May 2008 Archives

Welcome These New Edubloggers Aboard!

Here are two new blogs worth checking out:* AccessAbility: Written by a special education writer, this blog hopes to encourage discussion on research-based special education interventions.* Joel Packer Has All the Answers: In addition to a cheeky title, this blog will provide, "The Latest on No Child Left Behind from NEA's Top Policy Expert."While we're talking about gender gaps - the ed policy blogosphere bears striking resemblance to "The Bachelorette." 75% of teachers are women, but 75% of ed policy bloggers are men. I'm just saying....


Cool People You Should Know: Mica Pollock

Mica Pollock is an anthropologist who teaches at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, and studies how youth and adults struggle daily to discuss and address issues of racial difference, discrimination, and fairness in school and community settings. She has two new books coming out this summer: Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School and Because of Race: How Americans Debate Harm and Opportunity in Our Schools. Her first book, Colormute: Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School, won AERA's 2005 book award. You can find an excerpt from Colormute below:“This is a book about race talk – about people ...


Culture, Gender, and Math

Larry Summers' fatal gaffe, in which he suggested that innate differences between men and women may explain why fewer women succeed in math and science careers, set of the latest round of the gender math wars. Though many are in a tizzy over a "boy crisis" in education, as early as the fall of kindergarten, boys outperform girls in math at the top of the distribution (i.e. if we compare girls at the 95th percentile with boys at the 95th percentile). By the end of third grade, boys outperform girls in math not just at the top, but throughout ...


Mike Petrilli and the Fat Police

Every April 1, the Education Gadfly releases its very funny April Fools issue, a collection of mock education-news stories that generates double-takes in readers’ offices around the country. Apparently April Fools Day falls a little late this year.According to this week’s issue of the Education Gadfly, teachers unions are not only making teachers lazy, but also fat. In what Mike Petrilli dubs the “teacher obesity epidemic,” schools collectively spend more on health insurance costs to treat overweight teachers than the state of Maine spends on its entire K-12 system in a year.The problem, Petrilli claims, lies in ...


Educating a New Majority: The Condition of Education 2008

The National Center for Education Statistics released the 2008 Condition of Education report this morning. If you need any basic stats on education – early childhood through post-secondary – this 300+ page report is for you.In this year's report, the NCES drew attention to the changing demography of American schoolchildren. Minority students make up 43 percent of American public school enrollment, and higher proportions in the South (48%) and West (55%). One in five children speak a language other than English at home. The graph below shows demographic enrollment trends from 1986-2006 by region.Also striking is the extreme racial segregation ...


Kopp Out

Last week, Robert Pondiscio put forth an ingenious proposal to leverage the service of recent college grads who teach for two years through Teach for America:Instead of throwing TFAers into the worst teaching situations in the cities you serve, place them in some of the best, highest-performing schools….Place them in that high-functioning school for two years as pinch-hitters for some of our best, most experienced teachers, and send those master teachers to the same schools to which you’re sending TFA corps members now. We can call it the Teach For America Fellowship, and throw in a nice ...


New Verbs to Describe City Council Hearings: Hissing, Spanking, Chasing

Here's a round-up of yesterday's budget hearings: Chancellor Talks of Cuts for Schools, Amid Hissing (NYT), City Council Spanks Chancellor Klein Over School Aid Cuts (Daily News), School Budget Showdown (Gotham Gazette), and Rollback Set in Schooling of the Gifted (NY Sun). (Sidenote on City Council hearings: one Columbia Law School reader reports that the footage of The Great Liebman Chase of 2007 made rounds in his Criminal Law course.) We still have scant details on the "$200 million in central cuts." As of this morning, David Cantor at the NYC Department of Education has not responded to a request ...


In NYC, Tis the Season for Sacrifice

A few weeks ago, a solemn President Bush revealed that he honors our soldiers' sacrifice by abstaining from golf. "I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal," he explained.It was in this spirit that Chancellor Joel Klein appeared before the City Council this morning. Klein dedicated his presentation to the heroic central cuts endured by his bureaucracy. While salty tears welled up in my eyes, I noticed that one slide was missing. Paragons of restraint that they are, the New York City Department of Education has only increased central staffing levels by 18% over the ...


skoolboy wonders: Could a Parrot Pass the New York State ELA Exam?

A few days ago, A Voice in the Wilderness broke the story that the retest for the New York State English Language Arts exam had a task that required students to write a position paper arguing that inexperienced people can provide leadership, after listening to a speech by Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America. Some were appalled by the one-sided nature of the task, likening it to propaganda. eduwonkette’s take was that the task would be more defensible if students were given information on both sides and then asked to choose a side to argue.The scoring guide ...


