March 2008 Archives

Teach For America Study Wrap-Up

Some readers requested a closer look at the Urban Institute's Teach for America study presented at AERA last week. To this reader, the study is convincing, and provides strong and viable evidence against those who argue that Teach for America teachers negatively affect their kids’ educations. However, I was not sold on the authors’ conclusion that teacher retention should take the backseat to teacher selection.First, what did the study find? If we take the study's most conservative estimates for all eight high school subjects (7 math and science subjects, plus English I, and comparing North Carolina TFA teachers with ...


Skoolboy Strikes Again: Research on Schools, Neighborhoods and Communities (& Value-Added Bonus!)

AERA President-Elect Carol Lee moderated a Division G Vice-Presidential session Thursday entitled Research on Schools, Neighborhoods and Communities: Implications for Research Methods on Social Contexts. The participants were Shirley Brice Heath, Kris Gutierrez, Margaret Beale Spencer, and Steve Raudenbush. Heath and Gutierrez emphasized the cultural features of contexts in their remarks. Heath argued that a central task of educational research is studying the co-occurrence of contexts with specific behaviors. She made a case for quantitative data records that allow for comparisons across contexts and time periods, using a study of the role of language in the context of young children ...


AERA Quote of the Day Finale

Overheard at AERA:"I'm sorry [that I'm leaving], but I've got to get to Rick Hess's bachelor party."...


Ed Research Angst: An AERA Challenger?

Researchers spend a lot of time at AERA bemoaning the heterogeneous quality of the work presented. After a few glasses of wine, someone will suggest that the dissatisfied band together and start an organization to compete with AERA. Few realize that this has already happened, albeit quietly, with the founding of the Society for Research in Educational Effectiveness with support from the Institute of Educational Sciences. Here's more detail: The Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE) was formed to provide an organizational infrastructure that supports and promotes research focused on cause-and-effect relations important for education. The field of education ...


AERA filing: Good Teachers: Who Are They? Where Are They? When Do They Stay and Move?

skoolboy went to a session Thursday that was billed as about all things teachers -- mobility, retention, etc. But the session was a bait-and-switch; three CALDER (National Center for Longitudinal Data in Educational Research) papers, only two of which were about teachers. Tim Sass led off with a paper on charter high school effects on high school graduation and college attendance in Chicago and the state of Florida. Using eighth grade test scores and demographic variables as controls, and studying students who attended charter middle schools to control for selection bias, Sass and his colleagues found that students who attended ...


Bonus AERA Quotes of the Day

Norm Scott sends along some bonus quotes from this morning's ed blogs session. Alexander Russo sums it up here and here. From these snippets and Alexander's summaries, it appears that our bloggy boys threw some barbs above the panel table."I urge all of you [researchers] to get in the fight." (Russo - on the need for more researchers to engage with journalists and the blogosphere) "Be humble." (Andy Rotherham, on relaying what your study does and does not say to reporters)"Sometimes [the blogs] seem like an echo chamber. We don't want to say it's what everyone is talking ...


AERA Quote of the Day: Thursday

"There may be a nirvana 100 years from now where we can slap policymakers into jail if they don't have enough research to support what they are doing."-Russ Whitehurst (Director, Institute of Education Sciences)...


AERA Round-Up: Wednesday

My day was largely unblogworthy, so check out these AERA bloggers:SES, Evaluation, and Civil Rights (Swift and Changeable - Charlie also reports that he liked Topaz Thai)Journalistic Self-Loathing and Coverage of Educational Research (Alexander Russo)More on Alternative Schools (Thoughts on Education Policy)Random Thoughts from AERA (Educational Insanity)Questioning Brown? (Ed Jurist Accord)AERA Sessions for Graduate Students or About Graduate Study (The Graduate Educator)...


AERA Quote of the Day: Wednesday

"You know you're in trouble when the number of authors on the paper exceeds the sample size." (Overheard at the Sheraton New York)...


Got NAEP?

Great opportunity to ask National Center for Education Statistics Associate Commissioner Peggy Carr questions about the NAEP. At 2 p.m. on April 3, you can join her for an online StatChat about the 2007 writing assessment results. Submit questions for the chat anytime in advance here and pop in on the 3rd for the session....


AERA Dispatch: Tuesday

Went to a fascinating session featuring Susan Fuhrman (TC Prez), Alex Molnar (Arizona State), and Diane Ravitch (no intro needed/NYU), moderated by Bill Tate (AERA Prez). Tons of ideas on the table, but one take-home question - Alexander Russo, are you as tall as Stanford's Lopez twins?Now the meat: the session focused on the challenges researchers face in making research relevant to policy. Fuhrman took exception to this framing, arguing it is more productive to think about research/public sphere connections in terms of opportunities for engagement. She suggested that we shouldn't limit our conception of research use ...


