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  1. One year ago, a teacher testified in front of the House Education Committee – at length and near tears – about his opposition to Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee during a Common Core repeal hearing. The committee chair listened politely and then noted to the witness that TGRG had nothing to do with Common Core. The teacher responded, “Well, I kind of lump all those things together.” Fast forward to November 2014 and a new kind of lumping is going on: Common Core and overall “test-mania”. Here is a report on how some teachers and administrators in Columbus’ suburbs feel about overtesting – not just the new PARCC exams, but every bit of testing they are being asked to do. I personally would urge caution in this lumping because the baby is still in the bath. (Columbus Dispatch)
  2. Back in the real world, editors in Columbus opined in praise of KIPP Columbus over the weekend. New school building means new opportunities for more students. (Columbus Dispatch)
  3. Speaking of charter schools, Canton College Prep School added three grade levels and doubled its student population in its second year, necessitating a move to a new and larger location,
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With Election Day fast approaching, there’s only so much time to familiarize yourself with the races, candidates, and issues at play. That’s where Education Week’s election guide comes in: A compendium of state and local races, it’s a one-stop shop for all the education-related angles to the midterms, right down to ballot issues and state education races.

The Washington Post’s T. Rees Shapiro has a lovely look at the life of Ruth T. Bedford, a Standard Oil heiress who left a $40 million bequest to her Virginia high school. Bedford, who died in June, led a colorful life that saw her breed thoroughbred racehorses, work with the Red Cross during World War II, and conquer the skies as an early aviatrix. Administrators at her alma mater, the all-girl’s Foxcroft School, were reportedly stunned at the gift.

Tennessee’s Department of Education has released its annual report card on local schools, and Chalkbeat Tennessee has a good overview. Among their observation, there’s one thing to celebrate: In keeping with the one and only Michael Brickman’s entreaties,...

Joe Portnoy, the king of new media, has been with Fordham for the last four years and is now headed to shake things up at the Department of Education. Arne, now that you have nabbed our new-media manager, we suggest that you take some of our policy advice, too. (See here, here, and here.)

Here are some of our favorite new-media products, thanks to Joe:

A Nation at Risk: 30 years later

Thirty years ago, A Nation at Risk was released to a surprised country. Suddenly, Americans woke up to learn that SAT scores were plummeting and children were learning a lot less than before. Due in large part to this report, education reform today is serious about standards, quality, assessment, accountability, and benchmarking—by school, district, state, and nation. Yet we still have many miles to go before we sleep. Our students still need to learn far more, and our schools need to become far more effective.

Is America Education Coming Apart? A Lunchtime Lecture with Charles Murray


  1. The board of education of Monroe Local Schools is set to vote Monday on whether or not to sell their long-mothballed high school to a local church. Ahead of that vote, district lawyers assured the board that they would prevail in any church-state court case that might arise, and two more possible buyers have (sort of) emerged. (Middletown Journal-News)
  2. The long-simmering efforts to merge the Cardinal and Ledgemont school districts in Geauga County will probably take a decisive turn next week. Despite the assistance of the General Assembly and the governor to smooth the process, despite this week’s report from the County Auditor on the fiscal benefits of a merger, despite the urging of both districts’ superintendents, it will come down to next week’s levy votes in Ledgemont. If one or both fail, it’s hard to see how a merger won’t be absolutely necessary. (Willoughby News-Herald)
  3. Two Kent State University professors are leading a project called Making Mathematics Mobile, to develop a website to assist K-12 teachers in locating helpful mobile tools for teaching and learning mathematics, especially those that are properly Common Core-aligned. Call it the Good Mathkeeping Seal of Approval. (Kentwired)
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New York City's preschool program is undergoing a year-long assessment to determine the quality of classroom environments and teacher-student interactions, as well as gauge how citywide expansion is going. Currently, about 50,000 students are served by the pre-K programs, with plans to reach 70,000 children by next year.

Results from a poll by George Washington University's Center on Education Policy shows that schools feel unprepared logistically for the administration of new PARCC and Smarter Balanced exams in the spring. The new assessments, which are aligned to Common Core, will be delivered online, allowing for faster scoring and more accurate data collection. Fordham’s own Aaron Churchill chipped in with a sensational article on PARCC implementation earlier this month.

