April 2011 Archives

@eduleadership As states start to roll out changes in teacher evaluation policy, the landscape for educators is changing rapidly. Race to the Top was remarkably effective in incentivizing states to restructure their teacher evaluation systems, and we're starting to see how these changes are being worked out at the local level. In a new series of posts, I'll examine state and local changes to teacher (and principal) evaluation policy, and how these mandated changes are working themselves out at the local level. Let's take as an example Virginia's recent move to make 40% of teacher evaluations based on student achievement. ...


@eduleadership The "still not dead" voucher issue came up again recently when Jay Mathews of WaPo pointed out an updated study from the Foundation for Educational Choice, which claims that vouchers have positive effects on both participating students and non-participating students who remain in public schools. The report uses the word "science" with great force and frequency, and asserts that random-assignment experiments (several of which show favorable evidence for voucher programs) are the "gold standard" of educational research. To a point, I agree that experiments provide helpful clarity, but they don't answer complex policy questions for us. Random-assignment experiments are ...


@eduleadership I recently presented at the NAESP (National Association of Elementary School Principals) Convention in Tampa, and had the opportunity to talk to many people about using the iPad as a principal. Because of the topic of my presentation, I was contacted before, during, and after the conference by several developers of iPad apps that are designed to allow administrators to compile walkthrough feedback and share it with teachers. A quick look at several of these apps reveals a glaring flaw: They are all smartly designed to do something stupid. We've been taught, by great minds such as Charlotte Danielson (one...


@eduleadership The project triangle, often posted in offices, sends a clear message to people who want it all: Pick two. In other words, you can't always get what you want—not all of it, at least. I'm reading a chapter from a rather strange 1977 book entitled The Politics of Expertise, which explores the political dimensions of doing policy work such as program planning and evaluation. The author, Guy Benveniste, goes even farther than the project triangle: It is not possible to optimize if more than one desirable outcome is specified. In other words, if the system has several goals,...


@eduleadership When we need higher student achievement on lower budgets, we're obliged to review all the money we're spending and ask: does this buy better student achievement? —Bill Gates, speaking to the Council of Chief State School Officers, November 19, 2010 How can education salary dollars best be spent to raise student achievement? In practice, the most common compensation structure is to pay based on seniority and education. The vast majority of educators earn what they earn based on how many years they've been at it, and how many degrees or credits they've earned. This is helpful because a) generally,...


@eduleadership The New York Times ran a Room for Debate feature entitled "How to Raise the Status of Teachers" last week that is an absolute must-read. The various contributors cover most of the current landscape of teacher quality reform efforts, with many intelligent insights. Here are some highlights. Michael J. Petrilli of Fordham & Hoover: Today's teacher compensation system is perfectly designed to repel ambitious individuals. We offer mediocre starting salaries, provide meager raises even after hard-earned skills have been gained on the job and backload the most generous benefits (in terms of pensions) toward the end of 30 years of ...


@eduleadership Wired Magazine recently published a fascinating article on how lottery scratch-off games can be beaten and used for money-laundering. How did officials find out? Through the use of forensic statistics, which found unusual patterns of lottery wins among suspected mobsters. Earlier this week, USA Today published a major investigative piece on erasure rates on DC standardized tests, and found through similar forensic statistics that something was amiss while test scores were rising during Michelle Rhee's tenure as superintendent. In short, many schools were found to have alarmingly (and statistically improbable) high numbers of answers changed from wrong to right ...


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