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August 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

McKinsey & Company Projects That Common Core Implementation Will Result In Doubling of Dropout Rate

Thanks to Lori Jablonski and Tom Hoffman (I’ve embedded Lori’s tweets below), I learned about a report from the Carnegie Corporation that includes charts created by big-time consultants McKinsey & Company.

First, the chart:

common core

So, based on my quick reading of the Carnegie report, titled Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success, unless we create small schools and do blended learning, the drop-out rate will double over the next few years.

I’m no fan of the Common Core, though I have also recognized its inevitability in most states, including here in California (see A Collection Of My “Best” Lists On The Common Core).

But I am surprised that this chart has not received wider circulation to inform the debate.

Here are Lori’s tweets:

April 28, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Great Critique Of McKinsey Report

John Thompson has written a great critique of the recent McKinsey Report that has gotten so much attention — “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools.”

Here’s a sample of John’s post:

“The report resembles an Onion parody, displaying nuggets of information with the full glory of digital graphics while being literally absurd.”

I wish he would stop beating around the bush and say what he really thinks 🙂




September 27, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Study Suggests That Motivation & Growth Mindset Are Most Important Factors For Student Success

McKinsey & Company, who doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to education-related studies, just came out with a new study examining PISA results from around the world.

It’s titled How to improve student educational outcomes: New insights from data analytics.

They suggest that student motivation and having a growth mindset are the most important factors related to student success:

They even make this claim, which I think is somewhat questionable (see The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement):

Our conclusion: after controlling for all other factors, student mindsets are twice as predictive of students’ PISA scores than even their home environment and demographics (Exhibit 1). This finding, and its magnitude, is consistent across all five regions, which amplifies its importance.

Nevertheless, even if they are over-stating their case, this research provides more evidence to those of us who support helping students develop intrinsic motivation (see  Best Posts On “Motivating” Students) and a growth mindset (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset” ).

September 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Ed Policy

Here is this week’s collection of important articles and posts on educational policy issues:

I’ve got to start off with this extraordinary video of Dana Goldstein discussing “As if teachers’ jobs aren’t hard enough, they’re asked to fix poverty, too”:

I’m adding that video to The Best Resources On Why Improving Education Is Not THE Answer To Poverty & Inequality.

Career Advancement in the Classroom is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos On “Teacher Leadership.”

Will Common Core double the high school dropout rate? is from The Washington Post. In it, Valerie Strauss picks-up and elaborates on my previous post, McKinsey & Company Projects That Common Core Implementation Will Result In 15% Increase In Dropout Rate. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Sharing Concerns About Common Core Standards.

Common Core’s five big half-truths is by Frederick Hess. I’m adding it to the same list.

Supt. Deasy’s early and avid support of iPads under intense scrutiny is one of many recent articles discussing revelations about the iPad scandal at the Los Angeles schools. L.A. Unified exemplifies the forces that stifle public school reform is another LA Times piece about what’s going on there. And here’s another one where Deasy comes across incredibly defensive. As one person remarked to me, “Deasy may survive, but he’ll never recover.” This Ed Week post provides an excellent summary. I’m adding these articles to A Very Beginning List Of The Best Articles On The iPad Debacle In Los Angeles Schools.

Teacher-Led Professional Learning is a new organization primarily funded by the Gates Foundation, though it seems to have some good educators involved. However, I’m still not clear on what it’s doing. I’ll hold off putting them on  The Best Resources On Professional Development For Teachers — Help Me Find More list until I figure that out.

Research And Policy On Paying Teachers For Advanced Degrees is from The Shanker Blog.

Teach for America has faced criticism for years is from Vox and by Dana Goldstein, and is quite interesting. It offers a different perspective. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Raising Concerns About Teach For America.

Rating teachers not as easy as 1, 2, 3 is from Politico. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

The Myth Of The Superstar Superintendent? is from NPR.

August 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

August’s Best Posts From This Blog


I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see older Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month (more recent lists can be found here).

Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):

All My Ed Week Posts On Assessment — In One Place!

