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Morning Video: Teachers As Free Agents, Paid Based On Test Scores

Here's a Key & Peele sendup of SportsCenter in which teachers are highly-paid free agents who are wooed from one school to another based on salaries partly based on test scores. Includes a horrifyingly realistic in-video ad promoting BMWs for teachers.  Via Toppo

Charts: Who's Running All Those Charter Schools?

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I don't know if it's been vetted by NAPCS or NACSA or anyone else yet, but Bruce Baker's maps and charts showing Who’s actually running America’s charter schools are pretty interesting to look at, and give a good sense of how narrow the conversation about charters can get given the distribution of providers/operators out there. 

Morning Video: New Teachers, Job Prospects, Minority Retention

Here's last night's PBS NewsHour segment on teacher supply and demand, which describes how 200,000 newly-minted teacher education graduates might fare in the job marketplace. (The piece quotes the 40 percent/5 year departure statistic we've long seen for new teachers, though I thought that new research suggested that number might not be as high as we've been told.)

"If and when they do get hired, chances are at least 40 percent of them will leave teaching in the first five years. "

According to Ingersoll, the profession has become even more female-dominated, and minority teachers have doubled but have higher quit rates (largely due to the kinds of schools and districts into which they are hired).

Charts: Teaching Candidates Come From Less Wealthy Families

Who studies education

This chart from a recent Atlantic story about rich kids studying English seems to be a good reminder that those students who enter teaching as undergraduates tend to come from families with less income than those who study, say, English. I'm not sure if this has changed much in the last 10 years. Anyone know more?

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" »

Table: Smaller, Lower-Scoring Districts Had Higher Opt-Out Rates In NY

image from www.brookings.eduSo Brookings' Matt Chingos took a look at the available opt-out data for New York State, and then combined it with demographic information and 2014 test score results (Who opts out of state tests?).

What he found includes both the obvious ("relatively affluent districts tend to have higher opt-out rates," and "larger districts tend to have lower opt-out rates.") and the more surprising ("districts with lower test scores have higher opt-out rates after taking socioeconomic status into account.")

Why would lower-scoring districts have higher opt out rates, controlling for demographics?

According to Chingos, it might be "district administrators encouraging opt-outs in order to cover up poor performance, districts focusing on non-tested subjects to satisfy parents who care less about standardized tests, and parents becoming more skeptical of the value of tests when their children do not score well."

However, there's not enough data to determine whether lower- or higher-scoring students tended to opt out at higher or lower rates, notes Chingos. "It could be the higher-scoring students in those districts that are doing the opting out."

Where's All The Ed-Related Conversation About #RachelDolezal?

Has someone prominent been revealed to have been "passing" as black in education? Not that I know of. But I can't believe it hasn't happened -- and even if it hasn't, race and privilege are everywhere in education. 

And so I'm sad to note that there's surprisingly little being said so far about Rachel Dolezal among the education folks I follow on Twitter and Facebook, and via Feedly.

That seems like a shame. It's an opportunity, right?  Let's not have it pass us by just because Dolezal headed a NAACP local rather than a school district.

Below are a few comments by education-related people that I've found via Twitter, just to get things started:

Nekima Levy-Pounds:

Deray McKesson:

Morgan Polikoff:

Liz Dwyer:

Laura McKenna:

Motoko Rich:

Camika Royal:

Some of the folks I'd love to hear from (more) on this issue include Karen Lewis, Cami Anderson, Michelle Rhee, @TheJLV, Linda Darling-Hammond, Chris Stewart, Ray Salazar, RiShawn Biddle, Xian Barrett, Sabrina Stevens, Deray McKesson, someone from TFA, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Agree or disagree with you, we need more voices here. 

Related posts: Educators & Advocates Need Authentic Conversations About Race, TooRace, Reconstruction, & The Nation"Big Patterns Of Disparity By Race"Sports Are What City Schools "Do Best".

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)

Will Common Core Results Generate A New Wave Of Lawsuits?

In case you hadn’t noticed, most of today’s education debate takes place inside a very small, seemingly unchangeable stone box. But there are a few examples of advocates thinking big, going at fundamental problems that aren't just workarounds to the current situation:

In 2008, Matt Miller proposed ending local control of schools in an Atlantic Magazine article (First, Kill All the School Boards). He admitted that reducing the over-emphasis on local control “goes against every cultural tradition we have, save the one that matters most: our capacity to renew ourselves to meet new challenges.”

In 2012, former NYC chancellor Joel Klein (and Michelle Rhee, and Warren Buffett) half-jokingly floated the idea of “banning” private schools and assigning children to schools randomly (rather than by neighborhood or test score). I was annoyed at this spread of this "thought experiment" at the time and it still seems legally and politically unworkable but it expands the mind, suggesting other, possibly more achievable changes. It's apparently been discussed in other countries.

