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Site News: Gone Fishing - Happy Labor Day Weekend

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I'm off for Labor Day weekend -- hope you are, too. If you absolutely need to reach me, try @alexanderrusso or text me at 312-286-9242. Be safe. See you next week.

Quotes: Your Ideas About College Are Antiquated

Quotes2The world of college education is different now than it was a generation ago, when many of the people driving policy decisions on education went to college, and the theoretical ideas about why college should pay off do not comport well with the reality.

-- John Cassidy in the New Yorker (What's the real value of higher education?)

 

 

Thompson: Is Teacher Quality The Problem, Or Is Focus Making Things Worse?

The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton, in New Analysis Argues That Better Teachers Are Flocking to Better Schools, reports that A Tale of Two School Systems, by Families for Excellent Schools, shows that teachers who scored low in the New York City’s evaluation system are concentrated in struggling schools that serve poor and minority students. Teachers with higher ratings are most likely to be found in schools where students test well and tend to be white and Asian. 

Who would have thunk it?

Seriously, we all know a problem has long existed.  And, as Layton notes of the reform group's discovery, "It is perhaps unsurprising that teachers at low-performing schools have low job performance ratings, since 40 percent of teacher evaluations in New York in 2013-2014 were based on student test scores."

The only shocker would be if value-added evaluations didn't accelerate the exodus of talent from high-challenge schools where it is harder to raise test scores.

Reformers have argued that the way to recruit teachers to the most challenging schools is to micromanage them, undermine their ability to teach in an engaging and respectful manner to poor children, and to evaluate them with a high-stakes algorithm that is biased against teachers in high-poverty schools.

Sure enough,  Khan Shoieb, a spokesman for Families for Excellent Schools, pretends that the "teacher quality score means something," and implies that it doesn't punish teachers for merely choosing the much harder mission in schools with critical masses of children from generational poverty who have endured extreme trauma. But, Shoieb also says:

The best teachers are concentrated in the best areas and we all know why that is,” he said. “These are the easiest schools to teach in, where they don’t have to deal with the toxic stress of poverty, they don’t have to deal with kids who are hungry. Instead, they get the kids who are easier to teach.

In other words, while Shoieb is not likely to acknowledge it, he agrees with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten common sense appraisal of the awful situation that New York reformers probably are making worse. 

Continue reading "Thompson: Is Teacher Quality The Problem, Or Is Focus Making Things Worse?" »

TBT: Back To School Feelings (Parents vs. Kids) #BTS12

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via Reddit/BuzzFeed (Best "back-to-school" photo I've seen yet!)

Morning Video: Back To School "Debacle" For Rookie Boston Superintendent

"More than 8,000 students were stuck on a waiting list, with no idea whether they’ll go to class just weeks before the first day of school," according to WGBH (Boston's Back To School Debacle). "As of today, all students from 1st to 12th grade have a school but parents aren’t happy with their assignments or the last-minute process."

 

AM News: Joe Biden, SAT Scores, DFER Changeup, Opt-Out Consequences

Biden Talks Education; Miami Audience Listens For Clues To Presidential Bid NPR: Vice President Joe Biden is mulling a run for the White House. He made an education speech in Miami on Wednesday, but made no mention of politics or his deliberations. See also NYT.

More Students Are Taking The SAT, Even As Scores Fail To Improve HuffPost: The data reveals that a record number of students from the class of 2015 took SAT and AP exams, and these students were more diverse than in years past. See also Washington Post, LA Times.

The new face of Democrats who support education reform: LA Times: Shavar Jeffries, an attorney who lost his bid to be mayor of Newark, N.J., is the new president of Democrats for Education Reform.Jeffries is taking the place of Joe Williams, a former New York Daily News reporter who led DFER until recently. Williams is now working at the Walton Foundation, a major education philanthropy organization that is known for sponsoring the growth of specific charter school chains, sources say.

Dyett Hunger Strikers Share Concerns with Arne Duncan in D.C. Sun Times: Duncan dropped in the meeting, joined by senior adviser Ruthanne Buck and Khalilah Harris, the deputy director at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, which is housed in the Education Department.

