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June 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Good Posts & Articles On Education Policy

'Occupy the Schools Feb 1, 2012' photo (c) 2012, Michael Fleshman - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues:

Aren’t California tenure policies in fact unreasonable? Plus 4 more Vergara questions asked and answered is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to California Court Rules It’s All The Teachers’ Fault, which is where I’ve collected a number of thoughtful reactions to a terrible decision.

I’m also adding these three posts to the same list:

Vergara: The silver bullet that wasn’t is by Barnett Berry.

Even in Winning, Vergara Is Still a Loser is from Ed Week.

Is This The End of Teachers Unions is from Ebony.

Pedro Noguera Defends Teacher Tenure in Wall Street Journal is from Diane Ravitch’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Why Teacher Tenure Is Important.

How many bad teachers are there? is from The Hechinger Report. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

There Is Probably No “Crisis” In American Education is by Paul Bruno. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Pointing Out That Our Schools Are Not Failing.

March 29, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

‘Best Practices’ Are Practices That Work Best For Your Students

‘Best Practices’ Are Practices That Work Best For Your Students is the final post in my three-part Ed Week series on the five best practices teachers can use in the classroom.

Today’s post features contributions from Roxanna Elden, Barnett Berry and Pedro Noguera, along with comments from readers.

Here are some excerpts:

The-real-best-practices

Powerful

How-do-I-make-this

May 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Quote Of The Day: Closing Schools In Chicago

As Education Week put it this week:

“Chicago education officials …approved the largest-scale, single-year closure of public schools of any major school system in the nation, approving the shuttering of 49 elementary schools that are located mostly on the city’s impoverished south and west sides.”

Here’s a video interview
with Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and NYU Professor Pedro Noguera. I’ve highlighted this quote from it:

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Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I’m adding this, and these other articles, to The Best Posts & Articles On The Impact Of School Closures:

Chicago Board Votes to Close 49 Elementary Schools is from Education Week.

Chicago Parents Prepare for New Reality After School Closures is also from Ed Week.

January 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
4 Comments

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2012

I put out a request, as I do every year, to readers to share the best education-related books that they had read over the past year. The books could have been published earlier and the only requirement was that you had read them sometime this year.

You might also be interested in these posts from previous years:

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2011

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2010

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2009

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2008

Thanks to all of you who took the time to contribute. Even if you didn’t, though, you can still share your recommendations in the comments section of this post.

My personal favorite was The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t by Nate Silver. It’s full of insights about the possibilities and, more importantly, the limitations of how data can be used. Much of what he writes can be applied to schools, and I’m looking forward to writing a post about it in the future.

Here are The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2012:

Cathy:

DRIVE by Daniel Pink-speaks volumes to non-educators, educators and definitely administrators!

Jim Homan:

“Why School” by Will Richardson. An ebook for sale on Amazon that takes about 90 minutes to read. One of the most important books of this year.

Leigh Ann:

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is the best book I’ve read this year. Her voice jumps from the pages and inspires you to do more. Inspires you to give students the unique opportunity to find what types of literature they enjoy. You can feel the warmth and connections that she has made in her classroom. I don’t know how any teacher who reads this book wouldn’t be compelled to make a change. Love it.

Jeffrey Temple:

Stratosphere by Michael Fullen

Jane Bozarth:

Katz, “Designing Information”. My Amazon review: “Three pages in I wanted to stop and write this review but forced myself to read the rest of the book before writing. My opinion was unchanged. “Designing Information” is a delightful, delectable, informative, visually rich, entertaining exploration of the business of making information more accessible…..”

dogtrax:

I’m choosing Why School? by Will Richardson, too. I think Will does a fantastic job of exploring the changing nature of education and offers up suggestions for how teachers and administrators can take steps to meet the changing needs of today’s students (for tomorrow).

Kurt Reynolds:

Don Tapscott’s “Grown Up Digital.” I reference it nearly every day in class. It gives me great hope for this generation. Check out his excellent TED Talk too. Tapscott uses startling examples and backs them up with research. A great counterpoint to a lot of what comes out denigrating this generation (Mark Bauerlein’s “The Dumbest Generation” or Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows” or Jeane Twenge’s “The Narcissist Epidemic”). A must read for every teacher entering the profession.

Jonathan Martin:

Net Smart by Howard Rheingold: Hugely informative and wise on the topic about how the thrive online. My review here.

Robert Ryshke:

Creating the Opportunity to Learn by Wade Boykin and Pedro Noguera. This is one of the best books on what we need to do in America to deal with the huge gap in accessibility to quality education in the US.

The Innovator’s DNA by Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen was also a wonderful book. It is very interesting to think about how to apply these principles to schools, to help teach our students to be creators or innovators.

Susie Highley:

Fall Down 7 Times, Get up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed by Debbie Silver. I am so tired of all of the time and effort some educators put into devising elaborate reward systems, which, in my opinion, do little to change behaviors. I reviewed this book for Middle Web. Debbie does a great job of combining current research and practicies in an entertaining manner, filled with many examples. Here’s a link to my review.

Linda Aragoni:

A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives edited by Anderson and Krathwohl moves away from the multiple choice tests that were the focus of the original taxonomy. Since educational objectives are the foundation of the Common Core State Standards, this book is already more influential than the original. The revised taxonomy answers many of the questions teachers raise about how to teach under Common Core.