In the past few years, folks like Nikole Hannah-Jones (formerly of ProPublica, now headed to the New York Times) or Ta-Nehesi Coates of The Atlantic have reminded us of things like resegregation of schools in the South and the policy decisions that created the American ghetto

The most recent example I've come across is the notion of undoing the 1973 Rodriguez case that has seemed to have blocked progress on school funding issues for over 40 years now. Recently, civil rights leader Wade Henderson described the law as “a triumph of states’ rights over human rights.” Educator and activist Sam Chaltain wrote not too long ago that Rodriguez was arguably as important as the 1954 Brown decision may be and called for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing “an equal opportunity to learn.” 

Perhaps the most exciting (and terrifying) idea I've heard of in recent months is someone suing states based on their failure to achieve reasonable student proficiency percentages under the new Common Core assessments.  "All of a sudden the standards and test results [could] become something that state courts can refer to as a reasonable representation of states' Constitutional requirements," notes to school funding expert Bruce Baker (who's not particularly optimistic about this happening or working out well).

The point is simple: There are elements to the current education system that can seem so permanent, so intractable as to make them seem not work talking about. But that's a shame -- and a bit of an embarrassment.  What's the biggest, scariest, most fascinating education idea you've heard or thought of lately?

NB: This is a version of a post that was first published over at The Grade.  

Thompson: The Perils -- And Potential -- Of "Right-Click" Credit Programs

image from apps.npr.orgNational Public Radio committed fourteen reporters to an investigative series, The Truth about America's Graduation Rate, which identifies three major ways that school systems try to improve their graduation rates.

NPR finds that some districts did it in the proper way, by "stepping in early to keep kids on track." 

Too many improved graduation rates by "lowering the bar by offering alternate and easier routes when students falter," or "gaming the system by moving likely dropouts off the books, transferring or misclassifying them."

NPR's excellent series should push us to ask some tougher questions, such as what is the harm of "juking the stats" in order to graduate more students? Credit recovery is the alternative route that might have the most potential for helping students graduate, but when abused, it has great potential for harm.

In the early years of NCLB, my students shunned credit recovery as "exercising your right-click finger." But, as credit recovery expanded, the practice literally became dangerous. In many inner city high schools, most of the chronic disorder and violence is prompted by students who attend irregularly and/ or who come to school but don't go to class.

Continue reading "Thompson: The Perils -- And Potential -- Of "Right-Click" Credit Programs" »

Charts: In One Year, 41 Chicago Schools Raised $7.6M In Private Donations

image from catalystchicago.wpengine.netdna-cdn.comThere's a perception in some quarters that public schools within each school district are by and large equal in terms of how they're funded, and it's mostly charter schools that rake in the outside donations. 

Well, this new piece from Catalyst Chicago (The price of fundraising) pretty much explodes that idea:

"For a select but growing group of schools in Chicago’s wealthier communities, parent fundraising has risen to new heights." 

Last year, 8 schools raised more than $300,000 each. "Thirty brought in more than $100,000 and eight raised more than $200,000." One raised more than $600,000. 

 

AM News: What Next For NJ & Common Core (Plus Chicago Supe Resigns)

Former Md. Gov. Martin O'Malley Joins Democrats' Race for White House PK12: Among his education achievements as governor was signing into law a bill that made some undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition.

Real Test After Christie’s Call to Drop Common Core: What Happens Next? NJ Spotlight: Now what? In the aftermath of Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement on Thursday that he no longer supports the Common Core State Standards, what are the administration’s plans for setting its own standards for New Jersey’s public schools?

Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigns amid federal criminal investigation Chicago Tribune: Byrd-Bennett sent written notice of her decision to the city school board, a source told the Tribune late Sunday. An official CPS announcement was pending.

Deadline for Teacher-Distribution Plans Looms PK12: Attention state agency officials: Monday is the final deadline to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education that address the equitable distribution of teachers.

Center for Union Facts says Randi Weingarten is ruining nation’s schools Washington Post: The writer, Richard Berman, is a D.C.-based corporate communications consultant who is waging a national campaign against Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Poll: Maryland Voters Concerned About Time Spent On Standardized Tests WAMU: When it comes to education issues, Maryland voters are worried about too much standardized testing of kids more than anything else, according to a poll commissioned and released by the state's teachers union. The survey shows rare bipartisan agreement on education in Maryland.

Chicago struggles to redesign neighborhood high schools Catalyst: Overall, the neighborhood high schools that small schools were intended to rejuvenate are still struggling. Many, especially on the South and West sides, suffer from sharply declining enrollment.

Charter-school backers resist state’s traditional financial-reporting rules Seattle Times: The state wants charter schools to follow the same financial-reporting rules as other public schools, but has encountered some unexpected backlash. It’s the first clash in an otherwise peaceful relationship with the state as charters ramp up in Washington.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Confounds Mayor Bill de Blasio WSJ: Aides to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have huddled for months trying to understand Gov. Andrew Cuomo, often as they scrambled to address perceived slights. They largely have come to one conclusion: There is very little to be done about him.

Reaching Kids Means Conquering Poverty in Mount Vernon WNYC: Educators on the front lines — those who work with the students in the schools that struggle most to pass reading and math tests — said Cuomo’s argument ignored a key factor, one beyond teachers’ control: poverty.

