For her leadership in the areas of teacher quality and educational equity and reform, the Learning First Alliance has named Stanford professor and accomplished author Linda Darling-Hammond as our 2013 Education Visionary Award winner.
Blog Posts By vonzastrowc
I am attempting to get these videos out.
Runner-Up - $300
"Why I love my public school...Poe Elementary"
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Trying here again.
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Fall’s arrival heralds the start of school and classroom teachers are excited to welcome back their students for another year of learning. At the same time, they are faced with the reality that students seem to know less than they did last spring. On average, all students lose ground and begin the year a month behind where they performed in the spring. One study suggests that two-thirds of the achievement gap for low-income students entering ninth grade can be attributed to summer learning loss. The gap is particularly pronounced in reading, where low-income students lose ground, as opposed to high-income students who maintain or gain ground. ...
Here is the thing.
After six wonderful years at the Learning First Alliance, and over two years as a contributor to this blog, I'm leaving LFA to take a new position at an organization that will focus on improving science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM). I'll share more about this when I can. At this point I can say that I believe this organization has the power to change the way our nation views STEM while creating exciting new opportunities for our youth.
The Public School Insights blog will flourish without me. My colleague (and blogger extraordinaire) Anne O'Brien will be a frequent contributor. We'll be getting many guest postings from some of the best bloggers in the business. And we'll keep featuring a steady diet of interviews with fascinating thinkers and doers in public education. So stay tuned.
It has been a great honor and a real privilege to work with the Alliance's members and partners over the years. Blogging at this site has become addictive, because it has brought me into a conversation with so many thoughtful and engaging people. I am grateful to all of you who have taken the time to respond to my musings, add your insights, challenge my ideas and broaden my thinking. I used to be a web 2.0 skeptic. All this blogging business has turned me into a true believer.
Thanks again to everyone. ...
Could the LA Times' decision to publish teachers' value-added scores have a chilling effect on school research? That question came to me as I read about a case in Arizona. Arizona officials are seeking the names of teachers and schools that took part in a study of the state's policies on teaching English, even though those teachers and schools were promised that their names would remain confidential. Needless to say, many in the research community are none too pleased.
The UCLA study found that the state's ESL policies were doing more harm than good. The state isolates English language learners so they can study only English for several hours every day. UCLA researchers found that this practice does not narrow learning gaps but does raise the specter of segregation. State Chief Tom Horne argues that he cannot rebut those findings without full access to the data used in the survey.
His opponents counter that schools will never again open the doors to researchers if they feel their anonymity is at risk. Researchers (like many reporters, I might add) will often go to great ...
Imagine you open your newspaper in the morning to find a story about dietary supplements. The story includes a throw-away line or two noting that supplements aren't subject to FDA approval and that the research on supplements is mixed. It then proceeds to extol their virtues, list the ailments each is said to cure, and offer links to discount suppliers. I'm guessing you wouldn't think very highly of your paper.
In some respects, the recent LA Times story on teacher effectiveness isn't all that different from my hypothetical story. The authors mumble a few words about problems with the methods it used to rate 6,000 L.A. teachers. They then launch into full-throated advocacy for the approach. They even publish names and pictures of the city's "worst" teachers.
"No one suggests using value-added analysis [of test scores] as the sole measure of a teacher," the authors write. They then proceed to use value-added analysis as the sole measure of 6000 real teachers in real schools. They brand one as "least effective," name him, and print his picture in the paper. Then they supply a database of 6,000 teachers rated solely by test scores. A few words about the limits of value-added measures won't blunt the overall effect of the article. Those teachers have been marked.
The authors note that "ineffective teachers often face no consequences and get no extra help." While I'm pleased that the Times has considered the need to help struggling teachers, I'm sorry to see that thought get swept away so quickly by stronger, darker currents. Regardless of what the authors ...
It is fast becoming a received truth that teachers, teachers, teachers make all the difference in a child's academic performance. But what if analysis of students' scores on state tests threw that belief into question? It may have in L.A.
That's not the impression you'll get from the recent L.A. Times story on teacher quality. The Times used student test data to estimate 6,000 L.A. teachers' relative effectiveness. The story suggests that it's all about the teachers:
Year after year, one fifth-grade class learns far more than the other down the hall. The difference has almost nothing to do with the size of the class, the students, or their parents.
It's their teachers.
But blogger Corey Bunje Bower had a look at the report behind the Times analysis, and he drew another conclusion. The Times notes that the best teachers aren't all crammed into the "best" schools. Bower weighs the implications of that finding:
Teacher quality varies widely within schools--just as with test scores, there's far more variation within schools than across schools. ("Teachers are slightly more effective in high- than in low-API schools, but the gap is small, and the variance across schools is large"). Which means that the highest performing schools don't have all the best teachers and the lowest performing schools don't have all the worst teachers. Which means that something other than teacher quality is causing schools to be low and high performing. Which means we should probably focus our attention on more than just teacher quality.
Of course teachers are very important. Why would anyone teach if teachers didn't matter? But should we put ALL our eggs in the teacher basket?
An article in yesterday's New York Times reminds us that the common definition of "achievement gap" is quite limited. We usually define it in terms of proficiency on state tests. (In other words, how many kids passed?) We seldom define it in terms of absolute performance on those tests. (How well did kids do?) You can raise the cut score on the state test and watch your gaps widen overnight, but your absolute achievement gap won't have changed a bit. That's what happened in New York State.
It's an object lesson for every state in the country and a reminder that we always need to keep both definitions well in mind. ...
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