About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Maps: School Security Guards Are Generally Poorly Trained & Supervised

 

image from www.revealnews.orgThere are more security guards than law enforcement officers, reports Reveal (the Center for Investigative Reporting), and many school districts use the guards as a low-cost alternative to sworn law enforcement officers.  Yet the guards are often poorly trained and supervised, and only 12 states require reports when they use their weapons.  It's harder in many states to become a manicurist than to get a guard card and authority to carry a weapon and work in  a school.

Update: Panorama Unveils Teacher Survey (To Help Evaluate Principals)

Wide-deskThe idea that quick, candid surveys can be useful in schools and classrooms isn't new at this point. They've been popularized since a few years ago when it was reported that students' views of teachers correlated with teachers' abilities to improve student achievement.

But now one of the outfits that works on these kinds of things is taking it a step further -- or deepening the approach, you might say -- by developing quick and dirty survey instruments for administrators to ask teachers.

The new Panorama Teacher Survey is mean to help administrators understand what teachers are thinking and how they're doing. They can be used diagnostically, or for schools where teachers help evaluate principals. They're faster and cheaper than a big Gallup kind of poll.  Their competition is the New Teacher Center's TELL Survey.  

"We're piloting with a number of schools right now and over 50 schools have already started using the free teacher survey platform since we launched," says Panorama's Jack McDermott. Meantime, the Student Survey has been "accessed by over 4,000 educators worldwide" and has been "district-wide in several of the largest districts in country and has been approved by several states for use in evaluation measures."

Related posts: Yeah, But What's Your Panorama™ Score? (2012), State of the Art: Grading Teachers, With [Survey] Data From Class (NYT 2014)

Thompson: What Do We Mean When We Talk of Graduation Rates?

Graduation rates used to be incredibly easy to fabricate (almost as easy as attendance rates and even easier than jacking up proficiency rates) but I don't doubt they have become more reliable. I used to assume that the annual increase in graduation rates, and the equally ubiquitous decline in dropout rates, were half real and half bogus. Although graduation rates may be somewhat more reliable today, it is hard to see how they could ever function as a valid "output" accountability measure. (It also feels like "deja vu all over again" when reading Jay Mathews series on "passing kids on" in Washington D.C.) 

That being said, when John Hopkins' Robert Balfanz proclaims a big improvement in any metric, I reign in much of my skepticism.

We must acknowledge that increases in graduation rates may not mean that students are learning more about classroom subject matter. But, there is something more important at stake. More high school graduates mean that larger numbers of teens are learning something more important than the standards of instruction. They are learning to succeed. Conversely, they avoid the real world penalties attached to dropping out.

The Civic Enterprise and the Everyone Graduates Center, along with America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education released Building a Grad Nation 2014-2015 Update. It presents news that is probably somewhat too good to be true, and it certainly reads like a document that is a compromise highlighting the priorities of numerous advocates. But, the annual report makes a lot of sense and it points the way towards fruitful collaborations.

First, Building a Grad Nation is a reminder of the importance of perhaps the most overlooked issue in school improvement. When schools' Promoting Power (or the ability of students to advance into higher grades) goes up, students benefit. Of course, we must ask what we mean by promoting power. Real Promoting Power must be more than social promotion. It must be more than "credit recovery" tricks to make accountability stats look better.

Continue reading "Thompson: What Do We Mean When We Talk of Graduation Rates?" »

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

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

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

Educators & Advocates Need Authentic Conversations About Race, Too

Some Fieldston parents and NY Magazine readers may be concerned about the progressive private school's racial awareness program described in this week's magazine (Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?), but not everyone's quite so bothered by the effort.  

As described in the magazine feature by Lisa Miller, the school asked elementary school kids to identify themselves by race and then separated them -- temporarily -- as part of a program to deepen the students' understanding of racism and differences. "It would foster interracial empathy by encouraging children to recognize differences without disrespect while teaching kids strategies, and the language, for navigating racial conflict."

The program is mandatory, and operates during the school day, and start with kids as young as eight. "In 45-minute sessions, children would talk about what it was like to be a member of that race; they would discuss what they had in common with each other and how they were different, how other people perceived them, rightly or wrongly, based on appearance. Disinhibited by the company of racially different peers, the children would, the school hoped, feel free to raise questions and make observations that in mixed company might be considered impolite."

Designed by Fieldston's Mariama Richards, the "affinity-group" program was meant to foster authentic conversation but it felt to some parents like a step backwards -- like segregation, like overkill. It wasn't a comfortable discussion in ethics class."This same parent who sends her children to Lower because she values diversity tends not to dwell on the fact that she has few close friends of color; that her neighborhood is almost entirely white; that her nanny or housecleaner or doorman has brown skin."

Racial and demographic diversity has long been a goal for progressive private schools, but mixing kids together is just a start. Efforts like these have been popping up in different places around the country.  (My progressive private alma mater, Chicago's Francis Parker, just hired a director of diversity who seems like she's going to push the envelope for ostensibly liberal parents.) Fort Greene's Community Roots, a diverse progressive charter school, asked mixed groups of parents to engage in group activities outside of school in order to promote understanding and deepen classroom diversity.

See also this CNN segment featuring concerned parents:

 
ctn pkg carroll race experiments classrooms_00005030
 
"One of New York City's most elite and progressive elementary schools is conducting an experiment on race by separating students. CNN's Jason Carroll reports."

The reaction so far to the article has been generally supportive of the effort at Fieldston:

Education writer Dana Goldstein, now at The Marshall Project, noted on Twitter that the piece "perfectly captures moment in which young(ish) progressive educators confront parents who hold old notions of "colorblindness." Once unusual, racial awareness programs (the invisible white backpack, etc.) are more commonly part of college than they used to be. "My demographic wouldn't be shocked if our kids were separated by race and asked to discuss it in "safe space," noted Goldstein. "We've been there."

Over at Vox, Jenée Desmond-Harris's post (Why a New York City school's idea to (temporarily) separate kids by race is smart) lists the many advantages of the Fieldston program, especially teaching the lessons that "ignoring race and racism doesn't make these things go away, and that white people have a racial identity, too."

Not everyone is a big fan of the approach being taken, however.  Responding to the earlier NYT piece written by Kyle Spencer, New America's Connor Williams wrote a post titled The Limits of Talking About Privilege to Teenagers

NYT editor Amy Virshup thought that the NY Magazine story might not offer much that readers hadn't already learned. "But @KyleYSpencer story on same topic ran in Feb., w/pix of real kids, not models. What's new?"

The issue of overkill -- not so much on the issue but perhaps the controversy at this particular school -- is also the focus of a recent blog post I wrote over at The Grade:  Another Story About Fieldston’s Controversial Racial Awareness Program.  

