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Quotes: SEIU Could Play Decisive Role In Chicago (As It Has In LA)

Quotes2Now that we have a runoff, we are going to take a very close, serious look at the race. The neutrality vote we took was a vote in the first round. This is now a different election.

--  SEIU Local 1 political operative Jerry Morrison in the Sun-Times (SEIU may join mayor race).

In Chicago's case, SEIU would likely join CTU in opposing Mayor Emanuel. In LA, SEIU Local 99 has been an independent player on education issues, joining with and splitting from UTLA depending on the issue and/or candidate.

Advocacy: 50CAN Does Reformy Things (Somewhat) Differently

2015 Policy Goals   50CANAs you may recall, 50CAN launched in 2010 at roughly the same time as StudentsFirst, but has followed an interesting and somewhat distinct path in the intervening five years compared to other national networks of reform-minded advocacy groups like StudentsFirst and Stand For Children and DFER that all seemed to sprout up around the same time.  

Check out the organization's new state-by-state goals Policy Goals, which are largely state-developed rather than predetermined by the national or its funders, and you'll get a sense for what I mean.  I'm also told that the organization doesn't pick states to go into anymore, but rather gives out planning grants to folks who think they might be interested in putting something together -- 80 in 28 states last year -- and go from there.  Call it an advocacy incubator. They're also running a Policy 101 course (there's still time to sign up), and advocacy workshops.

Related posts: AEI Philanthropy/Advocacy Event (HotSeat Interview: 50CAN Creator Marc Porter Magee50CAN Action Fund Focuses On RI & MNWinn Leaving 50CAN To Head New TFA InitiativeWhere The Shiny New Advocacy Groups Are* [were].

 

 

Journalism: Let's Focus On What Actually Happens -- Not What *Might* Happen*

As Politico recently noted, statehouse efforts to turn the Common Core and its assessments back seem to have peaked since last year. The number of states with repeal efforts repeated this year is down from 22 to 19.  "So far, they’ve fared poorly," notes Stephanie Simon.

But you wouldn't necessarily know this from reading national education news stories, which tend to focus on the handful of rollbacks that have taken back and the slew of proposed rollbacks that have been proposed, or passed out of committee, or made it out of a legislative chamber.  In other words, proposals that *might* happen, but haven't yet become reality -- and probably won't, given the way these things usually pan out. 

I have yet to see an AP, Washington Post*, New York Times, or NPR story about this -- or for that matter anything along these lines from Huffington Post, Reuters, Hechinger, etc. (Please let me know if I've missed anything relevant.*) The issue might have been discussed at yesterday's #EWAcore media training in Denver but the focus there seemed to be on the substance of the standards and tests rather than the national trends and coverage thereof. 

None of this is to say that repeal and slowdown efforts are gone: NSCL says that there are roughly 450 CCSS-related proposals in the works this session. "Total number of bills that would halt implementation of Common Core State Standards: 39 bills (in 19 states) Total number of bills that would halt use of Common Core State Standards-related assessments, i.e., PARCC or Smarter Balanced: 36 bills (in 17 states)."

But if this year is like last year, these new efforts will fare just as badly as last year's.  And if this year is like last year, most newspaper and news site readers will hear mostly about the proposals and what they would do, rather than the actual track record of these proposals and their actual chances of enactment.  

Proposals are great, people -- easy to sell to editors and full of hope or fear for those involved -- but enactment (or at least a realistic chance at passage)  is what counts.  We do readers and ourselves a disservice when we lose track of the larger storyline, creating an impression (in this case, of widespread rollbacks) that doesn't match reality.

NCSL's CCSS tracker is here. There's a spreadsheet showing what's been proposed and whether it's moved here.

*UPDATE: Earlier this week, the Washington Post's GovBeat page (never heard of it!) had a story about failed Common Core repeal efforts.

Quotes: Chicago Illustrates Dangers Of Hasty Discipline Changes

Quotes2It's difficult to go from a zero-tolerance mentality to a restorative justice mentality, because it's a whole different way of looking at things. To really do restorative justice, there have to be certain things in place. -- CTU official Michael Brunson in the Tribune (Teachers complain about revised CPS discipline policy)

Events: Journalists Discuss Common Core (Coverage?) In Denver (Plus Map)

Here's a map of Common Core states, by assessment, from EdWeek, that I got off the #EWACore event hashtag. (All it needs is testing start/end dates for each state, right?) Agenda is here. Crossed fingers there's some (gentle?) discussion of how well/poorly media are doing covering the situation.

Related posts: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing StoryPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, JournosCan Education Coverage Find Its Balance, Please? 

 

States: Few States Ban Or Freely Permit Testing Opt-Outs, Says ECS Roundup

Www.ecs.org clearinghouse 01 17 68 11768.pdf

ECS Rounds up state opt out rules: "Laws in some states — such as Arkansas and Texas — clearly prohibit opt-outs, while the law is less clear in other states. Legislation introduced in New Jersey would allow opt-outs. Similar legislation in Mississippi failed to progress. State laws in California and Utah allow parents to opt their children out of state assessments for any reason." Image used with permission.
 