Michigan lawmakers are considering two bills that would allow high school seniors to pursue a STEM certification upon graduation. While specific curriculum is still being decided, both policymakers and STEM experts agree that students need theory and practical application if they want to translate their knowledge to the workforce. For more on...

Not sure if it’s the impending arrival of Halloween or of next week’s election that is curtailing the education news stories (two very different versions of trick or treat there), but for whatever reason, there’s not much to report on today. But let’s make the most out of what we have, shall we?

  1. First up, Sports. LeBron James is interviewed about his foundation and specifically its Wheels for Education program which aims to “rescue” and “save” (I love sports rhetoric) Akron kids “when they need it most”. Some evidence is presented that the two-year-old program is already helping to improve reading scores among participants. And LeBron himself is confident that if the program proves to be sustainable, it can be expanded beyond Akron City Schools. Sounds fantastic. Now, who is this guy again? (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  2. Next up, Reality Television. Specifically, the “teen mom” genre gets an important twist. We first brought you this story at the end of last school year: Katie Nethers went to West Virginia to get her GED when she learned that Ohio law required a superintendent sign off on GEDs for people under the age of 19 and her district’s supe wouldn’t
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All Hallows Edition

The testing pushback, a college boost for poor kids, adolescent readers, and school-supporting nonprofits.

Amber's Research Minute

"The Rise of School-Supporting Nonprofits," by Ashlyn Aiko Nelson and Beth Gazley, Association for Education Finance and Policy (Feburary 2014).

  • With Election Day on Tuesday (go vote!), Education Week is covering interesting state battlegrounds with its delicious “Caravan of Delights” series. Each day, State EdWatch mainstay Andrew Ujifusa walks readers through an important state race, including polling numbers, candidates’ education-related positions, and local factors influencing the debates. Individual sections are devoted to each Republican and Democratic candidate, and a catchall section lists other things to know, such as relevant information about select superintendents and lieutenant governors. It’s worth a read for anyone who wants to make an educated vote—which we could use more of.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies is teaming up with Khan Academy, the College Board, and a handful of other prominent ed groups to boost the college-going rates of poorer students. Spending more than $10 million over the next two years, the program targets top high schoolers who come from lower-income families and aims to educate them about on the college application process. Too many of these kids are missing out on opportunities. The plan is to reach about 70,000
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The case for character education hardly needs to be made. Have a glance at the motivational posters lining school hallways everywhere. “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration,” Thomas Edison counsels our kids. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” adds NBA star Kevin Durant. Perhaps Brookings will issue a classroom poster with Richard Reeves’s face and his conclusion from this paper: “Smarts matter, but so does character.” We get it. Among the least surprising findings in social science research is that people who have certain character strengths (this paper focuses on “drive” and “prudence”) do better in life. Whether our children have great or modest gifts, we hope they will work hard, delay gratification, and persist when things don’t come easy. Still it’s easy to get nervous when Reeves suggests “too little attention is paid by policymakers to the cultivation and distribution of these character skills.” What exactly would such attention look like? Demanding that schools making AYP in grit and prudence? Character value-added measures? Likewise, eyebrows may rightfully be raised when Reeves suggests that “character skills may count for a lot – as much, perhaps, as cognitive skills – in terms of important life...

This new study asks a question that is receiving increasing attention: How does teacher preparation affect student achievement? To answer it, the authors gathered data from about 22,078 North Carolina educators, including how teachers were prepared and characteristics of the schools where they teach. This was combined with five years of test score data from 1.18 million students. The study is more robust than similar research, owing to its comprehensive data set and the way that it grouped teachers: Instead of lumping teachers into two broad groups—traditional or alternative certification—it creates much more nuanced groups of teachers by the way they were prepared, as well as by grade and subject taught. The first comparison is between teachers who were traditionally prepared to those who received alternative certification (meaning they didn’t have a full credential when they began teaching), excluding teachers prepared by Teach For America. Alternative entry teachers are significantly less effective (as determined by value-added measures) than traditionally prepared teachers in middle school math and high school math and science. There was no difference in the other grade levels and subjects. Second, compared to traditionally-prepared teachers, TFA teachers are more effective in six of the eight categories: elementary math and reading,...