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Morning Video: Teaching Computer Literacy - Without A Computer

Via Hechinger Report's Annie Murphy Paul.

AM News: New Year, New iPad Plan For LAUSD

Calls grow for wider inquiry into bidding on L.A. Unified iPad project LA Times: A day after Los Angeles Unified abruptly suspended the contract for its controversial iPad project, there were growing calls for a more thorough investigation into whether the bidding process for the $1-billion program was improperly handled.

The LA School iPad Scandal: What You Need To Know KPCC: The Los Angeles Unified School District has shut down a half-a-billion-dollar deal with Apple and Pearson to provide classroom technology. Here's what happened.

LIVESTREAM: First LAUSD school board meeting of the year LA School Report

Primary Round-Up: Races Across the Country Showcase Education Issues EdWeek: High-profile governor and state education chief races in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, and Vermont highlight the common core and education funding as top campaign issues.

Despite Racial Disparity, Alumni Group Backs Test-Only Policy for Elite Schools NYT: Very few black and Hispanic students attend New York City’s eight specialized high schools, which base admissions solely on the results of a standardized test.

Teaching computer science — without touching a computer Hechinger:  It may not look like it, but the children engaged in these exercises are learning computer science. In the first activity, they’ve turned themselves into a sorting network: a strategy computers use to sort random numbers into order. And in the second activity, they’re acting out the process by which computer networks route information to its intended destination.

Youth seek solutions as Chicago’s violent summer persists PBS NewsHour:  Nine-year-old Antonio Smith was fatally shot at least four times in a South Side backyard just blocks away from his home, according to the Chicago Tribune.  This real-time map, created by Chicago-Sun Times before the the summer began, pinpoints and identifies every shooting recorded during each weekend, the most violent period of time.

Quotes: No, Transparency *Won't* Fix Things All By Itself

Quotes2When government seems to fail, Americans habitually resort to the same solutions: more process, more transparency, more appeals to courts. -- David Frum in The Atlantic (The Transparency Trap)

Morning Video: College Dispenses With Courses -- Should K12 Schools Follow?

 

"College for America, an online degree program, has no classes, professors or credit hours. It's been cited as an innovative way to make college more affordable. But how do its students qualify for a degree?" (Via PBS NewsHour).  The idea might sound crazy or not work at scale, but then again traditional colleges aren't doing any better at graduating poor minorities and are resisting government ratings showing how well they perform, so maybe it's time for some changes.

AM News: LAUSD Declares IPad Contract "Do-Over"

 LA schools cancel iPad contracts after KPCC publishes internal emails KPCC: Three days after KPCC published internal emails showing top L.A. Unified officials and executives from Pearson and Apple met and discussed bringing tablet-driven education software to the classroom, the school district announced Monday it will cancel the contract with Apple and Pearson and open its one-to-one technology project to new bids.

Rick Scott Unveils New Education Initiatives To Calm Common Core Critics Reuters: Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, unveiled two new education initiatives on Monday aimed at calming critics of "common core" national curriculum standards and countering his main Democratic rival's attacks on his record.

D.C. Extends Day At 25 Schools, Hoping That More Time Means Better Scores WAMU: Students at 25 D.C. public schools will stay in school longer every day, a move that city officials hope will help struggling students catch up with their peers.

Ferguson schools reopen, offer calm amid chaos AP: Schools in Ferguson welcomed back students from their summer breaks on Monday, providing the children with a much-needed break from the raucous street protests and police patrols that have gripped the St. Louis suburb since a white officer killed an unarmed black man more than two weeks ago.

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges NYT: A series of federal surveys of selective colleges found virtually no change from the 1990s to 2012 in enrollment of students who are less well off — less than 15 percent by some measures — even though there was a huge increase over that time in the number of such students going to college.

Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software NPR: One company and its algorithms are changing the way America's schools handle classroom ethics.

Is Google's Free Software A Good Deal For Educators? NPR: Classroom enables a teacher to create a "class" at the touch of a button. She or he can upload syllabus materials, whether text, audio, or video, and send out assignments on the class news feed.

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

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Declares IPad Contract "Do-Over"" »

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Hey, Everybody -- Let's Put Cameras On Teachers, Too!

The case for cop AND teacher cams - Chicago Tribune ( Reihan Salam) ow.ly/AHgIY

Reform advocacy groups like DFER & Stand evolving strategies, reports EdWeek's @AndrewUjifusa ow.ly/AHiHg

Why DFER's staying out of Tuck/Torlakson (and Vergara, too), via @AndrewUjifusa ow.ly/AHjk1

New Orleans' charter school system ill-prepared for jump in Central American immigrants | NOLA.comow.ly/AGFNs

Sometimes the school down the block makes you nervous - The Post reposts Jay Mathews' 2000 columnow.ly/AHxUv via @EducationNext

Two Spencer Fellow books reviewed in same edition of the NYT -- including one written by a 3rd Spencer 

Students Aren't Getting Enough Sleep—School Starts Too Early - The Atlantic ow.ly/AHff7

All this and more at @alexanderrusso.