Charts: Gentrification & Suburban Poverty Dominate Education Demographics

Screenshot 2015-02-25 15.32.16"In 1990, the highest level of education was found in the suburbs, seven to eight miles distant from the heart of Charlotte. By 2012, the Charlotte city center itself had the highest percentage of residents with college degrees." Thomas Edsall in the NYT, citing UVA research (The Gentrification Effect).

Media: So-Called "Experts" Not All That Expert (Say Experts)

Screenshot 2015-02-25 14.39.55
A new study out suggests that education 'experts' may lack expertise, in terms of academic qualifications.  The study, authored by the UofIllinois' Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, suggests that media prominence and academic qualifications aren't closely related.

However, it's no big surprise that education policy has turned away from academic expertise (and academic research, for that matter).  That's been going on for quite a while.

More importantly, the study doesn't name names, and it seems to include more individuals from the more conservative think tank experts -- AEI, Cato -- and fewer liberal or moderate ones.  For reasons I'm not quite clear on (though I'm sure others could understand), EPI is included, but not CAP or New America, or Brookings (or Fordham).  

For a list of institutional affiliations, look here. For MMFA's writeup, look here. The issue has been addressed before -- last winter in InsideHigher Ed, for example. The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives. Image courtesy EPAA. 

Thompson: Asking the Wrong Questions regarding NCLB and Testing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social Media: New Study Suggests Journalism Being Left Out Of Education Debate

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 10.38.29 AM
There are lots of different ways to look at the new CPRE/UPennGSE report about social media and the Common Core debate, but at least one of them is to observe just how small a role journalists and non-advocacy media outlets seem to have been playing -- even in areas where you'd think that mainstream and trade publications who share out information all day would have a big advantage:

*Just 13 of 158 high-volume "transmitters" (8 percent) are journalists. "These include print, online, and radio media, and represent both non-partisan and partisan media entities." I've asked for a list.

*Just 22 (16 percent) of 139 "transceivers" (who pass information along and have their tweets shared) are journos/media outlets. They include @educationweek, @BenSwann (who?), and @ NEAMedia (not really a journalistic outlet). This is the list where journalists are strongest, relatively speaking -- journalism's wheelhouse, really. But journalists come in third. (List requested.)

*Just 3 media outlets qualify for the list of 41 "transcenders" (the elite group in the study). They are @educationweek, @StateEdWatch (penned by Andrew Ujifusa) & @ellemoxley. The report adds @NEAMedia to the list but again that's a whole different thing.  

Of course, the study is limited to tweets directly related to Common Core, and a certain time period.Other kinds of criteria would surface larger numbers of journalists and education outlets that are high-volume, high-retweet, or high-influence.

But my sense is that the report illustrates a deeper dynamic, which is that journalists and media outlets lag far behind activists on the use of Twitter, in part because of the decline in traditional journalism but even more so because of self-imposed limitations on expressing views or attempting to shape the debate. Advocates, think tankers, and even academics have a green light that journalists don't.

Also, my sense is that journalists' experience of Twitter is mostly being tweeted at by those with complaints legitimate and others.   Twitter is the "new comment section," it's being widely noted, and we all know how most journalists feel about comments. So there may be some avoidance going on.

Image used with permission. I found the PDF version easiest for word searches but maybe there are other, better ways to navigate. #htagcommoncore @cpreresearch @upennGSE.

Update: School Breakfast Struggles In NY & LA - But Not Chicago

School breakfasts for low income students -- especially those proposed by unpopular district leaders and provided in student classrooms -- can be controversial, even though it's not that new.  (The newer thing is school dinner.)

Just look to LA, where the Breakfast in the Classroom program was a major sticking point between former LAUSD head John Deasy and UTLA. If SEIU hadn't been strongly supportive of the program, the teachers might have forced a rollback. Last I read, participation had grown from 7 to 40 percent (see KPCC here). 

Or check out NYC, where Mayor De Blasio has been moving mighty slowly with the effort, despite having promised to take quick action when he was a candidate. (See WSJ: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget).

One place school breakfast hasn't been especially controversial has been Chicago. Yep, Chicago, where pretty much anything and everything is disputed these days.  

The program began in 2011 and the district is ahead of the rest of the state, based on SY2014 statistics from CPS.  Breakfast meals were up to 26 million (or 39 percent) last year, which isn't as big as the school lunch program but it's much newer.  Projected numbers are higher this year, according to CPS, which also says that the district is rated at or above the median for large urban school districts by the Great City Schools. This is Chicago's first year as part of the USDA's Community Eligibility Option by USDA, in which all schools in the district provide students with access to free breakfast and lunch.

Related posts: Antipoverty Advocates Say NYC Mayor Should Have Included Free Breakfast in Budget (WSJ); Nearly Half Of Low-Income Kids Don't Eat Breakfast (HuffPost); IL Among the Lowest Performing States For Free School Breakfast Participation (Progress IL); Dinner Is Now On The Menu At Schools With Poor KidsLunch, Breakfast — Now Dinner.

