This year’s testing foul-ups included more mistakes by Pearson in New York City, and computer malfunctions during testing in Indiana and Oklahoma. Carrie Coppernoll’s Testing Fallout Persists, in the Daily Oklahoman, describes the political decisions that must be made after high-stakes testing was disrupted, last month, by computer crashes.
Before No Child Left Behind, Oklahoma had its share of testing fiascoes. In 1997, Harcourt Publishing sent the wrong writing exams to 8th and 11th graders. In 2001, Riverside Publishing lost its contract with the state after significant delays in providing test results.
In the last ten years, Oklahoma has used five different testing companies. Harcourt regained the contract but then it printed incorrect answers on the sample test. In 2007, Pearson was awarded the contract for end-of-instruction tests, but it made data classification errors and mishandled its portfolio assessments for profoundly disabled students. Now, Oklahoma has to decide how to deal with McGraw-Hill’s latest mess.
Economics 101 would predict that after NCLB dramatically increased the demand for standardized tests, the quality of the testing product would decline. Even with the primitive old bubble-in tests, that seems to be happening. When the far more complicated Common Core assessments are rushed into production, shouldn't we expect even more testing debacles?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
As you may recall, the question keeps coming up if and how funders are going to assess the impact of their advocacy efforts, whether they be grants to nonprofits or direct contributions to campaigns or PACs:
"Teachers unions (AFT, NEA) and nonprofits on the other side (Broader/Bolder Alliance, Shanker Institute, and the new Ravitch thing) are actively engaged in advocacy as well, and have to figure out if their spending is making a difference, too." (What About The Impact?)
As with teachers and schools, poor evaluations can lead to poor understanding, however. It's not so easy to get it right. Michigan State professor and TWIE contributor Sarah Reckhow took a stern look at several recent recommendations for advocacy evaluation (A Misleading Approach to Assessing Advocacy)
This newest report, called a Media Measurement Framework, is funded by Gates and Knight and produced by the SF-based LFA Group: Learning for Action, who tells us that the Knight Foundation is in the process of creating an online, interactive version of this framework. This static version will become a collection of online resources.
No word yet on whether the framework is any good or if any advocacy grantees are using it yet. That's where you come in.
Previous posts: A Misleading Approach to Assessing Advocacy [Reckhow]; So How'd The Advocacy Groups Do?; Gates Shifts Strategy & Schools Get Smaller Share [Reckhow]; EdWeek's Balanced View Of Reform Advocacy
President John Jackson of the Schott Foundation, in his Moving from Standards to Support, explains how school “reform” went wrong and how we should change course. Nearly a generation ago, sincere non-educators, influenced by the corporate worldview, mandated standards-driven school reform driven by “outputs.” Jackson says that we must reject their failed focus on flawed metrics (outputs) and concentrate on a tough-minded system of supports (formerly known as inputs.)
Standards and standardized test-driven “reform” failed because it ignored the root cause of the achievement gap – poverty. As Jackson explains, “Standards-based reform creates an inherent system of winners and losers by raising the bar and assessing who makes the cut.” Because of its focus on tests for punishment, standards for children who are academically drowning have moved the shoreline further away in order to teach them how to swim.
It is time to hold “reformers” accountable for their educational outputs i.e. their results in terms of student performance. Under any objective reckoning, test-driven accountability backfired. It is time to invest in “supports-based reforms.” We must strategically align:
High-quality early education for all students; mandatory kindergarten with assurances that all students are achieving at grade level by 3rd grade; recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers, along with supplying the training and resources those teachers need to provide more learning time and deeper learning approaches; access to student-centered learning and personalized academic, social, and health plans to keep all students on a college path; and equitable resources and policies so that all students remain in engaging, high-quality educational settings.
Bill Gates used his most recent TED talk to make the case for putting video cameras in every classroom. Teachers, he says, don't get enough feedback about their practice and performance; recording and submitting lessons for review would have a "phenomenal" impact on teacher quality for a modest price.
To be clear, Gates badly underestimates how much feedback teachers currently receive. I've certainly never had a single evaluation in which I "just got one word of feedback", so I have no idea why he thinks "98% of teachers" get so little. New teachers in particular are often assigned dedicated coaches, and formal observation and coaching is not the only way to get feedback.