 

5 Best Blogs & Tweets [Of Today]: Google Wants Kids To Have GMail (Apparently Unaware That Kids Don't Use Email Anymore)

The Trouble With Tenure - Frank Bruni feat. Mike Johnston in the NYTimes.com ow.ly/AuAHO

Obama Waivers Add Fuel to Lawsuit Bid - @PoliticsK12 ow.ly/AuS0p

Common Core for Young Learners Educators tackle challenges in the early grades ow.ly/AuHJO

Google May Start Handing Out Gmail Accounts to Kids - The Wire ow.ly/AuQ9u But how to do so without violating COPPA?

Nonwhite student body is now the majority, but most white students won't know (because neighborhood assignment) - Vox ow.ly/AuSWz

Gates touts teacher tools ow.ly/AuKcr feat. BetterLesson, ThinkCERCA, LightSail, FineTune, Edmodo, BloomBoard

Longest trial in SC history focuses on education | @ajam @Warbelle ow.ly/AuSkK

The Los Angeles Unified School District ducks out of trigger law, cites federal waiver | Deseret News ow.ly/AuLAe

 

EdTech: 8 Ways to Protect Student Data

image from hepg.orgMy latest "Tech Talk" piece in the Harvard Education Letter is now online, and -- thanks to critics and advocates and regular old practitioners who filled me in -- it's got what seems like some extremely useful advice about how educators can proceed explore education technology without either locking everything down or giving it all away.

The first couple of items in the piece (Eight Ways to Protect Student Data) include basics like inventorying student data collection that's going on already and putting someone in charge of student data policies (a "privacy" officer or someone with those responsibilities).  

For the remaining 6 recommendations, click the link.

Image courtesy Harvard Education Publishing Group.

 

 

Polarization: The Education Debate Could Be *Much* Worse

image from oaklandwiki.orgEducators and journalists like to talk about how extreme and polarized today's debate has become, and in some ways that's true.  Social media is full of extremism and polarization.  Democrats are fractured internally even as Republicans are being stretched to the right by the Tea Party movement (not dead yet!).

But still, it's almost entirely words and yelling and rallies and protests, painful and triggering to be sure but well short of property damage or physical violence that's taken place in the reproductive rights debate or even in education at times.

For a little bit of historical context , remember the murder of Marcus Foster, the superintendent of Oakland schools, in 1973.  

Yep, murder.  

Members of the group that called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army shot Foster and his deputy as they left a board meeting, killing Foster outright, in response to a student ID card proposal that Foster had actually helped water down, according to Wikipedia, anyway.

I didn't know about this either, by the way.  Just heard it on the radio and looked it up so I could wag my finger at everyone. Credit Oakland Wiki/CC BY 3.0

Five Best Blogs & Tweets: Hoboken Laptop Experience Unusual / Misleading

Lots of districts avoid Hoboken's unusually disastrous 1:1 deployment  saga  ow.ly/zKKxD @hechingerreport @pwillens

Chart: Top Liberal Campaign Spenders 2012 - via Voxow.ly/zKHsh includes Bloomberg, Soros, Fred Eychaner, etc.

Readers respond angrily to "practice" school-shooting story ow.ly/zKFno via @romenesko

Race to the Top, Wasn't : Frederick M. Hess ow.ly/zKJcZ@rhess99 via @DianeRavitch

Remembering Gene Maeroff - Education Next : Education Next ow.ly/zL69g (features audio interview)

Some Wisconsin schools oppose Common Core repeal ow.ly/zKF4h AP via @RealClearEd

I'm really enjoying the anonymous fun of #thankscommoncore @thnkscommoncore -- but I also want to know who started it??

Morning Video: How Poor Latino High School Kids Beat MIT [In Robotics]

 

This documentary trailer (h/t AJAM) tells the story of "how the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants learned how to build an underwater robot from Home Depot parts. And defeat engineering powerhouse MIT in the process." #underwaterdreams

Magazines: 5 Ways The SF Protests Can Help You Understand Education

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comNow that you're done reading this week's New Yorker story about cheating in Atlanta, time to circle back and read last week's piece (California Screaming) about the conflicts in San Francisco over class, culture, and education.  

Why, you ask?  I'll tell you"

1- The opening protest highlights the impact of gentrification and other inequities on a career educator:

Benito Santiago, a sixty-three-year-old special-education teacher, is being evicted from the apartment he’s lived in since 1977.