Sol Stern and the SUTVA Shenanigans

Sol Stern's new article on the Reading First study shenanigans offers a window into the central challenge of randomized experiments in education. That challenge is the violation of the Stable Unit Treatment Value Assumption (SUTVA) required for clean causal inference in randomized experiments. As articulated by ninja statistician Don Rubin, the most common violation of SUTVA involves "interference between units."What does interference mean? The idea is that Serena's outcome should not be affected by whether her peers Blair and Vanessa were assigned to the treatment or control condition. In other words, one subject’s outcome should depend only on ...


Suggestions for a Summer Reading List?

It's about that time, folks - what are you planning to read this summer? I've just started this book by Dan Koretz, Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us, and I highly recommend it. Also on my list for the summer are:* Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools (Susan Moore Johnson) *Towards Excellence and Equity: An Emerging Vision for Closing the Achievement Gap (Ron Ferguson)* Standards-Based Reform and the Poverty Gap: Lessons for No Child Left Behind (Adam Gamoran, editor)* Learning in a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Society (Carola Suarez-Orozco, Marcelo ...


skoolboy's Platinum Law of Educational Research

eduwonkette's "Iron Law of Qualitative Research in Education" is that the number of participants in the study should exceed the number of authors on the paper. Ha-ha, very funny, but the subtext is that (a) we cannot learn anything of value from studies that have small sample sizes; (b) qualitative research often has small samples; (c) therefore, we can't learn very much from qualitative research. Eduwonkette would protest that that's not what she's saying at all—"qualitative research is critical to educational research and policy," and I know that she does believe this. But poking fun at a paper reporting ...


Violation of the Iron Law of Qualitative Research in Education, #1,321

The Iron Law: The number of participants in the study should exceed the number of authors on the paper.Yet I opened up the latest issue of the American Educational Research Journal to discover a violation of said rule in the article, "The Emotional Ambivalence of Socially Just Teaching: A Case Study of A Novice Urban Schoolteacher," which has two authors. Got to love the "convenience sample" - the novice teacher is a former student of one of the authors. Jay Greene, I am totally going to dominate your bingo game with one article only.No disrespect to qualitative research ...


Gender Bender: The AAUW's New Report on Gender Equity

The American Association of University Women released a 124 page report this morning debunking the myth of a "boy crisis" in education. Lots of long-term NAEP and ACT/SAT trend data to mull over.The real trend story, though, is not about test scores, but about how girls have overtaken boys in college completion. 65% of all bachelor’s degrees were awarded to men in 1960; by 2005, women received 58% of all bachelor’s degrees. Gender disparities are even greater among some minority groups, with women earning 66% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African-Americans, 61% of those ...


Geeked Out Monday Links

1) Oh data!/ I wanna get wit-cha/ Regress and fit-cha: More evidence that I am a nerd, but so are you, all you ed researchers and data-driven teachers who read this blog. "Baby Got Back" gets remixed as "Baby Got Stats, " i.e.: But when you get some data / And you put it in Stata/ And it’s spits out a beta of 10 / You get sprung. Can't Fordham put together a respectable rap about ed policy?2) Seeing Like a State: The small world debate returns at Edwize.3) Great Column on Value-Added: "On April 24, 2008, heteroskedasticity became ...


Should State Tests Require Students to Advocate for Specific Education Policies?: NY's ELA Test on Teach for America

A Voice Cries Out reports that this year's high school ELA retest required students to complete the following task:Today’s ’situation’ told students that they were in a leadership team who has been debating ‘whether leaders should have experience in their chosen fields.’ They were instructed to write ‘a position paper in which you argue that inexperienced people can provide leadership.’They weren’t even given a choice about which position to take.They then had to listen to a speech by-you guessed it-Wendy Kopp, about why she started Teach For America. In the speech, Kopp talks about how ...


School Closings and Teacher Salaries in New York City: There's Something For Everyone Here

Last fall, the New York City Department of Education graded each of its schools on an A-F scale. Schools were warned that those with Fs – there were 49 altogether - faced closure. Shortly thereafter, the New York City Department of Education announced its intention to close 14 schools. Somewhat perplexing was that 6 of these schools had earned Ds on their progress reports. Why would the Department of Education, we wondered, close D schools before F schools if it believed in its own Progress Report system?Theories abounded. A widely circulated explanation reasoned that Klein et al. were hell-bent on ...


Brain-Based Education: Don't Get Snookered!

"Brain-based education" is K-12's latest fad. Dan Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, has put together a 10 minute video about what we know - and what we need to know - about brain-based education. If you know nothing about cognitive psychology (like me) but want to size up this trend, this video is a helpful introduction. Kudos to Dan Willingham for putting this resource together....


