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AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools

Teachers allege problems at California virtual schools run by Va.-based company K12 Inc. Washington Post: A group of teachers at a network of California virtual schools has alleged a number of problems with the online operator, including inflated enrollment to increase per-pupil funding; violation of student privacy laws; misuse of federal funds meant to serve poor children; and inadequate services for children with disabilities. See also TeacherBeatEdSource Today.

Virginia Online High School Pilot Is Ahead of the Curve US News: Come this fall, 100 students from across Virginia will have the chance to participate in the commonwealth's first fully online high school through a pilot program recently announced by state officials. And if the program comes to full fruition after the pilot, it would be the first of its kind in Virginia, and only the second of its kind in the country.

Texas Law Decriminalizes School Truancy AP: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures into effect.

Measuring the Impact of Common-Core Test Disruptions in Three States State EdWatch: A Smarter Balanced testing vendor has released completion rates in three states that had serious challenges giving the common-core aligned exam.

When Research Projects Replace State Tests WNYC: ICE is one of 48 [consortium schools] with a waiver from the state to offer alternatives to most of the five Regents tests required to graduate. Students still must take the English exam but for the others they can provide portfolios or special projects. 

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: The standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states, mandated many changes to traditional teaching, but one of the most basic was a call for students to read more nonfiction.

Poverty's enduring hold on school success WBEZ Chicago: Our analysis shows a vast expansion of poverty--2,244 schools have seen their proportion of low-income students increase by at least 10 percentage points over the last decade. And the number of schools struggling with concentrated poverty—where nearly every child in the school is low-income— has ballooned.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Teachers Details Problems At Virtual Schools" »

Morning Video: A Different Kind Of (Charter) School Model

"Right away, when visitors walk into an Intrinsic Schools classroom, they notice its size. Each classroom holds roughly 50 to 60 students." (A Charter School Model Different from Most WTTW Chicago)

Documentaries: #MiddletownFilm Chronicles "Midpoint" Students, Blended Learning

Duy in chargeIf you're lucky enough to be following Duy Linh Tu's Facebook page, you know that he's already been through a lockdown and been put in charge of class (pictured).

It's all part of a new documentary the Columbia University multimedia guru has been working on, in partnership with Digital Promise, focused on Middletown NY schools.

The district is trying blended learning, and a "midpoint" program for kids not quite ready for 4th grade, among other things.

Want to know more? Friend him on Facebook here or follow the ‪#‎middletownfilm‬ hashtag on Instagram.

 

 

Morning Video: Spring Testing Season Recap From PBS

Watch John Merrow and Motoko Rich discuss this past spring's Common Core testing season above, or read the transcript here. Merrow notes that Jersey City -- not a white suburban district -- had enough opt outs that it failed to reach 95 percent, which if confirmed would be the first such district I've heard about. Or maybe Albuquerque NM also?

AM News: EdTech Startup CEO Among Amtrak Crash Victims

Tech start-up CEO Rachel Jacobs among Amtrak crash victims USA Today: Rachel Jacobs, the CEO of a tech education start-up in Philadelphia, was confirmed dead Wednesday evening after an Amtrak train derailment the previous day killed at least seven passengers and injured another 200.

Feds deny Seattle school district’s request for its own No Child waiver Seattle Times: The U.S. Department of Education says it doesn't want to let one district operate "outside of the state's accountability system."

Calif. Unions Appeal 'Deeply Flawed' Vergara Ruling TeacherBeat: A judge's ruling last summer to overturn teacher-protection statutes was thinly argued and misread state constitutional law, they contend.

Why More of America's Students Are Finishing High School Atlantic Education: One reason for the academic improvements cited in the report is the closure of 800 schools since 2002 that featured chronically low graduation rates, campuses sometimes known as “dropout factories.” 

Louisiana Lawmakers Strike Preliminary Deal Over Common Core State EdWatch: The deal could signal an approaching peace, or at least a cease-fire, in the long-running war over the common core and the PARCC test in Louisiana.

Closing Costs: Parents Push For Role In Choosing New Charter School Operator WWNO Louisiana: The school year is winding down, and for three New Orleans charters, the last day will bring dramatic changes. Two of those schools are closing for good. The third – kindergarten through 8th grade school Andrew H. Wilson Charter – is getting a new operator.