One thing I'd add is that it's not just kids who need more and better racial awareness programs but also educators and advocates.  Teachers -- predominantly white and middle class -- need space and time to talk about and understand not only their students' backgrounds but also their own.  And advocates -- reformers and critics alike, also predominantly white and college-educated -- would do well with more of the same.

Making sure that conference panels and speakers and attendees are more diverse is one step, as is engaging more diverse groups of stakeholders (not just mobilizing them). Panels about racial awareness or race-focused issues are good, too.  But what about taking it one step further and doing a version of what Fieldston is doing and let adults engaged in education talk together in affinity groups and have some authentic conversations, too?  I could see PIE, or TFA, or maybe the Shanker Institute or Century Foundation doing something like this. Or maybe it's already happening and I just haven't heard about it.

Thompson: Stand for Children Reports that Testing is Oklahoma Teachers' Top Concern

Oklahoma's underfunded schools had plenty of problems before funding was cut 23%, the most of any state. This year we'll face more cuts and Oklahoma teachers, already ranked 49th nationally in salaries, will probably face another year without a raise.  It is no surprise that the state has a shortage of 1000 teachers, and 40% of new teachers leave the profession or Oklahoma within five years.

Neither should it be a surprise that the Tulsa World's Nora Habib, in Report Says Oklahoma Teachers' Greatest Concern Is Testing, reports that Oklahoma teachers are frustrated  by "overcrowded classrooms, changing reforms, decreased classroom autonomy and a lack of representation in policy discussions."

But, guess what Stand for Children learned in a "Listening Tour" and from focus groups with 81 teachers from across the state? Stand learned that "testing was the issue of greatest concern for teachers." Teachers also believe "reforms written from a 'one size fits all' approach ... ultimately doom any practical implementation."

The section on the concern that gained the most attention began with representative teachers' statements such as, "So much time has been consumed with testing, over testing, to the point kids have lost all motivation for the test that really matters.” It closes with the protest, “The whole focus is on testing and not learning... there’s no passion for learning.”

Stand's most watched conclusion involved the TLE evaluation system (which was adopted in an effort to win a Race to the Top federal grant.) Teachers recognize the problems with all practical policy solutions for evaluating teachers. Stand concludes that the benefits of peer evaluations seemed to outweigh their concerns because they "instigated more interaction and collaboration among teachers." 

The report also concludes, “Teachers believe tying teacher evaluations to student test scores should be delayed until student assessments can be aligned to newly written standards that would better reflect a teacher’s role in student growth.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Stand for Children Reports that Testing is Oklahoma Teachers' Top Concern" »

Chart: State Teachers Of Year Prioritize Out-Of-School Factors

Screen shot 2015-05-20 at 10.24.03 AM

Two of the top three issues raised by teachers surveyed about obstacles to learning are non-school/classroom factors, according to this Scholastic chart.  The other is early learning. 

Live Event: Don't Miss Today's NY Ideas Panels On Race & "Invisible Children"

 

Maybe like me you missed this morning's #NYIdeas half hour chat with Eva Moskowitz and Amanda Ripley (was it any good?). Maybe (like me) you didn't make it to last night's invite-only roundtable dinner at the High Line Hotel including guests like Partnership for Education Justice's Campbell Brown, TC's Susan Fuhrman, Walton's Bruno Manno, Harvard's Martin West.

But all is not lost.  There are other education-related segments to come during today's event hosted by AtlanticLIVE and the Aspen Institute. And, assuming the video embed code works right, you can watch it all above (or click the link if not).

For example, there's Ta-Nehesi Coates and Michele Norris talking about race at 1:55 and a segment on "Seeing New York’s Invisible Children" at 2:40 featuring Andrea Elliott, Author and Investigative Reporter, The New York Times Faith Hester, Humanities Teacher, and Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts.

The Atlantic is big into live events these days, including next month's Education Summit in DC June 15.  It is going to feature folks like Peg Tyre, Author of The Good School, and Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools, 

This year's event is being sponsored in part by the Walton Family Foundation, and has also been sponsored by the AFT and others.  Over at The Grade, I wrote about the challenges for media outlets doing events that are sponsored by advocates on one side or the other: When Media Organizations Take Outside Funding for Events - But Not News Coverage. The Atlantic Magazine doesn't receive outside funding for its education coverage, far as I've been able to determine, and Inside Philanthropy's David Callahan notes that it would be cumbersome and perhaps unnecessary for the magazine to disclose event funding with its non-funded education writing. 

Meantime, I'm told that the Ripley/Moskowitz segment is going to be posted within 24 hours, so look for it tomorrow AM.

Quotes: FairTest Declares Spring 2015 Victory

Quotes2The end of the 2014-2015 school year is drawing near, but the movement to roll back standardized exam overkill has not slowed for a moment... The pressure from grassroots testing reformers is forcing policymakers to debate proposals to reduce testing overuse, eliminate some high-stakes consequences and stop penalizing students who opt out.  

-- FairTest's Bob Schaeffer in his weekly email.

Morning Video: Head Start At 50 Years (Plus Alternative Options)

 

"Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson announced the creation of Head Start, the early education program designed to support the needs of low-income children and get them ready for elementary school. The NewsHour’s April Brown explores the legacy and efficacy of the iconic program." via PBS NewsHour. Or, watch this story about a girl being dragged behind a school bus (she's recovering), or Stephen Colbert's Wake Forest hilarious/insightful commencement speech.

Maps: Just 11 States Have Little Or No Student Poverty/Teacher Qualification Gap

image from big.assets.huffingtonpost.comThis Huffington Post map shows states [in red and orange and yellow] where schools with higher student poverty students have lower rates of teacher certification -- despite all the loopholes in NCLB and state licensure arrangements. I count only 11 states [in blue] where there's little or no difference. Used with permission.

Quotes: Connecticut's Magnet Schools Erode Segregation

Quotes2It's pathetic that only one little state [Connecticut] is showing any leadership [by creating 84 magnet schools]...It shouldn't be so radical to think it might be better to have more diverse schools.
 
- UCLA's Gary Orfield in HuffPost Edu (Connecticut Makes Rare Progress As America Moves Backwards)

Quotes: Class Segregation Replacing Racial Segregation

Quotes2I mean, there’s some communities where I don’t know -- not only do I not know poor people, I don’t even know people who have trouble paying the bills at the end of the month. I just don’t know those people.  

-- President Obama at recent event via Vox (Liberals are reducing one of the most fascinating speeches of Obama’s career to a Fox News joke)

Afternoon Video: Our Value Is Not Expressed By Our Education Attainment

"I think it's easy for people like you and me, who wear suits and ties and work in offices, to cast aspersions on those with 10th grade educations." That's Ivy League-educated Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33) in response to testimony calling into question the economic impact of lower-educated workers.