Movies: Best Education/Oscars2015 Tweet (That I Saw)

It's from Morgan Polikoff: "Is there some way I can include Channing Tatum in my education research? Because that needs to happen." Any other good #Oscars2015 mashups that I might have missed?

Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"

Anya Kamenetz’s The Test is an awesome analysis of how “the test obsession is making public schools … into unhappy places.” But Kamenetz’s great work doesn't stop there.  In the second part of the book, she presents alternative approaches to high-stakes testing:
 
Team Robot tests conventional subjects (math, reading, writing) in unconventional ways (invisible, integrated, electronic).
 
Team Monkey tests unconventional qualities (mindset, grit) in conventional ways (multiple –choice surveys).
 
Team Butterfly, which Kamenetz would use as the basis for a new system, integrates learning with assessment and covers twenty-first-century skills without quantifying the outcomes in a way that’s familiar or easily comparable …
 
Team Unicorn, which is still emerging, relies heavily on video games. She offers an intriguing distinction between Team Unicorn and Team Robot: “the former understands the limitations of what they are doing.” (Sign me up for the more adventurous approach, whose metrics also should be the most incompatible with stakes being assessed.)

The Test concludes with four strategies for dealing with tests.

Continue reading "Thompson: Anya Kamenentz's 4 Alternatives To "Test and Punish"" »

Morning Video: Charter Advocate Says Critics Are Rooting For Failures

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Charter advocates and critics debated their role in Chicago earlier this week, including a few moments when INCS president Andrew Broy (far left) claimed that charter critics want Chicago schools to fail. Click here if the video doesn't load. Click here for the Sun-Times coverage.

Movies: Follow Up To Documentary Criticizing School Reform

Here's the Kickstarter promo for the followup to "Race To Nowhere," via The Daily Riff.

Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story

Monday's AP story about the coming wave of states and districts administering the Common Core assessments this spring (Ohio Debuts New Digital Standardized Test This Week) has been making the rounds, as AP stories do. 

Written in conjunction with the kickoff of Common Core testing this week, the piece includes some useful baseline information, including that by the end of this year 12 million students in 29 states plus DC will have taken the new tests, most of them using computers (75 percent for PARCC and 80-90 percent for SBAC).

But that doesn't mean the story is accurate or fair in terms of how it's shaped -- at least, not according to me.  

There's nothing factually incorrect, far as I can tell (though the writers seem to have missed that Chicago officials are reconsidering their initial decision not to administer the assessment citywide). 

The main issue I have with the story is that it focuses so much on what's not working, or might not work, or has been controversial in some places -- and leaves out much of what's seeming to go well and so much of what we know about the Common Core testing process from last year's field testing.

By the time you get to the end of the article you might well anticipate that things were about to go very, very badly for this spring's assessments. 

But that's not really the case, far as I can tell -- and the AP reporters and editors who worked on the story should have know as much.

Continue reading "Journalism: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story" »

Charts: School Board Members Average 5+ Years

Www.nsba.org sites default files SBcirca2010_WEB.pdf

"Nationally, more than half of board members have served longer than five years in their current district. Board member tenure does not vary significantly with district size, though the medium-large districts are the least likely to have members with less than two years of service." From NSBA 2010. I'm checking to see if there are any more recent statistics. 

Update: Sites & Blogs To Follow (Plus Twitter Advice)

Www.hanoverresearch.com media K12 Education Market Leadership Report 2014_final.pdfBig thanks to Hanover Research for including me (and several others) in its list of folks to follow in K-12 education.  You might find some names and sites you don't already know on this list. And always remember to tweet your story more than once.  Guy Kawasaki and others swear by it, and it's sort of fun.

Media: That 1,800-Student "Alcohol-Related" Deaths Figure Is Way Too High

"News articles and lawmakers frequently suggest that 1,800 college students die every year from binge drinking," notes the Washington Post's fact-checking page. "But there are no deaths directly linked to binge drinking in the calculation of this statistic." Wait, what?  "In terms of alcohol poisoning from binge drinking, the actual number of deaths appears to be in the dozens."

Journalism: NYT Error Leaves Asians Out Of NYC Gifted & Talented Programs

Chancellor Carmen Fariña Changes New York City Schools’ Course   NYTimes.com

Here's another distracting (and seemingly avoidable) correction on an otherwise-interesting education story: The NYT's Valentine's Day corrections included this addendum to its Sunday February 8th profile of Chancellor Farina, noting errors describing the demographic makeup of the district's gifted and talented program and and Joel Klein's correct middle initial.  NYC's gifted and talented programs are "largely white and Asian, not largely white," notes the correction.

