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Quotes: What NYC's New School Rating System Gets Wrong

The weakness of Fariña’s proposal is not the six measures, it is the belief that a urban school system central bureaucracy can cultivate these qualities in a thousand schools—or that these six measures could be used as an evaluation or accountability tool solely in the hands of district administrators. - NACA's Greg Richmond, in Education Post, via Pondiscio)

Journalism: Researcher Fails To Disclose Union Funding; Journos Fail To Ask

Granted, it was a busy week in Chicago news, what with the Columbus Day holiday and the unexpected sickness befalling CTU head Karen Lewis, but I see this happening with disturbing frequency lately:

A Chicago-focused charter school study from a couple of days ago was apparently funded in large part by the Chicago Teachers Union -- something that wasn't disclosed in the report and wasn't picked up on by any of the media outlets who passed on its results until now.  

The situation was picked up by Crain's Chicago reporter Greg Hinz in this post (Chicago teachers union paid part of cost of charter-school study), which noted:

Mr. Orfield conceded in a later interview with WTTW that the Chicago Teachers Union, a vehement foe of charters, picked up part of the tab. "It was funded by the teachers union," Mr. Orfield said. "And the Ford Foundation and Kresge Foundation and others."...

In a subsequent phone call, Mr. Orfield said the CTU had paid "about half" of the total bill. However, he added, the methodology he used for the Chicago study was "exactly the same" as in prior studies of charters in New Orleans and the Twin Cities."

Hinz himself didn't get around to checking it out in his initial story either (Chicago charter schools lag conventional public schools: Orfield report). The two dailies covered the study (Study: Charter schools have worsened school segregation | Chicago Sun-Times, and Study: Chicago charter schools lag traditional ones - Chicago Tribune -- but didn't address funding sources. Only WTTW, Chicago Public Television, got to the issue.

So what, you ask? The funding source doesn't necessarily undermine the results (though INCS and others have raised questions about the data and methodology), and Chicago's charters did somewhat better using Orfield's methodology than charters in New Orleans and Minneapolis.  

But still... this is pretty basic stuff. Given all the scrutiny given to funding sources and disclosure in the media and by reform critics in particular, disclosure from the researcher (Myron Orfield) -- and some journalistic checking about the funding source -- would have made a lot of sense. I don't know who to be more upset with -- the journalists or the researcher.   

AM News: Gates-Funded Small Schools Work After All, Says New Study

Small high schools send larger shares of students to college, new study says ChalkbeatNY: The multi-year study examines a subset of 123 “small schools of choice” that opened between 2002 and 2008 with private funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and support from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.

New Research Suggests Small High Schools May Help After All NPR: A New York City entrant in a long-running research controversy over the effectiveness of small high schools.

Deasy Resigns as Los Angeles Schools Chief After Mounting Criticism NYT: John E. Deasy, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, had clashed with the school board, and drawn flak for a flawed $1.3 billion plan to give iPads to students.

LA Schools Superintendent To Leave After iPad Controversy NPR: The Los Angeles schools superintendent is stepping down. John Deasy's resignation follows a contracting scandal that put him on the defensive. He talks to Steve Inskeep about why he resigned.

Deasy resigns as superintendent of LA Unified EdSource Today: Los Angeles Unified School superintendent John Deasy submitted his resignation this morning, after more than a year of turmoil and conflict with the seven-member elected school board. Deasy reportedly cut short a trip to South Korea to negotiate the terms of his departure. 

Los Angeles Unified announces Deasy's exit after secret vote to pay him through end of year LA Daily News: The separation agreement was approved in a 6-1 vote Tuesday. Board member Monica Ratliff, one of two elected officials representing the San Fernando Valley, cast the sole dissenting vote. Ratliff’s office declined to comment on why she voted against the agreement.

Cortines faces challenging tasks as he steps in behind departing superintendent KPCC: This time, Cortines may be in place for a long haul as the board searches for a permanent superintendent. There is little desire among school board members to send the district into more turmoil with another swift change at the top. 

How Schools Are Responding To The Threat of Ebola HuffPost: Schools around the country are taking steps against Ebola, screening students, passing out information and, with the air travel of an infected nurse between Texas and Ohio, closing schools in those two states.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Gates-Funded Small Schools Work After All, Says New Study" »

Charts: School Budgets (& Jobs) Still Not Where They Used To Be

My sense is that 260,000 jobs is a drop in the bucket compared to jobs lost in the overall economy, but not if it's your job that's been cut:

image from www.usnews.com

The graph (used with permission) is from a a US News story about a new CBPP report (State Education Funding Lags Behind Pre-Recession Levels). "Overall, 30 of the 47 states analyzed are providing less per-pupil funding for K-12 schools this school year than they did before the recession." Districts have restored 70,000 jobs since 2012.