2- The piece describes a conflict between two groups who are remarkably similar in their ideals and goals -- but not their methods.  They're mirror versions of each other, only one is younger and richer and more entrepreneurial than collective than the other:

What’s going on in San Francisco has been called a “culture war,” and yet the values each side espouses can sound strikingly similar. 

Sound familiar?

Three more to go -- the best ones! -- click the link and see.

Continue reading "Magazines: 5 Ways The SF Protests Can Help You Understand Education" »

Articles: Adult Ed's Secret Buzzwords & Lingo

ScreenHunter_01 Jul. 14 10.07So you think that edtech (and school reform in general) are full of buzzwords and hot new trends? Well, that may be true. But edtech’s got nothing on adult education, which freely adopts jargon and innovation from the K-12 and postsecondary worlds and then adds its own particular set of terms and approaches.

Some of the developments – flipped, blended, gamified, mobile learning – are familiar trends generally mirroring those taking place in other sectors. Others trends and concepts – contextualization, “braided” funding, and “bridge” programs – are more specific to the needs of low-skill adults and adult education programs who serve them.

That's the opening from my latest EdSurge article, which came out a couple of days ago (So You Think You Can Educate Adults?). The first article is here. Image via EdSurge.

AM News: LAUSD Adds Laptops To Its Tablet Deployment

News2

LAUSD board agrees on testing alternative laptops LA Times: With minimal discussion, Los Angeles school officials this week authorized contracts for the purchase of six different laptop computers to determine which device and curriculum works best for high school students.

Common Core test anxiety Politico: Attempts to apply standards in different states spark a testing revolt across the country.

Teachers, postal workers weigh Staples boycott USA Today: Postal workers picket in front of a Staples store April 24, in Concord, N.H. Postal workers around the country protested in front of Staples stores, objecting to the U.S. Postal Service's pilot program to open counters in stores.

In New Orleans, a case study in how school, health care decentralization affect neediest children Hechinger:  In recent years, New Orleans has become a case study in how children and families are affected by rapid decentralization of public education and mental health systems.

Do Teachers Really Hate Common Core? From the Floor of ISTE 2014 EdSurge: Teachers can live with--or work through--the standards. But the biggest worry? It’s not the standards that are the problem--educators are feeling stifled by the testing.

Summer school enrollment falls sharply after city reduces role of state tests ChalkBeat: In his first six months in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio has had a nearly singular focus on providing needy students with expanded education services. But thousands fewer struggling students will be attending summer school this year after city officials changed the way students qualify for the program.

Emerging Themes at NEA: 'Toxic Testing' and Union Threats TeacherBeat: The board of directors will propose a New Business Item calling for a campaign against "toxic testing."

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

Continue reading "AM News: LAUSD Adds Laptops To Its Tablet Deployment" »

Quotes: EdTech Hubris Undermines School Improvement

Quotes2Either this is a co-operative project, funded by experience, evidence and expertise, as well as the mutual passion for integrity, education and innovation (and yes, venture capital). Or it’s a series of expensive and limiting failures where working-stiff educators have to pick up the pieces.(A Distemperate Response to Silicon Valley’s ‘Edtech Revolution’

Afternoon Audio: Google Search & Students' Academic Records

An adult job seeker whose Google search highlights his long-ago participation in a special education program is one of the examples cited in a new WNYC story about efforts to force Google and others to delete information from search results:

It's a variant on the student data privacy debate that's going on in education, which includes not only what data is collected but how it's safeguarded and what happens to it after a student's education is over.  

Google and others believe that transparency and avoiding censorship are reasons not to allow deletion requests.  European nations and privacy advocates believe that deletion requests are not nearly as problematic as has been suggested.

Morning Video: Why's College So Expensive? ("Ivory Tower")

Here's the PBS NewsHour segment from last night about the new Participant documentary about college costs and outcomes.

Magazines: The Innovation/Disruption "Myth" (New Yorker Vs. Slate)

image from www.newyorker.comThe big think piece of the week so far has to be Jill Lepore's New Yorker cover story attempting to debunk (or at least contextualize) the current fancy for things labeled "innovative" and/or "disruptive."

Basically, Lepore is saying that "innovation" is today's version of the word progress, that the Clay Christensen book that has promoted much of the furor is based on some shaky anecdotes, that innovator/disruptor types tend to rely on circular logic (innovations that fail weren't disruptive enough), and that disruptors' insights aren't much good at predicting future successes and may be particularly inappropriate to public efforts (and journalism). 

In several places, the piece notes that schools and other public endeavors have been touched by the innovation craze: 

"If your city’s public-school district has adopted an Innovation Agenda, which has disrupted the education of every kid in the city, you live in the shadow of “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”

And also: "Christensen has co-written books urging disruptive innovation in higher education (“The Innovative University”), public schools (“Disrupting Class”), and health care (“The Innovator’s Prescription”). 

