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Books: The Rise of AVID ("America's Largest College Readiness Program")

image from media.wiley.comIn case you'd missed it (as I had), longtime Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews' latest book is out.

As you probably know, Mathews wrote the book that became Stand And Deliver, and also wrote Work Hard, Be Nice, a book about the KIPP network of charter schools. He writes the Post's Class Struggle blog.

Published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley, the book (Question Everything: The Rise of AVID as America's Largest College Readiness Program) focuses on a program that everyone's probably heard about but doesn't know very well.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. In his new book, Mathews describes how AVID "levels the playing field, helping underserved students come out ahead."

Even more notable, the book describes how AVID has grown in 30 years into an organization serving 400,000 middle- and high-school students in 47 states and 16 countries.

I can't think of another program that's so widespread but so little in the news (though last year's Teach of the Year was AVID).

Mathews admits that he's not an impartial observer here. "It is a very pro-AVID book, but I point out some flaws. Its tutoring programs are its best feature, the key to the whole system, but they are hard to get up to full speed right away and I saw some ragged ones."

Related posts:  Obama Introduces (AVID) Teacher Of Year (2014); Teaching Students Guided Note-Taking (Bruno 2012).

Events: NewSchools 2015 Summit Live Twitter Feed

Seems like a slow day, so maybe you'd be best off spending the rest of it watching #NSVFSummit updates scroll by. It's mostly folks chronicling the event, rather than reacting pro or con, and it may or may not be NSVF's best summit ever. But it's good to know what folks are doing and saying, whether you agree or not. Let me know if something unusual happens!

Update: New Blog Takes "A Closer Look At Education News"

Screenshot 2015-05-06 14.55.02
I am excited to announce the launch of my latest blog, The Grade, over at the Washington Monthly. 

No actual grades will be given -- though praise and criticism will be offered quite regularly.  Think of it as NPR's "On The Media" for education news, or as a public editor or ombudsman for national K-12 news coverage. 

The focus, as you will quickly see, is creating an ongoing discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the education news coverage that informs the public and policymakers about what's going on in schools.

There's a ton of education news being pumped out every day, but what's particularly good (or bad) about the coverage that's being provided -- and what if anything can be done to make it even better?

My main publishing partner is the Washington Monthly, which has a long-standing interest in education and quality journalism. They're the folks that put out the alternative guide  to colleges, among other things. I'll also be publishing some columns in the Columbia Journalism Review.

My starting funders for this new venture are the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union in the country, and Education Post, an education nonprofit funded by folks like Eli Broad, Mike Bloomberg, and the Walton Family Foundation.  

Most days it might not seem like these two would agree on much, but they have stepped up to support this effort out of a desire for smart, accurate education coverage (and agreed to give me room to write and say what seems most important to me).

Curious about what it's going to look like? Here and elsewhere, I've been trying my hand at some of the kinds of posts that you'll see at The Grade in the coming days and weeks, including Common Problems with Common Core Reporting (in the Columbia Journalism Review) and How The Atlantic's CUNY Story Went (So) Wrong (in Medium). 

You can also check out all the past Media Watch posts here

If you like this kind of stuff, that's what you're going to find lots of over there.

Click the link to check out the first couple of posts.  Subscribe to all future posts on the site with Feedly or some other RSS reader using  this link. And, in the days and weeks ahead, don't forget to send me stories you think are great or problematic.

Not to worry, I'll still be blogging here every day and sharing out links on Twitter, too. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AM News: Testing, Opt-Outs, & What Happens Next

More Perspectives on Testing Opt-Outs From New York and Beyond State EdWatch: The campaign has made the biggest waves so far in New York state, but more broadly, it has also intensified discussions about the role of testing in schools.  Here are some tidbits, themes, and quotes that didn't make it into the print version of the story now posted online.

With New Standardized Tests, Educators Worry About Scores AP: Testing officials say the rollout this spring of new standardized tests taken by computer in U.S. public schools has been without major problems in much of the country. The next step? Seeing how students did — and how parents and educators respond. 