Bill Sterrett:

I recommend Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion” book (with accompanying DVD of video teaching clips) as a great illustration of numerous actual teaching tips, strategies, and approaches. Theory is important, but educational leaders need to always prioritize real-life examples, challenges, and solutions.

Carol Gardiner:

21st Century Skills Rethinking How Students Learn edited by James Bellanca & Ron Brandt This book is a culmination of research and expertise written by favorite authors of education. They provide a framework of learning that marries core knowledge and background knowledge with innovation, creative thinking, problem solving and technology.

rhoffman:

“Teach Like A Pirate” by Dave Burgess. The cover tagline reads: “Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator.” This claim holds up! This book will inspire the tenured and new teacher to unleash their passions in the classroom. The book has three parts: 1. The PIRATE (acronym) philosophy and system 2. How to create engaging lessons 3. Final thoughts and guidance. The two things I like most about Dave Burgess’ approach is that he is tells classroom stories I can relate to and I feel challenged by his strategies for creating engaging curriculum.

Matt Renwick:

I have to go with Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. This resource, along with his previous book Choice Words, has helped me change the way I listen and speak with students. Opening Minds is the only book I can think of that I have personally shared with teachers, parents and my wife.

jimlerman:

I really enjoyed “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” by Paul Tough. I think Tough argues quite vividly and persuasively that the skills such as “curiosity, self-control, and social fluidity” (ability to get along); skills that today are often called “soft” or “non-cognitive.” The book focuses on the determinants of success or failure among developing children and argues clearly and persuasively, in non-technical plain English, that the current-day educational policy emphasis on cognitive development among young people is seriously off-base. Tough’s book is brief and right on point. I recommend it highly.

Brenda giourmetakis:

Carly’s Voice by Arthur an Carly Fleishmann. While it is not a how to education book, it offers a deep understanding of children with autism who are non verbal. Because I had a student starting at my school with this description, I knew this would give me insights. It has made it’s rounds through my staff and because they have read it, they understand our new little student. They have more compassion and less pity for his situation. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels that autism is a mystery. Carly helps you understand more of the “why’s” behind the actions and reactions of children with autism.

Mary:

I will be using Eleanor Dougherty’s book, “Assignments Matter: Making the connections That Help Students Meet Standards” as a resource for my curriculum class this spring. I believe it is well written and extremely helpful for teachers trying to align standards with assessments.

Ellen Adolph:

Angela Maiers’ Passion Driven Classroom and Habitudes has been very enlightening to my teaching. Another book I’ve recommended to at least 2 dozen folks (parents, neighbors) anyone who is truly interested in education is Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap; it will really get people thinking!

Christian Klaue:

Necessary Endings by Dr. Cloud. Once we find something that works, we don’t just stick with it forever after. We need to keep reevaluating if it is still the best way to go. Carol Dwecks Mindset and Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage are honourable mentions.

Blair Peterson:

As a parent and educator I love Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner. Wagner profiles real life innovators and their parents and the educators who influenced them. I’m seriously thinking about how our school can do a better job of developing innovators.

Jan Hamilton:

What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali. An inspiration for all teachers and reminder of the power we wield. The perfect book to read before heading back to school.

principalliz:

Pathways to the Common Core : Accelerated Achievement by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman was a very informative and motivational read in preparation for transitioning my staff into common core. It explains how the new standards will work and creates an easy to follow roadmap that helps a CCSS novice navigate through this new transition and movement.

John Berray:

My top read of 2012 for educators is Dave Burgess’ Teach Like a Pirate. Dave shows teachers how to develop energized lessons, the kind that make his classes among the most popular on campus. Teach Like a Pirate offers specific strategies on how to tap into and cultivate the wellspring of creativity educators already possess! This book is an empowering read, transcends disciplines, and is the type of book I wish had been included in my own teacher preparation program.

Joy Kirr:

Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers. Kids need to be told that they are geniuses! They need to keep that spunk and assertiveness well into high school, so they can truly show their geniuses as they mature, instead of being ashamed of what they do. Great lessons embedded, and resources any grade can use.

Rachel Amstutz:

Several of my favorites have already been listed here but I have to lend my support to them as well! Creating Innovators is a fantastic read as it tells an important story by spotlighting students and families. Pathways to the Common Core is also a great tool to support our transition. I’m only half way through it, but it’s impacting my work tremendously.

Other favorite that were not yet listed include:
Best practices, 4th edition as it reflects on what we know works and incorporates the new movements/initiatives thoughtfully.

Blackants and Buddhists for proving a concrete example of teaching perspective, tolerance, openmindedness, evaluating for biases, and for its usefulness as a tool for my equity team.

Jennifer Lawler:

Sensible Mathematics, 2nd Ed. by Steve Leinwand. There aren’t a ton of books written about teaching math, or leading the reform that math education needs in this country. Leinwand hits the nail on the head with this book, laying out exactly why and how math class needs to change if we are to realize the promise of the CCSS. His companion work, Accessible Mathematics, geared more towards classroom teachers, is equally as good.

Suzanne Porath:

I would agree with Matt Renwick on Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. This book has influenced my own work in the classroom and also my understanding of my dissertation work. As Johnston says, words create worlds, and each interaction I have with my students creates a particular type of world. Johnston has helped me become more conscious of what worlds I’m creating and be more intentional with my language. I believe that all teachers should read both Choice Words and Opening Minds several times during their careers as with experience and new circumstances, Johnston’s ideas become more relevant.