Thompson: Russo's Disheartening "Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees"

Almost every paper presented at the American Enterprise Institute’s conference, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, made me somewhat more hopeful that the Gates Foundation, at least, will learn and back off from insisting that stakes be attached to standardized tests, and start down more promising policy paths. The exception is Alexander Russo’s Inside Foundations: Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees on Education Giving

According to Russo’s astute article, the lessons of this new generation of philanthropy are:

1. Policy and advocacy are great tools—to a point.

2. New approaches complicate measurement/evaluation issues. 

3. Newly-created organizations bring focus and fidelity but can lack credibility and engagement.       

4. “Strategic” philanthropy is a powerful way to narrow priorities—unless it’s applied too rigidly.  

5. Setting clear metrics helps—until you take them too far.

6. Fail fast—but don’t overreact to bad news, either.

7. Don’t forget/underplay “the grind.”

8. Little more coordination, please (but not too much!)

In a rational world, this witty and insightful call for balance would contribute to better policy-making. In contrast to the statements made by other insiders to the other contributors, however, I fear that the several elites interviewed by Russo are concluding that, yes, we lose credibility with each of our risky policy gambles -- but we will make it up on volume.

Continue reading "Thompson: Russo's Disheartening "Eight Lessons for Funders and Grantees"" »

Charts: An Education U-Turn For Third-Generation Latinos?

Www.urban.org UploadedPDF 413239 Immigrant Youth Outcomes.pdf

"After progress from first to second generation, there are retreats in outcomes, such as voter participation, school attendance, educational attainment, trust in institutions, trust and interchanges with neighbors, and disconnectedness from work and school." Urban Institute via Vox.

Morning Video: None Of The 10 Best Teachers In The World Is From Finland

Check out this video via Forbes' Jordan Shapiro, featuring the USA's own Stephen Ritz, who's apparently well known in the U.S.A for a TED Talk and classroom food production program in NYC.

AM News: Common Core Testing Begins In Ohio (Also: Chicago Reconsiders Holdout)

New Computerized Tests Debut This Week, Starting in Ohio AP: Her state on Tuesday will be the first to administer one of two tests in English language arts and math based on the Common Core standards developed by two separate groups of states. By the end of the school year, about 12 million children in 29 states and the District of Columbia will take them, using computers or electronic tablets. See also: Statewide testing begins without proficiency mark SI&A Cabinet Report.

Chicago Schools Reconsider Snub of PARCC Test Tribune: Chicago Public Schools officials are reconsidering their snub of a new, mandatory state exam after being threatened with potentially crippling financial sanctions. See also: Education at Heart of Chicago Mayor's Race Politico.

White House pushes back against GOP on funds for poor school children Washington Post: “The White House is using scare tactics and budget gimmicks to kill K-12 education reform, because they know a new law will lead to less control in the hands ofWashington bureaucrats and more control in the hands of parents and education leaders.” See also Politics K12: Title I Portability Sticky Wicket in NCLB Rewrite.

Gov. Christie Flip-Flops on Common Core WNYC: Governor Christie previously supported common core but now says he has "grave doubts" about the standards. NJ Spotlight's John Mooney explains what this means for education in NJ. See also EdWeek: Jeb Bush's 2005 Emails Show Thinking on Standards

A federal judge just put the brakes on Obama’s immigration actions Vox: The ruling comes right before the administration was going to open up applications for immigrants older than 30 who came the US as children to apply for protection from deportation and work permits. It also affects a program that was supposed to open later this spring, for parents of US citizens and permanent residents.

Amid measles outbreak, few rules on teacher vaccinations AP: In Vermont, Democratic Rep. George Till says legislators will try this year to eliminate philosophical exemptions for students and require that teachers be up to date on the same vaccines students must receive. In Colorado, pro-vaccination groups have been pushing the Department of Human Services to require vaccinations for workers at child care facilities, another area with uneven employee immunization standards. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Testing Begins In Ohio (Also: Chicago Reconsiders Holdout)" »

Congress: The (Seeming) Demise Of The Congressional Research Service

image from wamo.s3.amazonaws.comGot a minute? Check out Kevin Kosar's Washington Monthly article (Why I Quit the Congressional Research Service) for a depressing but informative look at what's happened to CRS, the in-house think tank for Congress that used to be such a useful and timely source of information and advice that few Congressional staffers and members could imagine living without it.  

Back in the day, folks like Wayne Riddle and Kosar (@kevinkosar) were invaluable sources of information.  But of course, back in the day Congress passed legislation and spending bills, too, and working on the Hill was considered one of the best jobs you could have.

Much has happened to CRS since then, according to Kosar's telling of the story. And Riddle is a private consultant.  Two folks who seem to have picked up the work seem to be Rebecca Skinner and Kyrie E. Dragoo (great name!).

Kosar's now at a think tank, appropriately enough. Think tanks have replaced CRS in many ways.  The information's not nearly as expert or neutral but it's faster, and more easily tailored to each side's arguments, and it's public, too.  

The Andy Smaricks and Anne Hyslops and Connor Williamses of the world can opine in public in real time -- they have communications help! CRS reports are infamously not publicly available.  An effort to make them public, OpenCRS, closed up shop last year. Wikileaks posted a bunch of CRS reports, but I'm not sure how extensive the collection is (Secret Congressional reports).

