• Doubts about teacher evaluations
    I have seen greater gains in schools that do not have expensive, time-consuming teacher evaluation systems. They rely instead on unusually rigorous recruiting, selection and training of principals. The school leaders who survive the process are given the power to hire and fire staff but lose their own jobs if achievement does not rise significantly. Those schools often have longer school days that allow team-minded teachers to confer with each other and provide creative, consistent ways of teaching and disciplining kids.
  • BURKE: The dead hand of federal education reform
    In the decades since ESEA’s enactment, federal per-pupil spending has nearly tripled. Yet this “investment” has produced no tangible dividends. Academic achievement and graduation rates have remained relatively flat, achievement gaps between low-income and upper-income children and white and minority children persist, and American students still rank in the middle of the pack with their international peers. It’s time for a fresh approach. Instead of continuing to try to reform education from Washington, let’s cut the federal bureaucracy and empower states to spend their own money in ways they feel will best meet their students’ needs.
  • Tennessee makes big jump in high school graduates
    n the national race to raise high school graduation rates, Tennessee and Georgia have posted some of the best and worst numbers in the nation, respectively. Tennessee’s graduation rate increased by 20 percentage points between 1998 and 2008 — a bigger improvement than any state in the country, according to the Diplomas Count report, released this week by Editorial Projects in Education. The state’s 2008 graduation rate of 76.9 percent put the Volunteer State 14th in the nation, the report stated.

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