AERA Quote of the Day: Tuesday

"AERA has become a gigantic tenure hustle" - guy asking a question in 4:05 session with Susan Fuhrman, Alex Molnar, Diane Ravitch, and Bill Tate...


Class Size at AERA

I unfortunately missed the session yesterday afternoon on class size, but USA Today's Greg Toppo covered it here: New findings from four nations, including the USA, tell a curious story. Small classes work for children, but that's less because of how teachers teach than because of what students feel they can do: Get more face time with their teacher, for instance, or work in small groups with classmates."Small classes are more engaging places for students because they're able to have a more personal connection with teachers, simply by virtue of the fact that there are fewer kids in the ...


AERArific Links

1) Non-Falsifiable Predictions: That's what AERA is all about. Here's my prediction - ed policy's love affair with incentives will fade out eventually, and for better or worse, policymakers will start taking their cues from neuroscience. You can get ahead of the curve by checking out this website promoting Brain Rules.2) Grad Students of the World, Unite: More than half of the AERA attendees are graduate students, and they're taking names in the blogosphere as well. Check out Corey Bower's new blog, Thoughts on Education Policy, as well as this commentary in Ed Week by UVA grad student Jennifer ...


Strange Bedfellows, Even for Jersey

eduwonk, Joe Williams, and I make strange bedfellows, but let me join them in criticizing a proposed state law barring the use of test scores to make tenure decisions. Yes, I worry that value-added models could be done all wrong. Yes, value-added models have a long way to go before they offer valid and reliable information. But a state law is too heavy handed, and sets a bad precedent....


Load of Bollocks

The Daily News reports that Cambridge Education Associates is getting a 9% pay raise, even as NYC schools face budget cuts. The average cost of reviewing a school will jump to $4,856, up from $4,427. NYC taxpayers are dishing out 1.1 million for their travel expenses - looks like you and I are paying for our cross-pond friends to fly business class and eat warm chocolate chip cookies. Meanwhile, 8th graders who face retention have lost out on tutoring opportunities. Awesome!With $2,375,649 spent on the 30 staff working in NYC Department of Education public ...


Cool Teachers You Should Know: Joel Blecha, The Neighborhood School

Joel Blecha, a first and second grade teacher at Manhattan's Neighborhood School, has been teaching in New York City for seven years.Nominator Dave Bellel explained, “I met Joel Blecha when he was recommended as a tutor for my daughter almost 5 years ago. It’s instantly recognizable the talents that Joel has as a teacher and as a human being. He’s vibrant, curious, and loves kids. He’s the teacher that I wish I was.” Bellel referred Blecha to the Neighborhood School, and principal Judith Foster related that she thanks Bellel in her prayers every day for sending ...


Cheap Eats for AERA

There's no reason to eat overpriced Midtown food at this week's meeting. Thankfully, skoolboy pulled together a list of good (and affordable) restaurants near AERA. My vote goes to Wondee Siam II - hands down, my favorite Thai restaurant in the city. Let us know about other finds - and check out program recommendations here.Angelo’s Pizza, 117 W. 57th (6th & 7th Aves.), thin-crust coal oven pizzaAzuri Café, 465 W. 51st (9th & 10th), Israeli falafel/shawarmaIse, 58 W. 56th (5th & 6th Aves.), sushiIsland Burgers & Shakes, 766 9th Ave. (51st St.)Lenny’s, 60 W. 48th (5th & 6th), sandwichesMenchanko-Tei, 43 ...


Madame Secretary Demands Triage, Randy Reback Delivers

"We need triage," Madame Secretary explained last week. This morning, Randy Reback delivered it to my inbox via the Journal of Public Economics' new issue, which includes his paper, "Teaching to the Rating: School Accountability and the Distribution of Student Achievement." Reback analyzed data from Texas, the birthplace of NCLB-style accountability, and here's what he found:* Schools respond to math performance incentives both by targeting math resources towards specific students and by making broad changes which also help very low achieving students. These responses tend to sacrifice the targeted students’ reading performance and to sacrifice relatively high achieving students’ performance ...


The Male Professor as Open Book?

I didn't notice until a friend pointed it out, but there are no female profs quoted in this NYT article on professors' internet show-and-tell:Certainly, professors have embraced the Internet since its earliest days, using it as a scholarly avenue of communication, publication and debate. Now it is common for many to reveal more personal information that has little connection to their work.Some do so in hopes it will attract attention for a book or paper they have written; others do so inadvertently, joining Facebook to communicate with students and then finding themselves lured deeper by its various applications.Many,...


