An interesting method by which I found out that people were cheating on my final exam.
I use different versions of midterm examinations to discourage cheating in my population biology class (~200 students). When the course started, I used to do the same thing for the final exam, but it was a little more complicated, because the final exam is administered by the registrar’s office, not by me and my teaching team.
At some point, somebody advised me not to bother with versions: the registrar’s office is supposed to be professional about administration, and they usually mix people who are taking different exams in the same room, so I stopped bothering with different versions for the final exam for a year or two. I do it again now, and you’ll see why.
In the year in question, my exam was given in two separate medium-sized rooms. My class was alone in these two rooms. I received a report from the invigilators in Room 1 about suspicious behaviour. They had warned a couple of students for acting strangely, and then warned them again. They weren’t prepared to say that they were sure that the students were cheating, but wanted me to compare their answer slates. In retrospect, they should have left the students alone until they were ready to sign a complaint against them (or until they had cheated enough to have it proved against them).
This report, the second in a series of policy reports on the results of a four-year study of America’s education schools, focuses on the education of classroom teachers, the people who have the greatest impact on our children’s learning in school.
Teacher education has taken on a special urgency because the United States needs to raise both the quantity and quality of our teacher force. The country is experiencing an acute shortage of teachers. At the same time, we are asking teachers to increase student achievement to the highest levels in history in a new standards-based, accountability-driven system of education. To address both demands simultaneously is an enormous challenge, made even more difficult because the nation is deeply divided about how to prepare large numbers of high-quality teachers.
We don’t agree about what skills and knowledge teachers need or how and when teachers should learn them. This is the context for the second report. The first report focused on the education of school administrators.
The third report will examine the quality of education research and the preparation of the scholars and researchers who conduct it. The final report will be an overview of America’s schools of educa- tion, where the overwhelming majority of our school leaders, teachers, and scholars are educated.
Many parents whose kids have their eye on an exclusive, private college face a difficult question: Is it worth unloading your life’s savings or having your child take on tens of thousands of dollars in student loans?
The average four-year private college costs over $42,000 a year for tuition, room and board, after all, while the average four-year public school costs less than half that — $18,943 for in-state students, according to the College Board. So the question is really, really important, especially at a time when nearly half of recent college grads have a job that doesn’t even require a degree.
Fortunately, for many Americans — white, middle-class kids — there’s an easy answer: Don’t pay more to go to a private college.
That means choosing the University of California over Pomona, the State University of New York over NYU and the University of Maryland over nearby American or George Washington.
Fewer teacher candidates are expected to pass the state’s revamped assessment of teaching practice, under new cut scores approved by the state board on Tuesday. But the new test will be short-lived: Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) officials plan to scrap the test altogether when yet another, more comprehensive assessment comes fully online next September. Previously, 97 percent of teacher candidates who took one of the older versions of the Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) would pass. The rate is expected to drop to 81 percent using the new APT, which was rolled out this fall.
Raising concerns about fairness to teacher candidates, board member Vinni Hall cast the lone vote against the new cut scores for the revamped APT.
“I just thought this was a little disingenuous knowing we were going to eliminate the test eventually,” Hall said after voting on Tuesday during a special board meeting.
Jason Helfer, ISBE’s assistant superintendent for Teacher and Leader Effectiveness, said there was little anybody could do about the short lifespan of the revamped APT – which is taken by prospective teachers during the student teaching phase of their coursework.
But Jeanne Williams, past president of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and chair of the educational studies department at Ripon College, said the state is already preparing to release educator preparation program report cards, in accordance with a state law passed in recent years to strengthen teacher training.
Those will report graduates’ pass rates on required licensure exams and provide data about where graduates get employed.
Williams did not agree with using test scores of students taught by the new teachers to review their programs that trained them.
She said several studies had shown that using student test data to evaluate teacher preparation programs is “not valid or reliable because of the numerous intervening variables that can affect student performance,” such as poverty, school climate and rates of teacher turnover in a school.
National Council on Teacher Quality reviews and ranks teacher preparation programs.
When A stands for average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education receive sky high grades. How smart is that?
When the media gets a charter school story wrong, I usually suspect political bias.
Progressive media outlets often underplay the effectiveness of charter schools, while conservative outlets overstate their impact.
But sometimes everyone misses a major part of the story.
All of the following media outlets reported on Mathematica’s study of The Equity Project: Vox.com (leans left), the Wall Street Journal (leans right), National Public Radio (leans left), the National Review (leans right), Shanker Blog (leans left).
Most of these education writers are top notch.
But all of them, I think, missed the mark.
The Mathematica Study; The CREDO Study
The Equity Project is a charter school in New York City. It pays teachers $125,000.
Mathematica just completed a rigorous study and found that, over four years, The Equity Project delivered an additional 1.6 years of math gains and .4 years of ELA gains.
The good: Minneapolis Public Schools want to decrease total suspensions for non-violent infractions of school rules.
The bad: The district has pledged to do this by implementing a special review system for cases where a black or Latino student is disciplined. Only minority students will enjoy this special privilege.
That seems purposefully unconstitutional—and is likely illegal, according to certain legal minds.
The new policy is the result of negotiations between MPS and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Minority students are disciplined at much higher rates than white students, and for two years the federal government has investigated whether that statistic was the result of institutional racism.
Related. Madison’s problematic discipline policy.
UNC students blamed racism and heteropatriarchal capitalism for the recent UNC academic scandal during a rally Wednesday afternoon.
A report released last week found that special classes were created for student athletes in order for them to remain grade-eligible to participate in games.
Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill blamed racism and heteropatriarchal capitalism for the recent academic scandal that has plagued the university.
Gathering Wednesday afternoon, members of the Real Silent Sam coalition gathered to share their response to the recently released “Investigation of Irregular Classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” which found that certain classes in the former African and Afro-American Department were created simply to keep athletes grade-eligible.
“I think that, intentional or not, words have a lot of power and the language and proceedings of this investigation have shown that we don’t value athletes and we don’t value black studies.”
This may mark one of the great missed opportunities in education. With a sympathetic president as a partner, national union leaders could have spent the last five years telling their members the truth: The nation’s classrooms are changing fast, now at 50 percent poor and minority students, and our schools are simply not good enough for too many students. So the entire education sector, including teachers, must change as well.
But they didn’t. Instead, union leaders spent the last five years telling their members that change was not necessary. You are blameless, they insisted in their fight against “reformers.” You’re being demonized. Poverty is to blame, not our schools.
Those demanding change, they insisted, are “corporate reformers” out to “privatize” your schools. What’s needed instead, they told their teachers, was a massive digging-in to block those very changes.
A report card released Tuesday for Maryland public school teachers reveals nearly three percent of those educators are rated ineffective, the Maryland State Department of Education says.
Evaluations completed for the 2013-14 school year show that 97 percent of teachers were rated either “highly effective” or “effective” in the state’s three-tiered rating system.
The majority of those teachers, about 56 percent, were rated effective, while 41 percent received the highly effective rating and almost three percent were found ineffective.
MSDE says schools in the highest quartile for poverty and minorities have more ineffective and fewer highly effective teachers than schools in the lowest quartile for poverty.
A paradox haunts America’s first black president. African-American wealth has fallen further under Barack Obama than under any president since the Depression. Yet they are the only group that still gives him high ratings. So meagre is Mr Obama’s national approval rating that embattled Democrats have made him unwelcome in states that twice swept him to power. Those who have fared worst under Mr Obama are the ones who love him the most. You would be hard-pressed to find a better example of perception-driven politics. As the Reverend Kevin Johnson asked in 2013: “Why are we so loyal to a president who isn’t loyal to us?”
The problem has taken on new salience with the resignation of Eric Holder. America’s first black attorney-general has tried to correct the gulag-sized disparities in prison sentencing between blacks and whites. His exit leaves just two African-Americans in Mr Obama’s cabinet. Given the mood among Republicans, it is hard to imagine the US Senate confirming a successor to Mr Holder who shares his priorities.
Mr Obama shot to prominence in 2004 when he said there was no black or white America, just the United States of America. Yet as the continuing backlash to the police shooting of an unarmed young black man in Ferguson has reminded us, Mr Obama will leave the US at least as segregated as he found it. How could that be? The fair answer is that he is not to blame. The poor suffered the brunt of the Great Recession and blacks are far likelier to be poor. By any yardstick – the share of those with subprime mortgages, for example, or those working in casualised jobs – African-Americans were more directly in the line of fire.
A small New York City charter school opened five years ago with an attention-grabbing premise: Paying teachers $125,000 salaries would lure ace faculty and help poor children learn.
A new study of the middle school, called The Equity Project, suggests that the experiment is working. The report to be released Friday by Mathematica Policy Research said the school’s students made more progress than similar children attending traditional city schools.
After four years at the charter school, eighth-graders showed average test score gains in math equal to an additional year and a half of school, compared with district students. The study found these charter students’ gains equaled more than an extra half-year in science and almost an extra half-year in English.
The Equity Project made headlines in 2008 when it announced it would pay nearly double the average salary of teachers in the city’s district schools. Joshua Furgeson, one of the report’s authors, said it shows that a “school that focuses its resources and attention on hiring and developing the best teachers can substantially improve student achievement.”
The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys.
I have made a terrible mistake.
I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!
This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching my own classes; I am the High School Learning Coach, a new position for the school this year. My job is to work with teachers and admins. to improve student learning outcomes.
As part of getting my feet wet, my principal suggested I “be” a student for two days: I was to shadow and complete all the work of a 10th grade student on one day and to do the same for a 12th grade student on another day. My task was to do everything the student was supposed to do: if there was lecture or notes on the board, I copied them as fast I could into my notebook. If there was a Chemistry lab, I did it with my host student. If there was a test, I took it (I passed the Spanish one, but I am certain I failed the business one).
My class schedules for the day
(Note: we have a block schedule; not all classes meet each day):
More than 7.1 million students are currently taking at least one online course. Despite the apparent popularity, however, educators have given the trend low marks.
But a new study from MIT suggests naysayers should think otherwise. Massive open online courses are not only effective, researchers have discovered, they are as effective as what’s being traditionally taught in the classroom — regardless of how prepared or in the know students are.
Researchers’ findings have been published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, and co-author David Pritchard, MIT’s Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, knows they will be controversial.
“A number of well-known educators have said there isn’t going to be much learning in MOOCs,” said Pritchard to MIT News, “or if there is, it will be for people who are already well-educated.”
The group, comprised of researchers from MIT, Harvard and Tsinghua University, completed a before-and-after test on students taking “Mechanics ReView,” an introductory mechanics course offered on massive open online learning platform edX. Researchers then conducted a similar test on students taking the class residentially, discovering:
Finally, Ofsted address one of the most serious impediments to children’s learning in the UK: low-level disruption. It’s amazing how much time and money is invested in poking through the grisly entrails of neuroscience, cognitive psychology and school structures in order to establish how we can squeeze a carat or two more gold out of the school goose’s ileum, when there’s piles of the stuff to be scooped up elsewhere.
Behaviour. It’s always been about behaviour. From the day I stepped into a classroom, the biggest obstacle I faced in getting students from average A to brilliant B was how they behaved, or didn’t. My first day, a student started dealing skunk at the back of the room; by the end of it, someone had told me to f*** Off, twice (and that was just the head, ho ho). But they weren’t the biggest problems for teaching; the Kryptonite for learning was the low-evel stuff – the chatting, the sullen refusals, the phones, the rocking, the headphones, paper-throwing. Everything that doesn’t look like anything special in description, but collectively erodes the lesson like a universal solvent.
I’ve been writing about this since before the first incarnation of Noel Edmonds. I’ve been running the TES behaviour forum for almost six years, and working with hundreds of schools, coaching, training and advising on behaviour. And this report is spot-on.
The Delaware Department of Education says six low-income schools in Wilmington are failing, and the way to fix them is to make the more than 200 teachers reapply for their jobs – and to hire elite principals at each school who won’t have to follow most district rules while earning annual salaries of $160,000.
Mark Murphy, secretary of education, says it’s necessary for teachers to reapply for their jobs to ensure that every educator in the six “priority” schools has the commitment and skill to improve student achievement, as measured by the state’s standardized tests.
Outrage is bubbling among teachers, parents and school administrators in the schools – Bancroft Elementary, Stubbs Elementary and Bayard Middle in the Christina School District and Warner, Shortlidge and Highlands elementary schools in Red Clay School District.
They contend this is a state takeover, not a school turnaround.
The state asks that districts sign a Memorandum of Understanding by month’s end to begin establishing a plan for each school, all of which serve students who come from neighborhoods grappling with poverty.
ONE of the most notable demographic trends of the last two decades has been the delayed entry of young people into adulthood. According to a large-scale national study conducted since the late 1970s, it has taken longer for each successive generation to finish school, establish financial independence, marry and have children. Today’s 25-year-olds, compared with their parents’ generation at the same age, are twice as likely to still be students, only half as likely to be married and 50 percent more likely to be receiving financial assistance from their parents.
