Should student achievement data be a major factor in teacher evaluations? While the political winds are whispering "yes" more loudly every day—and in many places, the whispers have become shouts—it seems that the louder we yell, the dumber we get. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has been widely misquoted as having said that there is no way to measure teacher effectiveness. Patrick Riccards, Alyssa Granacki, and others have contributed to the spread of the inaccurate quotation. Lewis actually said: "This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator," Lewis said Sunday. "Further, there are too ...


I'm intrigued by any effort to reduce our perpetual re-invention of the wheel in education, so it's with great interest that I've followed the progress of LearnZillion over the past few months. LearnZillion isn't a nonprofit; it's a "social venture" that offers free lessons from great teachers, but it's not what you might expect. This summer, LearnZillion hosted a massive "TeachFest," flying over 100 teachers to Atlanta to record screencasts of their best lessons. Some 1500 lessons are now available for free on LearnZillion's website. I caught up with company co-founder Eric Westendorf, who is a former school principal, to ...


I was saddened to learn earlier this month that Douglas Reeves, the well-known author and education consultant, has been charged with felony indecent assault stemming from an alleged 2006 incident. Patch.com reports that Reeves is alleged to have touched a private area of the child [a 9-year-old girl] in 2006, according to the court file. The incident was alleged to have happened while the girl and her family stayed at the Reeves home on a trip... While Reeves is well-known in the education world, I have found only two brief local news stories (here and here) on the case, ...


Note to readers: I am currently in the process of moving cross-country and will be offline for the next week and a half. Normal posting will resume the week of September 17. You can sign up to receive an email notification when my next post is up. In my series exploring the value of a Master's degree, I recently asked whether it's worth the price tag (in both tuition and opportunity cost), and whether it's the best path to certification (or whether it should be pursued after a few years of experience). For many teachers, the decision to pursue a ...


In my last post, I asked whether a Master's degree is worth the tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, time, and opportunity cost, given that it doesn't correlate with better teaching performance. Madeline writes: Personally, I believe a Master's Degree shouldn't even be attempted until the student has taught successfully for at least 5 years. Why is the degree called "Master's?" If you are graduated in 5 years with the Master's, in essence you are a master of nothing since you haven't practiced anything. And in my experience often those who get a Masters right away don't stay in ...


Should a Master's degree be part of the teacher certification process, and what role should it play in compensation, if any? Research has shown that holding a Master's degree does not predict higher teaching quality, and critics have pointed out that states "spend" some $14.8 billion on the pay bump that is provided to teachers with a Master's degree. In some areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, it is standard for teachers to obtain a Bachelor's degree in another field, followed by a Master's in teaching, which includes the internship and certification process. This type of arrangement is essentially ...


As I read Joel Klein's op-ed "The Case for the Private Sector in School Reform" in The Atlantic last week, I had the disconcerting feeling of agreeing with all of his arguments while simultaneously being somewhat revolted by them. The former NYC schools chancellor expresses obvious frustration at the opposition he has encountered since taking the helm of Rupert Murdoch's Amplify venture, which is marketing a tablet computing platform and curriculum to schools. Klein bases his argument on the fact that private-sector vendors have always served the education market, which is of course true. But he then equates this benign ...


How do we attract more top-performing male teachers to the profession, and what role does compensation play? EdWeek recently published an op-ed, Rethinking Teacher Compensation, by Laura Overdeck, Arthur Levine, and Christopher Daggett. The authors argue that states should reallocate compensation funding away from "backloaded" plans such as defined-benefit pensions, and toward earlier-career perks like higher starting salaries and annual bonuses. Around the same time, I read another op-ed, entitled "Reasons why men should be teaching in the classroom, too," by William Gomley. Like the EdWeek op-ed, Gomley's editorial makes reference to the 2010 McKinsey study Closing the Talent Gap, ...


As teacher evaluation has become a more serious concern around the country, we're starting to see things happen through a process that was once considered a mere formality. Teacher evaluation is growing teeth, and they're starting to show. In New York City schools this year, just 45% of 3rd-year teachers successfully gained tenure this year, down from 97% just five years ago. This can be attributed in large part to a four-tier evaluation system, which according to the Times has been accompanied by additional training for principals: The city's Education Department now has a team that trains principals in gathering ...


Kathleen Porter-Magee ripped into Heinemann last week with a scathing review of their book Pathways to the Common Core. I first learned of this review, on the Fordham Institute's Common Core Watch blog, after seeing a Twitter exchange between Porter-Magee and one of the book's authors on Twitter. She accuses Heinemann and the book's authors (Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Chris Lehman of the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project, or TCRWP) of bending the Common Core State Standards to support their existing work, rather than taking the standards seriously and making needed changes:Part ideological co-opting of the Common Core (CCSS)...


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