Improving Graduation Rates: The Push Out/Pull In Dilemma

Today's NYT article on graduation rates touches briefly on the push out problem. But there's another approach to improving grad rates that has run rampant in NYC - awarding credit even after students fail courses. Seat time credit has received some play (see these old posts from Edwize and NYC Educator), but there's an important story waiting to be written about how schools have changed failing course grades if students attended tutoring or completed independent projects.None of these tactics is necessarily problematic from an educational standpoint. In fact, offering multiple chances may be an important way to keep a ...


Thinking Politically?

Related to this post, Alexander Russo makes an interesting point about academics and politics:Switching from academics to politics and back again is no easy task....Eduwonkette seems to miss the political point I was making about making NCLB seem more fair (and powerful) by calling for -- you guessed it -- better data. She may be right, but politics doesn't wait for better data, and educators of all stripes are going to have to think more politically if they are ever going to get into the political debate where the policy decisions are made.Over in TWIE's comments, skoolboy ...


Before NCAA Divisions, We Need Better Data

Yesterday, Alexander Russo applied the concept of NCAA divisions to the comparison group debate. He suggested:What about creating NCAA-like divisions (I, II, III) within public school systems based on student poverty, in order to help someone (educators) get past the poverty- achievement trap and help others (politicos) see that performance varies even with schools with similar demographics?The trouble is that public schools only have access to blunt measures of students' socioeconomic status and other non-school conditions. In particular, free and reduced lunch eligibility poorly captures degrees of disadvantage. Imagine two schools in which 60% of students qualify for ...


March Madness: The Achievement Gap Edition

Following up on the Quick and the Ed's March Madness graduation rate post, check out the black-white grad rate gaps for players on this year's teams:* 61 percent (33 schools) of the men’s tournament teams graduated 70 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, while only 30 percent (19 schools) graduated 70 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes, creating a 31 percent gap.* 83 percent (45) graduated 50 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, but only 57 percent (36) graduated 50 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes, creating a 26 percent gap....


Really!?! Joel Klein

NYC's Panel for Education Policy voted tonight to require 8th graders to score above level 1 on reading and math tests and pass core courses in order to be promoted. Meanwhile, last week Joel Klein wanted to invest a hypothetical billionaire's bling in a research institute - "There are two things that I would do with this money. One, I would try to set up a national institute for educational policy that does serious research. This is an industry in which there are so many myths, and that’s because there are such large gaps in our knowledge right now."Really,...


Live Blogging ASCD - Go Dina!

Dina Strasser, who writes the terrific blog The Line, is live blogging the ASCD conference. When she asked for burning questions, I existentially whimpered, "Does research really matter?" - and Dina has the answer here....


To the Lighthouse

Lands' End is sponsoring a teacher awards program. Between now and April 17th, you can nominate a teacher for a Teachers Light the Way award here....


Charlie Barone and I Agree!

An event so rare that it deserves its own blog post: Charlie points to a Washington Post article on NCLB and students with disabilities. The article argues that NCLB has forced schools to focus on disabled students because their scores are separately disaggregated and only a small fraction of students can be exempted. Before NCLB, too many state accountability systems had gaping loopholes that allowed these students to be ignored (for more, see here). Of course, this brings us back to the NCLB incentives debate. If we credit the structure of the law when students with disabilities receive more attention, ...


eduwonkette and skoolboy's AERA picks!

Weighing in at ~500 pages, the AERA program is a good weapon, but a crappy guide to a professional meeting. Hopefully, skoolboy and I will save you the trouble of opening it. Below, we've listed some promising sessions on topics frequently discussed on this blog (skoolboy's picks are marked with an *.) Session titles, first authors, and discussants are listed below. Readers, please suggest other sessions that we have overlooked.Monday 2:15-3:45*: Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching: Explicating and Examining a Program of Research. (Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Jennifer Lewis, Heather Hill, Imani Goffney, Laurie Sleep, Hyman Bass, Pamela Grossman, Stephen ...


What Do We Want Our Schools to Do, and For Whom?

I get all big picture in a guest post over at SharpBrains. Here's an excerpt:"Schools," Stanford historian David Labaree wrote, "occupy an awkward position at the intersection between what we hope society will become and what we think it really is." What do we want our schools to do, and for whom?Schools, like most organizations, have many goals. These goals often compete with and displace each other. Relying heavily on the work of David Labaree, I will discuss three central goals of American schools – social efficiency, democratic equality, and social mobility. Throughout the history of American education, these ...


