June 2011 Archives

An interview with John Martin, founder of Boys Read On Performance: Why did you start Boys Read? John, BoysRead.org: My primary inspiration for founding Boys Read was fueled by my frustration that so many great books and writers that appeal to boys are often overlooked. My secondary inspiration was based on my frustration of hearing people say that their boy doesn't like to read. I believe that the only reason that a boy doesn't like to read is because he has yet to be exposed to an author's voice that he completely identifies with as his own voice. On ...


@eduleadership Last Friday, I went to see marketing and new-economy guru Seth Godin live in Seattle. He said that one of the problems with public education is that it teaches kids to conform and obey, rather than become what he would call Linchpin-type people, who are willing to take risks and who quickly become indispensable to their organizations and the world. I thought about this for a while, and told him at the break that I think the appeal of obedience and conformity is that they scale well. It's much easier to run a school when you teach your 500 ...


@eduleadership According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland will implement new teacher evaluation systems in 8 jurisdictions. Like all states that made successful bids for Race to the Top funds, Maryland is requiring that student performance measures constitute 50% of teacher evaluations. As I've made clear previously, I'm not a fan of this approach. However, the fact that Maryland appears to have provided flexibility for districts to define exactly what this means—including multiple data sources—is relatively encouraging. The Sun points out that nearly 75% of teachers teach in subjects that are not covered by state tests, so hitting ...


@eduleadership Since my last post about Robert Marzano's questionable new "causal" evaluation system, I've been thinking about the function of teacher evaluation systems. What should we expect them to accomplish? At the most basic level is quality control. If someone is harming kids, they shouldn't be in the classroom. An unsatisfactory evaluation (which you generally have to be pretty bad to earn) should serve to prevent kids from being stuck in a classroom with someone who shouldn't be in the profession any longer. But that's a pretty low aim for an evaluation system. There's been much talk lately of "recognizing ...


@eduleadership A press release from Robert Marzano this week claims that his new teacher evaluation model "is a research-based system for 'causing' increases in student achievement through incremental improvements in teaching." That's quite a bold claim, considering that there is not actually any new research behind Marzano's system, which parallels Charlotte Danielson's much more widely respected Enhancing Professional Practice framework in that it has four domains with specific descriptions of teaching practice. Marzano's brand, of course, is all about research-based teaching practices, and I've found his books to be helpful for thinking about specific strategies and why some strategies are ...


@eduleadership Now that states are actually having to carry out the promises they made to compete for RttT funding, we're seeing major spending on evaluation systems and other non-educational activities designed to contribute indirectly to better educational performance. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just awarded a $9.7M grant to help Colorado implement new teacher evaluation systems, content standards, and assessments. However, the state estimates that it will take fully $42 million to implement the required new evaluation systems across the state, money lawmakers never allocated. Since Colorado did not actually receive RttT funds, the laws intended to attract funding ...


In response to my recent request for comments on the state of education in Florida, a high school English teacher wrote to say: Things are bad in Florida for teachers and students. I only see them getting worse as time shows the stupidity of our politicians and their following the "suggestions" of self appointed experts. I haven't seen much evidence to indicate that Florida policymakers are spending any time listening to actual educators about how to improve student learning, so I think there's something to this commenter's remarks. On Sunday, the Palm Beach Post's Jac Wilder VerSteeg was equally pointed ...


@eduleadership As I said in a recent post, the teacher evaluation landscape is changing rapidly, and nowhere does accountability pressure mean more than in the "reform"-friendly state of Florida. Michelle Rhee has concentrated efforts of her organization Students First in states like Florida that have policy climates supportive of sweeping reforms. A recent post on StudentsFirst's website notes that With these key education reforms becoming a reality in Florida, policy makers across the country will be looking to the Sunshine State for lessons and guidance on how to improve schools nationally. We at StudentsFirst hope to help. And "help" ...


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