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Holidays: Happy 4th of July Weekend

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com

Happy Fourth of July Weekend to everyone! I'm away Friday through Monday but will be back Tuesday morning with all the great news, commentary, and analysis that you need. 

Best Blogs: Lots Of Familiar Names -- Plus One Totally New One

MagooshBelated thanks to the folks at Magoosh for including me in their 5 Education Blogs We Love:

"Russo does an excellent job of scouring education news all over the world-wide web and bringing it together in one place. We like it because it’s packed with information and updated constantly. No stale news on this site."

I like hearing that!
 
Others on the list include familiar names like Jay Mathews, Valerie Strauss, & Mind Shift, and one I'd never heard of before, The Perfect Score Project.
 
What I'm really looking for right now, however, is a 5 Instagram Accounts For Education.

#TBT: A Bold Experiment To Fix Our Schools [Vouchers, 1999]

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Check out this 1999 Matt Miller story about vouchers: A Bold Experiment to Fix City Schools. The idea may be dead in name, but another version called ESAs just got approved in Nevada and is allowed in four other states.

Morning Video: Oh, No! A Blue-Haired Teacher Does "Whole-Brained" Teaching

Here's the latest from the PBS NewsHour on "whole-brain" teaching. It involves a teacher in a blue wig (both in front of the students and later doing an interview). Those of us who remember brain-based learning may be cautious about this. Link here just in case (or for the transcript). Let the video keep running and you'll also see a segment about a Seattle high school trying to go "all IB" like some Chicago schools have attempted. 

AM News: Bush Fdn. Donor Lists, Clinton Email Traffic, Plus Idaho Test Results

Jeb Bush's education foundation releases donor list a day after his tax returns Washington Post: The new donation records show that a large number of contributions came from for-profit education companies and that at least three donors also paid Bush for speeches.

Clinton Emails Show Image Management WSJ: She also planned dinner with Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, and Hilary Rosen, a Democratic political consultant. In another email, she asks for a phone number for Terry Murray, whom she describes as “President of the Mass State Senate and was a big supporter of mine during the primaries.”

Idaho students fare well on new testing program Spokesman: Idaho students scored higher taking new standardized tests compared with the national benchmarks used to measure English language arts and math proficiency. The Idaho state Department of Education released the preliminary scores Wednesday. Scores were supposed to be released June 5, but a delay with the vendor pushed back the release date.

LA Unified board votes in Zimmer as new president LA School Report: LA Unified board member Steve Zimmer was unanimously elected today to become the new board president, giving the board its strongest pro-teacher president in more than a decade. Zimmer, vice president for the last two years, succeeds Richard Vladovic, who served as president since 2013. See also KPCC: Lawsuit says LAUSD short-changing neediest students, LA Times.

Mayor: Chicago school cuts include layoffs, less maintenance AP: Chicago school and city officials detailed $200 million in cuts - including layoffs, scaled-back maintenance and reduced transportation - to the nation's third-largest school district Wednesday, one day after the district paid a $634 million pension bill officials said it couldn't afford.... See also  WBEZ Chicago, NYTHuffPost.

Ronald Thorpe, National Board President and Education Advocate, Dies at 63 Education Week: In a statement, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called Thorpe a "fierce advocate" for having teachers lead the work in the profession. "When he became president of the NBPTS, he pushed us all to the highest standards of ...

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

Continue reading "AM News: Bush Fdn. Donor Lists, Clinton Email Traffic, Plus Idaho Test Results" »

Quotes: That Giant Sorting Sound

Quotes2You can’t tell me that only kids in high-wealth, white neighborhoods have the ‘college DNA’ — that’s ridiculous... There’s something about how we’re structured that is sorting opportunity.

- Illinois state schools chief Tony Smith in this WBEZ Chicago story Poverty's enduring hold on school success.

Thompson: We Need a Marshall Plan for Schools and Prisons

I grew up in the post-World War II era known as "Pax Americana." We all knew that our ambitious New Deal/Fair Deal era policies, ranging from G.I. Bill to the rebuilding of Europe with the help of the Marshall Plan, were not perfect. But, we knew in our bones that tomorrow would be better than today. Government and social science would both play a role in the campaigns to expand the promise of America to all.