People tend to react to this trend in one of two ways, either castigating today’s young people for their idleness or acknowledging delayed adulthood as a rational, if regrettable, response to a variety of social changes, like poor job prospects. Either way, postponing the settled, responsible patterns of adulthood is seen as a bad thing.
A refreshing new book chronicles how teachers are made—not born–and what it will take to move the U.S. into the next frontier of education reform.
If you have time to read only one chapter of one book this fall, consider the first pages of Building A Better Teacher, a new book by journalist Elizabeth Green. It opens with you—the reader–temporarily cast as the protagonist. You’re a teacher walking into a 5th grade classroom. It sounds contrived, I know, and yet it works.
“Your job, according to the state where you happen to live and the school district that pays your salary,” Green writes, “is to make sure that, sixty minutes from now, the students have grasped the concept of ‘rate.’”
What do you do?
In this way, we walk through the hundreds of micro-decisions a teacher must make in a single hour. Do you call on Richard, a new African-American student who says he hates math but has his hand raised anyway? If he’s wrong, will he shut down for the rest of class?
You call on Richard. His answer makes no sense to you. Do you correct him yourself right away? Or do you call on the white girl next to him who has the right answer more often? You decide to ask the rest of the class if anyone can explain what Richard was thinking. No one responds. You feel the dread creep in. But then Richard speaks up. “Can I change my mind?”
Teachers are some of our most dedicated public servants. Many inspiring educators have changed lives for the better in Madison’s public schools. But their union is a horror.
Madison Teachers Inc. has been a bad corporate citizen for decades. Selfish, arrogant, and bullying, it has fostered an angry, us-versus-them hostility toward parents, taxpayers, and their elected school board.
Instead of a collaborative group of college-educated professionals eager to embrace change and challenge, Madison’s unionized public school teachers comport themselves as exploited Appalachian mine workers stuck in a 1930s time warp. For four decades, their union has been led by well-compensated executive director John A. Matthews, whom Fighting Ed Garvey once described (approvingly!) as a “throwback” to a different time.
From a June 2011 Wisconsin State Journal story:
[Then] School Board member Maya Cole criticized Matthews for harboring an “us against them” mentality at a time when the district needs more cooperation than ever to successfully educate students. “His behavior has become problematic,” Cole said.
For years, Madison’s school board has kowtowed to Matthews and MTI, which — with its dues collected by the taxpayer-financed school district — is the most powerful political force in Dane County. (The county board majority even rehearses at the union’s Willy Street offices.)
Joe Zepecki, Burke’s campaign spokesman, said in an email Wednesday that he couldn’t respond officially because Burke has made clear that her campaign and her duties as a School Board member are to be kept “strictly separate.” However, on the campaign trail, Burke says she opposes Act 10’s limits on collective bargaining but supports requiring public workers to pay more for their benefits, a key aspect of the law.
John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., said the contracts were negotiated legally and called the legal challenge “a waste of money and unnecessary stress on district employees and the community.”
The lawsuit came a day after the national leader of the country’s largest union for public workers labeled Walker its top target this fall.
“We have a score to settle with Scott Walker,” Lee Saunders, the union official, told The Washington Post on Tuesday. Saunders is the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. A spokeswoman for Saunders did not immediately return a call Wednesday.
AFSCME has seen its ranks in Wisconsin whither since Walker approved Act 10. AFSCME and other unions were instrumental in scheduling a 2012 recall election to try to oust Walker, but Walker won that election by a bigger margin than the 2010 race.
“When the union bosses say they ‘have a score to settle with Scott Walker,’ they really mean Wisconsin taxpayers because that’s who Governor Walker is protecting with his reforms,” Walker spokeswoman Alleigh Marré said in a statement.
Kenosha School District over teacher contracts after the board approved a contract with its employees.
In Madison, the School District and School Board “are forcing their teachers to abide by — and taxpayers to pay for — an illegal labor contract with terms violating Act 10 based upon unlawful collective bargaining with Madison Teachers, Inc.,” a statement from WILL said.
Blaska, a former member of the Dane County Board who blogs for InBusiness, said in addition to believing the contracts are illegal, he wanted to sue MTI because of its behavior, which he called coercive and bullyish.
“I truly believe that there’s a better model out there if the school board would grab for it,” Blaska said.
MTI executive director John Matthews said it’s not surprising the suit was filed on behalf of Blaska “given his hostile attacks on MTI over the past several years.”
“WILL certainly has the right to challenge the contracts, but I see (it as) such as a waste of money and unnecessary stress on district employees and the community,” said Matthews, adding that negotiating the contracts “was legal.”
In August, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Act 10 constitutional after MTI and others had challenged its legality. At the time, union and district officials said the contracts that were negotiated before the ruling was issued were solid going forward.
Under Act 10, unions are not allowed to bargain over anything but base wage raises, which are limited to the rate of inflation. Act 10 also prohibits union dues from being automatically deducted from members’ paychecks as well as “fair share” payments from employees who do not want to be union members.
Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said Wednesday the district has not yet received notification of the suit being filed.
“If and when we do, we’ll review with our team and the Board of Education,” she said.
School Board vice president James Howard said the board “felt we were basically in accordance with the law” when the contracts were negotiated and approved.
A lawsuit targeting the Madison School District and its teachers union is baseless, Madison School Board member and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said Thursday.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday by the conservative nonprofit Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty on behalf of well-known blogger David Blaska alleges the school district, School Board and Madison Teachers Inc. are violating Act 10, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s signature law that limits collective bargaining.
The union has two contracts in effect through June 2016. Burke voted for both of them.
“I don’t think there is a lot of substance to it,” Burke said of the lawsuit. “Certainly the board, when it negotiated and approved (the contracts), it was legal then and our legal counsel says nothing has changed.”
At any rate, Esenberg said, he doesn’t consult with Grebe, Walker or anyone else in deciding what cases to take on.
“The notion that we think Act 10 is a good idea because it frees the schools from the restraints of union contracts and gives individual employees the right to decide whether they want to support the activities of the union — that shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Esenberg said.
WILL is not likely to prevail in court, Marquette University Law School professor Paul Secunda told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They negotiated their current contract when the fate of Act 10 was still up in the air,” said Secunda, who also accused Esenberg of “trying to make political points.”
Esenberg contends the contract always was illegal.
The school board, district and union knew they could not negotiate anything more than wage increases based on inflation under the law, the lawsuit alleges. Despite the institute’s warnings, they began negotiations for a new 2014-15 contract in September 2013 and ratified it in October. What’s more, they began negotiating a deal for the 2015-16 school year this past May and ratified it in June, according to the lawsuit.
Both deals go beyond base wage changes to include working conditions, teacher assignments, fringe benefits, tenure and union dues deductions, the lawsuit said.
Taxpayers will be irreparably harmed if the contracts are allowed to stand because they’ll have to pay extra, the lawsuit went on to say. It demands that a Dane County judge invalidate the contracts and issue an injunction blocking them from being enforced.
“The Board and the School District unlawfully spent taxpayer funds in collectively bargaining the (contracts) and will spend substantial addition(al) taxpayer funds in implementing the (contracts),” the lawsuit said. “The (contracts) violate the public policy of Wisconsin.”
“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).
WEAC (Wisconsin Teacher Union Umbrella): 4 Senators for $1.57M.
Understanding the current union battles requires a visit to the time machine and the 2002 and the Milwaukee County Pension Scandal. Recall elections, big money, self interest and the Scott Walker’s election in what had long been a Democratic party position.
The 2000-2001 deal granted a 25% pension “bonus” for hundreds of veteran county workers. Another benefit that will be discussed at trial is the controversial “backdrop,” an option to take part of a pension payment as a lump-sum upon retirement.
Testimony should reveal more clues to the mysteries of who pushed both behind the scenes.
So what does it mean to take a “backdrop?”
“Drop” refers to Deferred Retirement Option Program. Employees who stay on after they are eligible to retire can receive both a lump-sum payout and a (somewhat reduced) monthly retirement benefit. Employees, upon leaving, reach “back” to a prior date when they could have retired. They get a lump sum equal to the total of the monthly pension benefits from that date up until their actual quitting date. The concept was not new in 2001, but Milwaukee County’s plan was distinguished because it did not limit the number of years a worker could “drop back.” In fact, retirees are routinely dropping back five years or more, with some reaching back 10 or more years.
That has allowed many workers to get lump-sum payments well into six figures.
Former deputy district attorney Jon Reddin, at age 63, collected the largest to date: $976,000, on top of monthly pension checks of $6,070 each.
And, Jason Stein:
The Newsline article by longtime legal writer Stuart Taylor Jr. alleges that Chisholm may have investigated Walker and his associates because Chisholm was upset at the way in which the governor had repealed most collective bargaining for public employees such as his wife, a union steward.
The prosecutor is quoted as saying that he heard Chisholm say that “he felt that it was his personal duty to stop Walker from treating people like this.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has requested to speak with the former prosecutor through Taylor and has not yet received an answer.
In a brief interview, Chisholm denied making those comments. In a longer statement, an attorney representing Chisholm lashed out at the article.
“The suggestion that all of those measures were taken in furtherance of John Chisholm’s (or his wife’s) personal agenda is scurrilous, desperate and just plain cheap,” attorney Samuel Leib said.
“The great irony is that Act 10 has created a marketplace for good teachers,” said Dean Bowles, a Monona Grove School Board member.
Fellow board member Peter Sobol said though the law was billed as providing budget relief for school districts and local government, it could end up being harder on budgets as districts develop compensation models that combine their desire to reward good teachers and the need to keep them. Knowing how many teachers each year will attain the leadership responsibilities and certifications that result in added pay will be difficult.
Monona Grove is developing a career ladder to replace its current salary schedule. The new model is still being drafted by a committee of district administrators, school board members and teachers, but its aim will be to reward “increased responsibility, leadership, ‘stretch assignments’ and other contributions to the district and school missions,’ ” according to the district.
“We thought we could do better,” Monona Grove School District superintendent Dan Olson said, adding that the message to parents is that with the new model, “we’ll be able to keep our good teachers.”
Bowles said the process should result in a district being a place that might not offer the highest pay in the state, but be a place teachers want to work.
“ ‘Attract and retain’ is one of the goals on that list, and in my judgment that does not boil down to” just salary, he said. “It’s also, ‘This is a place I hope you want to be,’ and our kids will benefit from it.”
Ironically, Madison rates not a mention….
Amanda Ripley talked about her book, The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way. In her book she followed three American high-school students who each spent a year in a high-scoring foreign school system, in Finland, South Korea, and Poland.
She spoke in the Science Pavilion of the 2014 National Book Festival, which was held August 30 by the Library of Congress at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. close
Ripley mentioned that in her observation principals spend up to half their time on sports matters.
THE Liceo Bicentenario San Pedro is a modern secondary school in Puente Alto, a gritty district of Santiago in Chile. Opened in 2012, the school nestles amid the vestiges of a shantytown where urban sprawl meets the vineyards of the Maipo valley. Most of its pupils are drawn from families classed as “vulnerable”. Yet in national tests it ranks fourth among municipal (ie, public) schools in Chile.
The school has done well by hiring committed young teachers and by offering them more time for preparation and in-service training, according to Germán Codina, the mayor of Puente Alto. When Bello strolled around the liceo recently, he saw teachers who visibly commanded the attention of their pupils. Sadly, it is far more common in Latin American schools to see inattentive children talk among themselves while a teacher writes on the blackboard. It is schooling by rote, not reasoning. And it imposes an unacceptable handicap on Latin Americans.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The greeting-card pithiness of this maxim obscures what is in fact a useful metaphor, and in “Building a Better Teacher,” Elizabeth Green introduces us to educators who stick to their kindling. Her project is both a history of the research on effective teaching as well as a consideration of how that research might best be implemented. What emerges is the gaping chasm between what the best teachers do and how we go about evaluating what they’ve done.
Green outlines the teacher-training debate as one between proponents of accountability on one side and autonomy on the other. She points out that both sides assume what she calls “the myth of the natural-born teacher.” The accountability folks want to use test scores to identify these gifted teachers and winnow out the others; the autonomy advocates want to give them creative control over their classrooms. Green, a journalist and the editor of Chalkbeat, an education news organization, argues that good teaching is largely “the result of extraordinary skill, not inborn talent.” If lighting a fire is a skill, it can be learned, and it can be taught.
All my classes were getting ready to take their first quiz later in the week. My second period class was the second-year Algebra 1 class. We were working on systems of linear equations covering the various ways of solving two equations with two unknowns.
I was preparing for my second period class by looking over the upcoming quiz and identifying the questions that most students would likely get wrong. As I reached the disturbing conclusion that this would be almost all the questions, Sally, the District person who talked to the math teachers about Common Core the day before school began, stuck her head in the door and asked if I had done any of the activities she had talked about that day. These were discovery-oriented projects that lead students to explore certain topics (specifically: probability, repeating decimals, and solving systems of equations) while allowing teachers to do formative assessments. Which means evaluating students by observing them “communicate and defend their thinking”.
