Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Too Soon to Celebrate A Rise in DC NAEP Scores

While DCPS, TFA, Arne Duncan, and the Washington Post were quick to declare the recent rise in NAEP scores in DC as validation of the strategies put into place by Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson, more observant analysts say, "not so fast." James Morrow of PBS' Learning Matters blog cogently described here why those conclusions are not warranted. In fact, most of the improvement came before Rhee and Henderson's tenure. The new reforms seem to have actually widened the achievement gap. And the gains, such as they are, might be attributed instead to the gentrification of the student population -- changing demographics. Gary Rubenstein makes the case for scepticism even more strongly, with charts and graphs that put the supposed gains in context on his blog here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pop the Champaign for DC CAS Score Gains? Think Again.

DC Council Education Chair David Catania and others have now blown the whistle on the manipulation of cut scores that led to the recently celebrated student achievement gains last year. Elaine Weiss sums it up as a cautionary tale in this Huffington Post column, that we need to take to heart in DC.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Charter Experiment Is At Best a Mixed Bag: The New Orleans Case

In this look back at the charter record since Katrina, a feature Newsweek magazine story asks whether this new paradigm in which schools can't keep teachers and is not fun for kids is the best model for the nation's urban poor.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Realities of Race To The Top Implementation

In a new report from the Broader Bolder Approch to Education, the impact of Race to the Top funding from the US Department of Education is analyzed. In exchange for funding that represents on average about 1% of their budgets, states have agreed to policies that will have little effect on achievment gaps, and may do harm. Meanwhile, proven programs that would improve education outcomes for the most needy students are not part of the reform mix being promoted by the federal government. The report concludes that state goals for improvement continue to be wildly unrealistic, while strategies are misguided.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How So-called Education Reform Serves to Preserve the Status Quo

Valerie Strauss posted an analysis worth reading by Arthur H. Camins   Camins describes how the reform strategies promoted by the US Department of Education and blindly adopted by school districts like that in the District of Columbia actually preserve the structures that cause failure for disadvantaged students while giving the illusion of change.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

School Professional Climate Trumps Individual Teacher Characteristics

A report from the new director of the Consortium for Chicago Schools Research says that the collaborative climate in a school is more important than the individual characteristics of teachers. What makes this report so interesting is that DCPS reforms since 2007 are premised on the opposite assumption -- rewarding individual teachers and principals when their students score better than the norm, and firing them when scores fall short. If the researchers behind this report are correct, the whole theory of reform in DCPs may be backwards, and the effect on staff morale and collaboration could be making the quality of education worse.

Friday, January 11, 2013

What Are Charter Schools Really For?

The Greater Greater Washington blog's Ken Archer takes Emma Brown's expose of charter school expulsions, and charters' refusal to give students from the neighborhood priority, and follows it to its logical conclusion -- they're not really designed to compete. They're designed to displace neighborhood schools but not serve the same kids.

Students First Ranks States and Ironically Puts Students Last

When Michelle Rhee's "Students First" money raising, privatization advocacy empire released their supposed "ranking of the states" they got a surprising amount of national press, some of it taking the rhetoric of the rankings at face value. However the Opportunity to Learn coalition issued a cogent critique of the Students First report here. The California Superintendent of Schools also cut through the fog of ignorant media coverage by stating that a low score on this ranking is a "badge of honor."