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Thompson: NAEP Exclusion Rate Ridiculousness

Tumblr_l042mywxcP1qa42jro1_500 EdWeek's Catherine Gewertz raises the question of whether Kentucky’s success in being the only state to increase NAEP reading scores between 2007 and 2009 deserves an asterisk.

Sure enough, Kentucky excluded 48% of its 4th grade students on IEPs, and 55% of its 8th grade special education students. This contrasts with the national exclusion rate of 29% for 4th graders, and 28% of 8th graders on IEPs.

The same question might be asked about the District of Columbia. The Washington Post's Jay Mathews recently noted that "A 5-point score jump (in NAEP 4th grade scores) at a time when the national scores are flat is more than enough to keep (Michelle) Rhee safe for another year or two."  Indeed, fourth graders in the District of Columbia increased their Proficiency rate by five points.  But 68% of those students who are on IEPs were excluded, as were 68% of the District’s 8th grade special education students.  There are now four states that excluded at least half of their special education students from the NAEP reading tests.

Tech: State & Local Superintendents On Twitter

Mailbox100405_560Here's a beginning list of state (@SSPIJack, @suptflanagan, @Tony_Bennett, @kycommissioner) and district superintendents (andreamerida, @canyonsdave, @colonelb, @pammoran,@johnccarver, @edubrew, @pammoran, @canyonsdave,@johnccarver, @colonelb, @Akee123, @ericconti) on Twitter.  Are they any good at putting out interesting information about their thinking and experiences?  I have no idea.  Know any others who might be better?  Let us know.  Getting on Twitter is one thing.  Putting out candid, useful information is another.  

Schedules: 120 Districts Already On Shortened Week

Quotes2"Nineteen states have at least one district on a four-day week...Some of the 120 U.S. districts on four-day weeks report improved student achievement." - Chicago Tribune editorial

News: Famed "No Excuses" Teacher Dies At 79

Teacher who inspired 'Stand and Deliver' film dies AP:  "Jaime exposed one of the most dangerous myths of our time - that inner city students can't be expected to perform at the highest levels," Olmos said. "Because of him, that destructive idea has been shattered forever."...11111111111newsAnger turns toward staff in bullying case Boston Globe:  Enraged by revelations that staff members at South Hadley High School knew that Phoebe Prince was the target of withering harassment long before her death, residents and public officials yesterday angrily accused the school system of neglecting vulnerable students and called on top administrators to resign... Windy City Cloud Shadows Duncan EdWeek:  The political standing of the former chief executive officer of the Chicago public schools probably will not suffer unless it is determined that he or his office pressured school authorities to admit specific students during his tenure...New Civil Rights Rules Unveiled EdWeek:  The U.S. Dept. of Ed. has announced that districts will have to collect data in several new categories that relate to students' civil rights...Wake County, N.C., Board Rejects Diversity-Based Assignment Plan EdWeek:  Police removed protesters last week from a heated Wake County, N.C., school board meeting in which board members voted to abandon a student-assignment and diversity policy with roots dating back three decades... School Cafeteria Doubled as Nightclub NYT:  School district officials in Philadelphia say a charter school’s cafeteria was used as a nightclub on weekends.

Thompson: The NAEP-NCLB Proficiency Mess


Mark Schneider, of the American Institutes of Research, tells us that the correlation between NCLB test scores and NAEP scores is .20 which is statistically insignificant.  

Schneider cites NAEP scores from the TUDA where students in 18 districts were 67% proficient across state assessments but where only 24% were proficient under NAEP. That is consistent with my state's pattern with 8th grade reading scores.  While Oklahoma's AYP for black middle school students  has increased by 22% over three years, longterm NAEP reading scores have declined by 4 points.Other places are even worse.  Schneider describes the 70 point gap between state and NAEP scores in Baltimore and Detroit, and characterizes NCLB testing as a "mess," a product of its generous exclusion rate among other things [NAEP has some exclusion issues, too]. 