If last year’s numbers hold steady, the 4,100 teachers in San Francisco, on average, will each be absent about 11 times this school year, about once every three weeks. That’s four to five days more than a typical student, out of 180 days total.
About seven of those days were for sick or personal leave, and the rest were training days offered or required by the district.
The same message — that the personal touch is crucial — comes from community college students who have participated in the City University of New York’s anti-dropout initiative, which has doubled graduation rates.
Even as these programs, and many others with a similar philosophy, have proven their worth, public schools have been spending billions of dollars on technology which they envision as the wave of the future. Despite the hyped claims, the results have been disappointing. “The data is pretty weak,” said Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an investor in educational technology companies. “When it comes to showing results, we better put up or shut up.”
While technology can be put to good use by talented teachers, they, and not the futurists, must take the lead. The process of teaching and learning is an intimate act that neither computers nor markets can hope to replicate. Small wonder, then, that the business model hasn’t worked in reforming the schools — there is simply no substitute for the personal element.
Thinking different in Oconomowoc.
The common view of great teachers is that they are born that way. Like Michelle Pfeiffer’s ex-marine in “Dangerous Minds,” Edward James Olmos’s Jaime Escalante in “Stand and Deliver,” and Robin Williams’s “carpe diem”–intoning whistler in “Dead Poets Society,” legendary teachers transform thugs into scholars, illiterates into geniuses, and slackers into bards through brute charisma. Teaching is their calling—not a matter of craft and training, but alchemical inspiration.
Bad teachers, conversely, are portrayed as deliberately sadistic (as with the Sue Sylvester character on “Glee”), congenitally boring (Ben Stein’s nasal droner in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”), or ludicrously dim-witted (Mr. Garrison from “South Park”). These are the tropes of a common narrative, a story I’ve come to call the “Myth of the Natural-Born Teacher.”
Even in the rare cases where fictional teachers appear to improve—as happens in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” the novel-turned-film, in which a bland schoolteacher named Mr. Chips comes to “sparkle”—the change is an ugly duckling–style unmasking of hidden pizzazz rather than the acquisition of new skill. Others think Mr. Chips has become a “new man,” but in fact, we are told, he has only peeled back a “creeping dry rot of pedagogy” to reveal the “sense of humor” that “he had always had.”
School officials who hire teachers who aren’t properly credentialed for their positions often cite a lack of suitable candidates, in part because of teacher shortages in certain areas. But the most current state data available show that most fields actually had a surplus of newly licensed candidates available for hire. A higher ratio means fewer newly qualified teachers were hired.
About six weeks ago, Amanda Ripley published an article suggesting that it be made more difficult to become a teacher. I’ll add one story.
My colleague at the University of Virginia, Shige Oishi, is, without exaggeration, a brilliant and highly accomplished man. I recently learned that he briefly thought about a career in teaching in Japan. I asked why he didn’t pursue it.
He told me “I wasn’t sure I could do it. The entrance examination is very very difficult. I knew I would have to study at least a year, and then I wasn’t sure I could pass.”
David Boies, the star trial lawyer who helped lead the legal charge that overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban, is becoming chairman of the Partnership for Educational Justice, a group that former CNN anchor Campbell Brown founded in part to pursue lawsuits challenging teacher tenure.
Mr. Boies, the son of two public schoolteachers, is a lifelong liberal who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore and prosecuted Microsoft in the Clinton Administration’s antitrust suit. In aligning himself with a cause that is bitterly opposed by teachers’ unions, he is emblematic of an increasingly fractured relationship between the Democrats and the teachers’ unions.
As chairman of the new group, Mr. Boies, 73, will join Ms. Brown as the public face of a legal strategy in which the group organizes parents and students to bring lawsuits against states with strong tenure and seniority protections.
We develop a theory that focuses on the general equilibrium and long-run macro- economic consequences of trends in job utility. Given secular increases in job utility, work hours per capita can remain approximately constant over time even if the income e§ect of higher wages on labor supply exceeds the substitution e§ect. In addition, secular improvements in job utility can be substantial relative to welfare gains from ordinary technological progress. These two implications are connected by an equation áowing from optimal hours choices: improvements in job utility that have a significant e§ect on labor supply tend to have large welfare effects.
Keywords: Labor supply, work hours, drudgery, income e§ect, substitution e§ect, job utility.
A New York City parents group is joining a nationwide trend — recently filing a lawsuit that challenges teacher tenure laws.
Mona Davids of the New York City Parents Union sued in State Supreme Court in Staten Island on behalf of 11 plaintiffs who suffered in classrooms with bad teachers. A similar suit is pending in Albany by the Partnership for Educational Justice, led by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, who has dedicated her post-TV career to crusading against teachers’ unions.
These actions are part of a national lawsuit wave to undermine tenure for public schoolteachers. In California, a group called Students Matter recently won a suit: The court found the state’s teacher tenure protections unconstitutional. Students Matter plans to sue in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico and Oregon.
Groups claiming to represent kids and parents shouldn’t attack the profession. Teacher unions and tenure provisions don’t hurt students. If you don’t believe me, try sending one of your kids to public school in Massachusetts and another to public school in Mississippi, and see how each fares. (Student reading and math proficiency scores are above the national average in Massachusetts, where unions and job protections are more prevalent.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, reading and math proficiency lags below average in Mississippi, where teachers do not have tenure.)
That’s according to the Education Week Research Center, a nonpartisan group that measured indicators such as preschool and kindergarten enrollment, high school graduation rates, and higher education attainment. The yearly study also considered family income and parental employment, which are linked to educational achievement.
In almost every category, the Bay State beats the national average: More than 60 percent of Massachusetts children have a parent with a post-secondary degree, 14 points higher than average, and nearly 60 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, more than 10 points above the national average.
No surprise, nearly half of Massachusetts fourth-graders are proficient on National Assessment of Educational Progress reading tests, and more than 54 percent of eighth-graders get proficient scores on NAEP math tests — both the highest rates in the country.
The underlying reason is a bipartisan commitment to education reform. Massachusetts passed a major school reform package in 1993, increasing spending, particularly in poorer districts; raising assessment standards; and making licensure exams for new teachers more difficult. Several other states improved their standards around the same time. But when partisan priorities shifted in other places, Massachusetts Republicans and Democrats alike continued investing heavily in education.
Improving scores, particularly among low-income and minority students, is still a challenge, and Massachusetts has done no better in closing the achievement gap than most other states.
Wisconsin took a very small step toward Massachusetts’ content knowledge requirements by adopting MTEL-90 for elementary English teachers.
Wisconsin results are available here.
One afternoon in the spring of 2006, Damany Lewis, a math teacher at Parks Middle School, in Atlanta, unlocked the room where standardized tests were kept. It was the week before his students took the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, which determined whether schools in Georgia had met federal standards of achievement. The tests were wrapped in cellophane and stacked in cardboard boxes. Lewis, a slim twenty-nine-year-old with dreadlocks, contemplated opening the test with scissors, but he thought his cut marks would be too obvious. Instead, he left the school, walked to the corner store, and bought a razor blade. When he returned, he slit open the cellophane and gently pulled a test book from its wrapping. Then he used a lighter to warm the razor, which he wedged under the adhesive sealing the booklet, and peeled back the tab.
He photocopied the math, reading, and language-arts sections—the subjects that would determine, under the No Child Left Behind guidelines, whether Parks would be classified as a “school in need of improvement” for the sixth year in a row. Unless fifty-eight per cent of students passed the math portion of the test and sixty-seven per cent passed in language arts, the state could shut down the school. Lewis put on gloves, to prevent oil from his hands from leaving a residue on the plastic, and then used his lighter to melt the edges of the cellophane together, so that it appeared as if the package had never been opened. He gave the reading and language-arts sections to two teachers he trusted and took the math section home.
America should do away with middle schools, which are educational wastelands. We need to cut the middle out of middle schools, either by combining them with the guidance and nurturing that children find in elementary school, or with the focus on adult success that we expect from our high schools.
For much as half of middle schools across the country, national statistics show substantial performance gaps, especially in math and reading achievement, between middle school and high school. It’s time to admit that middle school models do not work—instead, they are places where academics stall and languish.
via Marc Eisen.
Mr Eisen wrote “My Life & Times with the Madison Public Schools” in 2007. Well worth reading.
When it comes to financial literacy around the world, American teens are middling.
The United States may fuel the world’s largest economy and operate its most robust financial system. But compared to the financial prowess of teenagers in 17 other countries, U.S. teens come off downright mediocre.
That’s according to a new study published Wednesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as part of its Program for International Student Assessment, conducted once every three years.
The OECD, a 34-nation organization based in Paris, surveyed 15-year-old students in 13 member nations and five other nations throughout 2012 to ascertain their level of familiarity with the financial system as they neared adulthood.
“Finance is part of everyday life for many 15-year-olds, who are already consumers of financial services, such as bank accounts,” the report said. “As they near the end of compulsory education, students will face complex and challenging financial choices, including whether to join the labor market or continue with formal education and, if so, how to finance such study.”
The OECD report.
I want to be clear at the outset: I love literature. I was an English major, and I’ve never regretted it for a moment. I seriously considered pursuing a Ph.D. in English. I could not have a deeper faith in the liberal arts as a path to the betterment of all mankind.
So imagine my dismay at some recent reportage in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Graduate programs in languages and literature are suffering troubles all too familiar to the readers of these pages: In these straitened times, the tenure-track academic appointments for which a doctoral degree is the traditional and necessary preparation are available for only about 60% of the recipients of doctorates in language or literature (a number chillingly reminiscent of the 56%-57% of the last two law-school graduating classes who managed to find a full-time, long-term job requiring a law license within 9-10 months of graduation, though when you exclude school-funded and self-employed positions as well as a few other confounders and irrelevancies, that number is closer to 53%). The Modern Language Association (a trade group for college and graduate educators and scholars in language and literature analogous to AALS) recently released a report conceding “[w]e are faced with an unsustainable reality.”
The solution? Simple—dismiss the “reality” as “wrong”:
This spring, more college students than ever received baccalaureate degrees, and their career prospects are brighter than they were for last year’s graduates.
Employers responding to this year’s National Association of Colleges and Employers’ “Job Outlook 2014 Survey” said they planned to increase entry-level hiring by almost 8 percent. But what they may not realize is that these seemingly techno-savvy new hires could be missing some basic yet vital research skills.
It’s a problem that we found after interviewing 23 people in charge of hiring at leading employers like Microsoft, KPMG, Nationwide Insurance, the Smithsonian, and the FBI. This research was part of a federally funded study for Project Information Literacy, a national study about how today’s college students find and use information.
Nearly all of the employers said they expected candidates, whatever their field, to be able to search online, a given for a generation born into the Internet world. But they also expected job candidates to be patient and persistent researchers and to be able to retrieve information in a variety of formats, identify patterns within an array of sources, and dive deeply into source material.
We hear so much about the plight of Black children and their low test scores. We have not heard that African American children who are homeschooled are scoring at the 82% in reading and 77% in math. This is 30-40% above their counterparts being taught in school. There is a 30% racial gap in schools, but there is no racial gap in reading if taught in the home and only a 5% gap in math.
What explains the success of African American students being taught by their parents? I believe that it’s love and high expectations. I am reminded of Booker T. Washington High School. They were honored several years ago for producing the greatest turnaround as a Recovery school. The principal had the opportunity to pick and choose her staff and emphatically stated, “If you want to teach in this school you must love the students”. Researchers love promoting that the racial gap is based on income, marital status, and the educational background of the parents. Seldom, if ever, do they research the impact of love and high expectations.
Since the landmark decision, Brown vs. Topeka in 1954, there has been a 66% decline in African American teachers. Many African American students are in classrooms where they are not loved, liked, or respected. Their culture is not honored and bonding is not considered. They are given low expectations – which helps to explain how students can be promoted from one grade to another without mastery of the content.
There are so many benefits to homeschooling beyond academics. Most schools spend more than 33% of the day disciplining students. And bullying has become a significant issue. One of every 6 Black males is suspended and large numbers are given Ritalin and placed in Special Education. These problems seldom, if ever, exist in the Homeschool environment.
Another major benefit is the summer months. Research shows that there is a 3 year gap between White and Black students. Some students do not read or are involved in any academic endeavor during the summer. Those students lose 36 months or 3 years if you multiply 3 months times 12 years (grades first -12) Homeschool parents do not allow academics to be forsaken for 3 months.
Finally, in the homeschool environment, parents are allowed to teach their children
HIGHER education is one of the great successes of the welfare state. What was once the privilege of a few has become a middle-class entitlement, thanks mainly to government support. Some 3.5m Americans and 5m Europeans will graduate this summer. In the emerging world universities are booming: China has added nearly 30m places in 20 years. Yet the business has changed little since Aristotle taught at the Athenian Lyceum: young students still gather at an appointed time and place to listen to the wisdom of scholars.
