June/July Comments 6/1/18-7/15/18

Public School Support

The Center for American Progress makes the case for increasing teacher’s salaries. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-k-12/reports/2018/06/14/452130/fact-sheet-yes-increase-salaries-teachers/

Low teacher salaries and how we got there. https://www.erstrategies.org/tap/low_teacher_salaries_101?utm_campaign=ERS%20Newsletters&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=63969625


Curriculum, Instruction, and School Organization

From me. If you get a chance, take a look at Paul Cobb and his co-authors’ book, Systems for Instructional Improvement. This book is a must read for what it actually takes to improve instruction at the school and district level and where things go wrong. Even though the context is middle grade math using a more constructivist math program, the lessons learned apply to any proposed strategy for improvement or use of materials. According to the Math in Common folks (a large, foundation funded math improvement effort in California) the  Cobb findings are consistent with what they have witnessed.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

This is the best, most sophisticated, and specific book I have seen on what it takes to build comprehensive and coherent instructional improvement which works at the school level. Their report is highly specific on issues of translating theory into practice. The project distills all we have been discussing on school implementation of instructional improvement, team building, equity, and continuous improvement. This book should be read by all  of us who are interested in implementation 2.0.

The setting is a four year effort (MIST) in four districts, with an additional four years in two of the districts, focused on middle grades math using Connected Math in three districts and as a supplement in the fourth. (The lessons learned should apply to other materials, other grades, and other subjects).They go into detail on building a coherent strategy of teaching improvement resting on (1) effective and ineffective pull-out professional development on deep math understanding and practice, pedagogical understanding and practice, and beliefs that all students can master and learn from posed problems and how to facilitate that; (2) effective and ineffective coaching; (3) effective and ineffective collaborative team building; and (4) teacher advice networks all reinforcing each other. They examine what worked, what didn’t and why, and what got in the way of improvement efforts. They also delve into the districts role in supporting these efforts especially resources, time, principal (and teacher leader) leadership, and line/staff/departments coordination..

The book is also full of the latest relevant research and where new research needs to occur. It is consistent with the findings of the Math in Common folks (a large California math improvement effort).

My only concern is how complex strategies need to be to produce results, how difficult it is to make these specific strategies effective, and how to develop the expertise and commitments to pull this off. This project, MIST, had top-level researchers and practitioners, a long time period, and continuity of district support and still a great many of the efforts were not that productive. Let’s get some of or group to read this before the presentation by the MIST people, and the set a time for more thorough discussion of how these ideas could be operationalized.


In the same vein an article arguing that investment in teacher professional development is the best way to improve math scores. https://edsource.org/2018/san-francisco-school-finds-key-to-raising-math-scores-teacher-training/599874?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email and challenging myths about learning resulted in improved performance (as the Cobb book finds also). http://www.mdpi.com/2227-7102/8/3/98?utm_source=Youcubed+Updates&utm_campaign=4a92545d45-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_07_10_04_47&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_230e567c40-4a92545d45-162750277

Michael Petrilli argues for the importance of a strong curriculum and effective instructional materials as  key elements in improving schools. https://edexcellence.net/articles/why-dont-districts-do-the-easy-things-to-improve-student-learning?utm_source=National+Education+Gadfly+Weekly&utm_campaign=eb53d07375-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_20_04_21&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ef00e8f50e-eb53d07375-71635837&mc_cid=eb53d07375&mc_eid=ebbe04a807

State school chiefs advocate for a strong curriculum. https://edexcellence.net/articles/education-chiefs-believe-we-should-pay-closer-attention-to-curriculum?utm_source=National+Education+Gadfly+Weekly&utm_campaign=82a16656d0-20160918_LateLateBell9_16_2016_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ef00e8f50e-82a16656d0-71635837&mc_cid=82a16656d0&mc_eid=ebbe04a807

Morgan Polikoff agrees and argues for extensive use of quality instructional materials. The Challenges of Curriculum Materials as a Reform Lever. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-challenges-of-curriculum-materials-as-a-reform-lever/

States should collect more data on what curriculum districts and schools are using. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2018/06/should_states_collect_textbook_info.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=curriculummatters

English learners excel after becoming proficient. https://k-12daily.org/curriculum-instruction/english-learners-excel-after-becoming-proficient

NPR: Let’s Stop Talking About the 30 Million Word Gap. https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/06/01/615188051/lets-stop-talking-about-the-30-million-word-gap

Pam Burdman’s new organization for effective alternative pathways for high/school mathematics. https://justequations.org/

