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eduwonkette hangs up her cape

Today, dear readers, I'm hanging up my cape. I'm joining the Sociology department at NYU this fall, and have a dissertation to wrap up that needs my undivided attention.Last night, I peeked back at my initial post in September 2007:Rather than stepping into [education policy's] ideological boxing ring, this blog takes a different approach. eduwonkette will consider some of the most contentious education policy debates from a different perspective....My hope is that this blog provides a forum for a broader discussion about the possibilities for, and barriers to, improving schools for American children. But eduwonkette is not ...


Wish #1: Taking Kids' Out of School Time Seriously

Sexy sound bite solutions dominate education policy airtime – paying kids for test scores, paying teachers for test scores, and eliminating teacher certification are some of the latest examples.My final wish for the next four years is much more banal. Kids spent the overwhelming majority of their 0-18 years outside of school – the average American has spent 87% of his or her waking hours outside of school by age 18. If we want to reduce inequality, we need to start thinking seriously about how kids are spending the majority of their time, and support interventions like pre-school and an extended ...


Wish #2: The End of Proficiency Only Accountability Systems

The No Child Left Behind Act may represent the largest threshold-based government accountability system in the country. Schools are evaluated not by how much progress students make, but by their success in pushing students over the proficiency bar. By now, you're probably familiar with the discontents of this system: states can game the system by setting that proficiency bar low; some schools have triaged their students, essentially reallocating resources to the kids most likely to become proficient in the very short-term; and policymakers can misleadingly make claims about declining racial achievement gaps based on proficiency rates, even as these gaps ...


Wish #3: Asking More "Why?" Questions

Earlier this month, a team of researchers at MIT and Harvard released a report contrasting the impact of charter schools, “pilot” schools, and traditional public schools on student achievement. The finding of charter school effects on achievement, using a random assignment research design, fueled the rhetoric of charter school advocates, some of whom saw the findings as a license for unlimited expansion of charter schools. The researchers themselves were more cautious. They acknowledged that the study was not designed to discern why the effects were found. In fact, if the study had found that students in charter schools had shown ...


Wish #4: Better Alignment of Accountability Systems to School Outcomes

Here’s a little thought experiment: Suppose that, in addition to adequate yearly progress in literacy and mathematics, high schools had to demonstrate progress in students’ ethical behavior. Would the graduates of Far Rockaway High School in Queens in New York City be as proficient in their treatment of others as they are in math and literacy? Victims of Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme might wish that Far Rockaway had spent more time on the development of its students’ non-cognitive skills as their ability to read, write and figure. Of course, we cannot tell what led Madoff astray, ...


Wish #5: Education Policy Based on Averages, Not Outliers

To celebrate this week’s historic inauguration, skoolboy and I are going to take a step back and make some big wishes – or at least predictions - for education policy in the next four years.And I want to start this wish in an unlikely place - with a man in a Speedo. Let’s talk about Michael Phelps. Who wasn’t astonished by his eight golds, including that insane race where he touched out his competitor by a hundredth of a second? All over the country, there are age group swimmers, probably some of them putting laps in as ...


The State of "State of the City" Speeches

While we await President-Elect Obama's Inauguration speech, here's a look at the rhetoric in ten mayors' "State of the City" speeches over the past year. Can you match the mayor with the quote? 1. We're going to demonstrate how a school community comes together when you give teachers, parents and principals real authority to make decisions in the classroom. We’re going to show how the atmosphere transforms with uniforms and parent contracts, when you instill a culture of discipline and respect. We’re going to show what happens when we set tall goals and raise expectations, when we publish ...


Lies, Damned Lies, and Bush Administration Accomplishments

Yesterday, President George W. Bush, as part of his swan song, released a compendium entitled “Policies of the Bush Administration 2001-2009.” Not surprisingly, No Child Left Behind is the centerpiece of administration’s accomplishments in K-12 education, and the fact sheets detail the administration’s claims about progress. Skoolboy’s favorite section is the one on Reading First. You remember Reading First, don't you? The program whose interim impact evaluation, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences, found no evidence of effects on reading comprehension test scores in grades 1 to 3? The text reads: NCLB established the principle that ...


Professor Bonuses Based on Course Evaluations?

Forget a PhD - profs might do better with improv training and Botox (seriously, attractive professors - especially attractive men - get better evaluations!). Reported this morning in the Chronicle:The chancellor of the Texas A&M University system wants to give faculty members bonuses of up to $10,000, based on student evaluations, but some professors are raising concerns about the plan, saying it could become a popularity contest....Though details are preliminary, officials said, the goal is to offer awards starting at $2,500 to the top 15 percent of participating instructors.To be sure, good teaching is ...


Private Practice, Public Health, and the Autism/Vaccine Debate

"Private Practice" - the "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff starring Kate Walsh - may be one of the most poorly written, bad excuse for soft porn shows on TV. But big props to the show for last night's episode/public service announcement, which has already ignited a firestorm on the autism blogs.The episode featured a mother with three sons, and the oldest was autistic. Blaming the MMR vaccine for her child's autism, she chose not to vaccinate her two other sons. An unvaccinated son picks up measles while the family is in Switzerland seeking autism treatment, exposes the entire practice when ...


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