Were Chicago's public schools ever good? WBEZ Chicago:  Ultimately, we decided to look at when CPS did a good job preparing students for successful careers; that is: When did the district best prepare people to be productive, taxpaying citizens? Career readiness is a consistent expectation, and it’s possible to compare one era to another. See also AP: Moody's Downgrades Chicago Schools, Park District Ratings

 27 resources on education, from a reporter who’s covered it PBS NewsHour:  When my wife and I moved recently, the process forced me to dig through piles of stuff and discard what I didn’t care enough about to pack and then unpack. In the process I came across some really good stuff, and that triggered this list of books, organizations, films, and websites that I value.

People: EdTech Startup Exec Feared Injured In Philly Amtrak Crash

There are lots of education types who travel up and down the Boston-DC corridor on Amtrak, and Rachel Jacobs of AppreNet is being reported as missing after the Philadelphia Amtrak crash last night. She's described as a 39 year old Swarthmore grad & mother of a young child. You can follow updates via Twitter here.

Social Media: Let's Be Nuzzel Friends!

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

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

Sounds fun, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Events: NewSchools 2015 Summit Live Twitter Feed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EdTech: Here Come the Chromebooks

ScreenHunter_02 Apr. 10 09.47
One more thing about tablets: Here Come the Chromebooks.  This story from Scholastic Administrator (site sponsor) and Michelle Davis describes how Chromebook sales have skyrocketed in recent months even as tablet sales and uses have come under pressure. Check it out!

Journalism: Unsolicited Observations On Bloomberg's Amplify Takedown

News Corp.’s  1 Billion Plan to Overhaul Education Is Riddled With Failures   Bloomberg BusinessAbove: Correction appended to Bloomberg News story about Amplify.

Bloomberg News' latest story on Amplify is enough to give us all pause to reconsider the enthusiasm (hype?) surrounding edtech in general and tablets in particular -- even if it wasn't following Bright's recent article on blended learning (also skeptical) earlier this week. GSV+ASU Summit, were you listening?

For example, the Bloomberg article (by Laura Colby) reminds us that it'll be 7 more years before schools all have high-speed Internet. And, as of last year, instructional materials in print still sell more than twice as much as digital materials. 

But the Bloomberg article has some issues, both factual and rhetorical,which raise questions about the accuracy of the picture readers get of Amplify in the spring of 2015 and remind me of the seemingly prevalent trend in education journalism towards decontextualized fault-finding that's almost as annoying as the "gee, whiz!" coverage from five and ten years ago. 

I'll lay it all out below.

Continue reading "Journalism: Unsolicited Observations On Bloomberg's Amplify Takedown" »

Events: GSV+ASU Conference Sounds Like "Shark Tank" For EdTech

Today's the last day of the three-day GSV+ASU Summit in Scottsdale Arizona, which has some of the edtech aspects of SXSWedu, some of the venture capital/innovation feel of the NSVF event, and also seems to have some EIA (Education Industry Association) elements.   It's big -- 2,500 -- but "much more focused on the deal-making/business [side] of education than other conferences," according to event organizers. (Yeah, Mark Cuban was there.)

Today's lineup includes some familiar folks, like Arthur Levine, who's there to talk about the coming transformation of higher education. Colorado state senator Mike Johnston --apparently one of New Leaders' co-founders -- was also there. Common (the rapper) was there, too.  (Did you see his performance on the Jimmy Fallon lip synch show vs. John Legend, BTW?). Miami-Dade's Alberto M. Carvalho was there.  Duncan, of course. (The USDE Office of Education Technology got on the Medium bandwagon with this post from the event). 

Michele Molnar's EdWeek writeup (Education Business Summit Explores Issue of Learning Equity) notes that reducing inequality is a big motivation for edtech hopes (perhaps attendees didn't read about education's limited impact on inequality or mobility).  Betsy Corcoran's EdSurge writeup (Reporter's Notebook: ASU GSV Summit Packs in Edtech Fans) notes that there are lots more teachers there than in the past and that only the newbies go to the panels (everyone  else is in meetings doing deals).