The Marshall Project's Eli Hager, in What Prisons Can Learn from Schools, pulls two incredibly complicated social problems together in a concise and masterful synthesis. Hager's insights are deserving of a detailed analysis. This post will merely take a first step towards an explanation of why Democrats and liberals, especially, must heed his wisdom.

School and prison reform are both deeply rooted in the Reaganism and the lowered horizons of the 1980s. The defeat of the "guns and butter" approach to the Vietnam War demonstrated the limits of our power. The Energy Crisis of 1973, along with a decade and a half of falling or stagnant wages, was somehow blamed on liberalism. The U.S. entered the emerging global marketplace without the confidence that had marked our previous decades, meaning that we were more preoccupied with surviving competition than building community. 

Americans lowered our horizons. As Hager explains, we were loath to tackle the legacies to the "overwhelming unfairnesses of history."  So, we broke off schools and prisons into separate "silos," and sought less expensive solutions for their challenges. We rejected the social science approach to tackling complex and interconnected social problems that were rooted in poverty. Our quest for cheaper and easier solutions would soon coincide with the rise of Big Data as a substitute for peer reviewed research in service to a Great Society.

Continue reading "Thompson: We Need a Marshall Plan for Schools and Prisons" »

Morning Video: Jonathan Kozol Reads From His 50 Year-Old Book

Jonathan Kozol was a 20-something substitute teacher when he dared read a Langston Hughes poem to his poor Boston students -- and got fired for it. Watch the short video above and then go read the story about it here via NPR. Note that Kozol himself is heard, not seen onscreen. 

AM News: Big Union Case Looms, PARCC Down To 11 States, Chicago Drama

Justices Take up Dispute Over Union Fees AP:  Supreme Court to consider power of public sector unions to collect fees from non-members. See also NYT, EdSource Today.

Ohio dumps the PARCC Common Core tests after woeful first year Cleveland Plain Dealer: PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin said Ohio's decision is a "disappointment."But he said the Common Core standards and improved tests are "a huge advance and a big victory for students across the country." The 11 PARCC states now include Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, District of Columbia. [Arkansas is in the middle of a battle between the governor, legislature and state school board over PARCC's future there.]

At eleventh hour, CPS makes huge pension payment WBEZ Chicago:  The head of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund says Chicago Public Schools deposited its full $634 million pension payment Tuesday evening.  “The need for long-term solutions is not erased with this payment,” CTPF’s executive director Charles Burbridge said in a statement. See also Sun-TimesAPDistrict Dossier.

De Blasio blasts Cuomo for making mayoral control a ‘political football’ ChalkbeatNY: “An issue that was not politicized in the extreme in the past has now been turned into a political football,” de Blasio said in his office, in remarks reported by Capital New York and WNYC. “How on Earth does the city of New York get only one-year extension of mayoral control of education?”

Hillary Clinton to huddle privately with top labor leaders  Politico: Clinton, Sanders, and O'Malley have also all trekked down to Washington, D.C. in recent weeks to court the American Federation of Teachers, helmed by longtime Clinton ally Randi Weingarten. The union has yet to make an official endorsement in the race.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Big Union Case Looms, PARCC Down To 11 States, Chicago Drama" »

#EDgif Of The Day: 50 Years Ago Jonathan Kozol Taught A Langston Hughes Poem

Click here to read or listen to the story from NPR's Claudio Sanchez. It's pretty amazing whether you are new to education or if Kozol's book was something you read in school and motivated you to get involved.

Maps: Most States (43) Still On Board With Common Core - But What About Tests?

image from www.edweek.org

Big thanks to EdWeek for this handy dandy map of states and Common Core standards, which shows that most states are still participating in the Common Core state standards.  You might think otherwise from the overheated news coverage this past year.  The map of where states are on tests is the one I really want, though -- and where there's been much more action. Anyone seen a current version of that (or a timetable of when states start getting scores back in July and August)?

Quotes: A Performance Contract Version Of ESEA

Quotes2Does the education world have some kind of time-tested system–something could be brought to bear on ESEA reauthorization–for combining real accountability with real autonomy? Yes, we realized. That’s precisely what chartering is all about. - Andy Smarick (Ahead of the Heard)

Morning Video: Growing Up Trans

From tonight's PBS Frontline, Growing Up Trans: "It's much harder to be gender non-conforming than to be transgender," she says 11 year-old Ariel (born as Ian) about her experiences with bullying at school and her decision to go on hormone blockers.