Testing Opt-Outs Cost Disqualify New York Schools From Blue Ribbon EdWeek:  State officials inform 11 schools that they don't qualify for the national Blue Ribbon program because their test-participation rates fell short of the required 95 percent. See also Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Joe Biden, SAT Scores, DFER Changeup, Opt-Out Consequences" »

Update: Darling-Hammond Leaving Stanford To Launch New Policy Research Organization (Doesn't Seem Interested In Being Next Education Secretary)

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There’s some big news coming out of California today in the form of the official launch of the new policy and research center headed by Linda Darling-Hammond.

Called the Learning Policy Institute, the new organization is Darling-Hammond’s effort to create a better kind of think tank/policy research center, one that puts student learning at the center and bridges research and policy worlds.

Its creation would also seem to put a damper on the hopes or fears of those who have written her in as a next Democratic Education Secretary.

The organization will both conduct its own policy research and partner with others’ work. Some of the policy priorities that the institute [@LPI_Learning] plans to investigate include deeper learning, educator quality, college and career, school organization and design, early childhood.

Based near Stanford, the Institute will also have an office in DC that’s going to be headed by former Alliance For Education staffer Charmaine Mercer. By the end of the year, the expectation is that a staff of 30 will have been hired, with plans to grow as large as 50. See more details from the announcement here.

Initial funders include the Sandler Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, Ford, and Hewlett, and Stuart.

Former SRI staff Patrick Shields is going to be the ED. Board members include David Lyon of the California Public Policy Institute and David Rattray of UNITE-LA. Wynn Hausser is heading the communications/outreach effort. He and Darling-Hammond first met working with Public Advocates.

Two senior fellows in residence have been announced: Jeannie Oakes, formerly of Ford, and David Kirp from Berkeley. Darling-Hammond is retiring from Stanford as part of the new launch, though she is going to teach part time.

In a blog post announcing the new endeavor, Darling-Hammond called the present time "A New Moment in Education."

There's no shortage of research shops, policy outfits, and think tanks doing all sorts of things at all different levels of quality, rigor, and independence. I'll be eager to see whether LPI can both grab policymakers' attention and promote high-quality research. It's not an easy thing to do one or the other, and no small feat to do them both at the same time.

Related posts: UPenn Ranks Think Tanks; Have Funders Overtaken Think Tanks?; Think Tank Watch: [Why] Are Washington Think Tanks So Powerful?; Research-Less Think Tanks Can't Compete; Linda Darling-Hammond's Ninja Warrior Son.

School Life: Satirical Look At Resource Inequality Among Schools/Districts

image from i.onionstatic.com

“Pretty soon, kids my age who live in wealthier districts will start testing better than me in every subject, so I might as well try to make the most of this parity while I have it,” said Williams. (via The Onion 5-Year-Old At Underfunded Kindergarten Enjoying Last Few Weeks Before Achievement Gap Kicks In)

Quotes: Healing/Rebuilding Vs. Fixing/Restarting In New Orleans

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"In the past ten years, much has been said, rightly, about the resilience and the spirit of those who chose to rebuild the neighborhoods they had lost. It is time to appreciate as well the courage of those who, faced with the same disaster, decided to make a fresh start."

- Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker (What Social Scientists Learned from Katrina)

 

Morning Video: Education, Housing, Integration -- Really?

 "Supporters of desegregation won the Yonkers battle—but the high cost of victory lost them the war," writes former NYT writer Lisa Belkin, whose book about a Yonkers NY housing fight is the subject of a new David Simon HBO miniseries, Show Me A Hero that's been written up by EdWeek's Mark Walsh. "Few in this country had the will to risk another divisive, ugly municipal bruising anytime soon."

This isn't the first time Simon has addressed school-related issues. The Wire included a whole season focused on a group of middle school boys. (No surprise given his writing partner's career as both a cop and a geography teacher). More recently (by which I mean 2010-211), the NOLA-based Treme series included a few biting references to post-Katrina school reform. (Remember "Four years at Radcliff is all you know..."?)