There's been some controversy surrounding the event, or at least GSV. One of its advisors is an Emanuel school board appointee to the school board ("Enough Is Enough": Education Investor Denounces Meddling Journalists).  GSV's Mike Moe was an education advisor to Newt Gingrich in 2011.

The media coverage includes Nichole Dobo (Hechinger), Michele Molnar (EdWeek), Donnie Dicus (Bright), and EdSurge, WashPo, NYT, Inside Higher Ed I'm told. Broadcast crews from Bloomberg and PBS are apparently there, too.Bright is Gates-funded (so is EdWeek). EdSurge is GSV-funded. 

Livestream is here. Social media: @asugsvsummit #asugsvsummit #gsv2020vision

Related posts: Test Prep & Instructional Materials $37B Of $789B K12 Spending.

Selfies: Oh No, Duncan's Mastered The Selfie Stick

Morning Video: Cheating As A Criminal Act

"An investigation had found systematic cheating in more than 40 schools. Judy Woodruff learns more from Kevin Riley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution." (How cheating on standardized tests can be a criminal act.) Or watch this video from Bright (Meet Nancy Davis, the Pirate Teacher).

Kids: Reporter Uses SnapChat To Interview Teen Climber

image from static.ow.ly

Intrepid BuzzFeed education and business reporter Molly  Hensley-Clancy took to the teen-dominated social media app called Snapchat to interview a 13 year-old climbing phenom.

For the most part, the teen climber used the image-based app to answer questions posed to her in plain text form.  

But then MHC went the extra mile and posed a question to the teen climber using the application herself (pictured).

This is the first time to my knowledge that an education reporter has used and published the results of a Snapchat interview.

Image used with permission.

Pro Tip: With Tailored Alerts, Nuzzel Lets You Know What's Hot On Social Media

image from wilab.comSocial media is great, and we all know how to set up streams on Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and use hashtags and check for updates constantly and all the rest, but it's still been hard to figure out where the conversation is going without spending all day watching Twitter, right?

Until now, that is.  A newish program called Nuzzel (tag line: "News from your friends") watches social media for you and lets you know when a bunch of your "friends" are going crazy over something. 

That's what's happening this afternoon, with the publication of Maggie Haberman's story on DFER, Hillary Clinton and the teachers unions

When a story like this one gets big, you get an alert and then you can click down and see who (among your friends) got the ball rolling and how it unfolded.  In this case, it was @maggieNYT who quad-tweeted her story out at noon, followed by Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein, Gotham Gazette's Ben Max, and Politico's Caitlin Emma.

Or at least, that's how it appears on my Nuzzel - perhaps you have more or better friends than I do. 

But wait, there's more!  Nuzzel lets you get a daily email, plus individual alerts at a threshold level of activity you can determine.  You can synchronize Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts. You can even subscribe to custom feeds, (aka Twitter lists, whose usefulness has always been limited to vanity), and get alerts that way. 

Basically, Nuzzel is a way to tame Twitter. It basically tells you what's trending within the group of folks you already know and love (or at least follow) that's not reliant on hashtags, saved streams, or Twitter's lame Trending lists. 

It may not yet be a full replacement for Feedly (or for having your own social media manager pinging you in the Bahamas when something comes up), but it's a big step forward.

And, it's a big argument for following or friending folks who don't agree with you already because it makes the echo chamber pretty obvious. Don't follow your opponents or others and you won't know what they're excited or upset about.

Big thanks to JGW for tipping me off about it.Click below for some screenshots if it's still not making sense.

Continue reading "Pro Tip: With Tailored Alerts, Nuzzel Lets You Know What's Hot On Social Media " »

Morning Video: HS Kid's "Wheelchair Challenge" (Or Nancie Atwell's Private School Pitch)

Check out this inspiring student-focused PBS NewsHour segment about wheelchair accessibility for schools. Or watch $1 million prizewinning teacher Nancie Atwell talk literacy and tell kids trying to figure out what to do to not to go into teaching "unless an independent school would suit you." Wait, what?  

Morning Video: Google Vs. Apple Battle Over Amish Country Classrooms

 

Tech giants battle for classrooms in Amish country From PBS NewsHour. Click the link for the show transcript.