Or, watch and listen about Swahili-speaking teens from Zanzibar who made a film about why they'll fail English (via NPR)

AM News: Christie's Ironic Campaign Kickoff Locale, Plus Court Cases (KS & CO)

Chris Christie Slashed Education Funding, But He's Announcing His Presidential Bid At A Public School HuffPost: Christie is expected to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday at the high school.But the venue may be an odd choice, given that the school's district has experienced significant cuts in state funding during Christie's time as governor.After coming to office in 2010, Christie cut about $1 billion in education spending, according to Politifact, to help close gaps in the state's budget. See also EdWeek: Newark to Regain Local Control of Its Schools.

Guide Shows Teachers How To Talk With Kids About Gay Marriage HuffPost: The educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the National Education Association on Friday released a guide for educators to talk with students about marriage equality. 

Kansas Court Orders Immediate Increase In School Funding AP: State officials and an attorney for four school districts challenging the law said the decision from the three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court would force the state to provide between $46 million and $54 million in extra aid next week, distributing the money under an old formula that legislators junked.

Colorado's high court blocks school voucher program AP: A school voucher program in suburban Denver violates the state constitution because it provides funding for students to attend religious schools, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday.... See also Washington PostEdWeek.

Ohio Poised to Ditch PARCC Common-Core Test in Budget Sent to Gov. Kasich State EdWatch: House Bill 64, the biennial 2015-17 budget that lawmakers sent to Gov. John Kasich, prohibits the state from purchasing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam

What Should the Next Version of Accountability Look Like? PK12: Under one vision, states and the federal government would set goals for student achievement, but the states would be able to use any strategies they wanted to get there.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Christie's Ironic Campaign Kickoff Locale, Plus Court Cases (KS & CO)" »

Gay Marriage: On Equality, Education Has A Long Way To Go*

So you rainbowed your Facebook profile. Good for you. Now let's think a minute about where things actually stand in the education world when it comes to equal treatment of people who identify as LBGT:

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1 -- Gay and trans principals and teachers still get beat up or mistreated in other ways in schools, as of course do too many students. A NC teacher recently resigned after reading a fairy tale about gay princes to his class of third graders. A Georgia superintendent came out as gay and had his computer and phone confiscated for possible "misuse" (using Grindr).

2 -- There are few district superintendents who are openly gay, and none to my knowledge who are openly partnered or married. Mayor Daley's final 2009 appointee at head of Chicago schools, Ron Haberman, was revealed to be gay only after his appointment had been finalized. As of 2009, I could find only one other openly gay superintendent (Portland's Carole Smith). Are there many more since then? 

3 -- AFT head Randi Weingarten is one of very few national education leaders (union heads, think tankers, advocates, pundits, researchers) who is out, though there are a few up-and-coming thinkers and doers who seem to be out. Ditto for education reporters, funders, etc.

*UPDATE: A few folks wrote in to remind me to add Diane Ravitch, NEA President Lily Eskelin's son, Nev. state superintendent Dale Erquiaga, a Jamestown NY superintendent, and Rep. Mark Takano.

This is just to say that education has a long way to go before it's as progressive and open as it might hope to be, and that the situation on the ground -- in schools, board meetings, at conferences, etc. -- still seems remarkably outdated and straight given all the progress that's being made in the courts and to some extent in media coverage. 

Related posts: Asteroids, Gay Dinosaurs, Extinction!; Gay Superintendent -- But No Gay High School (2009); Gay-Bashing Arkansas School Board Member Apologizes, Resigns (2010); Learning From The Gay Rights Movement (2012);  More Lessons From The 2012 Gay Equality Campaign (2013), Image via USDE.

Morning Video: Up Close With NYC's Chancellor Farina

 

She's not quite the national figure that Joel Klein was -- for better and worse -- but NYC's mayoral appointee Carmen Farina has just wrapped up the school year and was doing the rounds touting recent accomplishments and addressing top NYC issues.

Or, check out this MSNBC clip in which Melissa Harris-Perry expresses unease with President Obama's handling of a trans heckler, or Rachel Maddow warning that the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling doesn't mean as much as you may think it does. Both via Medialite.

