• Very important Ed Week article about the decision by the Louisiana DOE to reject every math and reading textbook submitted for district use. The reason? They were deemed insufficiently aligned with the expectations of Common Core. This is the biggest state-level statement I’ve seen so far, indicating Louisiana’s substantial commitment to implementing CCSS. I’m in the camp that believes that while CCSS could be meaningful, much stands in the way.: The two testing consortia could set low or no cut scores, states could lose interest in the standards and/or tests, states could implement the new standards halfheartedly, etc. Rick Hess recently explained other reasons CCSS could be in jeopardy—these being more related to deficiencies in the reform community’s priorities and approaches to reform.
  • Excellent piece in today’s New York Times on higher-education accountability from the always-excellent Kevin Carey. This is a terribly important and difficult issue: Higher-ed institutions often have gigantic endowments and receive enormous support from the feds, state governments, and families, yet we have virtually no reliable information on which institutions are improving student learning or how. Carey suggests a modest path forward while continuing to surface an underappreciated issue.
  • Worthwhile white paper from AEI on education reform after the 2012 election. Authors McShane, Lautzenheiser, Kimmel, and Deane argue that funding reductions, implementation challenges, turnover at the USED, Common Core, and a number of other matters are likely to dominate in the years to come. Most important, however, may be their points relating to the GOP’s education-reform shifts. I’ll be writing more about this in the future; in a nutshell, I think our sector has ignored Republicans and conservatives (and the areas they represent) for too long and the dire consequences are just starting to reveal themselves.
  • Very disappointing results from Florida’s teacher-evaluation system. Looks like the Widget Effects remain. “In all, about 22 percent of classroom teachers were found to be ‘highly effective’ and 74.5 percent ‘effective.’ Nearly 2 percent were rated as ‘needs improvement,’ and just 0.3 percent were deemed ’unsatisfactory.’ In a separate rating system for teachers with three or fewer years of improvement, only 1 percent fell into the ‘developing’ category.”
  • The Atlantic has a short article on desegregation that’s worth a look. It covers a new Stanford paper about court orders, data on the achievement gap, and Mike Petrilli’s new book on diverse schools. The article includes no new insights or recommendations, but it does serve as an important reminder that we need to be aware of the racial composition of our schools even as we focus on school performance above all else. The article also has lessons for related goings-on in the reform world, including the closure of failing schools, the expansion of charters, selective admission public schools, mayoral control, and more.
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