Charts: Children's Education Costs Have Risen From 2 Percent To 18 Percent

image from cdn0.vox-cdn.com

Sure, over all childrearing costs 25 percent more than it used to (in constant dollars), notes Vox.  But childcare and education costs have risen 800 percent. Two-parent families don't spend that much more than single-parent families. Rich families spend more. Click the link for all this and more. Image used with permission.

Morning Video: New Report Highlights District-Based Testing/Test Prep Practices

Here's the video from CAP's event, during which you'll find out about CAP head sending her own kids to DCPS schools, plus link to the new report (Testing Overload in America’s Schools):

Basically, the report focusing on 14 districts in 7 states -- Colorado (Denver Public Schools and Jefferson Co. Schools),  Florida (Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Sarasota County Schools), Georgia (Atlanta Public Schools and Cobb County School District), Illinois (Chicago Public Schools and Elmwood Community Schools), Kentucky (Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville and Bullitt County Public Schools), Ohio (Columbus City Schools and South-Western City School District), Tennessee (Shelby County Schools and Knox Co. Schools) -- finds that there's lots of testing and too much test prep -- much of it district-mandated (not state or federal) -- but holds out hope that states and districts can streamline their testing and that Common Core assessments will make for fewer, fairer tests. #CAPedu

 

Quotes: Build Capacity & Let Schools "Improve Themselves"

Quotes2Let's just figure out how to build capacity in individual schools. ..That's the only thing that I think is scaleable, is talking about how to improve the capacity that schools have to improve themselves.

-- Holy Cross assistant professor Jack Schneider in US public schools are better than they've ever been (Vox). 

 

Thompson: Democratic Think Tank's Supposed Faith in Teachers' Expectations

The power of teachers’ expectations is an issue that must be carefully studied and discussed. It is especially important that educators engage in a sober self-reflection on the expectations we hold for students, especially poor children of color. 

That is why educators from all perspectives should join in condemning another simplistic paper by the Center for American Progress (CAP). After rejecting the latest example of the CAP's teacher-bashing, we should all double down on the study and discussion of teachers' expectations, and seek to improve our ability to improve education outcomes for all children, especially students who traditionally have been stigmatized. 

CAP's The Power of the Pygmalion Effect ostensibly supports Common Core while implicitly blaming teachers for the achievement gap. Authors Ulrich Boser, Megan Wilhelm, and Robert Hanna proclaim that the 10th grade students who they studied who “had teachers with higher expectations were more than three times more likely to graduate from college than students who had teachers with lower expectations.” 

Such a claim should require a complex research model which takes into account family, peer effects, and systemic factors that contribute to college readiness. Boser et. al, however, attribute those differential outcomes to teachers’ answer to a 2002 NAEP question about their students’ chances to succeed in higher education. Their definition of “expectations” was based on how teachers answered the question “'how far in school … [do] you expect this student to get,’ including high school, college, and beyond.” Their paper made only a cursory effort to parse the actual accuracy of those opinions. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Democratic Think Tank's Supposed Faith in Teachers' Expectations" »

Morning Video: Update On Zuckerberg's $100M Newark Grant

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

Here's that NBC News segment about Newark I tweeted out yesterday, checking in on what the Zuckerberg gift has and hasn't done (Nightly News: Tracking Zuckerberg’s schools gift).  The gist of the story seemed to be that the changes have been small and slow-moving but potentially transformative. Click the link if the video doesn't display properly.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: "Implementation Matters More Than Design"

4 Things We've Learned Since The Widget Effect | http://ow.ly/CKAR9  @TNTP

TCRecord: article describes USA's "systematically brutal, flagrantly discriminatory system of education." http://ow.ly/CKP4c 

The challenges of a US teaching force that is 81 percent white and overwhelmingly female - TCRecord: Article http://ow.ly/CKPBG 

Dropout Nation » A Prayer for Karen Lewis http://ow.ly/CL7vw 

Longtime @AnnenbergInst head Warren Simmons stepping down in June, according to press release.

#EdGIF Of The Day: Watch School Segregation Grow Over 20 Years

Upworthy: When I Started Looking At This Map About American Schools, I Did *Not* Expect That Bar To Go Up

Morning Video: Did Republican Gov. Cut $1 Billion From Michigan Schools?

"[Democratic challenger] Schauer also started capitalizing on education concerns in Michigan, mentioning frequently that he’s the son of a teacher....Fueling the biggest controversy of the race, Schauer says Governor Snyder has cut $1 billion from education."