Still, it's not unreasonable to think that frequent videotaping and coaching could help teachers improve. Sarah Brown Wessling agrees, and Cassandra Tognoni is so excited by the prospect of a camera in every classroom that she thinks Gates should just put up the $5 billion required to buy them himself.
But if cameras offer so much promise for improving education, it's worth asking why they're not already more heavily used. An adequate camera can be purchased for about $100: not nothing, but not so much that an enthusiastic teacher, administrator, or coach couldn't invest in one.
A small, preliminary study, a talkative researcher, media hype, plus underlying cultural stereotypes and fears. Sound familiar? Retro Report via Kottke.
"A young Houston couple is planning to give away $4 billion—but only to projects that prove they are worth it. Can they redefine the world of philanthropy?" The New Science Behind Philanthropy (WSJ via @mikepetrilli)
Read between the lines and there are lots of interesting tidbits in June Kronholz's Education Next piece (Still Teaching for America) for both TFA fans and skeptics.
The piece takes a look at the much-discussed school reform organization as it goes through a key transition of leadership and size.
Two new co-CEOs have taken over from founder Wendy Kopp, and the annual budget that in 2012 was $320 million is expected to go up to half a billion dollars within the next three years.
Kronholz boils the organization's successful growth (if not large-scale impact on educational outcomes) on things like regional innovations (Houston's content coaches, Jacksonville's localized summer institute, South Dakota's rural principal leadership incubator), and its willingness to create and scrap ideas that don't pan out.
As has become increasingly common in recent years, TFA's new leaders are focusing as much on what alumni do as what they accomplish in the classroom:
"Kramer also paints a vision of TFA as an instigator of change, producing alumni that TFA expects—just expects—will become the sort of shake-up-the-beast leaders who will “do something radically different” for the schools."
However, TFA won't share its specific leadership goals. And the organization is hampered by the need for more local and regional EDs, says Kronholz. Four of the regions were empty earlier this year, and plans to expand to two new (unnamed) cities) were scrapped for lack of management talent. How interesting that an organization with such a surplus of applications for initial teaching spots is having trouble finding enough qualified candidates to staff its own expansion.
Image via Education Next.
Arthur Levine’s Education Week Commentary The Plight of Teacher' Unions offers a disheartened, broad brush account of America’s social, political, and economic institutions.
He then presents a narrow, and impoverished, vision of public education -- and in particular, teachers unions.
Levine apparently expects everyone to accept the fate that many policymakers are planning to impose on us. He seems to argue that our focus on teaching will be replaced by a focus on outcomes, but he does not seem upset at the prospect of teaching being tossed on the ash pile of history. Most of all, Levine is factually incorrect when he writes that all of our institutions are trapped in the industrial era.
OK, it was a director of medical education, not a public school teacher evaluator, who made that affirmation. New Yorker's Every Disease on Earth,by Rivka Galchen, profiles Dr. Joseph Lieber and his ability to teach doctors in training. Dr. Lieber brushes off the lower salary and less respect devoted to those who educate doctors, "Oh, people are always giving teachers a hard time. Look at the way they write about public school teachers in the Post."
The bottom line for Dr. Lieber is "You have to love what you do."
According to the article's conclusion, Lieber is a great diagnostician, but his distinctive quality as a teacher is being "always nice."-JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.
From the latest Scholastic Administrator Magazine (by me):
For all those reasons, it’s very good and somewhat surprising news that there are now a handful of broad-based efforts and initiatives focused on teacher preparation in 2013 that might actually stand a chance of improving the quality and effectiveness of teachers...
There are predictable disagreements about how hard to make any new preservice exam—and whether to encourage or even require specific elements, or to rely entirely on outcomes such as longevity, evaluation, and effectiveness.
And the question remains: Will the higher education community—as well as state policymakers and the powerful national associations—block or water down the current momentum as they have in the past?
But for the first time in a long time there is activity—and with it, at least, the possibility of substantial progress.Read all about it here. Agree or disagree?
I'm glad to see Michael Petrilli doing a guest stint over at Bridging Differences and I'm especially glad he dedicates some of his first column inches to defending the importance of knowledge in schools, even for very young children.
Unfortunately, he also commits an all-too-common error, conflating increasing absolute levels of academic achievement with closing achievement gaps between subgroups of students.
It is probably true, as Petrilli says, that it is important to expose even very young students to a broad, knowledge-rich curriculum. Knowledge deficits, including vocabulary deficits, play a major role in suppressing the achievement of many of the least fortunate students.