Charts: Half The Teacher Who "Leave" Are Just Changing Schools

munguia-feature-teachers-2

Check out FiveThirtyEight's latest education post (Are There Too Few Teachers, Or Too Few Good Ones?), which reiterates the latest data showing that not only are the percentages of teachers leaving (in red) much lower than previously thought but that many of them (in blue) are just changing schools. Image used with permission.

Thompson: Did Fordham Accidentally Offer Support for Socio-Economic Integration, Not School Closures?**

It would be easy to read the Foreward to School Closures and Student Achievement, by Fordham’s Aaron Churchill and Mike Petrilli, and prejudge the paper as a similar piece of “astroturf” spin. But, the actual study of Ohio school closures, by Deven Carlson and Stéphane Lavertu, is solid. Their work will be a particularly valuable contribution to education research when it is not misused in support of scorched earth edu-politics where school closures are often used as an anti-union, anti-teacher battering ram.

It is possible to connect the evidentiary dots the way that Fordham does. A careful reading of the study gives as much evidence in opposition to closures as a school improvement strategy as it does in support of Churchill's and Petrilli's soundbites. 

Carlson and Lavertu note, "most of the few existing studies that rigorously examine the impact of school closure have found short-term negative effects (presumably from student mobility) and no discernable long-term effects on student achievement." So, if their study and future research does not conclude that closures produce more benefits than harm, it argues against the Fordham position.

Carlson's and Lavertu's findings "suggest that school-closure policies can yield academic benefits for displaced students so long as there are higher-quality schools nearby that students can attend." Of course, that is a huge "IF." The district schools that were closed were 92% low-income and 73% black. The non-closing schools in the districts studied were 85% low-income and 59% black. Even in this sample, 40% of students were placed in schools that were not higher-performing.

The study also analyzes the closing of charter schools. They were 74% low-income and 73% black.  Non-closing charters were 72% low-income and 54% black. That would be a topic for another post.

Moreover, those statistics are consistent with other research showing the benefits of socio-economic integration in schools and in housing. So, in light of the reappraisal of the Moving to Opportunity program and Robert Putnam's Our Kids, the increases in student performance might not be the result of competition that increases segregation. The gains may be due to a reduction of segregation.

Although you wouldn't know it by reading Churchill's and Petrilli's Foreward, a strength of the study is that it gives two possible baselines to be used in calculating the effects of school closes. The Forward showcases the first, I'd say less meaningful baseline. The disruption and demoralization which accompanies the closing of a school means that the student performance of its last year is not likely to be a fair metric. So, Carlson and Lavertu also generate a second, more "conservative" baseline which is based on student performance during the two years preceding the closure years.

If you only read the Fordham Foreward, you will conclude that three years after district-run schools are closed, its students will gain .073 STD in reading and .041 STD in math. They translate those gains into 49 extra days of learning in reading and 21 extra days of learning in math. But, using the conservative baseline (which seems a lot more reliable to me) reduces third-year estimates .060 or 40 days of learning in reading and to 0.041 or 21 days of learning in math.

If the days of learning estimates are valid (and since the Fordham Foreward gives no reason to doubt them), a casual reader might be more likely to conclude that closures are good policy. I do not have the expertise to determine whether the formula for translating standard deviation into days of learning is accurate or not, so I look forward to other critiques of those metrics.  But, footnote #10 explains, "We warn the reader not to read too much into this metric. ..."

Before School Closures and Student Achievement could be read as evidence for more school closures, these possible benefits must be compared to the costs for students of those policies. Carlson and Lavertu mention this issue and report "there is a significant negative effect when one focuses on the superior, growth-based measure of school quality. ... The quality of the schools that take in displaced students declines by 0.10 and 0.18 standard deviations--for district and charter schools, respectively--before and after absorbing students and staff from closing schools."

It will take additional research to calculate, apples to apples, how the gains of some students compare with the losses of others, but one thing is clear. Even though Carlson and Lavertu study the effects on a large student sample, the numbers of students in the receiving schools - schools that saw a decline - are much greater. So, the data of this study raises the question of whether the harm done to all students is greater than the gains for others.

The authors chose to study a region where student population was dropping, so school closures were inevitable. This raises two issues. First, given the region's economic decline, there is little  reason to believe the Fordham spin that, "Ohio's experience with urban school closures was primarily market driven." Perhaps, as Fordham speculates, "families voted with their feet," but more likely their neighborhoods, like the weaker schools, "withered and eventually died." So, is Fordham arguing for the quicker killing off of low-performing schools or of low-income communities?

Second, we should not the question of the value of research like Carlson and Lavertu when read as an attempt to objectively analyze school closures, as opposed to the spin of competition-driven reformers for their preconceived position. This might sound naïve, but what would happen if reformers read such research for insights into how to best improve all schools, and not as a part of their campaign to defeat unions and traditional public schools?

On the other hand, maybe we should be as brazen as Fordham and other reformers in spinning any and all research as support for our agendas. Then, we could have at least three headlines for Carlson's and Lavertu's work:

1. Fordham's School Closures Work!

2. My reading that School Closures gain produce gains of .060 and .041 standard deviations while producing drops of .10 std* 

3. Or, Maybe we should have tried socio-economic integration instead of market-driven reform.

* Dang if I know what that really means! -JT(@drjohnthompson)

**Editor's note: This post was originally published yesterday, taken down and corrected for spelling and other reasons, and is republished now. Please address any questions to contributor John Thompson @drjohnthompson.

Morning Video: Home Visits Help Bring Dropouts Back Into School

Watch Lawrence, MA's re-engagment coordinator connect with youth who've dropped out at school, which, according to EdWeek has let to a dramatic lowering of dropout rates and a strong increase in graduation figures. What's not clear from the piece is how widespread the practice is, how well it works in other places, and what kinds of alternative/recovery programs are being offered to returning students. In some places, it's been reported that the quality is quite bad. 

Social Media: Let's Be Nuzzel Friends!

Screenshot 2015-05-08 11.07.17You've heard me praise the social media aggregation site Nuzzel before.  

Now I'm going to actively try and recruit you to join me and many others you know over there, so we can see each other's aggregated social media feeds.  

Sounds fun, right?

What Nuzzel does, essentially, is let you know when a certain number -- 10-, 2o -- of your social media friends has tweeted about something.  

It's like a personalized list of what's trending, which saves a ton of time scrolling through individual updates and watching twitter. 

Now, what Nuzzel Friends does is allows you to see your friends' trending stories, too.  

So if you're wondering what's big in Larry Ferlazzo's world right now, you click on his Nuzzel feed and it's all there. Or CoopMike, or Gordon Wright (who introduced me to the app a few months ago).

