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  1. Not to toot our own horn, but…TOOT! Fordham Ohio’s latest report, Getting Out of the Way: Education Flexibility to Boost Innovation and Improvement in Ohio, was released yesterday and we held a launch event in Columbus. Report and event generated some great response. Check out the Enquirer (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/11/15, plus other Gannett outlets) for quotes from Aaron Churchill and a response from something called the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition. Check out the (still, for now) Big D (Columbus Dispatch, 6/11/15) for a nice summary of some key points from the morning’s panel discussion and a response from the state teacher’s union that goes in something of an unexpected direction. That same line of thinking is followed by public media’s StateImpact (StateImpact Ohio, 6/11/15), who quote Aaron and then look to the State Senate for a response. The Dayton Daily News’ Jeremy Kelley made the early morning trek to Columbus for the event and produced a wide-ranging piece (Dayton Daily News, 6/11/15, plus a few other outlets in the publishing group) that covered a number of other issues besides teacher licensure and tenure. Thanks to the good folks at Education First, our intrepid panelists, and
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In this research brief, Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania and David Scott Yeager of the University of Texas compare three measures of students’ non-cognitive skills: student surveys (in which students self-report on their non-cognitive skills), teacher surveys (in which the teacher provides his or her assessment of a student’s skills), and so-called “performance tasks” (such as the famous "marshmallow test"). After comparing these measures, the authors discuss their suitability for various purposes, including individual diagnosis, improved practice, program evaluation, and accountability.

According to the authors, each measure has advantages and disadvantages. For example, although student and teacher surveys are cheap and reliable, they suffer from “reference bias,” which occurs when individuals or groups use different frames of reference in making a judgment. Consequently, schools that are best at promoting non-cognitive skills may score lowest on a survey measuring such skills.

Unlike surveys, performance tasks don’t rely on the subjective judgments of students or teachers. Yet they too have drawbacks. To be a valid measure of a non-cognitive skill, a performance task must be administered under carefully controlled conditions, which may be difficult to achieve at some schools. They are also expensive and time-consuming, with a single task taking...

  1. Fordham was namechecked in two stories noting that another charter sponsor has joined the “Exemplary Ranking” club…and that two have been named to the “Ineffective Ranking” club, the lowest possible rating. Check out coverage in the Big D (Columbus Dispatch, 6/10/15) and the Enquirer. (Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/10/15) Also noted nationally in Politico this morning, along with a quote from Chad. Nice.
     
  2. Speaking of charter schools, what’s up with management companies in Ohio? The Beacon Journal is still digging into Summit Academy Management. To wit: multiple breach-of-contract proceedings against teachers at their schools who quit to take jobs at other schools…mainly district schools. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/8/15) But I think the real story – which the ABJ will get to in due time, I’m sure – is this one: Akron-based journalist-fave White Hat Management is considering selling off operation of 12 of its K-8 academies to an out-of-state company. The PD’s story seems pretty tame given all the history (how did that story not get around to noting the potential new operator is also a for-profit company, for instance), but I’m sure that will change soon enough. Seems like this could get huge. More to
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  1. Editors in Canton opined this weekend against poor-performing charter schools and for charter law reform, then lamented that proposed reforms didn’t come soon enough to spare the kids in a local charter threatened with closure from a poor education in their building. (Canton Repository, 6/7/15)
     
  2. Meanwhile, in Trotwood-Madison City Schools, a report issued by the Ohio Department of Education tried to get to the bottom of several years of “F” grades received by the district in a number of areas, including academic achievement. The report was step one in a process that could end up with Trotwood-Madison under the aegis of an Academic Distress Commission…or not. Stern stuff, right? Well, fear not parents of Trotwood. The district supe is resolute: “…[W]e’re going to close those achievement gaps. You’re going to see improvement in Trotwood-Madison City Schools.” Carrying on the theme from the Canton piece, above, I hope someone will publicly lament that these promised changes – when they come – didn’t come soon enough to spare the kids in Trotwood from whatever was going on there before that led to all those “F” grades. Just sayin’. (Dayton Daily News, 6/5/15)
     
  3. Continuing the theme of retroactive regret,
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  1. In case you missed it on Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Education sent letters to four charter schools it sponsors informing them of their intent to close the schools for, among other things, poor academic performance. There’s a lot to this story that actually goes back a couple of years, but the bottom line is that this is exactly how sponsors should handle such situations. Kudos to ODE for making the tough decisions required in the best interests of students. For a boring version of the story perhaps a bit too light on details, check out the Dispatch (Columbus Dispatch, 6/4/15). For an interesting in-depth version of the story – three of the schools are in Cleveland after all – with lots of links to explain the history, check out the PD. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/3/15). And for a predictably unique version, you can check out the ABJ. (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/4/15)
     
  2. And since those initial stories ran, the schools on the chopping block in Cleveland responded to the press. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/4/15) So did the school in Canton. (Canton Repository, 6/4/15) Expect more on this situation next week.
     