School surveillance video shows boxes of SAT exams were delivered to UPS Washington Post: On May 2, 263 teens sat for the SATs at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., the culmination of weeks of expensive test preparation for some students as they hoped to enhance their standing on the college entrance exams.

Blue-collar town leads Rhode Island’s tech-assisted learning revolution Hechinger Report: The students dive into the lesson, dragging empty domino shapes from the bottom of the screen and placing them at the top, where they add dots and create equations.

Hastert’s Name Removed by Alma Mater NYT: AWheaton College scrubbed J. Dennis Hastert’s name from its public policy center after the former House speaker’s indictment on charges that he lied to the F.B.I. about financial transactions.

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?

Update: Panorama Unveils Teacher Survey (To Help Evaluate Principals)

Wide-deskThe idea that quick, candid surveys can be useful in schools and classrooms isn't new at this point. They've been popularized since a few years ago when it was reported that students' views of teachers correlated with teachers' abilities to improve student achievement.

But now one of the outfits that works on these kinds of things is taking it a step further -- or deepening the approach, you might say -- by developing quick and dirty survey instruments for administrators to ask teachers.

The new Panorama Teacher Survey is mean to help administrators understand what teachers are thinking and how they're doing. They can be used diagnostically, or for schools where teachers help evaluate principals. They're faster and cheaper than a big Gallup kind of poll.  Their competition is the New Teacher Center's TELL Survey.  

"We're piloting with a number of schools right now and over 50 schools have already started using the free teacher survey platform since we launched," says Panorama's Jack McDermott. Meantime, the Student Survey has been "accessed by over 4,000 educators worldwide" and has been "district-wide in several of the largest districts in country and has been approved by several states for use in evaluation measures."

Related posts: Yeah, But What's Your Panorama™ Score? (2012), State of the Art: Grading Teachers, With [Survey] Data From Class (NYT 2014)

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.

Morning Video: Three White Guys (Including Gates & Buffett) Talk Education (Again)

 

From CNBC Monday, here's seven minutes from Gates, Buffett, and Charlie Munger talking about education. 

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!

Morning Video: Taking A Look At The Latest Charter School Waiting Lists

It's both Charter Schools and Teacher Appreciation week at the same time, and yet the sky seems not to have fallen (yet). So maybe that means something good. 

However, the charter schools folks are pushing the waiting list numbers thing hard again, and that has me nervous.  The latest Charter Alliance report looks at waiting lists in 10 districts and has generated some news coverage including the NY Daily News (NYC has longest wait for charter schools in the country); EdWeek (Urban Charter School Wait Lists Swell Nationally, Report Says); WSJ (Waiting for Charter Schools).

Charter school waiting list numbers tend to look misleadingly high, sort of like lots of other numbers in education: charter school graduate percentages, college acceptance rates, pre-Common Core state proficiency rates. All these numbers -- like rents in Brooklyn -- are too damn high to be believed (though the rents are for real).

That's not to say that there aren't thousands of parents who want to get into some charters, and that there won't be more of them applying soon thanks to universal enrollment agreements that are slowly but surely spreading among urban districts. What we need is some sort of standardized definition and practice for waitlist numbers among different charters and districts, as was done a decade or so ago about graduation and dropout statistics. 

There's also the issue of some charter schools not backfilling classes when kids exit during the school year or even between years. It'd be interesting to match up the backfill numbers with the waiting list numbers and see what you came up with.

Until then I would urge everyone to look at the numbers being provided with caution. The demand is real, and the parents are sincere, but the specific numbers...I'm just not very confident in them.

Still curious? According to the report, "More information is available at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ data dashboard. Data sources for the number of student names on wait lists for each district are available in the Technical Note." Tell us what you find.

Related posts: Charter Schools Claim Million-Name Nat'l Wait-List (2013); Charter Advocates Denounce Reuters Reporting* (2013); Charter school demand in Mass. disputed (Boston Globe 2013); Well-Connected Parents Slip Past Lottery (2011).

Charts: Nearly 20,000 High Schools Now Offering AP

image from www.marketplace.org

The number of schools offering AP has nearly doubled since the mid-1990s when my old boss Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and others were touting it as a great way to raise expectations and accelerate learning for low-income and minority kids. Here's a chart showing the growth via a story that ran on APM Marketplace yesterday. For other stories in the series: How one high school is closing the AP gapSpending $100 million to break down AP class barriers.

The courses and tests are obviously no silver bullet, and it's unclear to me what happens to AP in the Common Core era. But they are a good reminder that more kids than we think can learn to challenging levels, and that school systems often don't serve kids equally without being nudged or forced to do so. Image used with permission.

Related posts: Advanced Placement offerings vary widely in D.C. high schools (Washington Post)

AM News: Common Core Testing Resumes, & Scoring Begins

Ga. Schools Chief: Testing Snafu With Unknown Impact Is 'Unacceptable' State EdWatch: Problems with common-core-aligned exams mirror those in Montana and Nevada, but the Associated Press reports that the glitches are not as severe as in other states.

