October 2008 Archives

Small Schools at a Crossroads

One of the most intriguing initiatives in urban school reform, taking large schools and shrinking them to create more humane and flexible ones, is at a crossroads, and education leaders in Oakland have some tough decisions to make. Six years ago the Oakland Unified School District was in a financial crisis, and was forced to borrow $100 million from the state. Teachers agreed to take a four percent pay cut, and a state administrator was appointed to run things. The District also faced declining enrollment. Every year we had several thousand fewer students – and our funding is directly tied to ...


Thinking Big: What’s Next for Teachers?

This week I listened to an episode of the public radio program “This American Life” entitled “Going Big.” The lead story was about a community organizer in Harlem named Geoffrey Canada, who became frustrated with the lackluster results of his work, and decided a major shift might help. He convinced his organization to launch a major new initiative called the Harlem Children’s Zone. He decided to focus his organization’s efforts on a 24-square block section of Harlem, and work to create a network of supports for the children growing up there, starting as young as he could. He ...


How do Tests Measure Up?

The modern educator’s life often feels as if it is driven by test results. Test scores are now used to compare students, to compare and give grades to schools, and even to compensate teachers. But have we staked too much importance on test scores? Harvard professor Daniel Koretz, who teaches educational measurement, has taken on the task of educating us all on what test scores can tell us – and what they cannot. His book, Measuring Up, was published recently by Harvard University Press. I read the book, and Dr. Koretz answered my questions below. 1. What is the problem ...


The opinions expressed in Living in Dialogue 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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