July 2008 Archives

Last call! Submit your slogan by the end of the day. I'll put a few together as logos and we'll vote next week. My new submission is "The NYC DOE: Truthiness in Education." Some of yesterday's submissions included:The NYC DOE: Redefining success since 1876 (MD)The NYC DOE: Do as I say not as I do (cha424)The NYC DOE: Proficiency is forever. (Doug)The NYC DOE: Making words and data mean whatever we want them to mean. (BHR)Here's the original challenge:Every legit corporation has a catchy slogan. Nike rocks "Just Do It!" GE "brings good things ...

If you follow NYC schools, here's a new must read blog for you - Gotham Schools. When the Open Planning Project lined up two of NYC's most talented education bloggers - Philissa Cramer (formerly of Inside Schools) and Kelly Vaughan (a NYC teacher for the last eight years) - I knew we could expect big things from this site. Here's a description:GothamSchools is a news source and online community for teachers, parents, policy makers, and journalists interested in learning about what works and what doesn’t in the nation’s largest school district. We seek to provide a clearinghouse ...

Looks like the tea party is finally over. As we all expected, the New York City Department of Education had questionable motives for stalling the release of the New York State scale score data.Here's why: The achievement gap in New York City has increased in the last five years, and the decreases in the achievement gap in grade 8 ELA have come at the expense of white and Asian students. Coupled with my analyses of NAEP achievement gaps - which also showed no progress and in some cases growing gaps - these findings are quite troubling.Over the period ...

The inaugural "Order of the Yellow Cape Award" goes to fellow blogger Matthew Tabor for being the first to FOIL for the illusive New York City scale scores. He inspired a number of other bloggers to do the same - many thanks to everyone who filed a FOIL request. Matthew posted the data here. Stay tuned!...

Some readers asked me to put together a summary about the achievement gap in New York City:1) Proficiency rates, or the percentage of students passing a test, are often used to measure achievement gaps. For example, if 90% of white students passed a test and 65% of black students did, some observers will say that the achievement gap is "25 points."2) Proficiency is a misleading and inaccurate way to measure achievement gaps. Primarily, the problem is that we cannot differentiate between students who just made it over the proficiency bar and those who scored well above it. Proficiency ...

The current policy discourse about teachers and teaching in the U.S. emphasizes the recruitment and retention of “high-quality” teachers, defined either by the teachers’ credentials, or their value-added influence on students’ achievement, or both. It has not, in skoolboy’s view, paid sufficient attention to the ways in which the school serves as a context for teachers’ work, shaping the conditions under which a teacher might be more or less successful in advancing students’ learning. Teachers don’t teach in a vacuum; the ability of the leaders in a school to set a direction, secure resources, facilitate professional development, ...

David Cantor, the New York City Department of Education's press secretary, will not be receiving a free cape. Sadly, this is what it's come to in New York City - the Department of Education is denying all of us access to data that rightfully belong in the public domain.****From: eduwonkette To: Cantor DavidCc: Jacob AndrewSent: Sun Jul 27 22:18:22 2008Subject: Requesting scale scoresDear David,I saw over at eduwonk that you are giving out the scale scores by race/ethnicity. Could you please send these scores to me (2003-2008), or provide a statement that I can post ...

A child, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, went up to the carriage. "The Emperor is naked," he said. "Fool!" his father reprimanded, running after him. "Don't talk nonsense!" He grabbed his child and took him away. But the boy's remark, which had been heard by the bystanders, was repeated over and over again until everyone cried: "The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It's true!"The Emperor realized that the people were right but could not admit to that. He thought it better to continue the ...

Did the Fordham Factor jump the shark? I don't think so, but after yesterday's geezer complaints about Miley Cyrus lyrics endorsing "anti-school" messages, I knew they needed a hand. Here it is - Madonna's "Like a Virgin" remixed as "Like a Student," a pro-school diddy that will undoubtedly remake teenage culture for the better. In brackets, you'll find stage directions for the video, which I hope they will put together for next week's Fordham Factor.I made it through that Calculus [Checker Finn by a blackboard with equations]Somehow I made it through [Mike Petrilli, head buried in books in ...

On Tuesday I described the math achievement disparities separating black and Hispanic New York City students from their white and Asian counterparts on NAEP. Turning our attention now to reading, you’ll see that the achievement gap has not narrowed in reading either.However, in 8th grade, the achievement gap is moving in the wrong direction; when we compare the performance of Asian students with their black and Hispanic peers, we see that the gap has grown quickly and quite substantially.Here are some basic facts about New York City black and Hispanic students’ reading performance:* In 2007, the average ...

