We are obligated to respect the office of President of the United States but nobody needs to agree with what the occupant of that office says. And Barack Obama could not have been more wrong in his mid-day remarks yesterday to the nation's governors on the subject of school teachers.
The President could not have been more wrong in his remarks yesterday to the nation's governors on the subject of school teachers. Photo by jamesomalley.
In perhaps his most vivid example yet of election-year pandering to the teacher unions that comprise a non-trivial part of the Democratic Party's "base," he rattled on at considerable length about the need to "get more teachers into our classrooms."
MORE teachers. Not better teachers. Not teachers that add greater value to their students and make their schools more effective. Not teachers who know their subject matter. Not more pay and greater professional opportunities for outstanding teachers. ...
CORRECTION. This fantastic Gotham Schools article explains that New York’s rating system was designed to guarantee that “effective” and “ineffective” teachers would be found all over the city. Which renders the New York Times story—and my post—basically moot. Still, this wasn’t the first bit of evidence showing that we might not have a teacher effectiveness gap, or at least much of one. This rigorous CALDER study, in particular, found that:
The average effectiveness of teachers in high-poverty schools is in general less than teachers in other schools, but only slightly, and not in all comparisons. The authors also find differences in within-school-type variation in teacher effectiveness in nearly every comparison. These differences are largely driven by the longer tail at the bottom of the teacher effectiveness distribution in high-poverty schools. Teachers at the top of the effectiveness distribution are very similar across school settings.
So the evidence on the lack of a gap isn’t as open and shut as my post implies. But it certainly appears likely that the gap is much smaller than we once...
The Pioneer Institute—no friends of the Common Core to begin with—released a report this week claiming that it will cost the nation $16 billion to implement the new standards. (If you read the full text, the authors frequently note that this is, in their opinion, a wild underestimate.)
The astronomical estimate is not entirely surprising. If you want to scare cash-strapped states away from moving forward with their Common Core plans, it’s not hard to attach a frighteningly large price tag to implementation. After all, the purpose of standards is to create the foundation upon which the entire education system is built. So, obviously, changing standards must mean knocking down the house, re-pouring the foundation, and starting again.
Implementing Common Core doesn't necessarily mean knocking down the house and starting from scratch. Photo by Concrete Forms.
From Lin-sanity to charter school discipline, Mike and Rick take on political correctness in this week’s podcast. Amber breaks down the recent Brown Center report and Chris defends Michael Jackson’s dance moves.
The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, received some well-deserved praise last week for bringing the state education department and the teachers unions together on a new teacher evaluation rubric. (See here. And here. And here and here and here and here.) As Joe Williams wrote in the Daily News:
Weeks after declaring he would be a “lobbyist for students,” Gov. Cuomo delivered his 2.75 million young clients a major victory Thursday, using the weight of his office to break through the logjam blocking a common-sense mechanism for evaluating teachers based on whether children are learning.
Though there will be much grousing about how common-sensical it is to judge teachers based on how their students do on standardized tests (40 percent of the evaluation)—“it’s a dark day when politicians impose an untested scheme on educators,” wrote Diane Ravitch—the more fascinating part of this story is the New York City subplot.
New York's new 'impartial' observors promise to add yet another layer of bureaucracy to an already bloated system.
Embracing the Common Core - Michael Cohen Presentation
February 16, 2012
Mike Cohen, president of Achieve, speaks at Embracing the Common Core: Helping Students Thrive to the specifics of PARCC (the assessment consortia Ohio joined last fall) and warned that the implementation of the new standards in ELA and math will not be easy and that districts should start the implementation process now.
Mike sat down with Fordham’s new school choice czar, Adam Emerson, to question just how flexible ESEA flexibility turned out to be and to ponder Obama’s abandonment of the D.C. voucher program. Amber looks at a new study on how much value principals add while Chris learns that they sometimes need to bob and weave when handing out teacher evaluations.
This new paper by edu-economist extraordinaire Eric Hanushek and colleagues adds empirical clout to the “conventional wisdom” that principal quality—and principal turnover—matters for student performance. (This paper debuted at a recent CALDER conference that was chockablock with important education research.) Using administrative data, analysts observed over 7,000 principals from 1995 to 2001 in Texas. They first estimate principals’ contributions by tracking student-learning gains during each leader’s tenure at a given school, controlling for other school-level factors. (They attempt to control for years of experience by limiting one of their analyses to principals with three years under their belts.) According to their most conservative estimates, having a principal in the top 16 percent of the distribution will lead the average student to learn 0.05 standard deviations more than he or she would in a school with an average principal. For comparison, studies suggest that teacher effects are about twice this size, though importantly, the learning effects due to a strong principal apply to all students in the school, not just an individual classroom. Meaning the aggregate impact of having an effective principal...
Every time I see a “poverty and education” story I think of the famous line from the New Testament in which Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.”
So, with education. Want a convenient scapegoat for our problems? Poverty. It’s there, it’s handy.
Want a convenient scapegoat for our problems? Poverty. It’s there, it’s handy.
I sat through an hour meeting of our small school district’s budget committee last week, most of it devoted to bemoaning our fate as a “poor district” (over 60 percent of our kids qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, the standard definition of “poor” for schools) in these recessionary times. State aid has been nearly flat and the Governor punched through a two percent local property tax cap. Woe is us. There goes sports. Not mentioned was the fact that we spend over $22,000 per student!
Diane Ravitch has been hitting the poverty gong for some time, most recently in Cleveland, where, she says, “the level of urban decay is alarming.” I was just in Cleveland...
The Shanker Institute's Matt Di Carlo had a great post last week breaking down a recent study by economist Brian Jacob on how principals fire (or don't fire) teachers in Chicago Public Schools. The news that firings correlate with lower effectiveness is nice to hear. But the headline is that, given more flexibility, principals still mostly don't fire anybody:
Given more flexibility, principals still mostly don't fire anybody.
Jacob found that, despite the new policy allowing principals to dismiss probationary teachers at will, a rather high proportion of them didn’t do so. During each year between 2004-05 and 2006-07, principals in around 30-40 percent of Chicago schools chose not to dismiss a single probationary teacher. Further, this phenomenon was not at all limited to “high-performing” and/or low-poverty schools, where one might expect to find a stable, well-trained teaching force. For instance, in 2005, 35 percent of the “lowest-performing” schools (the bottom 25 percent) chose not to dismiss any probationary teachers, as compared with 54 percent of the school with the highest absolute achievement levels (the proportions were similar when school performance...