Meantime, someone should go to Yonkers and follow up on how the integration plan and kids are doing, right?

Related posts: New HBO Series Takes On Charters & Choice [2010]; From Cop To Writer To Geography TeacherDoes TFA Displace Veterans -- & Do TFAer Really Stay?.

AM News: Obama's Mixed Record On School Integration Efforts

Obama's Mixed Record on School Integration American Prospect: While a handful of small programs have taken steps toward promoting diversity, desegregation has remained absent from Obama's signature education initiatives. 

Congressman Decides To Teach Little Kids About Suicide Bombers HuffPost: Things took a dark turn, however, when Salmon opted to use current events to illustrate how vetoes work, KPHO reports. The congressman brought up the current nuclear negotiations with Iran. He then transitioned into a talk about nuclear weapons, which in turn led him to ask the classroom full of young kids if they are aware of child suicide bombers.

Jeb Bush Touts K-12 Scholarships, Readies College-Affordability Plan PK12: The GOP presidential hopeful and former Florida governor also talked about immigration at a town hall meeting Tuesday with high school students in Miami.

Teachers colleges struggle to blend technology into teacher training Hechinger Report: They’re trying to teach today’s student-teachers how to use the wide range of technologies – from old-school software and tools such as PowerPoint, videos and laptops to those ubiquitous tablets and smartphones – as classroom tools, not just as social devices for communicating with friends or playing games.

L.A. Unified selects firm to search for new superintendent LA Times: The search for a new Los Angeles school district chief moved into the open Tuesday, but it's not clear how long the effort will remain public.

Nearly a year after NYC principals float diversity plans, city has yet to sign off Chalkbeat: A few principals presented a solution: If the city let them reserve a portion of their seats for high-needs students, such as those from low-income families or who live in public housing, the schools could preserve — or in some cases, create — diverse student bodies. Chancellor Carmen Fariña and other top officials heard them out, then asked the principals to submit detailed proposals.

Asians Are Nearly Twice As Likely To Get A Higher Price From Princeton Review ProPublica: Few, if any, realize that the prices for The Princeton Review's online SAT tutoring packages vary substantially depending on where customers live. If they type some ZIP codes into the company's website, they are offered The Princeton Review's Premier course for as little as $6,600. For other ZIP codes, the same course costs as much as $8,400.

Missouri Teenagers Protest a Transgender Student’s Use of the Girls’ Bathroom NYT: More than 100 students at Hillsboro High School staged a walkout after a transgender student was allowed to use the girls’ facilities.

New analysis argues that better teachers are flocking to better schools Washington Post: Families for Excellent Schools analyzed data from New York City's public schools and found that the lowest-rated teachers work in the schools that have high minority populations and serve students from poor families.

School Threats Led to Gun Seizures, Arrest NBC News: Fresno, California, police Chief Jerry Dyer gives details on an alleged plot by an area 15-year-old student, which led to the closing of two schools, and the arrest of the student.

How the CORE districts are designing new measures of school quality EdSource Today: The CORE Districts began in 2010 as a collaboration across school districts exploring ways to improve teaching and learning. In 2013, several school districts in the CORE consortium received a federal waiver from some provisions of the No Child Left Behind law and are working together to develop a new School Quality Improvement Index to provide more and better information about schools and the

For classmates of Jamyla Bolden, teddy bears and books help ease heartbreak St. Louis Public Radio: Johnson was there to hand out teddy bears donated by Build-A-Bear and books from the American Federation of Teachers. The effort was organized by his church’s Center for Social Empowerment and Justice, which was launched to support local business and schools in the Ferguson area.

Quotes: Blame Pinellas County On Local Control?

Quotes2There are real perils to prioritizing local control over ensuring that all schools and districts are actually educating all children. Look no further than Pinellas County, Florida, where a recent story detailed the systematic neglect and denial of opportunity to poor students of color by the local board of education.

