Curriculum & Instruction

Guest Blogger

The left-leaning Think Tank Review Project reviews virtually every analytic report that Fordham publishes—and they have yet to find one that they like. So it is completely unsurprising that they issued an unfavorable review last week of our report Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Typically, we don't engage with them since it is clear that their ideology is at least as important to how they view Fordham's work as is our work itself.  But after having read their review, we and the Kingsbury Center, who we contracted to conduct the study, wanted to clarify three issues that were off base in Dr. Jaekyung Lee's review.

1)      First, ours was a descriptive study, seeking to catalog the degree to which early high achievers are losing their way.  Mr. Lee described our method as a “black-box approach that assumes a link between its findings and NCLB-related policies”.  Yet nowhere in the report (including the Fordham-penned Foreword) do we claim that the growth patterns observed among high achievers were the direct result of NCLB.  Rather, we acknowledged that many factors could partially explain these disturbing numbers.

2)      Second, Mr. Lee took issue with particular...

Guest Blogger

In this guest blog post, the team at? K5 Learning delves further into the data from the Fordham Institute's recent study Do High Flyers Maintain their Altitude? K5 Learning offers an online reading and math program for K-5 kids and urges parents to be pro-active in their children's education.

New data tells us that students who are not performing well above average in reading and math by grade 3 are highly unlikely to ever become academic high achievers.

Last month the Fordham Institute released Do High Flyers Maintain their Altitude?,? an examination of the performance of high achieving students (those scoring in the top 10 percentile on widely written standardized tests).? K5 Learning has reviewed the Fordham data to analyze those students who were not high achievers when first tested in grade 3.? The results are a wake-up call for every parent of young children.

Grade 3, and the academic ship has sailed

In this massive study of tens of thousands students, children who performed in the bottom 1/3 in reading or math in...

The Education Gadfly

Listen live this evening at 5:35 p.m. EST as Mike Petrilli appears on San Diego talk radio to discuss the implications of Fordham's recent report Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Performance Trends of Top Students. International competitiveness, gifted education, and the demise of tracking will all be on the table in what promises to be a lively discussion.

For those in D.C. interested in the plight of high achieving students, be sure to register for The Other Achievement Gap, a panel discussion on October 17th that brings top experts together to break down their latest research and work on the issue.? Chester E. Finn, Jr. will moderate a conversation you won't want to miss.? If you can't make it in person, you will be able stream the whole event live online on our website....

I was prepared for a rant against all things reform when I started reading the New York Times Q & A interview with Maria Velez-Clarke, the principal of the Children's Workshop School in Manhattan's East Village, about the school's C-grade from the City.? The school is ?one of several small schools,? said the Times intro, ?started in the 1990s by people who had worked at the widely praised Central Park East School.?

Central Park East?? The school started by Deborah Meier, current scourge of standardized tests, charters, accountability, and just about everything associated with Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein, who initiatiated the school report cards program? ?(See the Bridging Differences blog Meier shares with Diane Ravitch and this wonderful 1994 profile of Meier and her hugely successful Central Park East experiment written by veteran NYC educator Sy Fliegal.)? Children's Workshop offers ballet and yoga, for heaven's sake!

Instead of a progressive principal complaining about Gotham's new accountability system squishing her student's creative impulses, however, we hear an 18-year veteran school leader who was shocked by the C grade the school received in 2010 and determined to do something about it:

I shared it with absolutely

Guest Blogger

Guest blogger Ze'ev Wurman, an executive with Monolithic 3D, a Silicon Valley startup, has participated in developing California's education standards and assessments in mathematics since the mid-1990s. Between 2007 and 2009 he served as a senior policy adviser with the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education.