There's also a funny description of the MOOC panic of 2012-2013.

Over at Slate, Will Oremus thinks that the case against innovation/disruption is being overstated and that the New Yorker writer just wants folks to stop trying to disrupt her industry.

There are lots of angles related to education here.  Are things as bad as we're being told by reformers -- bad enough to warrant attempts at "blowing up" the current system? What happens to the legacy system when inno-disruption efforts fail to make much improvement (MOOCs), or (as in charters) succeed only partially?

 

Update: Low-Skill Parents Need Better Educating, Too

Skylab learningThere are an estimated 36 million low-skill adults in the US - not counting undocumented immigrants or incarcerated adults.  

Only about 5 percent of them are getting anything by way of help with their numeracy, literacy, or English language skills.  

Sometimes it's nothing more than a weekly course taught by a volunteeer in the library. 

No surprise, then, that adult ed waiting lists are long, and persistence/retention is low. 

Rather than thinking about them as a separate population, howver, think about them as your students' parents -- the folks your kids go home to each day, who could help out with schoolwork or not, depending.

That's not the only connection, however.

Read about recent efforts to reboot adult education nationally and locally in my first article for EdSurge (New Urgency Around Adult Education) and you'll see lots that mirrors what's going on in K-12 education -- from the trends (flipped, mobile, gamified, etc.) to the struggle to maintain funding to the widely varying results.

 

Previous posts:  The Story Behind 2010's "Waiting For 'Superman'"Common Core: A Peek Inside A "Field Test" Help Desk. Image via Skylab Learning.

 

Five Best Blogs [Of The Day]: Looking Ahead To Spring 2015 Testing

Less Than Half of U.S. Students Slated to Take PARCC, Smarter Balanced Tests - EdWeek ht.ly/xIII1

Reuters: NC Poised To Reject Common Core Education Standards ht.ly/xIzc6

IPads, Galaxys, and other devices are becoming staples of special-ed classrooms - Slate @GailNRobinson ht.ly/xIz46

Shanker Institute's Leo Casey explains why Obama team "Keep Getting It Wrong" on Ed Policy? ht.ly/xzleC

The interdependence of strong authorizers and great school operators - Alex Medler ht.ly/xIMEx

Once a Welder, Now a Teacher | TNTP ht.ly/xIKH0

It typically takes 9 years for Master's degrees to begin paying off, says Matt Chingos in Education Next ht.ly/xIJUT

 

Common Core: A Peek Inside A "Field Test" Help Desk

Screen shot 2014-06-02 at 11.44.11 AMWhat's it like working at one of the four Common Core field test help desks that have been set up around the nation to handle calls about the tough new assesments?  Check out my latest piece and find out -- then come back here and let us know what you think.

Morning Video: Zuckerbergs Roll Out $120M Bay Area Grant

News came out on Friday that Zuckerberg and Chan were going to give another big gift to education -- this time to the Bay Area.  Will it be any different -- or more effective -- than the Newark gift?

Thompson: Marc Prensky, Digital Wisdom, & Zuckerberg's Newark Folly

ZuckerbergI never want to bet against our digital future, and I’m predisposed to agree with most of Marc Prensky’s hopefulness, as proclaimed in Brain Gain. But, Prensky seems too dismissive of the reports by teachers and others about the shortterm damage being caused by our rapid adoption of digital technology.

I don’t think that we have gotten to the point where all of the reports about unintended negative effects of this technology could be due to a mass hallucination, perhaps recorded in some secret space in the Cloud.

So, while I will enjoy and gain energy from the predictions of futurologists, I’ll stick to my knitting and just pontificate on the field I know – inner city schools.

I got a kick out of Prensky’s overly rational anticipation of a key issue related to Mark Zuckerberg’s donation of $100 million to Newark schools. He wrote that “potentially, it is a very good thing … if it is used in a digitally wise way.” Prensky thus seemed to anticipate that Zuckerberg would contribute in ways that he was qualified to contribute. He also hoped that Zuckerberg would “imagine and plan for at least a year (and maybe more) before any technology gets ordered.”

In other words, Prensky didn’t seem to consider the possibility that someone as smart as Zuckerberg would jump into a field he knew nothing about, and finance a transformational reform of it, without even looking into the basic evidence about what works in school improvement. Zuckerberg, the technology expert, illogically invested in a mayor, Cory Booker, who made a virtually evidence-free bet on incentives and disincentives that had a long history of failure!?!?  

What would have happened, however, if Zuckerberg had stuck to his knitting and invested his money in something he knew about?

