A few months back, I noted that the impressive early success of the Common Core effort risked breeding overconfidence, complacency, and inattention to how the effort would play out in practice. I warned that many who signed onto common assessments might be alienated by an effort that pushed too far or too fast. Well, as of this morning, the Common Core battle has been officially joined. The notion that something this potentially momentous would unfold with no more than a bit of carping was always unlikely. Today, the anti-Common Core-ites fired their first organized response, in a manifesto titled, "Closing ...


In the past month, new superintendents have taken the reins of the nation's three biggest school systems, in New York, L.A., and Chicago. These three friends--Dennis Walcott, John Deasy, and J.C. Brizard--have the chance to become the face of the next half-decade of school reform in the same way that Arne Duncan, Joel Klein, and Michelle Rhee helped shape the past half-decade. What notes they hit, especially in an era of tight budgets and rapidly evolving teacher policies, will have an outsized impact. Yesterday, John Deasy, LAUSD's new supe, visited AEI to deliver an address on his hopes ...


On Wednesday, I stirred a bit of a hornet's nest when I wrote, "I think that...many people teaching today probably shouldn't be." Given the charged response from readers demanding that I justify this assertion, I'll say a few more words. First, it strikes me as a banal, unremarkable statement, one that I've uttered regarding attorneys, professors, journalists, salesmen, federal bureaucrats, think tankers, and district administrators. In this context it wasn't intended as an attack on educators, which is what made the heated response so noteworthy. People vary in talent, energy, and performance, and this means there are poor performers ...


Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels gave an education speech to a packed house at AEI that included CNN, C-SPAN, and a slew of breathless political press (they were hoping he'd signal whether he's going to run for President). You can watch the speech, and check out an interview by AEI's Nick Schulz, here. I actually had to miss the talk because, after having extended the invitation, turned out I had to be on the road in Jacksonville yesterday. Ah, well. Brief aside: I was intrigued by the opportunities around the 120,000 student Duval County system. Jacksonville finished fifth last ...


I got a number of notes regarding yesterday's post, mostly either dinging me for my concerns about value-added systems or asking how I can raise such concerns and still write, "Value-added does tell us something useful and I'm in favor of integrating it into evaluation and pay decisions, accordingly." Let me clarify. I think that two things are both true: First, teachers vary widely in ability and performance, and many people teaching today probably shouldn't be. Second, teaching is complex, and no simple score or algorithm usefully captures that variation in ability and performance, or reveals which teachers shouldn't be ...


Last week, while I was away, Brookings released another of its occasional "consensus" documents; this one's titled, "Passing Muster: Evaluating Teacher Evaluation Systems." The effort was once again led by Brookings' savvy Russ Whitehurst. The aim, more or less, is to tell state and federal officials how to "achieve a uniform standard for dispensing funds to school districts for the recognition of exceptional teachers without imposing a uniform evaluation system." The report offers an impressive seven-step model to help policymakers figure out how many teachers will be misidentified by different evaluation strategies under different sets of assumptions. "Misidentification" is meant ...


Hidy, all. I'm back. I'm sure you'd prefer to be left in the capable hands of Justin, Heather, or Greg a little longer--and I got some emphatic un-fan mail strongly encouraging me to make my blog vacay permanent--but life is full of these little disappointments... Anyway, we were channel-surfing last night when we stumbled across the CNN scroll announcing that Osama bin Laden was dead. While watching the coverage, the President's remarks, and the celebrations, two thoughts struck me that touch directly upon the edu-world. One, I recalled how goodwill and generosity of spirit back in 2001 helped speed through ...


Note: Greg Gunn, entrepreneur in residence at City Light Capital and co-founder of Wireless Generation, is guest-posting this week. I had a fascinating experience several years ago attending a principals' meeting in a medium-sized school district. The district CFO had come to present a new purchasing policy that the principals would have to implement. The conversation went as follows: CFO: "We've had a lot of problematic overruns in janitorial spending across our schools. To control this, we are now making you responsible for setting the janitorial budget." Principal: "OK...do you have guidance for how we should set our budgets? ...


Note: Greg Gunn, entrepreneur in residence at City Light Capital and co-founder of Wireless Generation, is guest-posting this week. One of the most fun parts of my work has been watching school teams try to redesign the way they work in order to achieve big gains in student learning. I had the opportunity two years ago to visit an elementary school in North Carolina that was working hard to improve its students' reading outcomes. The principal realized that the last few years of spending on professional development and supplemental curriculum wasn't significantly changing results. The principal realized that he had ...


Note: Greg Gunn, entrepreneur in residence at City Light Capital and co-founder of Wireless Generation, is guest-posting this week. I've been privileged in my career to both be a teacher and to co-found a successful educational software company, Wireless Generation. During my decade of work there, I worked with thousands of schools around the country on using data for early literacy instruction. This included the entire range of public schools, including those in poor neighborhoods as well as middle-class and wealthy ones. An important part of our work in these places was figuring out how to use data to communicate ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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