Suzanne:

I share a strategy a week with our staff from Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion; 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College”

Thanks again to everybody who contributed! Feel free to leave additional recommendations in the comments section.

November 15, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s Round-Up Of Good Posts & Articles On Education Policy

Here are some recent good posts and article on educational policy issues:

Asking Students about Teaching is a report from the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers).

Bad Teaching Practice #1: “I am Only Going to Teach Those Who Are Ready To Learn” is by Anthony Cody at Education Week. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

The newest rhetoric on teacher evaluation — and why it is nonsense comes from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

Race to the Top District Competition Received 371 Applications is a very interesting piece from Education Week — some unusual stuff has been happening with the applications. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On “Race To The Top” (& On “Personalized Learning”).

Time to Put Forward a New Reform Agenda is by Pedro Noguera. I think the part about student performance-based assessments is particularly interesting. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Describing Alternatives To High-Stakes Testing.

Promoting Quality Teaching: New Policy Report from Accomplished California Teachers has just been published. Here’s an excerpt from its description:

Currently, teacher pay is based primarily on years of service and continuing education, including advanced degrees. In recent years, pay-for-performance or merit-pay systems have been tried around the country—systems in which teachers are rewarded for student achievement, with achievement usually being measured by test scores.

The ACT report argues that neither system succeeds. And it offers a framework for professional growth and compensation that creates incentives for well-qualified individuals to enter the profession, continue to grow, and to share what they know so that the entire enterprise of education improves. This report can be used to inform policy at the state and district level to create thoughtful, research-based compensation systems that actually improve teaching.

For now, I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

Value-Added, For The Record is from The Shanker Blog. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation.

July 10, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“We live in a country where those who know the most about education have the least say & those who know the least have the most say”

 

The above quote comes from a “try-out” video for a TEDx Talk by Pedro Noguera from New York University (I’ve previously shared many of his speeches and articles). There are thirty-one of these “try-out” videos you can see and vote on.

I’ve embedded the video below. I think it’s a good one, though I think there are better stories than the one he uses to demonstrate how a teacher can use effective classroom management. I think the action by the teacher he highlights could have just as easily ended up escalating the conflict instead of de-escalating it.

Thanks to Daniel Willingham for the tip on the videos.

January 23, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A “Round-Up” Of Recent Good School Reform Posts & Articles

Here are a number of recent good posts and articles on school policy issues:

Opinion: Creating teacher evaluations systems Californians can believe in appeared in the San Jose Mercury News. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

On Creating a Useful Teacher Evaluation System is by James Bouton. I’m adding it to the same list.

What Works in School Turnarounds? is by Alan M. Blankstein and Pedro Noguera. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models.

What Happens When Teacher Voices Depend on Foundations’ Choices? is by Anthony Cody at Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy.

Dear Michelle Rhee: About that teacher evaluation study is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On The NY Times-Featured Teacher Effectiveness Study.

Follow up on Fire First, Ask Questions Later is from School Finance 101. I’m adding it to the same list.

What Can We Learn from Educational Change in Finland? is by Pasi Sahlberg. I’m adding it to The Best Resources To Learn About Finland’s Education System.

Finnishing School is from Thoughts On Public Education. I’m adding it to the same list.

The Finland Phenomenon: What the U.S. Can Learn about Teacher Preparation and Professional Collaboration is from CCSSO. I’m adding it to the same list.

Can Schools Solve Societal Problems? is from Learning First. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement.

False Choices: The Economic Argument Against Market-Driven Education Reform is a report from Minnesota 20/20. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Explaining Why Schools Should Not Be Run Like Businesses.

November 13, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Good School Reform Articles & Posts

October 12, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Good School Reform Posts, Articles & Videos

August 16, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Articles Describing Alternatives To High-Stakes Testing

'pathetic.' photo (c) 2006, Ribzy Tron - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve been trying to identify the best articles/posts that describe alternative ways to assess student learning other than high-stakes testing, and would love suggestions from readers for others.

Here’s what I have so far:

Jay Mathews wrote a column in the Washington Post titled Intriguing alternative to rating schools by tests. He speaks very positively about the student assessment process used by the New York Performance Standards Consortium.

The term “performance-based assessment” is a term used to describe one way to evaluate student achievement (the Consortium’s process would fit into this category). This basically means that students are evaluated on work they have “constructed” as opposed to choosing from a list of pre-determined answers. This could mean a writing assessment, similar to what is done in Vermont or Kentucky, or filling-in the blanks in a cloze (there are usually multiple appropriate responses), or describing how a student would develop a science experiment. The Stanford Center For Opportunity Policy In Education has developed a brief that lays-out the case for performance-based assessment and how it might be implemented. You can also learn more about this topic here.

The Other Kind of Testing is a good column by Walt Gardner in Education Week. It’s about “performance-based assessment” for students

Monty Neill from Fair Test has had a commentary published in Ed Week titled A Better Way to Assess Students and Evaluate Schools.

Teachers: How do We Propose to Measure Student Outcomes? by Anthony Cody

Bonnie Bc on Twitter suggested these:

A Child Is Not A Test Score by Monty Neill

Authentic Assessment and Accountability from Fair Test

The Case Against High Stakes Testing
from Fair Test

The Morningside Center recommends The Authentic Assessment Toolbox.