AM News: Week 2 Of Common Core Testing Started Off Fairly Smoothly

NM's first PARCC test goes smoothly Albuquerque Journal: Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) was created by a consortium of states to measure knowledge of the Common Core standards

Common Core test debuts in Oregon, prompting stepped-up teaching, fears it will be too hard  OregonLive.com: Sixth grader Porter Stewart works on a writing assessment to help him prepare for the dauntingCommon Core test that will be given to 300,000...

Calls for opt-out bill continue as Illinois starts PARCC test Sun-Times: No major snafus were reported in the city or on the state level, although Mollison and Morrill elementary schools had some minor glitches, district spokesman Bill McCaffrey said. Otherwise CPS reported a “smooth start to testing,” he said, “with the exception of some minor tech issues, such as popup blockers.”

Federal education chief: Some kids are over-tested Sun Sentinel: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke to a crowd of more than 500 on his vision for education and his push to fix the federal No Child Left Behind Act at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach as part of an event by the Forum Club of the Palm 

Education interests to pour money into Democratic primary Philly.com:  AFT president Randi Weingarten, asked whether her union will make independent expenditures to influence the Philadelphia mayor's race, said she was "deeply concerned" about the state of schools here.

With Jesse Jackson's Chuy Garcia Endorsement, Black Leaders Begin to Unite ... In These Times:  has come out strongly against Emanuel's policies in all of these areas, and has the backing of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union and its president Karen Lewis. However, longstanding tensions and distrust between the city's black and Latino ...

More news below and throughout the day at @alexanderrusso.

Continue reading "AM News: Week 2 Of Common Core Testing Started Off Fairly Smoothly" »

Flashback Friday (#FBF): "Keep Calm & Continue Testing"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

"A test season riff on the WWII poster "Keep Calm And Carry On" via @mikeklonsky.  Is this for real, or even new?  I have no idea but would love to know.  There's an ACT logo and they're getting back to me about whether it's official or not.  If this was done by ACT rather than bootlegged it would be all the better.  Other versions of the same idea are here." (2012: "Keep Calm And Continue Testing")

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" »

Update: 3 More Avenues To Great Information From Scholastic

image from blogs.scholastic.com
Good news from the folks at Scholastic Administrator (who kindly sponsor this blog) is that there are now two more blogs on the site: The first is edu@scholastic, run by Tyler Reed (@tylerbreed) with voices from all over Scholastic-land). The second blog is Down the Hall from Rod Berger (@drrodberger), who covers trends and people in the ed tech/leadership space, through videos, posts, and audio interviews. Check them out, and also take a look at the Edu Pulse for a mix of daily stories from staff and outside contributors. 

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

Morning Video: Heart-Warming Story Of Unemployed Photographer & Bronx Middle School

Here's Ellen Degeneres interviewing the man behind "Humans of New York" and the student and principal who have become unintentional superstars. Target is jumping on the bandwagon, too.

Update: Blogging Is Dead. Long Live Blogging (Again)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comIt might be worth noting in passing the announcement last week that Andrew Sullivan, one of the first bloggers to come to prominence in the then-new field, has announced he's retiring from the pursuit.

Not so much because we don't already know that blogging as it was originally conceived of is dead - that's been true since roughly 2009, when social media came along.  I remember telling folks at an EWA event around that time that starting a blog was generally a bad idea. See related posts below.

The real reason to take note of Sullivan's decision is that he pioneered or elevated some key aspects of the online world we occupy now, including several that I wish there more of: intellectual honesty (admitting to error, changing of mind), linking out to others' work or giving credit for someone else's having found something interesting (which many folks are still reluctant to do), and the mixing of serious and silly. He was also white, male, and a product of traditional journalism.

Leave it to EIA's Mike Antonucci to give us a good education-related bit of commentary (Dead Blogs), in which he reminds us all that blogging is just a delivery system not some sort of magic unicorn that's come and gone:

"I don’t want to sound like Andy Rooney – especially since some of you don’t remember him – but “blogging” is just a name for a technological improvement to what people have done for centuries."

Might be time to get on Twitter, Mike, but otherwise you've got it right. 

Roundup of commentary on the Sullivan announcement: CJR: 7 ways Andrew Sullivan changed blogging;  Mashable: Requiem for blogging; Washington Post: No, blogging isn’t dead; BuzzFeed: My Life In The Blogosphere; Daily Beast: Andrew’s Burnt Out? Blogs Are, Too.