Today I will lay out the math achievement disparities separating black and Hispanic New York City students from their white and Asian counterparts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Needless to say, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein forgot to mention these inconvenient facts when they testified before Congress last week:* In 2007, the average African-American 8th grade student in NYC performed at the 20th percentile of the white distribution in math, and at the 15th percentile of the Asian distribution. Put differently, 80 percent of white students performed above the average African-American math score, and 85 percent of ...

"Over the past six years, we’ve done everything possible to narrow the achievement gap – and we have. In some cases, we’ve reduced it by half."-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, testifying before the House Committee on Education and Labor, July 17, 2008"Our African-American and Latino students have gained on their white and Asian peers....What does this show? Achievement for high-needs students is not a dream. It’s happening."-NYC Chancellor Joel Klein, testifying in the same House Committee hearingNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein seem intent on taking the "New York City miracle" national. ...

When I read about the University of California's proposed changes to their admissions standards, which would deemphasize test scores in favor of class rank (Hat tip: Education Optimists), I realized that proposal is a partial outgrowth of a decade of work on higher education access by Marta Tienda. Among educational researchers, Tienda, a demographer and sociologist who teaches at Princeton, stands out for her record of doing research that informs public policy debates about educational opportunity for disadvantaged kids, and for the passion and flair with which she does this work. After the Hopwood case temporarily ended affirmative action in ...

Boy bands have a short shelf life. Not long after "Rage Against the Rothstein" was born, things fell apart. Fordham's new research director, Amber Winkler, came onto the scene and declared the boy band kaput. We already had a glimpse of Christina Hentges in the "Fordham Factor" videos (she also turned heads with her deadpan performance in their spoof commercial, Ed in '08 "This is what $60 Million Gets you.) Then on Flypaper, Amber and Christina were joined by Fordham's new blogette contributor, Stafford Palmieri. Still no one had seen Coby Loup, which led me to suspect he was a ...

When you're looking for measured, careful, and thoughtful analysis, there is no better blogger to turn to than Dean Millot at edbizbuzz. He's consistently able to take complex debates and lay out the issues raised in an incisive and even-handed way. Millot follows up on the thinktank/peer review debate here, and promises another post tomorrow. Stay tuned.Update: Dean Millot posts his second installment....

"You're too young to be this cynical, " he said, staring across his desk at me with a perplexed half smile.I was 10, and in the middle of our classroom's simulated presidential campaign in which we followed the election and voted for candidates, my 5th grade teacher had launched into a pep talk about the potential for real change.The last eight years have done little to temper my built-in skepticism. These are dark times, Diane Ravitch reminds us this morning. If I saw the glass as half-empty when Bush assumed the presidency, I now see it as half full ...

Does the market for research in education policymaking work pretty well? For once, eduwonk, Dean Millot, and I all agree - it doesn't. The “market for lemons,” which Jay Greene makes reference to in his most recent post, gives us insight into why.A common rationale given by economists for intervention in selected markets – for example, insurance markets - is the problem of asymmetric information, a gap in information available to buyers and sellers in a market. Using the example of used car markets, Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof lays out this dilemma in his famous paper, “The Market ...

Over at eduwonk, the New York City Department of Education is putting its best foot forward by displaying its two strongest (and most becoming!) skills: a remarkable willingness to spin the naked facts and to personally attack anyone who questions their miracle. But Chris Cerf can't manage to slip past Sol Stern's first-rate BS detector, which is on full display in his original post and his drop-kick comment on Cerf's post, which are both must-reads.Here's what I don't get. If you're a believer in Truth, why spin checkable facts when you're no doubt going to get busted? It's just ...

Let me use the occasion of Jay Greene's response to my earlier post to explain the differences between blogging and research, as I see it. Greene makes no distinction between the two activities, and is, as a result, skeptical about my anonymity. As he explained to me off-blog, "The same basic principles apply. They are both part of the spectrum of how people communicate ideas that may be related to policy decisions."Blogs provide opinions, commentary, and analysis. Blogs are a place to discuss ideas, consider other points of view, and hear what a community of readers has to say. ...

Stefanie DeLuca is a sociologist who teaches at Johns Hopkins. Self-described as "Ann Coulter's anti-matter, but not as tall," DeLuca has recently been named a W.T. Grant Foundation Scholar - a prestigious five-year award - to study residential mobility in the lives of poor adolescents. Deluca is a rare find in educational research as she is equally skilled in quantitative and qualitative methods, and has used both approaches to study the effects of residential mobility on poor children and their families.DeLuca's work on the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program, which attempted to relocate poor families from high-poverty neighborhoods ...

If you think "Education Department Employs Squadron in Search for Truth" is a spoof article from The Onion, guess again. You'd think that PR flaks would know better than to name an otherwise mundane 21st century version of letters to the editor the "Truth Squad," and in doing so, make it worth reporting on. Said New York City Deputy Chancellor Chris Cerf, who came up with the Truth Squad concept: "We try to keep track of what people are saying about us, and we respond periodically. Because we believe in the truth."Is that truth with a big T, truth ...