Continue reading "Thompson: Marc Prensky, Digital Wisdom, & Zuckerberg's Newark Folly" »

Media: Marketplace Ed Tech Site Debuts Today

ScreenHunter_02 May. 28 11.55Another week, another education site launches.  

You already knew this one was coming -- and that Adriene Hill was going to be the lead reporter along with editory Betsy Streisand.  

But you probably didn't know that the effort was going to be dubbed Learning Curve.

"The most ambitious and expansive education project in Marketplace’s 25-year history, LearningCurve will engage a national audience in an ongoing conversation on multiple platforms. Coverage will include on air segments across the Marketplace portfolio of public radio programs, a dedicated website, infographics and interactive quizzes, videos, dedicated Twitter and Tumblr accounts and, starting later in June, a regular podcast hosted by Adriene Hill and Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson."

Read the full press release below. Crossed fingers.

Continue reading "Media: Marketplace Ed Tech Site Debuts Today" »

Charts: Test Prep & Instructional Materials $37B Of $789B K12 Spending

ScreenHunter_01 May. 28 10.41
Here's a chart of education spending from GSV via NPR showing that test prep and instructional materials make up just $37 billion out of a $789 billion K-12 education expenditure.

Charts: Which 13 States Still Looking For A Test Provider?

ScreenHunter_01 May. 22 13.25
There are lots of Common Core maps and charts out there these days, but RealClear Education's Emmeline Z. has one that's particularly useful because it breaks down "what each state is planning in the coming years for its Common Core-aligned assessments for grades 3-8 and high school" -- and in particular which testing comany (Pearson, AIR, or someone else) they're going with ((Mapping Common Core in the States). Click on the link for lots of interactive goodies -- maps, charts, and circles.

Media: Four Observations About Education Journalism From #EWA14*

There was no big news made at #EWA14.  No loud arguments, or big deals (other than the announcement that the next conference will be at the UofC). That's why we were all Tweeting about cakepops and other diversions. But there were still a bunch of tidbits to be noted about the state of education media and the people who provide it:

4. The rise of the nonprofit news outlets.  Chalkbeat rolled deep with a rumored 21 staffers in attendance, but there were also lots of other nonprofiteers in attendance (EdWeek, EdSource Today, SCPR/KPCC, Hechinger, etc.) In comparison, there was just a single NYT and LA Times reporter there,* and but a handful of AP reporters. (There are other reasons they don't feel the need to attend, but still...)

3. Changing of the guard (from journalism to other pursuits).  Banchero is out.  McNeil is out.  Turner is out (a year ago). Others are but a memory. They say they're sad but also look a little relieved.  It feels like there may be more moves out of journalism (as well as between outlets) to come. 

2. Notable outsiders/new faces in attendance included Nikole Hannah-Jones from ProPublica (who had some things to say about attendance zone "gerrymandering" that might make progressives reconsider their defense of neighborhood schools), the new communications team from College Board (fresh off their big SAT rollout success), Xian Barrett and Anthony Cody (teacher advocate/activists who've attended on and off for the past couple of years) but no Ray Salazar, alas.

1. Soft interviews with Weingarten and Duncan.  All due respect to the Washington Post's Layton and NPR's Drummond, but their interviews lacked the friendly but tough questions and followups that I recall John Merrow and others (Jay Mathews?) providing at past events when public officials rambled through their usual talking points. It wasn't just me who thought so -- lots of grumbling from the back rows (though not on Twitter - cowards!).

What'd I miss or get wrong?  When do we get to see or hear the panels we missed?  Did everyone get home safely and easily?

*EWA's Caroline Hendrie tells me that there were two other LAT reporters there -- Stephen Cesar and Larry Gordon. 

Quotes: Former Kennedy, Obama Official Calls Chicago Teachers Union "Foolish" Over Common Core

Quotes2Teachers are understandably asking for appropriate training and other resources needed to implement the standards and expressing concerns with high stakes decision-making attached to new tests. But the CTU has gone further and called for abandoning these new standards and better tests, with no alternative but to fall back on outdated standards that consistently failed students. It is irresponsible to turn back the clock on raising standards. -- Carmel Martin in the Chicago Sun Times (CTU foolish to fight Common Core)

Quotes: When Vendors Calls Themselves "Partners"

Quotes2If you’re going to come sell us a product, don’t call yourself a partner. You’re not, you’re a vendor. If you want to partner with us, that means you have to listen to us and we have something that’s going to change you, and you have something that’s going to change us. -- Chris Lehmann, founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, at this year's SXSW (via EdSurge)

#EdGif Of The Day: "Cosmos" Explains Magnetism

Image AP

"We also got a peek behind the magician's curtain, with a discussion of the fraught relationships between Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday, among others, who set the stage for Albert Einstein's monumental discoveries." The Atlantic Wire: Neil deGrasse Tyson Shows Us How Magnets Work 

