for class-size funding Seattle Times: Even as lawmakers are on track to limit the school class-size reduction measure that voters approved last November, the state’s largest teacher union continues to push for full funding of Initiative 1351. I-1351 requires the state to reduce K-12 class sizes and would cost billions of dollars, though it didn’t come with a way to […]

Arkansas Poised to Drop PARCC's Common-Core Test in Favor of ACT State EdWatch: Arkansas was one of 10 states, along with the District of Columbia, to use the PARCC test in the 2014-15 school year.

Public versus private schools: Who goes where, by state Washington Post:  The proportion of children who attend public school ranges widely from state to state, from a low of 79 percent in the District of Columbia and Hawaii to 93 percent in Wyoming and Utah, according to the Education Law Center’s annual school funding report, released Monday.

This Summer, The Cafeteria Comes To The Kids NPR: Twenty-one million kids eat free and reduced-price meals throughout the school year, but getting them fed during the summer is a challenge. So some school districts are getting creative in the way they're using USDA funds: Murfreesboro City Schools is taking the cafeteria to the kids. The district calls it the Combating Hunger on Wheels Bus — or the CHOW bus.

Where Does a Transgender Child Fit In at School? WNYC: Confident and social, Q said he feels at ease in his classroom. And his peers have helped him move comfortably from identifying as a girl to a boy. He transitioned over the course of second grade. That’s when he started to more regularly dress in boy clothes and dropped his given name in order to go only by his first initial.

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

Continue reading "AM News: This Week, Hillary Clinton Meets With The NEA" »

Quotes: Time To Reconsider 1973 Rodriguez School Funding Case

Quotes2[The 1973 Supreme Court decision San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez was] a triumph of states’ rights over human rights 

- Wade Henderson in the Washington Post (Inequitable school funding called ‘one of the sleeper civil rights issues of our time’)

NPR: Two Semi-Shady Ways Schools Are Graduating More Students (Plus One Promising Approach)

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Be sure to check out NPR's big new graduation rate package (The Truth About America's Graduation Rate), featuring national coverage and stories from Oregon, Chicago, San Antonio, Alabama, North Carolina, Detroit, Atlanta, DC, and more:

"NPR Ed enlisted the help of 14 reporters at member stations around the country. We identified three major ways that states and districts try to improve their graduation rates. 1: Stepping in early to keep kids on track. 2: Lowering the bar by offering alternate and easier routes when students falter. 3: Gaming the system by moving likely dropouts off the books, transferring or misclassifying them."

If you're an expert on this, maybe you can match the city/district with the strategy without even looking at the stories!

I'm told that some pieces are written, and others are audio, so don't kill yourself looking for radio segments for every district that's included.  And  few more segments are coming out tomorrow and Wednesday.

 

Morning Video: "Raising A Black Son In America"

 

Via Vox: "One of the truest, saddest TED talks ever," notes Jenee Desmond-Harris. Or or watch this ABC News segment on a NYC student's path to academic success through playing the cello. Or, watch this January PBS NewHour segment about the Marshmallow Test.

AM News: Reports Show Inadequate & Inequitable Access To Well-Funded Schools & Qualified Teachers

Nation's 'Disinvestment' in Public Schools Is Crippling Poor Students, Reports Say State EdWatch: Are prominent school funding advocates satisfied that states are now giving schools robust and well-targeted financial support? Not even close. See also Washington Post, Huffington Post.

Access to New York’s top teachers still unequal, state report shows ChalkbeatNY: While less than 1 percent of teachers in the whitest and most affluent quartile of schools were deemed “not highly qualified” — because they lacked an appropriate college degree or teaching license — that rate was between 6.9 percent and 8.8 percent in less affluent schools.

Hillary Clinton Traces Friendly Path, Troubling Party NYT: Mrs. Clinton’s aides say it is the only way to win in an era of heightened polarization, when a declining pool of voters is truly up for grabs. Her liberal policy positions, they say, will fire up Democrats, a less difficult task than trying to win over independents in more hostile territory — even though a broader strategy could help lift the party with her.

Common Core side effect: New PE teachers allow for collaboration time EdSource: Back from near extinction, physical education specialists are being hired by a smattering of districts to take over P.E. duties from elementary classroom teachers, who after years of teaching physical education themselves are now being freed up for Common Core lesson planning.