Journalism: Funding Disclosure Should Apply To Reform Critics, Too

Kudos to In These Times for updating its Harvard/TFA story (Student Activists Demand Harvard Sever Ties with Teach for America) to note that the group behind the effort received nearly $60,000 in AFT funding, as well as other labor backing.

The same can't be said for news outlets covering student protests against the Philadelphia school board for recent contract actions, in which union funding for student groups (albeit in small amounts) has gone unmentioned. The two main student groups, Philadelphia Student Union and United Youth for Change, received $80,000 from the AFT, according to Droput Nation's RiShawn Biddle (The AFT’s $2 Million Spree in Philly).

While education journalists and reform critics have increasingly noted when groups and individuals receive funding from reform-oriented foundations and individuals, the same can't be said about coverage of reform critics' efforts and ideas.  

But the correction/addition from In These Times -- a progressive outlet! -- points out that it can and should be done by mainstream outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, Huffington Post, and others. It's not that hard to do: Ask where the group gets its funding from, or ask Biddle or Mike Antonucci, or look around online.

Related posts: Reporters Should Identify Union EmployeesWho Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?Vergara Is Distracting You From NEA's Political StrengthMeet Sabrina Stevens, AFT's Secret New "Education Advocate"

Morning Video: Weingarten, Finn, Darling-Hammond Debate School Progress

As you may already have seen via my Twitter feed, this week's @StanfordSOTU session featured the AFT president, Fordham guru Finn, and Stanford professor. Here's the video -- 90 minutes or so.  Click here if the video doesn't work. Search for #StanfordSOTU to see what folks were saying in real time.

Events: Reform Advocates Meet In Chicago

From deep inside a Chicago hotel, the day after StudentsFirst announced Jim Blew as Michelle Rhee's replacement and at roughly the same time as CTU is announcing that Karen Lewis has a serious illness and her duties are being taken over by her deputy:

Related posts: 5 New Orgs Bring PIE To 49 MembersTalk About "Love" (Not "Rights")PIE Annual Summit (2013)State Advocacy Groups Talk Policy - Not Tactics (2012); Reform Celebration In Seattle (2011).

Charts: Education Majors Enjoy Low Unemployment, High Satisfaction

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.com

Special education teachers are on the list of low-paying majors at mid-career ($47,000), and Elementary and Early education jobs pay even less (13 charts that explain why your college major matters). But on the other hand, unemployment rates for education majors are 5 just percent, second-lowest after health care and roughly the same as STEM.  Something to keep in mind when considering claims of massive layoffs, etc. And when it comes to meaningful work, early childhood, SPED, and even elementary teachers rank pretty high compared to other college-educated jobs. Check all the charts out via Vox.  Image used with permission.

John Thompson: Restoring the "Clash of Ideas" in Public Schools

How is it possible that the New York Times food columnist turned education commentator who wrote The Trouble with Tenure could turn around and write nearly the opposite: The Wilds of Education?

Now, Frank Bruni praises the students, families, and educators in Colorado and elsewhere who are opposing standards that demand that schools be all on the same page when teaching a single ideologically-driven set of Standards.

Bruni writes, “When it comes to learning, shouldn’t they [schools] be dangerous?” Sounding like a teachers union building rep, Bruni asks, “Isn’t education supposed to provoke, disrupt, challenge the paradigms that young people have consciously embraced and attack the prejudices that they have unconsciously absorbed?”

I am curious about noneducators, who ordinarily support the clash of ideas, who contradict themselves by attacking tenure, due process, and the policies that are essential for protecting the free flow of ideas of public education. Do they not realize that the test, sort, reward, and punish reform movement is only viable when it is imposing tests where there is only one “right” answer? Do commentators like Bruni not understand that tenure is essential for protecting the debate and discussion in our schools?

Bruni’s ill-informed attack on teachers may help answer my question. It was based on an interview with – you guessed it – one ideologically-driven reformer. Bruni accepted the claims of Colorado Senator Mike Johnson at face value. It doesn’t seem to occur to Bruni that the efforts of Johnson et. al to destroy the rights of teachers (so that they cannot oppose his test-driven accountability schemes) also opened the door for Colorado's conservative reformers to micromanage the learning of students? Can he explain a difference between the way that rightwing censorship operates, as opposed to the way that corporate reform functions when it micromanages teachers’ instruction and students’ learning?

Continue reading "John Thompson: Restoring the "Clash of Ideas" in Public Schools" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Common Core > Teachers' Low Expectations?