Related posts from this site: Blogs Are Dead (Long Live Blogging!)Six Rules Of Blogging (Defined Broadly).

ICYMI: Illinois School Bans Devices Teens Use To Chronicle Lives

Bo0NeUZIEAEmkUeIn what may be the first such instance in the nation, LaVerne Middle School in Evanston, IL has banned students from bringing so-called "selfie sticks" to school with them.

The devices are usually three to five feet long, with a handle at one end and a clip or other attachment to hold a cameraphone or GoPro (video camera).

"They're like half-size fishing rods," said Laverne AP Joe Schmesterhaus.

Their basic function is to help users take better "sellfies," extending the length between the camera lens and the person taking the picture. Some telescope for greater ease and portability. 

The issue began as a mere distraction this fall when some students started using the sticks to take pictures or video of themselves going to and from school, walking to class, and having lunch, then uploading the images to Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media platforms.  

It got much worse following the Winter Break, when many more students received or purchased the selfie sticks as gifts, and began jostling and rough-housing with them in the halls and in class. Some of the younger teachers also began bringing them to class.

The last straw, according to school board member Mary Lee Smiley, was a lunchtime melee the Tuesday after MLK Day Weekend when several students fought using the sticks as weapons, while others documented the event on their own devices.

"Schools always look bad when they ban things," said Smiley. "With any luck this is just a short-term solution until we figure out something more constructive." 

Related posts:  School Drones"Trigger Lock" Legislation Gaining PopularityObama's SuperSecret Special Ed Diversion Program"Classroom Intervention" Premiers This Fall Indiana School District Agrees To House Gitmo Detainees.

Morning Audio: The Force Field Of Expectations & The Half-Second Too Soon Rescue

20150122_specials_invisibiliabatman

This recent episode of NPR's new show "Invisibilia" focuses on the "force field" that parent and adult expectations -- however well-intended -- can have on lowering kids' abilities and performance in school and for years later. On a literal level, the show is about rats, blind kids and echo-location. On a symbolic level, it's about how many of us intervene a half-second too early and interrupt an uncomfortable but important learning moment. Don't worry, it's not all symbolic. There's some Carol Dweck in there, too -- and a snippet from a song my dad wrote at the 2:30 mark. Download and transcript here.

Lunchtime Video: Testing Town Hall

In case you missed it (like I did), here's video of a 90-minute town hall on testing that  took place in Milwaukee in October at the Great City Schools' annual conference. I came across it trying to track down the details behind the overtesting numbers that are being used in the current testing/streamlining debate. Link is here.

Quotes: Why Schools Aren't Using Simple "Nudges" To Help Students Learn

Quotes2Why aren’t schools, districts and states rushing to set up these measures? Maybe because the programs have no natural constituency. They are not labor- or capital-intensive, so they don’t create lots of jobs or lucrative contracts. They don’t create a big, expensive initiative that a politician can point to in a stump speech. They just do their job, effectively and cheaply. - UMichigan economist  Susan Dynarski, in the NYT (The Power of a Simple Nudge)

AM News: After Obama Push, Google Relents On Student Data Privacy Pledge

After Initially Holding Out, Google Signs Student-Data-Privacy Pledge EdWeek: Any possibility that the pledge might have slipped from the public's attention vanished last week, when President Barack Obama publicly lauded the effort and urged more companies to get on board.

State Of The Union Doesn't Mention No Child Left Behind Rewrite Efforts HuffPost: Obama mentioned few specifics about K-12 education, one of his administration's top priorities during his first term. Notably, the president mentioned not one word directly about one of his education secretary's priorities for 2015: rewriting the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act, the Bush-era school accountability law. Obama also failed to mention the words teacher and testing. See also PK12, Washington PostPBS NewsHour.

Who sat in the First Lady's State of the Union box? Vox: Malik Bryant (Chicago, IL) Thirteen-year-old Malik Bryant sent a letter to Santa over the holidays, but rather than request the usual gifts, Malik wrote: "All I ask for is for safety I just wanna be safe." The President wrote back to Malik, encouraging him and underscoring that Malik's "security is a priority for me in everything I do as president." Malik lives with his mother Keturah and his two sisters in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. He is in seventh grade, and his favorite subject is math.