Ohio School District Bets on Technology in Creating New Learning Model wsj: The shop has 3-D printers and a laser cutter, and Ms. Green works there as an intern for the school. During the school year, she helped teachers incorporate the machines into their lessons.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visits New Dorp High School SI Live: Duncan paid his second visit to New Dorp on Friday to see how far the school has come since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. More than 365 students and some three-dozen faculty members at New Dorp suffered losses from Sandy.

Oregon Has The Lowest Graduation Rate In The Country. Preschool Could Fix That. NPR: Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country — just shy of 69 percent in 2013. The number has nudged up in recent years, but advocates say to make big improvements, Oregon has to start young.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Reports Show Inadequate & Inequitable Access To Well-Funded Schools & Qualified Teachers" »

Maps: Only A Few States Require 4-5 Years Before Granting Tenure

Screenshot 2015-06-05 12.21.00

As you can see from this chart and story (This Is What It Takes To Get A Teacher Fired Around The Country), only a few states (the ones with darker boxes) require four or five years of teaching before giving tenure. Image via HuffPost/NCTQ. I count 6 states that require 5 years, and 5 that require 4. There are other things like teacher preparation and supervision/PD that are more important than tenure timelines, but 3-4 years doesn't seem like enough to me. 

Quotes: Foundation Transparency Reforms Not Nearly Enough

Quotes2Compared to earlier times, I know the sector is doing a better job of assessing itself.... [But] none of these efforts go nearly far enough. The sector largely remains a black box, and answers to some of the most basic questions about philanthropy are still elusive.

-- Inside Philanthropy's David Callahan (Still in the Dark)

Update: Celebrating the First Month of "The Grade" (Plus Free Daily Email)

Screenshot 2015-06-05 10.16.44In case you hadn't heard, a new site focusing on K-12 education reporting called The Grade launched just about a month ago over at The Washington Monthly, and I wanted to encourage you to take a look at it, follow along, and send me ideas if and when the urge strikes.

There's now a daily email (see below) you can sign up for here. Follow it on twitter feed @grade_point (don't ask), or an RSS feed if you use Feedly or Digg Reader.

Basically, it's an attempt to keep tabs on what's going on in education journalism -- trends, new outlets, people on the move, and the best and worst of education coverage -- and a place to peel back the curtain and help explain what goes on behind the scenes in the development of news stories that the public read every day.

Dubbed "A Closer Look at Education News," The Grade is like an education version of NPR's "On The Media," except it's online and hosted by the Washington Monthly and only cares about K-12 education reporting.

The past few weeks have included a look at the charter school backfill issue, some entirely unsolicited story suggestions for topics and angles that might warrant extra attention, a critique of the Miami layoff numbers used in a recent NYT story (and of limited solutions mentioned in an Atlantic piece about teacher retention), and a celebration of the Hechinger Report's first five years.

Other posts describe how "solutions" journalism could help balance education coverage, but it's super hard to pull off well, and about how writing about innovations is sexy and fun but rarely pays off. Trade publications are missing in-house education editorials and columnists, in my opinion (and probably no one else's). Reporters should write more about their own personal education experiences and disclose their own school choices for their children, and ask harder questions during interviews (Amanda).

I thought it was great that some KPCC and ProPublica reporters dug up an education angle to the Sony Wikileaks email hack, but too bad they didn't nail it down. Some additional digging on the recent Achieve report on state test scores might have been helpful, too.

I've looked for more examples of high-poverty districts with high opt-out numbers, and written about NPR's recent decision to ban on-air book plugs for fellow staffers.

Anyway, you get the idea.  Check it out online here. There's now a daily email (see below) you can sign up for here, or via an RSS feed if you use Feedly or Digg Reader. Follow it on twitter feed @grade_point (don't ask).

Continue reading "Update: Celebrating the First Month of "The Grade" (Plus Free Daily Email)" »

Morning Video: "Paper Tigers" Documents Traumatized Teens

This new documentary (from Robert Redford's son) follows six traumatized kids in Walla Walla, WA who attend an alternative high school. Watch above. Via Seattle Times. "The behavior isn't the kid. The behavior is a symptom of what's going on in their life."

AM News: All Eyes On Michigan (Teacher Evaluation) & Wisconsin (College Tenure)

How a senator stopped serious teacher evaluation reform in Michigan MLive.com: Today, the group's cutting-edge efforts to improve teacher accountability, which seemed like a sure bet as recently as five months ago, have been essentially gutted. A central provision of their recommendations – to rid the state of its patchwork of local, often useless evaluation models in favor of rigorous statewide criteria – is gone from a new bill now before the House. Even some who support the watered-down bill privately admit it likely will do nothing to improve education for Michigan students.

