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Charts: State By State Testing Problems From AJC

The AJC's testing examination continues with this story (Scoring errors jeopardize tests) and a hand-dandy state-by-state listing of testing errors that have created real world problems for kids and schools:

AK Teachers and administrators complain about a host of problems with new state tests in 2005, including questions with no clear correct answer and missing pages. State says most of the problems were probably with pilot questions that didn't count.
AL Scoring errors in 2005 affected about 2,500 students.
AR Error by scorers in 2006 led to inaccurate school-by-school results for 238,000 students.
AZ Delays, reporting errors in 2012 such as kids reported in the wrong group or school, errors in field test items on AIMS state test. "These errors are public, and have damaging effects on the public perception of the Arizona Department of Education and AIMS testing."
CA Problems in 2007 included errors in the directions for a writing test that created the need for a scoring adjustment for some students and the delivery of some testing materials late.
CO A scoring error on a single question resulted in incorrect scores issued from 1997 to 2002.
CT A test company's failure to update scores properly on a 2005 reading test led wrong results to be reported for 355 high school students.
DC A sixth-grader complains in 2013 of a question with confusing directions and another with two possible right answers.
FL Federal investigators found errors in how a scanner read students’ bubbled-in answer choices, a 2009 report found.
Items 1—10 of 51
What I haven't found out yet is whether the error rate AJC found [signs of potential problems in nearly 9 percent of exams] is any different for annual NCLB tests than it is for other tests like the NAEP, AP, GED, or LSAT. More to come.

Update: Free AJC Testing Flaws Stories

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's big testing flaws story reporting ten percent of standardized tests nationally may have substantial flaws (Errors plague school testing) is officially behind a paywall for now, but I've been given links to the stories to give out to you, special readers:

ERRORS PLAGUE SCHOOL TESTING: Most questions may be adequate, as industry representatives claim. But for hundreds, if not thousands, of students nationwide each year, just one or two questions will make the difference between passing and failing a critical exam.

Flawed questions fluster students: One poorly-worded question can throw test-takers offtrack as they move through an exam, teachers and students say.

Continue reading "Update: Free AJC Testing Flaws Stories" »

AM News: Ten Percent of Tests "Likely Flawed," Says AJC

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comErrors plague school testing AJC: The investigation revealed that almost one in 10 tests nationwide contained significant blocks of questions that were likely flawed. Such questions made up 10 percent or more of those tests — threatening their overall quality and raising questions about fairness.

CA chools scale back suspensions San Jose Mercury News: From Los Angeles to Modesto to the Bay Area, districts are reducing suspensions, sometimes dramatically, and drawing raves and national attention -- but also bitter criticism.

Md. to give MSA, though results won't be used to gauge school progress Baltimore Sun: State believes it would be violating federal law if it stopped giving MSA, which doesn't align with new curriculum.

State and Locals to U.S. Senate: Rewrite No Child Left Behind Act Politics K12: "State governments, localities, and schools need a long-term resolution for the issues raised by the current federal education law, the No Child Left Behind Act," write the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National League of Cities, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and four other groups, in a letter sent to Senate leaders today.

LAUSD superintendent Deasy "saddened" by deputy's resignation KPCC: Deasy and school board members and staff reached by KPCC have declined to comment on the circumstances of his departure, but Aquino told the Los Angeles Times that the seven-member board has been riddled by paralysis and micromanages day-to-day operations. See also LA Daily News.

Minecraft, a Child’s Obsession, Finds Use as an Educational Tool NYT: Teachers and parents are using Minecraft, a popular video game, to help teach science, history, languages and ethics.

Continue reading "AM News: Ten Percent of Tests "Likely Flawed," Says AJC" »

AM News: Reform Critics Slam Race To The Top

News2Race To The Top Competition Deemed 'Impossible' In New Report Huffington Post: The 100-page report, released Thursday, argues that policies should tackle the effects of poverty while simultaneously making schools better. By not targeting out-of-school factors like nutrition and parental income, the report says, and by focusing on teacher evaluation systems that often result in harsh consequences without much useful feedback, Race to the Top goals are severely mismatched with its policies.'

Race to the Top’ for education a flop, report finds Politico: Most winning states made what the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education labeled “unrealistic and impossible” promises to boost student achievement in exchange for prizes that were ultimately paltry in comparison with their pledges.

MOOCs keep getting bigger. But do they work? Hechinger/TIME: Hailed by politicians and journalists as the affordable future of higher education, the MOOC is neither fashion accessory nor smartphone app. It’s a massive open online course—a college class available for free online to tens of thousands of people at once.

California Moves to Scrap ‘No Child’ Testing, Despite U.S. Threat WSJ: California lawmakers approved a bill that would scrap the state’s current student-testing program, despite an Obama administration threat to pull federal dollars from the state if the legislation becomes law. The bill—which California Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign—would immediately end the annual California Standards Tests in reading and math.

Continue reading "AM News: Reform Critics Slam Race To The Top" »

Quotes: Common Core Tests Address Liberals' Concerns

Quotes2The tests that are coming out to be aligned with Common Core address the concerns that liberals have about testing. They’re about more than memorization and multiple choice. - DFER's Charlie Barone in the Miami Herald

Quotes: President Clinton Defends Common Core

Quotes2We cannot be disheartened by the forces of resistance to building a modern economy of good jobs and rising incomes, or to rebuilding our education system to give all our children a common core of knowledge necessary to ensure success... - Former President Bill Clinton, via USA Today's Greg Toppo

AM News: NCLB Waivers Hurt Tutoring - & At-Risk Students

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Study: Waivers leave behind at-risk students AP: Millions of at-risk students could fall through the cracks as the Education Department gives states permission to ignore parts of No Child Left Behind, according to a study education advocates released Tuesday.

