• No Child — and the latest lost decade
    So, overall progress has been underwhelming. But No Child Left Behind did one good thing. By requiring disaggregation of test scores for numerous groups that have historically struggled, it has shone bright sunlight on neglected, cobweb-enmeshed classroom corners. Right? Hardly.
  • A Decade After No Child Left Behind, Time for a Right Turn in Education
    The fundamental mismatch between the federal government’s constitutional limits and its interventionist policy on education has led to continual expansion and overhaul of programs, all trying to make federal intervention succeed where it has neither authority nor capacity. Washington’s intervention has led to increased state and local education bureaucracy and shifted focus toward compliance with federal policy. This undermines schools’ direct accountability to parents and taxpayers and erodes good governance.
  • How the Gates Foundation Spins its Research
    With the latest round of reports, the Gates folks are back to their old game of spinning their results to push policy recommendations that are actually unsupported by the data.  The main message emphasized in the new round of reports is that we need multiple measures of teacher effectiveness, not just value-added measures derived from student test scores, to make reliable and valid predictions about how effective different teachers are at improving student learning. But buried away on p. 51 of the Research Paper in Table 16 we see that value-added measures based on student test results — by themselves — are essentially as good or better than the much more expensive and cumbersome method of combining them with student surveys and classroom observations when it comes to predicting the effectiveness of teachers. That is, the new Gates study actually finds that multiple measures are largely a waste of time and money when it comes to predicting the effectiveness of teachers at raising student scores in math and reading.
  • VIDEO: Haslam on Dept. of Education Layoffs
    The Department of Education plans to shave about 43 positions from its administrative staff, though 17 of them are already vacant, the Haslam administration said Thursday. This year’s Department of Education budget topped off at $5.6 billion, which includes state and federal dollars. It employs some 1,341 workers — which means the staff reductions amount to 3 percent of personnel.
  • Education Notebook: Three New Year’s “Edu-lutions” for Policymakers
    The year 2012 will be pivotal for education policy. The leadership of state policymakers will determine whether the Obama Administration education overreach continues and whether last year’s school choice progress proliferates. State and local policymakers should make the following three education resolutions:
  • Michelle Rhee: Education reform gaining momentum in Tennessee
    Going back to weak evaluations that don’t even consider whether kids are learning would be like going back to the dark ages educationally. While there is a real risk the state can slide backward, Tennessee also has an opportunity to continue to lead the nation in transforming education. Specifically, lawmakers should get rid of policies that undermine a principal’s ability to lead and succeed.
  • Future in limbo for 17 charter schools
    A month and a half after the unified school board denied a raft of charter school applications, start-up leaders are no closer to knowing whether they will be allowed to run schools next fall. Seventeen potential charter schools are at a standstill. Their leaders cannot recruit students for schools that don’t exist. There is no way to negotiate on real estate or hire teachers. A number of charter advocates, including Throckmorton, point to post-Katrina New Orleans, where nearly 70 percent of the city’s schoolchildren attend charter schools. “The district there remains strong,” Throckmorton said. “It hasn’t been shut down and taken over by state.”
  • A good teacher’s lessons last a lifetime
    Setting out, Chetty, Friedman and Rockoff expected to prove that family income or student motivation or other factors — not teacher quality — would account for how well students did on standardized tests. Boy, were they wrong. Instead, they discovered that some teachers are demonstrably better than others — and that those teachers have long-lasting effects on their pupils. The data showed that when an excellent teacher joined a school, scores in that teacher’s grade immediately rose. When such a teacher left, scores plummeted. The benefit of having such a teacher, as measured on exams, lasted for three to four years in school. Later on, the students were more likely to attend college, earned more money, lived in better neighborhoods and were less likely to become teenage parents than those with poor instructors.
  • What the Supreme Court’s ruling on Basic Education Funding means
    The Washington State Supreme Court ruled today on a challenge to the sufficiency of state funding of basic education. The Court has clearly concluded that the state has “transitioned from a seat-based education system to a performance-based education system” and needs to do the same with the funding formulas. The Court appears to want to see a funding system which provides enough for the student learning targets the legislature has set, but also a system which shows a relationship between the results and the mechanisms used to fund those results.
  • Race to the Top states fail to deliver
    In 2010, a handful of states hit a $4 billion-plus jackpot in the federal Race to the Top school reform sweepstakes. That was then. This is now. The winners are not delivering. Each one — 11 states and Washington, D.C. — has scaled back or delayed its plans to reshape schools, The Wall Street Journal recently reported. Each one has wrangled permission from the feds to change its plans. Not one has lost money because it failed to meet its promises. They offer plenty of excuses. So start pulling money. Duncan and Co. need to deal with the failures before they dole out another jackpot based on more promises that may not be kept.
  • Updated teacher observations are key to improvement, report says
    The best way to evaluate teachers, while also helping them improve, is to use several measures — including data-based methods that rely on students’ standardized test scores, along with an updated teacher observation system, the report found. The traditional approach in the Memphis, Tenn., school system had long included teacher observations — once every five years, said Tequilla Banks, head of Teacher Talent and Effectiveness for Memphis City Schools. Principals would receive some initial training, but no one certified their evaluation skills or monitored their success. Under a new system, supported by $90 million from Gates, teachers are observed four to six times annually by more than one person.
  • Why getting a good education and a good job doesn’t necessarily mean going to a four-year college
    The shortage of industrial skills points to a wide gap between the American education system and the demands of the world economy. For decades, Americans have been told that the future lies in high-end services, such as law, and “creative” professions, such as software-writing and systems design. This has led many pundits to think that the only real way to improve opportunities for the country’s middle class is to increase its access to higher education. That attitude is a relic of the post–World War II era, a time when a college education almost guaranteed you a good job. These days, the returns on higher education, particularly on higher education gained outside the elite schools, are declining, as they have been for about a decade.
  • John Kline’s Meaningless Plan for Reauthorizing No Child
    Essentially, Kline’s plan would simply revert back to the days before the passage of No Child, when federal dollars were handed out to states without showing any results. And traditional districts would essentially be let off the hook for failing to provide high-quality teaching and curricula to poor and minority students. Essentially the word from Kline’s camp to those kids, along with young men of all races, is basically: “You’re on your own.”
  • Dyersburg City School Board to meet Monday
    The Dyersburg City School Board will meet on Monday, Jan. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Professional Development Center on College Street.
    Items on the agenda include:
  • We Need to Fix No Child Left Behind
    We must revamp K-12 education law to ensure Washington does not stand in the way of meaningful reforms. After months of hearings and bipartisan discussions, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will soon consider legislation that will enhance accountability, improve flexibility and support more effective teachers in the classroom.

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