Common Core could help limit impact of teachers' low expectations of minority students, notes CAP report http://ow.ly/CnCin 

When it comes to teacher testing rebellions, it's hard to beat @CTULocal1's George Schmidt http://ow.ly/CoCYy  @teacherbeat @joravben

Former @massteacher president Paul Toner will be the head of Teacher Voice Strategies, which runs @VIVAVoices... via TeacherBeat

Did @AFTunion's $13k contrib to Demos fund @bobherbert's critique of @gatesed? http://ow.ly/CokVp ? @mbmarklein @PoliticsK12 @teacherbeat

Who's *Missing* From New Student Privacy Pledge? Google, Apple, Pearson http://ow.ly/CofWK  BuzzFeed @Molly_HC

A year inside the Netherlands' 22 "Steve Jobs" schools http://ow.ly/CnBoN

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

Quotes: Teachers' Expectations & The Common Core

Quotes2All else equal, 10th grade  students who had teachers with higher expectations were more than three times more likely to graduate from college than students who had teachers with lower expectations.

-- New CAP report on teachers' expectations & the Common Core (click link to see report -- via HPEdu)

Quotes: Misunderstanding Accountability (The Fog Of Rhetoric)

Quotes2I get the desire for a clean break from NCLB’s bad reputation and the ever-changing, ever-more-complicated NCLB waivers... But before we rush to adopt a “new accountability,” let’s first make sure we understand the policies we have. -- Anne Hyslop (What NYT No Child Left Behind Story Missed)

Charts: Pay No Attention To The Giant Funding Gaps Among Districts

A typical Chicago city school gets half the funding of one in the wealthy suburbs For all the policy chatter and debate out there about funding inequities (between charters and neighborhood schools is one favorite), you don't hear much talk about just how inequitable the funding gaps can be among the 15,000 or so school districts (or among schools within the same district -- don't even get me started). But that doesn't mean they've gone way. This USDE/CAP/Bruce Baker map shows that a typical Chicago city school gets half the funding of one in the wealthy suburbs. Yep, half.  Image used by permission.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: KY's Third-Year Common Core Scores Are In!

Mixed results from KY's 3rd year Common Core test results - @AndrewUjifusa http://ow.ly/CfXp7  @ccsso @minnichc @AchieveInc

Due process gives bad teachers -not poor kids- the benefit of the doubt in NYC, says new @AEIeducation report http://ow.ly/CfKMi 

Writers @amandaripley & @elizwgreen discuss overlaps between their books, vitriol directed at them by readers http://ow.ly/CfNLn 

Missed Opportunities at Congressional Black Caucus conference http://ow.ly/CfWED  @citizenstewart

A high-poverty public school tries charter-type reforms | Al Jazeera America http://ow.ly/CfW8in  @etammykim @solutionsjournalism

Vouchers on the horizon for IL, wonders @catalystchicago? http://ow.ly/CfVaQ 

“The Feds just keep pushing the one button they have—which is accountability. ” —@amandaripley http://ow.ly/CfO02 

Inaugural @NetworkPublicEd event 10/11 replaces NBC's now-defunct @educationnation conference, says @dianeravitch http://ow.ly/CfN3a 

ICYMI: The Roots' @questlove tweeted in support of yesterday's Families / @jeremiahkitt event. via @edu_post

Thompson: Once Again, Mass Insight Explains What It takes to Turn Around Schools*

When I first read Mass Insight's The Turnaround Challenge, I was thrilled by its holistic explanation of what it takes to turnaround the most challenging schools. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the document was his Bible, but then he violated most of its principles when establishing School Improvement Grants, dooming his SIG to failure.

In 2007, Mass Insight showed that instruction-driven, curriculum-driven policies could not transform the schools with the greatest challenges, and that the mass dismissal of teachers was a bad idea. It emphasized the "Readiness Triangle," drawing upon the best social science to explain how and why a proper foundation must be laid for school improvement. Now, Mass Insight and Ounce of Prevention explain why today's accountability regimes are undermining school improvement.

Let's hope that reformers listen to Mass Insight's and the Ounce of Prevention Fund's Changing the Metrics of Turnaround to Encourage Early Learning Strategies, by Elliot Regenstein, Rio Romero-Jurado, Justin Cohen, and Alison Segal. As it says in a previous study, Rethinking State Accountability and Support, Ounce proposes "the reverse" of the Arne Duncan value-added accountability regime. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Once Again, Mass Insight Explains What It takes to Turn Around Schools*" »

Quotes: Schools Can't Be Graded, Says NYC Chancellor

Quotes2Schools have unique qualities that cannot be captured in a letter grade... They are not restaurants. 

- NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina explaining end of school report card grades

Charts: Hispanic Dropout Rate Plummets Despite Growing Student Population

image from cdn1.vox-cdn.com

"In 2000, three Hispanic students had recently completed high school for every one who dropped out, according to Pew. Now nine times as many finish high school as drop out." (Vox: Latinos are driving a huge decline in the high school dropout rate) Image used with permission.

 

Watch: For One Miami Principal. Common Core Spurs Hope & Fear

 

Watch Bridget Mckinney, third-year principal of Miami's Allapattah Middle School, explain "her trepidations, as well as her support, for the common core itself." (Common Core Spurs Hope, Fear for a Miami Principal via State EdWatch).

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Sure, Why Not Compare Schools To Yellow Cabs?

The inevitable comparison between Uber and school choice - James Courtovich in the WSJ http://ow.ly/C6T4y 

Putting The Trust Back In Education ow.ly/C7S14 @ConorPWilliams riffs off of @ulrichboser's new book

Instead Of Staring At Screens, These Kids Stared At Faces : NPR ow.ly/C7OJ9 @NPRCoryTurner

End the charter school wars - NY Daily News ow.ly/C7APr@RickKahlenberg @HalleyTCF

Wave of undocumented students challenges schools, costs extra $2K per kid | PBS NewsHour Extra ow.ly/C7oOb

Investigations into teacher misconduct can often take more than a year  http://ow.ly/C6ZhC  @lizbowie

Nearly 5 years in, NYC is "nowhere close to delivering" on Race to the Top promises, writes Steve Brill ow.ly/C82tI

Confessions Of A Six-Figure Father: Why I'd Never Send My Kids To Private School ow.ly/C7oxf

Journalism: Think Tanks Bypassing Media & Doing Their Own Version Of Journalism

In case you hadn't noticed, more and more think tanks are behaving in journalism-like ways: hiring journalists to write pleasant, engaging pieces as well as blogging and tweeting directly to policymakers and the public. [They also seem less focused on hiring only PhDs, or on doing their own original academic research, but that's another thing.]

The Think Tank Watch has a recent blog post (Think Tanks Doing Journalism) that highlights this trend:

"Many Washington think tanks have been hiring well-known journalists in recent years in an effort to beef up their efforts to get good writers, network with media-types, and better disseminate information and policy proposals to a wider audience. "

A recent Economist article (Think-tanks and journalism: Making the headlines) points out that it's not just opeds, papers and conferences anymore. 

Indeed.  we've seen bits and pieces of that from education think tanks like Education Sector, Fordham, Carnegie, Brookings, and New America all come to mind. Perhaps the best example of this is AIR taking over Education Sector (and its blog), or Bellwether helping launch RealClearEducation. ThinkProgress -- a division of CAP -- is another example (they were looking for an education reporter not too long ago).

Of course, some news outlets are blurring the line the other way, becoming more wonkish and policy-oriented and less, well, newsy.  Part of this is by necessity.  With their own writers and social media campaigns, think tanks need journalists less.  They've already got academic credibility (of a sort), they already validate ideas for politicians and policymakers. Now they're distributing their own ideas directly.

Related posts: AIR Taking Over Education SectorCarnegie Is The New Ed Sector[Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?Meet Conor Williams, New America's New(ish) Education GuyGoogle Now Funding Lots Of Think Tanks & Policy ConferencesExpert-Less Think Tanks -- Whose Fault?

Magazines: Where Are The Pro-Reform Versions Of The Nation, Mother Jones, Etc?

image from www.thenation.com

The new issue of The Nation (Saving Public Schools) includes a feature package of education stories that may pique your interest whatever your position or views. Some highlights include: 

The Tough Lessons of the 1968 Teacher Strikes (Goldstein)

What It Takes to Unite Teachers Unions and Communities of Color (Fine and Fabricant) 

Why Don’t We Have Real Data on Charter Schools? (Noguera)

5 Books to Build a Movement for Education Justice (Shibata)

Our Public Education System Needs Transformation, Not ‘Reform’

It's interesting to note that, despite all the firepower that reform advocates have behind them, they rely almost entirely on occasional efforts in traditional mainstream journalistic outlets like Slate, The New Republic, NYT Sunday Magazine and the daily papers but lack moderate or centrist versions of the liberal-leaning outlets like Mother Jones, Jacobin, The Nation, The Washington Monthly, City Paper (DC), and The American Prospect to pump out sympathetic stories like these "on the regular."

