• Big expansion, big questions for Teach for America
    Wagner noted that his master’s degree in teaching from Harvard hardly prepared him for the challenges of being a first-year teacher. “Unless and until we have a dramatically different system, and a universally high quality system for preparing teachers, I think TFA is a stop gap, and an important one,” he said.
  • For-Profit Certification for Teachers in Texas Is Booming
    Other states have begun allowing for-profits to enter the alternative teacher training market, but Texas has done so to the greatest extent, according to Emily Feistritzer, president of the National Center for Alternative Certification. Some states, like Illinois, require that any alternative routes to the classroom be connected to the university system.
  • Enrollment in D.C. school voucher program surges
    More than 1,600 low-income students have enrolled in District private schools using a federally funded voucher program this year, a 60 percent increase over last year. About 98 percent of participating students are black or Hispanic, and 40 percent live in Wards 7 or 8. The average household income of students was $23,401 in 2010. The federal poverty line for a family of four was $41,347.50 last year.
  • Little Evidence for Either
    No Child Left Behind (NCLB) or Common Core? NCLB and Common Core? If you look at the evidence, the answer to both questions is “no.” There’s precious little evidence that NCLB has worked, and just as little that national standards will do any better.
  • Implementing Common Core Could Cost States $30 Billion
    Cash-strapped state education budgets have another fiscal burden looming: the cost of implementing Common Core standards. Many states have not evaluated the cost of implementing the Core, notes a 2011 McGraw-Hill education brief, but will be working through implementation in the next three years, so by 2014 most changes will be in place.
  • Electronic textbooks not on horizon locally
    During a work session of the Kingsport Board of Education Nov. 17, board members got an update on technology from Assistant Superintendent Damon Cathey and eLearning coordinator and homebound instructor Jeff Burleson and asked about electronic textbooks.
  • School Choice Could Become a Reality for Tennessee School Children
    A most remarkable “year of school choice” may be edging to a close, but the momentum for school choice is far from over. On the heels of Indiana’s success, states like Tennessee are looking to introduce educational options for their students in the upcoming year.
  • The Dissenter: What happened when the education world’s most prominent intellectual switched sides
    Ravitch was the perfect person to lead the resistance. Her identity as an academic gave her an implied expertise and impartiality; her government service gave her credibility. Added to this was the assumed integrity of the convert. In November 2010, she penned an influential critique of Waiting for Superman in The New York Review of Books, providing an intellectual blueprint for left-leaning critics of education reform. Jon Stewart invited her on “The Daily Show.” From there, it was a direct path to the “Save Our Schools” rally outside the White House. The die-hard reform opponents needed Diane Ravitch, and, in her own way, Diane Ravitch needed them, too. SINCE HER INTELLECTUAL conversion, Ravitch has become fond of John Maynard Keynes’s apocryphal quote: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Indeed, it would be a sign of extreme dogmatism for someone to spend four decades engaged with education policy and never change her mind. When Ravitch first voiced enthusiastic support for private-school vouchers, they were largely untried. As she now observes, the results of long-term voucher experiments have been disappointing. Ten years after No Child Left Behind, a lot of children are still behind. These are reasonable points. The problem is that Ravitch’s use of evidence to support her new positions is often dubious, selective, and inconsistent.
  • Teacher Union Blues
    And in case any of you have idealized visions of teacher unions protecting the worker dancing in your head, a little snippet from the Education Intelligence Agency should awake you from your slumber:
  • The Importance of Reforming School Finance
    Dropout Nation has offered its own reasons for why states should take full control of school funding. The fact that school districts can continue to use their dependence on property tax dollars to oppose reforms — especially school choice and Parent Power — is one reason. But as Contributing Editor Michael Holzman points out, continuing to derive school funding from property tax dollars contributes to the ineffectiveness of American public education.
  • State education commissioner discusses evaluations with local teachers, principals
    As schools across the state continue adjusting to changes to a newly overhauled teacher evaluation system, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman took time to discuss Hamilton County’s own evaluation system in a visit with teachers and principals last Monday. “The commissioner really just wanted to learn as much as he could about it,” Gauthier said. “Overall, it went really well, they discussed the nuts and bolts of how it worked. It’s really beneficial to learn from people doing this on the ground level, and it was a good chance to listen to what they had to say about it.”
  • Metro looks to assess its approach to gifted-learner schooling
    Metro’s method in teaching gifted students could soon undergo some still-unidentified changes. Supplied with $83,000 in federal Race to the Top funds, Metro Nashville Public Schools has taken the first steps in a full-scale assessment of the district’s gifted-learner schooling and the Encore program, which dates back to 1987. The district has tapped a small team of experts in the field of gifted learning, who are in the process of conducting in-class evaluations of Encore and looking at how gifted students’ time is spent in the general education classroom as well.
    Bruce Baker of Rutgers Graduate School of Education on tape talking about “inking deal” with Ohio union and “playing with data.”
  • The Nation’s Report Card: Congress Fails Test on Helping Students Learn
    Unfortunately, stagnant test scores and nagging achievement gaps have been the trend for American students over the last four decades. Yet while achievement flounders, federal education spending and regulations have soared. Since the first authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—today known as No Child Left Behind—in 1965, federal spending on education has tripled. Yet Congress continues to pursue the same failed approach to education. Most recently, Senators Tom Harkin (D–IA) and Mike Enzi (R–WY) introduced a massive, 860-page education bill to reauthorize ESEA, somehow convinced that this time Washington-centric education policy will work. Rather than more federal spending and ever more regulations from federal politicians, states should have the flexibility to implement practices that will lead to better results among their specific students. Decades of attempts to improve education from Washington have failed to improve student learning or narrow achievement gaps. Rather than help schools, Washington has bound them with regulations and made schools more accountable to federal politicians than to children and families. Policies that give states autonomy in deciding how to spend their education dollars are the types of reforms that could finally move the needle on the NAEP and on America’s academic standing in K-12 education.
  • Study: Graduates from Certain Teacher Training Programs Boost Student Achievement
    Some teacher training programs graduate better teachers than others and improving such programs can lift student achievement, reports a new study from the University of Washington’s Center for Education Data & Research. The study, “The Gateway to the Profession: Assessing Teacher Preparation Programs Based on Student Achievement,” confirms student achievement is related to teacher quality and looked for a relationship between teachers’ effectiveness and where they attended college.
  • Education Officials Hope Cuts Won’t Compromise Program Quality
    The state Department of Education anticipates spending $5.2 billion next year, representing one of the largest budgets in state government. The spending plan results in a $365 million or 6.5 percent overall reduction in over the current year’s budget. Still, the Department of Education is expanding in certain areas, looking for an extra $53.8 million to adjust for mandatory increases in the state’s education funding formula and another $1.2 million to cover growing costs in existing pre-K classrooms.
  • JACKSON-MADISON COUNTY SCHOOLS: 1st look at proposed evaluation system – Alternative to No Child Left Behind
    A preliminary list of the state’s highest- and lowest-performing schools under a proposed accountability system that measures student growth is causing some Jackson-Madison County Schools to focus on closing achievement gaps.
  • Teacher training holds the key
    Ultimately, Tennessee must continue seeking robust approaches to bring in new talent, and support teachers and administrators to meet the educational challenges our state faces. Innovative traditional preparation programs, as well as alternative pathways to teaching and leadership, are both important pieces of this complex puzzle.
  • Tenn. education officials seek 20 percent improvement in student proficiency in 5 years
    Gov. Bill Haslam says a goal to improve Tennessee students’ proficiency scores by 20 percent over the next five years would provide evidence that the state’s education overhaul is working.

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