Today’s blood-in-their-eyes "reformers" want to hold educators accountable for real growth without loopholes. But if districts try to deliver on that expectation without Congress fixing the assessment and ratings mess then only mathematical illiterates or adrenaline junkies will dare to lead high-poverty neighborhood schools. 

Events: Yale Conference Takeaways

ColorblockPique-7035  It already seems like it happened months ago but here are some takeaways from the Yale education conference that I and many others used to distract ourselves through a cold Friday in New Haven:  Great to see Charlie Barone there and to hear Brad Jupp talk. Two good, experienced, guys who speak candidly and know what they're talking about - both should be on more panels. Surprising enthusiasm and excitement re RTTT.  It was in part a pep rally for (as well as a job recruiting fair for young smartypants who looked like George Clooney's sidekick in Up In The Air.  As if D. Ravitch and Blueprint struggles didn't exist.   Wow Schnur name drops / talks about himself a lot  (said something about writing a book, too?). Two hashtags for one conference? Fail.  Hashtags should be announced and repeated at events. Over-Twittered? Probably, but it does help people like me actually pay attention.  Not much else going on, right? Good to have free wireless.  You'd be surprised how many events still don't.  Click below for sample of Twitter comments.

Continue reading "Events: Yale Conference Takeaways" »

Cartoon: Save Funding - Teach Just A Through Q

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Crime: School Not Prosecuted For Bullying Suicide

image from multimedia.heraldinteractive.com 9 Teenagers Accused of Bullying That Led to Suicide NYT:  Felony indictments are a sharp legal response to the problem of adolescent bullying.

Nine Teens Charged With Bullying In Girl's Suicide NPR: Two of the teens were also charged with statutory rape.  

Bullying expert: Mass. school didn't use advice AJC: School officials won't be charged, even though authorities say they knew about the bullying.

Bullying "Not Just a Part of Growing Up" CBS News:  School officials in South Hadley, Mass., have been criticized by parents for not doing enough.

Video: "Whatever It Takes" PBS Premiere Tonight

ScreenHunter_06 Mar. 29 22.47 For two years I've been telling you about this project and at long last "Whatever It Takes," a documentary about a rookie principal (and former Saks Fifth Avenue buyer) who started a school in the South Bronx five years ago is getting its broadcast debut -- tonight at 10 pm Eastern on the PBS non-fiction series "Independent Lens."  Do yourself a big favor and check it out.

Continue reading "Video: "Whatever It Takes" PBS Premiere Tonight" »

Thompson: Turnarounds as Snake Oil

Snake_oil The Brookings Institute's Tom Loveless argues that "much of the rhetoric on turnarounds is pie in the sky."  His study "suggests that people who say we know how to make failing schools into successful schools but merely lack the will to do so are selling snake oil ... Examples of large scale, system-wide turnarounds are nonexistent."

Loveless reports that "the statistics are eye-popping and, in a way depressing.  School achievement appears astonishingly persistent.  Nearly two thirds of low-performing schools in 1989 are still low performers two decades later."  Although about 1/3rd of the schools he studied showed improvement, the chances of one of those low-performing schools becoming a high-performing school are "less than one out of seventy."

So what's the lesson from Loveless' findings?  A little more caution -- but not inaction, either.

Continue reading "Thompson: Turnarounds as Snake Oil" »

Cartoon: Experts' Role In Fixing Failing Schools

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RTTT: AP Says Delaware, Tennessee Win 1st Round

100329_r19470_p233 So much for the suspense building: 

"The U.S. Department of Education has picked Delaware and Tennessee for the first round of its "Race to the Top" competition, giving part of an unprecedented $4.35 billion to the states, a source said on Monday."

Here's the story (link)

Unions: Weingarten Zings Back On HBO Comedy Show

Quotes2 "Removing Thomas Jefferson is like writing Moses out of the Bible."

- Randi Weingarten, referring to Texas changing school books, on Bill Maher's HBO show Friday evening.  Click below to watch the segment online. 