Here are four blogs - 3 of them are relatively new - that you should definitely check out:* The Lights of El Milagro: Stories from One of America's Most Innovative Charter Schools: This is the first blog written by a charter school founder and current principal that's come across my screen. Kevin Riley, who chronicles the ins and outs of Mueller Charter School in California, brings a unique set of experiences to the blogosphere, and has a great post up about AYP and baseball box scores. Of the wait to find out if his school cleared AYP, he writes, "we ...

“Better schools. Higher scores. And satisfied parents. That's the record of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.” Thus begins Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’ column in yesterday’s Washington Post. In this piece, she seeks to rally public support to renew the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), which provides scholarships up to $7,500 to use towards the costs of a participating private school, including tuition, fees, and transportation. The authorizing legislation stipulated that priority for scholarships was to be given first to students attending schools that were judged in need of improvement (SINI) under NCLB standards. Last month, the ...

Mica Pollock is an anthropologist who teaches at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. She has two new books coming out this summer: Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School (on which she has written the FAQ below) 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. And she has just launched a new blog, schoolracetalk.org. Head on over to her site for what promises to be a provocative discussion.1) What is "anti-racism?"By “everyday antiracism,” we mean ...

Today, Marcus Winters, Jay Greene, and Julie Trivitt are releasing a study called, "Building on the Basics: The Impact of High-Stakes Testing on Student Proficiency in Low-Stakes Subjects."It may be an elegantly executed study, or it may be a terrible study. The trouble is that based on the embargoed version released to the press, on which many a news article will appear today, it's impossible to tell. There is a technical appendix, but that wasn't provided up front to the press with the glossy embargoed study. Though the embargo has been lifted now and the report is publicly available, ...

Many of you have pointed out that it's tough to find the RSS and email subscription buttons, so here are direct links:1) To subscribe to the RSS feed in a reader, click here.2) To receive blog posts via email each night, click here. And thanks to the readers who let me know that the Bloglines feed has been on the fritz. The easiest way to solve this problem is to unsubscribe and resubscribe....

Can asking women to simply bubble in their gender before a test hurt their performance on math tests? Conversely, does mentioning that a math test is gender-neutral boost women’s achievement? More than a decade of research on “stereotype threat” suggests that the answer to these questions is yes.When stereotypes – for example, the “math is hard for girls” Barbie myth – are not activated or are actively nullified before math tests, women’s performance improves. Given the ongoing concern about women’s under-representation in the upper echelons of math and science fields, researchers have turned to these social-psychological mechanisms for ...

Let's be honest. skoolboy is - and this is my highest compliment - a total rockstar. His posts last week were remarkable for their range, their humor, and the quality of the discussions they set off.Thanks, skoolboy. And fingers crossed that I can convince you to post more often....

Happy Independence Day! Today is an opportunity to reflect on the ideals and principles that founded this great country, and to renew our commitment to uphold and support them when we see signs of erosion and compromise. What does it mean to be a citizen in the modern world? In the coming year, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) will be conducting the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS), a study of eighth-graders’ knowledge about and attitudes towards civics and citizenship in 39 countries. Conspicuously missing from the list is the U.S.A. It’s...

We’ve spent a lot of time here lately talking about tests and test scores. You can’t ignore ‘em – they’re a ubiquitous part of the educational landscape in the U.S., and their salience has only increased in the NCLB era. To the extent that they are able to tell us about students’ mastery of core academic skills, they can be a useful tool to guide education policy and practice. But some of the importance of testing comes from the way we use tests for sorting, selecting and certifying individuals, and not from the intrinsic qualities that the ...

While you’re waiting for Dan Koretz’ book on testing to arrive – I think eduwonkette and I should get some kind of consideration for shilling for this book so often here – here’s a brief skoolboy’s-eye view on testing. Actual psychometricians are welcome to correct what I have to say. Tests are typically designed to compare the performance of students (whether as individuals, or as members of a group) either to an external standard for performance or to one another. Tests that compare students to an external standard are called criterion-referenced tests; those that compare students to one another ...

This year’s statewide fourth-grade math exam administered in New York State -- the one with the remarkably high gains -- contained the following item: “Janice bought a notebook for $3.75 and a pencil for $0.47. She gave the cashier $5.00. How much money did Janice receive in change?” The item might have looked a little familiar to fourth-grade teachers. In 2007, a similar item appeared: “Tony bought art supplies that cost $19.31. He gave $20.00 to the cashier. How much money did Tony receive in change?” And in 2006, an item read: “Mr. Marvin ...


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