Kosar and I have known each other via email for almost a decade now.  He contributed some great pieces to this site while he was still at CRS -- back when such things were still allowed.  For example: Muddled AYP FixesDo National Standards Have A Chance?; He also penned a 2005 book: Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education Standards.  Image used with permission.

Quotes: Chicago Teachers Union Blames Mayor For Jackie Robinson Little League Scandal

Quotes2Mayor Rahm closed half a dozen schools in Jackie Robinson West’s part of the city, and tried to close the school where the founder of JRW worked. Then CPS cut funding for high school freshman sports, laid off a thousand teachers.

-- CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey in The Nation (Gentrification Is the Real Scandal). Quote slightly edited for clarity.

Charts: No, There Aren't Really More Black Men In Jail Than In College

The myth that there are more black men in prison than in college  debunked in one chart   Vox

According to Vox, it's not even close.  But people keep saying it anyway, probably because it vividly captures concerns about mass incarceration and African-American education achievement. Click the link for an explanation. Image used with permission.

Thompson: Re-Evaluating the Gates MET Study

Dana Goldstein’s remarkable contribution to the AEI conference on edu-philanthropy, Paying Attention to Pedagogy while Privileging Test Scores, starts with the reminder that (except for Education Week) little of the MET’s media coverage “explained the study’s key methodology of judging all modes of evaluating teachers based on whether they predicted growth in state standardized test scores.”

Neither did the media typically point out that the foundation advocated for the use of test score growth in evaluating teachers before it launched the MET. Legislation requiring the use of student performance was "driven, in part, by close ties between the Gates Foundation and the Obama administration.”

Goldstein thus asks the question that too few have uttered:

How is research received by scholars, policymakers, and practitioners when the sponsor of that research—and political allies including the president of the United States—have already embraced the reforms being studied? And is anyone paying attention when the conclusions of such research appear to contradict, or at least to complicate, some of the core assumptions of that reform agenda?

Goldstein’s narrative is consistent with the equally great analysis of Sarah Reckhow and Tompkins-Stange which placed the rise of Gates’ advocacy and the pressure for value-added evaluations within the context of “the organizational food chain,” and how changes in the status of their policies can be “ascendant and rapid.”

The outcomes produced by the previous Gates small school experiment had been “a disappointment to the resolutely data-driven” organization, and the stars were aligned for a dramatic edu-political push. Reformers like the Education Trust had been pushing for incorporating test score growth into teacher evaluations. And, despite the unproven nature of their claims for value-added evaluations, VAMs represented a ready-made, though untested, tool for advancing a teacher quality agenda.

The MET was under a similarly hurried schedule, with director Tom Kane promising a completed project in two years.

Continue reading "Thompson: Re-Evaluating the Gates MET Study " »

Charts: Union Coverage & Membership Fall Below 50 Percent

image from imgur.comIt's not just union membership that's declining, reports USA Today, but also the percentage of teachers who are covered by a union contract. Image used with permission. 

Quotes: Bolstering Executive Function To Help "Problem Readers"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comWe need to start not just giving flashcards, letters, and sounds the way we now do, but, especially if we know someone might be a problem reader, look at these other skills, at cognitive control and self-regulation.

-- UCSF researcher Fumiko Hoeft in The New Yorker (How Children Learn To Read) #stealthdyslexia

AM News: New Report Says Student Data Software Lacks Basic Security

Data Security Gaps in an Industry Student Privacy Pledge NYT: On the eve of a congressional hearing to explore the use of new technology in classrooms nationwide, a software engineer has found significant gaps in an industry effort to bolster student data security and privacy.

Schools Are Using Classroom Coaches To Keep Up With The Common Core EdSource via Huffington Post: A survey by EdSource of six California districts -- Garden Grove Unified, Santa Ana Unified, Whittier Union High School District, Visalia Unified, Oakland Unified and San Jose Unified -- showed that all are relying on coaches as they move forward to implement the Common Core.

Threat of mass testing opt-outs looms over schools SI&A Cabinet Report: Ongoing protest over Common Core testing has 14 Louisiana schools asking for penalty waivers which would keep the state from holding them accountable if parents decide to remove their children from teEdsting next month.

Texas, feds on collision course over No Child Left Behind Act Austin American-Statesman: Education Commissioner Michael Williams said on Wednesday that he will not enforce an educator evaluation system, which means the state could lose its waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Jackie Robinson West stripped of Little League title WBEZ: In a stunning Wednesday announcement that came months after the all-black team, whose ages ranged from 11 to 13 years, captured the attention of the country and the hearts of its hometown, the baseball organization said it also found that after the league had changed the boundaries, some team officials went to surrounding leagues to convince them to go along with what they'd done. See also Crain's: Karen Lewis rips JRW decision.