Continue reading "Unions: Weingarten Zings Back On HBO Comedy Show" »

Duncan: Former Aide Leaves Over Magnet Mess

91547788Many mainstream news outlets continue to ignore the story but bad news keeps coming out of Chicago about the convoluted and clout-vulnerable magnet school process that Duncan failed to do much of anything clean up while he was head of the school system there. Over the weekend, Duncan's right-hand man, David Pickens, resigned/ was fired, and more politically-connected names are coming out on a list of VIPs who attempted to get kids bumped to the head of the line for a handful of coveted Chicago schools.  No comment from Duncan.  Meanwhile, Mayor Daley can't decide whether making calls is perfectly understandable or totally unacceptable. 

News: Federal Windfall -- Local Cuts

RI to learn if it wins federal school reform grant Boston.com:  Rhode Island education officials will soon learn if they landed a portion of $4.35 billion in federal grants to reform schools.11111111111news

Teachers Lose Funding Over Quibbles with Obama Education Policy PBS NewsHour:  John Merrow explores why some teachers' unions are walking away from a share of some $4.35 billion in federal funds through the Obama administration's new Race to the Top grant competition.

Struggling Georgia school firing entire staff Dorie Turner AP: A failing Savannah high school is firing its entire staff in an effort to avoid further sanctions from the state and to make the school eligible for up to $6 million in federal money, officials said Thursday....

Albuquerque schools: 700 layoffs may be needed Tim Korte AP: Albuquerque schools superintendent Winston Brooks says a $43 million budget shortfall is leading to severe cuts for next school year, including the possibility that 700 employees might be laid off.

Los Angeles school year shortened in teachers deal LA Times:  The Los Angeles teachers union says it has reached a deal with the school district that would shorten the school year by at least five days, as officials cope with a $640 million budget deficit.

Continue reading "News: Federal Windfall -- Local Cuts" »

Cartoons: The Real National Education Standards

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Twitter Friday

500x_good_plenty I'll be at a conference today [#YaleSOMed] so updates and news links are going to come to you via Twitter. 

    Cartoon: A Dunce Cap For Civil Rights Lawyers?

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    NCLB: Blueprint Commentary Cheat Sheet

    Terror_scale_001 Want to know what all the smartypants at National Journal are saying about the Duncan blueprint but don't have time to read through all their blather?  Me, neither.  But now you can check out this entirely unofficial but extremely handy dandy summary, which may or may not be entirely accurate but will save you a lot of time. Not that I can see that anyone's said anything particularly brilliant or new, or that there many people who's opinions you don't already know or can't easily predict.  As I and others have noted over the past week, the Duncan blueprint isn't particularly Hill-friendly, may not fully address the underlying issue of teacher salaries, may not measure schools any better than NCLB does, and seems increasingly unlikely to be considered and passed this year.  I guess that was pretty predictable, though. :-)

    Continue reading "NCLB: Blueprint Commentary Cheat Sheet" »

    Textbooks: Where's Arne When We Really Need Him?

    Bryan-Standard Arne Duncan is everywhere -- in the health care bill, in the NCAA basketball tournament, etc. -- but notably AWOL on one of the most important education issues in the nation:  textbook adoption.  States like Texas are deciding the textbooks that get used nationwide for the next decade (Alarm over textbook changes) but not a word, not a proposal, not a peep from Obama's wonder boy.  Read here to get a sense of what it's like from the inside to write and write textbooks to go along with state demands -- a link Mike Smith kindly sent me from the Morning News.  How are schools supposed to get better if the materials they're using aren't any good?  What good are the promised high standards and better assessments going to be if the textbooks don't match them?  It's a messy issue, no doubt, and not a sexy or easily solved one, but a key part of the education puzzle and a missing element in Duncan's full-court education onslaught. 

    Thompson: Turnarounds Need Trust

    ITrustt's sad that Secretary Duncan misstates the facts regarding schools that turn themselves around while keeping the same kids in the same building. 