Why civil rights groups say parents who opt out of tests are hurting kids Washington Post: A dozen civil rights groups issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the growing movement of parents who refuse to allow their children to take standardized tests, saying the anti-test push “would sabotage important data and rob us of the right to know how our students are faring.

The Soccer Mom Revolt Against Common Core WSJ: Unlike the Common Core standards and tests, No Child Left Behind didn't tell schools what to do and what not to do. States were still in charge.

Most states lacked expertise to improve worst schools Washington Post: The Obama administration handed out more than $3 billion to the states and the District of Columbia to help them turn around their worst-performing schools as part of the federal stimulus spending that took place after the 2008 recession. 

Seattle teachers call 1-day walkout over state budget Seattle Times: Seattle teachers voted Monday to strike on May 19 in an appeal for more funding from the Legislature, joining colleagues in about two dozen other school districts. See also Seattle Public Radio.

Early learner expert tied to Hollywood takes on Common Core SI&A Cabinet Report: Already under fire for its ties to the Obama administration and for unsettling teacher unions – the Common Core has a new adversary, actor Matt Damon’s mom. A new white paper out this month from the Boston-based non-profit takes issue with a requirement in the Common Core State Standards that kindergarteners should be reading before moving on to the first grade.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Testing, Opt-Outs, & What Happens Next" »

Charts: Nearly 20,000 High Schools Now Offering AP

image from www.marketplace.org

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

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

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

Morning Listen: Former Balto Supe Andres Alonso Reflects On Recent Unrest

There were lots of people -- too many -- using last week's unrest in Baltimore as an excuse to advance an agenda or generate attention - but former superintendent Andres Alonso is in a pretty unique spot to talk about what's going on there when it comes to the education system and its intersection with equity and justice -- though he's careful not to talk trash about those who are still there working in the system.

So here's a new Harvard EdCast to check out, featuring Alonso. You can also read this recent Seattle Times interview focusing on Alonso's efforts to overhaul discipline in Baltimore (School leader who overhauled discipline in long-troubled Baltimore looks back). Alonso was head for 6 years, during which dropout rates went down cooperation with teachers went up.

I'm getting mixed responses on whether things have gotten better or worse since he left two years ago, and whether that made any difference in how students and others reacted on Monday.

Related posts: Alonso's Smooth Approach To School Reform (2010); Alonso calls report done by school consultant 'objective' (Baltimore Sun 2012); Inside The Baltimore Test Score Rally (2009). See also: BaltSun Education Reporter Gets Close To Cover #FreddyGrey Protests"Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led.

AM News: Common Core Testing Resumes, & Scoring Begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thompson: Reformers to Teachers - Please Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Teachers have to think ahead. What questions do I ask, in what order? How do I pace instruction for seniors with 5th grade skills so they can master college readiness concepts? What classroom disruption should I ignore? What will happen if/when I make an issue of different sorts of misbehavior? 

I've long had great success in teaching students to plan their work and work their plans. I've failed consistently, however, in understanding why reformers never look before they leap. They seem to just dictate without anticipating the predictable results of their mandates.

Now, the anti-Opt Out soundbite is that teachers should relax, don't worry about what is in store for us in the near future. High stakes Common Core testing has barely begun to release its fury and, according to reformers, we should give it a chance because we might dodge a worst case scenario.   

The Hechinger Report Lillian Mongeau, Emmanuel Felton, and Sarah Butrymowiez, in Stakes for "High-Stakes" Tests Are Actually Pretty Low, report that few students are currently subject to high-stakes Common Core tests, and most teachers are not yet subject to the sanctions that have already been codified into law.  Their graphic shows that only 11 states are already using test scores for teacher evaluations. However, their interactive graphic shows that all but eight have plans to do so. 

