Curriculum & Instruction

Liam Julian

Harvard's Graduate School of Education released today?a report, Pathways to Prosperity, which, to judge by the heft of those who contributed to the document's ?Advance Praise? page (e.g., Joel Klein, Phil Bredesen) and by the U.S. Secretary of Education's presence at the report's Washington, D.C., unveiling, is a big-ish deal. So what does?the thing?say? That the ?college for all? goal, pushed most recently and publicly by President Obama, is unreachable and also,?in establishing, deliberately or otherwise, college completion as the singularly desirable educational outcome, harmful.

Our current system places far too much emphasis on a single pathway to success: attending and graduating from a four-year college after completing an academic program of study in high school. Yet as we've seen, only 30 percent of young adults successfully complete this preferred pathway, despite decades of efforts to raise the numbers. And too many of them graduate from college without a clear conception of the career they want to pursue, let alone a pathway for getting there.

These are not original thoughts. Nonetheless they are thoughts worth repeating, and the report one worth reading. Among?its virtues?is that it is a silo of relevant facts, including details about how other countries have built career and technical education programs, for better and worse. Amending America's educational system and especially its high schools such that pupils who are not enlivened by Shakespeare or Euclid can still flourish seems sensible; and unlike other proposed adjustments to the K-12 system it is not...

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Each year the Thomas B. Fordham Institute conducts an analysis of urban school performance in Ohio. We found that in 2009-10, 26 percent of public school students (district and charter) in Ohio's Big 8 urban communities attended a school rated A or B by the state, 28 percent attend a C-rated school, and 47 percent attended a school rated D or F.

In partnership with Public Impact, we analyzed the 2009-10 academic performance data for charter and district schools in Ohio's eight largest urban cities:

Ohio Urban School Performance Report, 2009-10

Ohio Education Gadfly: Special Edition (our coverage of 2009-10 data)

We also conducted city-specific analyses:

Note: The pdf for Dayton's performance has been updated as of September 1, 2010. The old version had an error in Table 1 - the list of charter and district schools in the city, and has since been corrected....

The K-12 academic standards in English language arts (ELA) and math produced in June 2010 by the Common Core State Standards Initiative were clearer and more rigorous than ELA standards in 37 states and math standards in 39 states, according to this Fordham Institute study. In 33 of those states, the Common Core bested both ELA and math standards. Yet California, Indiana and the District of Columbia had ELA standards clearly superior to those of the Common Core. And nearly a dozen states had ELA or math standards in the same league as Common Core. Read on to find out more and see how your state fared.

OhioFlypaper

Congratulations to Andrew Boy, the co-director and founder of Columbus Collegiate Academy, one of the six charter schools Fordham authorizes. Andy was just selected as a 2010 recipient of Columbus Business First's highly prestigious ???40 under 40' award. The award recognizes outstanding Columbus area leaders under the age of 40 who have demonstrated a high measure of success and are making a positive contribution to the community.

Andy stands among the few leaders in Ohio urban education committed and able to give disadvantaged students what they deserve ??? a top-notch education that prepares them for success in college. As a young teacher in Cincinnati, Andy improved the science proficiency scores of his fourth and sixth graders by 60 and 80 percentage points in three years, respectively. Today, Columbus Collegiate Academy ranks as one of the top performing schools in Columbus while serving a student body that is 94 percent economically disadvantaged.

Andy has achieved this success despite the serious challenges his charter school faced from the outset (opening in a time of budget cuts to charter schools, encountering obstacles related to school facilities, and dealing with tough student transportation issues). His school's recent selection as a New Leaders for New Schools?? EPIC silver award for dramatic gains in student achievement is evidence that the national charter school community identifies Andy as a nationwide leader from whom other schools can learn.

Additionally, Andy makes the time to serve as a personal and professional mentor...

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I downloaded Teach Like Champion 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov this weekend, and have scarcely been able to put it down. Too often in education reform, books are quickly pushed into one of two camps: policy or practice. This is a book so elegant in its simplicity that it has the power to transform the conversations in both worlds. That is, if enough people in both policy and practice read it, get past the "mundane" techniques Lemov proposes, and absorb its true message.

I use the word mundane not because the techniques are insignificant. On the contrary, they are essential, practical, and--done right--transformative in their power to drive student achievement, teacher training and professional development, and related policy decisions. But, some--for instance, the advice on how to train students to pass out papers efficiently--upon first glance seem so trivial that it hardly seems worthy of the pages devoted to it. That is until you realize that investing an hour up-front to getting this right can literally save as many as eight full instructional days. Eight days. In an age when school districts are being forced to cut valuable instructional days, such dramatic time-saving techniques should be the rule, not the exception.

Throughout the book, Lemov calls out 49 specific techniques that are equally simple, though not simplistic. Pragmatic, though at their core truly inspirational.

In fact, Lemov has included video clips that show the techniques in action,...

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