The reason that's helpful is that it makes sure that you're not just reading the 5 items that one or another swarm of Twitter friends is talking about.  "Regular" Nuzzel can get pretty predictable unless you're super-careful to create a broad and diverse Twitter follow list. 

As you can see from this screengrab, there are already lots of folks you probably already know using Nuzzel. Just a few weeks ago, it was just a few.  What are you waiting for? Get on board, and then let me know how you like it.

Related posts: With Tailored Alerts, Nuzzel Lets You Know What's Hot On Social Media.

Quotes: WashPost Editorial Page Urges More Charters For Baltimore

Quotes2Bad schools are only one element of urban dysfunction. But they are both a consequence and a cause of inequality, and improving them is essential to keeping another generation from being trapped by poverty. -- Washington Post editorial page (The schools Baltimore needs)

Quotes: Common Core = Private School/Voucher Increases?

MQuotes2ore parents are fleeing to private schools with the hope of escaping the standards - whether they can afford to self-pay or they will come to support school vouchers in greater numbers. - Allison Hertog in HuffPost (Parent Opt-Out Movement: Engine of Common Core Unraveling?)

Books: The Rise of AVID ("America's Largest College Readiness Program")

image from media.wiley.comIn case you'd missed it (as I had), longtime Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews' latest book is out.

As you probably know, Mathews wrote the book that became Stand And Deliver, and also wrote Work Hard, Be Nice, a book about the KIPP network of charter schools. He writes the Post's Class Struggle blog.

Published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley, the book (Question Everything: The Rise of AVID as America's Largest College Readiness Program) focuses on a program that everyone's probably heard about but doesn't know very well.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. In his new book, Mathews describes how AVID "levels the playing field, helping underserved students come out ahead."

Even more notable, the book describes how AVID has grown in 30 years into an organization serving 400,000 middle- and high-school students in 47 states and 16 countries.

I can't think of another program that's so widespread but so little in the news (though last year's Teach of the Year was AVID).

Mathews admits that he's not an impartial observer here. "It is a very pro-AVID book, but I point out some flaws. Its tutoring programs are its best feature, the key to the whole system, but they are hard to get up to full speed right away and I saw some ragged ones."

Related posts:  Obama Introduces (AVID) Teacher Of Year (2014); Teaching Students Guided Note-Taking (Bruno 2012).

Events: NewSchools 2015 Summit Live Twitter Feed

Seems like a slow day, so maybe you'd be best off spending the rest of it watching #NSVFSummit updates scroll by. It's mostly folks chronicling the event, rather than reacting pro or con, and it may or may not be NSVF's best summit ever. But it's good to know what folks are doing and saying, whether you agree or not. Let me know if something unusual happens!

Morning Video: Taking A Look At The Latest Charter School Waiting Lists

It's both Charter Schools and Teacher Appreciation week at the same time, and yet the sky seems not to have fallen (yet). So maybe that means something good. 

However, the charter schools folks are pushing the waiting list numbers thing hard again, and that has me nervous.  The latest Charter Alliance report looks at waiting lists in 10 districts and has generated some news coverage including the NY Daily News (NYC has longest wait for charter schools in the country); EdWeek (Urban Charter School Wait Lists Swell Nationally, Report Says); WSJ (Waiting for Charter Schools).

Charter school waiting list numbers tend to look misleadingly high, sort of like lots of other numbers in education: charter school graduate percentages, college acceptance rates, pre-Common Core state proficiency rates. All these numbers -- like rents in Brooklyn -- are too damn high to be believed (though the rents are for real).

That's not to say that there aren't thousands of parents who want to get into some charters, and that there won't be more of them applying soon thanks to universal enrollment agreements that are slowly but surely spreading among urban districts. What we need is some sort of standardized definition and practice for waitlist numbers among different charters and districts, as was done a decade or so ago about graduation and dropout statistics. 

There's also the issue of some charter schools not backfilling classes when kids exit during the school year or even between years. It'd be interesting to match up the backfill numbers with the waiting list numbers and see what you came up with.

Until then I would urge everyone to look at the numbers being provided with caution. The demand is real, and the parents are sincere, but the specific numbers...I'm just not very confident in them.

Still curious? According to the report, "More information is available at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ data dashboard. Data sources for the number of student names on wait lists for each district are available in the Technical Note." Tell us what you find.

Related posts: Charter Schools Claim Million-Name Nat'l Wait-List (2013); Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting* (2013); Charter school demand in Mass. disputed (Boston Globe 2013); Well-Connected Parents Slip Past Lottery (2011).

Charts: Nearly 20,000 High Schools Now Offering AP

image from www.marketplace.org

The number of schools offering AP has nearly doubled since the mid-1990s when my old boss Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and others were touting it as a great way to raise expectations and accelerate learning for low-income and minority kids. Here's a chart showing the growth via a story that ran on APM Marketplace yesterday. For other stories in the series: How one high school is closing the AP gapSpending $100 million to break down AP class barriers.

The courses and tests are obviously no silver bullet, and it's unclear to me what happens to AP in the Common Core era. But they are a good reminder that more kids than we think can learn to challenging levels, and that school systems often don't serve kids equally without being nudged or forced to do so. Image used with permission.

Related posts: Advanced Placement offerings vary widely in D.C. high schools (Washington Post)

Morning Listen: Former Balto Supe Andres Alonso Reflects On Recent Unrest

There were lots of people -- too many -- using last week's unrest in Baltimore as an excuse to advance an agenda or generate attention - but former superintendent Andres Alonso is in a pretty unique spot to talk about what's going on there when it comes to the education system and its intersection with equity and justice -- though he's careful not to talk trash about those who are still there working in the system.

So here's a new Harvard EdCast to check out, featuring Alonso. You can also read this recent Seattle Times interview focusing on Alonso's efforts to overhaul discipline in Baltimore (School leader who overhauled discipline in long-troubled Baltimore looks back). Alonso was head for 6 years, during which dropout rates went down cooperation with teachers went up.

I'm getting mixed responses on whether things have gotten better or worse since he left two years ago, and whether that made any difference in how students and others reacted on Monday.

Related posts: Alonso's Smooth Approach To School Reform (2010); Alonso calls report done by school consultant 'objective' (Baltimore Sun 2012); Inside The Baltimore Test Score Rally (2009). See also: BaltSun Education Reporter Gets Close To Cover #FreddyGrey Protests"Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led.

Thompson: Reformers to Teachers - Please Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Teachers have to think ahead. What questions do I ask, in what order? How do I pace instruction for seniors with 5th grade skills so they can master college readiness concepts? What classroom disruption should I ignore? What will happen if/when I make an issue of different sorts of misbehavior? 

