TEACHERS WATCHING TEACHERS: KEYS TO PEER OBSERVATION
Where administrator observation is typically viewed as an evaluation, peer observation is more generally seen as an approach to professional development and improvement of personal skills. Carnegie Senior Associate for Public Policy Engagement Elena Silva joins other experts to discuss the keys to making peer observation work in today’s classrooms on the Educators Channel.
Some of the News Fit to Print
ASSESSMENT GROUP CHOOSES TESTS FOR COLLEGE-READINESS IN MATH
The decision about whether students are "college-ready" in mathematics will be based only on the exams students take at the end of a math sequence, rather than on a combination of results from all the courses in the sequence, a state assessment group decided today. The decision by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, or PARCC, approved at its quarterly governing-board meeting here in Washington, completes a discussion of several ways to arrive at the college-readiness determination for math students. The post is from Education’s Week’s Curriculum Matters blog.
NEW STUDENT POVERTY MEASURES PROPOSED FOR NATIONAL TESTS
Aiming to get a clearer picture of how students' home and community resources affect their academic achievement, America's best-known K-12 education barometer, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is building a comprehensive new way to gauge socioeconomic status. The new measure, being developed by the National Assessment Governing Board and the National Center for Education Statistics, is intended to look beyond a traditional measure of family income to a child's family, community, and school supports for learning. The article is in Education Week.
CHURN AT THE TOP
A new study in the American Educational Research Journal finds that in 90 of 100 California districts, 43 percent of superintendents left within three years, but in districts with 29,000 students or more, 71 percent left, Sarah Sparks reports in Education Week. Superintendent turnover has gotten less attention than teacher or principal turnover, but stability at the central office is linked to greater success for education initiatives, which typically take five to seven years to mature. The information is from the PEN NewsBlast.
WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?
In an article in American Educator, Richard Kahlenberg discusses obstacles he's faced in promoting socioeconomic school integration over the past 16 years, the overwhelming evidence in support of it as an education policy, and promising signs of its undertaking nationally. At present, policymakers on the left and right find it politically safer to support "separate but equal” institutions for rich and poor, though to date no one has made high-poverty schools work at scale (Kahlenberg addresses the case of KIPP in a sidebar). Decades of research indicate that as the poverty level of a school rises, the average achievement level falls. This information is from the PEN NewsBlast.
VIRGINIA PROPOSAL FOR GREATER TEACHER ACCOUNTABILITY
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell outlined proposals that would give teachers a pay raise and includes bigger incentives, improved professional support, and a streamlined process for administrators to cut teachers loose who aren't doing well. The probationary period would be lengthened from three years to five before teachers are put on the "continuing contract" that makes it more difficult to dismiss them. The article is in The Washington Post.
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THE ECONOMIC CASE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
As the semester draws to a close at schools and universities across the country and college applications are submitted, the Treasury Department has released a report that should be food for thought for students scrambling to complete their work and finish their exams. The new report, prepared in conjunction with the Education Department, shows that investing in education expands job opportunities, boosts America’s competitiveness, and supports the kind of income mobility that is fundamental to a growing economy. The article is from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s cleverly named Treasury Notes blog.
LIMITS OF PERFORMANCE-BASED GRANTS
At a time when policy makers are faced with budget constraints, the idea of tying financial aid to desirable outcomes has a lot of surface appeal. But a new study -- one of a series being conducted to test the concept -- shows the limits of the approach. The study, published by the research group MDRC and part of a larger project financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other sources, explores the effects that grants tied to measures of enrollment, persistence and academic performance have on low-income students at two New York City community colleges. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
GIVING TEACHERS MORE POWER HELPS IN SCHOOL TURNAROUND
Six low-performing Boston schools participating in a pilot program that gives teachers more training, support, and leadership roles are showing higher growth on state tests than other low-performing city schools according to a report released Monday by the non-profit Teach Plus. The T3 Initiative program, a collaboration between Boston Public Schools and Teach Plus, began training and placing groups of experienced teachers with track records of raising student test scores in a set of three failing schools in 2010, after a dozen city schools were deemed underperforming by the state in 2010 for chronically low test scores. The pilot expanded to three more schools the following year. The article is from the Hechinger Report.
IN INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS, CALIFORNIA EIGHTH GRADERS PERFORM IN MIDDLE IN SCIENCE AND MATH
In international comparisons among about 50 countries and states, California eighth-graders scored right in the middle in math and science but lower than the U.S. average. Despite their ranking, California's students tested just below the "high" level on both subjects, according to 2011 data analyzed by the National Center for Education Statistics from a sampling of students. California participated as a state only in the eighth-grade math and science tests, administered last year for the first time since 2007. The article is in the San Jose Mercury News.
IS A TEACHER, EMPLOYER SKILLS MISMATCH DRIVING UNEMPLOYMENT?
According to research conducted by McKinsey & Co, the real reason behind chronic underemployment could be the teachers – or as the McKinsey report calls them, education providers — who are chronically overestimating the skill level of their students, especially compared to how those skills are assessed by potential employers. The article is from EducationNews.org.
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NEW PLATFORM LETS PROFESSORS SET PRICES
Professors typically don't worry about what price point an online course will sell at, or what amenities might attract a student to pick one course over another. But a new online platform, Professor Direct, lets instructors determine not only how much to charge for such courses, but also how much time they want to devote to services like office hours, online tutorials, and responding to students' e-mails. The new service is run by StraighterLine, a company that offers online, self-paced introductory courses. Unlike massive open online courses, or MOOC's, StraighterLine's courses aren't free. But tuition is lower than what traditional colleges typically charge—the company calls its pricing "ultra-affordable." A handful of colleges accept StraighterLine courses for transfer credit. The article is in The Chronicle of Higher Education.