Graduation Rates Rise; Gap Between Black and White Males Grows, Report Says District Dossier: A report released by the Schott Foundation for Public Education called for more action to address the disparity in graduation rates, academic achievement, and other factors such as out-of-school suspensions in the nation's public schools.

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

Continue reading "AM News: New Report Says Student Data Software Lacks Basic Security" »

Quotes: States Might Take Over More Districts Under Common Core

Quotes2I hear more state boards talking about it, even if they're not doing it yet... If you believe that more and more authority is going to go back to states — and I do — then you probably are likely to see it more. -- NASBE  Kristen Amundson in USA Today (More state takeovers of public schools possible)

Thompson: Reckhow's and Tompkins-Stange's Analysis of Edu-Philanthropic Convergence

Sarah Reckhow’s and Megan Tompkins-Stange’s 'Singing from the Same Hymnbook': Education Policy Advocacy at Gates and Broad begins in the glory days of test-driven, market driven reform, from 2008 to 2010, when the Broad Foundation  proclaimed,  “We feel the stars have finally aligned. With an agenda that echoes our decade of investments—charter schools, performance pay for teachers, accountability, expanded learning time and national standards—the Obama administration is poised to cultivate and bring to fruition the seeds we and other reformers have planted.” 

Reckhow’s and Tompkins-Stange’s excellent contribution to the American Enterprise Institute’s conference of edu-philanthropy, Is the ‘New’ Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?, ends with an illustration of the power of Broad and Gates Foundations’ “purposeful convergence” on advancing their accountability-driven beliefs. They quote a Gates Foundation insider:

There was a twinkle in the eye of one of our US advocacy directors when the Obama administration's...education policy framework came out...this person said...“aren’t we lucky that the Obama Administration’s education agenda is so compatible with ours, you know?”...We wouldn’t take credit...out loud even amongst ourselves....But, you know, the twinkle… 

Rechkow and Tompkins-Stange add that “the notion of a “twinkle”—rather than claiming credit more openly—highlights one of the more problematic aspects of the concentrated influence of Gates, Broad, and other foundations in the policy realm.”

The Gates Foundation had been reluctant to commit to a coordinated federal advocacy campaign until the election of President Barack Obama and the appointment of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Their Ed in ’08 campaign had fizzled but, during the Obama years, 2/3rds of the states made significant changes to their teacher evaluation process.

'Singing from the Same Hymnbook': Education Policy Advocacy at Gates and Broad shows that this dramatic change was conducted in the “absence of a robust public debate.”

It is beyond the scope of Rechkow's and Tompkins-Stange's study but after reading their work, I wonder even more how it would have been possible for the Gates Foundation to have engaged in an adequate, private discussion of the costs and benefits of their favored policy. Behind closed doors, insiders may or may not have exchanged their opinions on value-added evaluations, but since the evidence required for a meaningful debate over the real world effects of those evaluations did not exist, I wonder if the lack of research on the policy implications of value-added was considered. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Reckhow's and Tompkins-Stange's Analysis of Edu-Philanthropic Convergence" »

Research: Self-Reported US Figures Overestimate Classroom Teaching Time

Teaching time  A new study finds that American teachers don t actually work much longer hours than their international peers.

"Year after year, the organization has found that American high school teachers spend about 73 percent more time on classroom instruction than colleagues in countries such as Finland and Israel," notes Alexandria Neason in Slate (Teaching time). "In fact, Abrams concludes, they spend only a modest amount of extra time teaching." How come nobody every noticed this before?  The previous numbers were too good to check, I guess. 

Charts: Reconsidering NCLB's Bad Rap

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

Thompson: The Unsurprising Limits of School Choice in New Orleans & Elsewhere

Douglas Harris and Matthew Larson, in What Schools Do Families Want (and Why?) begin their paper, the first in a series of studies on the New Orleans experiment in choice, by explaining that it could be “the rare policy that increases both average student outcomes and the equity of outcomes at the same time, a win-win situation. Alternatively, choice may do more harm than good.”

Pre-Katrina, before the experiment in market-driven school improvement, the majority of students already attended schools other than their neighborhood schools. As Harris and Larson note, the widespread availability of choice should raise questions about its power to drive school improvement. Even so, some commentators have expressed shock at their study’s prime conclusion, the lowest income families “weigh academic outcomes somewhat less than higher-income families.” Harris and Larsen find:    

While very-low-income families also have greater access to schools with high average test scores, they are less likely to choose schools with high test scores. This is partly because their incomes and practical considerations prevent them from doing so. Being close to home, having siblings in the same school, and including extended school days are all more important to very-low-income families than other families. Also, compared with other New Orleans families in the public school system, very-low-income families have weaker preferences for SPS (School Performance Score) and stronger preferences in high school for band and football. 