 

 

Quotes: School Buildings As Learning Hubs Rather Than Factories

Quotes2Kids will still go to physical schools, to socialize and be guided by teachers, but as much, if not more, learning will take place employing carefully designed educational tools in the spirit of today’s Khan Academy --modular learning tailored to a student’s needs. -- Google gurus Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen pp 21-22 of  THE NEW DIGITAL AGE: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives (Vintage) 

Charts: Education & Training Helps Create All Those Self-Made Billionaires

image from static2.businessinsider.com

The US creates so many billionaires for lots of resasons, reports Business Insider, the larest factors being access to capital (think Silicon Valley) and an entrepreneurship culture (How The US Produces Self-Made Billionaires). But our education and training is also a leading feature, which is interesting to note.

Thompson: Merit Badges for Teachers? You've Gotta Be Joking

Skinner_box_scheme_01Perhaps the key purpose of schools is teaching children to become "inner directed" persons, who can control their own behavior. Its hard to think of a single more destructive aspect of data-driven reform than its seemingly unintended consequence of turning children into "other directed" persons, trained to just respond to carrots and sticks.

Perhaps this is not a disgraceful byproduct of testing, but an embrace of a humiliating value system for both adults and children.  

The Tennessean’s Joey Garrison, in Merit Badge Idea for Nashville Teachers, Students Draws Ire, describes an incredible new way of supposedly bestowing respect on teachers – issuing merit badges.

He reports on the opportunity being granted to “earn ‘virtual badges’ — tokens, of sorts — for taking on additional professional development or demonstrating other accomplishments.” Garrison writes that the badge system might even be expanded and tied to compensation.

This is not an April Fools joke. The badges would be digital icons or logos on the district's computer system. But, they may also offer a physical badge, like those issued by the Boy Scouts.

Nashville’s chief academic officer, who pushes the idea, said that the district will solicit teacher input before developing its final proposal. They might tie the badges to pay in the 2015-16 budget.

There is talk of expanding this disrespectful idea to students, further teaching them to salivate before virtual treats. The kids could cash in virtual badges at online stores. The logic behind teaching students to devalue learning is, as usual, Orwellian, "We want kids to own their learning and own their experience, and this is a way to do it."-JY(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

Testing: Should US Schools Sign Up For New International Assessment?

Flickr CC University of SaskatchewanNext month, roughly 300 US schools are going to find out how well their sophomores match up to similar students in other countries (and what they really think about the schooling they're receiving). For some of the schools, it will be the second time.

Whether the school-level assessment that provides the scores -- a PISA-based measure called the OECD Test For Schools -- will help schools improve instruction or merely help them market themselves is the subject of my latest Harvard Education Letter piece. 

You can find it online here

 Some folks -- Andreas Schleicher, for example -- think it's a great new tool.  Others - Pasi Sahlberg -- like the PISA and the OECD Test but worry about schools misusing the results to create rankings rather than revamping their offerings. The handful of schools that participated in the 2012 pilot and talked to me about their scores and responses were a mixed bag.

International testing is coming, one way or the other. And I'm not just talking about IB programs.  The Common Core has a lot of overlap with PISA. Three states already get a state-level PISA (as do roughly 100 states and regions in other countries that particpate in PISA). I wouldn't be surprised if more states and districts sign up for the next administrations of PISA and the OECD Test.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with the story -- and not to worry I hope to be writing again about this in the near future so all those conversations and email exchanges won't go to waste. For me, it's fascinating to find out how hungry some educators are for international test results and frustrating if understandable that so many schools participated but haven't revealed their results.

More immediately, there's a ton of information about the experiences and results from Fairfax County (where 10 schools participated in 2012 and 25 participated this year) here. There's also a slideshow from the OECD here.Image via Flickr.

Update: Pushback Against Excessive Student Data Restrictions In GA

Giulia Forsythe FlickrThere's no shortage of concern and controversy surrouding student data privacy these days, resulting in scads of hearings and legislative proposals.

Check out Anya Kamentez's helpful explainer (in which she also describes having helped unearth private student data in a high-profile student privacy situation when she was a college student).

No doubt, at least some of these concerns are warrented.But in other cases, the proposals may go overboard.   

In Georgia, educators and others got together to prevent a proposed piece of legislation from going forward. You can read about it on the AJC blog: "Parents, college presidents, technology giants, superintendents, chambers of commerce and teachers joined forces to call out the insanity of dumping national standards, forbidding tests that reflected national standards and imposing technology limits so extreme that they'd shut down online learning." The state PTA education chair was among them. In response, the Governor reversed himself on the proposal and it was halted.