-- Former StudentsFirst VP Eric Lerum in Education Post (The Odd Couples of Education)

Thompson: Fact Checking the New Orleans Reformers' Spin

When I first read the Education Research Alliance (ERA) report on the effectiveness of the competition-driven New Orleans model of reform, it was clear that true believers in "relinquishment" and market-driven reform would be disappointed by its findings. However, they have still spun the mixed results from the NOLA corporate reform model as a great success.

I have left the fact checking of the ERA's methodology and data to the experts. I've mostly limited myself to fact checking the reformers' spin - the soundbites they use to put the NOLA record in the best possible light, and to use its model to break unions and extend test-driven reform across the nation.

I admit to being surprised that analyses such as those of the NEPC, Andrea Gabor, The International Business Times, In These Times, Julian Vasquez Heilig, Mercedes Schneider, Gary Rubenstein, and others have found so many problems with the ERA research. I still remain most shocked by the soundbite of the respected researcher Douglas Harris who has contributed to headlines asserting that the reforms "worked."

At first, I assumed Harris was just being diplomatic when he said that the "typical elementary- or middle-school student's scores rose by 8 to 15 percentage points," and that "We are not aware of any other districts that have made such large improvements in such a short time." 

In fact, I'm not aware of many districts that haven't made dramatic increases in bubble-in test scores over a short time, and then saw those illusory gains disappear.

It is hard to believe that any scholar would be so quick to trust bubble-in data after reading Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working? by Bruce Fuller, Kathryn Gesicki, Erin Kang, Joseph Wright. Fuller et. al assemble a much greater batch of test score growth claims by entire states, not just a district with an unflinching focus on bubble-in accountability.

How could scholars forget the New Jersey Miracle, where 4th grade reading scores increased 7.9 points per year for nearly as long as NOLA produced gains? NOLA can't hold a candle to Arkansas's miracle where 4th grade reading scores increased by 19 points between 2001 and 2002, and where there was nearly a 75% increase in those scores in four years.  In fact, Fuller et. al calculate an average of the average of gains in fourteen states and find  2.6 and 2.7 points per year for the decade preceding NCLB! 

Continue reading "Thompson: Fact Checking the New Orleans Reformers' Spin" »

Books: A Week Until "The Prize"

51UTBTUV8bL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)The deluge of New Orleans coverage may be peaking, but there's another deluge to come in the form of publicity surrounding Jonathan Franz..  Dale Russakoff's new book about Newark, The Prize.

To help get yourself ready (or perhaps as a form of inoculation, you might take a look at four big reviews of the book, which comes out officially in a week: Chicago Tribune (Diane Rado);  The Seventy Four (Conor Williams); NYT (Alex KotlowitzNYT2 (Jonathan Knee). Yes, that's right, there are two reviews of the book in the NYT. 

As you may recall, there was an excerpt from the book in The New Yorker last year (A Test for School Reform in Newark). Chris Cerf penned an oped response in December (Dispelling Five ‘Falsehoods’ About Newark’s School System).

I'm doing some reporting and thinking about the book, and will have something out in the next few days. If you see any other reviews, let me know. 

Morning Video: The Fight To Reboot A Chicago High School

Curious about the controversy over the closing of Dyett HS in Chicago (and the hunger strike against its demise)? Not sure just how controversial it can be to phase out even a low-performing, declining-enrolllment school? Watch the above WTTW Chicago Public Television segment (transcript here).
 
Or, check out a new podcast audio segment from Us & Them about the Math Wars of the 1970s.

AM News: Growing Number Of States Using ACT/SAT Tests

States turn to college-prep tests for federal reporting SI&A Cabinet Report: New Hampshire has joined a growing number of states opting to use college-prep entrance exams rather than standardized testing to assess high school juniors’ academic progress and meet federal accountability requirements. Maine, Wisconsin and Kentucky are among the states currently using either the SAT or ACT to assess students in 11thgrade. Nearly half of states cover the costs of the tests for all students – even those who would normally pay a fee of $50 or more to take the college-readiness exams.

Rep. John Kline anticipates new education law Pioneer Press: Rep. John Kline says the chances are "far better than 50-50" that Congress will hammer out a bipartisan bill this fall to replace the No Child Left Behind law.