No Child Left Behind waivers are causing the private tutoring industry to implode Deseret News: Education Week's analysis showed that among states that have received NCLB waivers, very few included supplemental education — after-school tutoring — in their waiver plans.

Arne Duncan Wants Special Education Students To Take General Exams Huffington Post: Should students with disabilities be held to the same academic standards as their peers? And should schools and teachers be held accountable for their progress? U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan answered that question with a resounding yes, proposing a seemingly wonky regulatory change that could have profound effects on some of the nation's most vulnerable learners.

At Charter Schools, Short Careers by Choice NYT: Charter networks are developing what amounts to a youth movement in which teaching for two to five years is seen as acceptable, even desirable.

Biggest Changes in a Decade Greet Students Wall Street Journal: Millions of students heading back to school are finding significant changes in the curriculum and battles over how teachers are evaluated, as the biggest revamps of U.S. public education in a decade work their way into classrooms. Most states are implementing tougher math and reading standards known as Common Core, while teacher evaluations increasingly are [...]

Breaking Down the Newark Teacher Raises WSJ: Last week, 190 Newark public-school teachers learned they’d be getting bonuses in a controversial merit-pay program funded by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg‘s foundation. Not all of Newark’s 3,200 teachers were eligible to begin with, and even fewer – only 11 teachers – qualified for the full bonus amount of $12,500. 

Former Sec. Of Education Wants More Support For Teachers NPR: Education has been called the top civil rights issue of the 21st century. Host Michel Martin asks former U.S. Secretary of Education of Education Rod Paige about whether the nation is winning the battle for equality in schools.

Continue reading "AM News: NCLB Waivers Hurt Tutoring - & At-Risk Students" »

Morning Video: New Standards Require New Tests


An overview of the new Common Core assessment development process from the PBS NewsHour earlier this week.

AM News: Three States Warned On Teacher Evaluation

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NCLB waivers at risk in three states Politico: Oregon plans to appeal its status to the department in the next 10 business days. Washington, with its hands tied by state law, said it can't do much until the legislature convenes in January, but the state outlook is optimistic. And Kansas plans to meet today to discuss its high-risk status.

NCLB Waivers in Kansas, Oregon, Washington at 'High Risk' PoliticsK12: The U.S. Department of Education is threatening to revoke No Child Left Behind Act waivers for three states at the end of the 2013-14 school year over their failure to come up with new teacher-evaluation systems tied to student growth.

School Standards’ Debut Is Rocky, and Critics Pounce NYT: Indiana has already put a brake on them. The Michigan House of Representatives is holding hearings on whether to suspend them. And citing the cost of new tests requiring more writing and a significant online component, Georgia and Oklahoma have withdrawn from a consortium developing exams based on the standards.

Last-Minute A-F Changes Lifted 165 Indiana School Grades StateImpact:  Bennett’s staff does not directly mention the change in emails the Associated Press published this month. From those messages, it’s not apparent state officials made the change with Christel House alone in mind. The finding does, however, shows how a relatively minor alteration to the A-F grading scale can have statewide implications.

On education, mayoral hopefuls don’t talk about their limitations GothamSchools: Despite coming from different candidates, the pledges have one thing in common: They can’t be fulfilled from inside City Hall, despite mayoral control of the city’s schools.

Continue reading "AM News: Three States Warned On Teacher Evaluation" »

AM News: More States Prepare For Lower Test Score Results

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Get ready for 'disappointment,' political spin with new school-test results Minn Post:  Depending on who is doing the talking, the tests are either the beginning of a new, more rational era, the beginning of the end or Waterloo for fed-up teachers.

NC schools chief June Atkinson says test scores will drop this year NewsObserver: Last week, the state Department of Public Instruction announced that the four-year graduation rate reached a record high 82.5 percent this year. But expect more sobering news this fall, Atkinson said, when DPI releases the results of English/language arts and math tests based on new Common Core standards. via GS.

Parents Losing Jobs a Hidden Cost to Head Start Cuts Bloomberg:  A U.S. preschool program for low-income families allowed single mother Kelly Burford to take a $7.25-an-hour job as a department store clerk in Maryland. Her son, Bradyn, 2, spent the day with friends listening to stories, singing and drawing pictures -- at no cost to Burford. via Politico.

Obama administration presses forward on early education Politico: President Barack Obama has found a way to cater to his obsession with pre-K programs while the rest of his education agenda stalls: Skip Congress and spend the money anyway.

Philadelphia Schools Should Remain Closed Until Fully Funded, Some Parents Say HuffPost: Philadelphia's Superintendent William Hite said Thursday if he doesn't get an additional $50 million by Aug. 16, the city's beleaguered 218 public schools will be unable to open their doors on schedule on Sept. 9.

Lavish perks. Little oversight Asbury Park Press: While Wall students lagged behind their statewide peers, prosecutors say schools chief James F. Habel stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement pay.

M. Night Shyamalan Takes on Education Reform WSJ: Best known for producing films such as "The Sixth Sense" and "The Village," Mr. Shyamalan is about to come out with a book called "I Got Schooled" on the unlikely subject of education reform.

Continue reading "AM News: More States Prepare For Lower Test Score Results" »

Quotes: NAEP Progress Slower In Obama/Waiver Era

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comFor the first nine years [of NCLB], the average gains were six points annually for African-Americans, five points for Hispanics and three points for whites... Annual gains [in the Obama/waiver era] have been limited to one-and-a-half points for blacks and to three points for Hispanic students.  - Paul Peterson in the WSJ (The Obama Setback for Minority Education)

Morning Video: A Different View On NCLB's Flaws & the House Version

Parents got left out of NCLB in terms of engagement, transfers, and tutoring, says NACS's Nina Rees in this recent WSJ Opinion Video -- but the House rewrite of NCLB over-corrects the law's problems.