Mongeau et. al report that the Council of Chief State School Officers' Chris Minnich hopes that teachers "can continue to be part of an ongoing conversation about the best way to use measures of student learning in evaluations." But, that gets the issue backwards. Why wasn't there a real discussion about whether it was good or bad policy to include test score growth estimates to sanction individual teachers? Why were teachers ignored when non-educators decided how we should be evaluated?

Continue reading "Thompson: Reformers to Teachers - Please Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" »

Testing: Addition Of MA and RI Creates Big Week For PARCC EOY Testing

Screen shot 2015-04-29 at 5.34.57 PMSpeaking of standardized testing: With addition of MA and RI, all 11 @PARCCPlace states enter EOY testing window this week.  

I don't know if things have been especially lively in those states, in terms of glitches or opt-outs, or if the state and district agencies have done a particular good or bad job preparing for this round, but we shall see.

I've asked Smarter Balanced for a similar schedule but have yet to receive or see any such thing.

Maps: Upward Mobility Varies Among Similar-Seeming Cities & Suburbs

Screenshot 2015-05-04 09.55.48The NYT takes a look a new research showing that poor kids do better or worse depending on where they come from. The most challenging places tend to be bit cities like Atlanta; Chicago; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Orlando, West Palm Beach and Tampa in Florida. But there it's not all big cities, and smaller cities like Austin, Texas are rough for poor kids.  And the better places include both large cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas but also smaller ones like Providence and major suburban counties, such as Fairfax, Va.; Bergen, N.J.; Bucks, Pa.; Macomb, Mich.; Worcester, Mass.; and Contra Costa, Calif. They're more expensive to live in, housing-wise, and public rent subsidies tend not to accommodate variations in housing costs, but they have better elementary school test scores and greater diversity. Check it all out here: An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty. Image via NYT. Note that NYC doesn't do as well regarding upward mobility once immigrant families are removed from the equation.

Comedy: HBO's John Oliver Swings (& Misses) Against Standardized Testing

It's no easy job being smart and funny at the same time, and especially so when the topic is something as boring and controversial as standardized testing.  But last night's John Oliver segment didn't seem to succeed at either task, and came off somewhat blinkered with its focus on the concerns of (mostly) white teachers and (mostly) white parents and students. Watch for yourself and let me know what you think:

As you'll see, there are some funny bits and great snippets -- Obama bashing standardized tests in a pandering campaign speech before the NEA, a dirty remark regarding the Common Core logo, a funny quip about teachers' inspirational class posters in the new age, a bit about value-added formulas coming from livestock prediction models (is that true?), the instructions on what to do if a kid throws up on a test (is THAT true?), the comparison of Pearson to Time Warner Cable, the pop culture references (Fight Club, etc.).

There are tons of problems with standardized tests, and lots of things that could be done to improve them.
But Oliver seems to be trying way too hard and might not have the goods. Making fun of school testing pep rally videos seems like something you might see on America's Funniest Home Videos (if that's still on). The repeated focus on Florida seems problematic. The Talking Pineapple test question is old. The adult who did poorly on the test I don't care about him. The French kid with the cigarette? I have nothing to say. The girl crying because she tests poorly and can't take advanced art seems hard to believe (someone find her!). Going back to the dancing test mascot not twice but three times seems desperate (or maybe just not my cup of tea).
 
More importantly, going back to a world without standardized tests, and subgroups, and attempts to link teachers to student progress, is hard for me to imagine, and my sympathies lie much more with the kids who aren't being taught by teachers who think they can learn or school systems that don't give them the resources they deserve to succeed.  I don't think testing dramatically worsens those problems, even if it doesn't fix them.  The Common Core testing rollout has been glitchy but nothing like, say, the initial rollout of Obamacare.  And as I noted last week recent events in Ferguson, Baltimore, and elsewhere have been a big reminder to us all that fixating for or against testing, charters, or technology increasingly seems like fiddling on the margins. 
 
