August 2010 Archives

Btw, my major reaction to this whole LA Times value-added story and database is to pity the poor principals in Los Angeles' elementary schools. How many parents are showing up in their offices right now, with value-added results for their children's teachers in hand, demanding their children be removed from the classrooms of teachers with poor value-added ratings and/or into the classrooms of those who are knocking the ball out of the park in the LA Times analysis. You sure can't blame parents for doing this! But ultimately, parents trying to get their kids into the class of the "best"...

The Los Angeles Times has now posted online their controversial database of teachers' value-added performance. This is extremely interesting if you are an LA teacher or have a child in that system, but not particularly informative otherwise compared to the original article that launched all the controversy here. But what strikes me is how tiny this really is, compared to the magnitude of the controversy it sparked. This is a database of value-added scores for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classroom teachers--less than a quarter of teachers in the LAUSD system. Similarly, earlier this year, when DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee ...

An awful lot of ink's been spilled on RTT in the past week. But I think the abundant commentary is missing an important point: RTT's diffuse focus--across four reform priorities, with multiple different criteria within each of those priorities and additional criteria outside those priorities, too--and how those multiple competing priorities affected the outcomes. Press reports have tended to focus on RTT's support for teacher performance evaluations and charter schools--but those two issues together account for barely 20% of the total available RTT points. Under the RTT application criteria, there were some 40 different ways for states to win--or lose--points. ...

About this whole New Jersey RTT application error business: If the reviewers could see that New Jersey's application contained budget data from a different year than the question asked for, why didn't they just ask the state's team for the correct year's data in the interview session, and determine New Jersey's score for the item based on that information? They adjusted plenty of other numbers up after the interview session (for example, New Jersey's score for "enabling LEAs to operate other innovative, autonomous public schools" went from 0.6 to 6 after the interview), so why couldn't they have dealt ...

AP is reporting the list of 10 Race to the Top Winners (9 states and the District of Columbia). They are: District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawai'i Maryland Massachusetts New York North Carolina Ohio Rhode Island I'm going to hold off saying any more here until I have a chance to really look at the scores and reviewer comments, but in the meantime, kudos to the winning states. Disc: I helped prepare Rhode Island's Race to the Top application, so I'm personally very happy for their success. I'm also proud of my home not-state, Washington, D.C. UPDATES: It must ...

I can't help finding the juxtaposition of this weekend's much-hyped NYT Magazine piece on "What's the Matter with 20-somethings?" and today's big WaPo article on Teach for American a fascinating one. On the one hand, NYT writer Robin Marantz Henig's digs aside*, the tremendous appeal and growth of TFA seem to disprove the conventional wisdom that today's recent college grads are postponing and even fleeing taking on adult responsibilities. As the WaPo story illustrates, joining TFA is more like rushing headlong into adulthood and adult responsibilities. Like most other first-year teachers, TFA corps members are expected to start out as ...

The Census Bureau's "Who's Minding the Kids?" report is a critical resource for child care policy analysts, because it provides the best available picture of American families' use of child care, where children are actually being served, for how long, and at what cost. The Census Bureau released the most recent update, which covers data from 2005-06, today. These reports contain lots of useful information, but here are a few things that jumped out at me: I'm always annoyed that "Who's Minding the Kids" and other data collection and research on child care count "child cared for by father while ...

I think my fellow EdWeek blogger, friend, and sometime debating partner Richard Whitmire is being flippant in titling this post on new research linking ADHD diagnosis to being relatively young for grade "Here's Why Smart Moms Redshirt their Sons." (btw, Don't Dads have any say here??) At least, I sure as heck hope so. Kindergarten redshirting (yes, it gets its name from college athletics) is the practice of enrolling a child in kindergarten a year after he or she is eligible based on age. It's become conventional wisdom--particularly among status-conscious professional parents and people concerned about the so-called boys crisis--to ...

Lots of folks in the edublogosphere have been debating the merits of the recently passed "Edujobs" legislation, and the extent to which it will actually save educator jobs. Ed Money Watch is an informative source of coverage here, and should be going forward. Rick Hess really doesn't like this legislation; I tend to agree more with Chad Aldeman's take that federal support for state and local budgets makes sense in a still-struggling economy. But as we consider Edujobs, don't let's forget that K-12 public education isn't the only area of education suffering from significant state budget cuts now. Just in ...

I predicted recently that the love for i3 was unlikely to hold up once the winners actually were announced. And, indeed, it looks like there are plenty of complaints out there. A number of folks--including Rick Hess, Alexander Russo, and Mike Petrilli--have already complained that i3 isn't really all that innovative. i3 is also the topic at National Journal's Education Expert blog this week--where the response has been largely critical, with only AFT President Randi Weingarten (whose organization's affiliated foundation won an i3 grant for teacher evaluation work) and NSVF's Ted Mitchell (whose organization did not win an i3 grant*, ...

Are you--or someone else great who you know--looking for a job in education? Then I'd like to draw your attention to several cool opportunities. My employer, Bellwether Education Partners, is hiring for an Associate Partner to work with our strategy consulting team, as well as an Analyst to provide research support across the organization. On the downside, you'd have to work with me--on the plus side, the rest of the team is pretty awesome, and you'd get to work on really interesting projects with clients who are at the forefront of education reform. Also, the Public Charter School Board is ...

Linda Perlstein has a smart post calling on journalists to pay more attention to the group of "professional development consultants" education gurus who are largely unknown in national media and education policy circles, but who rake in tons of $$ in district professional development funds every year. Good idea! One quibble, though. Linda writes: "So much journalistic focus right now is on funds the U.S. Department of Education is giving out, but if you want to follow dollars, you should look, too, at the money your school districts pour into educational consultants and related professional development." Excellent point! But, in ...

Kudos to EdWeek's Michele McNeil for getting the scoop on 49 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant winners a day before the Department of Education intended to announce them. The competition here was super-stiff, so those who came out on top really deserve congratulations. I haven't had a chance to actually read most of the applications or reviewer comments, so I'll hold off on saying much, but a couple points are worth noting: 1. No one should be surprised if the list of winners looks "old school" or is less dominated by the new crop of education entrepreneurs than some people ...

The topic of National Journal's Education Expert blog this week is "Do Competitive Grants Hurt Equal Opportunity?" A lot of ink and hot air has been spilled lately around formula vs. competitive grants--largely in relation to Race to the Top. And I find the conversation exceedingly odd. I mean, it's not as if Race to the Top is the only competitive federal education grant program. Nor did the Obama administration invent federal competitive grants. Indeed, a search for "discretionary/competitive" grant opportunities on the Department of Education's website yields a whopping 214 programs! To be fair, this includes programs across ...

First Lady Michelle Obama has an op-ed in today's Washington Post calling on Congress to act to pass the Child Nutrition Act--which would reauthorize federally funded school lunch programs and implement reforms to improve health and nutrition in them--when they return following the August recess. Since I've been talking a lot here lately about social and community services designed to address out-of-school issues that affect low-income children's educational achievement, I'll just note that making school lunches healthier and expanding access to school breakfast, afterschool, and summer feeding programs is one example of a strategy to meet these needs. But the ...


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