Teach statistics not calculus.https://www.richmond.com/business/christine-chmura/economic-impact-statistics-not-calculus-more-in-demand-by-employers/article_39129efb-3103-519b-bd10-eb4ec47e8fca.html

How a school in Chicago boosted math scores by focusing early on math understanding and language. https://hechingerreport.org/how-to-boost-math-skills-in-the-early-grades/

Marc Tucker question’s the effectiveness of unrestricted school autonomy. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2018/06/school_autonomy_isnt_the_cure-all_you_might_think_it_is.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=top_performers

Marc Tucker reviews the new British Columbia curriculum and finds much to praise. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2018/06/british_columbias_curriculum_a_glimpse_of_the_future.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=top_performers

High-school grades are a better predictor of college performance than SAT or ACT scores. https://dianeravitch.net/2018/06/17/research-high-school-grade-point-average-is-a-better-predictor-of-college-success-than-sat-or-act/

Julian Heilig argues that community schools are a tried and true alternative to charter schools. https://cloakinginequity.com/2018/07/05/is-this-a-tried-and-true-alternative-to-charter-schools/

A great new site for free open education materials. https://im.openupresources.org/   They are offering a very effective 6-8 math program from Illustrative Mathematics which was the highest rated math program ever reviewed by EdReports.



Democratic core values belong in schools. http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teacher_in_a_strange_land/2018/06/do_core_democratic_values_belong_in_schools.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=teacherinastrangeland

A major report on civics in schools by the Brown Center. https://www.brookings.edu/multi-chapter-report/the-2018-brown-center-report-on-american-education/

The Democracy Project report: Overwhelming numbers of Americans believe that democracy is the best form of government but most believe it is getting weaker. https://www.democracyprojectreport.org/report#paragraph-85

Parkland student’s activism traced to strong civics program. https://washingtonmonthly.com/2018/03/05/the-civic-education-program-that-trained-the-parkland-student-activists/

MindShift on how social studies can help young kids make sense of the world. https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20180715MindshiftNewsletterSubscribers&mc_key=00Qi000001WzO2NEAV


Charters, Vouchers, Privatization and Defunding of Public Schools

A major new study published in Education Researcher finds that private school performance is no better than public school performance when adjusted for demographics. http://journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/XfYmtC25VddcCfbA3xiV/full

Jeff Bryant reports on which states are abandoning public education. http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/new-report-reveals-which-states-are-abandoning-public-schools/?link_id=1&can_id=cea050dcef20333abf235c3ba9bc6d51&source=email-new-report-reveals-which-states-are-abandoning-public-schools&email_referrer=email_373699&email_subject=new-report-reveals-which-states-are-abandoning-public-schools

Diane Ravitch’s op ed in the Washington Post on how charters are leading to an unhealthy divide in US education. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charter-schools-are-leading-to-an-unhealthy-divide-in-american-education/2018/06/22/73430df8-7016-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html?utm_term=.f6a72aa8be4e

Jan Resseger reports on how charter schools deplete public school revenue in Ohio. https://janresseger.wordpress.com/2018/06/20/16595/

A similar article in the Washington Post on the decimation of public education in Indiana. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/07/12/whats-really-going-on-in-indianas-public-schools/?utm_term=.e735f6b1cf3f&wpisrc=nl_answer&wpmm=1

A similar report on how charters are eroding San Antonio’s public school system. https://therivardreport.com/charter-takeovers-erode-san-antonios-public-school-system/

Jeremy Mohler: Charter Schools Are NOT Progressive, They Are a Way to Disinvest in Public Schools https://dianeravitch.net/2018/06/24/jeremy-mohler-charter-schools-are-not-progressive-they-are-a-way-to-disinvest-in-public-schools/

Who is behind the movement to privatize our public schools? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/05/30/what-and-who-is-fueling-the-movement-to-privatize-public-education-and-why-you-should-care/?utm_term=.bdd659be0952

Schneider on the myth of New Orleans educational renewal. https://networkforpubliceducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NOLA-Rebirth.pdf

Anti-union forces are attempting to convince teachers to drop the union membership.http://nprillinois.org/post/union-alternatives-woo-illinois-teachers#stream/0

Lessons from the failure of vouchers in Chile. https://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2018/06/chilean-voucher

Joanne Barken on death by a thousand cuts to public schools by the privatization movement. https://dianeravitch.net/2018/06/10/joanne-barkan-death-by-a-thousand-cuts-privatizing-our-schools/

The terrible effects of Mississippi’s failure to adequately fund its public schools. https://dianeravitch.net/2018/06/02/mississippi-what-happens-when-a-state-refuses-to-fund-its-public-schools/