Arne Duncan Supports Using Student Portfolios To Evaluate Teachers?

Hot Off The Press! The Best Piece Yet Published On Teacher Evaluation

An alternative to standardized testing for student assessment is from The Washington Post.

Time to Put Forward a New Reform Agenda is by Pedro Noguera. I think the part about student performance-based assessments is particularly interesting.

Tests Seen as Bar to Better Assessment is from Education Week.

Help Has Arrived!: Banishing NCLB’s Narrow Paradigm is from the National Education Policy Center.

Impressive PBS News Hour Report On Project-Based Learning

NEA Partners With Teach Plus & Creates Online Rating System For Student Assessments

Monty Neill: Authentic Assessment as Part of a Testing Reform Campaign is from Education Week.

What Should Schools Be Assessing – and How? is by Sam Chaltain.

Rethinking Assessment: Trusting Teachers to Evaluate Student Learning is from Mindshift.

The Most Important Info On The D.C. Test Score Increase

Tennessee Using Portfolios To Evaluate Teachers In Non-Tested Subjects – Why Not In ALL Subjects?

The New York Performance Standards Consortium has been recognized by The American Federation of Teachers by its prize for Solution-Driven Unionism.

Coalition wants the state to let more schools skip the Regents is an article about the New York Performance Standards Consortium.

How Schools Can Succeed Without Tests is from The Hechinger Report.

Testing On The Brain

In Kentucky, Students Succeed Without Tests is from NPR.

Here’s Why We Don’t Need Standardized Tests is from Ed Week.

Please leave other suggestions in the comments section of this post. Thanks!

June 6, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models

'old school' photo (c) 2009, alamosbasement - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

After a school has been labeled “failing” and becomes a recipient of a School Improvement Grant, their District must choose one of four interventions:

* Transformation, where the principal is fired, instructional strategies are revamped, and the school day is extended

* Turnaround, where the principal and at least half the staff is fired.

* Restart, where the school is closed and reopened as a charter (or it can stay open with staff in place if it works with an “educational partnership organization” — see comment below by Will E.)

* Close/Consolidate, where the school is…closed, and students sent elsewhere.

This is just a beginning list of related resources, and I hope that readers suggest others.

Here are my picks for The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models:

I’ve got to start off with article in the Huffington Post by one of my favorite writers on school issues, John Thompson. Check out As School Turnarounds Strike Out, Try, Try Again.

The National Education Association Priority Schools program has some useful materials:

Strengthening Our Schools: A New Framework and Principles for Revising School Improvement Grants is by Congresswoman Judy Chu.

Talk Priority Schools has a collection of excellent SIG-related articles.

Struggling Schools and the Problem with the “Shut It Down” Mentality is by Robert Slavin at Ed Week.

What Works in School Turnarounds? is by Alan M. Blankstein and Pedro Noguera.

Giving Parents the Runaround on School Turnarounds is the title of the press release from the respected Great Lakes Center announcing a review of a recent report on marketing unwise “school turnaround strategies.” Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Federal school “turnaround” strategies that call for firing teachers, replacing managers, or closing or converting public schools into charters are often met with resistance and anger among the parents whose children attend those schools. A recent study released by Public Agenda which focuses on how to market the concept of turnaround strategies fails to address the substantive concerns of resistant parents nor questions the soundness of these strategies as a way to improve schools, according to a new Think Twice review.

The report, What’s Trust Got to Do With It? A Communications and Engagement Guide for School Leaders Tackling the Problem of Persistently Failing Schools, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by William J. Mathis, an education researcher and former school superintendent who has studied school turnaround strategies.

You can read the full review here.

Turnarounds: The SIG Mystery is a post from Alexander Russo that in turn links to a three part series in the Denver Post about the mystery of School Improvement Grants.

Flipping the Script on Turnarounds: Why not Retain Teachers instead of Reject Them? is by Anthony Cody at Education Week. He has also written Spinning the Numbers on Turnarounds: School Improvement Grant Controversy Brews.

SIG Failure Explained is by John Thompson.

The Paradoxical Logic of School Turnarounds: A Catch-22 is from Larry Cuban’s blog.

Democratic School Turnarounds: Pursuing Equity and Learning From Evidence is a brief from The National Education Policy Center. Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post has also written about it.

Ed. Dept. Analysis Paints Mixed Picture of SIG Program is from Education Week.

Why the School Turnaround Experiment Is Failing is by John Thompson.

“They didn’t come in and try to say that we needed to do everything differently”

Which Way Up: At a Glance is from The Center For Public Education and is a report on School Improvement Grants.

Performance Beyond Expectations is a report by Andy Hargreaves and Alma Harris that covers a lot of important topics. However, because of its comments related to “turnarounds,” I’m adding it to this list.

The Characteristics Of SIG Schools is from The Shanker Blog.

Federal analysis of school grants shows mixed results is from The Washington Post.

School Improvement Grant Program Gets Mixed Grades in Ed. Dept. Analysis is from Education Week.

The Predictable Failure of School Improvement Grants is by John Thompson.

Interesting SIG vs. non-SIG comparisons is from The Thomas Fordham Institute.

A Third Of Schools Saw Scores Fall After Getting Federal Grants is from The Huffington Post.

Ed Dept. pours $43 million into reform program with questionable results is from The Washington Post.

New SIG Analysis Yields Same Old Conclusion: Mixed Results is from Ed Week.