It is also quite possibly the case that schools serving the least-privileged students are especially likely to lower their standards for students (e.g., by using hand-wavy explanations about what is "developmentally appropriate") or otherwise cut subjects like science and history out of the curriculum.
So far so good. Read on to see where I think Petrilli goes wrong.
This is a guest post from MSU professor Sarah Reckhow:
A new article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review presents a quantitative framework to help philanthropists assess their advocacy grants. The authors all work with Redstone Strategy Group, a consulting agency that “helps philanthropies, non-profits, and governments solve the world’s most urgent social problems.”
Policy advocacy is a growing area of foundation giving, particularly in education. So it is not surprising that funders who view themselves as strategic or venture philanthropists would be eager to find ways to assess a “return on investment” for advocacy.
Unfortunately, this framework is based on a simplistic view of the policy process and it appears to overvalue short-term returns on investments.
The framework draws on a list of things that advocates, PR firms, political operatives, and philanthropists think work; it is not based on current evidence from political science or policy research.
Utilizing this framework could encourage philanthropists to continue making wasteful investments in short-lived advocacy campaigns.
A few months ago contributor Sarah Reckhow wrote a post about philanthropy-funded education advocacy efforts that asked a good question: "How does the Gates Foundation plan to evaluate its large portfolio of “advocacy” grants?"
Of course, this isn't just an issue for Gates or other reform-minded funders. Teachers unions (AFT, NEA) and nonprofits on the other side (Broader/Bolder Alliance, Shanker Institute, and the new Ravitch thing) are actively engaged in advocacy as well, and have to figure out if their spending is making a difference, too.
To get at some of the challenges advocacy evaluation involves, Reckhow recommended a 201 article in the Stanford Social Innoviation Review (The Elusive Craft of Evaluating Advocacy).
I promised myself I'd read it but -- big surprise -- never did. Then yesterday Fordham's Mike Petrilli sent over a link to a Spring 2013 SSIR article (Assessing Advocacy).
A new documentary tracks the rise of the environmental movement, focusing on the Love Canal disaster and Greenpeace's "save the whales" campaign.
But recently I've learned that the GreatSchools profiles are incredibly popular among parents, that there's a new Facebook app that allows parents to find friends and friends-of-friends who are discussing certain schools and neighborhoods, and that there are blog posts like this one (When the melting pot boils over) that address core school reform issues like diversity and gentrification.
"Many middle-class parents enter public schools with a dogged determination to improve them. They want to do good, while also doing right by their children. Yet when such efforts — however well-meaning — carry the taint of entitlement, it doesn’t take much for the ordinary elementary school to become an ideological battleground waged around bake sales and play structures."
It doesn't hurt that I've written about the challenges and opportunities of diverse schools and live in a neighborhood going through massive gentrification right now, or that I met executive editor Carol Lloyd at #EWA13 last week. Image via GreatSchools.
Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti may support publishing teachers’ performance ratings – and indeed the LA Times did just that a few years ago. But, according to this new Education Week chart, California is one of 22 states that currently exempt individual teachers’ ratings from open records laws. Via Twitter, EdWeek reporter Stephen Sawchuk says it’s California code Section 6524 that prohibits this. Cross-posted from LA School Report.
This is a guest post from Michael Maher [@mj_maher], who works at the NC State College of Education:
Once again, Mr. Duncan shows either his disdain for teacher preparation programs, his ignorance of the field of teacher preparation, or both. Is this just another example of the secretary making a bold, albeit factually inaccurate, statement or is there something more? Perhaps if Mr. Duncan spent a little more time talking with those of us who dedicate our lives to the work of preparing teachers, he might truly begin to understand where our interests lie.
There is no doubt that we need to increase the diversity of America’s teaching force. Since colleges of education continue to prepare the majority of America’s teachers it is incumbent on us to increase the number of diverse candidates enrolled in teacher preparation programs. The secretary needs to remember, however, that we can’t MAKE people become teachers; they have options. Lack of diversity is not just an education issue.
Wasn't Sir Ken's PBS TED talk wonderful? Did Bill Gates stick around after his presentation and hear Sir Ken Robinson proclaim, "leadership should not be command and control?"