Rob Levine argues that Minnesota charters are a costly failure after 25 years. https://dianeravitch.net/2018/06/04/rob-levine-charter-schools-in-minnesota-after-25-years-a-costly-failure/

Jeff Brant warns of a disastrous charter plan in North Carolina. http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/new-charter-school-plan-should-alarm-the-nation/

Gary Rubenstein demolishes the NY city Kipp charter school’s claim of 96% graduation finding it to be more like 56% when you take into account attrition of students who were never replaced. https://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/2018/06/24/is-nyc-kipps-graduation-rate-96-or-56/ He also finds that the highly touted Success Academy graduated only 16 students out of an original 73 students in 2006 (they don’t backfill) through attrition and being held back. https://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/success-academy-left-back-at-least-1-6-of-their-first-cohort/

Also, Jeff Bryant comments on the unsuccessful massive financial support for Gavin Newsom’s opponent by wealthy charter supporters. http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/charter-school-industrys-stunning-loss-in-california-primaries/?link_id=2&can_id=cea050dcef20333abf235c3ba9bc6d51&source=email-charter-school-industrys-stunning-loss-in-california-primaries&email_referrer=email_365983&email_subject=charter-school-industrys-stunning-loss-in-california-primaries

Diane Ravitch writes about how Michigan public schools were some of the best in the nation before the privatization and charter movement sunk them to the bottom. https://dianeravitch.net/2018/06/11/michigan-the-effects-of-charters-on-a-state-that-once-had-fine-public-schools/

An op ed supporting giving districts the right to refuse charters if they will cause substantial harm to the district. https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/School-districts-need-right-to-say-no-to-12952193.php?utm_campaign=fb-premium&utm_source=CMS+Sharing+Button&utm_medium=social

The Hechinger Report finds that charter schools suffer from higher levels of segregation than nearby public schools. https://hechingerreport.org/nearly-750-charter-schools-are-whiter-than-the-nearby-district-schools/

Diane Ravitch reports on a the embezzlement by the headmaster of a  religious voucher school in North Carolina. She states: North Carolina gives out public money to private and religious schools with little or no oversight. Do not be surprised that some people take advantage of the open cash register and help themselves to taxpayers’ money that should have gone to public schools. https://dianeravitch.net/2018/06/28/north-carolina-another-embezzlement-scandal-at-a-religious-voucher-school/


Failed reforms

States are moving away from flawed teacher evaluation systems. http://vamboozled.com/states-teacher-evaluation-systems-moving-in-the-right-direction/

Audrey-Amerein-Beardsley on why New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system based on test scores has been such a failure.  https://dianeravitch.net/2018/06/12/audrey-amrein-beardsley-why-new-mexicos-teacher-evaluation-system-is-ineffective-invalid-and-biased/

Chalkbeat reviews new Rand report that shows that the $575 million spent by the Gates foundation on teacher-evaluation was a bust.https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/us/2018/06/21/the-gates-foundation-bet-big-on-teacher-evaluation-the-report-it-commissioned-explains-how-those-efforts-fell-short/ From the report https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2242.html: Sites implemented new measures of teaching effectiveness and modified personnel policies accordingly but did not achieve their goals for students

Education Technology/Personalized Learning

Stephen Sawchuk argues that SF’s bold approach to detracking algebra shows promise. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/06/13/a-bold-effort-to-de-track-algebra-shows.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news1-rm&M=58517152&U=56558

Authors argue that we have an obligation to test educational technology before widespread adoption.https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/06/06/how-do-we-know-if-ed-tech.html?cmp=eml-enl-dd-news2-rm&M=58524517&U=56558

 Larry Cuban reviews a new School of the Future based on a technology first approach in Philadelphia which gradually shifted to using technology as a supplement to a regular academic program. At one point this school functioned very much through technology….Where our innovation is now is to get back to the fundamentals of what an educational academic program is supposed to be like, and how you get technology to mirror or augment that. https://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2018/06/24/creating-new-schools-regression-to-the-mean-part-2/

Dan Willingham’s critique of the bible of personalized learning “The End of Average”  https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-06-11-if-this-is-the-end-of-average-what-comes-next

Questions about the effectiveness of personalized learning in New Orleans. https://hechingerreport.org/the-massive-personalized-learning-experiment-in-new-orleans-schools/

Tom Ultican reviews the shabby story of IReady. https://tultican.com/2018/06/27/iready-magnificent-marketing-terrible-teaching/






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