NCLB: Roundup Of CA District Waiver Coverage

Flickr Meghan Carnavalet In These TimesThe $100M money angle shouldn't be ignored here, nor the 20-student subgroup size nor the 14-member council.  What happened to Clovis?

Arne Duncan gives No Child Left Behind waivers to California districts Washington Post:  The Obama administration will grant waivers to eight California school districts to free them from the requirements of No Child Left Behind, a precedent-setting move that  creates a direct relationship between the federal government and local school systems.

6 California cities get No Child Left Behind delay SF Gate: In San Francisco, the waiver will free up at least $700,000 that had to be spent on tutors or letters to parents about their "failing" school, said Superintendent Richard Carranza. 

U.S. Department of Education Grants California Districts' CORE Waiver PoliticsK12: For districts, the most important flexibility this waiver brings is financial. A waiver will free up about $100 million in federal funds a year among the districts—money that's now locked up in providing interventions such as tutoring and school choice in schools that do not meet annual academic targets.

CA Waiver Award Includes ‘Unique’ Oversight Panel* LA School Report: The 14-member oversight body will provide an “unbiased external compliance review” of each district’s progress after a series of self- and peer-evaluations.

Eight California Districts Get No Child Left Behind Waivers Wall Street Journal:  The Obama administration said Tuesday it will allow eight California school districts, including Los Angeles, to sidestep key provisions ...

California districts get special 'No Child' waiver Politico: Several prominent Republicans oppose the idea of district waivers, including Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, who chairs the House education committee. The CORE districts have committed to track progress of and hold themselves accountable for much smaller subgroups, with as few as 20 students per campus. 

Image via Flickr

Charts: 19 Waiver States Now Have Approved TVal Systems

Nclbwaivers-072913update (1) (1)
The yellow dots represent the 19 states with waivers that have also had their teacher evaluation systems approved, according to EdWeek. The green dots are those who have merely been approved for a waiver.  Everybody else is still operating under the original NCLB.

Morning Video: Meet The New Politico Education Team


"Pro editor Marty Kady leads a roundtable discussion with education editor Nirvi Shah and reporters Libby Nelson and Stephanie Simon on changes to Common Core, the status of legislation to overhaul No Child Left Behind, and the deal on student loans."

Thompson: DFER's Barone Comes Clean About NCLB's True Purpose

RejectOne good thing about Charlie Barone of the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is that he doesn't mince words. 

In his recent post, Test Mania A Mere Symptom of Bipolar Policy Disorder, Barone replies to Brent Staples' The Trouble With Testing Mania.

Staples’ New York Times editorial cautiously and constructively criticized testing gone wild. 

Some "reformers" might have stuck with their party line that the ultimate purpose of test-driven accountability is helping children. 

Instead, Barone admits that testing and test prep has stolen time from instruction. But he claims that teachers also waste class time showing movies, texting, sleeping, and with “teacher student underage sex.”

Barone, an author of NCLB, does not claim an educational reason for its test-driven accountability. He bluntly acknowledges that the purpose of testing-driven reforms was "differentiating between effective and ineffective teachers and between successful and failing education systems."  

In theory, that could have helped more students than it hurt, but Barone is not very curious about why NCLB accountability failed.

Continue reading "Thompson: DFER's Barone Comes Clean About NCLB's True Purpose" »

Quotes: CORE NCLB Waiver Treats Educators "As An Afterthought"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comAny effort at “whole system reform” must include “educators and their representatives, as well as other stakeholders, in meaningful decision-making roles throughout the process … not as an afterthought.” -- Local California union presidents in letter opposing CORE NCLB waiver application (in EdSource Today)

AM News: House Takes First Steps Towards NCLB Rollback

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House takes up GOP version of No Child Left Behind AP: The House is ready to make the final tweaks to its Republican-led rewrite of the sweeping No Child Left Behind education law that governs every school in the country that receives federal education dollars.

Rollback of NCLB to get vote Politico: A bill to roll back No Child Left Behind, the far-reaching 2001 education overhaul that expired six years ago but remains in effect, will finally get a vote in the House of Representatives later this week after clearing a procedural hurdle Wednesday night—and despite grumbling from some of the chamber’s more conservative members.

House Lawmakers Set to Debate No Child Left Behind Act Rewrite Politics K12:  On the eve of a possible vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on long-stalled legislation to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act, the bill's road to passage is still somewhat bumpy. House leaders have scheduled votes for Thursday on a host of amendments to the proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act revision—26 of them altogether. But so far, a vote on final passage hasn't been scheduled, which gives leaders extra time to twist some arms, if they need to.

Senate Reaches Deal to End Fight Over Student Loan Interest Rates NYT: A Senate aide said that the new proposal, which had been the subject of tense negotiations since the rates doubled on July 1, would include a cap on federal Stafford and PLUS loans and a relatively low interest rate.

Plan approved for Conn. school shooting donations AP: Families of the 26 children and educators killed in the Connecticut school shooting will receive $281,000 each under a plan for dividing up $7.7 million in donations....

Texas School District Drops Microchip-Tracking System WSJ:  District officials decided that attendance didn't increase enough to justify the costs of the program, said Northside spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. "The lawsuit and negative publicity were part of the conversation, but not the deciding factor in ending the program," he said.

Arne Duncan presses GOP to back universal pre-K Politico: Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday he's urging reluctant Republicans in Congress to get on board with funding universal preschool. One of the big sticking points for Republicans has been coming up with new money for the program.

25 Children Die From Tainted Lunches at Indian School NYT: The authorities were searching for the headmistress of a primary school in the eastern state of Bihar after children were served food contaminated with insecticide.