    It would be tragic if he did not adjust the ESEA Blueprint based on the facts of Organizing Schools for Improvement, the study from Chicago that lays out the importance of trust and effective professional development in fixing schools.

    Continue reading "Thompson: Turnarounds Need Trust" »

    News: Reading, Clout, Cuts

    Reading scores stalled despite 'No Child Left Behind,' report finds Washington Post:  The nation's students are mired at a basic level of reading in fourth and eighth grades, their achievement in recent years largely stagnant, according to a federal report Wednesday... Reading Scores Lag Behind Math NYT:  The nation’s school children made little or no progress in reading proficiency in recent years, according to the largest nationwide reading test. Why math scores have improved faster is much-debated...NAEP Reading Results Deemed Disappointing EdWeek:  In the latest administration of the test, 8th graders gained 1 point, while 4th graders’ scores were unchanged from 200711111111111news..State's black fourth-graders post worst reading scores in U.S. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:  A national government report delivered dire news Wednesday about how Wisconsin prepares its students..

    Ed Secretary Duncan faces questions on admissions Boston Globe:  Revelations that President Barack Obama's top education official kept a log of calls from powerful people trying to get students into top Chicago high schools when he ran the massive district have raised new questions about the city's admissions practices. How Chicago VIPs Lobbied Schools Under Duncan Ed Week:  The initials "AD" are listed 10 times as the sole person requesting help for a student, and as a co-requester about 40 times.

    Charlotte Votes to Start Layoffs of 600 Teachers EdWeek:  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted against a motion to cut everyone's pay up to 10 percent to avert layoffs for the coming year...

    Site News: Solution To IE Browser Crashes

    Tips-for-writers-001I've had some users reporting that visiting http://www.thisweekineducation.com can crash the Internet Explorer browser.  I'm not sure why that happens but as solutions you can switch to Firefox (you really should) or bookmark and use this address instead:  http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation.  Let me know if you have any other technical issues at thisweekineducation at gmail dot com.

    Roundup: Health Reform, Sad Sandy, Secret Lists


    Health-Care Reform: Implications for Teachers, ESEA Stephen Sawchuk:  So what, you ask, are the implications of the health-care reform bill for education?...Sizing Up The New Blueprint Sandy Kress:  I have been generally supportive of the Obama education agenda. But, in my view, one set of decisions in the Blueprint threatens to blot out all the good that may come from the many other worthy initiatives... Of Secret Lists and Special Treatment Hess:  I am among those warning that failure to sensibly insulate Race to the Top (RTT) from political officials and pressure poses risks to the credibility and sustainability of the centerpiece of the Obama...Truth in Labeling Claus Von Z:  Welsh wasn't prepared for the challenges he would face as the school's demographics changed...State shows little change in NAEP reading scores Ed News CO:  Reading test scores for 4th and 8th graders showed no significant change from 2007 to 2009 in 38 states, including Colorado, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress...The Day I Quit… Just A Sub: “Sorry I couldn’t do a better job for you” was my closing line on the end of day report.

    Ratings: The Upside Of "Persistently Low-Achieving"

    Quotes2 "I thought T.C. Williams being tagged "persistently low achieving" was the lowest moment of my career... Now I see it more as an unfriendly wake-up call, something to pull us back from the long, slow slide of not serving all our students well." -- English teacher Patrick Welsh in the Washington Post

    NCLB: Will Duncan Plan Address Teacher Inequities?

    All Matt Yglesias really wanted to do was to give a shout-out to a colleague at the Center on American Progress, but instead his post about teacher salaries generated heat and disdain from readers.  The point he was trying to make -- an extremely worthwhile and too long ignored issue -- is that the Duncan blueprint proposes to address the long-vexing issue of teacher distribution within districts.  Many districts let the best teachers pool together in a handful of schools rather than spreading them out or even targeting them where they're most needed -- a practice that undercuts nearly everything that Title I (currently NCLB) is supposed to do.  