In Which We Make Sweeping Generalizations from a Sample of 69 Teach for America Teachers in North Carolina

A special shoutout goes to the New York Times editorial board for making national policy recommendations based on the Urban Institute's study of Teach for America in North Carolina, which included a whopping 69 Teach for America teachers - a .5% sample of all TFA teachers placed during those years. The study found that North Carolina TFA math and science teachers produced results slightly better (about a tenth of a standard deviation) than experienced teachers in the same school. Because every state in the country is just like North Carolina, the NYT argues that "states that want students to do ...


Teacher Salaries, ATRs, and Closing Schools: A Preview

I've got NYC's school-level teacher salary data fired up, and will write a few posts using these data next week. Here's a preview. New York City is slated to close 14 schools this year, though many will not close immediately, but will phase out over the coming years. Per the whole "Absent Teacher Reserve" (ATR) debate (here, here, here, and here), how many teachers are employed at these schools, and what are their average salaries? These schools employ a total of 822 teachers, and a number of these schools have relatively high average salaries. Given current budgeting rules, through which ...


Dean Millot's Comment on the Ayers AERA Affair

Regarding the Ayers affair, Dean Millot posted the following comment below and over at Flypaper, but it is worth reprinting in full:I'm a lawyer now involved in k-12 education with a long background in national security.Putting on my lawyer hat - Ayers was a fugitive from justice, but all charges against him were dropped in light of prosecutorial misconduct.Putting on my national security hat - to describe him and the Weather Underground as terrorrists is a bit of hyberbole. As a tactic of political struggle, terrorism refers to the indiscriminate use of force against innocents. The Weather ...


Cool People You Should Know: Doug Ready

Doug Ready is a sociologist of education who teaches at Teachers College. His research examines the influence of educational policies and practices on educational equity and access. With Valarie Lee, he co-authored Schools Within Schools: Possibilities and Pitfalls of High School Reform, which warns that schools within schools can become powerful tracking devices. Recently, he penned an excellent review of the class size literature. You can listen to a podcast of his class size talk and read the report here....


Must See TV! Schwarzenegger Doppelganger Promotes Algebra II!

KnowHow2Go has a new college access campaign encouraging kids to take tough classes like Algebra II and Foreign Languages. Think KISS x Schwarzenegger, but with Mr. Rogers' intentions. I'm going to hide under my bed now....


Unsolved Mysteries: The Joel Klein Budget Edition

Imagine that you had 8 staff that cost a total of $904,636. Next year, you will also have 8 staff, but they are only budgeted at $1117, for a mean salary of $139.63. (See p. 446.) That's the deal with Joel Klein's staff - his 8 staff stay, but they are working for sweatshop wages.Hmmmm - if I wanted to make the central Department of Education budget appear smaller than it really is, might I make these monies reappear after public scrutiny of the budget subsided? I'm just saying.If I am missing an alternate explanation (i.e....


Mike Petrili and the Meese Police

Earlier in the week, Mike "Milli" Petrilli asked if I "favor electing former terrorists to key positions of authority within the education research community." Here's the backstory: In his Memo to the AERA, Petrilli suggested that the AERA council should unseat Bill Ayers as Vice-President Elect of Curriculum Studies. I disagree. While I do not condone his actions, Bill Ayers was democratically elected, and the right of professional associations to self-govern should be respected.Mike believes that Ayers' presence reflects badly on the whole association, but guilt by association is a shaky principle. I don't judge Mike Petrilli, whose colleagues ...


What Can $7,789,623 Buy in New York City?

A) 3,894,812 subway ridesB) 15,579 pairs of Prada heelsC) 1812 hours with the Emperors VIP ClubD) 315 years of education at the Brearley SchoolE) 18 staff for the New York City Department of Education's Division of Assessment and AccountabilityOn page 446 of New York City's FY09 budget, we learn that the Division of Assessment and Accountability is budgeted at $8,287,282. $7,789,623 will buy you 18 staff - that's $432,757 per person!The irony of NYC's selective attention to budgeting issues? Priceless.Update: NYC Parents dishes the goods on Bloomberg's $4.5 million ...


Roberta Flack, Vietnam, and NCLB - All in One Op-Ed

It's a deadly slow week in education policy, so I'll pass along this op-ed in the School Library Journal (Killing Me Softly: No Child Left Behind) on a teacher's decision to leave teaching because of the No Child Left Behind Act. Minus 5 points for the melodramatic beginning (I feel like the last marine who got out before the siege of Khe Sanh. I feel like the one Titanic band member who overslept, missed the voyage, and lived. In my darkest moments, I feel like a traitor.), but you can't hold that against a guy who writes young adult fiction. ...