This advantage in access to a slew of magazines -- combined with the social media influence advantage that reform critics have over reform advocates and the liberal leanings of many journalists, somewhat offset by the influence of journalism grants from funders like Gates and Broad -- makes for an interesting interplay of efforts. 

Related posts: Who Influences Education Coverage Better -- Reform Critics Or Funders?Think Tanker Tells Reporters To Stop Scapegoating TFA3 Newish Places To Get Public Radio Stories (Plus NPR Controversy)

Image via The Nation.

Morning Video: FL Mandates Extra 60 Mins. Reading Time For 300 Low-Performing Schools

 

"The state of Florida recently mandated the 300 lowest-performing elementary schools add an extra hour of reading instruction each day, the first in the country to do so. But while supporters are convinced the extra time will improve kids' reading, not everyone is convinced it's the right solution." PBS NewsHour

Afternoon Video: Urban League Pushes For "Equitable Implementation" Of Common Core

As originally noted in Politico's Morning Education, the national Urban League is apparently backing the "equitable implementation" of the Common Core and thus putting at least a bit of pressure on critics to consider the issue from a minority parent perspective.  I mean, check out the fierce expressionon the little girl's face:

Anyone seen a racial or SES breakdown of Common Core support among the public or parents? What other efforts has the Urban League been involved in, and to what effect (if any)?

Charts: Pay No Attention To High Teacher Turnover In "Those" Parts Of District

Teacher Resignations in the Miami-Dade Public Schools (by voting district)

Source: National Council on Teacher Quality, "Unequal Access, Unequal Results," 2014 Click to enlarge

"In 2004-05, close to half of all public school teacher turnover happened in just one quarter of all public schools."  (Education Next: Teacher Retention Varies [Wildly] Within Districts)

Quotes: "Students Before Teachers." Says Harvard Law Prof

Quotes2Progressives should be part of the solution. We can't succumb to simplistic defenses of the distorted teacher protection schemes. We must confront the demonstrable effects of these laws. The future of public education and of the teaching profession can be brighter only when we place students' rights first and foremost on our list of priorities.-- Laurence H. Tribe in USA Today (Students before teachers)

Morning Audio: TFA Interviews MA Blogger Jennifer Berkshire (aka EduShyster)

There's lots of disagreement between TFA's Aaron French and EduShyster's Jennifer Berkshire, who used to work for the state union, but we're promised "no yelling." Here's a link in case it doesn't load for you.

AM News: Just 5 Percent Of High-Poverty NYC Schools Have 50 Percent Pass Rates

Charter schools help poor kids hit 50% pass rate, says report by pro-charter group NY Daily News: A survey by Families for Excellent Schools found that only 46 of 925 high-poverty city schools surveyed reached 50% pass rates — and half of those were charter schools.

Attorney General Holder to Step Down, Promoted Changes in School Discipline EdWeek: In the education world, he is perhaps best known for his efforts to address disproportionately high discipline rates for students from certain racial and ethnic groups. Alongside U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Holder also encouraged schools to step back from zero-tolerance policies that the two said could sometimes lead to heavy-handed punishments for minor rule violations.

Winners of Federal Teacher-Prep Grants Include Many Familiar Names Teacher Beat: Two-thirds of grantees have been funded in the past, but the results of their efforts aren't clear.

With Climbing Graduation Rates Come Renewed Doubts Texas Tribune: In a decade, Texas has gone from an example of the nation’s dropout crisis to the second-highest graduation rate in the country. But that climb has not been matched by success in measures of college and career readiness.

D.C. Says It Now Knows Why Forty Percent Of Students Don't Graduate WAMU: Forty percent of ninth graders in D.C. public schools don't graduate on time, and now city officials say they have identified some of the characteristics and challenges faced by those students. See also Washington Post

The Challenges of a Youth Complicated by Poverty WNYC: Daniel Cardinali is president of Communities in Schools, a federated network of nonprofits that are locally controlled, locally financed, and aim to bring case workers and resources to at-risk students and communities that need it most. And he argues that to help students like Jairo, education policy makers need to change some of their assumptions about how school works.

School board takes on cleanliness controversy WBEZ: The parent who read the comment, Jennie Biggs, has three children at Sheridan Elementary in Bridgeport and is also part of a parent group called Raise Your Hand. That group released the results of an informal survey they did over the last week, which got 162 responses across 60 schools.

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

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

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

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

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 10.54.07 AM

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

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

Charts: Big Rise In Mass Shootings -- Many Of Them At Schools

image from cdn.theatlantic.comThe FBI's new report on the rise in mass shootings in recent years show the disturbing reality that many of them -- just under 25 percent -- take place at schools.  Over all, there were 39 such shootings in education settings, second only to places of business like malls and offices. Story via The Wire.  Image via the FBI.

