8/31/2006

What You Missed At This Week's "When State Standards Go Wrong"

As you already know, the Fordham Foundation earlier this week released two reports:The State of State Standards (2006) and To Dream the Impossible Dream. Skim it all, but read closely the description of how California, Indiana, and Massachusetts came to have such high standards on page 19 --by our very own edusphere blogger Joanne Jacobs!

The rest of the event consisted of Lynn Olson moderating a panel of Chester E. Finn, Jr, Eugene Hickok, Joan Baratz-Snowden, and Governor Bob Wise about national standards.

This debate was much less divided than the national standards debate held in March by Education Sector (maybe New America will have a national standards forum next month). In March, Petrilli was advocating a system of national standards and panelist Deborah Meier would not hear of it. This time, Eugene Hickok was the panelist most opposed to the idea making the comment that he was especially opposed to the federal government creating and mandating the standard because he has worked for the USDE!

Morning Round-up August 31, 2006

Tweaking of "No Child" Seen WaPo
Secretary Spellings said yesterday that NCLB simply required tweaking, as she compared it to Ivory soap described as being 99.9 pure.

Los Angeles Mayor Gains Control of the Schools, but Hardly Total Control
NYT
The legislation that as been a struggle to pass is now likely to be challenged in court -- and questions arise as to whether or not there is enough accountability among the officials who will gain power.

School Officials Didn't Violate Law, Judge Says
LAT
Parents and school officials are at odds over what looks like filling quotas but is explained as segregating schools.

8/30/2006

Revised State Standards Not That Good -- Let's Go National!

According to my friends (and occasional clients) over at the Fordham Foundation, state standards still suck ("C-" is the average grade) and now it's really time for national standards (The State of State Standards 2006).

The inevitable move to national standards could go four ways, according to the creative folks at Fordham -- "the whole enchilada" (aka everyone abandons local control), "if you build it, they will come" (aka what Clinton proposed and Vic Klatt killed in 1997), "let's all hold hands" (some sort of unholy cooperation among states that hate each other), and the most likely of the unlikely options, "sunshine and shame."

I'm not against national standards. I just don't see how we get from here to there in the current political environment. In large part, it boils down to whether Congress decides to strengthen or dilute NCLB next year. If Congress is in a diluting mood -- seems likely in the last years of Bush II 2 -- this probably won't happen.

Lower SAT Scores -- Different Papers Cover Differently

Practically everyone covers the SAT story today, with interesting variations in how they introduce the decline in scores for this year's test takers. Thanks to Margaret P for suggesting this comparison.

Some writers focused on the scores, others on explaining why they were lower this year, and a third type focused on the impact of the lower scores on college-going kids who take the tests:

For example, the Associated Press focuses on the test itself and goes with the College Board explanation that more kids were taking the longer test just one time (SAT Scores Take Biggest PLunge in 31 Years). Meanwhile, the NYT's Karen Arenson goes with the gut issue -- how the scores are received by college admissions officials -- in her story (SAT Reading and Math Scores Show a Significant Decline).

Over at the Post, Jay Mathews gets crazy and plays the boy/girl card in his opening, pointing out that females did much better on the new writing section than boys (SAT REcords Biggest Score Dip in 31 Years). Last but not least, USAT focuses on the reduced numbers of low-income test takers (Scores for expanded SAT show largest dip since 1975).

The 82nd Carnival: Theatrical Edition

The Carnival is up at Thespis Journal -- The Theatrical Edition

Here's a sample:

The Textbook Evaluator has a great post relative to the marketing and creation of textbooks. There is true expertise in his post.
“Let me be clear, however. I am not against textbooks, nor do I have it in for the big textbook publishers. I do not support the radical decentralization of instructional decisions to individual classroom teachers. My general beef with instructional materials is NOT the materials themselves. My frustration is that the structure of the market for educational materials does not reward innovation, does not reward effectiveness, and does not lead to general improvements in student performance.”