AM News: Duncan Addresses Parent Priorities

Duncan: These Are The Things Parents Should Demand From Schools HuffPost: While speaking at the 2015 National Parent Teacher Association Convention and Expo in Charlotte, North Carolina, Duncan detailed a handful of rights he said all parents should be able to demand from their children's schools. The rights, which span preschool through college, include free quality preschool, affordable quality college and high, challenging standards in a well-resourced school. 

Obama Administration Further Dials Back College Rating Plan WSJ:  The Obama administration continues to dial back once-aggressive plans to rate colleges and draw off federal dollars from the weakest schools, saying instead they intend to present new information about performance to empower consumers.

Changes for teachers bring CPS contract talks to a halt Tribune: Emanuel has had regular and productive talks with Lewis in recent days, but the mayor and his team have been unwilling to bend on the district's teacher evaluation system, said a City Hall official familiar with the negotiations. The administration contends that its changes to how CPS grades teachers has led to improved academic performance.

Kansas Court Rules Against Parts of State School Funding Law AP: State officials and an attorney for four school districts challenging the law said the decision from the three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court would force the state to provide between $46 million and $54 million in extra aid next week, distributing the money under an old formula that legislators junked. See also EdWeek.

News Corp. Is Winding Down School Tablet Sales Bloomberg Business: The media company, whose executive chairman is billionaire Rupert Murdoch, is no longer ordering new tablets from its manufacturer in Asia, though it has stock on hand for existing school customers, according to the people, who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Have Millennials turned away from teaching profession? SI&A Cabinet Report: The U.S. Department of Education reports that the nation’s elementary and secondary schools employed close to 3.5 million full-time equivalent classroom teachers. Of that total, 44 percent were under age 40 in 2013 – which is why federal officials say schools will need to hire 1.6 million new teachers to replace baby-boomer educators that will retire over the next ten years. See also KPCC LA.

Favorite GOP Primary Game: Bashing Jeb Bush on Common Core PK12: The 2016 election season is just getting started, but there's already a favorite sport among GOP contenders: Hitting Jeb Bush for his support of the Common Core standards.

State Relaxes an Order Preventing Teachers From Discussing Standardized Tests NYT: Teachers who grade standardized tests, who are required to sign confidentiality agreements, can now discuss some test materials once they’ve been released by the state.

Marva Collins, Educator Who Aimed High, Dies at 78 NYT: At Westside Preparatory School in Chicago, which she opened in 1975, Ms. Collins set high academic standards, emphasized discipline and promoted a nurturing environment.

Report Criticizes Walton Foundation Funding Methods for Charter Schools EdWeek: Under accountability, for example, the AFT and In the Public Interest, a watchdog group that is skeptical of charters, call for requiring companies and organizations that run charter schools to make board meetings public in the same way that traditional public schools are required to do, release financial information on annual budgets and contracts, and allow regular state audits.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Duncan Addresses Parent Priorities " »

Ideas: Turning Schools & Prisons Into a "Production Function"

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"The [schools/prison] problem is a “production function” that needs to be made more efficient, such that it can begin producing smart kids and rehabilitated ex-prisoners on the back end — no matter who comes in the front." -- Eli Hager in The Marshall Project (What Prisons Can Learn From Schools)

 

Quotes: AFT Pushes Progressive Issues (Where Are Reform Leaders?)

There are many other vendors and partners who provide the same services as Change.org, and that are also aligned with our values and goals. In this case, that allows us to keep our business with firms that aren’t working to undermine our members and the communities they serve. - Randi Weingarten in Think Progress (What’s Changing At Change.org?)

Numbers: Parents Average 2.4 Minutes Per Day Reading To Kids

"From 2010 to 2014, parents had deliberate conversations with their children for, on average, only 3 minutes a day, and they read to their kids for 2.4 minutes per day (about one picture book’s worth)," according to FiveThirtyEight's look at the American Time Use Survey.

AM News: Clinton Hears About School Inequality On St. Louis Trip

St. Louis-Area School and Community Leaders Highlight Inequities for Clinton District Dossier: Tiffany Anderson, the superintendent in Jennings, Mo., appeared with other local leaders to talk frankly with the Democratic presidential candidate about racial and socioeconomic issues in their communities.

Panel recommends continuing districts’ waiver from NCLB EdSource Today: An oversight committee is recommending that the U.S. Department of Education again extend a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law to six California school districts, collectively known as CORE.