Media: Think Tanker Tells Reporters To Stop Scapegoating TFA

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThere's lots to love in Conor Williams' Daily Beast story (Stop Scapegoating Teach for America), at least some of which I feel like I and others have written several times in the past -- though perhaps with less stylishness.  

In essence, Williams is taking on TFA's critics for exaggerating the case against TFA and ignoring larger issues surrounding teacher preparation, diversity, and professionalism. More importantly, he's also taking on the reporters who keep citing these

In particular, Williams cites stories penned by NPR's Anya Kamenetz and former New America Foundation colleague Dana Goldstein in Vox, noting that TFA's diversity has long eclipsed that of the overall teaching corps nationally and that is has been evolving internally for several years now.  (He ignores last year's Politico story, which is just a well.)

"Both [stories] present alt cert in general—and TFA in particular—as a problem, as a project that urgently needs fixing. Read them, and you’re called to consider whether alt cert programs are worth having, and to wonder whether they can be saved."

This level of concern and urgency is senseless given the small size of the teacher corps TFA has in classrooms at any single time. "TFA is neither a lever for dramatically improving or ruining U.S. public education," notes Williams. "Dramatic reforms to TFA’s teacher training aren’t going to substantially shift the trajectory of American public education."

Over all, the debatre over TFA is a sideshow, notes Williams, distracting our attention from the reality that little-trained TFA recruits come near to doing as well as fully-trained traditional candidates.

Related posts:Teach for America Not Directly Displacing Veterans In ChicagoKey Takeaways From The NJ TFA Media Panel12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA)Goldstein Puts TFA Under The Microscope. Vox image used with permission.

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

Image001
Conventional wisdom has it that the current reform movement started in 1983 with the release of the Nation At Risk report, but EdWeek makes a pretty good case with this piece (Historic Summit Fueled Push for K-12 Standards - Education Week) that a better starting point would be 25 years ago (1989) in Charlottesville, Va.

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

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

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

Quotes: Orfield: "We Still Don't Have A Lot Of Data"

Quotes2We have more data than we used to have before the accountability revolution, but we still don’t have a lot of data.

- UCLA's Gary Orfield in FiveThirtyEight (The Most Important Award In Public Education Struggles To Find Winners)

Morning Video: Watch Baton Rouge Teachers Implement Common Core

Debate aside, Core a reality in classrooms The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA). Click the link for the transcript and if the video doesn't load properly.

Charts: Child Disability Rates Rising Fastest Among Wealthier Families

image from cdn2.vox-cdn.com

"There's also some good news in these new figures: while mental disabilities are on the rise, there has also been a 11 percent decline in physical disabilities among children over the past decade. Much of this is concentrated in declines among respiratory diseases, like asthma, which have fallen by nearly a quarter just in the course of 10 years." (Vox, with permission)

Quotes: How Testing Has Made Schools 'Significantly’ Better

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

#EdGif Of The Day: Watch College Become Commonplace (Except South)

College education

From Vox: "Just over 40 years ago, only around 1 in 10 US adults had a four-year college education. Today, that rate has nearly tripled. This gif shows the geography of that explosion." Source: Reddit user metricmapsore. "Broadly speaking, the South remains the place where degrees are the least common. Meanwhile, cities — and particularly the northeastern Amtrak corridor — are where college graduates have concentrated." Used with permission.

Afternoon Audio: Recovering 50,000 Dropouts Is Chicago's Latest Effort

From old-school drive-arounds looking for stray kids to targeted online programs, Chicago's trying to recover 17-21 year olds who could graduate high school. Nothing showing? Here's the link (and also the transcript).

Media: Boston Magazine Botches Rankings, Profiles Firebrand Union Chief

image from cdn1.bostonmagazine.comIn what's at least the 2nd journalistic goof-up that I know of during the annual back-to-school media deluge of rankings and other kinds of education coverage, Boston Magazine messed up its private school rankings badly and the Globe tells us all about it (Boston Magazine retracts school rankings).  

Basically, the magazine ranked private schools using incorrect SAT score averages, using partial data since many schools didn't provide SAT results, thus pushing some schools up higher than they deserved and pushing others down.

This isn't a reason not to rank schools, though.  It's just a motivation to rank them responsibly.  Sloppy, inexplicable efforts like this just make everyone look bad.  Apparently something similarly bad happened the last time the magazine ranked schools in 2009.