NCLB: Politics Could Affect LAUSD Waiver Approval

LAUSDlogoAs reported yesterday in LA School Report, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and others are in Washington today, making a final push to persuade the Obama Education Department to approve its revised application for a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the 2002 federal education law.

Superintendent Deasy has said that a NCLB waiver would free up as much as $80 million in federal funding for other purposes.

Thus far, at least, neither Board members nor the local teachers union have been critical of the district’s pursuit of the NCLB waiver.

Publicly, at least, Obama’s education team has been signaling its support for the application, and the California Department of education is nominally supportive of the effort, too.

But there’s an unusually high level of conflict on education issues right now between Sacramento and Washington.  Conflicts between Washington and Sacramento — combined with objections from state and local teachers unions to certain requirements for waivers, and practical concerns  – could have some effects, direct or indirect, on whether LAUSD and eight other districts win approval from Washington to change some of the current NCLB requirements – or the final form of the waiver that is approved.

Read the full piece at LA School Report: Politics Could Affect LAUSD Waiver Approval

AM News: Republicans Divided Over NCLB Rewrite

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GOP divided on rewrite of 'No Child Left Behind' AP: Conservative Republicans don’t think a GOP rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law does enough to reduce Washington’s influence. Moderates are warily eying proposals that would expand charter schools’ role. Those intraparty differences appear to be blocking the bill’s momentum.

Cantor, Kline Push No Child Left Behind Rewrite, Public School Choice Politics K12: School choice will be part of the debate when the U.S. House of Representatives takes up its version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, possibly as early as this week. The House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has become much more active on K-12 issues lately, has introduced an amendment that would allow Title I dollars to follow children to the public school of their choice, including charter schools.

Republican House leaders visit DC charter school to tout education bill Washington Post: House Republicans have taken a clear turn away from Bush's philosophy that states receiving billions of dollars each year in federal aid should be accountable to Washington.

The Charter School Vs. Public School Debate Continues NPR: The charter school movement turns 21 this year and the latest study shows kids in most charter schools are doing as well or better in reading and math than their counterparts in traditional public schools. But now, leading charter school supporters are questioning that study.

Quotes: "More Money [to DE & TN] Than Maybe One Would Have Liked"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comI don't think there are a lot of things I would have done differently, other than maybe put the budget caps on earlier, which meant Delaware and Tennessee got more money than maybe one would have liked to have seen.  - Joanne Weiss, soon-departing Chief of Staff to EdSec Duncan (in EdWeek)

AM News: Looks Like CA Districts Will Get NCLB Waiver

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comCORE Districts Expect NCLB Waiver Approval in Time for 2013-14 Politics K12: It looks like July 1 will come and go without the answer California's CORE districts wanted on their request for a precedent-setting waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act. But, it seems that these nine districts are proceeding as if they will get their flexibility.

Student Loan Rates Double; What Are Long-Term Solutions for High College Debt? PBS: The student loan debate briefly became an issue during last year's presidential campaign until Congress agreed to freeze the rates for a year. But that deal runs out today.

D.C. charter school leader wins national recognition Washington Post: Linda Moore was grieving the death of her mother, recovering from knee surgery and wondering what to do with the rest of her life. It was the summer of 1996, and Congress had recently passed a law paving the way for public charter schools in the nation’s capital. Moore, who had spent years working in and around education, was intrigued. 

Activists end fast over Philadelphia school cuts AP: Philadelphia activists have ended a dayslong fast to protest school district layoffs....

Superintendent's Effort To Do Right By His Kids NPR: The Los Angeles Unified School District is one of the largest school systems in the country. As its superintendent, John Deasy knows the challenges facing educators, parents and children. Host Michel Martin speaks with Deasy about the things that keep him up at night, and what he enjoys most about his job.

Calif. Judge Rules Yoga In Public Schools Not Religious NPR: The decision came after some parents in the San Diego area sued the Encinitas Union School District to stop yoga classes because they believed the ancient Indian practice had religious overtones. An attorney for the patents said they'd likely appeal.

Progressive Charter School Doesn’t Have Students The Onion via GothamSchools: One year into its founding as the purported “bold next step in education reform,” administrators on Monday sang the praises of Forest Gates Academy, a progressive new charter school that practices an innovative philosophy of not admitting any students. 

AM News: NH Waiver Leaves Handful Of States Under NCLB

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New Hampshire Gets NCLB Waiver Politics K12: That leaves Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming with outstanding requests for flexibility under the NCLB law.

After years of cuts, states investing in early education again Hechinger Report:  A recent study by the Education Commission of the States found that after years of stagnant or declining funding, states added $181 million dollars to pre-school programs in the 2012-2013 school year.

Junk food getting canned in schools USA TODAY: The nutritional quality of food served at schools has been a hot-button issue for years because a third of U.S. kids are overweight or obese. 

Va. superintendents worry grading scale will only measure poverty Washington Post: As Virginia’s Board of Education begins to develop a formula for calculating letter grades for each of its public schools by fall 2014, superintendents across the state are getting nervous.

Fireworks at Chicago school board meeting Washington Post: Here's a short video showing what happened when some Chicago public school students went to Wednesday's Board of Education meeting to protest budget cuts and the largest mass school closing in American history.

Afternoon Video: Duncan Talks About District NCLB Waiver


Here's Duncan's appearance in SF on Friday, during which he apparently said nice things about Governor Jerry Brown (with whom he's battled regularly for the last four years) and about the district NCLB waiver application. Via EdSource Daily.

