Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody In recent weeks controversy over the Common Core standards has heated up. As we get closer to the decision point at the state level across the country, it has become clearer what a massive overhaul the Common Core represents. New curriculum, new professional development and most controversial of all, new assessments, with no relief in sight from the heavy-handed accountability systems that are the legacy of NCLB, I have been outspoken in my own views about the Common Core, since I first heard about them three years ago. I think any system that is ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody University of Oregon professor Yong Zhao's 2009 book Catching Up or Leading the Way sent a jolt through our educational system. He questioned the use of tests and "accountability" from the unique perspective of someone educated in China, now living - and raising children - in the USA. His next book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, is due out soon, so I asked him to share some thoughts about some current issues. Question: Where do you see the push for Common Core standards coming from? Yong Zhao: The push comes from ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Scoop Nisker used to say, "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own." Two educators, Shaun Johnson and Tim Slekar, have taken up this challenge, and have entered the fierce world of commercial radio, with a provocative show called "At the Chalkface." This weekly broadcast goes out online here, and features guests who offer an alternative to the dominant education reform narrative. Recent guests have included Diane Ravitch and Bill Ayers. I asked the hosts, Pennsylvania education professor Tim Slekar and Maryland education professor Shaun Johnson, and the ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As the Common Core standards now are being promised to fix everything in the world of education, I remain a skeptic. Scholar and author Alfie Kohn wrote this essay on the subject back in 2010. This week I asked him to share his current thoughts. Question 1. Where do you think the drive for Common Core standards is coming from? Alfie Kohn: I don't think we have to speculate; the answer is pretty clear: While some educational theorists have long favored national standards -- and got nowhere with the idea in the '90s -- ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Teachers in what was once one of the lowest performing elementary schools in Oakland have transformed their school through a combination of teacher research and innovative instructional strategies. Teacher action research has a long history in the Oakland schools. The Mills Teacher Scholars program, under the guidance of Mills College professor Anna Richert, has been supporting teacher researchers here for more than a decade. We visited the scholars at New Highland Academy last spring and saw how they were investigating strategies for teaching their students to think critically about what they are reading. I ...


Guest post by Karl Wheatley A recent guest post here by John Thompson, Neither Teacher-less nor Teacher-proof: Constructivism Meets Guided Instruction, led to a lively discussion in the comments. I asked one reader to expand on his thoughts, and this post is the result. Here we go again ... How much should teachers provide direct instruction/guidance and how much should they allow for child-initiated learning and jointly-planned activities? I believe that "big-picture" research provides strong support for substantial child-initiated and jointly-planned learning (e.g., play, projects, emergent curriculum) at every grade level. Some folks consider this crazy: Is Direct Instruction ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As criticism of No Child Left Behind and the associated tests rises, we are hearing more and more about the Common Core Standards (CCS), the next great thing that is supposed to fix all that ails us. When a talking pineapple made New York tests a laughing stock, state education commissioner John King reassured us, It is important to note that this test section does not incorporate the Common Core and other improvements to test quality currently underway. This year's tests incorporate a small number of Common Core field test questions. Next year's test ...


Guest post by Jack Hassard. This post originally appeared here. Over the past four years, two states have passed laws that protect teachers if they present "scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution in applicable curricula or in a course of learning." Protecting teachers? Have these legislators heard of VAM? No protection of teachers here. What is really going on? Behind these two laws is the Discovery Institute, a non-science propaganda organization whose chief purpose is to attack Darwinian evolution, and wedge intelligent design into the science curriculum. They were foiled by ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody The recent debacle in New York over an absurd story about a pineapple racing a hare has renewed doubts about the degree to which we have come to rely on test scores for very high stakes decisions. Although it is clear we are not getting high quality information from these tests, their importance has been systematically expanding in recent years. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tells us his policies are moving us away from reliance on these tests. Jon Stewart did his best to get some straight answers from Secretary Duncan in this interview ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody The New York Daily News has perhaps inadvertently shed some light on why teachers might be hesitant to have a large portion of their evaluations based on standardized test scores. In a rare moment of transparency, one of the 8th grade reading comprehension questions has been published, in a story broken by Leonie Haimson on the New York Parents blog, and it has many people scratching their heads. The story is an absurd tale of a talking pineapple, who challenges a hare to a race. The story must be read to comprehend the controversy. ...


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