Report: Chronic school absenteeism is contributing to academic gaps Washington Post: Absenteeism rates among kindergartners are nearly as high as those among high school freshmen, according to the report. An estimated 1 in 10 kindergartners misses at least 18 days of school, or nearly a month of class, per year. Many of those absences are excused: Young children often miss school not because they’re skipping class but because they or their parents are suffering from mental or physical health problems. See also KPCC LA.

NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña Praises Charter on Visit WSJ: The visits by Chancellor Carmen Fariña and New York City Charter School Center CEO James Merriman followed a sometimes contentious year in education circles. It included political battles over the number of charters allowed in New York, city denials of some charter schools’ space requests, and continuing debates over whether the taxpayer-funded, independently operated schools teach their fair share of the most challenging students.See also ChalkbeatWNYC

Children Don’t Have Constitutional Right to Switch Schools, Appeals Court Rules WSJ: The parents, who are white, sued for violations of due process and equal protection, claiming they had a constitutional right to move their kids. A lower court last year dismissed the parents’ complaint.See also Associated Press. 

Teachers' Unconscious Biases Contribute To Gender Disparity NPR: Girls often outperform boys in science and math at an early age but are less likely to choose tough courses in high school. An Israeli experiment demonstrates how biases of teachers affect students.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Growing Number Of States Using ACT/SAT Tests" »

Thompson: Kristina Rizga Describes a Real Violation of Teacher Ethics

As test-driven reformers face defeat at the hands of a grassroots Opt Out movement, they return to their tried and true tactic of challenging the integrity of their opponents. New York Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia exemplifies this scorched earth tactic by asserting that teachers who support test boycotts are unethical. But, as Mother Jones's Kristina Rizga explains in Sorry, I'm Not Taking This Test, testing has inflicted the most damage on the poor children of color who, theoretically, were supposed to be helped by it.

Besides, isn't it unethical for educators to pressure students and patrons to do something that they believe is wrong? 

Rizga describes a student, Kiana Hernandez, who on her own volition chose to follow in the path of Mahatma Gandhi and refuse to take the standardized test. In a seeming violation of ethics "one teacher told her: 'Please take [the test]. My paycheck depends on it.'"

Just as bad, an obviously decent and conscientious teacher advised her, "You should wait until you are done with high school before you try to change the world." 

At this point, I must stop and say forcefully that the criticism I make of these teachers' words is rhetorical.  Good, ethical people can utter some terrible statements when under duress. As horrible as those teachers' words were, I don't blame them. They were spoken in fear. And, they were a predictable result of reward- and punishment-driven reform. They merely reconfirm the truism, "Feed the teachers or they will eat the students." 

There is one overwhelmingly important issue today. Now that it is obvious that punitive and competition-driven reform (once known quaintly as "choice") has failed to improve the educations of poor children of color, why must stakes be attached to tests? If charters and reformers are about competition to help education outcomes - not to defeat neighborhood schools, why do they still need high-stakes test scores to be used as the ammunition that fuels this battle?

Continue reading "Thompson: Kristina Rizga Describes a Real Violation of Teacher Ethics" »

Quotes: A Glass Half-Empty View Of Common Core Progress

Quotes2The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is... And Common Core is not going to have that. One of its fundamental arguments has been knocked out from under it.  - Brookings' Tom Loveless in AP (As Common Core results trickle in, initial goals unfulfilled)

 

Charts: Extra Money "Meaningfully" Improves Student Outcomes

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"Our findings provide compelling evidence that money does matter, and that additional school resources can meaningfully improve long-run outcomes for students." (Education Next: Boosting Educational Attainment and Adult Earnings)

Morning Video: PBS NewsHour Returns To New Orleans (Plus "Teaching Teachers")

 

John Tulenko and the team (now with EdWeek) report on how much NOLA schools seem to have improved, and nagging concerns about problems with expulsions and special ed services. Or, listen to this hour-long American Public Radio documentary on teaching teachers

AM News: Obama, Bush Tout New Orleans School Accomplishments

Presidents Obama, Bush Praise New Orleans' Schools Education Week: U.S. presidents past and present are visiting New Orleans this week, marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and discussing the radical reshaping of public education in the city. See also NYT: George W. Bush, Visiting New Orleans, Praises School Progress Since Katrina 

Nearly Half of States Opted to Hit Accountability Snooze Button PK12: For those states, results from tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards won't have an effect on school ratings, at least for the school year that just ended.