Does the first public education television TED signal that Gates is changing gears? After all, he downplayed the bubble-in accountability aspect of his talk, so maybe he is learning about the dangers of his test-driven approach to instruction. And, Geoffrey Canada directed his anger toward the lack of budgetary support, not unions. Neither did host John Legend seem like an enabler of Michelle Rhee. Maybe he is realizing that the "reformers" who he has supported are responsible for the curriculum narrowing that Sir Ken derided and driving music, hands-on science and media studies from public schools. Finally, wasn't Angela Duckworth fantastic and wasn't that young poet, Malcolm London, inspiring?
I kid myself. I know that sometimes a PBS program is just a PBS program. I know it is humiliating for teachers to continually be watching the tea leaves in the hopes that a billionaire or a media star will stop attacking us. Educators have to continually worry about the next Waiting for Superman or Won't Back Down, using teacher-bashing as a quick fix for urban ills. But, what we really want is to be a part of a constructive, reality-based effort to improve schools.
The first PBS Education TED did not mention the keys to accountability-driven "reform," standardized testing and top down mandates for drill and kill, except to criticize them. If veteran educators and researchers wrote the script, we couldn't have done a better job. Maybe we are seeing a new day or maybe we're just seeing a kinder, gentler spin. We might just be watching the same excellence that is expected on PBS, and it might have prompted "reformers" to be on their best behavior. Or, perhaps we are ready to discuss ways for teaching students to be empowered students, improving instruction, and making schooling into a team effort, as opposed to seeking scapegoats for the failure to meet growth targets.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.
Video from the NewSchools Venture Fund summit last week. Or, you can watch Laurene Powell Jobs interview Arne Duncan (his answers on parent trigger are at the 38:00 mark).
Watch Rita Pierson: Build Relationships With Your Students on PBS. See more from TED Talks Education.
David Kirp’s new book, Improbable Scholars, explains how Union City used research-based reforms to turnaround a school system that had been one of New Jersey’s worse. Kirp shows how we can build great schools on the strengths of our democracy. Their successes did not come from outside technocrats, but from a local culture of “abrazos” or caring. Rather than firing our way to the top, Kirp shows that school improvement must come from trusting relationships. The secret sauce of Union City’s success is “respeto,” or respect.
The equally good news is that school improvement is best achieved by the “grunt” work of “continuous improvement.” Rather that gambling on “disruptive innovation” and “transformative” change, real reform requires a modest ethic of “plan, do, and review.”
The worrisome news is that Union City’s turnaround was expensive. It was made possible by an activist New Jersey Supreme Court that ordered the state to produce equity. This allowed the funding of high-quality early education, reduced class sizes, professional development in English as a Second Language and methods of motivating and engaging students, and one-on-one coaching to struggling teachers and students.
The sobering news, however, is that Union City shows that it will take just as much planning, coordination, and trial and error to coordinate and align policies that work as we have squandered in the last decade on aligning instruction and testing.
The road for the Common Core initiative has been especially rough recently, with both conservative and progressive opposition growing louder and political and logistical setbacks becoming more noticeable.
This is understandably worrying to CCSS supporters, including Chester Finn who argues that "conservatives ought to applaud" the Common Core initiative.
I'm not by any measure a conservative - so my perception may be skewed - but it's hard for me to see much in Finn's argument that conservatives per se should find compelling.
Central to his argument is the point that the CCSS are better than most existing state standards, and so most states would be better off adopting them.
What, exactly, is conservative about that line of thinking? Isn't the conservative position that variation between the states is a virtue (either in itself or because it allows for greater flexibility and innovation)?
Similarly, while Finn tries to reassure conservatives that CCSS adoption is "totally voluntary", he also admits in the very same breath that federal pressure "complicated" the decision-making process for states.
Watch Maine School Engages Kids With Problem-Solving Challenges on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour."Teachers have swapped traditional curriculum for an unusually comprehensive science curriculum that emphasizes problem-solving, with a little help from some robots."
Inflation-Adjusted Title I Budget Back to Pre-George W. Bush Level via Thompson (Andy Brownstein plus special appearance by Wayne (CRS) Riddle).
"In two out of three subjects, Americans are over-represented among the best students." (You'll Be Shocked by How Many of the World's Top Students Are American) via The Atlantic
I have no idea how to take Evaluating Evaluations by Ross Weiner and Kasia Lundy. The report they wrote was issued by the Aspen Institute and the Parthenon Group and they have seemed supportive of the contemporary school "reform" movement.