I've long had great success in teaching students to plan their work and work their plans. I've failed consistently, however, in understanding why reformers never look before they leap. They seem to just dictate without anticipating the predictable results of their mandates.

Now, the anti-Opt Out soundbite is that teachers should relax, don't worry about what is in store for us in the near future. High stakes Common Core testing has barely begun to release its fury and, according to reformers, we should give it a chance because we might dodge a worst case scenario.   

The Hechinger Report Lillian Mongeau, Emmanuel Felton, and Sarah Butrymowiez, in Stakes for "High-Stakes" Tests Are Actually Pretty Low, report that few students are currently subject to high-stakes Common Core tests, and most teachers are not yet subject to the sanctions that have already been codified into law.  Their graphic shows that only 11 states are already using test scores for teacher evaluations. However, their interactive graphic shows that all but eight have plans to do so. 

Mongeau et. al report that the Council of Chief State School Officers' Chris Minnich hopes that teachers "can continue to be part of an ongoing conversation about the best way to use measures of student learning in evaluations." But, that gets the issue backwards. Why wasn't there a real discussion about whether it was good or bad policy to include test score growth estimates to sanction individual teachers? Why were teachers ignored when non-educators decided how we should be evaluated?

Continue reading "Thompson: Reformers to Teachers - Please Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" »

Testing: Addition Of MA and RI Creates Big Week For PARCC EOY Testing

Screen shot 2015-04-29 at 5.34.57 PMSpeaking of standardized testing: With addition of MA and RI, all 11 @PARCCPlace states enter EOY testing window this week.  

I don't know if things have been especially lively in those states, in terms of glitches or opt-outs, or if the state and district agencies have done a particular good or bad job preparing for this round, but we shall see.

I've asked Smarter Balanced for a similar schedule but have yet to receive or see any such thing.

Maps: Upward Mobility Varies Among Similar-Seeming Cities & Suburbs

Screenshot 2015-05-04 09.55.48The NYT takes a look a new research showing that poor kids do better or worse depending on where they come from. The most challenging places tend to be bit cities like Atlanta; Chicago; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Orlando, West Palm Beach and Tampa in Florida. But there it's not all big cities, and smaller cities like Austin, Texas are rough for poor kids.  And the better places include both large cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas but also smaller ones like Providence and major suburban counties, such as Fairfax, Va.; Bergen, N.J.; Bucks, Pa.; Macomb, Mich.; Worcester, Mass.; and Contra Costa, Calif. They're more expensive to live in, housing-wise, and public rent subsidies tend not to accommodate variations in housing costs, but they have better elementary school test scores and greater diversity. Check it all out here: An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty. Image via NYT. Note that NYC doesn't do as well regarding upward mobility once immigrant families are removed from the equation.

Comedy: HBO's John Oliver Swings (& Misses) Against Standardized Testing

It's no easy job being smart and funny at the same time, and especially so when the topic is something as boring and controversial as standardized testing.  But last night's John Oliver segment didn't seem to succeed at either task, and came off somewhat blinkered with its focus on the concerns of (mostly) white teachers and (mostly) white parents and students. Watch for yourself and let me know what you think:

As you'll see, there are some funny bits and great snippets -- Obama bashing standardized tests in a pandering campaign speech before the NEA, a dirty remark regarding the Common Core logo, a funny quip about teachers' inspirational class posters in the new age, a bit about value-added formulas coming from livestock prediction models (is that true?), the instructions on what to do if a kid throws up on a test (is THAT true?), the comparison of Pearson to Time Warner Cable, the pop culture references (Fight Club, etc.).

There are tons of problems with standardized tests, and lots of things that could be done to improve them.
But Oliver seems to be trying way too hard and might not have the goods. Making fun of school testing pep rally videos seems like something you might see on America's Funniest Home Videos (if that's still on). The repeated focus on Florida seems problematic. The Talking Pineapple test question is old. The adult who did poorly on the test I don't care about him. The French kid with the cigarette? I have nothing to say. The girl crying because she tests poorly and can't take advanced art seems hard to believe (someone find her!). Going back to the dancing test mascot not twice but three times seems desperate (or maybe just not my cup of tea).
 
More importantly, going back to a world without standardized tests, and subgroups, and attempts to link teachers to student progress, is hard for me to imagine, and my sympathies lie much more with the kids who aren't being taught by teachers who think they can learn or school systems that don't give them the resources they deserve to succeed.  I don't think testing dramatically worsens those problems, even if it doesn't fix them.  The Common Core testing rollout has been glitchy but nothing like, say, the initial rollout of Obamacare.  And as I noted last week recent events in Ferguson, Baltimore, and elsewhere have been a big reminder to us all that fixating for or against testing, charters, or technology increasingly seems like fiddling on the margins. 
 
None of this is to say that I hope Oliver and his crew don't continue to watch and mock things going on in education.  The Daily Show and the Colbert Report were generally great in terms of keeping an eye on hits and misses in schools and improvement efforts.  It seems unlikely that Colbert is going to be able to interview education researchers in his new gig.  So we need Oliver et al to keep the attention.  I'm just hoping that they'll be funnier and smarter about it next time around. Or maybe I just need to be in a better mood.
 

AM News: Districts Welcome Expanded Obama Support Program

Big-City Districts Buoyed by Obama's Extension of 'My Brother's Keeper' District Dossier: Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City School, said the proposed new foundation will help sustain the council's efforts on equity and access in its districts after Mr. Obama leaves the White House.

Parents hate it when schools get shut down. But a new study suggests it helps kids learn. Vox: In Ohio's eighth-largest school district, students whose schools were closed and who ended up at different schools learned more than students in low-quality schools that didn't close, researchers Deven Carlson and Stéphane Lavertu found.

Teacher Testifies So Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 'Knows That Someone Cares About Him' HuffPost: It was the second time that Becki Norris spoke up for Tsarnaev, 21, on Wednesday. Earlier that day, the current Community Charter School of Cambridge principal testified in Tsarnaev's trial that when he was her seventh- and eighth-grade student, he was "a really hard-working, smart kid" with a seemingly bright future in front of him. 

State, teacher unions file briefs in tenure ruling appeal AP: In briefs filed in the state's Second District Court of Appeal, attorneys for the state, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers contend there was no "legal or factual justification" in striking down state laws on tenure and job protection.

Teacher-Retention Rates Higher Than Previously Thought TeacherBeat: Only 17 percent of teachers tracked in a federal longitudinal study left the profession, far fewer than the often-cited 50 percent.

Some Baltimore youth have fears of police reinforced in their schools Washington Post: Darius Craig was disgusted Monday night watching other Baltimore teens on television as they burned cars, looted shops and hurled rocks at police. But the high school senior understood why his peers were so angry.