I doubt that many teachers were surprised by the study’s findings. Other than true believers in competition-driven improvement of anything and everything, I wonder if how policy-makers with an awareness of poverty's constraints could have anticipated other conclusions.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Unsurprising Limits of School Choice in New Orleans & Elsewhere" »

Campaign 2016: Bush Stretched FLA Hispanic Student Accomplishments, Reports PBS

Fact check  Is Jeb Bush right about Hispanic students’ achievement in Florida The PBS NewsHour (online) notes that Jeb Bush's comments at the Detroit Economic Club last week included a claim that Florida Hispanic students were “two grade levels ahead of the average” that was "a stretch:  

"In 2009 and 2013, Hispanic fourth-graders in Florida did have the higher average reading scores than Hispanics in any other state. Yet, in 2011, Hispanic students in Kentucky and Maryland scored higher. In math, Hispanic fourth-graders in at least three other states scored as high or higher than their peers in Florida in 2009, 2011 and 2013.By the eighth grade, however, Florida’s Hispanic students are far from the very front of the pack."

The post also notes that it's not entirely clear that the increased scores that do exist are attributable to Bush reforms.  Check it all out here: Is Jeb Bush right about Hispanic students’ achievement in Florida?.

AM News: Broad Foundation Suspends Signature Award Program

Broad Foundation suspends $1-million prize for urban school districts LA Times: The action underscores the changing education landscape as well the evolving thinking and impatience of the 81-year-old philanthropist. See also NYT: Billionaire Suspends Prize Given to Schools.

GOP Lawmakers Talk Plans for NCLB Rewrite at School Choice Jamboree PK12: As it stands, the draft reauthorization introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in January includes a Title I portability provision that would allow parents to use federal dollars only for the public school of their choice, including public charter schools.

Rich School, Poor School NPR: With 169 years of experience between them in college advising or admissions, Finks, the school’s dean of college counseling, and his four associate deans and two support staff calmly dispense wisdom, manage expectations and offer practical training in such things as mock interviews for college aspirants.

Arne Duncan presses his case for innovation grants at D.C. school Washington Post: As Congress sets about rewriting the No Child Left Behind law, key Republican leaders have been clear that they want to give states much more latitude to spend federal education dollars as they see fit. To that end, leaders in both houses of Congress are seeking to do away with dozens of dedicated federal funding streams — including a signature Obama administration program called the Investing in Innovation. See also PK12.

Lawsuit seeks instruction intervention at 5 CA high schools EdSource Today: After winning a court order to improve academic conditions at one Los Angeles high school last fall, lawyers in a class action suit asked Thursday for an additional court order to compel the state to improve instruction time at five other California high schools in the 2015-16 school year.

Low vaccination rates at schools put students at risk USA Today: Hundreds of thousands of students attend schools — ranging from small, private academies in New York City to large public elementary schools outside Boston to Native American reservation schools in Idaho — where vaccination rates have dropped precipitously low, sometimes under 50%. California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Arizona, Minnesota, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia also were included in the analysis.

No profit left behind Politico: A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas.

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

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Quotes: "Fix The System Rather Than Applying A Patch"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com[TFA] was always going to have a half-life...It did wonderful things and attracted superb people to teaching and prepared a generation of leaders for the country... Eventually, we’re going to get to the point of trying to fix the system rather than applying a patch. -- Woodrow Wilson Institute's Arthur Levine in the NYT (Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America) via GT

Timeline: Ten Years Helping Districts Revamp Their Spending

Erstimeline

Mostly behind the scenes, ERS (Education Resource Strategies) has spent the past 10 years helping districts understand and revamp their spending priorities (usually focused on student-based budgeting).  Click here for the interactive timeline of ERS activities. Click here to see if your district has worked with them. Tell us here on on Twitter what your experience has been(@erstrategies). Image used with permission.

Morning Video: What You Missed At Yesterday's Edu-Philanthropy Event

Here's the video from yesterday's AEI event on education philanthropy, plus a link to the draft papers being prepared for an updated version of AEI's 2005 volume, "With the Best of Intentions.": 

 

I'll write separately about the chapter I contributed, but some other conference highlights for me included meeting lots of folks face to face (including AFT's Kombiz, HEP's Caroline Chauncey), seeing people for the first time in a long while (Arnie Fege, Mike Usdan), and learning all sorts of things from fellow chapter writers and panelists (like Jim Blew's dad was a teacher union official, and that there are still only a handful of political scientists working on education issues). You can also check out the Twitter-stream at #NewEdPhil.  

Events: Today's Education Philanthropy Event At AEI

In case you hadn't figured it out by now, I've been at AEI all day today talking about the "new" education philanthropy. That's me in the middle, flanked by Goldstein, Kelly, Blew, and Hess. #newedphil is the hashtag.  Video and draft papers to come.

Update: Clinton Comes Out As Pro-Vaccination, & CA Might End "Personal Belief" Exemption

It wasn't entirely clear what Hillary Clinton's views on vaccination were -- until now. "The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork," she says (via Twitter). And, according to NPR, California is considering joining 30 other states that don't allow parents to list personal beliefs as a way to bypass vaccination requirements.

