Yasmina Vinci--one of the smartest people working in early childhood policy today--has a great op-ed in the Huffington Post this week calling out candidates for the presidency and other elected offices, members of the press, and voters themselves for failing to pay more attention to early childhood education in the current electoral campaign. She also includes some bonus history about Ronald Reagan's track record on Head Start in the early 1980s (hint: it may not be what you'd expect). Vinci make some important points--presidential and other federal candidates have been largely silent on early childhood education in this election, even ...


Richard Rothstein's American Prospect investigation into the details of Joel Klein's childhood (no, I'm not kidding here) is really not worth reading, but it unfortunately exemplifies two of the most toxic aspects of the current education reform conversation (fwiw it also contains some interesting information about the history of post-war public housing in NYC): Personality over policy: The point of Rothstein's very long article seems to be that Joel Klein's education policy views are invalid because his childhood was less poor than it has sometimes been represented as being. At a surface level, this is idiotic. Whether Klein grew up ...


The Root's Clinton Yates has a great piece up today about historical ignorance or revisionism that often comes into play in conversations about the evolving character (what some call gentrification) of Washington, D.C. The same phenomenon also comes up in discussions of the evolution of public education in Washington, D.C., whose own dramatic transformation over the past decade that rivals (and may in some respects contribute to) broader demographic and physical transformations in the city. When we talk about schools in D.C. we often take as our starting point the chronically low-performing schools and dysfunctional bureaucracy that ...


A few times during last nights' presidential debate, I had to check my watch to make sure that it wasn't 2000. Because every time education came up, I felt like I was listening to Al Gore and George W. Bush debating education circa 2000: Here's President Obama at last night's debate: So now I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition ...


Per this, new analysis from EdTrust Michigan finds that 99% of teachers in the state's largest districts were rated "effective" or "highly effective" even after the passage of recent legislation making changes to the state's evaluation system. To be fair, these results reflect only partial implementation of the 2011 law reforming Michigan's teacher evaluation systems: Although districts have implemented annual evaluations using a 4-tiered evaluation system, student learning gains don't factor in annual evaluations until 2013-14, phasing in over time to 50 percent of the evaluation in 2015-16, and the Michigan Department of Education is still working on a state ...


Today the American Enterprise Institute is releasing a new paper that I wrote with my colleagues Andrew Rotherham and Rachael Brown looking at some of the tensions in the current policy shift towards new teacher evaluation systems--and advising policymakers on how to avoid some potential pitfalls implicit in those tensions. Obviously, Andy, Rachael and I are no foes of the move towards new systems of teacher evaluation: We believe the previous system--which ignored student learning completely, failed to recognize excellence or give teachers meaningful feedback to improve, and rated 99+% of teachers satisfactory or better--was clearly a broken one. We ...


Per this and this, the Strategic Data Project at Harvard School of Education recently looked at whether or not low-performing students are more likely to be assigned to novice (first year) teachers--and found strong evidence that the answer is yes. Check out this very cool infographic they put together explaining their findings. On average, students assigned to novice teachers had scored .31 standard deviations lower on math tests the previous year (before they were assigned to a novice teacher) than students assigned to non-novice teachers. That's a meaningful difference. This difference reflected patterns of inequitable distribution both across schools (novice ...


In an interesting piece in Tuesday's New York Time, Checker Finn argues that the U.S. is focusing too much attention on improving achievement for low-achieving students, at the expense of doing too little to identify and maximize the abilities of students at the opposite end of the ability distribution. There's much to applaud in this argument--certainly, maximizing the abilities of our most talented youngsters is also an important part of developing our human capital. And there is evidence that our schools are not doing as much as they could on this front--particularly for talented low-income and minority students who ...


A bunch of people on twitter have been asking how I can stand by this report debunking the idea of a "boy crisis" when new NAEP writing scores find twice as many girls as boys are proficient in writing.* A couple of thoughts here: First of all, the NAEP Writing assessment is only one measure, one that is administered fairly infrequently and has historically shown some of the largest gender gaps of any academic achievement measure we have--and has for some time. The 2011 NAEP Writing assessment results can't be compared with prior years' results (due to the use of ...


We're now in day 5 of the Chicago teachers' strike. I found these quotes from the CTU attorney, Robert Bloch, interesting: CTU Attorney Robert Bloch said Thursday the CTU finally felt on Wednesday that it was getting through to CPS negotiators on their concerns about the new teacher evaluation system. "The system they are using to evaluate people is based on an extremely complicated, esoteric formula to measure student growth -- so complicated I think everybody on the CPS team will admit they don't understand it," Bloch said. "Experts developed it but not educators." Gosh, and golly. Educators didn't develop ...


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