As Common Core results trickle in, initial goals unfulfilled AP: Full or preliminary scores have been released for Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. Scores in four other states that developed their own exams tied to the standards have been released.

Indianapolis Pact Couples New Teacher Roles and Big Pay Boosts Teacher Beat: Effective teachers signing onto a newly created initiative to mentor other teachers and reach more students could see thousands of dollars in additional pay.

A timeline of Texas' 30 years of school finance legal fights AP: A lawsuit challenging how Texas pays for its public schools will soon reach the state Supreme Court - the sixth time since 1984. Here's a look at major milestones in 30-plus years of legal battles:...

Tools for Tailored Learning May Expose Students’ Personal Details NYT: Many technological tools used by schools are designed to customize learning, but concern is developing over the collection and use of data on individual students.

Teacher Was Late To School 111 Times Because Of Breakfast AP: "I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning and I lost track of time," 15-year veteran teacher Arnold Anderson told The Associated Press.

Art Show Captures the Wrenching Effects of Closing a School NYT: “reForm” is set in a model classroom from a Philadelphia school, with a blackboard, cubbies, books — and oral testimony about the school’s closure.

Maryland schools superintendent announces resignation Washington Post: Lillian Lowery, hired in 2012, will become president and CEO of an Ohio education nonprofit.

Little Saigon school to provide instruction in English and Vietnamese LA Times: A public school in Little Saigon is set to become the first in California to provide instruction in both English and Vietnamese.

Quotes: "If You Care About Kids, I Am With You."

Quotes2I don’t care if you are in Teach For America, were in Teach for America, like or don’t like Teach for America.  I don’t care if you’re a pin-covered-lanyard-wearing unionista or if you delete every union email on sight.  I don’t care if you teach in a charter or did or will teach in a charter, or if you send your kids to private school or public school. I don’t care if you’re traditionally licensed or alternatively licensed or unlicensed, and I don’t care if you are a normal person or someone who teaches Kindergarten. If you care about kids I am with you

- Tom Rademacher (No Enemies - Mr Rad's Neighborhood)

Maps: In Many States, Homeschool Advocates Succeed In Resisting Regulation

343According to ProPublica, "only two states require background checks for parents who choose to homeschool, and just 10 require parents to have a high school degree. Fewer than half require any kind of evaluation or testing of homeschooled children." (Homeschooling Regulations by State) Image used with permission.

Morning Video: Katrina Anniversary Gets Three-Part Education Documentary

Check out this segment from The Seventy Four, featuring New Orleans kids' escape from Katrina and eventual return. Click here for 2 other segments. Are there any other attempts to tell the story on video?

AM News: Alt Cert Extension, ACT Scores, ACLU Vs. Nevada

White House Seeks HQT Extension for Teachers in Training EdWeek: Critics consider this a major loophole in the law, although the U.S. Department of Education said earlier this year that there were not many such teachers (about 35,000 in all). This would impact an otherwise steady source of new teachers and the millions of students they serve, most of whom are in high-need schools and in high-need subjects, including math and science," the administration said.

Massachusetts Students Tie For Top Score On ACT Boston Learning Lab: The average score for public and private school graduates in Massachusetts and Connecticut was 24.4 out of 36, the highest in the nation and more than three points higher than the national average. See also Washington Post.

ACLU of Nevada Sues to Block State's New School Choice Law State EdWatch: The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada says it's filing a lawsuit challenging the state's new school voucher-like program also known as education savings accounts. See also APLas Vegas Review Journal.