Now a revolution has begun (see article), thanks to three forces: rising costs, changing demand and disruptive technology. The result will be the reinvention of the university.
Off campus, online
Higher education suffers from Baumol’s disease—the tendency of costs to soar in labour-intensive sectors with stagnant productivity. Whereas the prices of cars, computers and much else have fallen dramatically, universities, protected by public-sector funding and the premium employers place on degrees, have been able to charge ever more for the same service. For two decades the cost of going to college in America has risen by 1.6 percentage points more than inflation every year.
The PACE/USC Rossier School of Education Poll showed that two-thirds of voters (68 percent) agree that the state should do away with “Last In, First Out,” a policy that requires the newest K-12 teachers be laid off first, regardless of merit. Just 17 percent said California should continue to conduct teacher layoffs in order of seniority, according to the poll. PACE stands for Policy Analysis for California Education.
California voters also largely opposed the state’s tenure laws for public school teachers, according to the poll. Six in 10 California voters said teachers should not continue to receive tenure, as it makes firing bad teachers difficult. Twenty-five percent of voters said the state should keep tenure for public school teachers to provide them job protections and the freedom to teach potentially controversial topics without fear of reprisals.
Choosing books to take on holiday has got more difficult in recent years. Now it is a question not just of what to read but how – on paper, tablet, e-reader, or perhaps even a phone – and people have strong opinions on which is best. But is there any more to the decision than cost and convenience? On this question, the answer suggested by numerous studies into the neuroscience and psychology of reading in different formats is an emphatic yes.
There is no shortage of people warning of the risks attendant on the rise of “screen culture”, as the neuroscientist Susan Greenfield calls it. Greenfield has repeatedly expressed concern that, as technology takes us into unknown territory, “the brain may be adapting in unprecedented ways”. Though she tends to stress that these changes might be good or bad, that hasn’t stopped her more negative speculations being picked up in the media and amplified in far more strident terms.
On the other side of the two cultures divide, the novelist and critic Will Self recently argued that the connectivity of the digital world was fatal for the serious novel, which requires all the reader’s attention. Looking ahead 20 years, he posed a question: “If you accept that by then the vast majority of text will be read in digital form on devices linked to the web, do you also believe that those readers will voluntarily choose to disable that connectivity? If your answer to this is no, then the death of the novel is sealed out of your own mouth.”
E-reading is certainly on the rise. The Pew Research Center reports that, as recently as 2010, hardly anyone in the US had an e-reader or tablet. Now half do. The proportion of the population who have read an ebook in the past year rose from 17 per cent in 2011 to 28 per cent just three years later. In the UK, figures from Nielsen, which monitors book sales, showed that one in four consumer titles bought in 2013 was an ebook, up from one in five a year earlier.
The ability to attract skilled workers is a key factor, if not the key factor, in the growth of cities and metro regions. Cities themselves are understandably keen to tout when their populations are growing, but just tracking overall population can mask the underlying trends that will truly shape the future of our metro areas.
A few weeks ago, I looked at the different places both recent immigrants and U.S.-born Americans are moving since the recession began. But, as I noted then, even these big-picture figures tell us little about the educational levels and skills of the people that are moving and staying. Writing in The Atlantic several years ago, I pointed out that the “means migration”—the movement of highly educated and highly skilled people—is a key factor that shapes which cities will thrive and which will struggle.
What the United States has been seeing is, so to speak, a big talent sort. There have been very different patterns of migration by education and skill, with the highly educated and highly skilled going some places and the less educated and less skilled going to others.
So far this month in education news, a California court has decimated rigid job protections for teachers, and Oklahoma’s governor has abolished the most rigorous learning standards that state has ever had. Back and forth we go in America’s exhausting tug-of-war over schools—local versus federal control, union versus management, us versus them.
But something else is happening, too. Something that hasn’t made many headlines but has the potential to finally revolutionize education in ways these nasty feuds never will.
In a handful of statehouses and universities across the country, a few farsighted Americans are finally pursuing what the world’s smartest countries have found to be the most efficient education reform ever tried. They are making it harder to become a teacher. Ever so slowly, these legislators and educators are beginning to treat the preparation of teachers the way we treat the training of surgeons and pilots—rendering it dramatically more selective, practical, and rigorous. All of which could transform not only the quality of teaching in America but the way the rest of us think about school and learning.
Over the past two years, according to a report out Tuesday from the National Council on Teacher Quality, 33 states have passed meaningful new oversight laws or regulations to elevate teacher education in ways that are much harder for universities to game or ignore. The report, which ranks 836 education colleges, found that only 13 percent made its list of top-ranked programs. But “a number of programs worked hard and at lightning speed” to improve. Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas now have the most top-ranked programs. This summer, meanwhile, the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation is finalizing new standards, which Education Week called“leaner, more specific and more outcomes-focused than any prior set in the 60-year history of national teacher-college accreditation.”
So far this month in education news, a California court has decimated rigid job protections for teachers, and Oklahoma’s governor has abolished the most rigorous learning standards that state has ever had. Back and forth we go in America’s exhausting tug-of-war over schools—local versus federal control, union versus management, us versus them.
But something else is happening, too. Something that hasn’t made many headlines but has the potential to finally revolutionize education in ways these nasty feuds never will.
In a handful of statehouses and universities across the country, a few farsighted Americans are finally pursuing what the world’s smartest countries have found to be the most efficient education reform ever tried. They are making it harder to become a teacher. Ever so slowly, these legislators and educators are beginning to treat the preparation of teachers the way we treat the training of surgeons and pilots—rendering it dramatically more selective, practical, and rigorous. All of which could transform not only the quality of teaching in America but the way the rest of us think about school and learning.
Wisconsin took one very small step toward teacher content knowledge, MTEL a few years ago.
As a guest today in my daughter’s second-grade classroom, full of math-enthusiastic seven-and-eight-year-old girls, I led a mathematical investigation of graph coloring, chromatic numbers, map coloring and Eulerian paths and circuits. I brought in a pile of sample graphs I had prepared, and all the girls made up their own graphs and maps to challenge each other. By the end each child had compiled a mathematical “coloring book” containing the results of their explorations. Let me tell you a little about what we did.
We began with vertex coloring, where one colors the vertices of a graph in such a way that adjacent vertices get different colors. We started with some easy examples, and then moved on to more complicated graphs, which they attacked.
We find that the Asian-American educational advantage over whites is attributable mainly to Asian students exerting greater academic effort and not to advantages in tested cognitive abilities or socio-demographics. We test explanations for the Asian–white gap in academic effort and find that the gap can be further attributed to (i) cultural differences in beliefs regarding the connection between effort and achievement and (ii) immigration status. Finally, we highlight the potential psychological and social costs associated with Asian-American achievement success.
Via Laura Waters.
The economic cost of supporting someone with autism over a lifetime is much higher than previously thought, research suggests.
It amounts to £1.5m in the UK and $2.4m in the US for individuals with the highest needs, say UK and US experts.
Autism cost the UK more than heart disease, stroke and cancer combined, said an autism charity.
But only £6.60 per person is spent on autism research compared with £295 on cancer, according to Autistica.
The research looked at the costs to society of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in both the UK and US.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin on Special Education spending (2007).
With college costs continuing to rise and the US economy still sputtering, financial aid for college is more important than ever to families trying to foot the bill. The big question then is what is the future of college financial aid? For that answer I turned to the man at the top, Justin Draeger, the President of the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). The nation’s college aid professionals make up NASFAA’s membership, allowing Draeger to keep his finger on the pulse of what is going on with billions in college aid. Ahead of NASFAA’s annual conference later this month in Nashville, Mr. Draeger took time for the Q&A below.
1. Admissions Deans offer admission to more students than they have room for because they know that not all of those students will enroll. For the same reason, financial aid officers award millions more in aid than is actually budgeted. How do admissions and financial aid professionals collaborate to fill a college’s seats without breaking the financial aid bank?
Generally, the planned collaboration between admission and financial aid offices occurs through an institution’s enrollment management plan and/or policies. This is typically derived from intricate statistical analyses that calculate the probability of students choosing to attend, the students’ expected financial need, and the institutional financial aid dollars available at the school.
The American political system is broken, and one unmistakable sign of it is our inability to bring down soaring levels of student debt or to regulate predatory for-profit colleges. The best solution the Obama administration has been able to propose in this area is a college ratings system that would evaluate colleges on the basis of factors like graduation rates and graduates’ earnings and debt loads.
Frankly, the idea that a ratings system will fix what ails American higher education is a little nuts. It views education as if it were a market like any other, and treats colleges like consumer products. “It’s like rating a blender,” burbled Education Department official Jamienne Studley last week to the New York Times. But while blenders can be tested in a lab, employment statistics can be all too easy to game, as anyone who’s followed recent reporting about bogus law school employment rates can attest.
By taking an approach to regulation that emphasizes “transparency” of information, the Obama administration also places the burden of evaluating schools on students and their families. Less affluent students, who often are poorly advised during the college application process in general, won’t fare particularly well under this system. A more aggressive approach is needed to protect them from the predatory for-profits. For many in this group, far more generous financial aid is needed to make going to college an economically rational decision in the first place.
May 2014 A Pioneer Institute White Paper by Emmett McGroarty, Joy Pullmann, and Jane Robbins New technology allows advocates for education as workforce development to accomplish what has long been out of their reach: the collection of data on every child, beginning with preschool or even earlier, and using that data to track the child throughout his/her academic career and his/her progression through the workforce. This paper explores the many initiatives that the federal government has worked with private entities to design and encourage states to participate in, in order to increase the collection and sharing of student data, while relaxing privacy protections. The authors offer recommendations to protect student privacy, including urging parents to ask what kinds of information are being collected on digital-learning platforms and whether the software will record data about their children’s behaviors and attitudes rather than just academic knowledge. If parents object to such data-collection, they should opt out. The authors also urge state lawmakers to pass student privacy laws, and they recommend that Congress correct the 2013 relaxation of FERPA.
Take two education activists with very different theories — and give them a chance to work together on a goal they both care about. That’s the thinking in the video above, the kick-off of Microsoft’s new Work Wonders project, which pairs up unlikely collaborators to spark new ideas. Watch as TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra joins forces with TEDx speaker Adam Braun to tackle a bold mission: Use technology to rethink education in severely underserved communities.
They’re a bit of an odd couple. Mitra, who created the School in the Cloud to enable kids to explore questions that matter to them on their own, believes that traditional schools are becoming more and more obsolete; meanwhile Braun, who founded Pencils of Promise to rally communities in the developing world to build schools, believes that traditional classrooms are the answer to opening up opportunity.
Above, watch the first in a series of mini-docs following this collaboration as it unfolded over the past three months. This episode shows Mitra and Braun meeting for the first time and thinking about how the other’s talents could help strengthen their own vision.
Microsoft, a longtime TED partner, will be revealing more episodes over the next month, so you can join the pair as they explore how to adapt Mitra’s Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) tools for use in three Pencils of Promise schools in Ghana, with the help of Office 365 products and services, and how to build a SOLE starter kit to roll out across Pencils of Promise’s global network. This kit, designed with the needs of underserved communities in mind, could even get distribution far beyond that.
This report breaks down teacher attendance for 40 districts in the nation’s largest cities in the 2012-2013 school year. We identify districts with the greatest percentage of teachers with excellent attendance as well as those with the biggest percentages of chronically absent teachers. In addition to identifying districts that are leaders and laggards in school attendance, the report takes a look at the impact of school poverty levels on teacher attendance and whether or not policies to curb absences made a difference.
Usually when we think about the parent heading to a PTO meeting, our minds go to moms, but a program in Sun Prarie schools is trying to change that.
They’re called WatchDOGS, DOGS standing for “Dads Of Great Students.”
Every morning at Horizon Elementary School, Principal Rainey Briggs introduces the men who came in for the day to look after the halls and participate in classrooms to the entire student body.
Briggs said the program has grown to be so popular that they had to add days when dads come in.
“It gives us another set of eyes in the building. It gives us another person in the classroom who really wants to be that positive role model for kids from a male’s perspective,” Briggs said.
The second-graders paraded to the Dumpster in the rear parking lot, where they chucked boxes of old work sheets, notebooks and other detritus into the trash, emptying their school for good.
Benjamin Banneker Elementary closed Wednesday as New Orleans’ Recovery School District permanently shuttered its last five traditional public schools this week.
With the start of the next school year, the Recovery School District will be the first in the country made up completely of public charter schools, a milestone for New Orleans and a grand experiment in urban education for the nation.
The way I thought you used a dictionary was that you looked up words you’ve never heard of, or whose sense you’re unsure of. You would never look up an ordinary word — like example, or sport, or magic — because all you’ll learn is what it means, and that you already know.
Indeed, if you look up those particular words in the dictionary that comes with your computer — on my Mac, it’s the New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd Edition — you’ll be rewarded with… well, there won’t be any reward. The entries are pedestrian:
example /igˈzampəl/, n. a thing characteristic of its kind or illustrating a general rule.
