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 obriena
When implemented well, expanded learning time (lengthening the school day, school week and/or school year) has led to impressive results in schools around the country. And U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has long called on more schools to embrace the policy, both because he believes that American students spend less time in school than students in the nations we are competing with (though some evidence suggests that might not be the case) and because he believes that the hours between 3pm and 6pm are the peak hours for juvenile crime (which evidence supports).
The Secretary was on hand yesterday at the introduction of the TIME (Time for Innovation Matters in Education) Collaborative, a partnership between the National Center on Time in Learning (NCTL) and the Ford Foundation that will allow participating schools in five states (Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee) to add 300 hours of instruction and enrichment for all their children. To be a part of the collaborative, states and districts had to agree to use a mix of federal, state and district funding to cover the costs ...
Since the election earlier this month, political conversation has moved to a new issue: sequestration, part of the across-the-board federal budget cut of $1.2 trillion that will occur in January 2013 unless Congress acts.
Sequestration became law as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which raised the U.S. debt ceiling limit and established caps on discretionary spending (including spending on education, national parks, defense, medical and scientific research, infrastructure and more) that would reduce spending on these programs by $1 trillion through 2021. This Act also created the “Super Committee,” a bipartisan committee that included members from both the House of Representatives and the Senate and was charged with identifying an additional $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over ten years. Their failure would trigger the sequester.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the toxic political climate in Washington over the past few years, the Super Committee did in fact fail. And we are currently waiting to see if Congress will replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction.
If Congress fails to act, it will impact virtually every aspect of American life, including education. While the numbers aren’t final, estimates show that sequestration will result in a loss of nearly $5 billion to education. The National Education Association estimates that it will impact 9.3 million students ...
We’ve all heard about summer learning loss. Students lose between one and two months' worth of academic knowledge each summer. Low-income students are particularly sensitive to this phenomenon – some research suggests that more than half of the achievement gap seen in reading between these students and their wealthier peers can be attributed to summer loss.
So across the nation, schools, districts and states are trying to address the issue. One seemingly obvious solution: A move to year-round schooling. Given that the most popular school calendar in the nation is a relic from our agrarian days, when children were needed in the fields at specific times during the year, it certainly makes sense to revisit it. And many schools and communities have adopted a year-round calendar, replacing a long summer break with shorter breaks throughout the year.
But I was interested to read an article out of Grand Rapids, MI, that indicated a possible move in the opposite direction. Because of chronic absences at some district elementary schools that run on a year-round calendar (at one school, 41% of ...
Who can you trust about educational technology?
So asked Richard Rose in September’s issue of School Administrator. He argues that research on educational technology should be approached with skepticism for a number of reasons. For example, the role that money plays in this research: Interested parties, including technology providers, nonprofits and even unions, often directly or indirectly benefit from research showing results for a particular product. There is also a lack of consensus within the research – you can find research that supports almost any position. In addition, there is bias introduced by the “publication strainer” (publications prefer research that supports their platform of doctrines) and author timidity and pragmatism (not wanting to waste time on research that isn’t published, busy authors submit what they know publications want).
In reading this piece, it struck me that it could have been written about any aspect of education. While the motivation of technology companies may be different than the motivation of those pushing vouchers, charter schools, alternative certification programs, particular reading programs or any other educational products or policies, it is widely acknowledged that much education research – for the reasons Rose cites and others – is substandard. But as Rose acknowledges, not all educational technology research (which I would change to, not all education research) is “tainted by vested interest or too insipid to bother with.” There is good research out there – you (whether you are a practitioner, parent, policymaker or ...
Few would argue with the notion that public education in America needs to improve to ensure that our country remains prosperous in the coming years. And we should look wherever we can for ideas on how we can increase student achievement for each child in the nation.
One possible source for these ideas: charter schools. Last week, the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution released “Learning from the Successes and Failures of Charter Schools,” in which Roland Fryer discusses his efforts to learn what works in the world of charter schooling and implement it in traditional public schools.