Beyond The Headlines, There's Much More To West Baltimore NPR: At one intersection this week, violence was thoroughly documented. But the cameras missed the treasured public library that for years has educated and entertained the neighborhood's kids.

Weingarten regrets supporting Cuomo's running mate Capital New York: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingartenregrets campaigning for Governor Andrew Cuomo's running mate in last year's elections, she told Capital during a union convention on Saturday. 

More school merger plans in the works, Fariña says ChalkbeatNY: In areas of the city with high rates of domestic violence, teachers will get special training next year, an effort that grew out of City Hall’s new “Children’s Cabinet.” 

Outside interest groups battle over school vouchers: After years of lobbying, millions of dollars from in-state and out-of-state advocacy groups and the support of the governor and other legislative leaders, school vouchers are still banned in Tennessee.

From The White House, A Celebration Of Great Teaching NPR: President Obama welcomes the National Teacher of the Year and tells how a great educator shaped his own life.

Emma Bloomberg on the Future of the Robin Hood Foundation Gotham Magazine: As Robin Hood holds its annual gala on May 12, we took the opportunity to ask Bloomberg for an insider’s look at the group Fortune called “one of the most innovative and influential philanthropic organizations of our time.”

From Hurricane Katrina to Howard University, a young woman's odyssey Washington Post: One of Halley's teachers told her about a program for high school juniors to work for a semester as congressional pages in Washington. ... Once in Washington, Halley toured Howard University and set a new goal.

Charts: District Schools Outperform Charters In Chicago, Notes Foundation Officer

Last week during #EWA15, MSDF's Joe Siedlecki noted that CPS elementary schools outperform charters in terms of the percentage of kids in high-rated schools, and praised Chicago charters for participating in the unified accountability system that makes such comparisons possible. 

Charts: Rich and Poor Spend Relatively More On Education Than Middle-Income Families

Screen shot 2015-04-29 at 4.08.18 PM"Higher-earning consumers spend less on housing, food and health care. (They spend more total dollars in these categories, but because of their higher incomes, such purchases are a smaller share of their expenditures.) Transportation, however, takes up a bigger share of expenditures for those in the middle, and less for the lowest-earning households... Education follows a U-shaped pattern, taking up the largest share of expenditures for those at the bottom and top of the distribution." (WSJ: How Rich and Poor Spend (and Earn) Their Money)

Quotes: How About Rebuilding Baltimore Schools For A Start?

Quotes2If we're spending  $1 trillion to rebuild Afghanistan's schools, we can't throw a little taste down Baltimore way? - Jon Stewart on The Daily Show  

Charts: Charter School Closure Rate Holds Steady At Just Under 4 Percent

ScreenHunter_05 Apr. 28 16.24

Here's a screengrab from a new NACSA infographic and report showing that charter closings remain at about 4 percent a year and that non-renewal is more common a method than outright revocation (The State of Charter Authorizing). Click the link and read the report to get a deeper sense of what's going on.  Interesting to note that roughly 20 percent of charters faced with closure appeal the decision.

Maps: Yellow & Orange Show States Where Tests WIll Matter (Somewhat) For Teachers

Screenshot 2015-04-29 08.24.24"A majority of the states that have adopted Common Core won't use results to rate teachers this year. Of the 21 states that plan to use the tests as part of teacher evaluations in the future, many have already specified that the score will count for only a percentage of the evaluation." (Hechinger Report Stakes for “high-stakes” tests are actually pretty low).

Click the link and hover over each state for specific measures. 

As for stakes for students: "Three states will use the test scores as some portion of a graduation requirement... Only three states will be using this spring’s Common Core-aligned test to regulate grade promotion."

Morning Video: Game-Based Learning Panel (Plus "Standardized")

Watch yesterday's Fordham interview with Greg Toppo about his book on game-based learning, with interviewer Robert Pondiscio. Or, click below to watch the trailer for Standardized, an anti-testing documentary that's been making the rounds.

Continue reading "Morning Video: Game-Based Learning Panel (Plus "Standardized")" »

AM News: Stakes For Spring 2015 Tests Generally Low For Students & Teachers

Stakes for “high-stakes” tests are actually pretty low Hechinger Report: Very few states will be using this spring’s scores for any student-related decisions. And the stakes for teachers are only slightly higher.

Half of juniors opt out of Common Core tests in affluent high school EdSource Today: At Palos Verdes High School, 260 of the school’s roughly 460 juniors are skipping the tests that began last week and are continuing this week, Superintendent Don Austin said. Elsewhere in the 11,600-student district, an additional 222 students are sitting out of the tests in a different high school, as well as intermediate and elementary schools.

Gates Foundation to Expand Teacher-Preparation Grantmaking TeacherBeat: " In the coming years, we foresee many opportunities for partnership in the field of teacher preparation, with many types of organizations," Gates officials Tom Stritikus and Michelle Rojas  write.  As of late 2013, the Gates Foundation had spent nearly $700 million on efforts relating to teaching, including about $38 million on teacher-preparation efforts.

How one high school is closing the AP gap Marketplace: The AP invitation letters were part of a broader effort by the school district to get more students into AP courses, especially overlooked low-income and minority students who have the skills to succeed. To start catching those kids, Goins' district brought in Equal Opportunity Schools, a non-profit that works with schools to help identify kids who are being left behind in AP and International Baccalaureate programs, and help close the so-called participation gap.

How Young Black Men Are Boxed In FiveThirtyEight: Baltimore isn’t an outlier. There are other cities with more poverty, higher unemployment and greater inequality. The racial disparities evident in Baltimore are common across the country.

After Baltimore Rioting, Obama Urges Focus on Education Programs Education Week: President Barack Obama condemned rioters who looted and set ablaze several businesses in Baltimore Monday night following the funeral for Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who died of a spinal cord injury in police custody this month. 

Can a Harlem ‘cradle to career’ program succeed in rural Mississippi? PBS NewsHour: The program is part of the Indianola Promise Community (IPC), a federally-funded, community-based effort. Nationwide, there are dozens of so-called Promise Neighborhoods, or zones, that aim to offer a continuum of “cradle to career” services to lift low-income children out of poverty and improve outcomes for families.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Stakes For Spring 2015 Tests Generally Low For Students & Teachers" »

Events: What's New At NewSchools 2015?

image from www.nsvfsummit.com
I may or may not make it to the annual NewsSchools Venture Fund summit this year, but thought you might like to know about the annual confab held most frequently in San Francisco.  

This year's headliner is "author, researcher and TED Talks sensation Brené Brown." Other highlights include an appearance from Gates'  Sara Allan who will unveil "a new, interactive platform designed to better connect ed tech entrepreneurs with the needs of teachers and students," and an interview with newish NewSchools CEO Stacey Childress.