    Cartoon: "Isn't That Our Driver?"

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    Media: NPR Story Misses Charter Dropouts

    Empty-classroom-0127 Yet another example of just how powerful is our need for uplifting news (and how superficial our journalism has become) NPR picked up the story about the 100 percent college acceptance rate at Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, the country's first all-male public charter high school (First All-Male Charter Sends Entire Class To College).  As much as a third of the school's students dropped out or transferred before senior year, according to readers on my Chicago site who looked at the school's numbers.  School head Tim King declined to respond to this issue when I emailed him about it. 

    News: Chicago Clout Story Goes National

    Chicago Schools Chief, Now an Obama Aide, Had V.I.P. List for Top Choices NYT:  In July, Mr. Huberman announced an internal investigation of the city’s 52 application-based elementary and high schools. The president of the Chicago school board, Michael Scott, who had been subpoenaed in the federal investigation, committed suicide in November. Raleigh Changes Busing Policy AP:  The school board in Raleigh voted 5 to 4 Tuesday to roll back a policy that buses students to achieve diversity. 3 arrested as NC school board reverses busing plan AP:  6a00e54f8c25c988340120a77999a7970b-200wiThe school board in North Carolina's capital city narrowly agreed Tuesday to roll back a policy that buses students to achieve diversity, following a tense meeting at which three people were arrested, others were forcibly removed and heated arguments echoed passions from an era past. Are Teachers Unions To Blame For Failing Schools? NPR: Do unions really deserve more of the blame than shrinking budgets and other problems? A group of experts takes on that question in the latest Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. First All-Male Charter Sends Entire Class To College NPR:  Chicago's only all-male charter school, Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men - Englewood Campus, is graduating its first class this year. Every member of the class has been accepted to a four-year university.  Former Bullies Share What Motivated Behavior NPR:  In Georgia, a young man killed himself because he could no longer endure his bullies. And in Mass., bullies left a 13-year-old paralyzed. These cases and others like them have focused attention on bully behavior: Why do they do it, and do they change?

    Thompson: Good Intentions Vs. Good Results

    Nyt081009_povstrike All historians, not just public school educators, should reflect upon The Death and Life of the Great American School System

    The past could become prologue for the Obama administration if it does not learn from Diane Ravitch’s masterpiece. 

    "It's as if a bunch of do-gooders sat together at the NewSchools Venture Fund summit and brainstormed a list of popular reforms ideas, and now they are going to force them upon the states," writes Ravitch, quoting Mike Petrilli's "NCLB2: The Carrot That Feels Like a Stick."

    Continue reading "Thompson: Good Intentions Vs. Good Results" »

    Blog Roundup: Divisions Remain Over Testing, Standards

    100329_r19470_p233Valerie Strauss v. me on tests Uncle Jay Mathews:  Valerie says the standardized tests we use now are too unreliable to tolerate. I don't like them that much myself, but I still think they are useful, and don't see Valerie providing any evidence on her side... Conservatives Split Over Common Education Standards GOOD Nikhil Swaminathan: I predicted last week, a liberal media love-in over newly drafted common standards for education was sure to galvanize opposition from the right against those very same metrics. I was at least half-right...Fickle Fordham Chad Aldeman TQATE: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute staff can’t seem to agree about the proper role of the federal government in education reform... Racially Divisive Press Mars Discussion of South Philadelphia High School Latoya Peterson Racialicious: I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop in the matter of South Philadelphia High School. And it did...RTTT finalists have a variety of backers, naysayers Nirvi Shah EdMoney: So who really has the best shot at being a first round winner of the much-needed Race to the Top money? "Teachers, check your roll books. I repeat, Teachers, check your roll books." Teacher Ken: It was just a few minutes before the end of 4th period.  The announcement came on...

    Quote: Twitter, Facebook Put Squeeze Blogs

    Quotes2  "You're either first or definitive or funniest or most provocative or someone else will have the link that gets tweeted and posted on walls."