It’s a frequent complaint in education journalism: Reporters should spend less time at school board meetings and get into a classroom to find out what’s really going on.
For reporters, though, that’s a challenge and a risk, because lots of good journalists don’t know what to look for in a busy classroom. How do you know if what you’re seeing is “good” or not? After all, reporters aren’t professional educators. And they’re often under deadline.
Sometimes, this can even backfire — when a quick visit to add “color” to a story leads to shortcuts or hasty conclusions. What if a reporter shows up without knowing, for instance, that a fire drill that morning completely distracted the students and got them all excited? Or that 12th-graders in the period right after lunch are way more boisterous and engaged than the sleep-deprived zombies that stumble into 8 a.m. homeroom?
There are myriad books and professional development materials devoted to the study of learning styles. The problem, says University of Virginia cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham, PhD, is that most of them don’t rely on good science.
“If you talk to teachers frequently, they’re surprised there isn’t a firm research base for different learning styles,” says Willingham, author of the books “When Can You Trust the Experts?” and “Why Don’t Students Like School?”
That lack of good information is among the reasons Willingham has devoted his work to researching the application of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to K–12 education — and popularizing the information for the general public. In addition to providing commentary about science and education on the education blog RealClearEducation.com, he is working to help schools and families determine which educational approaches — from games and software to training programs and workbooks — are scientifically supported and worth adopting.
Willingham spoke with the Monitor about the importance of offering students a challenging curriculum and providing motivation and praise to help struggling students.
What are some of the other unfounded beliefs teachers have about what works in the classroom?
One example is so-called neuromyths, or beliefs that some educators may have about the brain. For example, the characterization of left-brain versus right-brain thinking is not well-supported and really never has been.
The truth is that most teachers in my experience really have a lot of common sense. There are ideas that are peddled to them that are wrong, but most teachers are pretty skeptical of them. They’re in the classroom every day, so they have a sense of what works and what doesn’t work with kids.
Recent hand-wringing about income inequality has focused on the gap between the top 1% and everyone else. A new paper argues that the more telling inequities exist among the 99%, primarily driven by education.
“The single-minded focus on the top 1% can be counterproductive given that the changes to the other 99% have been more economically significant,” says David Autor, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and author of the study.
His paper, “Skills, Education and the Rise of Earnings Inequality Among the ‘Other 99 Percent’,” comes as something of riposte to French economist Thomas Piketty, whose bestselling “Capital in the 21st Century” has ignited sales and conversation around the world with its historical look at the fortunes of the top 1%.
The news: Congratulations, class of 2014!
Not for graduating — though that’s nice, too — but for earning one of the more dubious distinctions in recent memory: You’ve officially been named “the most indebted class ever.”
According to the Wall Street Journal and data compiled by analyst Mark Kantrowitz, the average loan-holding 2014 college graduate will have to pay back $33,000. That’s up from around $31,000 in 2013 and under $10,000 in 1993:
Americans are struggling to save for retirement at a time of still-high unemployment rates, rising college costs and stagnant wages. For many workers, individual circumstances lead to inadequate savings. But for public school teachers, poorly structured retirement policies hinder their future security.
At more than 3 million, teachers are the largest class of U.S. workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Unfortunately, policymakers are undermining the future retirement security of this large and important group of workers. In our recent paper, “Friends Without Benefits: How States Systematically Shortchange Teachers’ Retirement and Threaten Their Retirement Security,” we used pension-plan assumptions for all 50 states and the District of Columbia to estimate that, in the median state, more than half of all teachers won’t qualify for even a minimal pension. Fewer than one in five teachers will work a full career and reach the pension plan’s “normal retirement age.” Most will leave their public service with little retirement savings.
This story doesn’t fit with the popular perception of teacher pensions as more generous than private-sector retirement benefits. That’s because the real story of teacher pensions today involves a small number of relatively big winners and a much larger group of losers.
Tabtor is an expensive iPad math-teaching app for kindergartners through sixth graders. Although free to download and try for two weeks, thereafter it costs $50 a month per child.
At first glance, Tabtor — the name is “tablet tutor” mashed together — does not look particularly different from the hundreds of other math offerings in Apple’s app store and the gazillion math-drill software programs on personal computers.
For each problem, there is space on the touch screen to scribble calculations with a finger or a stylus before punching in the answer on an on-screen keypad. A green check mark and a pleasing clanging sword sound greet a correct answer; a wrong one gets a red “X” and a less pleasing clang. There is a second chance to get the problem right.
So what does the $50 a month buy? Unlike any other math teaching app I’ve encountered, it comes with a human being.
I’m not that old, and I’ve already seen a lot of proposals for solving “poverty” come and go. Many—think Head Start—are tied up in education. The current debate around education tends to run in two directions: one group wants to improve parenting, or ameliorate poverty, or something along those lines, having seen innumerable correlative studies demonstrating that rich kids on average do better than poor kids at school. The other group—the one I belong to—tends to think that we could do a lot for schools, and especially big urban schools, through some combination of charters, vouchers, and/or weakening the power of teachers’s unions. For more on why the latter group thinks as we do, see the many links in this post.
This has a lot to do with education because, as I noted in the first paragraph, people who are relatively okay with the educational status quo tend to want to address things outside of school first. Diane Ravitch is a great leader for this group. I’ve read two of Ravitch’s books on education—Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education—and to read her work is to respect her knowledge and erudition. She moved from a strong educational reformer who favored charter schools to someone who… I don’t know how to characterize her current position other than to say she doesn’t favor charters or vouchers. She does observe the many ways particular charter schools haven’t done very well, but in my view they haven’t been worse than the urban schools they competed with, and some have done much better.
Overall, Ravitch wants to reduce poverty, but as noted above I’m skeptical of social or government forces to do so. In Reign of Error, her most recent book—I’m not all the way through it—she says that public schools are better than they’re commonly depicted. She’s somewhat right: relatively wealthy suburban schools are okay. But that pretty much leaves urban schools (L.A., Chicago, New York, Newark) to languish, and those are the areas and schools that are most promising for vouchers.
The final thing I’ll note is that a lot of people favor “more” money for schools. Overall, inflation-adjusted funding has roughly doubled on a per-pupil basis, per the New Yorker article, and overall funding is quite high—including in screwed up districts like Washington D.C.’s. The Great Stagnation also discusses this dynamic. So while “more” money for school districts may or may not be a good thing, it’s apparent that more money does not automatically lead to better results.
One warm and misty May morning in Columbus, Mississippi, the lobby of the classroom building at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) (more) was full of teen-agers milling about, waiting for morning classes to begin.
In one corner of the glassy space was a grandfather clock, probably about 8 feet tall, constructed by one of the students out of brightly colored plastic pieces. (Right.) On the hour, a little white ball would roll down a chute, tripping levers to ring a small chime. Upstairs in one of the science rooms was a 3-D printer, a rough-and-ready contraption that, with a little more luck, is approaching the final stages of actually printing something. Another of the students, a senior, had made it himself. I recognized several other students whom I had seen performing in an after-school stage production, one dressed as Eco-Man in blue and green tights, cape, and mask.
MSMS is a public boarding school in Columbus, occupying a few of the more modest buildings on the grounds of the elegant Mississippi University for Women, is called “The W”. The men who have enrolled at The W since it became co-ed, say they always have a time explaining themselves to those not in the know.
n the classroom, I can be formidable: I’ve been known to drill-sergeant lethargic students out of their chairs and demand burpees; I am a master of the I’m Not Mad, I’m Just Disappointed scowl. And yet, when it comes to assigning an end-of-semester letter value to their results, I am a grade-A milquetoast. It’s grading time once again, and I’m a softie as usual: Of my current 33 students, 20 are getting either A’s or A-minuses.
It’s not that I just “give” students good grades. Each course I teach has a meticulous assessment breakdown, taking into account participation, homework, quizzes, and essays—and for the latter, I grade with a rubric, which both minimizes griping and allows me to be slightly fair. But even with all of these “hard-ass” measures, the ugly truth is that to get below a B+ in my class, you have to be a total screw-up. I’m still strict with my scale—it’s just that said scale now goes from “great” to “awesome.” It’s pathetic, I know. But when you see what professors today are up against, maybe you’ll understand.
If I graded truly fairly—as in, a C means actual average work—the “customers” would do their level best to ruin my life. Granted, there exist professors whose will to power out-powers grade-gripers. There are stalwarts who remain impervious to students’ tenacious complaints, which can be so single-minded that one wonders what would happen if they had applied one-fifteenth of that focus to their coursework. I admire and cherish those professors, but I am not one of them. You know why? Because otherwise, at the end of every semester, my life would become a 24-hour brigade of this:
A decade ago, Joyce decided to fund research and advocacy on the importance of placing a highly effective teacher in each classroom, the best ways to identify and reward excellent teachers, and ways to support those who need additional help improving their work.
Coinciding with our ten-year focus on teacher quality, Bellwether has released Genuine Progress, Great Challenges, a report that documents how the teacher quality movement took hold and propelled policy changes in dozens of states. Along with the report, the interactive narrative above tells the story of progress to date and priorities ahead.
In the next ten years to implement and improve upon the policies we know work best for students and teachers. Children need this. Parents demand this. Teachers deserve this.
Last week, the Wisconsin Reporter reported that the United States Department of Justice is still conducting an “ongoing investigation” into whether Wisconsin’s private-school choice program discriminates against children with disabilities and, as a result, violates federal disability law.
In 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint with the Justice Department accusing the Wisconsin school-choice program—as well as two private schools in the program—of discriminating against children with disabilities. In April 2013, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department sent a letter and legal memo to the state of Wisconsin accusing the school-choice program of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They concluded that unless Wisconsin drastically changes its choice program, the United States will take legal action.
Among its numerous demands, the Justice Department wants private choice schools to be forced to adjust their programming to accommodate all children with disabilities, so long as the accommodation does not “fundamentally alter” the school (an extremely onerous legal standard). Federal disability law, as traditionally interpreted by the U.S. Department of Education, applies a different, less exacting standard to private schools in the choice program. Private schools must only make “minor adjustments” to accommodate students with disabilities. Given that private schools do not receive the same government funding for special education as public schools and may wish to take distinctive approaches to students with behavioral problems, this is perfectly appropriate.
Via Alan Borsuk.
Much more on vouchers, here.
A few months back we took an in-depth look at MIT’s free online Introduction to Computer Science course, and laid out a self-study time table to complete the class within four months, along with a companion post providing learning benchmarks to chart your progress. In the present article, I’ll step back and take a much more broad look at com-sci course offerings available for free on the internet, in order to answer a deceptively straightforward question: is it possible to complete the equivalent of a college bachelor’s degree in computer science through college and university courses that are freely available online? And if so, how does one do so?
The former question is more difficult to answer than it may at first appear. There are, of course, tons of resources relating to computer science and engineering, computer programming, software engineering, etc. that can easily be found online with a few simple searches. However, despite this fact, it is very unlikely that you would find a free, basic computer science curriculum offered in one complete package from any given academic source. The reason for this is fairly obvious. Why pay $50,000 a year to go to Harvard, for example, if you could take all the exact same courses online for free?
Mary Willingham remembers the exact moment when she realized she had to go public. It was at the memorial service in the fall of 2012 for Bill Friday, the former president of the University of North Carolina. During his long career, Friday had championed the amateur ideal — the notion that college athletes needed also to be students, and that academics mattered as much as wins.
Willingham went to the university in Chapel Hill in 2003 as an academic adviser to the school’s athletes, primarily its football and basketball players. She was a reading specialist, a refugee from corporate America who had become a teacher in midlife. “Mary is one of those people who believed in the mythology, that you can do both athletics and academics,” says Richard Southall, who runs the College Sport Research Institute at the University of South Carolina.
But right from the start, she realized that there was a problem: Many of the athletes were coming into college unequipped to do college-level work. Around 2008, she recalls, after the N.C.A.A. changed its eligibility requirements — depending on their G.P.A.’s, athletes could now get in with lower S.A.T. scores — the situation became dramatically worse.
THE conventional wisdom these days is that kids come by everything too easily — stickers, praise, A’s, trophies. It’s outrageous, we’re told, that all kids on the field may get a thanks-for-playing token, in contrast to the good old days, when recognition was reserved for the conquering heroes.
Children are said to be indulged and overcelebrated, spared from having to confront the full impact of their inadequacy. There are ringing declarations about the benefits of frustration and the need for grit.
These themes are sounded with numbing regularity, yet those who sound them often adopt a self-congratulatory tone, as if it took extraordinary gumption to say pretty much what everyone else is saying. Indeed, this fundamentally conservative stance on children and parenting has become common even for people who are liberal on other issues.
he humanities are in crisis again, or still. But there is one big exception: digital humanities, which is a growth industry. In 2009, the nascent field was the talk of the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention: “among all the contending subfields,” a reporter wrote about that year’s gathering, “the digital humanities seem like the first ‘next big thing’ in a long time.” Even earlier, the National Endowment for the Humanities created its Office of Digital Humanities to help fund projects. And digital humanities continues to go from strength to strength, thanks in part to the Mellon Foundation, which has seeded programs at a number of universities with large grants—most recently, $1 million to the University of Rochester to create a graduate fellowship.