For more background, check out some local public radio segments here, here, here, and critical commentary here. Share more about what you know or think in comments or on Twitter. Image via Flickr: Giulia Forsythe.

Events: Live Updates From #NSVFSummit 2014

Pincus is out. Schorr is gone. Google is reversing itself. But nothing stops the annual NSVF Summit:

You can also check out the livestream here.

Events: They're Beaming NSVF Summit 2014 To Boston This Year

image from www.newschools.org

The NSVF Summit in San Francisco is next week, and if you're not invited tough luck.  

But you can observe and participate virtually.  The public agenda is here. Lots of pre-reading here. Blog here. Twitter and hashtag (@NSVF  #NSVFSummit), too.  

And apparently they're going to be livestreaming at least parts of it as well (like they did last year). 

Some of the headliners include John King, New York State Commissioner of Education, and Joanne Weiss, former Chief of Staff, US Department of Education, and Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton. Other highlights include speakers like Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, a TEACH video booth, 20 NSVFseed grantees.

The big new wrinkle this year is that they're trying out a satellite event sort of like TEDx.  The New England SummitX invite is here

Previous summits (see below) have included tense words between Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten, proposed COPPA changes from Mark Zuckerberg, and spacey interview questions and robotic sound bite responses from Laurene Powell Jobs and Rahm Emanuel. Reed Hastings famously declared that charters weren't cutting it, and Rocketship said it would open schools in DC if Kaya Henderson would give them space. Waiting for Superman was screened in Spring 2010. Sometimes, people wear fun outfits. 

Previous posts:  Google Glasses Live from NSVF Summit 2013Thoughts On NSVF 2012Rahm Emanuel And Arlene Laurene Powell Jobs At NSVF'12Reformy 2011 Summit Returns To Silicon ValleyFashion Hits & Misses At The 2010 NSVF SummitAnother Spring, Another Summit (2009)NSFV: Live Tweets From Pasadena '09Microblogging The 2008 NSVF Summit.

AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down

News2

InBloom Student Data Repository to Close NYT: The student data warehousing venture that became a lightning rod for some parents’ data privacy and security concerns, announced it would close. See also WNYC: Sun Sets on Controversial Student Data Project inBloom. [EdWeek broke the story, far as I know.]

Vision, Reality Collide in Common-Core Tests EdWeek: A glass-half-full reading focuses on the exams' technological advances and embrace of performance-based assessment. On the flip side, a confluence of political, technical, and financial constraints have led to some scaling back of the ambitious plans the consortia first laid out.

U.S. News Releases 2014 Best High Schools Rankings HuffPost/ US News: Some familiar names joined Dallas-based School for the Talented and Gifted and the two BASIS schools in the top 10 this year, including the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Georgia and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. Both schools retained their third and fourth place rankings, respectively, while Pine View School in Florida also held onto its No. 6 position.

Teachers are losing their jobs, but Teach for America’s expanding Hechinger Report: Of the first 13 Seattle recruits whose two-year commitment is now over, Maldonado and 10 others remain in their classrooms. While he thinks TFA should have done a better job before bringing his cohort to the city, Maldonado says he still believes strongly in the organization and worked at its summer institute in New York City last year.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Talks To ABC News’ David Muir ABC News: "How did I go to a commuter college that cost $50 a semester? Because a lot of other people put a little something in that kept the costs low at a public school so I had a chance and a lotta kids like me had a chance to get an education, and go out, and do something with it."

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

Continue reading "AM News: Data Storage Nonprofit InBloom Closing Down" »

Quotes: K12 Education Fended Off Venture Capital Until 2011?

Quotes2No self-respecting venture capitalist would touch the K-12 education segment from 2000 to 2010-2011. -- QSV Advisors' managing partner (and CPS Board of Ed member) Deborah Quazzo in EdWeek

Media: Bullying, A Federal Civil Rights Complaint, & A Wealthy District's Response

ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 17 23.08You might have missed this series of stories from Palo Alto Weekly about student bullying, a district's flawed response -- I certainly did -- but the Society of Professional Journalists gave the Northern California outlet one of its top awards for small media outlets.

Read more about the stories given the award here, or how the stories came about here. Interesting to note that the reporters unearthed a federal Office of Civil Rights case about halfway through the process, and in the end the complaint was made public (by the child's parents).

"The Weekly coverage included two cover story packages researched and written by Lobdell,"Out of the Shadows," (June 14, 2013) about bullying, and "Power to Hurt," (Aug. 16, 2013) on the use of social media by teens, and numerous news stories by Kenrick and Lobdell on the school district's handling of bullying complaints, federal investigations and the development of bullying policies."

The full list of SJP awardees is here -- I didn't see any other education-related stories but I might have missed some.

