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?
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.
The 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).
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 Missed; New Yorker Delves Into Atlanta Cheating School; ; New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform Backlash; What The New Yorker's Parent/Reporter Should Write About Next. Image via New Yorker Magazine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Hey, 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.
I'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.
We 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)
Or click below and watch Smiley interview Diane Ravitch.
Via Hechinger Report's Annie Murphy Paul.
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.
When 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)
"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.
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).
The case for cop AND teacher cams - Chicago Tribune ( Reihan Salam) ow.ly/AHgIY
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)
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
The Los Angeles Unified School District ducks out of trigger law, cites federal waiver | Deseret News ow.ly/AuLAe
My 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.
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.
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
Chart: Top Liberal Campaign Spenders 2012 - via Voxow.ly/zKHsh includes Bloomberg, Soros, Fred Eychaner, etc.
Remembering Gene Maeroff - Education Next : Education Next ow.ly/zL69g (features audio interview)
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
Now 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.
Three more to go -- the best ones! -- click the link and see.
So 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.
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).
Either 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’)
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.
Here's the PBS NewsHour segment from last night about the new Participant documentary about college costs and outcomes.
The 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?
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.
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
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
What'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.
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?
I 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?
Another 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.
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.
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.
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.
Teachers 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)
If 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)
"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
Kids 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)
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.
Perhaps 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.
Next 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.