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

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

Thompson: Teachers Despise Differentiated Instruction -- But It's Invaluable For Others

Perhaps the greatest innovation in the annals of school administration are the words, “differentiated instruction.”  When teachers complain about the difficulty of teaching students with college-level skills in classes where most students read on a 5th or 6th grade level, administrators have an easy answer – write a memo mandating “differentiated instruction.”

But, in his Education Week Commentary Differentiation Doesn’t Work, James Delisle writes about education substance, and he correctly argues, “Differentiation is a failure, a farce, and the ultimate educational joke played on countless educators and students.” The only people who advocate for it are theorists with no experience in the classroom. In reality, differentiation “is harder to implement in a heterogeneous classroom than it is to juggle with one arm tied behind your back.”  

Even so, differentiated instruction is a godsend to bureaucrats. In high-challenges secondary schools where chronic disorder and frequent violence make it hard to teach for mastery and manage classrooms at the same time, differentiated instruction also comes to the rescue. Rather than accept any responsibility for out-of-control school cultures, the central office merely reissues the memo stating that the use of best instructional practices, engaging instruction, and the personalization of whole class instruction will make disruptions disappear. Even better, when behavior doesn’t improve, it is the teachers who are then to blame.

When students, teachers, and parents rebel against soul-killing, teach-to-the-test, the research-based solution is renaming those mindless worksheets as the “best practice” of “differentiated instruction.”

Continue reading "Thompson: Teachers Despise Differentiated Instruction -- But It's Invaluable For Others" »

Charts: "Sky's The Limit" For Spend-Happy Elected School Boards

"A Crain's analysis of the 20 biggest U.S. school systems with elected and appointed boards found that half of those with elected boards carry even more debt than Chicago does, compared with revenue, while all but one of the largest systems with appointed boards have borrowed relatively less." (Elected or appointed? Pick your poison).

 

Quotes: Peanut Allergy Bans Vs. Measles Vaccination

"If my kid can't bring peanut butter to school, yours shouldn't be able to bring preventable diseases." Kim Jordan (via Kottke)

Morning Video: Republican Divide Over Common Core (Mirrors Democratic One)

Here's an 11-minute Fox News segment featuring Texs Governor Greg Abbott and former EdSec Bill Bennett on the Republican divide over Common Core, the Presidential politics shaping candidates' positions, etc. Transcript here.

AM News: Snow Days Go Online, Anti-Vaxx Politics, & Common Core Standoff In Chicago

For Some Schools, Learning Doesn't Stop On Snow Days NPR: Even when the weather turns nasty, students in Delphi, Ind., have been expected to log on to classes from home. Results are mixed so far; participation rates seem to drop the longer school is out. See also Fox: Chicago schools to re-open after 19-inch snow

No, Obama didn't 'pander to anti-vaxxers' in 2008.Daily Beast: A viewing of the video from that appearance shows that interpretation is incorrect. He dismissed the anti-vaccination viewpoint, spoke out forthrightly and squarely in favor of childhood immunization and did not endorse the autism link. 

Standoff escalates over Chicago's snub of federal testing rules Crain's Chicago: With $1.2 billion in funding at stake, no one who knows is saying anything about who will back down in the showdown between Chicago Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education.

Broad Foundation Puts Hold on Its Prize for Urban Education District Dossier: The foundation said that it will reassess the prize given how urban education has changed in the last 13 years, but it was also disappointed with the "sluggish" performance in urban schools.

U.S. Teacher-Prep Rules Face Heavy Criticism in Public Comments Ed Week: Only a handful of commenters were outright supportive of the rules. On the other hand, many Washington-based higher education associations and lobbying groups, such as the American Council on Education, an umbrella lobbying group for higher education, were also expected to submit critical comments right before the period closed Feb. 2. Whether the Education Department will be swayed by the volume of negative comments to rewrite or withdraw the rules remains an open question.

Charter group drawing more fire for 'racist' flyer on Kayser LA School Report: A campaign flyer implying that LA Unified board member Bennett Kayser is racist is drawing more fire, as two more would-be beneficiaries renounced its message, and an LA Times editorial accused the sponsoring organization of engaging in “slimy tactics on behalf of children.”

Starr did not request another four years by deadline, school board member says Washington Post: Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr did not ask for the renewal of his contract as leader of Maryland’s largest school system by the Sunday deadline, a school board member said Monday.

Findings reinforce use of targeted tutoring to benefit disadvantaged Chicago students UofChicago News: Urban Education Lab and Crime Lab study shows Match program reduces math course failures by more than 50 percent.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Snow Days Go Online, Anti-Vaxx Politics, & Common Core Standoff In Chicago" »

Afternoon Video: Morgan Spurlock Goes To Finland (& Comes Back)

In case you missed this from a couple of years ago, as I did, you might want to check out this snippet from Spurlock's "Inside Man" series and then find the full episode (on Netflix).  The documentary filmmaker goes to Finland, and loves everything he sees but crashes and burns during his guest teaching session, then comes back to the US and does somewhat better in a much more structured charter school setting. Hmm. Video link here.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.