Louisiana Common Core tests resume with few boycotts, state says NOLA.com: During five days in March, more than 4,300 students boycotted the first set of Common Core exams, part of a political uprising against the math and English benchmarks. That's about 1 percent of the total number of students in the testing grades.

Challenges, optimism in learning Common Core in Spanish KPCC LA: Imagine if you don’t spend your day learning in the English language. How do dual immersion students grasp the Common Core concepts? It turns out that once educators had time to think about how Common Core could be taught in the classroom, they saw dual immersion learning as aligning surprisingly well with concepts like problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration.

How Common Core tests are scored Cleveland.com:  If your third grader took the PARCC math exams this spring, there's a good chance that one of their answers was scored [on] a laptop here at this Westerville office.

Inside the School Silicon Valley Thinks Will Save Education Wired: And so, if you are truly fed up with the school status quo and have $20,875 to spare (it’s pricey, sure, but cheaper than the other private schools you’ve seen), you might decide to take a chance and sign your 7-year-old up for this little experiment in education called AltSchool. Except it’s not really so little anymore. And it’s about to get a lot bigger. See als NPRTechChrunchNYT

The changing role of Advanced Placement classes Marketplace: If annual growth rates hold true, during the next two weeks, more than two million high school students across the country are expected to take AP exams. A passing score could mean earning college credit while still in high school. Research shows that students who take rigorous courses in high school are more likely to get into, and succeed, in college.

Most Americans Think Public School Teachers Are Underappreciated And Underpaid HuffPost: The survey results suggest most Americans think teachers deserve a week dedicated to appreciating them, if only because this group does not get enough respect the other 51 weeks of the year.  

Gates' Teacher-Prep Grants Will Fund Cooperatives to Scale, Share Practices TeacherBeat: The most notable feature of this approach is is that it's a change from one-off grants to individual providers and institutions, the strategy the foundation has used up to this point for teacher preparation. 

Higher Ed Lobby Quietly Joins For-Profit Schools to Roll Back Tighter Rules ProPublica: Traditional colleges and universities have become unlikely allies of the beleaguered for-profit industry as each group tries to fend off the government’s push for more accountability. See also FirstLook story on PACs and think tanks Corinthian gave money to before going bankrupt.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Common Core Testing Resumes, & Scoring Begins" »

Events: What's New At NewSchools 2015?

image from www.nsvfsummit.com
I may or may not make it to the annual NewsSchools Venture Fund summit this year, but thought you might like to know about the annual confab held most frequently in San Francisco.  

This year's headliner is "author, researcher and TED Talks sensation Brené Brown." Other highlights include an appearance from Gates'  Sara Allan who will unveil "a new, interactive platform designed to better connect ed tech entrepreneurs with the needs of teachers and students," and an interview with newish NewSchools CEO Stacey Childress.

Of particular interest to me is a panel on diverse/progressive charters being led by Kriste Dragon, Citizens of the World Charter Schools, and parents from Citizens and Bricolage and RI's Mayoral Academy. and Renita Thukral, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Information about Summit, including the comprehensive schedule, can be found at www.nsvfsummit.com.  Follow @nsvf and #nsvfsummit on Twitter for event updates.This year's event is being held May 6. Unusual for education conferences, it's an invite-only event. 

Related posts:  They're Beaming NSVF Summit 2014 To Boston This YearGoogle 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. Image via NSVF webpage. 

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.

Overtesting: Miami Superintendent Announces Big Testing Reduction

On Thursday, Miami's Carvalho announced an "aggressive decommissioning" of testing (such as end of course exams in elementary school). More details via Valerie Strauss and Miami Herald.

Has anyone dug into the announcement to see if it's as big as it's being presented? Have Bush or Rubio or anyone else close to the situation responded to the announcement?

Update: What *Really* Happened At #EWA15 This Year? (According To Me)

I'll let the good folks at EWA tell you the official version of this week's goings-ons, and try to focus on the things that you won't find out about elsewhere.  

No, not the mundane stuff like my surreal Friday afternoon visit to Noble Street's new Speer campus on the Near West Side, how strangely intimidating I find EWA staffers though they're mostly very friendly, or my unexpected Monday night bunkmate (it's not as bad as it sounds).

I mean the good stuff.  You know -- newsroom changes, comings and goings, subtle trends and dynamics going on behind the scenes that folks might not have said out loud or tweeted but were (it seemed to me) going on.

Take a look, and then let me know what I missed or got wrong.  Send your tips (anonymous and otherwise) to me at alexanderrusso@gmail.com

Continue reading "Update: What *Really* Happened At #EWA15 This Year? (According To Me)" »

Morning Video: "Daily Show Skewers" Harsh Sentences For ATL Educators Who Cheated

Here's Jon Stewart lastnight slamming the Atlanta judge who handed out harsh sentences to educators who cheated on state tests there. Annenberg Institute via Valerie Strauss. Three of the educators are supposed to get resentenced today.