  3. Hannah Sparling has
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Classroom discipline is, let’s face facts, a fraught subject. It frequently occurs at the uncomfortable vector between schooling and race, where seemingly all useful reform conversations end up turning poisonous and accusatory. If you argue in favor of curbing suspensions and expulsions for black students, you’re privileging the rights of reprobates over the studious kids trying to learn in an unruly environment. Advance a case for stricter measures, however, and you’ll find “disparate impacts” and the “school-to-prison pipeline” hung around your neck. Few areas of education discourse are more in need of illuminating research.

This new study, conducted by Stanford researchers specializing in the investigation of implicit psychological bias, provides exactly that. Through the use of two separate experiments, it exposes a tendency in K–12 teachers (predominantly white females in the middle of their careers, but including members of both sexes and multiple races) to detect patterns of misbehavior in black students more so than white. In the first experiment, the authors provided participants with disciplinary records for students with either stereotypical white or black names, each detailing two episodes of petty insubordination. They then asked the teachers to describe how “troubled” they felt (a composite measure indicating their degree...

A new study from MDRC evaluates the impact, over three years, of a support program for low-income community college students in New York who are taking remedial courses. Developed by the City University of New York, the program is called the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (or ASAP) and includes several components. Among these is a requirement to enroll full-time and participate in tutoring; comprehensive and dedicated student advising; a non-credit seminar that covers academic planning and goal setting; and career and employment services. Participants enjoy tuition waivers, free transportation vouchers, and free textbooks. Eligible students had to meet income eligibility requirements and take one to two remedial courses, among other conditions.

Three of CUNY’s largest community colleges participated, and roughly nine hundred students were randomly assigned either to a control group that received the usual college services or the treatment group, which had the opportunity to participate in ASAP (a study design that actually met the What Works Clearinghouse design standards without reservations).

Now for the results: ASAP students earned, on average, nine more credits than the control group. Moreover, the program nearly doubled the graduation rate, with 40 percent of the ASAP group receiving a degree compared to...

Maryland’s demanding new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment was administered statewide for the first time this year. Its results are revealing and sobering, to put it mildly. Many states don’t even check in any systematic way on their children’s readiness for kindergarten, and in previous years, Maryland used metrics based on modest expectations, outdated standards, and feel-good politics.

With the leadership of State Superintendent Lillian Lowery and Assistant Superintendent Rolf Grafwallner, Maryland has brought a new sense of reality to the skills that five-year-olds ought to possess if they’re truly prepared to succeed in kindergarten and the early grades. These span four domains, two of them cognitive (language, math), plus physical wellbeing (motor development, hygiene, etc.) and what they term “social foundations” (self-control, for example).

The assessment is individually administered by kindergarten teachers and was given this year to all of the Old Line State’s sixty-seven thousand kindergartners. The results are sorted into three bands, politely labeled “demonstrating readiness,” “developing readiness,” and “emerging readiness.” But only the first of these means actually ready to succeed in kindergarten—and slightly fewer than half of Maryland’s entering kindergartners met that standard.

Which is to say that more than half are not ready. This report candidly...

I liked Grant Wiggins more than just about anyone with whom I disagreed so much. On several occasions, he’d write something about teaching or curriculum I vehemently disagreed with, or vice versa. A sharply worded blog comment or tweet would follow. Then, invariably, there would be an email. Often lots of them. Nothing remarkable there; arguments begun in one venue often spill over into others. But what I came to value about those exchanges with Wiggins, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last week at age 64, is that they weren’t an attempt to win an argument or a convert. If you disagreed with him—if you looked at the same evidence and came to a different conclusion—he had to know why. 

Wiggins, the author of the influential curriculum planning guide Understanding by Design, held to his beliefs tightly and argued them passionately. He would never have embraced the label of education reformer—far from it—but he resisted the facile view of the education world as an “us versus them” proposition. He was adamant that instructional practices he railed against—dry lectures; activities divorced from big ideas and important skills; dutiful marches through content to be covered—were not a product of “reform,” but...

Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina, joined the presidential race this week. He’s currently competing against eight other Republicans for the party’s nomination—a number that promises to grow as the year goes on. He’s also the subject of the thirteenth installment of the Eduwatch 2016 series chronicling presidential candidates’ stances on education issues.

Graham has served in the Senate since 2003. Before that, he was a four-term representative in the House and served one term in the state legislature. This, however, is his first time running for the White House. Over his long political tenure, he’s said much about education. Here are some of his views:

1. Common Core (2014): “The Obama administration has effectively bribed and coerced states into adopting Common Core....Blanket education standards should not be a prerequisite for federal funding. In order to have a competitive application for some federal grants and flexibility waivers, states have to adopt Common Core. This is simply not the way the Obama administration should be handling education policy.” February 2014.

2. Common Core (2013): “What's Common Core?...I'll address it. I don't know what it is. Sounds like a bad idea. I'll tell my staff, and I'll try...

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