Senate Committee Approves Bill Cutting Ed. Dept. by $1.7 Billion in FY 2016 PK12: Democrats on the committee unsuccessfully attempted to restore funding for a host of education programs that were eliminated or gutted in the Senate appropriations bill.

Contract talks break down between Chicago teachers and city WBEZ Chicago: CTU President Karen Lewis said the union’s latest proposal was cost neutral—no annual raises, no cost-of-living increases—but did ask the Board to continue picking up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee pension contribution. See also Sun Times.

California Lawmakers Vote To Remove Vaccine Exemptions For Schoolchildren NPR: A similar bill, which eliminates all but medical exemptions, has already passed the state Senate. Gov. Jerry Brown has not said whether he will sign it. See also WSJ.

Lost and Founds Overflow at the End of the School Year NYT: A single shoe. Underwear. By each June, as teachers and students prepare for summer, the detritus of the school year can reach impressive heights.

Guide to Albany’s final deal Chalkbeat: State lawmakers wrapped up last night, passing a bill that included a one-year extension of mayoral control, allows 25 additional charter schools to open in New York City, appoints a commission to review state test questions for grade-level appropriateness, and lets teachers talk about those questions — but only after the questions are released over the summer.

More news and commentary throughout the day at @alexanderruso.

Magazines: A New Policy Solutions Site To Consider

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There's a cool-seeming and newish "policy innovation" blog over at The Washington Monthly called Republic 3.0 that you might want to check out (or pitch).  

While not education-focused, it's got some education content:

Education reform's final chapter.
Reason triumphs over Common Core opponents.
 
And it promises "innovative, practical and progressive ideas to reimagine government, politics and society for the better.... You’ll find no partisan name-calling or cheap shots."

There's also lots of education news and commentary at The Grade, my media watch blog, and College Guide, the Washington Monthly's long-running series.

 

Thompson: A Different Take On The NYT's Common Core Coverage

I'm not about to reverse myself again and support Common Core, but my reaction to Kate Taylor's English Class in Common Core Era: "Tom Sawyer" and Court Opinions is somewhat different than that of many educators who I highly respect.

The NYT's Taylor wrote, "In the Common Core era, English class looks a little different." She described lessons where ninth graders study excerpts from “The Odyssey" along with sections of the G.I. Bill of Rights, and 10th graders read Catcher in the Rye along with articles on bipolar disorder and the adolescent brain.

Those lessons remind me of my old history classes where, for instance, we had multimedia lessons on Ralph Ellison and Oklahoma City's "Deep Deuce," and students learned how they inspired his classic novel The Invisible Man. The district used to encourage teachers to devise those sorts of multidisciplinary lessons in the name of "horizontal alignment." 

Then came NCLB, "vertical alignment," and paced instruction that often killed engaging and in-depth classwork, as teach-to-the-test was mandated. Common Core supposedly began as a way to turn the clock back to the days before bubble-in testing dummied school down. When stakes were attached to Common Core tests, however, much or most of the potential value of new standards was lost.

That being said, I agree with Diane Ravitch that "every English teacher should be free to decide what to teach. If he or she loves teaching literature, that’s her choice. If she loves teaching documents, essays, biographies, and other nonfiction, that’s her choice."

The slower approach of persuading and coaching teachers would have been much better. The impatience of Common Core advocates created the environment where test-driven accountability was used to force compliance. I suspect this is the prime cause of unintended negative effects, such as the one Taylor reported, where a fifth-grader had to do "painstakingly close reading of sections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" to the point where after only nine days of school the child "got into the car after school and started to sob."

Too many reformers want it both ways. They mandate aligned and paced, skin-deep instruction to high stakes tests. But, they supposedly do so as a stepping stone to a system where schools select their own materials and teachers are freed to teach for multidisciplinary mastery - as long as the do so within the constraints of high stakes Common Core testing. After imposing these mutually exclusive dictates, reformers ask why educators don't trust their promises to, some day over the rainbow, stop their micromanaging and allow innovation back into schools. -JT (@drjohnthompson) 

TBT: In 2009, Jeb Bush Proposed Unbundling College Tuition

 

Here's a fun #TBT item from The Atlantic's Derek Thompson in 2009 titled 10 Crazy Ideas for Fixing Our Education System. Most of them haven't happened (yet), but versions of several of them are still being discussed:

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1) Eliminate summer vacation.