None of this is to say that I hope Oliver and his crew don't continue to watch and mock things going on in education.  The Daily Show and the Colbert Report were generally great in terms of keeping an eye on hits and misses in schools and improvement efforts.  It seems unlikely that Colbert is going to be able to interview education researchers in his new gig.  So we need Oliver et al to keep the attention.  I'm just hoping that they'll be funnier and smarter about it next time around. Or maybe I just need to be in a better mood.
 

AM News: Districts Welcome Expanded Obama Support Program

Big-City Districts Buoyed by Obama's Extension of 'My Brother's Keeper' District Dossier: Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City School, said the proposed new foundation will help sustain the council's efforts on equity and access in its districts after Mr. Obama leaves the White House.

Parents hate it when schools get shut down. But a new study suggests it helps kids learn. Vox: In Ohio's eighth-largest school district, students whose schools were closed and who ended up at different schools learned more than students in low-quality schools that didn't close, researchers Deven Carlson and Stéphane Lavertu found.

Teacher Testifies So Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 'Knows That Someone Cares About Him' HuffPost: It was the second time that Becki Norris spoke up for Tsarnaev, 21, on Wednesday. Earlier that day, the current Community Charter School of Cambridge principal testified in Tsarnaev's trial that when he was her seventh- and eighth-grade student, he was "a really hard-working, smart kid" with a seemingly bright future in front of him. 

State, teacher unions file briefs in tenure ruling appeal AP: In briefs filed in the state's Second District Court of Appeal, attorneys for the state, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers contend there was no "legal or factual justification" in striking down state laws on tenure and job protection.

Teacher-Retention Rates Higher Than Previously Thought TeacherBeat: Only 17 percent of teachers tracked in a federal longitudinal study left the profession, far fewer than the often-cited 50 percent.

Some Baltimore youth have fears of police reinforced in their schools Washington Post: Darius Craig was disgusted Monday night watching other Baltimore teens on television as they burned cars, looted shops and hurled rocks at police. But the high school senior understood why his peers were so angry.

Beyond The Headlines, There's Much More To West Baltimore NPR: At one intersection this week, violence was thoroughly documented. But the cameras missed the treasured public library that for years has educated and entertained the neighborhood's kids.

Weingarten regrets supporting Cuomo's running mate Capital New York: American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingartenregrets campaigning for Governor Andrew Cuomo's running mate in last year's elections, she told Capital during a union convention on Saturday. 

More school merger plans in the works, Fariña says ChalkbeatNY: In areas of the city with high rates of domestic violence, teachers will get special training next year, an effort that grew out of City Hall’s new “Children’s Cabinet.” 

Outside interest groups battle over school vouchers: After years of lobbying, millions of dollars from in-state and out-of-state advocacy groups and the support of the governor and other legislative leaders, school vouchers are still banned in Tennessee.

From The White House, A Celebration Of Great Teaching NPR: President Obama welcomes the National Teacher of the Year and tells how a great educator shaped his own life.

Emma Bloomberg on the Future of the Robin Hood Foundation Gotham Magazine: As Robin Hood holds its annual gala on May 12, we took the opportunity to ask Bloomberg for an insider’s look at the group Fortune called “one of the most innovative and influential philanthropic organizations of our time.”

From Hurricane Katrina to Howard University, a young woman's odyssey Washington Post: One of Halley's teachers told her about a program for high school juniors to work for a semester as congressional pages in Washington. ... Once in Washington, Halley toured Howard University and set a new goal.

Charts: District Schools Outperform Charters In Chicago, Notes Foundation Officer

Last week during #EWA15, MSDF's Joe Siedlecki noted that CPS elementary schools outperform charters in terms of the percentage of kids in high-rated schools, and praised Chicago charters for participating in the unified accountability system that makes such comparisons possible. 

Media: Publishing On Instagram

Given how much kids and teachers like Instagram (and the coming death of Twitter), I'm wondering whether anyone out there is publishing school-related content on the image-based social media platform.  The New York Times recently described an outlet called The Shade Room (Instagram’s TMZ) that was using the platform as its main base, rather than adding accounts and sharing information intermittently. It's not as crazy as it sounds.  The Times and other outlets may soon start publishing stories directly to Facebook.  But I'm not on Instagram enough to know if anyone's on there doing anything that could be called publishing related to education or school news. 