    -Gawker on evolution of blogs and rise of Twitter & Facebook

    Video: Digging Into the CPSAN Vault

    ScreenHunter_81 Mar. 20 13.37Past events are going to be an important reality check as the Obama administration attempts to move education legislation.  Whether you want to watch last week's hearings on the Duncan education plan or the Senate floor debate on No Child Left Behind from eight years ago, you can now find pretty much everything that's been on CSPAN online for free.  Here's a NYT article about it.  Here's the search results for "No Child Left Behind."  The archive goes back 23 years and covers five administrations.  Let us know what you find.  Extra points for any shots of Jack Jennings when he was still on the Hill (or me for that matter, probably picking my nose in the shadows behind Feinstein or Bingaman). 

    NCLB: Digging Into The Duncan Blueprin-

    Here's a four-page primer on the Duncan blueprint from the Center on American Progress, comparing the proposal to current law.  CAP is in favor, so take it with a grain of salt, but it's better than nothing.  Crossed fingers we'll have something more detailed and objective soon -- from CRS, or Brustein, or....?

    Quote: Sometimes People Mean What They Say

    Quotes2  "Sometimes people support or don't support things for the reasons that they say, and not simply for the sake of saying something to a camera."  

    - Gawker critique of "repulsive," "cynical" coverage of health care reform holdouts by POLITICO.

    NCLB: A 72 Percent Funding Increase

    Speaking of funding:  You and your ilk may all think you hate NCLB but don't forget that it was appealing enough to lawmakers that Congress increased Title I funding by 72 percent over seven years.  These and other historic realities are being missed during the current debate over replacing NCLB, notes Tribune columnist Steve Chapman (Obama missing the lessons of No Child Left Behind).

    News: Appropriators Push Back Against Funding Proposals

    11111111111newsCongressional Pushback on Race to the Top, Competitive Grants Alyson KleinPK12: Last week, lawmakers began to turn up the pushback on the department's budget proposal, including an extension for the $4 billion Race to the Top program for another year. Duncan’s whirlwind tour of Denver Nancy Mitchell Ed News CO:  The education secretary comes to hear tales of collaboration from Douglas County, Denver and the Eastern Plains - and raises hopes for R2T. Miss. officials defend canceling prom after same-sex date request AP:  School officials who canceled a prom after a lesbian student asked to bring her girlfriend told a federal judge yesterday that there were issues with the event even before that. NH teacher in nude pics case waives arraignment AP:  A New Hampshire high school English teacher charged with e-mailing nude photos of herself to a 15-year-old male student has decided to waive her arraignment.

    USDE: Duncan Kept VIP List For Magnet Admissions

    ScreenHunter_69 Mar. 17 10.53 Talk about tight and loose.  While Arne Duncan's successor tries to sort out Chicago's highly compromised, clout-riddled magnet schools admissions process and come up with a system that is sturdier and more transparent, the Tribune now reveals that the Duncan team kept a 40-page list of VIPs including Desiree Rogers and 25 city councilmen who attempted to intercede to get children who had been rejected or hadn't even applied into popular schools.  The calls and letters didn't always work, everyone is careful to note, and Duncan's Peter Cunningham describes the list as an effort to centralize the process and insulate principals from heavyhanded calls.  See also the Sun Times story here.