Of particular interest to me is a panel on diverse/progressive charters being led by Kriste Dragon, Citizens of the World Charter Schools, and parents from Citizens and Bricolage and RI's Mayoral Academy. and Renita Thukral, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Information about Summit, including the comprehensive schedule, can be found at www.nsvfsummit.com.  Follow @nsvf and #nsvfsummit on Twitter for event updates.This year's event is being held May 6. Unusual for education conferences, it's an invite-only event. 

Related posts:  They're Beaming NSVF Summit 2014 To Boston This YearGoogle Glasses Live from NSVF Summit 2013Thoughts On NSVF 2012Rahm Emanuel And Arlene Laurene Powell Jobs At NSVF'12Reformy 2011 Summit Returns To Silicon ValleyFashion Hits & Misses At The 2010 NSVF SummitAnother Spring, Another Summit (2009)NSFV: Live Tweets From Pasadena '09Microblogging The 2008 NSVF Summit. Image via NSVF webpage. 

Magazines: How Can I Help You (Finish College)?

A crash course in reviving the American dream. https://t.co/GS4Adxpu8T

— Amanda Ripley (@amandaripley) April 22, 2015

The most interesting thing about reluctant education writer Amanda Ripley's latest piece (The Upwardly Mobile Barista) isn't that it's a big cover story in the new Atlantic magazine or that she -- or Starbucks or ASU -- have discovered the secret to getting millions of American workers through college at higher rates than the current dismal numbers -- but rather that the article shows just how difficult it's been and how many adjustments have been made since the program to give baristas and other workers encouragement to finish their degrees.

Though she give time and space to the program's aspirations and advocates (and perhaps a smidgen too much implicit enthusiasm for the effort for my cranky taste), Ripley details the repeated challenges and setbacks that the program has encountered (and the student/workers have experienced) along the way. The piece is critical of traditional colleges and universities who don't get enrolled students through to graduation, sure, but it doesn't shy away from how hard it has been so far to bring Starbucks' customer-oriented service mentality to even a small number of students. 

Ripley wrote The Smartest Kids In The World and is along with Richard Whitmire an Emerson Fellow. Read her bio here. The Starbucks article will probably also remind you of Ann Hulbert's piece (also in the Atlantic) about efforts to focus and support college students' degree completion, titled A Community College Tries The "No Excuses" Approach.

Related posts: Both Sides Have "Lost Their Minds" On Annual Testing (Says Ripley); Six Years In, Is the Spencer Fellowship (Still) Worth It?How Some Countries Change Their OutcomesRipley "Less Certain" Of PISA Towards End Of Book.

Maps: 10 Districts Using "Strategic Compensation" To Attract & Retain Teachers

ScreenHunter_04 Apr. 24 15.31Here are 10 districts out of the nation's 15,000 using strategic compensation to attract and retain teachers, according to a recent CAP report via DFER/ERN.  They include two in Colorado, a couple in New England, and a couple in the Mid Atlantic region. But only two of the 10 -- DC and Denver -- have a big enough focus on promoting equitable access for disadvantaged students to quality teachers. 

Morning Video: Is EdTech The Solution - Or A Scam?

"Word on the street is that public school districts are being hijacked by tech-loving, teacher-hating crusaders who are plotting to spend billions on technology. Can this be true?" (School Sleuth).

Or, watch Ravitch ask Weingarten where she stands on the opt-out issue at NPE last week. More here.

Is Reform Really Stalemated -- And Is Early Childhood Really That Easy?

Most folks have responded to this week's Nick Kristof NYT column (Beyond Education Wars) by focusing on two main things brought up on the column: the vicious in-fighting on education that's been going on for a while now and the possibility that the combatants (liberals, moderates, Republicans, and conservatives) could rally around early childhood education.

Many --including TWIE contributor John Thompson -- think Kristof is onto something. And they may well be right.  But left by the wayside is Kristof's claim that reform efforts are really stalemated (that everyone agrees as much), and to a lesser extent the very real obstacles that have kept political factions from rallying around early childhood education for several years now and may continue to do so.

Let's all take a look at both those things before packing up and pivoting (or thinking that others are going to). I am sad to report that I'm not so sure that the stalemate or the consensus are as clear as Kristof and others might wish them to be.

Continue reading "Is Reform Really Stalemated -- And Is Early Childhood Really That Easy?" »

Thompson: Kristof Points the Way Toward Ending the Education Wars

The New York Times’ Nick Kristof, in Beyond Education Wars, does what Babe Ruth supposedly did, and more. He points to where he'll hit a home run and then delivers a grand slam. Kristof articulates the best single suggestion for improving schools, and he offers the wisest political message I’ve heard.

Although Kristof still identifies himself as a reformer, he wonders whether the reform movement has peaked. We’ve seen a dozen years of an idealistic movement where “armies of college graduates joined Teach for America. Zillionaires invested in charter schools. Liberals and conservatives, holding their noses and agreeing on nothing else, cooperated to proclaim education the civil rights issue of our time.”

But, now, the education reform “brawls have left everyone battered and bloodied, from reformers to teachers unions.” Kristof observes that “the zillionaires are bruised. The idealists are dispirited. … The Common Core curriculum is now an orphan, with politicians vigorously denying paternity." Those expensive campaigns have left K-12 education "an exhausted, bloodsoaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after.”

Kristof provides three reasons why we should, “Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.” He starts with the scientific evidence that “early childhood is a crucial period when the brain is most malleable, when interventions are most cost-effective for at-risk kids.” He writes:

Growing evidence suggests what does work to break the poverty cycle: Start early in life, and coach parents to stimulate their children. Randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of evidence, have shown this with programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, Reach Out and Read, and high-quality preschool. These kinds of interventions typically produce cognitive gains that last a few years and then fade — but, more important, also produce better life outcomes, such as less crime, fewer teenage pregnancies, higher high school graduation rates, and higher incomes.

Second, Kristof notes that reformers picked “the low-hanging fruit” of the K-12 world.

Continue reading "Thompson: Kristof Points the Way Toward Ending the Education Wars" »

Thompson: A White Suburban Dad Named Arne Duncan Needs Out

New York  Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch says that "it’s been well over a year since I’ve had someone talk to me about instruction and curriculum. Everyone has talked to me about evaluations."

Well duh!

We are in the middle of a wonderful democratic moment as the Opt Out movement is poised to kill the high stakes testing vampire. And, even Tisch ridicules the idea that the test, sort, and punish school of reform can be saved by punishing parents who are standing up for their children. She says, “I would say to everyone who wants to punish the school districts ... Really, are you kidding me?”