By studying 35 charter schools of varying performance levels in New York City, Fryer and his colleagues identified five practices that are consistently found in higher-achieving schools and that together explain roughly half the difference in effectiveness between charter schools:
- More human capital (how often schools give teachers feedback on their instructional practice)
- Data-driven instruction (whether teachers alter instruction to
Leadership matters. Principals set the tone of a school and can inspire students and teachers alike to reach new heights. They are second only to teachers among the in-school influences on student success.
Yet we don’t hear much about how to measure a principal’s performance. And the little research that exists on principal evaluation suggests that current systems do not accurately judge performance, do not provide information that is useful for professional growth, and often aren’t even used.
The federal government has begun to take note, making changes to principal evaluations a condition of Race to the Top funds, School Improvement Grants, and waivers to some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, they are often requiring that the evaluations be based in significant part on student performance on standardized assessments. As we all know, test scores represent a very narrow definition of ...
Did you know that each year more than three million students are suspended from school?
While some of these suspensions are the result of violent or other extreme behavior, others are the result of relatively minor infractions – dress code violations, being late for school and so on.
Should we really be putting students through suspension for a minor infraction? Out-of-school suspension does not benefit schools in terms of test scores or graduation rates. And it can have a very negative impact on individual children. In addition to immediate academic consequences stemming from time out of the classroom (we all know the phrase, “you can’t teach to an empty desk”), suspension is a leading indicator of whether a child will drop out of school. It is also related to risk for future incarceration, part of the school-to-prison pipeline that we often hear about.
And these impacts are not spread equally throughout the student population. A recent report from the Civil Rights Project found that Black, Latino and Native American students are much more likely than their White and Asian American peers to be suspended. Seventeen percent of Black students – that is one out of every six enrolled in K-12 education – were suspended at least once in ...
Change is hard – something that those in the education community may know better than most. Whether it is changing a school culture, a child’s life prospects, policymakers’ thoughts on accountability, or voters’ minds on a bond referendum, educators are constantly on the lookout for evidence that they are succeeding as change agents. Sometimes that evidence seems scarce, particularly at a national level, as policymakers push education in ways we don’t always like and rhetoric indicates that we are to blame for a great number of society’s problems.
So as I read through the results of the 44th annual Phi Delta Kappa (PDK)/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, I was on the lookout for evidence that we are succeeding in changing the conversation around public schools in this nation. And I was pleased to see that (while not always in the direction I personally would advocate) American’s views on public education are evolving.
The Biggest Problem Facing Schools
The first question asked on the poll each year is an open-ended one: What do you think are the biggest problems that the public schools of your community must ...
A couple months ago, I wrote about a new assessment designed to address one of the ever-present challenges in teacher preparation: How do you ensure that those entering the classroom can teach effectively starting their first day as the teacher of record?
Now called the edTPA (formerly the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA)), the assessment was developed by Stanford University in collaboration with teachers and teacher educators (higher education involvement was coordinated by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) to set a new standard for determining teacher readiness. It requires teacher candidates demonstrate the skills necessary to meet the daily challenges of classroom teaching, including but not limited to:
- Planning around student learning standards
- Designing instruction for students based on their specific needs
- Teaching a series of lessons and adapting them to
Not in most states, according to a national report card dedicated to answering that question.
Back in 2010, the first edition of a national report card on school funding and fairness was released. Considering “fair” school funding to be “a state finance system that ensures equal educational opportunity by providing a sufficient level of funding distributed to districts within the state to account for additional needs generated by student poverty,” it concluded that most states do not do a good job of ensuring equality of educational opportunity for all children. Last month, the second edition of this report card (which included funding data through 2009) was released – and once again, many states are falling short.
Just six states performed well on all measures of fairness that the report considered. Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont maintained their performance from the 2010 report, with Kansas and New Mexico joining them (Connecticut and Wyoming fell out of this group in 2012). Three states received below average rankings on all indicators – Florida, Missouri, and North Carolina.
These indicators reflect a number of core principles, one of which is that “varying levels of funding are required to provide equal educational opportunities to children with different needs.” Another is that the overall level of education funding matters ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
On this website, educators, parents and policymakers from coast to coast are sharing what's already working in public schools--and sparking a national conversation about how to make it work for children in every school. Join the conversation!