According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, California’s state senate is scheduling hearings to consider the abandonment of a policy that blocks the use of student test score data for the evaluation or compensation of teachers, in order to qualify for federal "Race to the Top" funding. California recently created a data system to manage all the standardized test data. The Education Code was revised to state: (c) Data in the system shall not be used, either solely or in conjunction with data from the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, for purposes of pay, promotion, sanction, ...


This week I have read two points of view about school change that both appeal to me, yet seem mutually exclusive. First I read Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s essay, The Fabric of Community- The Key to Transforming Education. She argues that we get stuck reforming our schools, when in fact we should actually be transforming them. Then I read Mary Kennedy's Education Week commentary, Solutions are the Problem in Education . She describes how the well-intentioned drive to solve problems in our education system is resulting in teachers being deluged with solutions – and becoming exhausted by the resulting constant turmoil. How can ...


How closely have you been following education reform this year? Here is a pop quiz to see if you are on your toes and following the latest trends. The answers will appear in the first comment below. If you want to do some research, there is a link to the source in each question. After you take the quiz, please share any surprises, insights or ideas that came to you as a result. Better than 50% makes you an official EduWonk! 1. How many of the sixty individuals involved in writing education standards for the nation’s fifty million students ...


As teachers we renew our credentials every five years. But we need a much deeper renewal. Many of us get worn down by the pressures we face, and the inadequacy of our schools to meet the needs of our students. We often work in isolation, and lack support for our own creative side. We spend so much time nurturing others, and often there is no place where we are nurtured. The Tomki Center will be a place to heal the healers. The goals of this center: • Live in harmony with the space • Restore the spirit and courage of our educators • ...


Education reformers sometimes take on stances that carry good ideas to absurd lengths. One of those that has concerned me recently is the idea that the only acceptable outcome for a K-12 student is completion of a four-year college degree. This is what the jobs of the future will demand, we are told. But when I look at the shambles our economy is in, I begin to wonder who is better off, a college graduate with a degree in English and $50,000 worth of debt, or someone who has managed to get a strong set of skills as a ...


Sixty individuals, ONE teacher among them, will write national education standards in the next five months, in a secret process that excludes effective input from students, parents or teachers. As teachers we spend a lot of time thinking about what we teach our students, and how to engage them in learning. When the National Governor's Association (NGA) called for national education standards a few months back, some educators optimistically believed that we might be consulted in the process. After all, didn't the entire No Child Left Behind fiasco teach us what happens when policies are enacted without the active engagement ...


An interview with Dr. Susan Neuman. A year ago a coalition of education leaders launched something called “A Broader, Bolder Approach.” This coalition expressed deep concern about the effects of No Child Left Behind, stating The potential effectiveness of NCLB has been seriously undermined, however, by its acceptance of the popular assumptions that bad schools are the major reason for low achievement, and that an academic program revolving around standards, testing, teacher training, and accountability can, in and of itself, offset the full impact of low socioeconomic status on achievement. The effectiveness of NCLB has also been weakened by its ...


This week I have been enjoying a couple of home projects. If you came by my house you would find me on the back porch working on a table top I am building, or doing some minor body work on a 1993 Ford Ranger I bought a few weeks ago. This summer, I will be spending several weeks with my teenage sons laying the foundation for a cabin in the woods of Mendocino County. There is something deeply satisfying about these projects, and it has me wondering what we could learn from this. I am rewarded with concrete evidence of ...


One the biggest scientific discoveries of the past two centuries was the theory that explains how species evolve over time. As we dive into a debate over the wisdom of national educational standards, I think we might have something to learn from the natural world. The big idea that Darwin explained in his landmark book, On the Origin of Species, is that there exists within a population of any species a range of traits – later found to be encoded in the organisms’ DNA. He called this “variation.” In his book, Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne describes recent evidence for ...


National Standards have emerged as the latest and greatest educational reform, and last week 46 states agreed to participate in an effort to create them. There are some good reasons for national standards. They might allow teachers to collaborate on common curriculum and assessments, and share effective instructional strategies for reaching students. But I do not think good reasons are why this has become so popular. I think that national standards are a wild goose chase of the sort policymakers love to lead. I think it has become popular for three big reasons. First, it allows us to defer judgment ...


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