Are School Turnaround Efforts Overlooking English-Learners? is from Education Week.

Education Department Proposes Big Changes to School Improvement Grant Program is from Ed Week.

This is obviously not a complete list, and I hope readers can suggest more resources.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the nearly 700 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

March 23, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Articles Providing An “Overall” Perspective On Education Policy

'The Bigger Picture' photo (c) 2008, F Delventhal - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I have many “The Best…” lists on specific education policy and school reform issues, and I will soon be creating a compilation of them all.

However, I thought it would also be useful to start identifying pieces that do a good job of “putting it all together.” Towards that end, I’ve identified a small number to start off with and hope that others can suggest more.

Here are my choices for The Best Articles Providing An “Overall” Perspective On Education Policy:

As I wrote yesterday, The American Association of School Administrators has published the text of a speech (and the video) Diane Ravitch gave at their recent conference, and I don’t think you’re going to read or hear a better commentary on education anywhere.

You can read the text of her speech here.

Here are links to the video of her speech, dividing into three parts:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Another article I like is Blinded by Reform by Professor Mike Rose.

Leaving “No Child Left Behind” Behind is a few years old, but Richard Rothstein’s points are still dead-on.

5 myths about teachers that are distracting policymakers is by Barnett Berry and appeared in The Washington Post.

Cathie Black and the privatisation of education comes from The Guardian.

The Test Generation is an article by Dana Goldstein that was just published in The American Prospect magazine.

Who’s Bashing Teachers and Public Schools and What Can We Do About It? appeared in Rethinking Schools and is by Stan Karp. It’s an edited version of a talk Stan gave that I previously posted about.

Five myths about America’s schools is an excellent Washington Post column by Post reporter Paul Farhi.

The Service of Democratic Education is a truly exceptional speech Linda Darling-Hammond gave at Teachers College of Columbia University. Here’s an excerpt:

These new scientific managers, like those of a century ago, prefer teachers with little training—who will come and go quickly, without costing much money, without vesting in the pension system and without raising many questions about an increasingly prescriptive system of testing and teaching that lines the pockets of private entrepreneurs (who provide teacher-proofed materials deemed necessary, by the way, in part because there are so many underprepared novices who leave before they learn to teach). Curriculum mandates and pacing guides that would “choke a horse,” as one teacher put it, threaten to replace the opportunities for teachable moments that expert teachers know how to create with their students.

The new scientific managers, like the Franklin Bobbitts before them, like to rank and sort students, teachers and schools—rewarding those at the top and punishing those at the bottom, something that the highest-achieving countries not only don’t do but often forbid. The present-day Bobbitts would create “efficiencies” by firing teachers and closing schools, while issuing multimillion-dollar contracts for testing and data systems to create more graphs, charts and report cards on which to rank and sort… well, just about everything.

Her speech will certainly be on “The Best..” list of educational policy articles for this year. It provides some fascinating historical background, including much I didn’t know.

Steve Brill’s Report Card on School Reform is a New York Times book review of Brill’s recent book. I’m adding it, with some minor reservations (I’m not as enthralled with Doug Lemov’s teaching techniques as the reviewer says she is) to this list.

American Schools in Crisis is by Diane Ravitch and appeared in The Saturday Evening Post.


School ‘Reform’: A Failing Grade
is by Diane Ravitch.

The bait and switch of school “reform” is from Salon.

‘Education is about preparing young people to make the world better than it is’ is by Pedro Noguera.

Roxanna Elden has hit another homerun with her post “Five School Reform Sound Bites That Hurt Teacher Buy-In.”

Changing the Poisonous Narrative:A Conversation with Diane Ravitch comes from ASCD’s Educational Leadership.

Diane Ravitch gave a great speech at the National Opportunity to Learn Summit.

Why Is Congress Redlining Our Schools? is by Linda Darling-Hammond.

‘Reformers’ playbook on failing schools fails a fact check is by Richard Rothstein.

Teachers Make Handy Scapegoats, But Spiraling Inequality Is Really What Ails Our Education System is an interview with Linda Darling Hammond.

The Coming Revolution in Public Education is from The Atlantic.

Failing the Test is by David Kirp at Slate.

Quote Of The Day: Deborah Meier On Being Part Of The Solution

Five basic lessons on public education (short and long versions) is from The Washington Post.

Messages About Public Education That Don’t Sell Well (And Ones That Will) is by Jeff Bryant.

The world’s most famous teacher blasts school reform is from the Washington Post.

Quote Of The Day: “Educators On What Standardized Testing Means”

Who Writes the Songs? is a very good post by John Merrow that I think gives a very good critique of what is being done in the name of “school reform.” His suggested next step — “peace talks” between opposing groups — sounds a little naive (see my Washington Post piece, Why we can’t all get along over school reform, along with Anthony Cody’s comment on Merrow’s post for a somewhat similar perspective), but the rest of it hits the mark.

Ten Reform Claims That Teachers Should Know How to Challenge is by Jack Schneider at Ed Week.

Teachers And Education Reform, On A Need To Know Basis is from The Shanker Blog.

Pedro Noguera — Reformers Using “Assessment As A Weapon”

The Coming Revolution in Public Education appeared in The Atlantic.

Additional suggestions are welcome. I’m sure there are some great articles out there that I just don’t know about.