Cuomo’s Education Agenda Sets Battle Lines With Teachers’ Unions NYT: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to seek changes to teacher evaluations and charter school limits, reforms that, uncharacteristically for a Democrat, will put him in conflict with the unions. See also ChalkbeatNY, WNYC.

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

Continue reading "AM News: After Obama Push, Google Relents On Student Data Privacy Pledge" »

Thompson: Misgivings About NYC's New Cell Phone Policy

Like most teachers who I know, I have strong opinions about cell phones in school – I’m agin em.

But, I support Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina, so why should I intrude into New York City’s cell phone debate? Edu-politics is the art of the possible and cell phones aren’t going away. At some point we will have to find a way to incorporate those hand-held computers into the learning process. So, I had decided to bite my tongue and hope for the best.

Then, I stumbled across TechCrunch and Joe Mathewson’s prediction for 2015, “Teachers will embrace student’s Smartphone addiction.” Such candor cannot be allowed to go to waste. Regardless of where we come down on cell phones in school, we should face the fact that we are welcoming a dominating compulsion into our classrooms.

NY Chalkbeat’s Brian Charles, in Educators Remain Cautious as City Prepares to Lift Cell Phone Ban, quotes a principal who asks, “How do we enforce the use of cell phones in class, if we have 500-plus kids with cell phones who are taking calls or text during class time?” The principal then makes the point that too few non-educators fully understand, “We have laid a whole new burden on teachers who have to make sure children get the instruction they need.”

I must emphasize that NYC is not only opening the door to an incredibly disruptive device. It is inviting teenagers to bring patterns of behavior, that often could be described as addictions, into classrooms. When teachers, alone, cannot manage the cell phone challenge, they are likely to be scapegoated.

I would never bet against technology. The reason why digital technologies have failed to improve teaching and learning, I believe, is that we have not laid the foundation for the new types of learning. We must all take responsibility for helping students develop a learning culture and the self-control necessary to successfully engage in blended learning. New York City is dumping a massive and complex challenge on teachers and principals, while it is not likely to accept any responsibility for the epidemic of distraction and disorder that probably will result.

On the other hand, school improvement is a team effort. I'm not going to second guess teammates like de Blasio and Farina and I will hope for the best.  -JT (@drjohnthompson)    

 

 

 

#EdGif Of The Day: How To Explain A Book To Your Students

"It's like an iPad, only thicker.  It entertains yo for hours.  It's like individual screens with words on it. It's like a movie you get to direct in your own head."  via
 
We may all have an exaggerated sense of kids' use and affection for e-reading (a new Scholastic survey shows that most kids read real books and like them better) but still this is pretty funny and brilliant (though not at all new). 
 
 

Morning Video: Real-Time Videoconference Translation

Launched last month, Skype and Microsoft have a videoconferencing program that allows real-time translation (seek English-Spanish demo above). The Times says that Google is not far behind. Anyone tried it yet in real life, or have any thoughts about what this does to, say, foreign language requirements?

Thompson: Can School Reform Learn from Failure?

The November, 2014 New York Times Magazine special edition on innovation focuses on failure. As explained in its introduction, most innovations are like Esperanto. They fail.  As they say in that long-forgotten language, “Oh, Well, Gravas la penso (it’s the thought that counts).”

Some of the best parts of the issue involve the inflated hopes of 1990s Big Data and corporate-style innovations and how they failed in similar ways. From the mapping of the human genome to output-driven, market-driven school reform, innovators learned that the world is far more complicated than they had anticipated. 

Virginia Hefferman explained how 1990s Virtual Reality mediums failed to live up to their marketing hype because, real world, they felt “like brain poison.” After a reworking of these technologies, virtual reality should now live up to its promise by creating “’a deep hunger for real-life experience.’”

Kemia Malekvilibro recalled the 1990s promise of DNA sequencing, and concluded that the “golden road to pharmaceutical riches as target-based drug discovery has often proved to be more of a garden path.” Its approach to improving health outcomes relied too heavily on Big Data. It needed more old-fashioned inductive research, where scientists formulated hypotheses and tinkered with their experiments.