But, Weiner and Lundy describe its “teacher quality” approach to school improvement in the third person. They repeat its factually incorrect statement that teachers have the most impact on learning. So, it is hard to tell whether Weiner and Lundy believe that, or if they are just summarizing the logic of using improved teacher quality as the driving force of school improvement. My sense is that they are trying to diplomatically push towards more realistic methods of improving instruction.
For the record, teachers are responsible for only a small part of student learning so there are many other ways of improving schools other than gambling the farm on teacher evaluations. But, Weiner and Lundy seem to assume that we have no choice but to ride the teacher quality horse until it wins, or collapses. They thus offer constructive criticism of the abusive way that it has been implemented.
Still, Evaluating Evaluations makes numerous belated but smart suggestions. It says that systems must start listening to teachers and even adjust their plans after contemplating our input. They describe surveys of teachers' attitudes, such as those conducted in New York, Washington D.C. and, especially, Tennessee. They should have been wake-up calls.
The recent discussion about David Brooks' column on "engaged" vs. "detached" writers reminded me that, little more than two years ago, I posted this respectful but critical entry about NYU education historian Diane Ravitch's views about school reform efforts, which were somethat new at the time:
Later on today, education historian Diane Ravitch is going to head out from her Brooklyn Heights home and make her way into the city to be a guest on tonight's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for the first time since May 2003.
The Comedy Central appearance will be a tremendous victory for Ravitch, who has been pushing to get on one of the two shows in the 11 p.m. time slot for almost a year now. It will be a happy moment, too, for all of the educators and parents who have welcomed Ravitch into their arms.
For me, however, Ravitch's appearance will be another moment to reflect on the nagging unease I have with what she's saying -- and in particular the absolute certainty with which she is saying it.
Full post: Diane Ravitch's Stunning Certainty
Clearly, Ravitch is the category of the engaged writer, and I'm probably more in the detached camp. Ravitch's response to my column was to call Jossey-Bass, the folks who were then publishing my book about Locke High School, and demand to have her blurb removed from the back cover of the book.
Today begins the Education Writers Association annual conference, being held this year at Stanford University's school of education.*
Last year's version was at UPenn's school of education, and this one is apparently going to be even bigger and better-attended. Some folks are fresh off the airplane or road, but many seem to be combining the event with AERA and/or NSVF and/or GreatSchools. Follow along at #ewa13. NYT columnist Thomas Friedman will be here to speak - he's everywhere in education these days.
Already last night I had the chance to catch up with the College Board's Peter Kauffmann and to meet David Coleman, as well as to meet a journalist named David Bornstein who writes "Fixes" for the New York Times and has an interesting new solutions-oriented journalism project he's working on.
As always, it's great seeing familiar faces -- including Linda Lenz, Stephanie Banchero, Greg Toppo -- and fun to meet people I've only talked to on the phone or emailed (like Russlynn Ali and David Lomax yesterday at NSVF). Please feel free to come up and say hello (with apologies if I can't talk because I have to do some blogging).
*Funny sidebar about the Stanford education school: As a sophomore here, I walked in and asked if I could major in education and they said 'nope.' At the time (mid 1980s) many ed schools like Stanford were Masters'-only -- a situation that has long since changed. I don't know if I would have followed up if the answer had been different, or would have liked the courses very much, or followed a different path after college. As a senior I gave a bit of thought about moving to LA and teaching there under an emergency certificate -- the only option that existed. But I heard bad things from friends who'd taken the emergency route, and so I taught private school instead, and went to grad school, and etc.
Specifically, Duncan described the trigger as "an important tool" for parent involvement -- but not the only or even the most important one.
Duncan's answer will likely disappoint trigger proponents and opponents alike.
If the contemporary school “reform” movement really seeks to improve schools, as opposed to defeating unions or, perhaps, privatizing education, then Randi Weingarten's proposed moratorium on Common Core high-stakes assessments is common sense. (It is described here in Stephanie Banchero's Wall Street Journal piece, Learning Goals Spur Backlash.)
Only diehard opponents of Common Core have an educational reason for opposing Weingarten’s compromise. If Common Core proceeds on schedule, it will be quickly thrown into the dustbin of history. But, if we have a victory over the hurried implementation of tests, it would likely be a pyrrhic one.
My previous opinions on Common Core, like my current ones, are contradictory. I have long believed that unless someone like Weingarten takes charge and convinces the big boys that they need to face facts, its standards are doomed. Unless poverty is addressed, Common Core would crater before any real instructional improvements could occur in urban schools. Common Core assessments would likely be a trainwreck.