Unions Subdued, Scott Walker Turns to Tenure at Wisconsin Colleges NYT: Gov. Walker and leaders in Wisconsin’s Republican-held Legislature are pushing the University of Wisconsin system to give a board largely picked by the governor far more control over firings and even curriculum.

Hillary Clinton could position herself to the left of Obama on education MSNBC: Hillary Clinton told members of a powerful teachers union in Washington D.C. this week that organized labor has an important role to play in public education, and that critics of unions are “dead wrong to make teachers the scapegoats.” See also BuzzFeedEdWeekNYT.

Students take online Common Core test with minimal interruptions EdSource Today: Millions of students have been able to take new online assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards this spring with minimal technical interruptionsThat’s according to the California Department of Education. Officials in six school districts and a charter school organization EdSource has been tracking as they implement the new standards said they have had very few interruptions in testing of any kind.

Hello McFly, One More Time: South Carolina's 1998 Standards Push State EdWatch: Back in 1998, South Carolina decided to give its new standards some bite by holding students and schools more accountable through standardized tests.

New Charter Schools Could Come To Boston Boston Learning Lab: This summer, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will accept charter applications for all school districts in the state except Somerville, Lawrence and Malden, which are at their charter limits. Charter operators may apply for new schools or to expand existing ones. Boston could see new charter school seats for the first time since reaching a state-imposed charter limit in 2013.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On Michigan (Teacher Evaluation) & Wisconsin (College Tenure)" »

Charts: In One Year, 41 Chicago Schools Raised $7.6M In Private Donations

image from catalystchicago.wpengine.netdna-cdn.comThere's a perception in some quarters that public schools within each school district are by and large equal in terms of how they're funded, and it's mostly charter schools that rake in the outside donations. 

Well, this new piece from Catalyst Chicago (The price of fundraising) pretty much explodes that idea:

"For a select but growing group of schools in Chicago’s wealthier communities, parent fundraising has risen to new heights." 

Last year, 8 schools raised more than $300,000 each. "Thirty brought in more than $100,000 and eight raised more than $200,000." One raised more than $600,000. 

 

Thompson: The Truth None of Us Wants to Face

I still teach GED part-time, so I have not become completely absorbed into the edu-political world that is so divorced from the reality of inner city schools. I seek a balance, addressing the school improvement proposals that are politically viable, while remaining connected with the reasons why practitioners and parents are so dismissive of reform agendas. 

I can't deny that I've been acculturated into much of the "status quo" mentality illustrated by my first principals' mantra, "Pick your battles." The battles that we inner city teachers want policy people to launch are simply not winnable. 

However, Jay Mathews, in How Do We Help Our Least Motivated, Most Disruptive Students?, tackles the issue that I know I shouldn't  touch. 

Twenty years after I was repeatedly warned that assessing disciplinary consequences in a credible manner is an issue that school systems won't dare address, and as the agenda has shifted to reducing suspensions, why should I try to answer Mathews' question? Against my better judgment, I'll respond to his columns and readers. (After I read the book he cites, I'll see whether I dare to get closer to the 3rd rail of edu-politics by discussing it.)

Mathews wrote a three-part series on Caleb Stewart Rossiter's Ain't Nobody Be Learnin' Nothin'.  His first column on Rossiter's indictment of grade inflation "inspired a flood of comments and e-mails saying such malpractice was happening nearly everywhere in the country." But Mathews, like so many teachers turned advocates can only ask, "What do we do about it?" He then turned to Rossiter’s solution to low academic and behavioral standards which doesn’t seem practical to Mathews (or me) but which "represents the toughness I sense many Americans think is overdue."

Mathews begins his third column with his obligatory praise of KIPP, even though he probably realizes that its methods can't be scaled up and are thus irrelevant to systemic improvement. He concedes "that a significant number of low-performing students are likely not to enroll in schools like KIPP — or will drop out — because they don’t like the emphasis on good behavior and hard work."

Mathews agrees with Rossiter that neighborhood schools should teach good behavior and they should not keep returning disruptive students to their original classes, "where they distract students trying to learn." I would add that disruptive students also want to learn and, above all, they want to learn how to control their behavior. I would also argue that troubled students should never be described as "miscreants" or "slow learners" which is Mathews' characterization of Rossiter's views.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Truth None of Us Wants to Face" »

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