But, Arne Duncan has even surpassed his previous political blunder of dismissing the concerns of "white suburban moms" whose kids might not be as brilliant as they think. He again demonstrates political sensitivity comparable to that of Southpark's Eric Cartman. As Chalkbeat's Patrick Wall reports, in As Opt Out Numbers Grow, Arne Duncan Says Feds May Have to Step In, Duncan now threatens to punish low-income schools in states which fail to hit participation rate targets.

The Education Czar demands, "Respect My Authorit-iii!"

Even better, Duncan reveals his lack of education judgment by asserting that his children aren't being injured by punitive testing mandates. After all, testing hasn't sucked all of the oxygen out of elite schools. Whether Duncan knows it or not, its under-the-gun, high-challenge schools that face the most pressure to impose drill and kill. He remains clueless about the inevitable ways that the toxicity dumped on teachers and administrators flows down onto the kids.

Duncan, the white suburban father, knows best. He, not moms and students, should decide how much of the joy of learning should be sacrificed in the name of bubble-in accountability.

Duncan's gaff is the best news since the announcement that 185,000 New York students have already opted out. He has just thrown more gasoline on the irreversible fire that is spreading through states that first adopted his extreme version of test-driven  accountability.

Continue reading "Thompson: A White Suburban Dad Named Arne Duncan Needs Out" »

Quotes: Three Reasons Early Education Could Join Education Opponents (But Probably Won't)

Quotes2K-12 education is an exhausted, bloodsoaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after. So a suggestion: Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.

- NYT columnist Nick Kristof (Beyond Education Wars)

Charts: Just How Racist Are Schoolteachers? (Very - But Then Again So Are You)

image from m.motherjones.comCheck out this graphic via Mother Jones (Just How Racist Are Schoolteachers?). The point is not to shame teachers, really, but to raise awareness about unconscious bias and structural problems that are an issue in classrooms regardless of type.

Events: #NPEChicago Is The Third Big Chicago Event In A Row

image from www.networkforpubliceducation.orgIt's been quite a week already for Chicago, what with AERA and #EWA15 (and all the local news as well).  

But it's not over yet.  

Up next is #NPEChicago, the 2nd annual meeting of this group, which will include authors of "some of the most celebrated books in recent years. (including those displayed to the left.

Featured speakers include Yong Zhao, Diane Ravitch, Lily Eskelson Garcia, Randi Weingarten and Chicago’s own Karen Lewis and Jitu Brown. 

The April 25-26 event is also going to be livestreamed via School House Live.

Know more about the event, or planning to go and report your experiences from there? Let us know.

Morning Video: Did Ohio's 3rd Grade Reading Initiative Work? (Plus 2 Extras)

Watch last night's PBS NewsHour segment on the Ohio reading initiative intended to ensure that students were proficient readers before moving on to the rest of elementary school. (Big hint: holding lots of kids back is controversial and expensive.) Or, watch a segment featuring Arne Duncan's interview in Chicago on WTTW Chicago Tonight. Or, watch Jeb Bush wiggle on Common Core via Tampa Bay Times.

People: Journo Who Broke Chicago SUPES Story Two Years Ago Changing Jobs

Catalyst Chicago deputy editor Sarah Karp, widely credited with having broken the $20 million SUPES story that has now led to an FBI Investigation and the stepping down of the head of the Chicago school system, is leaving to join the Better Government Association of Chicago. 

For a time, it seemed like nobody would ever follow up on Karp's 2013 SUPES scoop.  Local NPR station WBEZ had her on to talk about the story, and local ABC 7's Sarah Schulte did a segment.  However, neither the Sun-Times or Tribune followed up in any meaningful way -- until now.

That's nothing new. Super-competitive news outlets sometimes refuse to "follow" other outlets. Other times, they re-report each others' stories and pretend their competitors' versions don't exist (which is understandable but super-annoying). Of course, sometimes it's not a conscious decision, they just have other stories to work on, more urgent-seeming matters, and don't have time or staff to cover everything they'd like.

In any case, Catalyst is looking for a new reporter to replace Karp, and publisher and founder Linda Lenz noted graciously "We're pleased that she will take all the knowledge she gained at Catalyst to a new audience. The city, in effect, will get an additional ed reporter."  Reporter Melissa Sanchez remains.

Meantime, Catalyst is also celebrating a 25th anniversary and figuring out where and what to do next.  (So is Philly's Notebook, another long-running district-based news outlet focused on education. Here's an overview of anniversary activities and events surrounding Catalyst's 25th.

While it may seem like a strange move, the BGA has staffed up with reporters in recent years and covered education along the way. After a decade at Catalyst, Karp starts at the BGA next month. She's going to cover K-12 education as well as higher ed and state government. Read more about Karp and the story she broke nearly 2 years ago here.  

Disclosure: I used to do some freelancing for Catalyst, and they lent me a free desk for a time, and kindly hosted the launch of a book on Chicago school reform I edited that came out in 2004.

Events: Highlights (& Lowlights) From #EWA15 Day One

It was an action-packed first day of #EWA15, with a firehose of journalists' frantic tweets and an appearance of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to help fuel the scandal surrounding Chicago superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett. 

OVERTWEETING? The tweeting was a bit much, you'll know if you tried to follow along online, especially once folks not at the event started barging into the hashtag (as is their right). If the conference continues to get bigger, and social media continues to proliferate, then we'll probably have to create sub-hashtags to go along with the single event hashtag.  Or maybe folks will self-organize and focus their tweeting on certain issues or topics.  I wonder how other, bigger events handle a glut of livetweets.  I guess it's a good problem to have.

A LOCAL SCANDAL NOT YET NATIONAL: Speaking of Rauner, the fast-moving Chicago story provides an exciting backdrop to the conference surroundings, though most of the journalists in attendance don't know or care much about it (and financial misdeeds aren't really news in Chicago). Maybe the story will go national, but I'm not sure. 

STORIES YOU NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE: The evening's awards ceremonies highlighted a slew of education stories that you (and I) may not have been aware of when they were first published.   What's amazing to realize is that some of the best education stories of the year -- at least according to EWA and those who submitted their pieces -- aren't all big sexy splashy pieces that get passed around widely but are smaller, more focused pieces or series whose impact builds over time.

THE "EVERYTHING" BEAT: It was also great to hear EWA president (and ChalkbeatIN honcho) Scott Elliot describe education as the "everything" beat. "Your audience as an ed journalist: Everyone who has a kid, cares about kids, and/or pays taxes. So, everyone!" I couldn't agree more. 

A PULITZER FOR A FORMER EDUCATION REPORTER: The day ended with news that a local news team in Southern California had won a Pulitzer Prize for its education-related coverage -- but that the education reporter who had kicked things off had left the newsroom for a better-paying public relations job.  If that isn't a great illustration of education journalism in 2015, I don't know what is.

Advertisement

Advertisement

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.