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In this study, researchers from Teachers College at Columbia University analyzed data from a cohort of 77,501 New York City public school students who entered ninth grade in 2005, seeking connections between students’ high school outcomes and college persistence and their achievement, background characteristics, and school environments. Two findings stand out among many: First, students who failed New York’s third-grade reading exam had significantly lower odds of graduating high school than their peers who passed. Of those who failed third-grade reading, barely one in three graduated high school, compared to a 90 percent graduation rate among those who passed. Second, for the students who did graduate from high school, the type of diploma earned was the strongest predictor of college enrollment and persistence one year after matriculation. (New York State awards three diplomas—local, Regents, and Advanced Regents—each with different requirements.) Less than one-third of the graduates who earned a local diploma enrolled in college in Fall 2009 and were still enrolled in Spring 2010. This rate is well below those who earned either a Regents (50 percent enrolled and persisted) or an Advanced Regents diploma (80 percent). Given the findings, the researchers suggest that the “conventional assumptions” about school “need to be re-examined.” Perhaps buttressed by their third-grade reading finding, one area the authors urge states and schools to re-think is the grouping of students into grade levels based primarily on age rather than ability. And indeed, some states have gone beyond re-examining—and are in fact dismantling the “social...

Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City, is no friend of charter schools. He’s been clear, for instance, that if he steps foot in City Hall, Bloomberg’s policy of not charging them rent would be stopped and frisked. In response, 17,000 parents, students, and teachers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Tuesday in support of charter schools and Bloomberg’s education policies. For a particularly good summary of the issue, take a look at Daniel Henninger’s piece in the Wall Street Journal. For our analysis, check out this week’s Education Gadfly Show podcast.

North Carolina and Los Angeles have both encountered problems with their high-profile tablets-for-students programs. In North Carolina, around 10 percent of the 15,000 devices distributed have reportedly been defective, leading the state to suspend the program. And in L.A., some enterprising students managed to hack the tablets’ security filters (score for teenage resourcefulness—send them all to programming class!), leading officials to disallow taking the tablets off-campus—and boding ill for the program’s future after the school board reviews it later this month. While there’s no denying that tablets are the way of the future, there’s clearly some fine-tuning to be done.

Michael Brickman, Fordham’s national policy director, made it to NBC’s annual Education Nation wingding earlier this week. Here’s what he had to say: “The speakers were clearly top-notch. While the format...

Although the latest glum international-education data weren’t even released until this week, last week brought a pair of provocative and contrasting speeches about the state of American education in 2013, both of which repay close attention—in part so that you can consider the differences between them.

On September 30, U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan spoke at the National Press Club. The following day, Louisiana state superintendent John White spoke at AEI.

Both men are very smart, very experienced, and very committed to a radically better education system for young Americans. Both were taking stock...

Dear Deborah,

Earlier this week you wrote that you were “stunned” that I’d suggest a simple rule for our young people: “Don’t have babies until you can afford them.” Stunned was a much kinder word than many commenters used to describe their reaction–or their thoughts about me!

But let me admit to being stunned by your statement, “The odds that young women in poverty will find ways out of poverty are not great (above all in today’s economy and wage scale).”

This strikes me as incredibly defeatist and fatalistic, not to mention depressing. But it also strikes me...

It’s no exaggeration to say that private school choice has been a success. Every serious study into the efficacy of vouchers and tax-credit scholarships has shown either positive or neutral benefits for students, and virtually no significant research has found any signs of academic harm to children. This makes the popular narrative about school choice—that vouchers have done little good because the students who participate don’t outperform their public school peers—all the more frustrating. The mainstream press has advanced this story line. The latest version comes from (semi-mainstream) Politico and reporter Stephanie Simon, who concluded in a 1,600-word...

Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City, is no friend of charter schools. He’s been clear, for instance, that if he steps foot in City Hall, Bloomberg’s policy of not charging them rent would be stopped and frisked. In response, 17,000 parents, students, and teachers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Tuesday in support of charter schools and Bloomberg’s education policies. For a particularly good summary of the issue, take a look at Daniel Henninger’s piece in the Wall Street Journal....

The OECD, much loved by education-data wonks for its yearly Education at a Glance report, has launched its latest international-data nerd-bible: the Survey of Adult Skills, run by the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (or PIACC), which measures proficiency in literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving among adults aged sixteen through sixty-five. In this debut edition, researchers surveyed roughly 166,000 adults in twenty-four countries, almost all of which are OECD members, meaning they have “advanced” economies. The bottom line: The U.S. performed below the international average on most measures. The researchers also found that proficiency worldwide is...