What if you could get a 20 percent discount on everything from beer to real estate? You can. You just have to move to Danville, Illinois.
And that’s assuming you live in a town with average prices. Residents of Honolulu and New York, the two most expensive cities in the U.S., would see a 35 percent drop in their cost of living in Danville, according to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Feel like moving to Pittsburgh? Now there’s a city in a sweet spot, with cheap prices and, according to new BEA data that adjust average incomes for local inflation, relatively high incomes. Pittsburgh is 6.6 percent cheaper than the national average, and residents are the 36th best-paid in the U.S., bringing home almost $48,000 annually per person.
Locally, Middleton’s property taxes are 16% less than Madison’s for a similar home.
We have something very important in common: daughters in the seventh grade. Since your family walked onto the national stage in 2007, I’ve had a feeling that our younger daughters have a lot in common, too. Like my daughter Eva, Sasha appears to be a funny, smart, loving girl, who has no problem speaking her mind, showing her feelings, or tormenting her older sister.
There is, however, one important difference between them: Sasha attends private school, while Eva goes to public school. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support your decision to send Malia and Sasha to private school, where it is easier to keep them safe and sheltered. I would have done the same. But because she is in private school, Sasha does not have to take Washington’s standardized test, the D.C. CAS, which means you don’t get a parent’s-eye view of the annual high-stakes tests taken by most of America’s children.
I have been watching Eva take the Massachusetts MCAS since third grade. To tell you the truth, it hasn’t been a big deal. Eva is an excellent student and an avid reader. She goes to school in a suburban district with a strong curriculum and great teachers. She doesn’t worry about the tests, and she generally scores at the highest level.
Much more on the Common Core, here.
igher education has a long and fraught relationship with the labor market. From colonial colleges training clergymen to the Morrill Act, normal schools, and the great 20th-century expansion of mass higher education, colleges have always been in the business of training people for careers. The oldest university in the Western world, in Bologna, started as a law school. Ask students today why they’re going to college and the most common answer is, by far, “to get a job.”
But most colleges don’t like to see themselves that way. In educators’ own minds, they are communities of scholars above all else. Colleges tend to locate their educational missions among the lofty ideals of the humanities and liberal arts, not the pedestrian tasks of imparting marketable skills.
In part, this reflects the legitimate complexity of some institutional missions. But the fact remains that most professors were hired primarily to teach, most institutions are not research universities, most students are enrolled in preprofessional programs, and, it seems, few colleges have undergraduate curricula that match their supposed commitment to the liberal-arts ideal.
One of those whom he inspired was Sister Corita Kent. An unlikely fixture in the Los Angeles art scene, the nun was an instructor at Immaculate Heart College and a celebrated artist who considered Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller and Cage to be personal friends.
In 1968, she crafted the lovely, touching Ten Rules for Students and Teachers for a class project. While Cage was quoted directly in Rule 10, he didn’t come up with the list, as many website sites claim. By all accounts, though, he was delighted with it and did everything he could to popularize the list. Cage’s lover and life partner Merce Cunningham reportedly kept a copy of it posted in his studio until his dying days. You can check the list out below:
RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
One in five teachers have received abuse aimed at them on social media and online forums from parents and pupils – some as young as seven – a survey by the NASUWT union has found.
One teacher about to go on maternity leave was told online by a parent: “My son will fail now because of you.”Another discovered a Facebook page set up by a pupil claiming the teacher wanted to kill him. One pupil told a teacher via Twitter: “You are a paedo and your daughter is a whore.”
About 7,500 teachers responded to a survey on the use of technology conducted by the NASUWT, which is holding its annual conference in Birmingham.
Spending lots of time on Facebook looking at pictures of friends could make women insecure about their body image, research suggests.
The more women are exposed to “selfies” and other photos on social media, the more they compare themselves negatively, according to a study.
Friends’ photos may be more influential than celebrity shots as they are of known contacts, say UK and US experts.
The study is the first to link time on social media to poor body image.
The mass media are known to influence how people feel about their appearance.
But little is known about how social media impact on self-image.
It was trending on Twitter all day on Tuesday: #ReligiousFreedomForAll. The impetus was the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case being argued before the Supreme Court, and disgust over government forcing people to pay for medical treatments they find immoral. But if people cared about public schooling as much as they do Obamacare, hashtags defending all kinds of freedom would be the daily norm on Twitter.
Just like Obamacare, public schools — government institutions for which all people must pay — regularly violate basic rights. They have to: Among many curbs on freedom, to avoid chaos schools have to have rules about what students and teachers can say, and decisions must be made about what is — and is not — taught.
Consider the nationally covered Easton Area School District v. B.H. case (colloquially known as “I (Heart) Boobies”), which the Supreme Court refused to hear a few weeks ago. It involved two students in Easton, PA, who were suspended for wearing pink, breast-cancer-awareness bracelets that carried the “boobies” message. The district argued that the bracelets, with their intentionally attention-grabbing message, threatened school“decorum” and “the civility of discussion in the classroom.”
A new report from the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now looks at the state’s education system.
Christine Lopes of RI-CAN said Thursday that the group looks at statewide date to measure trends and outcomes.
This is the fourth report generated in four years, and this year a focus is on earning power for students who graduate from a high school in Rhode Island.
“We found that a high school graduate in Rhode Island can earn about $25,000 a year. What’s even more startling is there’s a $40,000 a year gap between a student who graduates high school and a student that has a bachelor’s or higher,” Lopes said.
State Education Commission Deborah Gist said she wasn’t completely surprised by that.
I have been compiling data on college-level courses and exams at every public high school in the Washington area since 1998. It’s fun, like collecting baseball cards. Sometimes schools make progress. Sometimes they slip. Sometimes I find weird and exciting statistical jumps.
This year, the numbers from Stafford County triggered my curiosity. Three of its schools had big increases in Advanced Placement tests given last May. Those are difficult three-hour exams at the end of tough courses. Many students who would do well in them don’t take them, even though they help prepare for college. But at Colonial Forge High School, the number of AP tests jumped 25 percent. Tests at North Stafford High were up 56 percent. At Stafford High, the increase was 105 percent, from 543 to 1,113 tests. The passing rates declined slightly from the previous year, but the number of tests with passing scores was much higher.
My daughter is in elementary school. She hates math, but she loves to count her own money! I have used her allowance to help bring basic mathematics alive, including some of the lessons created by the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability exhibited on the website Money As You Grow. These are 20 essential, age-appropriate financial lessons — with corresponding activities — written explicitly for parents. At a time when parents are most involved with their children’s lives, this is an ideal resource to engage them about teaching money management skills at home.
Schools are beginning to partner with organizations and provide matched savings programs, which enlist donors to make contributions to low-income children’s college accounts. My dream would be to see these opportunities available for every student. I doubt that matched savings programs in our elementary schools are scalable in the immediate future, but they may be in the years that lie ahead. Research has found that such opportunities lead to improvements in knowledge and attitudes toward money.
However, schools don’t need a matched savings program partner to integrate financial literacy skills. As you will read below, there are a number of ways that financial literacy can be integrated into English and mathematics.
People are always joking about our robot overlords, but before robots become the world’s rulers, they’re probably going to be our bosses at work first. Either way, it’s important to know how pliable we humans are going to be.
Researchers at the University of Manitoba were curious about how far people would go in obeying the commands of a robot, so they designed an experiment that echoes Stanley Milgram’s infamous obedience studies, in which many participants obeyed an authority figure who told them to administer painful electrical shocks to strangers.
Substitute a small but slightly evil-sounding humanoid robot for the lab-coated researcher, and give the participants a really, really boring task rather than a morally fraught one, and you have the set up below. It’s actually a little uncomfortable to watch.
The authors lived for a year in a “party” dorm in a large midwestern flagship public university (not mine) and kept up with the women in the dorm till after they had graduated college. The thesis of the book is that the university essentially facilitates (seemingly knowingly, and in some aspects strategically) a party pathway through college, which works reasonably well for students who come from very privileged backgrounds. The facilitatory methods include: reasonably scrupulous enforcement of alcohol bans in the dorms (thus enhancing the capacity of the fraternities to monopolize control of illegal drinking and, incidentally, forcing women to drink in environments where they are more vulnerable to sexual assault); providing easy majors which affluent students can take which won’t interfere with their partying, and which will lead to jobs for them, because they have connections in the media or the leisure industries that will enable them to get jobs without good credentials; and assigning students to dorms based on choice (my students confirm that dorms have reputations as party, or nerdy, or whatever, dorms that ensure that they retain their character over time, despite 100% turnover in residents every year).
The problem is that other students (all their subjects are women), who do not have the resources to get jobs in the industries to which the easy majors orient them, and who lack the wealth to keep up with the party scene, and who simply cannot afford to have the low gpas that would be barriers to their future employment, but which are fine for affluent women, get caught up in the scene. They are, in addition, more vulnerable to sexual assault, and less insulated (because they lack family money) against the serious risks associated with really screwing up. The authors tell stories of students seeking upward social mobility switching their majors from sensible professional majors to easy majors that lead to jobs available only through family contacts, not through credentials. Nobody is alerting these students to the risks they are taking. So the class inequalities at entry are exacerbated by the process. Furthermore, the non-party women on the party floor are, although reasonably numerous, individually isolated—they feel like losers, not being able to keep up with the heavy demands of the party scene. The authors document that the working class students who thrive are those who transfer to regional colleges near their birth homes.
It is no secret that the United States has a weight problem. Roughly 30 percent of American adults are clinically obese, or have a body mass index of at least 30. That’s more than 175 pounds for someone who’s 5 foot 4, the average height of an American woman; or more than 203 pounds for someone who’s 5 foot 9, the average height of an American man. Obesity is associated with a whole host of health issues — diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, heart attack and on and on — meaning that for many of us, diet is the real killer.
Obesity rates have risen over time, especially in children. The disease we now refer to as Type 2 diabetes used to be called “adult-onset diabetes.” One of the main reasons for the name change is that the onset became increasingly common in children, caused by obesity.
With this backdrop, the headlines last month about declines in childhood obesity were remarkable and encouraging. Here’s how The New York Times described it: “Obesity Rate in Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade.” This and other articles went on to describe a huge decrease — from 13.9 percent to 8.4 percent — in the obesity rate for children between the ages of 2 and 5. The articles cited all sorts of reasons for the drop, including that kids are drinking less soda and that more mothers are engaged in breastfeeding. First lady Michelle Obama’s push for kids to exercise more and eat healthier foods also got credit.
While we are busy working in the present day on the improvement of all of our schools, a key aspect of our long-term strategy must include the addition or integration of unique programs or school models that meet identified needs. However, to ensure that these options are strategic and that they enhance our focus rather than distract from it, we need to build a comprehensive and thoughtful strategy.
We need to think in depth about how options like additional district charter schools would meet the needs of our students, how they would support our vision and close opportunity gaps for all. The things we are learning now from our high school reform collaborative, which was just launched, and the review of our special education and alternative programs, which is now in progress, will be powerful information to help build that strategy over the coming school year.
Until we establish that more comprehensive long-term strategy, together with the Board and with direction and input from our educators and families, we don’t believe now is the time to move individual proposals forward. Both the district and those proposing a charter option should have the guidance of a larger strategy to ensure that any proposal would meet the needs of our students and accomplish our vision.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of our nation’s finest universities, ranking 30th in the latest U.S. News and World Report list of top schools and eighth on Forbes’ list of top public colleges. And the bit of drivel above apparently earned an A-minus, according to ESPN.
Why? Simple. That paper was written by an athlete for a class specifically designed to keep them moving through the university.
“Athletes couldn’t write a paper,” Mary Willingham, a specialist in the school’s learning-support system-turned-whistleblower, told ESPN. “They couldn’t write a paragraph. They couldn’t write a sentence yet.” She said that some of the students were reading at a second- or third-grade level, which is considered illiterate for a college-age student. As Willingham notes, in the “AFAM” classes, players were notching As and Bs, but in actual classes such as Biology and Economics were receiving Ds and Fs.
WHEN Central Falls—a city of 19,000 people squeezed into barely one square mile—filed for bankruptcy in 2011, it sent shivers across Rhode Island and America. Some retired civil servants saw their pensions cut from $27,000 a year to $12,000. To stop the state from heading in the same direction, Gina Raimondo, its treasurer (pictured), launched a campaign to overhaul Rhode Island’s pension system, one of many that is in deep trouble (see map). She went from town to town explaining why change was needed, earning a reputation as a fiscally responsible Democrat with a bright political future. The legislature passed reforms in November 2011.