Events: #NPEChicago Is The Third Big Chicago Event In A Row

image from www.networkforpubliceducation.orgIt's been quite a week already for Chicago, what with AERA and #EWA15 (and all the local news as well).  

But it's not over yet.  

Up next is #NPEChicago, the 2nd annual meeting of this group, which will include authors of "some of the most celebrated books in recent years. (including those displayed to the left.

Featured speakers include Yong Zhao, Diane Ravitch, Lily Eskelson Garcia, Randi Weingarten and Chicago’s own Karen Lewis and Jitu Brown. 

The April 25-26 event is also going to be livestreamed via School House Live.

Know more about the event, or planning to go and report your experiences from there? Let us know.

Morning Video: Did Ohio's 3rd Grade Reading Initiative Work? (Plus 2 Extras)

Watch last night's PBS NewsHour segment on the Ohio reading initiative intended to ensure that students were proficient readers before moving on to the rest of elementary school. (Big hint: holding lots of kids back is controversial and expensive.) Or, watch a segment featuring Arne Duncan's interview in Chicago on WTTW Chicago Tonight. Or, watch Jeb Bush wiggle on Common Core via Tampa Bay Times.

People: Journo Who Broke Chicago SUPES Story Two Years Ago Changing Jobs

Catalyst Chicago deputy editor Sarah Karp, widely credited with having broken the $20 million SUPES story that has now led to an FBI Investigation and the stepping down of the head of the Chicago school system, is leaving to join the Better Government Association of Chicago. 

For a time, it seemed like nobody would ever follow up on Karp's 2013 SUPES scoop.  Local NPR station WBEZ had her on to talk about the story, and local ABC 7's Sarah Schulte did a segment.  However, neither the Sun-Times or Tribune followed up in any meaningful way -- until now.

That's nothing new. Super-competitive news outlets sometimes refuse to "follow" other outlets. Other times, they re-report each others' stories and pretend their competitors' versions don't exist (which is understandable but super-annoying). Of course, sometimes it's not a conscious decision, they just have other stories to work on, more urgent-seeming matters, and don't have time or staff to cover everything they'd like.

In any case, Catalyst is looking for a new reporter to replace Karp, and publisher and founder Linda Lenz noted graciously "We're pleased that she will take all the knowledge she gained at Catalyst to a new audience. The city, in effect, will get an additional ed reporter."  Reporter Melissa Sanchez remains.

Meantime, Catalyst is also celebrating a 25th anniversary and figuring out where and what to do next.  (So is Philly's Notebook, another long-running district-based news outlet focused on education. Here's an overview of anniversary activities and events surrounding Catalyst's 25th.

While it may seem like a strange move, the BGA has staffed up with reporters in recent years and covered education along the way. After a decade at Catalyst, Karp starts at the BGA next month. She's going to cover K-12 education as well as higher ed and state government. Read more about Karp and the story she broke nearly 2 years ago here.  

Disclosure: I used to do some freelancing for Catalyst, and they lent me a free desk for a time, and kindly hosted the launch of a book on Chicago school reform I edited that came out in 2004.

Books: First Look At Dale Rusakoff's Forthcoming "The Prize"

9780547840055_lresHere's a first look at Dale Rusakoff's forthcoming book about Newark, titled The Prize and scheduled for release in September. 

"Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Christie, and Cory Booker were ready to reform our failing schools," proclaims the book promo copy. "What they got instead was an education."

"Their plans soon ran into a constituency not so easily moved — Newark’s key education players, fiercely protective of their billion-dollar-per-annum system. It’s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark’s students."

Rusakoff's writing on Newark has appeared in the New Yorker

"The Prize is a portrait of a titanic struggle over the future of education for the poorest kids, and a cautionary tale for those who care about the shape of America’s schools."

See more here.

Rusakoff is appearing at this week's EWA conference in Chicago. It's a big week for education book. Greg Toppo's book about learning games is out this week, as is Ken Robinson's book on schools and creativity.

Related posts: New Yorker Digs Into Newark Reform BacklashWhat They're Saying About That New Yorker ArticleNew Yorker Reporter Talks NewarkFact-Checking Cami AndersonWhite Reporters & Students Of Color.

Morning Video: In Iowa, Hillary Clinton Talks Common Core

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton named Ann O'Leary as one of her top policy wonks for the campaign, and I predicted that the candidate might make it until Memorial Day before talking about Common Core. Well, she talked about it yesterday in Iowa, and the good folks at PJ Media's Tatler shared the clip (starts at 5:33), asked by a teacher. “You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument that’s been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful,” she says.

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!

Charts: Education Wages Not Climbing As Fast As Low- & Higher-Wage Sectors

Why Are Wages Growing Slowly Despite McDonald’s  Wal Mart Raises    Real Time Economics   WSJWages for education (and health services) workers went up just 1.9 percent over the past year, less than the national average.  Why's that? "Low-wage workers are earning more. Leisure and hospitality employees, mainly restaurant workers, saw a 3.6% hourly pay increase over the past year.... Higher-skilled workers are also doing well.... Several big employment sectors [including education] are being left out of better pay."  Via WSJ (Why Are Wages Growing Slowly Despite McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Raises?)