In this study, researchers from Teachers College at Columbia University analyzed data from a cohort of 77,501 New York City public school students who entered ninth grade in 2005, seeking connections between students’ high school outcomes and college persistence and their achievement, background characteristics, and school environments. Two findings stand out among many: First, students who failed New York’s third-grade reading exam had significantly lower odds of graduating high school than their peers who passed. Of those who failed third-grade reading, barely one in three graduated high school, compared to a 90 percent graduation rate among those who passed....

As former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lisa Graham Keegan knows a thing or two about education policy and the reforms that come with it. But in writing this book, she had a different goal in mind: to describe how she came to be a choice advocate and to provide a guide to other parents. With all the urgency of a politician but the patience of a mother—and she is most definitely both, as well as a smart, savvy, and likable...

In this week’s podcast, Mike and Brickman talk tablet woes (and praise teenage hackers for their healthy disrespect for authority), charter support in NYC, and the research on voucher effectiveness. Amber tells us about PISA for geezers.

Teacher preparation, evaluation, and the characteristics of effective teaching are at the center of contemporary education research and policymaking.

Yet teaching is not afforded the same status as other professions in terms of recognition, pay, and career-advancement opportunities. As a result, nearly half of all new teachers leave the profession by their fifth year, and our finest teachers are among those who exit our nation’s classrooms for good.

How do we improve the stature of teaching to attract and retain more great teachers? What would it take to professionalize teaching?

NNSTOY believes that five key structures—found in almost every other field—have the potential to transform teaching into a profession that fosters continuous improvement, high expectations, and shared accountability.

This distinguished panel of educators and policymakers examine the ideas presented in this paper and their potential impact on the teaching profession.

Although the latest glum international-education data weren’t even released until this week, last week brought a pair of provocative and contrasting speeches about the state of American education in 2013, both of which repay close attention—in part so that you can consider the differences between them.

On September 30, U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan spoke at the National Press Club. The following day, Louisiana state superintendent John White spoke at AEI.

Both men are very smart, very experienced, and very committed to a radically better education system for young Americans. Both were taking stock of the reform movement, education politics, Washington’s role, and much else. They shared several common themes. But they also differed in big ways.

Commonalities first.

  • Both deplored political polarization, paralysis, and Washington gridlock.
  • Both noted that on-the-ground realities found outside Washington include some remarkably positive education developments that Beltway-based politicos and media seldom even notice. (Duncan referred multiple times to Washington’s “alternative universe,” inhabited also by non-Washingtonian “armchair pundits” who favor “blogs, books, and tweets” that transmit their biases rather than reality.)
  • Both took heated umbrage at the view—they didn’t name Deborah Meier, Diane Ravitch, the Education Policy Institute, or the “Broader, Bolder” crowd, but it’s clear that’s whom they had in mind—that education can’t do poor kids any good until economic and social reforms render them unpoor. (White spoke of “pandering fatalism about the education prospects of the poor.” Duncan denounced those who say, “We have to address poverty
  • ...

The OECD, much loved by education-data wonks for its yearly Education at a Glance report, has launched its latest international-data nerd-bible: the Survey of Adult Skills, run by the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (or PIACC), which measures proficiency in literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving among adults aged sixteen through sixty-five. In this debut edition, researchers surveyed roughly 166,000 adults in twenty-four countries, almost all of which are OECD members, meaning they have “advanced” economies. The bottom line: The U.S. performed below the international average on most measures. The researchers also found that proficiency worldwide is closely associated with age, reaching a peak around age 30 and declining steadily, with the oldest age groups displaying lower levels of proficiency than the youngest. (This decline is likely related both to differences in the amount and quality of education and training opportunities and to the effects of getting older.) Older Americans fared better than younger in literacy: 12 percent of Americans aged 55–65 scored at the highest proficiency level versus just 5 percent of the full international sample of that age cohort. In every other age group, though, the U.S. lagged behind. Finland and Japan stood out, with roughly every fifth Finnish and Japanese adult reading at the highest levels (Australians, Belgians, and Canadians also performed above average). On the other hand, most of Europe foundered with the Americans, scoring below-average overall. Some countries also seem to have made significant progress in improving their proficiency over the generations:...

The hacker edition

In this week’s podcast, Mike and Brickman talk tablet woes (and praise teenage hackers for their healthy disrespect for authority), charter support in NYC, and the research on voucher effectiveness. Amber tells us about PISA for geezers.

Amber's Research Minute

OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills by OECD (OECD Publishing, 2013).