In both cases, pioneers faced up to facts and adjusted to reality. They looked again at the phenomenon they were studying and asked questions. Education seems to be the exception; its true believers have refused to acknowledge the failure of their beautiful first generation theories.

Continue reading "Thompson: Can School Reform Learn from Failure?" »

People: Forbes' 30 Under 30 Education List Goes EdTech

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 07 13.36The 2015 version of Forbes' #30Under30 education list came out on Monday, featuring members of familiar organizations and companies including Kano, Chegg, Amplify, Aspire, TFA, College Board, & FFEPS. Folks like TFA and EdPioneers were understandably enthusiastic about the list, since it includes so many of their current and former folks. Others -- including at least one of the judges -- weren't so enthusiastic. Some reasons for concern or complaint included the lack of classroom teachers on the list, the focus on edtech, and the lack of diversity (racial and ideological, I suppose). 

Related posts: Meet Jeremiah Kittredge, Forbes' Under-30 Honoree (2012);  Who's *Not* On The Forbes 2011 Reformer List?;  Forbes Tackles School Solutions (2008).  Image used with permission of Forbes.

Magazines: The Hype Cycle Created By Innovators & Journalists

image from www.newyorker.comThe New Yorker is no longer my go-to magazine or site for deep and smart writing, but one of the best magazine stories I've read recently was in a December edition of the magazine.

It wasn't focused on education but rather on graphene, a substance whose invention generated tremendous scientific, academic, and journalistic attention but whose widespread application has lagged and is only now on the horizon (The New Yorker). 

Of particular interest, the piece describes the Hype Cycle, which "begins with a Technology Trigger, climbs quickly to a Peak of Inflated Expectations, falls into the Trough of Disillusionment, and, as practical uses are found, gradually ascends to the Plateau of Productivity."

“Nobody stands to benefit from giving the bad news,” [Guha] told me. “The scientist wants to give the good news, the journalist wants to give the good news—there is no feedback control to the system.”

Tour concurs, and admits to some complicity. “People put unrealistic time lines on us,” he told me. “We scientists have a tendency to feed that—and I’m guilty of that. A few years ago, we were building molecular electronic devices. TheTimes called, and the reporter asked, ‘When could these be ready?’ I said, ‘Two years’—and it was nonsense. I just felt so excited about it.”

Much the same could be said for many education-related inventions, both technological and policy-related, right?

Related posts about hype can be found here. See also The Innovation/Disruption "Myth. Related posts about the New Yorker: New Yorker Slips Anti-Reform Straw Man Into Teacher Training Column;  12 New Yorker Education Stories Vox MissedNew Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School; ; New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next. Image via New Yorker Magazine.

Charts: Dismal Poll Results For Charters, Vouchers, & Ending Teacher Tenure

image from s3.amazonaws.com

Private school vouchers and charter school expansion don't fare nearly as well with the public as various changes to improving classroom teaching -- but not ending teacher tenure -- according to this chart from last week's Third Way report (What Americans Want from Democrats on Education). Of course, the results might have been different if the language had been "streamlining" tenure or something else less absolute. Image used with permission.  

Journalism: Hits & Misses In NPR's "Overtesting" Story

So-called "overtesting" is probably the easiest story on the education beat to do right now, and I'm no saint I did one too last winter for the Atlantic's education page. But there aren't any real numbers out there and so it's very easy to fall into using eye-catching anecdotes that may or may not be representative and also to fall prey to the presumption that overtesting is a thing when we really don't know that is.

That's I think what happened to this new NPR education story (Testing: How Much Is Too Much?), which while far from the worst of the overtesting stories I've seen lately would have done better to focus less on critics of testing (Brockett and Jasper) and extreme examples and more on the reality that we don't know as much as we'd like about the prevalence of testing in schools over all and that there are folks out there (including civil rights groups) who think that testing is essential for school accountability and are worried about losing annual tests or going back to a previous era when the public didn't really know how students were doing. 

All that being said, there aren't any obviously sketchy or misleading numbers in the NPR piece like last week's NYT story included, and are some great bits, too: There are some vivid #edgifs showing a kid who has to take lots of end of year exams that are fun to look at (I've tweeted and Tumblred them but can't show them here without permission). I'm really glad that NPR used and linked to the Chiefs/Great Cities survey of large districts, and the CAP study of 14 districts. I didn't know that the White House had put out a statement on the issue. 