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You might also want to explore the over 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

January 16, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Both Why Teacher Tenure Is Important & The Reasons Behind Seniority-Based Layoffs

'Teacher In Classroom' photo (c) 2006, www.audio-luci-store.it - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Teacher tenure is under attack in several states (and, just , two more articles about these efforts appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and at NPR). Given this effort, I thought a list on this topic would be useful. (Since I originally posted this list, I’ve edited it to include an important and related topic — seniority based layoffs).

Here are my choices for The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Why Teacher Tenure Is Important:

The myth of teacher tenure is a piece by professor Perry Zirkel. It appeared at the Washington Post blog of Valerie Strauss.

Positives, negatives, problems and some suggestions for tenure is by Stephen P. Blum, the president of the Ventura Unified Education Association.

What Teacher Tenure Is — And What It’s Not appeared in NEA .

The Times’ Tenure Math Problem is a very interesting post by Corey Bower.

Is it Time to Trash Tenure? is by Anthony Cody at Ed Week.

Hess Cherry-Picks Hechinger is a short, but useful, post by John Thompson over at This Week In Education.

These next two resources are wide-ranging interviews with Diane Ravitch where she responds to questions about many school reform issues, including ones on teacher tenure. One is from The Economic Policy Institute and the other is from GOOD.

Using Tenure Reform for Political Points comes from The Learning First blog.

You Bet Your LIFO (last in/first out) is a great post by Nancy Flanagan at Ed Week.

A Quality-Based Look At Seniority-Based Layoffs comes from The Shanker blog.

The New York Post has an article opposing the use of seniority in lay-offs, but Anthony Cody has left a nice, short, and useful comment summarizing the problems with eliminating its use.

Teacher Tenure Necessary, Says Teachers’ Unions is the headline of a very useful NPR interview with Randi Weingarten of the United Federation of Teachers.

Students First, Facts Later comes from The Shanker Blog.

Indiana Informs Wisconsin’s Push is a very interesting article in The New York Times. Not only does it provide a scary picture of what happens without collective bargaining, it also includes a quote from a political supporter of Wisconsin Governor Walker’s bill eliminating it that explains what teacher tenure is so important:

“I’ve talked to many teachers and public works employees in my county,” he said, “and almost every conversation comes around to the impact on their seniority and their concerns that their boss doesn’t like them and they won’t be treated fairly, and frankly I think there’s something to that.”

There have been some good posts challenging comments by some “school reformers” that the experience of having many years in the classroom is over-rated. They say that after the first few years, it has no impact on student achievement. Here are some posts rebutting that claim:

The Teaching Experience at the Shanker Blog

Teaching experience matters! is from NYC Public School Parents

Firing Teachers with Due Process is a good piece from Forbes that rebuts a different claim — that it takes many years to get rid of a bad teacher.

What Is the Meaning of LIFO: You’re Fired Mr. Chips! is a good piece recounting the history of “Last Hired: First Fired.”

In Performance Evaluations, Subjectivity Is Not Random is from The Shanker Blog.

Experience makes teachers better — we’re worth the cost is by Edward Johnson.

How to Raise the Status of Teachers is the title of a decidedly less-than-impressive collection of responses to that question in The New York Times. However, the piece by Samuel Colbert, Allow More Autonomy, does stand-out. He is the author of a similarly impressive piece that The Times previously published, Why Your Boss Is Wrong About You.

Restocking teachers: The math doesn’t add up by Dennis Van Roekel.

LIFO is good Part II is by Gary Rubinstein.

Thinking through cost-benefit analysis and layoff policies comes from School Finance 101.

Teacher Defends Seniority Rights is by by Julie Cavanagh.

Removing Teachers at Will is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.

Rhee Battles Last in, First Out: An Unemployed, New Teacher’s Perspective comes from the Political Ennui blog.

The People Who Want To Get Rid Of Tenure & Say Teacher Experience Isn’t That Important Should Read This Interview

Our Experience Proves Tenure Is Not Obsolete is from Gotham Schools.

Here’s a great piece by Norm Scott on tenure that appeared, in all places, the Costco Newsletter.

LIFO Also Protects Good Teachers is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.

Unexpected Benefits: A Defense of Teacher Tenure is from Ed Week.

What’s Missing In The Debate On Senority? is a new report from Annenberg Institute for School Reform. It’s probably the best analysis of the topic that I’ve seen.

Why Are Teachers So Upset? is by Diane Ravitch.

Tenure Protects Good Teachers is by John Wilson at Ed Week.

Abolish Tenure? is by Richard Kahlenberg.

Is Seniority for Teachers Bad for Students? is by Anthony Cody at Education Week.

On the need for unions and seniority is by David B. Cohen.

This Just In: Experience Matters is from The American Institutes of Research.

Quote Of The Day: Creating Stability In Communities

Notes on the Seniority Smokescreen is from School Finance 101.

The need for seniority in schools is by Lisa Haver.

The Case Against Tenure Seems Weak is by Paul Bruno.

All schools should have good teachers is from The Los Angeles Times.

How Seniority Reform Backfired In Minneapolis is by John Thompson.

The question of experience—teaching made simple? is by Barnett Berry.

Eliminating teacher tenure won’t improve education is from The Washington Post.

Pedro Noguera Defends Teacher Tenure in Wall Street Journal is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

The Trouble With “The Trouble With Tenure” is by David B. Cohen.

Would Ending Tenure Help Schools? is from The NY Times.