J.B. Schramm is the founder of College Summit and has served as its leader for two decades. He has built his organization into one of the most influential and valuable entities in the K–12 sector. After this highly successful tenure, J.B. is moving on to a new venture, teaming with a number of the field’s leading groups to further advance the cause of preparing students for success in high school, higher education, and beyond.

Like other BTCIK guests, J.B. has an astonishing compilation of accomplishments—he’s received recognition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Regis University, and Yale, among others, and President Obama gave a portion of his Nobel Prize award money to College Summit!

But like his BTCIK colleagues, he’s also a modest, unassuming, contemplative, and endlessly decent person. I treasure the time he and I have spent together—sharing reflections on some text we’ve read, discussing some policy issue, or picking his brain about fatherhood.

And like Nelson Smith, J.B. is one heck of a thespian! It’s a long story, but a couple years back, J.B. and I were in a group professional-development session together, where we had to write a play. I inexplicably got fired up about the commonalities and differences between Creon from Antigone and General Douglas MacArthur. Others in the group...

In this research brief, economist Joel Elvery asks whether any of Ohio’s metro areas could be considered a “brain hub.” He identifies such cities as those with a high ratio of “knowledge” to manufacturing jobs. Cities with a higher ratio have recently tended to display stronger economic growth (e.g., San Francisco, New York, D.C.). Elvery found that, of the eight major cities in Ohio, only Columbus could be considered a “brain hub.” Its knowledge to manufacturing job ratio was a robust 3.7 to 1.0 (the national average was 2.4). Cincinnati ranked second among Ohio’s cities (2.3 to 1.0), but Toledo, Youngstown, and Canton had virtually one-to-one knowledge to manufacturing job ratios (1.2, 1.1, and 0.9 respectively). The data indicate that, with the exceptions of Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio’s cities are behind and losing ground. Can they catch up, or has time passed by these blue-collar towns? Perhaps, it is simply too late. But if Ohio’s cities are to have any chance to compete in a knowledge-based economy, a world-class K-12 education will undergird city-wide transformation. In her remarks at a September College Now Greater Cleveland event, Cleveland Fed president Sandra Pianalto said: “[I]f we want to improve our region’s economy, if we want people here to have higher incomes, we need to improve the educational attainment of our citizens, especially our young people.” I couldn’t agree more. If Ohio’s cities are to get more of these prized “knowledge jobs,” it starts with dramatic improvement to our cities’...

Dear Deborah,

Earlier this week you wrote that you were “stunned” that I’d suggest a simple rule for our young people: “Don’t have babies until you can afford them.” Stunned was a much kinder word than many commenters used to describe their reaction–or their thoughts about me!

But let me admit to being stunned by your statement, “The odds that young women in poverty will find ways out of poverty are not great (above all in today’s economy and wage scale).”

This strikes me as incredibly defeatist and fatalistic, not to mention depressing. But it also strikes me as incorrect.

Let’s do the math.

Today the federal income poverty threshold for a single person is $11,490. If that person works a minimum-wage job for 40 hours a week and for 50 weeks a year, she earns $14,500 per year. Ergo, she’s not poor, at least according to the official definition. (To be sure, she’s not living the high life either–and is almost surely sharing a home with family or friends to make ends meet.)

What if this worker has a baby? Now things get much more challenging. The poverty threshold for a family of two is $15,510; a minimum-wage job is no longer enough. Furthermore, working 40 hours a week is tough when you’ve got a baby to care for. On the other hand, additional government benefits kick in–the earned income tax credit, childcare subsidies, food stamps, possibly housing vouchers–that might keep our worker (and her baby) just...

Note: This post is part of our series, "Netflix Academy: The best educational videos available for streaming." Be sure to check out our previous Netflix Academy posts on dinosaurs; the American founders; aquatic life; and the Maya, Inca, and Aztec. Thanks to research interns Melissa Reynolds and Singer Crawford for their help in compiling these lists.

Welcome to Week Two of our Columbus Day unit. Last week we tackled the ancient American civilizations of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec. Next week, we’ll do the Age of Discovery (including Mr. Columbus himself). This week, it’s Native Americans in the spotlight.

There’s no lack of content on Native Americans online; we’ve selected a mix of documentaries, fictionalized stories, and animated shows that do a great job introducing elementary school students to this essential part of U.S. history. As with any videos (or books) for young children, it’s essential that parents participate in the learning process, especially to help explain, in age-appropriate ways, the more tragic aspects of Native American history.

As always, if you find other videos worth watching, please share them in the comments section below.

Best videos on the Native American cultures available for streaming

1. American Experience: We Shall Remain

American Experience: We Shall Remain

From the award-winning PBS series American Experience comes “We Shall Remain,” a provocative multi-media project...

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