2) Extend the School Day. 

3) Expand Bilingual Education. 

4) Raise Compulsory Education Age

5) Kill the SAT. 

6) End tenure. 

7) Pay for Your Major. 

8) Smart Loans to Make College Affordable. 

9) Smart Certificates to Make College Non-Essential.

10) Rank Everything

Yep it was Jeb Bush who reportedly proposed #7 making college tuition related to course of study. 

Want more? Here's another To Do list from that era, via Slate, which predicts the push to streamline testing.

Morning Video: Fox News Sunday Features Common Core's Laura Slover

PARCC's Laura Slover on Fox News Sunday. Click the link if the video doesn't display properly. Via Diane Ravitch.

AM News: Tenn. Test Scores, Vergara Counter-Claims, AFT Walton Report

Five things to know about Tennessee’s 2015 test scores, out today Chalkbeat: Tennessee officials’ annual test-score announcement on Thursday will mark the end of an era. This year’s scores are the last for the multiple-choice tests known as TCAP that the state has administered for more than two decades. Next year, students are set to take a new exam that officials say will be a better measure of students’ skills. 

Respondents File Brief Countering Unions' Claims in Vergara Appeal TeacherBeat: The most interesting new wrinkle here concerns a new Calif. law, AB 215, that was approved shortly after the verdict. Unions have claimed that the legislation renders the entire suit moot, since it aims to slim the amount of time for a dismissal hearing. But the plaintiffs contend that the law potentially makes dismissal even harder. It doesn't state what happens if the deadlines are ignored, for instance, leaving open the possibility that any such hearing would have to be relitigated from scratch.

Report Criticizes Walton Foundation Support for Charter School Expansion District Dossier: The American Federation of Teachers and In the Public Interest argue that the Walton Family Foundation's ideology has led to rapid expansion of a charter sector that lacks transparency and accountability and is undermining traditional public schools.

How Can States Cut Tests Without Losing Crucial Information? State EdWatch: "Some states don't even know what tests they're giving next year," CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich told attendees at a conference about student assessment on June 23.

Nearly 200 schools are named for Confederate leaders. Is it time to rename them? Washington Post: The backlash against public use of Confederate flags has built quickly since nine parishioners were gunned down inside a South Carolina church last week. Alabama removed the flag from its state capitol grounds Wednesday, and political leaders in Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee and North Carolina have moved to remove Confederate flag symbols from their state license plates. Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears and eBay all have said they will stop selling the Confederate battle flag, viewed by many people as a symbol of racism and slavery. 

More than a day after ‘framework’ agreement, questions remain on education issues ChalkbeatNY: Chief among those for Assembly Democrats is the strengthening of rent regulations, although changes to the charter-school law were also being discussed. “There’s nothing closed down. Everything is still open,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said after emerging from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Wednesday evening. See also NY Mag.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Tenn. Test Scores, Vergara Counter-Claims, AFT Walton Report" »

Thompson: What Does New Orleans Test Score Growth Really Mean?

Let’s recall the excitement in 2007 when Bruce Fuller, Katheryn Gesicki, Erin Kang, and Joseph Wright published Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working?  Fuller et. al showed that NAEP test score growth had largely declined after NCLB took effect, but states reported huge gains on their standardized tests. Oklahoma, for instance, posted a 48 point gap between its 4th grade reading NCLB scores and its NAEP results. After NCLB, the state’s 4th grade reading scores increased 2.3% per year while its NAEP results dropped by .3 per year.

Fuller’s blockbuster was a definitive indictment of the reliability of state NCLB test scores; it even got the test-loving Education Trust to question whether bubble-in accountability was working. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before testing received a unanimous verdict as guilty of being a hopelessly misleading metric. I thought the idea that state test score growth, during an age of test-driven accountability, could stand alone as evidence of increased learning would soon be discredited. 

While I must emphasize how much I admire the work of Douglas Harris, I’m dismayed by one passage in his report on the New Orleans model of reform, The Urban Education of the Future?. I’ve got no problem with Harris et. al reporting that New Orleans increased student performance, as measured by Louisiana’s embarrassingly primitive state tests, by .2 to .45 std. It is a scholar’s responsibility to report such data. However, why would Harris speak as if he assumes that those numbers mean anything? They might mean something or they might not, but certainly they don’t provide evidence that New Orleans portfolio model has increased student performance more than early education would have. 