Last but not least, the NPR story addresses the notion that tests have gotten added without any attempt to remove their predecessors in a fun, stylish way: " The CCSSO survey describes testing requirements that have seemingly multiplied on their own without human intervention, like hangers piling up in a closet." The layering on of testing regimens without regard to burden or legacy testing will, I am guessing, turn out to be at the root of much of what some parents and teachers and testing critics are clamoring about.

Related posts: NYT Journo Tweets Out "60-80 Days" Of Testing ClarificationPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!.

Slideshow: Who Funds EdTech -- And Who Doesn't

Here's an interesting look at who funds edtech pointing out that traditional funders don't all approach the sector the same way -- and that there are some challenges as a result.  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Maps: Many States Now Provide "Early Warning" Reports For Struggling Students

image from a.scpr.org

Here's a map of states with early warning systems, described in this Marketplace story as the result of  a "steady stream of student data, like GPA, attendance, demerits, and test scores" that allow administrators to "peer into the future and spot the 7th and 8th graders most at risk of dropping out of high school in the future." (Using data to predict students headed for trouble). Image used with permission.

Video: While Away The Afternoon WIth Khan, Hastings, & Williams, Vanity Fair-Style

Here's a half-hour talk with Sal Khan, Reed Hastings, and Jane Williams - plus a link to the Annie Liebovitz Vanity Fair portrait of Khan and a profile by EdSec Arne Duncan.

Quotes: Greedy Reformers

Quotes2A firm that’s just in it for the money is as reprehensible as a teacher union that’s in it just to look after its members’ pay, pensions, and job security. - Fordham's Checker Finn (The State of Education Reform)

Morning Listen: Reed (Netflix) Hastings & Sal Khan Discuss Nonprofit Online Learning

In the most recent Bloomberg EDU, Jane Williams talks to the Netflix founder (and charter skeptic) and YouTube flipped classroom trailblazer (or whatever to call him). Link not working? Go here.

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).

Books: Get Ready For 2015's "The Test"

The test book 2015Hey, everyone, so sorry if you're not done reading Goldstein, Green, Kahlenberg/Potter, or any of the other education books that have come out in recent weeks, but it's time to start getting ready for the next wave of titles coming down the pike.

First one that I know of for 2015 is Anya Kamenetz's The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don’t Have to Be.

According to the understandably hyperbolic promo writeup (I haven't actually seen the book itself), many schools are spending up to 28 percent of their time on test prep, and the Common Core is going to require "an unprecedented level of new, more difficult, and longer mandatory tests to nearly every classroom in the nation up to five times a year", and the nation's spending $1.4 billion a year on testing.

I don't know if any of that is accurate (or if $1.4 billion is a lot) but it's certainly pretty alarming -- and I guess that's the point. Not to worry, there are things that parents and educators to do to deal with the overtesting problem.  And there are celebrity profiles showing us how high tech folks like Gates and Bezos deal with overtesting in their kids' lives.

All snark aside, it'll be interesting to see what Kamenetz's book adds to the overtesting debate, which is sure to continue this year as states and districts and schools deal with Common Core assessments and parents' and teachers' concerns about testing, test prep, and use of test results. The timing couldn't be better.

Follow Friday [#FF]: Top Education Tweeters, According To Education Dive

image from d1bb041l1ipbcm.cloudfront.netI'm still not quite sure what Education Dive is all about -- one of several different industry "dives" that the company puts out -- but still I'm happy to be included in its list of best education Twitter feeds to follow (along with several other noteworthies) and appreciate in particular the kind writeup:

"A former educator, and a staffer under California Sen. Diane Feinstein, Russo has his thumb on education trends. He is constantly updating his feed with interesting ed reads, and as the founder of Scholastic's This Week In Education, he is never short of content. Something to appreciate about Russo's feed is he never seems to push one agenda, but rather curates an interesting selection of must-reads."

Thanks for including me, Allie Gross (@Allie_Elisabeth). Image courtesy @EducationDive.

 

 

Quotes: Steve Jobs Didn't Let His Kids Have iPads

Quotes2We have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids. - Tech mogul Chris Anderson about tech parents limiting kids' exposure (NYT: Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent)

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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.