Quotes: What Waivers Would Do To Obamacare

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comThe waiver policy is sort of like if Obamacare had mandated that everyone in America had live to be at least 90, or face severe consequences. Then when the severe consequences rolled around, the administration would offer waivers only if states implemented plans to make everyone run 15 miles a day. - Washington Monthly's Daniel Luzer (The Obama Administration's Crafty Education Policy)

AM News: What Happens When Waivers Expire?

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Is NCLB Waiver Renewal the Next Big Issue? EdWeek: The waivers are only set to be in place for two years, and it's unclear if Brokedown Congress will get its act together to pass a rewrite. 

Arne Duncan Expected To Tap Emma Vadehra As New Chief Of Staff Huffington Post: She is expected to be replaced by Emma Vadehra, who works as the chief of staff for a charter school management organization known as Uncommon Schools, the sources said. 

Education with a LIFT NBC: Schools adopt program to LIFT low income students to higher learning.

In Dallas, 3-Year High School Diploma Would Expand Preschool NYT: Dallas Independent School District, the state’s second largest, is developing a voluntary three-year high school diploma plan that is likely to start in the 2014-15 school year and would funnel cost savings to finance prekindergarten.

Defiant LAUSD Superintendent Says He’ll Push Targeted Spending Plan Anyway LA School Report: “The Board voted down the directive to have me come and do it,” said Deasy, referring to Galatzan’s local spending resolution. “[But] they can’t stop me from doing it; we’re doing it anyway. If they had voted to prevent me from doing it… well they didn’t think of that.”

A Lifeline for Minorities, Catholic Schools Retrench NYT: Many blacks and Latinos say they can trace the success they have achieved in their careers to the guidance they received in Catholic schools.

Texas school district apologizes to valedictorian AP: A North Texas school district has apologized to a high-school valedictorian whose microphone was switched off during a graduation ceremony when he deviated from prepared remarks.

AM News: Another Day, Another NCLB Rewrite

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comRepublican-led House committee passes new federal education bill Washington Post: A Republican-controlled House committee Wednesday approved a new version of the country’s main education law that would sharply shrink the federal role in K-12 public schools. 

Did Obama Diss Catholic Education In Northern Ireland? BuzzFeed: Education remains deeply divided in the region, with the children of Catholics mainly attending Catholic schools and the children of Protestant families mainly attending government-run schools.

Online Classes Fuel a Campus Debate NYT: A heated discussion has emerged over whether free online college classes will lead to better learning and lower costs — or to a second-class education for most students.

Condoms Approved for Schools in Massachusetts NYT: The new policy allows students to obtain condoms, unless parents opt them out, and makes sexual education a required part of school health curricula.

Lax Education In Humanities, Social Sciences Spark Outcry NPR: A new report argues that humanities and social sciences are as essential to the country's economic and civic future as science and technology. The study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was commissioned in 2010 by a bipartisan group of members of Congress.

Marathon Board Meeting Signals Changes to Come LA School Report: Among several key decisions the Board arrived at during the lengthy session were votes to award a $30 million contract to Apple, close a charter school that had dodged a district audit, and add some local regulations to the controversial parent trigger process (but not call for the law’s repeal).

AM News: "Take Another Year," Duncan Tells Waiver States

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comEducation Chief Lets States Delay Use of Tests in Decisions About Teachers’ Jobs NYT: Responding to complaints, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said states could postpone for a year using more rigorous tests to make career decisions about teachers.

Arne Duncan: Common Core Transition Will Give States More Time To Make ... Huffington Post: In what some see as a tacit recognition of the Obama administration's overreach into nitty-gritty management of America's schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will give states a reprieve from certain aspects of teacher evaluations

Consequences for teachers from school testing can wait a year Washington Post: States that are implementing the Common Core academic standards and new standardized tests in public schools can have an additional year before they have to use those student test scores to decide pay and job..

Education Dept. offers more time to reach goals AP: The Education Department is offering states more time to enact promised reforms in exchange for permission to ignore unworkable parts of No Child Left Behind. Education Secretary Arne Duncan ...

No Child Left Behind Act At Center Of House Hearing, Sparring Philosophies Huffington Post: Under the [Kline] legislation, schools would not have to meet federally prescribed performance goals -- a proposal markedly different from current law, the Obama administration's waiver system and a competing bill offered up by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). 

Labor Seeks Influence in New York’s Mayoral Race NYT: After years of low morale, unions across the city are roaring back to life this election season, excited by the prospect of installing a friend in City Hall.

Board to Vote on Condoms in Boston Schools NYT: A new health policy that would make condoms available in the district’s high schools is up for a vote on Wednesday night.

Home-Schooled Students Fight To Play On Public School Teams NPR: Roughly half of U.S. states have passed laws making home-schooled students eligible to play for their local school teams. But in Indiana, an attempt to find a middle ground hasn't calmed the debate.

Panorama City school to be named after Michelle Obama Los Angeles Daily News: West Valley board member Tamar Galatzan said she, too, admired Michelle Obama, but she questioned whether the board was following district policy for naming the school after the first lady.


Morning Video: Eighteen Minutes With EdSec Duncan

Arne Duncan slams No Child Left Behind (diagnoses Congress, etc.) POLITICO

AM News: Multi-billion Broadband Plan vs. Contentious NCLB Overhaul

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Obama Promises Internet Upgrade for U.S. Schools NYT: The president said he would ask for changes to the E-rate program so that 99 percent of schools could upgrade to high-speed broadband and wireless service.

Obama announces Internet overhaul plan in US schools NBC News: President Barack Obama announces a plan to enhance Internet speed in America's schools while creating jobs in the process. Obama unveiled the plan at Mooresville Middle School in North Carolina Thursday. (NBC News)

Obama Calls for High Speed Broadband at Schools Throughout U.S. PBS NewsHour: White House officials, who insisted on not being named during the call, didn't put a specific price tag on the plan, but said it would likely cost several billion dollars.