Watch Out, Elizabeth Green, Erin Einhorn, & Jenny Medina!!!

NYC education reporters take note. Straying from his Code Blue demeanor, Mayor Mike proves that he will devour you (without checking your calories) if you accuse him of "maintaining" anything - about NYC schools or otherwise. That's a shame, because this has been a blockbuster school year for "maintaining" in NYC. (Greatest hits: here, here, and here.)In the clip below, a Newsday reporter says, “Mayor, you maintain that..." Bloomberg cuts him off with: “Maintain is a word that I don’t think is appropriate, sir. The next time you have a question and want to insinuate that I lie, ...


Who Slipped a Mickey in John Merrow's Kool-Aid?

It wasn't me, that's for sure. John Merrow shed crocodile tears this morning over public education's "upside-down universe where student outcomes are not allowed to be connected to teaching." He gives a special shout out to New York, though conveniently fails to mention that our tests are administered smack in the middle of the year. We'll give him a pass for forgetfulness - but watch your drink next time, J.You can't swing a fish anymore without hitting a glitch in value-added models - try some of the papers from the recent Wisconsin Value-Added Conference on the complexities of measurement ...


And the Winner is....

Someone should make tee shirts.From left to right, the Fordham Foundation's Liam Julian, Mike Petrilli, and Checker Finn. If you missed the beginning of this thread, here's the original name brainstorm....


TNTP Throws Down the Gauntlet

Why sort out all those pesky details? Let's get to the table, says TNTP in its latest statement....


Joel Klein Blames Idle Teachers for $4 Gas, Subprime Crisis

Forget Secretary of Education - this guy should be running the Fed. This morning, the Daily News reported that "Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said the teachers union - and policies that keep instructors from their classrooms - bear some of the blame for next school year's budget cuts."You've got to give the man props for having the cojones to craft a budgeting rule that creates disincentives to hire teachers from closing schools on Monday, spend $80 million on a data warehousing system that doesn't work on Tuesday, hire a legion of PR and executive staff at McKinsey prices on ...


Tuesday Links

1) Leo on the Daly Show: Leo Casey responds to the New Teacher Project's latest. On an unrelated topic, check out his thoughts on A Nation at Risk at the CEA blog.2) The Dean Scream!: My title is false advertising, but Dean's penned two great posts on the skoolboy/Kevin Carey exchange on policymaking and The New Teacher Project report. And on Dean's earlier post on the medical and teaching professions, Going to the Mat's soccer fiend deconstructs the medicine/education comparison. Go Fulham!3) Corey Glory: Having walloped his finals, Thoughts on Education Policy returns with a post ...


Guest Blogger Tim Daly on The New Teacher Project's Report

Tim Daly is the President of The New Teacher Project and the lead author of "Mutual Benefits."Over the past several days, representatives of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and others have sought to challenge specific findings of “Mutual Benefits,” our recently released study on New York City’s school staffing policies. We appreciate the UFT’s engagement in this dialogue and welcome their participation.The New Teacher Project (TNTP) researched and released “Mutual Benefits” with the goal of sparking a substantive, data-driven policy debate from which better policies would emerge. We are glad to see this debate taking ...


Why Buy the Teacher When You Can Have the Teaching for Free?

New Yorkers love themselves some incentives. We have incentives for students to do well on tests and incentives for parents to take their kids to the doctor. Now that we can't enjoy a meal without contemplating its caloric content, we have guilt-based incentives to eat Pinkberry yogurt instead of Beard Papa's cream puffs. Last week, the New Teacher Project argued that teachers in the "Absent Teacher Reserve" have no incentive to get a job. This morning, it's clear that, in many cases, principals have no incentive to hire them.On Friday, I showed that experienced teachers are more likely to ...


Vote Early, Vote Often

You know you loved the picture - so between now and Thursday night at midnight, help pick a name for Fordham's boy band.  Pick a Name for the Fordham Foundation's Boy Band. The K Street Boys Rage Against the Rothstein Hand Wringsteen Red Hot Petrilli Peppers Checker and the Finns view resultsFree vote poll...


Why You Should Read the Fine Print in the New Teacher Project Report

From the coverage of the New Teacher Project's report, "Mutual Benefits: New York City’s Shift to Mutual Consent in Teacher Hiring,” you'd think that the 235 teachers excessed in 2006 and remaining in the "absent teacher reserve" in December 2007 are the worst of NYC's worst teachers. Consider the National Center on Teacher Quality's retelling: "They are also a generally substandard bunch, with a higher rate of unsatisfactory ratings on their personnel records than their more successful peers. For those content to do very little in life, why give up the life of an excessed teacher?" Or, as the ...


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