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May 29, 2013

Michelle Newsum: Tracking Our Way to Wider Achievement Gaps

Under the fear created by NCLB/RTTT, large scale ability group tracking has made its way back into schools. Because tracking is commonly considered odious, and the research does not support it, no one calls it that. It is now given cuter or more palatable names like 'Walk to Read' or 'Intervention Time' even 'Flexible Grouping.' (Although some schools have flexible grouping and intervention time that takes place in classrooms and is quite lovely.)

May 23, 2013

Chicago: Time to End the Billionaires' Experiments With Mayoral Control?

Bill Gates suggested that in time teachers and voters would come along to see the benefits of the experiments the billionaire reformers want to do in our schools. That was four years ago - and the experiments have run their course. A research paper by Elaine Weiss and Don Wong took a close look at the results in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago, exactly the three cities touted by Gates as the petri dishes for his market-driven experiments.

May 15, 2013

Monty Neill: Building Effective Campaigns for Testing Reform

Across the country, many local school boards, superintendents and principals have been speaking out against excessive testing. Parents, teachers, students and community groups should work with them to reduce the number of tests and any stakes attached to them. Those who still support the status quo need to be educated and, if necessary, pressured. In cities with appointed school boards, political pressure often will need to work through other avenues.

May 13, 2013

Monty Neill: Building a Successful Test Reform Movement

Over the past few months, I've been involved in dialogues and public meetings aimed at furthering the testing reform movement. Our conversations focused on how to win key goals: less testing, lower stakes, and better assessment practices. In this post, I focus on basic goals and strategy for launching a campaign. In subsequent posts, I will discuss the importance of pushing for high-quality assessments, and then propose tactics to educate the public, develop strong coalitions, and persuade policymakers.

May 10, 2013

John Thompson: An Improbable Tale of Successful Reform

Kirp then dissects the dramatic turnaround of the entire school system of Union City, New Jersey, and he shows how we can build great schools on the strengths of our democratic culture. Its answer did not come from technocrats from the outside, but from a local culture of "abrazos" or caring. Rather than firing our way to the top, Kirp shows that school improvement must come from trusting relationships. The secret sauce of Union City's success is "respeto," or respect.

May 04, 2013

Rebirth: New Orleans -- Documentary Poses a Moral Dilemma

this highlights for me, the moral dimension that Merrow ignores, when, at the end of the film, he proclaims this experiment a success. How can we accept that a third of the schools in New Orleans have been consigned to the status of dumping grounds for the other two thirds? How can we celebrate the creation of a system that allows schools to wall themselves off from students who are the most damaged by poverty and violence - and relegates those students to schools that cannot possibly succeed in this competitive scheme?

May 03, 2013

Steve Cohen: From Closing the Achievement Gap to Closing the Opportunity Gap

The kids who come to school with less get less from school. Closing the achievement gap with high-stakes, test-centric teaching combined with low resources, few opportunities and a lack of support has failed. The best way out is to close the mushrooming opportunity gap, create more equitable opportunities and gauge how well states and districts are doing to create those opportunities. Achievement follows from opportunities to learn.

April 24, 2013

John Thompson: Education Reform Party is Over -- What a Mess!

Guest post by John Thompson. Back when "Dandy Don" Meredith was host of Monday Night Football, when the game was all over but the shouting, he would break into song. We need a 21st century way of saying the obvious. Test-driven school "reform" failed. To borrow a phrase regarding "closing time,"...

April 24, 2013

We Are Chicago Students, and We Are Here to Save Our Schools!

We are over-tested, under-resourced, and fed up with the policies put in place by Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Board of Education. Today, students from across the city are fighting back! CPS officials have tried to threaten and intimidate us but students and the community have been silenced for too long. We know this is an action that puts us at risk of retaliation, but it's a risk we are willing to tak

March 28, 2013

John Thompson: Garland and Carr Remind Us of the Perils of Segregation

At the end of their balanced histories, Carr and Garland voice concerns about our increasingly segregated schools, and the willingness of policy wonks to impose their theories on poor children of color. Garland concludes that "desegregation should have been a two-way street." She is frustrated that desegregation was dismantled without "salvaging its undeniable benefits." Contemporary reformers have ignored its lessons. They also focus on "tearing out dysfunction and blight, instead of finding existing strengths and building on what people value." Garland, explains, "Once again, ... those in power are treating black schools as they did black neighborhoods during urban renewal - with an imperious sense of what is good for the community, regardless of what the people there want."

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