All is not lost, however.  The public school list is up, and doesn't seem to have the problems with the private list. The issue also has a profile of union head Barbara Madeloni that you might want to read, and a piece about healthy school lunches that you will probably feel like you've already read. There's also an XKCD alternative list of schools that you might find amusing.

Image courtesy Boston Magazine

Related posts: FiveThirty-Eight StumblesActually, Ranking High Schools Can Be Enormously Useful.

Thompson: Value-Added True Believers Should Listen to Principals

Sadly, a new Gates-funded study, "Principal Use of Teacher Effectiveness Measures for Talent Management Decisions," provides an ideal metaphor for what is wrong with value-added evaluations, in particular, and corporate school reform, in general.

I do not question the quality of work of its authors - Ellen Goldring, Christine M. Neumerski, Mollie Rubin, Marisa Cannata, Timothy Drake, Jason A. Grissom and Patrick Schuermann, or its findings.

The problem is that the report seems to assume that principals who do not agree with the Gates Foundation are incorrect and need retraining; it doesn't consider the possibility that value-added models aren't appropriate for teacher evaluations. 

Goldring et. al found that 84% of the principals they interviewed believed teacher-observation data to be valid "to a large extent" for assessing teacher quality, but only 56% viewed student achievement or growth data to be equally valid. The study acknowledged that value added is perceived to have “many shortcomings.” Principals have doubts whether the data will hold up to official grievance processes. Principals also perceive that teachers have little trust in teacher effectiveness data.

Education Week’s Denisa Superville reports that value added expert Douglas Harris echoes the findings, “the results confirmed feedback he had received from other educators about the challenges in using teacher-evaluation systems.”

Rather than ask whether principals know something about the real world use of statistical models that Gates doesn’t understand, Goldring et. al recommend that systems “clarify their expectations for how principals should use data and what data sources should be used for specific human-resources decisions.” In other words, they apparently believe that more training in value-added estimates will convince educators that the theorists have been correct all along.

Continue reading "Thompson: Value-Added True Believers Should Listen to Principals" »

Teachers: Poor Leadership, Inflammatory Coverage Diminish Public Perceptions

Veteran Chicago Public Schools teacher and blogger Ray Salazar -- who recently explained why he chose a charter school for one of his children -- now has an interesting take on yesterday's PDK/Gallup poll results on his blog (Three reasons people don’t trust teachers).  

Public trust in teachers is down (along with support for test-based teacher evaluation), notes Salazar. But teachers aren't in charge of how they're perceived, or many of the factors that shape public opinion.

Who or what is?

Ineffective and incoherent leadership at the district level -- including union leadership -- is factor #1, according to Salazar. "Honestly, as I stood on the picket line in 2012, I struggled to articulate why we were striking for the first time in 27 years," remembers Salazar. (Another strike is possible soon.)

Factor #2 is "inflammatory" coverage of the schools, fueled by "mostly white activists, many of whom haven’t taught in our schools," who are quoted as authorities in the media and teachers -- especially minority teachers -- are ignored. Salazar blames the media for focusing on relatively minor flaws in the system -- a front page story about teacher certification -- rather than reporting large-scale successes like teachers helping students win millions in scholarships.

Last but not least, district mandates are overwhelming classroom teachers with requirements. "Today, a typical Chicago high school teacher has 150 students and must enter 300-450 grades a week (2-3 per student) on a highly public and scrutinized gradebook system. Our teacher evaluation, while no longer a checklist that mentions bulletin boards, is a time-absorbing exercise that will not help a teacher improve if the administrator lacks instructional expertise.

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Builds A Better Teacher*

Trust in teachers is down, and support for better (more rigorous, clinical) teacher prep is up. PBS NewsHour goes into it with Dana Goldstein Elizabeth Green. First broadcast last night. Online extra here.

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Shifting Public Opinion On Teachers, Teaching

Americans Want Teachers to Take a Bar Exam - The Atlantic ow.ly/Bz3Dd  @EmilyRichmond @EWAEmily

Tom Kane doubles down on combining #commoncore & teacher evaluation in @EducationNext ow.ly/BzlaA

Common Core and the Era of Good Behavior - How long will it last? @smarick @rhess99 @MichaelPetrilli ow.ly/BzmJv

Time for Reformers, Educators to Work Together - @Eduflack http://ow.ly/ByFjZ  @edu_post

Vox raises possibility reformers let Rahm face Lewis/AFT alone bit.ly/1shNabk Repeat of Fenty/Gray? @dropoutnation @mikeantonnuci

Pension reform isn't the same as pension theft, @ChadAldeman reminds @DanaGoldstein Education Next ow.ly/BzkX7

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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.