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October 15, 2012

The Meta-Work Trap: The Downside of a "Laser-Like Focus on Student Achievement"

How can educational leaders make the greatest difference for students? If you're not the one who actually does the teaching, what can you do to ensure that good things happen in your school or district? I've been thinking about this since I came across Larry Cuban's incisive post "Can Superintenden...

October 09, 2012

Equity and Waning Local Control

What is the relationship between educational excellence and local control? In my last post, I concluded that we will never have the kind of world-class education system that Finland or Singapore have as long as our "system" is made up of some 13,000 local school districts. Our approach, which Ken Mo...

October 05, 2012

The Efficiency Opportunity

I spent most of this morning reading Marc Tucker's last few posts on his excellent Top Performers blog here at EdWeek. In this post, he compares the US education and healthcare systems to those in the rest of the developed world, and explores the reasons our systems are so inefficient: In the health...

August 10, 2012

Measuring the Efficiency of Schools

Why don't we look at school effectiveness as a question of efficiency - given its inputs, do this school's outputs suggest that it underperforms, or that it exceeds expectations? Instead of looking at overall achievement, in terms of test scores or graduation rates, what if we sharpened our focus ...

July 30, 2012

The Surgeon's Tools & Educational Standardization

In a recent post, I suggested that standardization is a good thing at the more coarse "grain sizes," but that administrators should leave substantial room for professional autonomy when it comes to the finer-grained choices teachers make. Today I want to address the same issue from a different angle...

July 22, 2012

Finding the Right "Grain Size" for Standardization

Teacher and writer/speaker/tech expert Bill Ferriter suggested in a blog post last Thursday that scripted curriculum is the equivalent of running shoes that do more harm than good, constraining healthy, natural functioning. I don't know anyone that particularly likes scripted curriculum (except pe...

July 18, 2012

How Useful Are Standards?

Standards are everywhere. All month, I'm participating in an online conference on the Common Core State Standards. Students have long been expected to meet their state standards, and now most states are making the shift to the CCSS. Last Summer, when I attended the LearningForward conference, thei...

July 15, 2012

Is Starbucks the Right Model for Educational Excellence?

I live in Seattle, so it's probably no surprise that I go to Starbucks quite a bit. Locally, Starbucks is respected to a certain point, but it's not considered premium coffee, and most certainly not the best in town. If you want an espresso that will change your life, you'd do better to hit up one o...

July 09, 2012

Principals and Teacher Contract Non-Renewals

Last school year, I took a survey on teacher non-renewal, and when the researcher shared the results with me later (a common practice in educational research), I thought they were worth sharing here. Thanks to Dr. Andy Nixon of the University of West Georgia for writing the following summary of his ...

July 04, 2012

Teaching Compliance

In my previous post, I introduced Seth Godin's recent manifesto Stop Stealing Dreams (What Is School For?). In answering his own question, Godin suggests that school is "for" some purposes that are no longer relevant, and weren't so great to begin with. Godin argues that we have public schools both...

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