Morning Video: Maryland 6th Grader Didn't Mean To Be Rude To Obama

"I didn’t mean to cut him off,” said Bennett Middle School student Osman Yahya, 12, in a telephone interview with POLITICO.  "I was just nudging him to get on." (POLITICO)

 

AM News: All Eyes On Baltimore, Atlanta, & Detroit

Judge Reduces 3 Educators' Sentences In Atlanta Cheating Scandal NPR: In a highly unusual move, the judge in the Atlanta test-cheating case said he had a change of heart. He reduced three people's sentences from seven years in prison to three. See also NYT: Judge Reduces 3 Sentences in Atlanta School Testing Scandal, WPost Atlanta judge reduces sentences for three educators in cheating case.

How This Inner-City Baltimore Principal Is 'Tearing Down Barriers' Between Students And Police HuffPost: As students poured into their West Baltimore school on their first day back after protests paralyzed the city, Rowe said she felt heartened by the systems that are equipping her students to respond effectively to abuses of power.  See also BaltSun: Ray Lewis, Ravens visit schools in West Baltimore, NPR Councilman's Star Rises Fast Amid Baltimore Unrest.

Michigan governor wants overhaul of troubled Detroit schools AP: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder wants to break Detroit's troubled school district into two and will ask the Legislature to contribute more state funding to resolve nearly a half-billion dollars in operating debt... See also State Edwatch: Mich. Gov. Snyder Unveils Plan to Split Governance of Detroit Schools, NYT Plan Unveiled to Overhaul School System in Detroit, HuffPost Detroit Closes Many Schools For Day Due To Teacher Shortage.

Delisle to leave Education Department Washington Post: Deborah Delisle, a top-ranking official at the Education Department responsible for issuing waivers that have freed nearly every state and the District from the most onerous requirements of federal education law, is leaving her job as assistant...

Former Sen. Mary Landrieu is now a 'strategic adviser' to Walton Family Foundation NOLA.com: Landrieu also was recently named to the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.She did not reveal her compensation at the Walton Family Foundation.

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

Continue reading "AM News: All Eyes On Baltimore, Atlanta, & Detroit " »

Five Best Tweets Of The Day: Hot Takes On Baltimore Unrest

Charts: Rich and Poor Spend Relatively More On Education Than Middle-Income Families

Screen shot 2015-04-29 at 4.08.18 PM"Higher-earning consumers spend less on housing, food and health care. (They spend more total dollars in these categories, but because of their higher incomes, such purchases are a smaller share of their expenditures.) Transportation, however, takes up a bigger share of expenditures for those in the middle, and less for the lowest-earning households... Education follows a U-shaped pattern, taking up the largest share of expenditures for those at the bottom and top of the distribution." (WSJ: How Rich and Poor Spend (and Earn) Their Money)

Conversations: It's About Time You Got To Know #Educolor

In case you hadn't noticed, the #educolor hashtag has been floating around a lot on Twitter lately and made the Twitter Trending list recently following last night's Twitter chat.

A teacher named Christina Torres (@biblio_phile) pulled together some highlights using Storify and you can read them all above.  The topic was code-switching. I'm sure there's a history of previously monthly chats and topics.

Torres and I don't know each other but I've been following her for a while now and have shared her updates with you since about a year ago. Check that out here

According to Topsy, the first use of the #educolor hashtag was by Melinda Anderson (@mdawriter) two years ago, along with Xian Barrett and Jose Vilson.  Here's an early piece about the group from TakePart. Read more about the hashtag's history (yes, hashtags have history now) via MDA's September 2014 post here.