One in Four D.C. Public Schools Has a New Principal This Year Washington Post: Last summer, D.C. public schools announced 21 new principals for the school system’s 111 schools. By comparison, Montgomery County had 23 new principals in a system with 203 schools.

Getting ready for the Common Core-based test results KPCC LA: California education officials tentatively plan to release test results for the state, schools and districts based on the new Common Core learning standards on Sept. 9.

Hunger Strike Over Future Of Chicago School Enters Its 11th Day NPR: Parents, teachers and activists are fighting to defend a high school the school board voted to close several years ago. They say officials are ignoring their input over what kind of school to reopen.

Charter School Scored Own State Exams Chalkbeat: The New York City charter school that made the largest gains on state English tests also made an unprecedented decision to grade its own students’ exams.

Former Columbus Administrator to Serve 14 Days in Jail in Data-Scrubbing Case District Dossier: Michael Dodds is the fourth school administrator to be found guilty as part of a scheme to change student data to inflate district performance.

New Jersey teacher who was late for work 111 times keeps job Seattle Times: The arbitrator found that the district failed to provide Anderson with due process by providing him with a formal notice of inefficiency or by giving him 90 days to correct his failings before terminating his employment.

How Schools Are Handling An 'Overparenting' Crisis NPR: Two new books, The Gift of Failure and How To Raise An Adult, argue that too many children are being given too much.

One-Third Of Schools Are Using This App You've Never Heard Of NPR: Clever, a three-year-old startup, is used by 20 million students and teachers to manage all their other apps.

New Invention Targets School Germs NBC News: An East Texas man has designed special silver-based germ-killing strips, which can be attached to door handles and other high traffic areas and surfaces. KETK's Cara Prichard reports.

Deal between IPS and its union means big pay raises for teachers ChalkbeatIN: Every Indianapolis Public Schools teacher will make at least $40,000 — a 12 percent jump for those at the bottom of the scale — if the teachers and school board both vote to approve a contract to which the district and its union have tentatively agreed.

Charts: As Of 2010, DC Got More Foundation Funding Than Anyone Else (Per Pupil)

Eee"The [$31M] total represented an extra $705 per student — far more than any other school district in the country," notes this Washington Post story (D.C. schools attracted record amounts of philanthropy). Other districts with substantial private funding include(d) Nwark, Oakland, Seattle, & Boston. Image used with permission. Latest figures included are for 2010, and are presented on a per-pupil basis. 

Thompson: Greg Toppo Sees the Game's Future and It Works

image from images.macmillan.comI've always been confused by the seemingly absurd dichotomy. Brilliant computer geeks and digital geniuses create such potentially liberating technologies. But, they also became a driving force in corporate school reform and its efforts to turn schools back to the early 20th century.

Gosh, as Greg Toppo explains in The Game Believes in You, computer games were pioneered by a small group of mostly unconnected, visionaries, In the earliest days of the 1960s computer breakthroughs, some inventors were even influenced by LSD. So, why did such creative people commit to turning schools into a sped up Model T assembly line?

It would be too much to ask of Toppo, or any other single writer, to definitively answer this question but his excellent book helps us understand why so many architects of 21st century technological miracles helped impose test, sort, reward, and punish, bubble-in malpractice on our schools.

Toppo chose to study computer gaming after his still dynamic young daughter became disenchanted with reading, and after he tired of reporting on school reform wars.  The fundamental problem predates corporate school reform; for instance, 1/3rd of high school graduates never go on to read another book for the rest of their lives. And, as teacher and reading expert Kelly Gallagher says, the problem is both under- and over-teaching of reading. But, full-blown "readicide" has been made far worse by the test prep which was caused by output-driven, competition-driven reform. 

Toppo writes:

At exactly the same time that schools have taken the questionable path of implementing more high-stakes standardized tests keyed to the abilities of some imaginary bell-curved students, games have gone the opposite route, embedding sophisticated assessment into gameplay ... becoming complex learning tools that promise to deflate the tired 'teach to the test' narrative that weighs down so many great teachers and schools. 