Maybe we should step back, watch the dramatic debacle and blame it on market-driven "reformers." But, primitive bubble-in testing is a slow-motion smashup.
This is a guest commentary from longtime journalist Richard Lee Colvin comparing the current debate over the leadership of LAUSD to a similar one that took place more than a decade ago -- in San Diego:
But, in this one, philanthropists and other moneyed interests spent big money backing reform candidates whose opponents enjoyed the strong support of the teacher union. It featured lots of partisan campaign ads, some that pushed right up to the edge of truth. The fate of the aggressive superintendent, who had made improving teacher effectiveness the centerpiece of his administration, seemed to hang in the balance.
The election I’m talking about took place in 2000 in San Diego, not Los Angeles earlier this year. But the similarities are such that an analysis of the former yields insights that may be relevant to the latter as well.
In Los Angeles, Superintendent John Deasy had deep-pocketed supporters including New York City’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist Eli Broad contributed nearly $4 million to support friendly candidates in the primary. (Another $600,000 has been put into a run-off for one of the seats.) The results were mixed in the primary, with one Deasy supporter winning and the incumbent union loyalist retaining his seat.
The superintendent in San Diego was Alan Bersin, who had been the U.S Attorney in San Diego before being hired in 1998 as one of the country’s first non-traditional superintendents.
Pretty soon, I'm guessing, a teacher or student will wear these into class and everyone will freak out. (Meantime, I'm very excited about the TeachLive simulator they have downstairs, sort of a flight simulator for teachers.)
I'll leave most of the livetweeting to others, weighing in with the occasional tidbit.
Funny to think that at my first or second of these, in New Orleans shortly after the Hurricane, I had to beg and plead for WiFi access that's now barely a consideration.
So far I've run into lots of old friends and acquaintances, including several folks doing exciting new things (change is good!). Please come up and say hello, and apologies if I have to blog or tweet something.
You can follow the event via #nsvfsummit, or watch the video here.
Last week I wrote an essay for EdSource arguing that California should not adopt the Next Generation Science Standards.
One real limitation of the piece is that I'm only familiar with California's existing science content standards. This means that I don't know whether the final draft of the NGSS represents a likely improvement for other states that might not have already have standards as good as California's.
My sense is that the NGSS may, in fact, be an improvement for a significant number of states. For example, while a 2012 review of state standards by the Fordham Foundation resulted in an 'A' rating for California, fully three-quarters of states earned a 'C' or lower. Ten states received an 'F'.
Existing state standards may be especially weak on controversial subjects. A 2005 review by Editorial Projects in Education found that many state standards neglected important aspects of evolutionary theory. In 2009 a study by the National Center for Science Education gave half of all state standards a grade of 'C' or lower for their treatment of evolution.
So while the NGSS are not great, they are arguably pretty good - especially on politically contentious issues like evolution and climate change - and that may be enough to justify replacing existing standards for many states.
Weeks later and I'm still thinking about this NYT Magazine article about the surprising integration of schools in leafy Greenwich, Connecticut. But not in a good way.
One of the key things that the wonks and idealists who favor socioeconomically integrated schools consistely leave out in their discussions of the benefits and policy tools available is the simple, consistent, but extremely powerful factor of resistance from middle- and upper-class families who are already in place at schools they like.
It seems to me that it's much easier -- though still quite difficult -- to persuade parents with other options to consider a new school (with a new program or in a gentrifying neighborhood) for their children than it is to persuade them to tolerate the arrival of growing numbers of low-income, minority kids in a school their children already attend.
Given that the number of gentrifying neighborhoods is quite limited, and their "gentrifying" status is temporary, the real challenge for pro-diversity advocates and policymakers is to figure out how to persuade kids, teachers, and parents at medium-to-good schools that the arrival of a new set of kids -- and the reduced spaces for siblings and friends -- is somehow worth it, even if it's of no direct or immediate benefit to them.
Of course, this was one of the main issues that integrationists of a previous era had to deal with, and was perhaps one of the main stumbling blocks to previous efforts. What I don't know is whether anyone in the current era has figured out an approach or workaround for this underlying issue.