    Blogs: Feds Ask Schools For More Civil Rights Data

    SchoolrelationshipsSizing Up The New Blueprint National Journal:  Could Duncan's catchphrase "tight on goals, loose on means" translate into a loss of accountability under the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act? What does the blueprint get right? What does it get wrong?  Obama on Education Lead From The Start:  I thought Obama was going to be an early education president. Turns out he isn't even an education president.  'Education Does Not Begin Or End At The Schoolhouse Door' Liam Goldrick: A lot of us in education policy get lost within our own locus of control [image].  Feds Add New Categories for Civil Rights Reporting Mary Ann Zehr: The U.S. Department of Education has announced that for the 2009-10 school year, school districts will have to collect data in a number of new categories that relate to students' civil rights. Claims of Resegregation in North Carolina Newsweek:  Previously a model of desegregation, the state's classrooms have begun to divide again along racial lines.  Democrats miss an obvious lesson plan for deprived children George Will:  Duncan seems to fancy himself an Earl Warren, expanding civil rights. Actually, he resembles Mrs. Jellyby. Grad rates threat? Eggheads again show they're cracked CBS Sports:  When smart people don't know what they're talking about, they become stupid.  Court Blocks Suit Over School Isolation Room Mark Walsh:  Placing a child in a locked isolation room for misbehavior was "a recognized educational tool" and thus a parent who challenged the tactic first had to exhaust administrative remedies before suing, a federal appeals court ruled.

    Cartoon: Riding Teachers To The Top

    ScreenHunter_79 Mar. 19 13.49 Riding teachers to the top? From Scholastic Administrator.

    Site News: Sharing Comments To Twitter, Facebook

    314461432_99cd6bff20 Reader comments are great and I appreciate them all.  But they haven't until now been visible to the rest of the online commenting world (ie, Twitter and Facebook).  

    And so, coming soon, readers comments will get a big boost -- they'll appear not only on the blog but also on Twitter and Facebook.  This is in addition to sharing each post, which you can already do, and being notified if others comment on the same issue as you do.  

    Sharing your comments will be entirely up to you and seems like a fun way to make sure that what you say gets seen and read not just here but elsewhere.  Look for the box to click in the comments section soon.

    Thompson: "I am a Reflective Practioner"

    Big-brother-poster-288x423 If there is one part of The Death and Life of the Great American School System that should be indispensable reading for Bill Gates, it is Diane Ravitch’s account of "Bersinitis" in the San Diego public school system during the reign of superintendent Alan Bersin.

    The holy grail of "reformers" is curriculum alignment to assess accountability, but it can degenerate into thought control. "I am a reflective practitioner. I am a reflective practitioner" was the mantra.

    "You will not believe this," Ravitch was told by Bersin’s director of curriculum describing the need for alignment, "we had fourth graders who didn’t know the difference between point of view and perspective."

    Continue reading "Thompson: "I am a Reflective Practioner"" »

    Oprah: Scapegoating The Principal?


    The Huffington Post notes that Oprah is going to have to testify in Philadelphia in the trail over a defamation lawsuit brought by the school's former headmistress whose performance Winfrey criticized. (Oprah To Testify At South Africa School Abuse Trial). No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.  Or maybe this is another case of educators being scapegoated for things beyond their knowledge or control?

    Photo: Duncan In Denver

    In Denver for a fundraiser for US Senator Michael Bennet, EdSec Duncan stopped by at a Denver school.

    NCLB: What Next For The Duncan Blueprint?

    Anonymous There's still no in-depth analysis of the Duncan blueprint out there though I know a few folks are working on producing one.  (As often happens, things fell off sharply after the first day coverage and the reaction and process stories.)  I am hoping someone will do a side by side with current law or a comparison with the Miller discussion draft from two years ago.  But there are a couple of things worth noting in the meantime.  Four points and some questions at the end:

    1-Putting out the blueprint makes this an official Obama priority but also could mean there's a little less buy-in from the Committee chairs (at least until they put out a chairman's mark if that's what happens next). Far as the Hill is concerned, this is still Obama's bill to sell, not theirs.

    2-Remember that the blueprint was put together by a Duncan team made up in large part of former Kennedy staffers, whose perspective is different from the Miller folks who went through the whole Miller discussion draft debacle two years ago. Note that Miller did raise some concerns over the remedies for schools in need of dramatic changes.

    Click below to read 3 & 4 and some key questions:

    Continue reading "NCLB: What Next For The Duncan Blueprint?" »

    News: House Passes Major Student Loan Change

    House sends health care overhaul bill to Obama Erica Werner AP:  A transformative health care bill is headed to President Barack Obama for his signature as Congress takes the final steps in Democrats' improbable and history-making push for near-universal medical coverage.11111111111news

    N.C. Schools Official Lauds Education Proposal  NPR:  Peter Gorman, the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools in North Carolina, says he's happy the president is rewriting the rules.