Loris Elementary students, staff join White House virtual chat on technology in schools MyrtleBeach.com: Loris is a Title I school where Porter has been able to employ a variety of technology tools to meet the personalized learning needs for all of the students. The school has provided every student in grades three through five with a laptop and a variety of learning software, and plans are to expand and reach more students through blended learning rotations.

Plans to replace 'No Child' law bring dueling visions of federal role in education Washington Post: Republicans in Congress have rolled out legislation that would sharply limit the power of the executive branch and shrink the role of the federal ...

Senate Republicans introduce education overhaulU.S. News & World Report: Education Secretary Arne Duncan would see his authority greatly cut and governors would have final say over their schools under Republican-sponsored legislation.

House Republican Introduces Education Bill NYT: The legislation, which eliminates 70 programs, is intended to reduce “the federal footprint,” said its sponsor, Representative John Kline.

Video: Student on school back from the brink: I love it NBC:  Students at Devonshire Elementary in Charlotte, NC and their families talk with NBC's Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis about the comfort they now feel in the classroom after the school implemented significant changes. (TODAY)

AM News: Republican Alternative to Follow Harkin NCLB Proposal

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Harkin Introduces Schools Legislation NYT:  Jim Jeffries, a spokesman for Mr. Alexander, said that Mr. Harkin’s bill was “congested” with federal mandates and that Mr. Alexander’s bill “will get Washington out of the business of deciding whether schools and teachers are succeeding or failing.”

Senate introduces No Child Left Behind replacement AP: Senate Democrats are introducing legislation that would replace the one-sized-fits-all national standards of No Child Left Behind with ones that states write for themselves. 

Henderson not convinced that D.C. education plan will help schools Washington Post: “I need more information, because on the face of it, I just don’t believe that these seven proposals are going to move us to where we need to go,” Henderson said of council member David A. Catania’s education proposals.

U.S. Rep. Roby's Common Core Action May Not Ease State-Level Pressure State EdWatch:  Alabama Sen. Dick Brewbaker, a Republican in the state legislature, told the press today that he remains in favor of the state dropping the standards, after he and some other GOP legislators unsuccessfully pushed for the repeal of common core in the state this year. 
Governors, state education chiefs discuss improving child literacy Washington Post: Governors and education chiefs from nine states said Tuesday that a focus on early-childhood education, the changing dynamic of families and supporting low-income students could help improve literacy across the country.

US Education Secretary Arne Duncan urges RI to keep Gist Fox: With the R.I. Board of Education set to consider a new contract for Education Commissioner Deborah Gist this week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncanon Tuesday praised the reform efforts of the state's top education official.

Job Market Remains Challenging For 2013 Graduates NPR: For the last five years, Graduation Day was as much a time for apprehension as for celebration. Prospects for those entering the workforce for the first time were bleak. The class of 2013 — whether from high school or college — has cause for more optimism than previous classes.

Media: Salon Writer Shakes Angry Fist At Reform

image from farm3.staticflickr.comReform critics are swooning over David Sirota's latest Salon.com missive (New data shows school “reformers” are full of it) for understandable reasons.  It's main thesis is as follows: "Poor schools underperform largely because of economic forces, not because teachers have it too easy." (And it includes lots of links, and no small amount of outrage.)

But is there anything useful and good in what Sirota is saying?  I'm not so sure. No doubt, poverty has an enormous effect on kids' lives and often on their academic achievement. No doubt, there's lots that could be done to make the system more fair (get rid of local school districts, eliminate "salary averaging"). And as you've read here several times recently, child poverty has been on the rise (as has the number of high-poverty public schools).

But nobody credible that I know of is suggesting that poverty isn't a major factor, or that most teachers aren't doing everything they can / know how to do to make things work for poor kids.  Citing Joanne Barkan, as Sirota does repeatedly, isn't particularly persuasive to me at least. Blaming education reform for worsening the achievement gap?  I'm not buying it.  

Is there anyone out there writing about poverty, race, and inequality in ways that seem a little less heated and perhaps more credible?  Tanehisi Coates at Atlantic.com comes to mind.

Previous posts: Power Couples: Emily & David Sirota; What MSNBC's O'Donnell Gets Wrong About Denver; The Myth Of The All-Powerful Billionaires. Image via Flickr Hey Rocker

AM News: State Chiefs Reject Common Core "Pause"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

State Chiefs: Common Core Requires Flexibility, Not a Pause Politics K12: What the chiefs do want, however, is some flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education and from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan—from No Child Left Behind itself or the waivers already granted—during these next couple of tricky years as the common core is fully implemented and common tests come on line.

24 Virginia schools apply for third-grade testing waivers Washington Post: Two dozen Virginia elementary schools, including one in Alexandria, have applied for waivers from the state Board of Education to free schools from mandatory state testing requirements in science and social studies for third-graders so they have more time to develop reading skills.

Gates foundation funds group to help charter schools Seattle Times: In November, Washington became the 42nd state to allow the independent public schools. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has now pledged nearly $800,000 to start a charter-school incubator for help with planning.

Anthony Weiner In Debate Questions Some Bloomberg Education Reforms Huffington Post: Fresh off the announcement of his campaign for New York City mayor and Tuesday's promising poll numbers, the disgraced former congressman spoke at the first mayoral debate of his 2013 run. The debate, hosted by the union-funded New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, focused on education in the nation's largest school district.

High court reverses Lobato ruling EdNewsColo: In a 4-2 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court has overturned a district court decision in the Lobato v. State lawsuit and ruled that the state’s current school finance system is constitutional.

llinois Bans New Online Charter Schools for 1 Year EdWeek: Illinois has put a one-year moratorium on new virtual charter schools outside Chicago at the urging of a handful of west suburban school districts.