The Match Education organization has developed a reputation over the past 12 years for operating several high-quality charter schools throughout the Boston area. Now the organization is garnering national attention for its approach to training future teachers. It all began in 2008, when Match officials opened a two-year teacher training program for graduate students, known as Match Teacher Residency (MTR). The MTR program only recently graduated its fifth group of students, but it already has a reputation among school leaders for producing the best and most effective first-year teachers in the nation.
“Their teachers are the best from any graduate school of education in America,” says Scott Given, CEO of Unlocking Potential, an organization dedicated to turning around failing schools. “When we have teacher resumes from the grad schools at Harvard, Stanford and Match, we move fastest to consider the Match candidate. It’s not even a close call.”
Other education leaders apparently share Given’s enthusiasm for Match-trained teachers. According to Match officials, all MTR graduates get hired by a high-performing school (usually a charter school) immediately after they complete the program. School leaders seek out MTR graduates not only because they’re well-prepared for the classroom, but because they’re likely to stay there. Of the 110 individuals who have completed the MTR program, 90 percent of them are still in the classroom. That’s a stunning accomplishment – especially in light of new National Council on Teacher Quality analysis that concludes most teacher colleges constitute “an industry of mediocrity” that cranks out thousands of graduates unprepared for the classroom.
The traditional approach to teacher training
So how is Match succeeding in producing effective teachers when so many other programs are failing? To understand that, it’s necessary to understand how the typical teacher prep program is designed. The problems begin with the selection process. Most university-based schools of education will accept almost anyone as a student, as long as they meet modest academic requirements and have a valid student loan account.
Once enrolled, the typical teachers-to-be spend the first couple of semesters reading books and writing papers about the various theories behind classroom management, instructional techniques and discipline. They also spend an alarming amount of time learning how to bring left wing social justice causes into the classroom. After that, they serve part of a semester as a practicum in an actual classroom. This practice mostly involves observing and journaling about how a professional educator handles a classroom. If they’re lucky, the future teachers will eventually be asked to help out with various tasks, such as grading papers or helping struggling students.
It’s only during their last semester that the future teachers are allowed to actually lead a classroom on their own. During those few months, the student teachers get to practice the various theories they’ve been learning about in class. Once they pass their student teaching experience – as determined by feedback from their supervising teacher and observations from their professors – they’ll receive their teaching certificate. As a result of their limited hands-on training, most of these beginning teachers will stumble and fumble their way through their first years on the job. Nearly half of them will become so frustrated and overwhelmed that they’ll walk away from the profession within five years.
‘The only program that kicks people out’
Compare that to Match Education’s approach. Like other leaders of elite organizations, Match officials are extremely selective of whom they let into their program. Match Teacher Residency applicants are carefully screened to ensure they possess the academic skills and mental toughness necessary to become successful, “no excuses” teachers. Despite attracting interest from some of the nation’s top college graduates, Match officials invite less than 10 percent of all applicants to join the MTR program.
Immediately upon entering the program, the future teachers (called “residents”) serve as tutors at one of Match Education’s Boston-area charter schools. Four days a week, the trainees work closely with a small group of struggling students. On Fridays and Saturdays during that first year, the residents also take graduate-level classes in which they’re provided with very specific ways on how to best manage a classroom, teach math and English, and use student data to improve their teaching. These classes also help to advance Match’s vision of social justice, which is to help disadvantaged students flourish academically.
Match residents also participate in weekly teaching simulations. The Match website explains this unique practice: “Residents take turns teaching short lessons to one another, with a (professor) watching. As one resident teaches, the others act as students. They answer questions (sometimes correctly, sometimes not), try to pay attention (but sometimes fail), sometimes misbehave intentionally, and do other things that ‘real students’ tend to do.” After each six-minute practice session, the resident receives very specific feedback from the professor and their peers about areas in which they need to improve. Residents participate in 80 of these practice sessions.
Halfway through their first year, MTR students’ skills are put to the test in one final high-stakes classroom teaching simulation. If a resident demonstrates a basic level of competence in managing a classroom and instructing students, he or she is allowed to move on to the student teaching phase of the program. And if a resident doesn’t meet expectations? “This is the only program that kicks people out for not having adequate skills,” says Scott McCue, MTR’s chief operating officer, “though it’s never been more than 10 percent who are asked to leave.” Another 20 percent may leave the program, for various reasons.
The majority of Match residents move on to student teaching, which lasts from January through May of that first year, and resumes in July for a special summer school session. Each student teacher is observed on a daily basis by their MTR instructor. By the end of their student teaching and the simulations, Match trainees have received hundreds of hours of experience in the classroom – and a full-time job offer from a high-performing, high-needs urban school.
In a promotional video, one MTR graduate explains how her extensive training prepared her to handle whatever comes her way. “Because of that, I know there is nothing that can go wrong in a classroom that can throw me off my guard,” the unidentified teacher says. “I’m like, ‘Seen that, done that. What’s next? Bring it on.'”
Landing a paid, full-time teaching position doesn’t mean residents are finished with the MTR program. Before MTR students are awarded their Master’s Degree in Effective Teaching from Match, they must first demonstrate their effectiveness over the course of a full school year. To determine this, Match Education officials rely heavily on multiple forms of data – from student growth (as measured through test scores), feedback from student surveys, and performance scores given by school principals.
“We are obsessively data-driven,” McCue says. According to McCue, the biggest source of data comes from “blind evaluations” conducted by third-party observers. The observers visit multiple classrooms in a school and rate each teacher’s performance. The evaluations are considered “blind” because the observer doesn’t know which teachers are from Match and which aren’t. Once an MTR-trainee passes all the quality checkpoints, he or she receives a degree – and their employer receives an educator who can be counted on to produce strong academic results from students.
‘Everything is replicable’
The Match Teacher Residency is undeniably intense, but the program’s rigorous demands serve a greater purpose – namely, to close the achievement gap that exists between America’s white and minority students. The Match website notes that “MTR graduates are expected to teach for two years in a school that serves a majority of high-poverty students.” Graduates can choose to work in a traditional public school setting, but Match officials purposely gear the training “for a specific type of urban charter school that tends to offer a very different experience for teachers and students than the surrounding district schools.” “Because of that, we strongly believe that our graduates will be most effective in these types of charter schools,” the website reads.
But could the Match approach be adopted by traditional teacher colleges? Kate Walsh, president of National Center on Teacher Quality, thinks so. “Everything is replicable to some degree,” Walsh tells EAGnews. She especially likes Match’s practice of having future teachers “ease into the profession” by serving as tutors. “Those teachers are learning in a responsible way how to enter a classroom,” Walsh says.
Match’s “how-to” approach to teacher training won’t appeal to those who believe teaching is an art, not a science. McCue understands that criticism, but firmly believes “there’s more science behind becoming a really effective first-year teacher” than art. “But we’re not experts on becoming a master, 10-year teacher. Maybe there’s more art to that,” McCue says. “Our baseline is that nobody is especially good at this job when they start. But with a data-driven approach, teachers can get real good, real fast.”
When Parker Sheffy, a first-year teacher in the Bronx Leadership Academy II, a high school in the South Bronx, talks shop with friends who are also new teachers, he often hears about the problems they are facing: students not showing up to class on time, not understanding their work, not doing homework. “I’m thinking: I don’t have that problem… I don’t have that problem…” Sheffy recalled. In his ninth grade integrated algebra class, he estimates that 80 to 90 percent are on track to pass the Regents exam, more than double last year’s figure.
“But I have to remind myself that this is not just because of me,” Sheffy said. “I’m one of six people who have created this class.”
Sheffy’s school is one of three New York City public schools working with an organization called Blue Engine, which recruits and places recent college graduates as full-time teaching assistants in high schools, helps teachers shift to a small-group classroom model with a ratio of one instructor for roughly every six students, uses data tracking to generate rapid-fire feedback so problems can be quickly addressed, and provides weekly instruction in “social cognition” classes, where students are introduced to skills and concepts — such as the difference between a “fixed” and a “growth” mind-set — that can help them grasp their untapped potential.
Blue Engine also targets algebra, geometry and English language arts in the ninth and 10th grades because performance in these so-called “gateway” courses is associated with college success.
Despite its modest size and short track record, Blue Engine has already seized the attention of educators and attracted notice from President Obama. Last year, in its schools, as a result of the program, the number of students who met the “college ready” standard — scoring above 80 on their Regents exams in algebra, geometry or English language arts — nearly tripled, from 49 to 140.
Katherine Callaghan, the principal of the Bronx Leadership Academy II, who has worked in the school for more than 10 years, said: “Blue Engine has moved a huge number of our students in a way that nothing else that we’ve ever tried has been able to do.” She added: “Last year we had a 44 percent pass rate on the integrated algebra Regents, with two kids scoring above an 80. This year, we’re on track for 75 or 80 percent passing, with 20 kids hitting the college-ready mark. We’re close to doubling our pass rate and multiplying by a factor of 10 our college-ready rate.”
Gains like this are not often seen in education. So it’s worth taking note. What’s happening?
Read more here.
Please use a sharp No. 2 pencil and gloves to fill in each circle completely or maybe a little less.
1. Agree or Disagree? “It is my duty as a pedagogue to help each and every pupil arrive at the correct answer.”
2. When helping each and every pupil arrive at the correct answer, which pedagogical method do you find most effective?
(c) jumbo eraser
3. A troubled student has defaced the playground with graffiti that reads, “This school sucks.” Would you:
(a) defer to the school psychologist
(b) vigorously scrub the “k” with turpentine and spray paint the letters “c, e, e, d” in its place.
4. Teaching fine motor skills is a crucial component of early childhood education. Please rate your level of proficiency in this area.
(a) somewhat proficient
(b) less than proficient
(c) extremely proficient
5. If you selected “a” or “b,” please demonstrate your fine motor skill proficiency by applying the pink tip of your writing implement to the circle, and using a series of tightly controlled wrist motions to restore the page to its original state. Remove traces of rubber residue by pursing your lips and exhaling upon the page while concurrently brushing it with the side of your gloved pinkie finger. Darken circle “c.”
6. Because many children are not developmentally capable of mastering verbal articulation, they frequently say the opposite of what they truly mean. Do you believe this extends to their written work as well?
7. When Lily wrote that 2+2=17 on her math test, what did Lily truly mean?
8. Please refer to Question 5.
9. What do you like better, permanent markers or dry erase markers?
10. Jimmy has failed five quizzes, six tests and one midterm. On his final exam, Jimmy gets every answer right. How do you predict the principal will react?
(a) “Jimmy is engaged in wrongdoing.”
(b) “Jimmy’s teacher is doing an outstanding job.”
11. In basic algebra, when does X=Y?
(a) when X^2 < Y (b) when X/2=πr^2 (c) when you erase the bottom right part of the X 12. Studies show that children who do poorly in school experience decreased self-esteem. Do you consider yourself to be the type of instructor who wants to decrease a child's self-esteem? (a) Yes, I want to decrease a child's self-esteem. (b) No, I do not wish to decrease a child's self-esteem. 13. Cognitive psychologists have identified several key ways in which individuals retain and share the information they hear on a daily basis. Which of the following techniques do you find most useful? (a) note taking (b) review sessions (c) wiretap 14. If you chose C, we are sorry, but we do not have any openings at this time. Thank you for thinking of the Atlanta public school system.
It seems like an odd jump from the flexible anti-structure that gives Brown its laid-back reputation to a school where kindergartners are called “scholars” and get demerits for slumping. But for the six Brown alums who work as tutors at Match Corps: Boston, it’s not a question of autonomy — it’s a question of equality.
Match Corps is a one-year fellowship program that brings top college graduates to tutor disadvantaged youth in the Boston area. At Match charter schools, tutors work with small groups, often one-on-one, and form close relationships with students and their families, according to the program’s website.
“Match’s mission is to help all students succeed in college and beyond by giving them the best education they can get,” said Match Corps COO Michael Larsson.
The program directs its efforts toward helping kids in city schools in an effort to overcome the stereotype that students in urban areas are unable to achieve their full potentials. If students in urban public schools are less equipped for success, it is because they are “historically extremely underserved in the education system,” said Reuben Henriques ’12, a current member of Match Corps.
Henriques said he is a firm believer that providing all students with “equal access to structures of power” through skills like reading and critical thinking is crucial not only for the individuals but also for society as a whole.
“A democracy needs people who can advocate for themselves and function in a healthy debate — not just rich, white students, but everyone,” he said.
More about the Match Public Charter School, the Match Corps, and the Match Teacher Residency Program here.
At the 2012 meeting, physics was on the agenda again. The hottest topic was particle physics because mid-way through the meeting, scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs particle. The following morning, we filmed George Smoot and Martinus Veltman as they digested the news with three young researchers. Veltman, who helped to shape the standard model of particle physics, was surprising cynical about the discovery. See his reaction in film 3: Is dark matter real? The other films deal with the relationship between theory and experiment, the state of science education, the looming energy crisis and in film 1 we ask: is this the golden age of astronomy? As you’ll see, the Nobel laureates and young physicists in our films have quite different views on these matters.