I don't know the hashtag well enough to say whether it's great or not, but I do know that both reformers and reform critics tend not to come from the poor and/or minority communities that they're arguing about, and that teachers too tend to be white and middle-class. So I can't help but hope that an ongoing discussion about racial awareness in schools might be a good thing.  Or not -- some of you may know better and think otherwise. 

Related posts: New Voices Challenging Reform Critics' "Belief Gap"; The Truth About Black Twitter (The Atlantic)

AM News: Baltimore Schools Recover; Teachers At The White House

Baltimore Public School Officials Want To Hold Students Accountable For Their Involvement In Riots HuffPost: CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools Gregory Thornton made it clear in his statement that students who participated in violent behavior on Monday would not get off the hook for their actions. 

The Real Baltimore: What Lakeland Elementary School Students Had to Say About the Riots AP: Ashley Smith, a teacher at Lakeland Elementary/Middle School, chose to have her class write down their reactions in regard to the chaos surrounding their city amid the riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a man who died after an unexplained spinal injury suffered in police custody.

Obama Honoring Texas Teacher Who Works With War Refugees AP: Shanna Peeples is known for helping guide refugees who have been moving to Amarillo from war-torn countries. See also: President Obama introduces the 2015 Teacher of the YearObama, Teacher of the Year stroll to lunch at D.C. restaurant

Study: Far fewer new teachers are leaving the profession than previously thought Washington Post: Ten percent of teachers who began their careers in 2007-2008 left teaching after their first year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But attrition then leveled off, and five years into their careers, 83 percent were still teaching.

Segregation of the nation’s children starts with preschool, new report finds Washington Post: Publicly funded preschools across the country are largely segregated by race and income, and poor children are typically enrolled in the lowest quality programs, according to a new report released Wednesday by researchers at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University.

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

Continue reading "AM News: Baltimore Schools Recover; Teachers At The White House" »

Thompson: Why Teachers Leave the Profession

The best thing about a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year teacher is that they have the potential to become a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th year teacher.

I kid the young teachers - mostly. Besides they are on the receiving end of far more abuse than my good natured jab. 

Seriously, the learning curve of the first years in the classroom is incredibly steep. When schools lose newcomers' hard-earned knowledge, that is tragic. And, the idea that we can have effective schools without a cross-generational sharing of insights is preposterous.   

Let's recall the (mostly) pre-reform days of the 1990s when the predictable retirement of Baby Boomers was discussed as a problem that must be addressed.  Back then, we understood that the loss of so much teaching experience would be a threat, as opposed to a potential stroke of good luck. 

In my experience, stakeholders at all levels used to accept the common sense that education needed to institutionalize ways for the professional wisdom of veteran educators to be passed on the newbies. Then came NCLB and the indictment of veteran educators as the problem, not a part of a solution for our education woes. As NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia says, veteran teachers are leaving the profession because reformers "tie both [our] hands and a foot between our back." They "hyperventilate" over test scores and impose ridiculous ideas like evaluating us on the test scores of students that we have never met.

Continue reading "Thompson: Why Teachers Leave the Profession" »

Quotes: How About Rebuilding Baltimore Schools For A Start?

Quotes2If we're spending  $1 trillion to rebuild Afghanistan's schools, we can't throw a little taste down Baltimore way? - Jon Stewart on The Daily Show  

Charts: Charter School Closure Rate Holds Steady At Just Under 4 Percent

ScreenHunter_05 Apr. 28 16.24

Here's a screengrab from a new NACSA infographic and report showing that charter closings remain at about 4 percent a year and that non-renewal is more common a method than outright revocation (The State of Charter Authorizing). Click the link and read the report to get a deeper sense of what's going on.  Interesting to note that roughly 20 percent of charters faced with closure appeal the decision.

Maps: Yellow & Orange Show States Where Tests WIll Matter (Somewhat) For Teachers

Screenshot 2015-04-29 08.24.24"A majority of the states that have adopted Common Core won't use results to rate teachers this year. Of the 21 states that plan to use the tests as part of teacher evaluations in the future, many have already specified that the score will count for only a percentage of the evaluation." (Hechinger Report Stakes for “high-stakes” tests are actually pretty low).