The school yearbook business is a scandal. Here’s how to fix it. Slate via GothamSchools: You wouldn’t know it to look at the products, but the school yearbook business is kind of shady. There’s a good chance you and your kid’s school are paying way too much for yearbooks—sometimes thousands or tens of thousands a year too much.

Thompson: Testing Foul-Ups in Oklahoma Will the Past Be Prelude?

K2This year’s testing foul-ups included more mistakes by Pearson in New York City, and computer malfunctions during testing in Indiana and Oklahoma. Carrie Coppernoll’s Testing Fallout Persists, in the Daily Oklahoman, describes the political decisions that must be made after high-stakes testing was disrupted, last month, by computer crashes.

Before No Child Left Behind, Oklahoma had its share of testing fiascoes. In 1997, Harcourt Publishing sent the wrong writing exams to 8th and 11th graders. In 2001, Riverside Publishing lost its contract with the state after significant delays in providing test results.

In the last ten years, Oklahoma has used five different testing companies. Harcourt regained the contract but then it printed incorrect answers on the sample test. In 2007, Pearson was awarded the contract for end-of-instruction tests, but it made data classification errors and mishandled its portfolio assessments for profoundly disabled students. Now, Oklahoma has to decide how to deal with McGraw-Hill’s latest mess.

Economics 101 would predict that after NCLB dramatically increased the demand for standardized tests,  the quality of the testing product would decline.  Even with the primitive old bubble-in tests, that seems to be happening.  When the far more complicated Common Core assessments are rushed into production, shouldn't we expect even more testing debacles?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via

Update: Duncan Endorses Parent Trigger -- Sort Of

image from laschoolreport.comAt an education conference in Burlingame earlier today, Obama education secretary Arne Duncan gave a muddled semi-endorsement of the controversial parent trigger law in California.

Specifically, Duncan described the trigger as "an important tool" for parent involvement -- but not the only or even the most important one.

Duncan's answer will likely disappoint trigger proponents and opponents alike.

Continue reading "Update: Duncan Endorses Parent Trigger -- Sort Of" »

Morning Video: Bush Education Accomplishments, Revisited

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The newly-opened Bush Library includes a section on education, and NBC's Chuck Todd interviewed former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings about the Bush education legacy.  

Documentaries: Could Principal Minor Have Done More?

image from wamu.orgBelow are some interesting things I learned chatting Monday afternoon with Jacquie Jones, ED of the National Black Programming Consortium, about last week's "180 Days."  

NBPC is the outfit behind the documentary, which was also funded in part by the Ford Foundation, and according to Jones was conceived of as a way to deepen the school reform conversation but not necessarily as a response or rebuttal.

Jones puts the core question the film raises this way:  "How could this person [Principal Minor, pictured] who se so clearly smart in a real pratical way as well as passionate about these kids -- working at full capacity every day -- how could she be doing all this and it still sucked like this?"

I came away from the conversation much enlighted about some of the issues that had intrigued me -- especially the question of what if anything could have been done differently -- and informed about the thinking behind the scenes that were (and weren't) shown. 

Continue reading "Documentaries: Could Principal Minor Have Done More?" »

Morning Video: Noguera, Bradford, & Taylor Discuss Testing On MSNBC

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Continue reading "Morning Video: Noguera, Bradford, & Taylor Discuss Testing On MSNBC" »

Bruno: Exit Exams Are For Students, Not Adults

5843577306_06fd6132f7The Providence Student Union is organizing an anti-high-stakes-testing protest in which adults take a test similar to the one required of students in Rhode Island to graduate high school. This isn't the first time this sort of publicity stunt has been performed, but since it's in the news it's worth remembering that the underlying logic of the protest is totally confused.

The rationale behind the protest isn't always clearly articulated, but the main assumption seems to be that if "accomplished" adults struggle with a test, it's unreasonable or unfair to expect much younger students to complete it successfully.

The problem with that line of thinking is that many adults are well out of school and have long since taken academic and career paths that happen not to involve the specific knowledge covered by the test.

Continue reading "Bruno: Exit Exams Are For Students, Not Adults" »

Afternoon Video: NBC News Explores NCLB Waiver Issues

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Carmel announces she's leaving and all hell breaks loose.

Maps: Where The Performance Targets Vary By Race

ScreenHunter_02 Mar. 07 10.05
Here's NBC News' map of states showing all the places (in yellow) where states have applied and the USDE has allowed adoption of performance targets that vary by race.  You can see the fully interactive version of the map here. Last night's TV episodes are here, here, and here. Oh, and Education Nation's road trip kicks off later this month in Detroit.

Bruno: Standardized Tests & Classroom Teacher Bias

I really liked Kathleen Porter-Magee's and Jennifer Borgioli'spost on "the four biggest myths of the anti-testing backlash", especially the part about "teachers' instincts" so I'll permit myself to briefly take issue with fellow This Week In Education contributor John Thompson's characterization of their argument.


Admittedly, Kathleen and Jennifer may have sacrificed a bit of clarity in the pursuit of brevity, but unlike John I do not read them as claiming that standardized assessment results are "more valuable" than teacher-generated assessments. The key point - which I have not seen refuted - is that teacher assessments of students are often biased in ways that needlessly disadvantage students on the basis of their race (or gender, etc.) and standardized assessment data may be useful in mitigating those biases.

It's fair to say, as John does, that the way standardized assessment data are collected and used may reduce or eliminate their usefulness in practice. That, however, wasn't the "myth" to which Kathleen and Jennifer were referring. Instead, they were referring to the myth that teachers don't suffer from big,  important blind spots when it comes to assessing students. I doubt John labors under that misconception, but there are many reform critics who often speak as though they do.