    D.C. Schools Chanceller Rhee taps media adviser Anita Dunn to help improve image Bill Turque Washington Post:  Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is turning to former White House communications director and veteran Democratic media consultant Anita Dunn for help.

    Could school bus ads save school budgets? USA Today:  School districts have imposed all sorts of drastic cuts to save money during the down economy, canceling field trips and making parents pay for ...

    Ellen presents $30K to Miss. lesbian in prom flap Boston Globe:  A lesbian high school student embroiled in a legal flap over her school's prom policy has received a $30,000 scholarship on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

    See "Weekend Reading" for more stories from over the weekend and last week.

    Weekend Reading

    Tumblr_kzjmowgBsa1qa42jro1_500 UPDATE: In Texas Curriculum Fight, Identity Politics Leans Right NYT:  In the fight over curriculum, conservatives in Texas have more in common with liberals than they think...The Academy of Debt TAP...Everyone's focused on health care, but a critical student loan reform effort might pass through budget reconciliation soon, too.

    Fired college counselors, teacher rating gimmicks, rebuked sexting prosecutors, and more in this weekly roundup of magazines and websites:  "College coach" canned after bummer SATs Salon:  Parents in an affluent Boston suburb are furious as rejections from top-notch universities roll in. RateMyProfessors.com NYT: How to make it to the top of the engrossing professor-ranking site, RateMyProfessors.com. Court rebukes DA sexting crackdown Slate: Skumanick didn't try to determine whether the girls had been harmed by the sexts. The dilemma of suicidal college students. Slate:  A rash of suicides at Cornell University—six in two semesters, the most recent last week—has shaken administrators and students at the Ithaca, N.Y., campus. Is "voluntourism" all it's cracked up to be? Slate:  I can't decipher from all the volunteerism Web sites out there which are legitimate charities and where I can find a good match for my limited time and money. Do you have any recommendations? PepsiCo cuts sugary drinks from schools worldwide AP:  Pepsi plans to remove full-calorie, sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012. As Health Vote Awaits, Future of a Presidency Waits, Too NYT:  Win or lose on health care, President Obama will face a vastly different political landscape after the fate of his plan is decided.

    Poem: The Writer As A Schoolboy

    Dfwviking Hold onto those homework assignments, parents and teachers.  The David Foster Wallace archive is set to open soon, including this poem from the writer when he was a young schoolboy:

    "If you were to see a viking today / 

    It's best you go some other way, / 

    because they'll kill you very well / 

    and all your gold they'll certainly sell." 

    From The Awl

    Quote: Denigrating Those Who Change Their Minds

    Quotes2 "The last thing we need in this culture, I believe, is a resistance to saying 'I was wrong.' Or a denigration of those who do so."

    - Blogger Andrew Sullivan on critics of Diane Ravitch

    NCLB: Will Duncan Plan Ease Schools' Discomfort Too Much?

    There's a lot of talk these days about teachers feeling scapegoated by school reform efforts.  But they're not the only ones.  Schools and the districts that run them have long complained that NCLB has "overidentified" schools due to just one or two pesky subgroups or a barely-missed cutoff.  Dockellis_cropAnd one of the main goals of the Duncan reauthorization proposal seems to be to reduce the type and number number of schools that are deemed in need of improvement.  [Or, as DFER's Charlie Barone described it, "to ease discomfort with a law that has identified roughly a third of schools in the U.S. as 'in need of improvement'."]  But I'm not so convinced that NCLB has really done such a bad job of identifying schools over all, and I'm not sure I'd rather have a system that under-identifies them any better.  To be sure, a school rating system has to be clear and comprehensible and generally accepted - but not at the cost of watering everything down and giving everyone but the worst schools a pass.



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