The Game Believes in You does a great job explaining the cognitive science behind computer games (and in doing so he may foreshadow an explanation why corporate school reformers became so obsessed with competition that they helped impose nonstop worksheet-driven, basic skills instruction on so many schools.)

Continue reading "Thompson: Greg Toppo Sees the Game's Future and It Works" »

Quotes: Delay & High Stakes Are The Problems, Not Testing Itself

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.comBy using data insightfully, we can understand where students are at any point in time. This is done through realistic and sensible formative assessment measures of growth, and we are able to personalize learning in ways not possible in high stakes testing environments where results are delayed by months.

-- Philip D. Lanoue is the superintendent of the 13,000-student Clarke County School District in Georgia - via Washington Post (High-stakes testing is the ‘fool’s gold’ of accountability)

Morning Videos: Back To School Apps, "Every Teacher, Ever," & Les Miz

Back to school apps from the NYT (I was really hoping for a classroom hoverboard). Or more humorous "Every Teacher Ever" via HuffPost. Or teachers flashmob One More Day from Les Mis via Washington Post. You should really be following HotForEd on Tumblr, BTW. All the cool videos are there. 

AM News: Vallas Calls Out Duncan & Daley For Chicago's Fiscal Mess

Former CPS CEO Paul Vallas blames successors [including Duncan] for $1B deficit ABC7 Chicago: "In 2001, the district had $1.2 billion in cash reserves," said Paul Vallas, former CPS CEO. "They had six years of structurally balanced budgets."

Dyett hunger-strikers vow to continue fight Chicago Sun-Times: Randi Weingarten, president of the Washington D.C.-based American Federation of Teachers — which boasts 1.6 million members — joined the hunger strikers Wednesday at a news conference outside of Dyett. See also Washington Post.

D.C. schools attracted record amounts of philanthropy in recent years Washington Post: D.C. public schools attracted more than $31 million from national foundations in 2010, far more than any other school district in the country.

State removes 15 years of test results before releasing new scores EdSource Today: Earlier this month, as the department got ready to send parents the initial student scores on the new tests sometime over the next few weeks, department officials deleted old test results going back more than 15 years from the most accessible part of the department’s website, impeding the public’s ability to make those comparisons.

This Company Just Started Offering Free, Customized Tutoring Online  BuzzFeed: The tech company, which has powered some of the largest education companies, breaks out on its own with a free online learning service, Knewton.com.

Embattled Albuquerque Schools Chief to Learn Fate AP: The embattled superintendent of New Mexico's largest school district is expected to learn Thursday if he'll stay on the job or be forced out just two months into his position. Board members are scheduled to vote on whether Luis Valentino will remain the head of Albuquerque Public Schools after he hired an administrator who faces child sex abuse charges.

Former Sen. Mary Landrieu: Charters Increased Equity In New Orleans Schools PK12: For the Louisiana Democrat, the most important story in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is the enhanced equity in the New Orleans' education system.

New Orleans' Teaching Force Today: Whiter, Less Experienced, Higher Turnover Teacher Beat: The city's teaching force is now 49 percent black, compared to 71 percent black in 2005. About 60 percent of teachers in 2005 were trained in New Orleans colleges; in 2014, fewer than 40 percent were. Teacher experience levels dropped notably since 2003; the percentage of teachers with five or fewer years of experience increased from 33 percent to 54 percent over that time period. 

Knock Knock, Teacher's Here: The Power Of Home Visits NPR: There was a time when a teacher showing up on a student's doorstep probably meant something bad. But increasingly, home visits are being used to spark parental involvement.

There Are Kids Fighting Fires In Washington State Seattle Public Radio: Until a teen escaped last week, assaulted a supervisor and then shot himself, there were 20 youth working on the fire line at the Chelan Complex Fire in central Washington. Another crew of 10 made sandwiches and meals in Okanogan County.

'George' Wants You To Know: She's Really Melissa NPR: George is a transgender fourth-grader. She's the heroine of a new book intended for readers in grades 3 to 7 and published by Scholastic, one of the largest children's publishing companies in the world.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.