November 2008 Archives

This week's COWAbunga award, i.e. comment of the week award, goes to Rachel, who has been commenting here since the very beginning. It turns out that she and I share a ed policy pet peeve:While we're on the subject of "causal connection" I'll bring up one of my pet peeves in the correlation-does-not-imply-causality department that I worry is becoming almost endemic in ed-policy discussions.Even if SAT scores are a good predictor of graduation rate, focused efforts to raise SAT scores (like sending all high school students to test prep classes) will not necessarily improve overall graduation rates. ...


We've always had a blast writing exam questions on this blog, so let me throw out a few bones for all you wily academics teaching undergrad Stat I this fall. The reader who answers both questions correctly gets an award named after her/him, which will commemorate all future exam excellence (i.e. the YOUR NAME HERE! Commemorative Award - though this hilarious post makes me want to name it after satirist Gary Babad, I will refrain!):1) In Kevin Carey's recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, he writes:The new Cessie data also show a disconnect between ...


Following up on a long discussion last spring about teachers displaced from their schools and not rehired - teachers who are part of New York City's "Absent Teacher Reserve:" the city and the union have reached a deal. Principals will not have to pay more for hiring more experienced teachers (for eight years), and will also receive a cash incentive, equal to half of a starting teacher's salary, for hiring a teacher from the ATR.In effect, this deal undoes a central - and in my opinion, unfortunate - component of weighted student funding, through which it costs principals more ...


Calm down. All you have to do is write a thousand words and everything will be fine. And you have all day, except it's already noon.Jeremy Freese, a Northwestern sociologist who blogs at scatterplot, has dreamed up a very cute computer game called Violet. It is likely the only videogame ever to have a graduate student as the main character. Here's the premise:You're a graduate student working on your dissertation, but you haven't gotten any writing done in months. Your girlfriend Violet has put her life on hold, waiting for you to finish, and she's getting fed up. ...


This fall, we've heard a lot about how short-term pay incentives on Wall Street encouraged traders to take huge risks, and ultimately ushered us into our current financial mess. Ask the folks at Lehman Brothers - the decisions that maximize profits in the short-term don't always pan out in the long-term.It's curious that at the same time, journalists and talking heads have pushed performance pay for teachers onto center stage. Proponents of performance pay often want to use one year of test score data in order to pass out bonuses - in other words, reward the attainment of short-term ...


Richard Ingersoll is a sociologist who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He studies teacher quality, teacher retention, and how schools make use of teachers once they are on the job.Last weekend, Ingersoll presented a talk out at Notre Dame called, "Misdiagnosing the Teacher Quality Problem," which unpacked three common ideas about the roots of the teacher quality problem: 1) entry requirements are too restrictive; 2) we are plagued by teacher shortages, and 3) upgrading training and certification standards is the central issue in preparing highly qualified teachers. You can read the whole policy brief here, but I want ...


Yesterday, the NYC Department of Education released its high school progress reports - 83% of high schools received A or B grades. Like the K-8 reports, 60% of the grade is based on "student progress," which in the case of high school includes credit accumulation.We know that many students fall of the wagon, so to speak, early in high school and fail enough courses that it makes it hard for them to catch up. So tracking students' credit accumulation closely - and intervening when students fall behind - makes a lot of sense.But holding schools accountable for credit ...


skoolboy ventured into the rarified air of NYC’s Harvard Club yesterday to hear Marcus Winters present his new Manhattan Institute research on the effects of the 2006-07 New York City School Progress Reports on students’ 2008 performance on state math and English tests in grades four through eight. The analysis uses a regression-discontinuity design, capitalizing on the fact that schools received a continuous total score summarizing their performance on school environment (15%), student performance (30%) and student growth (55%), but there are firm cut-offs that distinguish schools receiving an F from those receiving a D, those receiving a D ...


Few things cause skoolboy to laugh out loud uncontrollably, but this line from a story filed by Elizabeth Green at GothamSchools hit the spot: As part of its new approach, the Gates Foundation will advocate for the politically thorny goal of national standards — and will aim to write its own standards and its own national test. Read it again, slowly: The Gates Foundation will develop its own national standards and its own national test. Does anybody else think this is a really, really bad idea? I'm delighted that the Gates Foundation has realized that throwing money at small schools didn't ...


“I’m convinced that there are gifted and talented children in all communities, and that we need to make sure that they avail themselves of the opportunities."-Joel Klein, October 30, 2007In the last two weeks, the New York Times reported on two striking trends in gifted and talented enrollments in New York City. Not only have the new admissions requirements to G&T programs reduced the representation of poor, African-American, and Hispanic students in these programs at the elementary level, but we see growing racial disparities in the composition of specialized high schools like Bronx Science, Stuyvesant, and Brooklyn ...


Why is there so much interest in where Barack and Michelle Obama plan to enroll their daughters, Malia Ann and Sasha, in Washington, DC schools? Probably because most observers think that the choice of a school will reveal something meaningful about President-Elect Obama’s views about schooling in the U.S. Is that so? Heck if I know. Up till now, the Obama girls have been attending the University of Chicago Lab School, a private PK-12 school associated with the University of Chicago with annual tuition and fees ranging from $18K-$21K for students in grades 1-12. (Full-time U of ...


Why, we sure have, according to Ward Connerly, former University of California Regent and longtime opponent of affirmative action. Connerly quotes one of his college professors as saying that we’ll know that we’ve overcome the scourge of race when (a) white men no longer object to their daughters marrying a black man; (b) a white person can honestly say that s/he would be willing to walk in the shoes of any black person; and (c) Americans are willing to elect a black person to the presidency. We’ve now learned that the third condition has been met, ...


Many thanks to skoolboy for taking the reigns while I've been out of town. In a week, we will return to our regularly scheduled programming, and skoolboy will be back to entertain at the end of the week. In the meantime, consider the following links:1) Education Advice for the Next President: A motley crew of characters offers their education advice for the next president.2) Willingham on Evaluating Teachers: It's not a home video, but Dan Willingham offers his insights about how we shouldn't evaluate teachers.3) New York City Research Partnership: If you missed the announcement, NYC's Research ...


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