December 2010 Archives

Recognizing it had a cheating problem, with students covertly texting each other answers from their pockets during a state exam, the Mississippi Department of Education paid a company to analyze tests using "data forensics," according to the New York Times. The result? Cheating went down 70 percent, said a state ed department director. School districts in Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., have all contracted with Caveon Test Security, which was founded by a former chief developer for the SAT, to implement data forensics. The company uses computers to analyze answer sheets and spot signs of cheating, such as ...

This year, blog posts about teacher pay, test scores, and 'Superman," as well as alarming videos and sarcastic headlines, got our teacher-readers' attention.

Grant Wiggins, the blogger who created a stir by writing that all fiction books should be banned from the English curriculum because boys find them boring, says his proposal was meant to be sarcastic.

South Korea has recently deployed 29 robots to teach in around 20 elementary schools.

The New York Times

The Washington Post's Jay Mathews pushes for "eliminating rules and practices" regarding cheating—such as those prohibiting collaboration on homework—"that frustrate learning."

How much do project-based learning and independent student work presuppose a mastery or knowlege of basic content knowledge and academic skills?

Ed Week research reporter Sarah Sparks has the scoop on a new study finding that students learn more and are more invested when they have a say in what assignments they do. The study, out of the University of Texas at Austin, found that, "When students were given choices, they reported feeling more interested in their homework, felt more confident about their homework and they scored higher on their unit tests," according to Erika A. Patall, the lead author. As a commenter on the blog writes, the findings illustrate the power of "intrinsic motivation." And that's not a new concept ...

As Nancy Flanagan points out on Teacher in a Strange Land, Parade magazine named the kids from "Waiting for 'Superman'" "Personalities of the Year." President Obama was so taken with the young stars that he invited them to the White House. Here's a peek into their visit, as posted on the website. Regardless of your thoughts on the movie or our president, you've got to admit that little Francisco in blue is quite cute. And is Anthony shedding a tear there at the end? (Ignore the incorrect time count—the video is less than two minutes.)...

One education consultant believes replacing most fiction with non-fiction books is the solution to getting boys interested in reading again.

Under a tough new tardy policy, students at a Calif. high school who fail to get to class before the bell rings are locked out and sent to detention.

Educators may need to do a better job of tolerating "wrong" answers.

More than 8,600 teachers and school counselors achieved National Board Certification in 2010, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards said this week. That brings the total number of National Board Certified Teachers—half of whom teach in Title 1, high-needs schools—up to 91,000. North Carolina had the highest number of teachers to receive the certification, with 2,277. Washington was close behind with 1,272, and Illinois came in third with 771, according to NBPTS. Many congratulations to all those teacher leaders who survived the long and grueling application process and achieved this high honor! And...

In an Ohio district, schools use peer evaluations--a process put in place by a former teachers' union president--to decide whether rookie teachers keep their jobs.

After reviewing a standardized test his students had taken, a high school teacher discovered that eight of the 28 questions were faulty.

Ed writers Jay Mathews and Valerie Strauss are having a spirited debate about Teach for America and the Knowledge is Power Program over at the Washington Post.

NPR's Michele Norris says that, to turn the negative education conversation around, teachers should be vocal about their classroom successes.

A "learning walk" is a simple but potentially game-changing idea that some say can weed out ineffective teachers and help great teachers spread their best practices.

A retired teacher argues that data-based observations are an accurate and unbiased method for evaluating teachers.

Live from the Learning Forward annual conference in Atlanta. Congratulations to an accomplished teacher leader and great friend to Education Week Teacher, Bill Ferriter, for receiving the 2010 Learning Forward Staff Development Book of the Year Award. Bill was given the award for Building a Professional Learning Community at Work in an early morning, pomp-and-circumstance-filled ceremony here at the conference. The book is a guide for schools in their first year of implementing professional learning communities. Bill was beaming yet humble when I chatted with him after breakfast (amidst a small crowd of fans that had come to congratulate him, ...

Live from the Learning Forward annual conference in Atlanta. Back to a recap of my second session on Monday: I walked in late to a presentation about Project RISE (Rewards and Incentives for School Educators). Administrators from Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Fla. spoke about the Teacher Incentive Fund-sponsored grant, which is awarded to high-needs schools to improve teacher and administrator effectiveness. It requires placement of two National Board Certified Teachers at participating schools to serve as models and lead professional development. The NBCTs receive financial incentives for administering PD, and, at least in Miami, all other teachers can choose ...

Live from the Learning Forward annual conference in Atlanta. Douglas Reeves, founder of the Leadership and Learning Center in Englewood, Colo., gave the second keynote during lunch. His talk included a lot of big data-driven ideas - why schools should focus on one task at a time, the importance of direct modeling for teachers, the need to spend more time teaching non-fiction writing - accompanied by some bells and whistles (a clip from Steve Carrel's "Get Smart" with lots of explosions included).

Live from the Learning Forward annual conference in Atlanta. This one's a bit of a teaser, but... I was pleased to see our new Teacher Book Club book - which we will unveil next week - on prominent display in the exhibit area. The bright cover and catchy title make it hard to miss! The publishing rep told me he knows of a few schools in Connecticut using it for professional development book studies. I'm hoping to get in touch with those schools and bring them into the January discussion.

Live from the Learning Forward annual conference in Atlanta. I sat in on a couple intimate morning sessions - quite a difference from the enormous several-hundred-person breakfast and keynote this morning.

Live from the Learning Forward annual conference in Atlanta Good morning! A quick post before I head into my first "concurrent session" here at the Learning Forward conference. Beverly Hall, Atlanta Public Schools superintendent, just finished a keynote address about her district's major turnaround since 2000 and how professional development played a part. Ten years ago, she said, 50 percent of students were not meeting the standards, based on state standardized test scores. Since then, scores have shown "double digit increases" and the high school graduation rate has gone up about 25 percent. She said that the use of mentoring ...

Live from the Learning Forward annual conference in Atlanta Just got down to Atlanta for the Learning Forward annual conference. (Formerly known as NSDC, Learning Forward is a nonprofit professional organization focused on staff and school improvement. The group will actually be starting to blog on our site in the coming weeks.) The conference is a gathering of school administrators, superintendents, learning coaches, and pd coordinators. Most of the sessions revolve around best practices for staff development. As it looks, it should be an interesting few days. The conference is taking place between two massive downtown hotels—and I mean...

A teacher who has to have his jaw wired shut after a former student assaulted him remains concerned about the teen and says he needs help, not jail.

Should parents be graded just like schools and teachers?

A new report lays out steps policymakers can take to bring technology-based learning to every student.

A small group of New York City teachers marched into the Hearst Corporation headquarters to apply for Cathie Black's job as chairperson.

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