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.

Charts: Now Averaging $1,500 Per Kid, Rich-Poor Funding Gap Up 44 Pct. Since 2005

Screen shot 2015-04-06 at 5.10.53 PM
"The richest 25 percent of school districts receive 15.6 percent more funds [$1,500 per student] from state and local governments per student than the poorest 25 percent of school districts, the federal Department of Education pointed out last month (March, 2015). The gap has grown 44 percent since 2001-02, when a student in a rich district had only a 10.8 percent resource advantage over a student in a poor district." (via Hechinger Report The gap between rich and poor schools grew 44 percent over a decade) Image used with permission. Click the link to see the interactive map.

Thompson: Atlanta Is Still Just the Tip of the Testing Icebergs

Once again, the convictions of the eleven surviving educators for their role in Atlanta's infamous cheating scandal provides a "teachable moment" in regard to the inherent harm of high stakes testing. The Guardian's Max Blau, in Why the Atlanta Cheating Scandal Failed to Bring National Reform, cites Fair Test's Bob Schaeffer who says, “Atlanta is the tip of the iceberg. ... Cheating is a predictable outcome of what happens when public policy puts too much pressure on test scores.”

During the NCLB era, other cheating scandals have occurred in Baltimore, Camden, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Houston, El Paso, Norfolk, Virginia and, yes, in Michelle Rhee's Washington D.C. As Schaeffer explained to the Christian Science Monitor's Stacy Teichner Khadaroo, in Atlanta Teacher Conviction: Do Standardized Tests Pressure Foster Cheating?, today's testing “creates a climate in school where you have to boost scores by hook or by crook.”

Khodaroo also cites Harvard's Daniel Koretz who explains why high stakes testing reveals just the tips of other dangerous icebergs. Koretz describes “shortcuts” that educators are encouraged to take, such as teaching to the “'power standards' – the types of items most commonly tested." He says that "states now routinely offer teachers old test items to use for test prep," even though that practice was frowned upon in the 1980s.

“'Clearly cheating is unethical, but at what point does this other stuff become unethical?'” Koretz says.

In my experience, these more subtle means of manipulating metrics are the most pervasive and thus the most destructive.

Continue reading "Thompson: Atlanta Is Still Just the Tip of the Testing Icebergs" »

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).

Journalism: Hard To Pick A Fight With "Bright" (But Someone Will Anyway)

Screenshot 2015-03-31 15.31.03

There's a pretty new education site launched today, called Bright, the creation of the folks at Medium (a newish platform created by some Twitter alumni) plus the Gates Foundation and the New Venture Fund.  
 
It's being edited by Sarika Bansal, who has also worked on the Gates-funded Solutions Journalism network.
 
In her Welcome to the Bright Side explainer, she writes "Our stories will be vibrant — both literally and figuratively... We love creative storytelling. And we hate jargon."
 
 
EdWeek's Mark Walsh compares 'Bright' to Education Post and sounds pretty skeptical about it's ability to change the conversation.  
 
I'd compare it to Edutopia, the Lucas Foundation-funded effort that's been out there for a while, or maybe Good or TakePart. Or maybe even EdWeek's Teacher magazine? 

Charts: Education Is A Dominant Job Category Especially In The Northeast

The distribution of jobs in every state  in 2 charts   The Washington Post

"As the data and chart show, the Northeast is most-dominated by the education and health services industry, which accounts for more than 20 percent of all non-farm jobs in Rhode Island (the leader, at 22 percent), Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont." (Washington Post: The distribution of jobs in every state, in 2 charts)

Quotes: Research-Less Think Tanks Can't Compete

Quotes2Without rigorous research, think tanks just repeat talking points, trying to be more clever in their phrasing and more persistent in their communication so they can be heard above the din of everyone else doing the same.  

- Jay Greene (The Death of the Think Tank, R.I.P.)

Events: 6 Ways To Diversify That Conference Or Panel (ie, "Pass The Mic")*

This year's education conferences seem like they're doing better and better modeling diversity and finding new & authentic voices to talk about education, but there's still lots of room for additional improvement.

So here are some ideas to help -- or maybe you've got better ones to suggest?

6 -- If you're organizing a conference or panel, make sure you include a variety of perspectives and backgrounds when you're picking speakers, even if it means reaching out to new connections or recruiting new participants. #Wetried is not enough.

5 -- If you're invited to participate in a panel, tell the organizer it's important to you that the panel includes a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, and be so bold as to suggest some folks who might fit the bill if the organizers seem unfamiliar.

4 -- If you're invited to open or close a conference, or function as a keynote speaker, tell the organizers how important diverse panels and perspectives are to you.

3 -- If you somehow find yourself on a panel that's all white (or even all white and male), don't just lament the situation. Give up your time to someone in the audience who has a valuable perspective not otherwise represented on the stage, or do something really bold and give up your spot. 

2 -- If you're someone who's used to being asked to speak on panels or give talks, consider giving up your spot to give someone else a chance and -- just as important -- come to the event anyway, sit in the the audience like a normal person, and you might learn something.  