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I don't really mind my students taking their 8th grade state science test and actually look forward to receiving the results: I'm acutely aware of the limitations of my own judgment when it comes to my students and standardized tests are one important - albeit imperfect - way for me to fill in my blind spots. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

Quotes: No Parent (Or Board) Opposition To Trigger In LA

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comI had no knowledge of ‘opposition’ in the world of parents. None.

-- Superintendent John Deasy on LAUSD's unanimous approval of a trigger petition. via @hechingerreport

TV: EdWeek's Take On "House Of Cards"

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comLast week I told you about my failed attempt to slog through "House of Cards" and how much the show reminded me of a clunky retelling of the 2000 authorization of NCLB.  

This week, Politics K-12 has a review / recap of the series (Congress Won't Reauthorize ESEA, So Netflix Will Do It For Them) penned by someone named Ross Brenneman.  

While disappointingly unaware of my take on the show ( Netflix Show Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization), Brenneman provides a couple of helpful tidbits, including a reminder that The West Wing also focused heavily on education and some reassurance that teachers aren't portrayed negatively (at least not in comparison with the anti-hero Democratic Congressman played by Kevin Spacey). This is no "Won't Back Down" in regards to its portrayal of union leaders, though I understand that there's a bigger role for them in the second half of the show which I didn't see.


NCLB: 34 State Waivers -- Plus District Consortia, Too?

image from www.edsource.org
EdSource is reporting that a ten-district consortia of California school districts that educate more than 20 percent of the state's students is pressing ahead with its NCLB waiver application, despite concerns from the state and Secretary Duncan about creating different rules for different districts.  Hey, there was a district version of Race to the Top, so why not a district version of NCLB waivers? 

Morning Video: Senate NCLB Waiver Hearing ... & Then Reauthorization?

The hearing starts at 10. The above is just a screenshot.  Here's a link to the committee site -- the video is not embeddable, far as I can tell (and according to the staff I talked to).  One of the highlights may be EdTrust president Kati Haycock's critique of the waiver approval and implementation process, notes HuffPosts's Joy Resmovits, though I don't think it's anything particularly new she's saying. 

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Behind the scenes, some civil rights and accountability types admit that the waivers might end up being preferable to what Congress would have done in a reauthorization.  Speaking of reauthorizations, DFER's Charlie Barone thinks that one might still happen (for better or worse).  


House Of Cards: Netflix Show Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization

If, like me and a few others, you spent all or part of the weekend watching episodes of Netflix's new dramatic series, House of Cards, you emergef from your cave this chilly Monday morning tired and edgy.  Perhaps you went back and tried again once the week started. According to Atlantic.com, a Netflix marathon often leads to a Netflix hangover.

image from prospect.org

Why a hangover?  Well, like many shows these days -- Dexter, House, Breaking Bad, etc. -- the central characters here (Kevin Spacey as a Southern Congressman, Kate Mara as an ambitious journalist) aren't particularly admirable or moral human beings.   

What makes the show watchable -- in addition to the never-ending concerns about whether the characters will do more awful things (they will!) or get caught (mostly not!) -- is that it's got negotiations over an education bill as a backdrop.

Yes, like Season 4 of The Wire and Won't Back Down and a raft of recent shows, education reform is the high-stakes backdrop for this Washington DC thriller.

But is it realistic, or any good?  To tell you a little more about this -- which I must (otherwise I watched four and a half episodes in vain) -- involves revealing a fair number of plot points (ie, spoilers).  So read below without any expectation of my keeping secrets.  

Continue reading "House Of Cards: Netflix Show Revisits 2000's ESEA Authorization" »

Quotes: CA Gov. Whinges Over NCLB Waiver Rejection

Quotes2Distant authorities crack the whip, demanding quantitative measures and a stark, single number to encapsulate the precise achievement level of every child. - CA Governor Jerry Brown, via Huffington Post's Joy Resmovits

Chicago: Roughly A Third Of Turnarounds Remain Low-Performing

Screen shot 2013-01-17 at 12.24.14 PMThe industrious folks at Chicago Public Radio have gathered together data on 12 years of school closings and turnarounds.

Not only that, they also mapped the changes, and determined that roughly a third of the buildings closed and/or turned around remain at the lowest level of performance (Tier 3).

It's well worth a look, whether you're a fan or critic of school turarnound efforts.

Others will disagree, but the 32 percent failure rate doesn't seem objectionable, given the enormity of the issues faced at 100 percent of the schools deemed bad enough to be closed or turned around.


AM News: California Districts Seek Own NCLB Waivers

Districts preparing their own request for NCLB waiver EdSource Today: Duncan hasn’t yet agreed to consider district waivers in states that either didn’t apply for them or had their applications turned down, and CORE hasn’t yet formally asked Brown for his blessing, which would considerably help their case. 

Call for Nominations: Know a Creative Science or Math Teacher? PBS NewsHour: NewsHour is launching a new series highlighting science and math teachers, kindergarten through high school, across the county who are using innovative teaching methods in the classroom. Each month, we'll publish an original video feature of a teacher who uses creativity in the classroom in order to inspire their students.

Scientology Almost Made It Into No Child Left Behind? Ed Tonight Huffington Post: Reports Vulture: Tom Cruise "tried to convince President George W. Bush's Secretary of Education Rod Paige to include Hubbard's 'study tech' educational methods into No Child Left Behind."

Ohio teacher claims discrimination over fear of kids USA Today:  Lawsuit says woman forced to resign because she can't teach young children.

Parents plan protest of Deasy's plans for Crenshaw High School KPCC: After months of uncertainty, the future of Crenshaw High School will likely be decided at Tuesday's  monthly L.A. Unified school board meeting. 




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.