Quotes: Duncan Responds To Criticism Of Data Privacy Guidance

Quotes2We created a new Chief Privacy Officer. We've put out guidance recently, and where it needs to be strengthened going forward -- and not just us, but everybody, states, districts, schools, myself as a parent trying to figure it out everyday with my kids. This is not one that you're going to issue some guidance and that's the Bill of Rights for the next 100 years. -- Arne Duncan (Arne Duncan Responds to Criticism Over Student Data Privacy EdWeek)

Afternoon Video: EdTech Frenzy But Business Models Unclear

Bloomberg video from last week about the potential and pitfalls of selling edtech to schools. Via RCE. "Bloomberg’s Ari Levy looks into who’s backing education tech startups. He speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)"

Morning Video: White House Pushes Tech Solutions

 

Here's a clip from Politico's edtech event yesterday, featuring Kumar Garg from the OSTP. Full video here. Story link here.

 

EdTech: Startups On Track To Raise $2B Despite Challenges

HiresWhat's super-hard to pull off but really attractive to venture capitalists? Edtech, apparently. 

Creating and sustaining a successful startup is not nearly as easy as it may look, as described recently in EdWeek, focusing on Edthena & Autism Expressed. 

And yet, edtech startups raised over $500M in just the first quarter of 20014, according to TechCrunch, which mentions AltSchool, Schoology,as well as TeachersPayTeachers.

Image courtesy TechChrunch.

People: Young Joins GreatSchools [Plus Unsolicited Advice]

image from m.c.lnkd.licdn.comMeet Caprice Young, though you probably knew her already. She's a former LAUSD school board member who helped right the ship at LA's troubled ICEF charter network then went to work for the Arnold Foundation. She also worked as a Deputy Mayor and for a distance learning company along the way, and was a Coro Fellow.

Young left the Arnold Foundation fulltime last year and did some consulting but then decided to join GreatSchools as a senior advisor because she things the site is fascinating and as yet under-used. You might not hear a lot about GreatSchools, but it's got impressive pageviews, according to Quantcast -- 5-6 million pageviews a month (much higher than Kahn Academy and other big-name sites, according to Young).

Now 15 years old, GreatSchools keeps adding features and collaborations like this week's Detroit rollout in partnership with Excellent Schools Detroit.  Not too long ago, the site began producing its own stories (Diversity: "When The Melting Pot Boils Over"). They've partnered with real estate site Zillow and are fending off competitors like Niche and Education.com that do similar things just not as well, says Young.  Next up after Detroit is an effort to deepen the school profiles using social media and qualitative data, and a spinoff dubbed GreatKids that is intended to help parents understand what it looks like when their children can do, say, 2nd grade math. 

What would be really cool -- in the category of unsolicited suggestions -- would be if GreatSchools partnered with big-city districts who are doing universal/streamlined application and admissions processes, so that parents could see ratings, user reviews, and apply all in one place. Yeah, sort of like HealthCare.gov, I guess.  Would make NSA spying on parents easier. Loaner tablets for parents who don't have computers? 

Previous posts: Was Bloomberg Article Fair To Bullis Charter?Is GreatSchools Helping, Or Hurting? A Yelp (Or Facebook) For Schools?New NYT-WNYC Site [SchoolBook] To Cover New York City

Afternoon Video: Can Home Visits & Portable Gadgets Help Close The Word Gap?

This video from Motoko Rich's NYT home visits story today shows a cloud-based device that tracks word use at home.

Morning Video: Google & Microsoft Duking It Out Over Schools

 

This scene from CNN's Chicagoland documentary series showing Google's Eric Schmidt visiting a Chicago school with Mayor Rahm Emanuel illustrates the battle over the education marketplace that includes more and more "free" versions of software. This is not OK with union president Karen Lewis (or some privacy advocates concerned about data mining). Or watch a new interview with Bill Gates on education reform.

Afternoon Video: First, Kill All The [Elected] School Boards, Says Netflix Founder

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Here's Reed Hastings speaking to CCSA Charter Conference 2014 last week, via Politico, during which he rails against the the vagaries of local elected school boards and urges aggressive charter expansion. (He's not the first to make this argument.  Matt Miller's 2008 Atlantic piece, First, Kill All the School Boards, is another notable example.) Don't agree with Hastings? Show your commitment by canceling your Netflix subscription immediately, even if you have episodes of House of Cards still to watch. 

 

Afternoon Video: Watch The New Cosmos Here!

 

via Kottke @mrpabruno

Afternoon Video: The Woman Behind That Math Textbook

 

Here's the trailer for "Take Away One," about the story of educator and author Mary Baratta-Lorton, whose revolutionary ideas about hands-on learning "transformed nearly every classroom in America" and whose murder remains a mystery. Screening in NYC next week. More about it 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.