1 -- If you're attending a conference or panel in the audience and you happen to notice that the panel is, say, all white (or that the conversation is being dominated by men) say something.  (Be nice about it -- the organizers are  probably very tired and doing their best -- but still say something.)

Bottom line: Talking about diversity is great but insufficient at this point.  Programs aimed at diversifying the pipeline of teacher and leaders are great but way in the future in terms of their impact.  

Finding and elevating new and diverse voices to speak at conferences and sit on panels could make a small but concrete difference to the success of the movement. And those of us who've been privileged enough to sit on panels and speak at conferences should take the lead in helping make these shifts, rather than resisting them or even appearing to undercut them.

*For those of you not following along on Twitter, the question of diversifying panels and the responsibilities of conference organizers and convening organizations came up in a series of tweets this morning. The PIE Network's Suzanne Tacheny Kabach and I talked more about it this afternoon and that conversation was the inspiration for some of the above. 

Preview: New Faces At This Week's Yale Education Conference

Screenshot 2015-03-24 13.18.53This year's Yale SOM Education Leadership Conference could be particularly interesting, given where were are in the education debate. It looks like there are going to be some new faces and names -- Kalimah Priforce, anyone? The theme ("Back to Why") and official goal (to refocus on "the purpose and outcomes of education reform") are full of intrigue to people like me who follow these things too closely.  We all know that the fight for the hearts and minds of smart young do-gooder types (and entrepreneurs, etc.) is pretty heated, as is the rhetorical battle over who's more "social justice." WebsiteFacebook.For past events, look at the list here. Previous blog posts from me about the event here.

Update: Mixed (Predictable) Reactions To My CJR Common Core Reporting Piece

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com
Thanks to everyone who passed along my recent CJR piece on the challenges of reporting the Common Core testing rollout this spring. Much appreciated! The story was a top read for CJR all week.

By and large, those of you who are pro-Common Core liked the piece, and those of you who are critical thought it was less likable. Pretty predictable. (Your positions are reversed when I'm criticizing Rhee or Kopp or Cunningham, though.)

Far as I know, nobody was willing to admit publicly any major change of mind on the tests or the coverage -- such is rigidly orthodox world of education debate these days (and also of course the limits of my writing). 

Most of you who work as education reporters didn't say anything one way or the other -- at least not publicly. (A few of you were kind enough to write privately that it was a useful piece, or that it was helping you to rethink your coverage tendencies, which I appreciated tremendously.)

Alas, the only journalists I could find to talk about the issue on the record were John Merrow (one of its subjects) and Linda Perlstein (a former Washington Post reporter and EWA's founding Public Editor). I hope that won't always be the case, as I think constructive conversation about media coverage is a positive and healthy thing and shows confidence in the work.

Turned by back CJR from commenting on their site, Merrow finally posted his own response on his blog this afternoon (Reporting About Reporting).  He makes some good points, as you'll see, but he also makes some weaker ones, according to me at least, and unfortunately resorts to (gentle) criticisms of character.

Read on for more about Merrow, a handful of less predictable responses, some errors and omissions on my part, and a few sentences that were left on the cutting room floor.

Continue reading "Update: Mixed (Predictable) Reactions To My CJR Common Core Reporting Piece" »

Journalism: US News' Reformy New Education Opinion Page*

Knowledge Bank   US NewsAnother day, another new education page of some kind (right?)

Today's newish entrant is US News' Knowledge Bank, which (so far) includes a rogues' gallery of reformers with a particularly heavy dose of Bellwether (Mead, Rotherham), Fordham (Pondiscio), and AEI (McShane, Hess).*  

Elaine Allensworth from the Chicago Consortium is in there, as is Catherine Brown. You get the idea.  

These folks already  have in-house blogs and other outlets to get their views out there, but now they've got a regular outlet for their views plus US News' logo etc. as well.

There's the added legitimacy of the venerable magazine, plus also the potential confusion for readers who -- as with Valerie Strauss's blog page -- sometimes see the outlet listed but don't realize that it's an opinion piece (especially on Twitter). In fact, you could look at this as the reform version of the Answer Sheet.

In any case, I'm told that the page is looking for a mix of contributors and will continue to add/shift things around as things develop.  It'll be interesting to watch.

*Corrected: I got them confused - McShane & Hess are AEI, Pondiscio is Fordham. Apologies.

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.

Journalism: Some Common Problems With This Spring's Common Core Reporting

Here's something new from me via the Columbia Journalism Review, focusing on the challenges of reporting the Common Core testing rollout this spring:

Screenshot 2015-03-18 11.13.18

As you'll see from my review of coverage from PBS, the NYT, WSJ, AP, and the Washington Post, it's no easy task for journalists to describe the varied experiences different schools, districts, and states are having -- or to find hard numbers or nuanced viewpoints.

But in my view the national coverage has somehow ended up upside-down, focusing on the relatively few hotspots and problem areas (and passing along one-sided speculation) without giving readers a clear sense of the vast majority of instances where the process of implementing the new tests seems to be going well.

