Teachers

Crayons versus Tablets?

In this week’s podcast, Michelle defends Toni Morrison, Mike laughs social-emotional learning out of the room, and both consider the possibilities of the “tablet revolution.” Dara takes us all on a field trip.

Amber's Research Minute

The Educational Value of Field Trips,” by Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida, and Daniel H. Bowen, Education Next 14 (1).

A study out of Britain’s Institute of Education (IOE) has found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in mathematics, vocabulary, and spelling between the ages of ten and sixteen than their peers who rarely read. In fact, the study found that whether or not a child likes to read is a greater predictor of classroom success than parents’ educational levels.

A Chicago Tribune article follows Jailyn Baker, a teenager in Chicago, on her seven-leg, hour-and-a-half-long commute to the Josephinium Academy, her school of choice and one of the few private schools in the city that her family can afford. Her story illustrates not only the lengths to which folks will go to exercise school choice but also a great irony: Jailyn lives closer to Indiana, a state that has one of the “most liberating” school-voucher programs in the land, than she does to Josephinium; were she living in Indiana, she would be eligible for a voucher worth nearly $6,000, which could allow her to attend a private school that she didn’t have to torture herself to get to.

Kudos of the week go to Jeb Bush, who—in what seemed like a moment of frustration—struck back at Common Core critics: “If you’re comfortable with mediocrity, fine.” He followed his comments, made at an appearance in Washington in support of Louisiana’s school-voucher program, by calling opposition “purely political.” Read more here.

A month after publishing two pieces blasting the National Council on...

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Don’t call me and my friends Chicken Littles or “boys (and girls) who cried wolf.” The sky was...

For the past year, much of the ed-reform world has been concerned about the (seemingly) growing...

This valuable paper from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings sounds an important...

Among the provisions of Indiana’s so-called Common Core “pause” legislation was a requirement...

Sue, baby, sue!

Mike tries to goad an unflappable Michael Brickman into a fight on New York’s mayoral election, whether school choice is the only path to reform, and whether Arne Duncan is bullying California. Dara does the math on math teachers from TFA and Teaching Fellows.

Amber's Research Minute

The Effectiveness of Secondary Math Teachers from Teach for America and the Teaching Fellows Programs by Melissa A. Clark, et al., (Washington, D.C.: Institute of Education Sciences, September 2013).

This study of Teach For America (TFA) and Teaching Fellows secondary math teachers explores how their students compare to peers taking the same course, in the same school, from teachers who entered the profession through traditional certification programs (or other programs not as rigorous as TFA or Teaching Fellows). Conducted by Mathematica and the federal Institute of Education Sciences, the report is the first look at this question using random assignment, the gold standard for empirical research: Students in each participating school, 9,000 overall taught by 300 secondary math teachers, were randomly assigned to their instructors. The upshot? First, students who had TFA teachers performed better on end-of-year assessments than students in the comparison classrooms, scoring an average of 0.07 standard deviations higher, which is equivalent to 2.6 additional months of school or moving from the 27th to 36th percentile. Second, students who had Teaching Fellows teachers did not do any better or worse than students in comparison classrooms. However, students of novice Teaching Fellows did better than those instructed by novice comparison teachers. To be sure, these findings are not necessarily reflective of the programs alone. They also reflect differences in the people who choose to enter them. Finally, a bit on the characteristics of these teachers: Both TFA and Teaching Fellows have less experience than their peers, are less likely to be minorities, more likely to have graduated from more selective colleges, less likely to be math majors but more likely to score higher on tests of math...

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Challenge their children or watch them depart

What high-quality digital learning looks—er, sounds—like

Always a bridesmaid edition

Mike and Michelle join the WaPo in decrying the DOJ’s anti-voucher antics and debate who’s worse: private school parents or those who settle for failing schools. With Amber off saying “I do,” Dara takes over the research minute with a tale of unfair teacher-pension policies.

Amber's Research Minute

Better Pay, Fairer Pensions: Reforming Teacher Compensation by Josh McGee and Marcus A. Winters, Center for State and Local Leadership, Civic Report No. 79 (New York, NY: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, September 2013).

Someday, when they write the history of the education-reform movement, future scholars will tug their chins in puzzlement as they ponder today’s obsession with high-stakes teacher evaluations. But not for all the usual reasons that people raise concerns: the worry about whether we’ve got good measures of teacher performance, especially for instructors in subjects other than reading and math; the likelihood that tying achievement to evaluations will spur teaching to the test in ways that warp instruction and curriculum; the futility of trying to “principal-proof” our schools by forcing formulaic, one-size-fits-all evaluation models upon all K–12 campuses; the terrible timing of introducing new evaluation systems at the same time that educators are working to implement the Common Core.

No, future historians are far likelier to wonder about the motivation behind the evaluation obsession. Was this a policy designed to identify, and remove, America’s least effective teachers? Or was it a kinder-and-gentler effort to provide critical feedback to instructors so they could improve their craft?

If the latter, as some reformers now claim, historians will wonder why we were so insistent on attaching high stakes to these evaluations—determined to “make human-resource decisions” based on the results, as the parlance goes.

And if the former, historians will ask: What the heck were they thinking? Did they really believe that teacher evaluations alone would be enough to push bad instructors out of the classroom?

***

Consider, for instance, the Obama Administration’s decision to place three states on “high risk status” because...

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Reform School: Tim Kitts

Reform School: Tim Kitts

Tim Kitts of Florida's Bay Haven Charter Academy explains his "plus" model of school improvement, and the axes of curriculum and department structures.

Terry Ryan on Collective Bargaining in Ohio

Terry Ryan on Collective Bargaining in Ohio

Terry Ryan talks about his testimony on Senate Bill 5 and what it means for Ohio.

Assuring Highly Effective Teachers for All Ohio Students

Assuring Highly Effective Teachers for All Ohio Students

A teacher's effectiveness has a tremendous impact on a child's learning and academic trajectory. Ohio has debated for many months about how best to strengthen the quality of its teaching force. The biennial budget adopted in June calls for the state to develop a model teacher evaluation framework by the end of 2011 and to adopt policies tying teacher evaluations to key personnel decisions such as compensation, placement, tenure, and dismissal. Likewise, school districts and charter schools must implement their own local evaluations, based on the state model, starting in 2013-14.

It's evident that Ohio schools are about to undergo a major shift when it comes to how teachers are evaluated and developed, a change with great potential to impact student achievement. For this reason, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, along with the Nord Family Foundation and Ohio Grantmakers Forum, are convening this public discussion (and another one in Lorain) on assuring highly effective teachers for students across the state.

Featured speakers include:

Mike Miles, superintendent of Harrison School District 2 in Colorado, a school system on the cutting edge of teacher compensation reform, will review the teacher-effectiveness work his district is doing and the results they're seeing. Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, will discuss the state of teacher effectiveness nationally and what can be learned from research about teacher quality. Eric Gordon, new superintendent of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, will provide an Ohio voice on the panel. Gordon was one of the major architects of CMSD's Academic Transformation plan, which garnered national recognition for its approach to school reform.

Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, moderated the discussion.

Reform School: Tony Bennett

Reform School: Tony Bennett

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