Curriculum & Instruction

“Planting healthy content seeds will lead to a bumper crop of good readers,” noted Fordham’s Peter Meyer eight moons ago in reference to second-year results from New York City’s Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) pilot reading program. Year three results, released this week, are equally compelling. Some background: CKLA is meant, through early reading instruction and content-rich “read-alouds,” to introduce all students—low-income students specifically—to the “core” common knowledge needed to navigate society. The pilot reading program tracks 1,000 students in twenty low-income schools in the Big Apple. Ten of these are implementing E.D. Hirsch’s “core knowledge” pedagogy (which stresses nonfiction reading, content knowledge, and decoding skills) while the other ten (with like demographics) employ reading strategies of the “balanced literacy” sort. Besides tracking scores on pre- and post-tests, this study gathered teacher and administrator survey data and conducted site visits at four CKLA schools, confirming teachers’ fidelity to the Core Knowledge program. CKLA students across all studied grades (Kindergarten through second) boasted larger gains than their comparison-group peers, and students with lower base achievement saw larger gains. Core Knowledge had the greatest impact on Kindergarteners; fidelity to the program resulted in reading gains fivetimes greater than those experienced by...

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Mike and Janie make the case for keeping the Education Gadfly Show going with witty analysis of Common Core critics, student discipline follies, and the GOP’s education conundrum. Amber delves into teacher dissatisfaction and Chris asks “What’s up with that?” one last time.

Amber's Research Minute

 The MetLife survey of The American Teacher - Download the PDF

What's Up With That?

Teacher's health insurance policy includes free plastic surgery.

Sounding off on "snobs" and Santorum

Mike and Rick break down the week’s news, from the prospects of John Kline’s ESEA reauthorization proposals to the college-for-all controversy. Amber analyzes the latest report on Milwaukee’s voucher program Chris wonders whether robbing a bank is enough to get a school bus driver fired.

Amber's Research Minute

The Comprehensive Longitudinal Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

Amber's Weekly Poll

Tune in next week to find out the answer!

What's Up With That?

School bus dispatcher was bank robbery getaway driver - WFTV.com

It’s Rick-sanity!

From Lin-sanity to charter school discipline, Mike and Rick take on political correctness in this week’s podcast. Amber breaks down the recent Brown Center report and Chris defends Michael Jackson’s dance moves.

Amber's Research Minute

The 2012 Brown Center Report on American Education

Download the PDF

Amber's Weekly Poll

Tune in next week to find out the answer!

What's Up With That?

‘Billie Jean’ dance move a show stopper - 9 year-old boy suspended for performing Michael Jackson dance move.

Youth Choir
American innovation doesn't start in the classroom.
 Photo by Dave Parker.

A few weeks ago, a couple of Japanese scholars dropped by
the Fordham Institute offices for a visit. This happens every so
often—delegations of foreigners make the Washington ed-policy circuit, seeking
a better understanding of America’s schools. As with most Asian visitors I
meet, these gentlemen were curious about how we manage to produce so many
innovative leaders. They want a Bill Gates, a Steve Jobs, or a Mark Zuckerberg
of their own.

To which I replied: “You’re looking in the wrong place. It
has nothing to do with our schools.”

This isn’t meant as a knock on our school system. But from
ages zero to eighteen, our young people spend about 9 percent of their lives in
class. Isn’t it likely that the other 91 percent contributes more to such
attributes as their creativity or willingness to question authority?

I asked my visitors what Japanese adolescents do when they
...

Ed. Note: The email version of this edition of the Gadfly Weekly failed to identify sections of this week's editorials by
Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Peter Meyer as quotations from other authors. We
have great respect for the work of the
New York Times, the Washington
Post, and Mark Bauerlein, and would never want to imply that it was our own. We
apologize for the mistake.

Pundits and politicians have cited the loss of manufacturing jobs as a
sign of American economic decline for decades now, but a recent Washington
Post article
suggests that the problem is an under-skilled workforce, not a
lack of opportunity. With that in mind, Checker and Peter square off this week
to debate whether a renewed and revised focus on vocational education is the key
to the U.S.'s economic future.

21st-century VocEd  could be key to future economic prosperity

By Chester
E. Finn, Jr.

I’m
a huge fan of high-quality liberal-arts education for everybody and really do
think
it would go far to prepare better citizens, neighbors, and
consumer/transmitters of America’s cultural heritage and democratic
underpinnings. I’m also an acolyte...

Embracing the Common Core

Embracing the Common Core - Michael Cohen Presentation

Mike Cohen, president of Achieve, speaks at Embracing the Common Core: Helping Students Thrive to the specifics of PARCC (the assessment consortia Ohio joined last fall) and warned that the implementation of the new standards in ELA and math will not be easy and that districts should start the implementation process now.

Download his presentation here.

Embracing the Common Core

Embracing the Common Core - Stan Heffner Presentation

Among the speakers at Embracing the Common Core on February 15, 2012, was State Superintendent Stan Heffner who stressed that the system Ohio currently has is letting kids down and not preparing them for the future. He went on to emphasize that the Common Core gives us the opportunity and chance to do better for our kids and we must capitalize on that.

Weighing the waivers

Mike sat down with Fordham’s new school choice czar, Adam Emerson, to question just how flexible ESEA flexibility turned out to be and to ponder Obama’s abandonment of the D.C. voucher program. Amber looks at a new study on how much value principals add while Chris learns that they sometimes need to bob and weave when handing out teacher evaluations.

Amber's Research Minute

Estimating the Effect of Leaders on Public Sector Productivity: The Case of School Principals

Amber's Weekly Poll

Tune in next week to find out the answer!

What's Up With That?

Springfield, MA teacher punches vice principal during evaluation

I’ve posted before about the
unusual interpretations and suggestions for implementing the Common Core
standards that are popping
up across the country
. Earlier this week, more evidence emerged that when
it comes to organizations peddling Common Core implementation resources and
strategies, the buyer should beware.

When
it comes to organizations peddling Common Core implementation resources and
strategies, the buyer should beware.

Eye on Education, a
publishing company that provides “busy educators with practical information” on
a host of topics (professional development, school improvement, student
assessment, data analysis, and on), released a report this week authored by
Lauren Davis that highlights “5 Things Every Teacher Should be Doing to Meet
the Common Core State Standards”:

  • Lead High-Level, Text-Based
    Discussions
  • Focus on Process, Not Just
    Content
  • Create Assignments for Real
    Audiences and with Real Purpose
  • Teach Argument, Not Persuasion
  • Increase Text Complexity

At first glance, this
appears to be pointed in the right direction. After all, nearly every point
includes quotes from the standards themselves or from the publisher’s criteria
released by David Coleman and Sue Pimentel.

Unfortunately, dressing
...

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