Related posts: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing StoryLet's Focus On What Actually Happens -- Not What *Might* HappenPlease Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!Inside The Common Core Assessment “Field Test”. Image via CJR.

Philanthropy: Leave No Privilege Behind (DonorsChoose Meets AirBnB?)

WellDeserved is a a new app that allows folks to offer surplus privileges -- free food at work, extra dental appointments, a soon-to-expire SoulCycle coupon -- to fellow citizens who might want to purchase them.

Their motto: "Privilege goes unused every single day.Why would we waste any of it?"  

Great idea, no?

But they need people to post more education-related privileges that are going unused, and maybe you can help them out.

For starters, there are all the extra laptops, tablets, and smart phones laying around many homes -- not to speak of all that unused broadband access and data.  But that's not all. A student who doesn't need all of the Kumon hours his parents signed him up for could offer them to a fellow classmate.  A private school family living in a desirable neighborhood could offer its spots at the local elementary school. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

Charles Best better watch out.

Update: Unfortunate Stalemate For Feds & Diverse Charters*

This week's announcement that Success Academy charters won't give an absolute priority to ELL kids in its charter lotteries because of opposition seems like an unfortunate turn of events (see ChalkbeatNY's Success Academy drops lottery preference for English learners).  

Charter schools located in mixed neighborhoods are often flooded by wealthier, whiter parents, and lose their diversity despite all efforts.  The USDE will allow weighted lotteries, but not guaranteed admission. USDE has opposed letting diverse charters weight their lotteries in such a strong way for fear of the precedent that would tempt other schools to set priorities (for white kids, for kids whose parents have yachts, etc.)

There are situations where charters have been set up to avoid integration, or located or run in ways that are disadvantageous to poor and minority kids.  But this is not one of them.

What could be done?  

Lots of things, it seems. Congress could change the federal definition of a charter school to allow this kind of weighting. The USDE could revise its guidance (though risking Congressional displeasure). Or Success could shift its proposal from an absolute 14 percent priority for ELL kids, going with an unweighted lottery for the first year or two and then shifting. The unitary enrollment system would be diluted, creating different systems for different schools, but more ELL kids would be served.

I'll let you know if and when Success or the USDE respond with more about their thinking, or why these solutions couldn't work.*

*UPDATED: From USDE's Dorie Turner Nolt: “The U.S. Department of Education is firmly committed to increasing high-quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, including English learners, in charter schools, as in all public schools. The Department has worked with Success Academies to find ways for it to provide additional weight for English learners within the boundaries of the law and program guidance, and remains committed to that effort. We have worked with other grantees that submitted proposals to use weighted lotteries for educationally disadvantaged students—including other charter management organizations operating in New York—and have approved several such proposals. Such approaches complement broader efforts by charter schools to recruit, serve and retain educationally disadvantaged students.”

Your turn, Success. 

Related posts: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led;  Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance;  Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Diverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability.

Quotes: Hey, Guess What? Larry Summers Agrees With You

Quotes2It is not likely, in my view, that any feasible program of improving education will have a large impact on inequality in any relevant horizon... to suggest that improving education is the solution to inequality is, I think, an evasion. 

-- Larry Summers in The Washington Post (Robots are hurting middle class workers, and education won’t solve the problem)

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" »

Update: Bigger List Of Education Journalists Of Color (#edJOC)

There were lots of interesting responses to my post on Friday about white reporters and students of color -- one of the most immediately useful of which was lots more education journalists of color (#edJOC) identifying themselves or being mentioned by others in addition to those previously listed:

Thanks to @dcrunningmom and @C_C_Mitchell (Corey Mitchell) for clueing me in about @StateEdWatch (@AndrewUjifusa),  @drsuperville@EarlyYearsEW (@casamuels),  @amatos12@StribLonetree@LoriAHiggins@Bobjohnson1word.

The good folks at the Maryland SDE reminded me that there were at least three area #edJOCs: BaltSun's @ericaLG @OvettaWashPost & WBAL's Tim Tooten.  

The three journalists at the San Antonio Express-News  -- @fvaraorta@mlcesar, and @AliaAtSAEN -- might be the most diverse education team out there.

There's also the Greensboro News & Record's Marquita Brown (@mbrownNR) and Cherise Newsome (@CMNewsome) at The Virginian-Pilot.

Last but not least, Lisa Pemberton at the Olympian (@Lisa_Pemberton), Samatha Hernandez (@svhernandez) at the Door County Advocate, and freelancer Tara Garcia Mathewson (@TaraGarciaM). 

Two other journalists who don't write exclusively about education but whose names I've seen and tweeted enough times to think they should be included (assuming they don't mind):  @jbouie & @jdesmondharris.

None of this is to suggest that there isn't a diversity problem when it comes to the education beat -- especially at national outlets and/or beats -- which is especially noticeable given the kids, schools, and communities that are often being covered.

Somebody turn this plus the original post into a Twitter list that we call can follow (if such a thing hasn't been done already)?

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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.