Even when they are valid, test scores measure a narrow band of skills and knowledge.  They rarely or never reveal what information was retained by a student, or what went into one of a student’s ears and out the other. Neither are NCLB-type test scores likely to say much about whether any alleged learning was meaningful. So, I have been searching for a metaphor to illustrate why test scores, alone, during a time of test-driven accountability, can’t be used to argue that a pedagogy that focuses on raising objective outputs is more effective than early education or any other approach to holistic learning. 

NFL running backs share a lot of athletic skills with their counterparts in rugby. So, what would we say about a quantitative analysis estimating that football halfbacks are .2 to .45 std more effective in racking up the metrics (yardage, scoring etc.) on NFL fields than Australian rugby runners would be in competing in the American game under our rules and referees? Wouldn’t the response be, Well Duh!?

Continue reading "Thompson: What Does New Orleans Test Score Growth Really Mean?" »

Quotes: Anderson Laments Inadequate Response To Misinformation

Quotes2We were constantly having to repair and undo and clarify facts... It is incredible to me how misinformation gets spread so effectively. Our response to combat that could have been better. We underestimated that.

- Cami Anderson in the NYT (Schools Chief in Newark Says Debate Lost Its Focus)

Morning Videos: Transgendered Swimmer, St. Louis Educator, Jeb Bush Update

 

Watch this Washington Post interview with a college student who was recruited by Harvard to swim on the women's swim team but has transitioned and will now swim (and live) as a man. Or watch St. Louis area educator Tiffany Anderson who will be meeting with Hillary Clinton later today to talk education (via EdWeek). Or watch CNN Politics folks talk about Jeb Bush's swipes at Clinton and de Blasio over education.

AM News: Test Streamlining Guidance, NCLB Waivers, Anderson Reflects

State Chiefs Group Offers Guidance on Reducing Testing EdWeek: Several states and districts are using Achieve's assessment inventory to get a more accurate look at the amount of time students spend on tests, the CCSSO paper said. Ohio surveyed its districts to build a detailed picture of what tests are given and how long they take. Connecticut is awarding grants to districts to support their work in evaluating their own assessment routines.

8 Education Waivers Granted AP: The Obama administration is giving seven more states and the District of Columbia continued flexibility from the requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law. See also Washington Post.

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: At first, many English teachers and other defenders of literature feared that schools would respond by cutting the classics. That has happened, to some extent. But most districts have managed to preserve much of the classroom canon while adding news articles, textbook passages, documentaries, maps and other material that students read or watch alongside the literature, sometimes in strained pairings.

Years Into Common Core, Teachers Lament Lack of Materials AP: Schmidt's analysis of 34 widely used math textbook series found that those released after 2011 were, predictably, better aligned to Common Core than older ones but still left out about 20 percent of the standards. Such findings have given rise to a nonprofit website funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EdReports.org, which reviews materials for alignment and quality.

Dispute Over Union Fees Could Return to Supreme Court AP: Half the states currently require state workers represented by a union to pay "fair share" fees that cover bargaining costs, even if they are not members. The justices could decide as early as next week whether to take up the case.

Schools Chief in Newark Says Debate Lost Its Focus NYT: Cami Anderson, in an interview one day after she resigned as schools superintendent, lamented that the fight over education reform had become “personalized.”

Testing Opt-Out Bill Signed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown; Delaware Next? State EdWatch: The Oregon measure makes districts send notices to parents twice a year about their right to opt out of state exams, and about the purpose of the tests.

More Minority Students Should Be In Special Ed, Study Says HuffPost: A study released Wednesday, led by Penn State education professor Paul Morgan, suggests that's the case. Schools have been identifying too few minority students for placement in special education, he claims -- in some cases, by a margin as large as 60 percent.

National, state teachers' unions split on East Ramapo Capital New York: The state teachers' union and its national sibling appear to be at odds over a proposal for state oversight in Rockland County's troubled East Ramapo school district. 

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

Continue reading "AM News: Test Streamlining Guidance, NCLB Waivers, Anderson Reflects" »

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