TNTP (Once Again) Proves that It’s Anti-Teacher & Anti-Union is a great piece by John Thompson on teacher tenure.

Focus on teacher tenure distracts from schools’ real problems appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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You might also want to explore the over 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

December 28, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement

'Lockland High School, entrance 10' photo (c) 2007, Paul Fisher - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

It’s not uncommon to hear someone inaccurately state that the teacher has the biggest influence on student achievement — period. Of course, the true statement is that — of the in-school factors — teachers have the biggest influence. On top of that, research has shown that over two-thirds of the factors that influence student achievement occur out of school.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t continually look at ways to help teachers become better. It does mean that we should also figure out ways to change the outside factors, too — lack of affordable housing, health care, safety. That is one of the main messages of my book, Building Parent Engagement In Schools, which offers practical suggestions on how schools can work with parents on these issues. It also means that placing all the blame on teachers, which some “school reformers” are prone to do, is disingenuous.

In addition to my book, I thought I’d bring together links to other resources that provide research (and analyze it) about this topic. Feel free to offer additional suggestions.

Here are my choices for The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement:

How To Fix Our Schools by Richard Rothstein

Teachers Matter, But So Do Words from the Shanker blog (thanks to Alexander Russo for the tip)

The Family: America’s Smallest School from The Educational Testing Service

I’m embedding this very good thirty minute video of a talk by one of my favorite education writers and researchers, Richard Rothstein. Here’s how the Education Testing Service describes it:

Rothstein, a former New York Times national education columnist, discusses the false narrative about public education — especially urban schools — that currently exists. Rothstein maintains that many education reform proposals, especially those that focus on teacher accountability, are based on a misinterpretation and misuse of data. He stresses the direct correlation between poverty and educational failure.

Rothstein makes many important points but, because of some of the key ones he makes, I’m adding the video to this list.

Experiences of poverty and educational disadvantage is the title of a good report from the Rowntree Foundation

Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success is from The National Educational Policy Center.

Thanks to Paul Thomas for the tips on the last two links.

A Big Fish In A Small Causal Pond is by Matthew Di Carlo at the Shanker Blog.

Joe Nocera at The New York Times takes on school reformers in a column:

…school reform won’t fix everything. Though some poor students will succeed, others will fail. Demonizing teachers for the failures of poor students, and pretending that reforming the schools is all that is needed, as the reformers tend to do, is both misguided and counterproductive.

Over the long term, fixing our schools is going to involve a lot more than, well, just fixing our schools. In the short term, however, the reform movement could use something else: a dose of humility about what it can accomplish — and what it can’t.

Is Poverty the Key Factor in Student Outcomes? is from The Texas Observer.

Says Who? Lots of Folks, Actually… is by Robert Pondiscio. He’s gathered quite a few quotes from school reformers on the topic of the role of poverty and the role of teachers. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement. He also raises some questions about a post written by Nancy Flanagan. You can find her response in the comments section there and in her post here.

Is Poverty the Key Factor in Student Outcomes? is an article and video from The Texas Tribune.

Closing the Poverty Gap: The Way Forward for Education Reform is the title of guest column in Ed Week by Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville.

After citing some pretty irrefutable data documenting the role of poverty in student achievement, here are some excerpts from what he writes:

Some want to make the absurd argument that the reason low-income youngsters do poorly is that, mysteriously, all the incompetency in our education systems has coincidentally aggregated around low income students. In this view, all we need to do is scrub the system of incompetency and all will be well. An equally absurd variant on this theme is that poor performance in low-income districts is a function of, again coincidental, misalignment between state standards and local curriculum. Get these in line and all will be fine say the ideologues. Others want to banish any discussion of socio-economic status (SES) and educational performance for fear that it suggests that SES is destiny. It does not. We all know of notable individual exceptions to this rule, but they are exceptions. The averages tell the story….

It is now blatantly apparent to me and other education activists, ranging form Geoffrey Canada to Richard Rothstein to Linda Darling-Hammond, that the strategy of instructional improvement will not, on average, enable us to overcome the barriers to student learning posed by the conditions of poverty.

As others have argued, we need “a broader, bolder” approach, one that meets every child where he or she is and gives to each one the quality and quantity of support and instruction needed to attain the standards. Those of us who have the privileges of affluence know how to do this at scale with our children. We wrap services and supports around these children from the pre-natal period through their twenties. We know how to do it, but do we have the will to do it for “other people’s children”? And do we know how to institutionalize the necessary services and supports that are best provided through families?

Why Attention Will Return to Non-School Factors is a guest commentary in Ed Week.

Bolder, Broader Action: Strategies for Closing the Poverty Gap is by Paul Reville.

We need to fix the economy to fix education was written by David Sirota and appeared in Salon.

The hard bigotry of low expectations and low priorities is by Gary Ravani at The Thoughts on Public Education blog.

Can Teachers Alone Overcome Poverty? Steven Brill Thinks So is by Dana Goldstein.

What No School Can Do is a ten year old article recently recommended by Walt Gardner at Ed Week.

Public education’s biggest problem gets worse is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

Why school reform can’t ignore poverty’s toll appeared in Valerie Strauss’ blog at the Washington Post.

NCLB bill: The problem with ‘continuous improvement’ is by Richard Rothstein.

A broader and bolder approach uses education to break the cycle of poverty is by Pedro Noguera.