How would you like to go to MIT – for free? You can now. Starting this spring, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be offering free online courses to anyone, anywhere in the world, through its new digital arm, MITx. These courses will be much more than lectures on videotape. Students will be able to interact with other students online and have access to online labs and self-assessment tools. And here’s the really revolutionary part: If you can show you’ve learned the material, for a small fee, MITx will give you a credential to prove it. No, it’s not a full-blown MIT degree. But employers will probably be impressed.
Madison school superintendent Dan Nerad unveiled his long awaited, and much anticipated plan (mp3 audio) to close the district’s more than 40-year-old racial achievement gap Monday night before the full school board and around 75 citizens who packed into a room inside the Fitchburg library.
The 109-page plan, titled “Building Our Future: The Preliminary Plan for Eliminating Gaps in MMSD Student Achievement,” makes about 40 recommendations at a cost of $60.3 million over the next five years.
Several recommendations called for building on existing programs, like AVID/TOPS, an acclaimed program that focuses on students in the academic middle.
Others, like a “parent university,” a model school for culturally relevant teaching, career academies within the high schools and a student-run youth court, would be new to the district.
Ideally, substantive program review in necessities such as reading and math would occur prior to the addition of new spending.
Matthew DeFour helpfully puts dollars ($105,600,000 over 5 years, about 5.6% of the roughly $1,860,000,000 that the District will spend over the same period) to the proposal. How does that compare with current programs and the proposed the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school?
Los Angeles Unified School District is embroiled in negotiations over teacher evaluations, and will now face pressure from outside the district intended to force counter-productive teacher evaluation methods into use. Yesterday, I read this Los Angeles Times article about a lawsuit to be filed by an unnamed “group of parents and education advocates.” The article notes that, “The lawsuit was drafted in consultation with EdVoice, a Sacramento-based group. Its board includes arts and education philanthropist Eli Broad, former ambassador Frank Baxter and healthcare company executive Richard Merkin.” While the defendant in the suit is technically LAUSD, the real reason a lawsuit is necessary according to the article is that “United Teachers Los Angeles leaders say tests scores are too unreliable and narrowly focused to use for high-stakes personnel decisions.” Note that, once again, we see a journalist telling us what the unions say and think, without ever, ever bothering to mention why, offering no acknowledgment that the bulk of the research and the three leading organizations for education research and measurement (AERA, NCME, and APA) say the same thing as the union (or rather, the union is saying the same thing as the testing expert). Upon what research does the other side base arguments in favor of using test scores and “value-added” measurement (VAM) as a legitimate measurement of teacher effectiveness? They never answer, but the debate somehow continues ad nauseum.
It’s not that the plaintiffs in this case are wrong about the need to improve teacher evaluations. Accomplished California Teachers has published a teacher evaluation report that has concrete suggestions for improving evaluations as well, and we are similarly disappointed in the implementation of the Stull Act, which has been allowed to become an empty exercise in too many schools and districts.
Much more on “value added assessment”, here.
Altogether, Nerad makes about 40 recommendations in six categories — instruction, college and career readiness, culturally relevant practices, school environment, family engagement and staff diversity.
“The plan is based on the view that there isn’t one thing alone the school district can do to eliminate achievement gaps,” Nerad said. “We’re attempting to be comprehensive with the proposal.”
The plan’s projected cost for next year is $12.4 million, which Nerad is recommending come from the district’s untapped property taxing authority under state-imposed limits. The amount includes adding about 67.5 positions, including behavioral support staff, reading specialists and parent liaisons.
Some recommendations wouldn’t take effect until future years. The district estimates they will cost $20.9 million in 2013-14 and $26.6 million by 2016-17. The district doesn’t have the authority to raise property taxes by that amount, though Nerad said part of the discussion in coming months will involve whether the private and nonprofit sectors can help fund the strategies.
“We’re going to have to struggle through the conversation of how to get it done,” Nerad said.
- What Impact do High School Mathematics Curricula have on College (PDF)?
- Wisconsin Property Tax Growth: 1984-2012 (!)
- 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use
- Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
- Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad releases plan to address achievement gap @ Isthmus
Listen to most of the speech via this 25mb .mp3 file.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
February 6, 2011
Greetings Community Member.
This evening, at 6pm at the Fitchburg Library, Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Daniel Nerad will present his plan for eliminating the racial achievement gap in our public schools to the Board of Education. We anticipate there will be many citizens in the audience listening in.
While we are pleased that our advocacy over the last 19 months has resulted in the District developing a plan to address the gap, we are also mindful of history. Our organization has pushed hard for our public school system to embrace change, address the gap and expand educational opportunity many times before.
In the 1960s, Madison learned that a wide gap existed between black and white students in reading, math and high school completion in Madison’s public schools. In the 1970s, the Urban League of Greater Madison reported that just 60% of black students were graduating from the city’s public high schools. In the 1980s, ULGM released a widely reported study that found the average GPA for a black high school student attending the city’s public high schools was 1.58 on a 4.00 scale, with 61% scoring below a 2.0 GPA. It also found that a disproportionate number of black students were enrolled in remedial math and science classes, and that black students were significantly over-represented in special education and school suspensions. Then, in the 1990s, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute issued a report that stated there were two school districts in MMSD, one that poorly served black children and one that served everyone else.
Today, just 48% of black and 56% of Latino students are graduating from high school. Just 1% of black and 7% of Latino high school seniors are academically ready for college. Nearly 40% of all black boys in middle school are enrolled in special education, and more than 60% of black and 50% of Latino high school students earn below a 2.0 GPA.
Over the years, several district-wide efforts have been tried. Unfortunately, many of these efforts have either been discontinued, unevenly implemented, ineffective, lacked the support of parents/community/teachers, or failed to go far enough to address the myriad needs of students, families, teachers and schools. Madison also has a well-documented history of not heeding the advice of leaders and educators of color or educational experts, and not investing in efforts to codify and replicate successful strategies employed by its most effective educators. MMSD also has not acted fast enough to address its challenges and rarely looks beyond its borders for strategies that have proven effective elsewhere in the country.
The stakes are higher now; too high to continue on our present course of incrementalism rooted in our fear of the unknown, fear of significant change, and fear of admitting that our view of Madison being the utopic experience of the Midwest and #1 city in the U.S. doesn’t apply to everyone who lives here. We no longer have the luxury of time to figure out how to address the gap. We cannot afford to lose nearly 300 black, 200 Latino and an untold number of Southeast Asian and underprivileged white students each year from our public schools. And we cannot afford to see hundreds of students leave our school system each year for public and private schools outside of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
We must embrace strategies that work. We must also behave differently than we have in the past, and can no longer afford to be afraid of addressing intersection or race and poverty, and how they are playing out in our schools, social relationships and community, and impacting the educational success of our kids.
Furthermore, we need all hands on deck. Everyone in our community must play a role in shaping the self-image, expectations and outcomes of our children – in school, in the community and at home. Some children have parents who spend more quality time with their career and coworkers than with their family. Some children have a parent or relative who struggles to raise them alone. Some have parents who are out of work, under stress and struggling to find a job to provide for their family. And unfortunately, some children have parents who make bad decisions and/or don’t care about their well-being. Regardless of the situation, we cannot allow the lack of quality parenting to be the excuse why we don’t reach, teach, or hold children accountable and prepare them for the future.
As we prepare to review the Superintendent’s plan, we have developed a rubric that will allow for an objective review of his proposal(s). The attached rubric, which you can access by clicking here, was developed and informed by members of the staff and Board of Director of ULGM, business and community leaders, and teachers and leading experts in the field of K-12 and higher education. The tool will be used by an independent Community Review Panel, organized by the Urban League. pver the next several weeks to vet the plan. The intent of this review is to ensure MMSD has an optimal plan for ensuring that all of the children it serves succeed academically and graduate from high school prepared for college and work.
Specifically, our reasons for establishing this rubric and a Community Review Panel are four-fold:
- Develop an objective and comprehensive understanding of the plan and its many elements;
- Objectively review the efficacy of the plan, its goals and objectives, and desired outcomes;
- Formally communicate thoughts, concerns and ideas for supporting and/or improving the plan; and
- Effectively engage the Madison community in supporting and strengthening its public schools.
We have high expectations of the Superintendent’s plan. We hope for a bold, transformational, aggressive and concise plan, and stand ready to assist the Superintendent and his team in any way we can. We hope you will be standing their with us, with your arms outstretched and ready to uplift or babies – the next generation.
All Hands on Deck!
Team Urban League of Greater Madison
Urban League of Greater Madison 2012 Agenda
This is my third and (I hope) last column in a series on education. If things work as planned this is where I’ll make some broad generalizations that piss-off a lot of people, incite a small riot in the comments section, after which we’ll all feel better and switch to discussing the Facebook IPO. So let’s get to it. I believe that education is broken in the U.S. and probably everywhere else, that it is incapable of fixing itself, and our only significant hope is to be found in the wisdom of Sharon Osbourne.
These conclusions are based on my experiences as a teacher, a parent, on the content of those two previous columns, one visit to OzzFest, and on my having this week read a couple books:
The Learning Edge: what technology can do to educate all children, by Alan Bain and Mark E. Weston.
Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools, by Roger Schank.
Mary Battaglia kindly forwarded this email sent to the Madison School Board:
The high school graduation racial gap has been in the Madison news as though it only affects our fair city. It does not require much research, something the local media has failed to do, to see this is a national concern. According to an analysis called “Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education,” nationally only 47% of black males graduated from high school in 2007. (1) It has been reported that Madison’s graduation rate for black males is 50%. Obviously a pathetic rate compared to the 87% for whites, but what has not been a part of the local conversation is how Madison compares in relationship to the rest of the nation, and perhaps figure out where black males are graduating at a higher rate, and why. The Schott’s report, revealed two communities with large minority populations with much better graduation outcomes than the rest of the nation, Baltimore and Fort Bend, Texas. What MMSD should be looking into is what are these cities doing, and what curricula or community effort has made them successful? One interesting part of the gap for Madison and the state of Wisconsin is the high rate of whites graduating. While Wisconsin is the worst defender in the racial gap, the states total graduation rate is one the highest in the nation.
When you read various assessments of the “reason” for the gap nationally, the theories include the lack of financial investment, lack of good teachers, and the lack of community structure. While I find these proposals reasonable, I fail to understand how in this community they are relevant. MMSD spends well over $13,000 per student, lack the overwhelming urban problems of Milwaukee and Chicago, and have many fine teachers that somehow get non-minority students educated. These excuses ring hallow as to why MMSD has such a poor rate. What does ring true is we are not educating the population as it exist today. In the last 25 years the MMSD’s minority rate has increased from 20% to one closer to 48%. (2) In the last 25 years MMSD has changed from a district of less than 25% free and reduced lunch to one that is closer to 50%. (3)Madison is still teaching to the population of 25 years ago, the students have changed, but the curriculum has not.
Perhaps, MMSD could improve the graduation rate for all students, with a significant change of focus. For example, MMSD’s high school’s emphasize 4 year college candidates when many of the students would do better in a 2 year or technology school focus. There has been an increased coordination with MATC, but what would be beneficial is to offer a dual graduation for students, so as they graduate from MMSD, they also have a 2 year degree or a certificate from MATC. This is a system that has been successful in a high school in North Carolina. (4) A student that wants to head to college still has that opportunity and perhaps a chance to make some money to support the effort. Perhaps, another way to improve graduation outcomes would include an overhaul of the summer school program. Currently, MMSD summer school staff are paid poorly, the programs focus is mostly on students that have flunked their classes and need a recovery grade, and the programs poor reputation have lead many staff to discourage students from participating. (5) Why not invest in a comprehensive retooling of the summer program that provides a better salary for staff, and includes enrichment, regular classes, as well as recovery options. Let’s find a creative summer program with smaller class sizes and build a program that is the envy of the country and one that works. If summer school is going to be provided, then make it an awesome program, not just a warehouse for failing kids. Perhaps, as most research reveals, early education is a key component to better graduation outcomes, and the district finally is getting a 4K program up and running after a decade long battle with the union.
Madison Prep was an idea, but it is a unique group of students that would select to participate in such a rigorous program, which means an already motivated student or parents with very high expectations, both factors that frequently mean a student would do well anyway. MMSD needs to look at students that may not be that motivated or academically talented and assess what works to keep them engaged. The one thing MMSD has no control over is probably the most important issue for a students outcome. Research concludes the number one predictor of a students academic success is parental expectations. (6) Our schools cannot change parental expectations, however, they can change what a student expects. MMSD students need to expect a positive future, a purpose and a reason to stay in school. Not all kids will succeed but more than half of the black male students should. Let’s develop a district that gives all the students the opportunity to succeed.
DPI.wi.gov Public school data
This statement is based on personal experience of having many staff, from middle school up to high school, discourage my daughter who struggles in math from attending summer school. I have also spoke to many parents with the same experience.
*** Of note the data of graduation rate is debated in academic circles as the data is not always standardized. Some data includes GED and 5 year rates others include only 4 year rates.
Mary Kay Battaglia
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.