Morning Round-up August 30, 2006

Legislators OK School plan; Gov. Vows Approval LAT
The bill passed after an inital vote of only 30 'ayes' and began a two hour lobbying effort to get members to the vote which finally passed 42-20. Gov. Schwarzenegger is eager to sign the bill.

SAT Reading and Math Scored Show a Significant Decline
NYT
The College Board attributes the lower scores to students taking the SAT only once instead of two or three times when scores normally increase.

Ehrlich Outlines Plan to Pursue Merit Pay for Teachers if Reelected WaPo
In an address to the Maryland State Board of Education Ehrlich said he would include $800,000 in his fiscal 2008 budget proposal to cover planning costs of a Quality Compensation Initiative.

8/29/2006

More Newspapers Heart Education Blogs

Over at Get On The Bus, blogging Scott Elliott appropriately makes fun of me for having predicted 10 new newspaper-run education blogs like his by the end of the year -- and then points out that there are a few new newspaper education blogs in Houston and White Plains.

Back To School Optimism? Maybe.

Even in this officially optimistic "back to school" time of year, educators, parents, policymakers, and even bloggers have to deal with the threat of pessimism (or its cousins cynicism and doubt). Today's NYT has an opinion piece about pessimism that perhaps goes too far in blaming President Bush for its ascent -- we can't blame him for everything -- and yet seems worth noting (The Rise of Pessimism).

Structural Reasons for NCLB Failures

Agree or not, it's always interesting to to hear views from different sources making somewhat different points than the same old folks saying the same old things. And so:

"Education reform has an exceptionally fraught history in the United States, despite the universally acknowledged inadequacy of the primary and secondary education systems," claims today's Forbes Magazine post from Oxford Analytica (Bush's Education Reforms Falter). "This woeful record, which now includes President George Bush's No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), is due to the idiosyncrasies of the U.S. political system and serious structural disincentives. Unless these challenges can be overcome in relatively short order, NCLB may fail."

Morning Round-up August 29, 2006

Mayor Flexes Muscle With School Board LAT
With it looking almost certain that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will get passage of his bill, he warned school board members that he will fire any superintendent the school board elects without his approval.

Help for the Child Who Says No to School NYT
Common symptoms of school refusal behavior may include aggressive behavior, refusal to get up or get ready for school, running away from school or home, or having temper tantrums and crying. It can actually be very harmful for the child if appropriate help is not given.

Will more students flee Detroit? Detriot News (via educationnews.org)
With a decline of 9,300 students as the school year began, Detroit Public Schools are worried to loose more students and the public money those students bring if parents send their children elsewhere due to the teacher strike.

8/28/2006

Morning Round-up August 28, 2006

In Schools Across U.S., the Melting Pot Overflows NYT
Some 55 million youngsters are enrolling for classes in the nation's school this fall, making this the largest group of students in America's history.

Study: Teacher's Gender Affects Learning
WaPo
The study by Thomas Dee, an associate professor of economics at Swarthmore College, finds that boys learn more from male teachers and girls learn more from female teachers.

Free tutoring promise left behind
Bostom Globe
Sluggish enrollment, local resistance, questionable oversight, poor outreach to parents -- all of it has hampered a program that Congress adopted nearly five years ago.

Detroit Teachers Vote to Not Report to Work
NYT
Although illegal, teachers may have voted to strike over a contract with wage cuts of 5.5 percent and reductions to some benefits.

Over-Blogged?

Looking at the last couple of weeks of posts on my Bloglines made me wonder: what's the ideal number of blog posts per day from a reader's perspective -- assuming they're good -- and does a blog that posts a lot necessarily have any more to say or ... just think it does?

'Cuz there are certainly some busy folks out there, including espresso (59 posts in the past two weeks), ROTLC and the AFTies (45), Eduwonk (40), and School Me! (39).

Three a day for two weeks (M-F) would get you to 30 posts over the past two weeks. That seems about right to me, at least for an individual blogger. Four a day would get you to 40 posts, and to get over 40, you're doing 5 or more posts a day, on average, which -- for me, at least -- wouldn't leave a lot of time to think or get any other work done. Not that I'm known for getting much done anyway.