In Which I Cite My Sources in an Attempt to Deflate the Hot Air from the Teacher Quality Debate is by Dana Goldstein.

Education and Poverty:Confronting the Evidence is by Helen F. Ladd.

Why Are the Rich So Interested in Public-School Reform? is by Judith Warner at TIME.

Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It? is an op ed in The New York Times about poverty’s effect on our students. Here’s how it ends:

Yes, we need to make sure that all children, and particularly disadvantaged children, have access to good schools, as defined by the quality of teachers and principals and of internal policies and practices.

But let’s not pretend that family background does not matter and can be overlooked. Let’s agree that we know a lot about how to address the ways in which poverty undermines student learning. Whether we choose to face up to that reality is ultimately a moral question.

Student Achievement, Poverty and “Toxic Stress” is by Robert Pondiscio.

Can Schools Solve Societal Problems? is from Learning First.

How to predict a student’s SAT score: Look at the parents’ tax return is from Daniel Pink.

Why Does Family Wealth Affect Learning? is by Dan Willingham.

A new poverty-doesn’t-really-matter-much argument is by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post.

Cartoon: Burden – Or Excuse? is a great cartoon you can find on This Week In Education.

Education and the income gap: Darling-Hammond appeared in The Washington Post.

A Significant Error That Policymakers Commit is a post by Larry Cuban that I’m sure will be a candidate for the best educational commentary of the year.

In it, he discusses differences between “good” teaching and “successful” teaching, and describes “successful” learning. It’s too difficult — at least for me — to summarize succinctly, so I’d recommend you read his entire post.

Here are his final two paragraphs:

Not only does this policymaker error about quality classroom instruction confuse the personal traits of the teacher with teaching, it also nurtures a heroic view of school improvement where superstars (e.g., Geoffrey Canada in “Waiting for Superman,” Jaime Escalante of “Stand and Deliver”, Erin Gruwell of “Freedom Writers”) labor day in and day out to get their students to ace AP Calculus tests and become accomplished writers and achieve in Harlem schools. Neither doctors, lawyers, soldiers, nor nuclear physicists can depend upon superstars among them to get their important work done every day. Nor should all teachers have to be heroic. Policymakers attributing quality far more to individual traits in teachers than to the context in which they teach leads to squishing “good” teaching with “successful” learning doing even further collateral damage to the profession by setting up the expectation that only heroes need apply.

By stripping away from “good” learning essential factors of students’ motivation, the contexts in which they live, and the opportunities they have to learn in school–federal, state, and district policymakers inadvertently twist the links between teaching and learning into a simpleminded formula thereby mis-educating the public they serve while encouraging a generation of idealistic newcomers to become classroom heroes who end up deserting schools in wholesale numbers within a few years because they come to understand that “good” teaching does not lead automatically to “successful” learning. Fenstermacher and Richardson help us parse “quality teaching” into distinctions between “good” and “successful” teaching and learning while revealing clearly the error that policymakers have made and continue to do so.

The fantasies driving school reform: A primer for education graduates is by Richard Rothstein.

Berliner on Education and Inequality is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

The Danger Of Denying The Coleman Report is by Gary Rubinstein.

Responding to the Gates Foundation: How do we Consider Evidence of Learning in Teacher Evaluations? is by Anthony Cody.

Dialogue with the Gates Foundation: Can Schools Defeat Poverty by Ignoring It? is from Anthony Cody.

Wow, What A Chart On International Education!

Public school grades – what’s really being graded? is from The Oklahoma Policy Institute (thanks to Wesley Fryer for the tip). This is a very interesting piece.

“8.5% of the variation in student achievement is due to teacher characteristics”

Research: Blame It On The Lead? is from This Week In Education.

Do Teachers Undercut Our “Relevance” By Pointing Out Other Factors That Affect Student Achievement?

Teacher Quality Mania: Backward by Design is by P.L. Thomas.

Martin Luther King Jr. Understood Poverty and So Do Teachers is by John Wilson at Ed Week.

New Research Shows Why Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Character Education Are Not Enough

Quote Of The Day: “No Rich Child Left Behind”

Quote Of The Day: “The Opportunity Gap”

The cost of child poverty: $500 billion a year is from The Washington Post.

Social Emotional Learning Can Help, But More Research Shows It’s Not Enough

Education and poverty, again is by Matt Bruenig.

How Poverty Impacts Students’ Test Scores, In 4 Graphs is from The Huffington Post.

Excellent Pie Chart On What Influences Student Test Scores

New US Dept. of Ed Finds That “Less Effective Teaching” Responsible For 2-4 Percent Of Achievement Gap

Another Nail In VAM’s Coffin?


“Kids who get health insurance are more likely to finish high school and college”

Morality, Validity, and the Design of Instructionally Sensitive Tests is by David Berliner and appeared in Ed Week. Here’s an excerpt:

A consensus is that outside of school factors account for about 60% of the variance in student test scores, while schools account for about 20% of that variance (Haertel, 2013; Borman and Dowling, 2012; Coleman et al., 1966). Further, about half of the variance accounted for by schools is attributed to teachers. So, on tests that may be insensitive to instruction, teachers appear to account for about 10% of the variance we see in student achievement test scores (American Statistical Association, 2014). Thus outside-of-school factors appear 6 times more powerful than teachers in effecting student achievement.

David Berliner Responds to Economists Who Discount Role of Child Poverty is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the nearly 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.