Click the link and hover over each state for specific measures. 

As for stakes for students: "Three states will use the test scores as some portion of a graduation requirement... Only three states will be using this spring’s Common Core-aligned test to regulate grade promotion."

Morning Video: Game-Based Learning Panel (Plus "Standardized")

Watch yesterday's Fordham interview with Greg Toppo about his book on game-based learning, with interviewer Robert Pondiscio. Or, click below to watch the trailer for Standardized, an anti-testing documentary that's been making the rounds.

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AM News: Stakes For Spring 2015 Tests Generally Low For Students & Teachers

Stakes for “high-stakes” tests are actually pretty low Hechinger Report: Very few states will be using this spring’s scores for any student-related decisions. And the stakes for teachers are only slightly higher.

Half of juniors opt out of Common Core tests in affluent high school EdSource Today: At Palos Verdes High School, 260 of the school’s roughly 460 juniors are skipping the tests that began last week and are continuing this week, Superintendent Don Austin said. Elsewhere in the 11,600-student district, an additional 222 students are sitting out of the tests in a different high school, as well as intermediate and elementary schools.

Gates Foundation to Expand Teacher-Preparation Grantmaking TeacherBeat: " In the coming years, we foresee many opportunities for partnership in the field of teacher preparation, with many types of organizations," Gates officials Tom Stritikus and Michelle Rojas  write.  As of late 2013, the Gates Foundation had spent nearly $700 million on efforts relating to teaching, including about $38 million on teacher-preparation efforts.

How one high school is closing the AP gap Marketplace: The AP invitation letters were part of a broader effort by the school district to get more students into AP courses, especially overlooked low-income and minority students who have the skills to succeed. To start catching those kids, Goins' district brought in Equal Opportunity Schools, a non-profit that works with schools to help identify kids who are being left behind in AP and International Baccalaureate programs, and help close the so-called participation gap.

How Young Black Men Are Boxed In FiveThirtyEight: Baltimore isn’t an outlier. There are other cities with more poverty, higher unemployment and greater inequality. The racial disparities evident in Baltimore are common across the country.

After Baltimore Rioting, Obama Urges Focus on Education Programs Education Week: President Barack Obama condemned rioters who looted and set ablaze several businesses in Baltimore Monday night following the funeral for Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who died of a spinal cord injury in police custody this month. 

Can a Harlem ‘cradle to career’ program succeed in rural Mississippi? PBS NewsHour: The program is part of the Indianola Promise Community (IPC), a federally-funded, community-based effort. Nationwide, there are dozens of so-called Promise Neighborhoods, or zones, that aim to offer a continuum of “cradle to career” services to lift low-income children out of poverty and improve outcomes for families.

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

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Events: What's New At NewSchools 2015?

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

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

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

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

Related posts:  They're Beaming NSVF Summit 2014 To Boston This YearGoogle Glasses Live from NSVF Summit 2013Thoughts On NSVF 2012Rahm Emanuel And Arlene Laurene Powell Jobs At NSVF'12Reformy 2011 Summit Returns To Silicon ValleyFashion Hits & Misses At The 2010 NSVF SummitAnother Spring, Another Summit (2009)NSFV: Live Tweets From Pasadena '09Microblogging The 2008 NSVF Summit. Image via NSVF webpage. 

Teachers: Beautiful Image From The Supreme Court

This is an Algebra teacher from Theodore Roosevelt High School, according to @MikaylaBouchard.

Quotes: Patty Murray's Remarkable Negotiating Skills (Are They Enough?)

Quotes2[Compromise] doesn’t mean that you come in here and say, ‘Lamar, I’ll do whatever you say. I want a bill out of here and you write it and I compromised because I’m with you... That’s not compromise from either side.-- US Senator Patty Murray in TNR (Patty Murray's Negotiating Skill Has Made Her the Democratic Dealmaker)

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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.