Image via Wikemedia Commons
Daniel Goldhaber and Susanna Loeb's What Do We Know About the Tradeoffs Associated with Teacher Missclassification in High Stakes Personnel Decisions?, posted in the Carnegie Knowledge Network, argues that value-added evaluations could result in roughly 25% of teachers labeled as ineffective being wrongly placed in that category. These mistakes are called false positives.
Then, they estimate that 25% of those who not are classified as being ineffective should have be in that category. These mistakes are false negatives.
Are false positives equally destructive? Are there ways to work around the mistakes these systems are going to make? Or should we be focused on much simpler, more concrete measures of teacher performance such as attendance, timeliness, and active participation in the classroom?
There's been lots of discussion online this past week about Jonathan Cohn's New Republic article on the chaotic and low-quality system we have for childcare in America, titled The Hell of American Day Care.
Though obviously the kids are younger and only 40 percent of them are involved, anyone taking a few minutes to read it will see a lot of similarities to K-12 education: huge variations in quality and cost depending on location and family income, low pay and limited screening for effectiveness, lack of data about program quality, political obstacles to expansion (conservatives, usually, though I'm sure some of today's reform critics would find things to object to in a national childcare program), a patchwork of state and local programs with very little national oversight, the slow pace of change:
"The United States has always been profoundly uncomfortable with the idea of supporting child care outside the home, for reasons that inevitably trace back to beliefs over the proper role of women and mothers. At no point has a well-organized public day care system ever been considered the social ideal."
Interestingly, the DoD has developed one of the few high quality childcare systems -- nearly all of its programs meet NAEYC standards, compared to 10 percent in the private sector. Head Start is narrowly targeted on the poor -- more on that elsewhere. A broader plan passed Congress but was vetoed by President Nixon. Image via TNR.
This post is mostly just an excuse to use the Washington Post's parent trigger image (a riff on the famous "Easy" button from Staples), and to link to some recent stories on LA School Report. But it's also a chance to rebut Valerie Strauss's highly selective and inaccurate post about the parent trigger, which ignores all the career Democrats who are involved with and support the trigger and bypasses the latest events in Los Angeles where the trigger is being used in interesting new ways that don't involve lawsuits or ousting school board members.
Being a new teacher is likely to be challenging no matter where - or who - you teach and teachers typically get better with experience. It probably doesn't make sense, then, to systematically assign newer teachers to lower-achieving students.
Plenty of research has already indicated that lower-achieving schools tend to employ newer and less-qualified teachers. A new study in the journal Sociology of Education, however, suggests that the same pattern persists even within individual schools.
The authors find that teachers with less experience tend to be assigned to classes with lower-skilled students than their more-experienced colleagues at the same site. This tendency turns out to be stronger in schools where more of the teachers are veterans, suggesting that the formal and informal power teachers accrue as they remain at a site allows them to secure easier teaching assignments.
John Merrow’s recent blog post, Who Created “Michelle Rhee?", distinguishes between the flesh and blood person named Michelle Rhee and the "Michelle Rhee" phenomenon.
Merrow says that the force that Rhee symbolizes was created by herself, the mass media, some corporate reformers and, above all, “U,” or union militancy.
After citing “Michelle Rhee” as a reaction to union intransigence, Merrow describes the union as a reaction to administrative policies that infantilized teaching.
Merrow then concludes, “‘They,’ we and U created the social phenomenon that is ‘Michelle Rhee.’” It would have ruined his alliteration, but Merrow should replace the U, for unions, with T, for teachers. We Ts are the U.
Merrow criticized a 17-year-old statement by a Philaldelphia union leader who said that teachers should not be evaluated on student performance because there are too many variables that can't be parsed. I agree. I suspect that most teachers and most Americans agree.
Merrow says that those words are burned into his memory, and he repeated them in his The Influence of Teachers. A few pages later, however, he acknowledged the dangers of allowing administrators to conduct evaluations using test score growth and he copped to the charge of being inconsistent.
In this case, context is crucial. At the time, Philadelphia schools were run by David Hornbeck who was as much of an ideologue as "Michelle Rhee." This non-educator also came to the job with flavor of the month theories, as well as the belief, "You are either against the children or for them."
Merrow should rewatch his previous documentary and, with the benefit of hindsight, see if he can deny that the union leader was right.-JT (@drjohnthmpson) Image via.
"State Education Commissioner John King said even the high-achieving school districts of the Lower Hudson Valley will gain from the new Common Core learning standards and the tougher, revamped state tests that debuted this week."