RFSLIC

I am 2BZ4UQT. But a reader sent along his thoughts on how Roland Fryer's plan to text message our way to educational equity could reinvent NYC teens' texting lingo. More likely is that the Department of Ed makes a major gaffe while trying to communicate with the young folks in a language no one older than 22 understands. For original meanings, you can look here.2BZS2T - too busy studying to talkMILF - man, I like fractions!LOL - learning obligatory lessonsRMTVA - raising my teachers' value-addedROFL - reading only for lootOTFN - our teachers fired nowWDIGP - when do ...


A Different Sex Story

$4300 is today's magic number, but perhaps we should be talking about 25% instead. Today, a CDC study reports that 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. From the AP article:A virus that causes cervical cancer is by far the most common sexually transmitted infection in teen girls aged 14 to 19, while the highest overall prevalence is among black girls — nearly half the blacks studied had at least one STD. That rate compared with 20 percent among both whites and Mexican-American teens, the study from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found....Among ...


Was John McCain Vaccinated Against Logic?

John McCain hopped into the autism/thimerosal debate last week when he related, “It’s indisputable that autism is on the rise among children….and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.” (Hat tip: Campaign K-12; also see On Special Education’s take on McCain's argument.)The trouble is that no decent study has ever established a link between autism and thimerosal. For example, consider this article published in JAMA, which compared kids exposed to vaccines with and without thimerosal and concluded, “The risk of autism and other autistic-spectrum disorders ...


Guest Blogger Sean Corcoran: The Teaching Penalty

Sean Corcoran is an economist who teaches at the Steinhardt School of Education at NYU. He is a co-author (with Sylvia Allegretto and Larry Mishel) of The Teaching Penalty, a report released today by the Economic Policy Institute.“I don’t see why a good teacher should be paid less money than a bad senator . . . It is unconscionable that the average salary of a lawyer is $79,000 a year and the average salary of a teacher is $39,000 a year.”- John McCain, Republican debate at Dartmouth College, October 29, 1999“We are going to have to take ...


Pay for Performance in the Corporate World

We often hear that education needs to operate more like the private sector. But few corporations tie their employee bonuses to quantifiable output in the same way that some performance pay plans tie teacher pay to scores. (See How Does Performance Pay Work in Other Sectors?)For those who believe that corporate employees rise and fall based on the fates of their companies, here's a story ripped from the headlines: Washington Mutual is shielding executive performance pay from the housing crisis fallout. From the Wall Street Journal article:In the filing, the human-resources committee of WaMu's board, which approved the ...


Raise the Dropout Age or Let Them Go?

Per the "Let Them Go" debate: does research have anything to say about the effects of the dropout age on subsequent life outcomes? In "Would More Compulsory Schooling Help Disadvantaged Youth? Evidence From Recent Changes to School-Leaving Laws," economist Philip Oreopoulos examines this question. Here's an excerpt from the abstract:This paper uses these recent changes [in the school leaving age] in order to estimate the effects of further compulsory schooling. The results suggest that more restrictive laws reduced dropout rates, increased college enrollment, and improved career outcomes. Some caution is warranted, since focusing on recent law changes leads to ...


Coalition of the Willing, & the Sherman Dorn Presidential Challenge

There's an interesting conversation starting in the comments below, to which Robert Pondiscio has added a longer post at Core Knowledge. The central issue: Is the goal of public education to educate the willing, or to convert the unwilling?In other events, Sherman Dorn has issued a presidential challenge (not the kind with the mile run and pullups - but if you'd like to know how out of shape you are, click on the thumbnail above), writing:Eduwonkette, if you're reading, I challenge you to nominate the most interesting and eclectic panel of questioners at a hypothetical fall education debate ...


March Madness (It's Not Just For Basketball) Links

Here's a survey of the zany news, wacky ideas, and near meltdowns that are floating around in today's blogosphere:1) A Must Read for New Yorkers: The NYC Progress Report discussion is picking up again, so check out this post. In How effective is your kid's school? , the Dallas ISD Blog shows how effectiveness scores in Dallas can vary wildly from year to year. Kent Fischer quips, "Will the real Sequoyah Elementary School please stand up?"2) One Flew Over the Ed Prof's Nest: Over at Rate Your Students, an ed prof loses it. He leads with, "I've been marking ...


C. Wright Millot

When I descended into pre-March Madness two weeks ago, we were discussing the relationships between service providers, quasi-academic publications, policy research/advocacy organizations, and the foundations that fund them (see my posts here, here, and here). (This March, I’m chanting The Devil Runs Stata instead of Rock Chalk Jayhawk, so posting may continue to be lighter than usual this month.)In the meantime, Dean Millot has been channeling C. Wright Mills. (Yes, that's C. Wright on the motorcycle.) He’s penned four meaty posts that zero in on the charter school piece of this puzzle, which was underrepresented in ...


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