Paul Gross has done a fabulous job for Fordham distilling the essence of the recently published NRC Science Framework. His review deals with the Framework's content and rigor, as well as with its clarity and specificity. [pullquote]Gross...wisely observes that any good science program is an artful compromise between what is included and what is not.[/pullquote]Gross generally likes what he sees of the former, and wisely observes that any good science program is an artful compromise between what is included and what is not. The Framework also uses another device to clearly limit its expectations?the Boundary Statements that ?make explicit what is not expected of students at a given level.? Gross recognizes that such limitations amount to a matter of choice and illustrates it with the statement from the end of the 6-8 band:

Boundary Statement. In this grade band,

The Education Gadfly

Differentiation, tracking, and the needs of high-achievers are hot topics these days, thanks in part to Fordham's recent study Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Performance Trends of Top Students. Mike Petrilli kept the conversation going with Kansas City talk radio show host Greg Knapp yesterday morning?listen in here?discussing the study's findings, the decline of gifted education, and the great potential of online courses for exceptional students. ?Today in our schools it's considered elitist even to consider having gifted programs or honors programs, and we've got to push back against that,? said Mike.? Without those challenging classes, Mike warned, ?the high achieving kids stop performing because they're bored to tears."

Representatives from twenty states are hard at work developing Next Generation Science Standards—and using as their starting point the National Research Council’s recently released Framework for K-12 Science Education. This review of that framework, by Paul R. Gross, applauds its content but warns that it could wind up sending standards-writers off track. This appraisal finds much to praise in the Framework but also raises important concerns about a document that may significantly shape K-12 science education in the U.S. for years to come.

Guest Blogger

Guest blogger J. Martin Rochester is the Curators' Distinguished Teaching Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the author of ten books on international politics and law. In addition, he has written on k-16 education issues, including?Class Warfare: Besieged Schools, Bewildered Parents, Betrayed Kids, and the Attack on Excellence (Encounter Books, 2002).

Allow me to comment on the growing problem of computers in college classrooms. At my university and other universities, increasingly professors are banning laptops in class, even as many K-12 schools, particularly high schools, are becoming laptop-based.[pullquote]There is a fundamental disconnect, then, ?between the use of technology in precollegiate education and in higher education.[/pullquote]?There is a fundamental disconnect, then, ?between the use of technology in precollegiate education and in higher education. Students tend to arrive on campus considering it an entitlement to open their laptop in class, only to discover that their professor tells them to put it away. I am on the side of those professors who find laptops an intrusion into the classroom, for reasons that relate to broader concerns about the future of education. What's the problem?

First, can


As a journalist for the better part of 30 years (not counting the samizdat paper I wrote and published (on my dad's mimeograph machine) in my high school seminary), I worship our first amendment.? And as a student of the French Revolution and its pre-guillotine press, I'm also a big fan of Monsieur Voltaire and his famous utterance, to the effect, `I may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right say it.'

Does this mean I believe in an unfettered web in our schools, the subject of an interesting report by Winnie Hu in today's New York Times?

Well, I think I would agree with William Fitzhugh, the respected editor of The Concord Review, who told Hu,? ?I think students should have unfettered access to the library."

In other words, we have a much huger problem than the kind of Internet censorship that Banned Websites Awareness Day seems to be worried about.? A glance at school curricula, summer reading lists, or what pass as textbooks these days, indicate that our educators are already doing a pretty good job of censorship, keeping children from THE BEST of what our civilization has...

Last week, Fordham released a groundbreaking new study on high-achieving students, titled Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Performance Trends of Top Students. In a series of Flypaper posts that followed, we examined the report's main findings: First, that three in five high-achieving students remain that way over time; second, that most students coming in and out of the 90th percentile never fall below the 70th percentile overall; and third, that high achievers maintain the same pace as middle and low achievers over time in math, but grow more slowly than middle and low achievers in reading.

For those readers interested in more nuanced findings, I encourage you to poke around the report's data gallery, hosted by the Kingsbury Center at the Northwest Evaluation Association. Through the data gallery, you can break down these findings by grade range, subject, year, and even demographics?gender, ethnicity, poverty status, and location.

The future of our country rests on the shoulders of those high achievers in our schools today. While this study suggests that they are not in short supply, it also demonstrates that we could expand our pool...