“A shocking statistic about the quality of education research”

Excellent Redesign For Site Highlighting UK Museum Interactives

Two Good Videos On How We Learn & How I Plan To Use Them In Class

How NOT To Make Public Policy Change Happen

Reminder: All Student Hand-Outs From My Student Motivation Book Available Free To Download

“The History Project” Is A Great Resource For Teachers Everywhere

“Thinking Like A Scientist Can Help Overcome Allure Of Appearances”

“The Problem With Goal-Setting”

“Rootbook” May Be The Easiest Tool For Creating Online Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

“The High Price Of The American Dream” Is A Free eBook & Great Writing Model For English Language Learners

“Google Classroom” Now Open To Any Teacher With “Google Apps For Ed” Account

Manuscript For My Third Book On Student Motivation Is Done!

Important Study: “Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall”

Good Classroom Management Advice: “The Person Who Asks The Questions Controls The Conversation”

“Detentions make no difference, pupils claim”

Great Poster: “If Great Scientists Had Logos”

“How To Build A Better Teacher” — Praise & Minor Critique

Do We Really Want Our Schools To Be Like Those In South Korea?

McKinsey & Company Projects That Common Core Implementation Will Result In Doubling of Dropout Rate

With Friends Like David Brooks, Social Emotional Learning Doesn’t Need Any Enemies

“Unite For Literacy” Is An Excellent Site For Beginning Readers


April 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Open Letter To Pres. Obama From National School Boards Association President

Source: via Larry on Pinterest



The President of the National School Boards Association just published an open letter to President Obama.

You can see her entire letter here. It’s well worth reading.

Here’s another excerpt:

The work world our children inherit will be significantly different from the one we have known. Jobs in the 20th century were mostly algorithmic or routine. According to McKinsey & Co., most such jobs have already evaporated because of automation and outsourcing. Future work will be more complex, so we had better prepare students differently than through standardized tests.

As the nature of work changes, so too must motivators. Carrots and sticks, which worked with routine jobs, actually impede efforts when the work is more complex, Daniel Pink says. Instead, the rewards of learning and challenges of the work itself must now be the primary motivators. Adults learn best, experts say, if they feel competent, autonomous, and a sense of belonging.

Much in our current school systems works against these, and our new national focus on teacher evaluation will continue that trend. As a result of ignoring innate needs, our schools too often are not innovative hubs. Yet to meet the challenges of our future, we must cultivate a spirit of innovation and inspiration. We will only succeed in preparing for our future if we empower all in our schools to think through complex problems and processes and generate solutions. Rather than laboring over bureaucratic compliance problems, let’s engage students and teachers (even board members!) in solving problems of teaching and learning.

Our schools will never become great through threat or intimidation. Schools must be safe places to take risks, where staff members and students feel valued for their ideas and talents and empowered to fail so that they can grow. Students will learn what they see, experience, and enjoy.

We have the knowledge and experience to do this at the national, state, and local levels. However, the present narrow focus on accountability and trend of demonizing those in public education, arrogantly focusing on “failing schools,” is diametrically opposed to fostering excellence.

January 28, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Articles Sharing Concerns About Common Core Standards

'06252013 - ASNE Annual Convention 59' photo (c) 2007, US Department of Education - license:

For the almost four years I’ve been writing blog, I’ve periodically shared my concerns about developing national standards. I’ve feared that people were over-estimating its impact on the classroom (where, in fact, I think it’s more like callers to talk radio feeling like they’re actually doing something about a problem). And I’ve been concerned that it was a boondoggle for publishers and testing services salivating at the prospect of selling new textbooks and tests.

But the Common Core Standards train has long left the station, and that fight is lost.

However, we can still try to minimize its negative impact. To that end, I thought I’d bring together a few resources that I’ve found helpful in gaining an understanding of what Common Core might mean.

Please feel free to additional suggestions.

Here are my choices for The Best Articles Concerns About Common Core Standards:

What Common Core State Standards are — and aren’t by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post

Testing the Common Core Standards, also by Valerie Strauss. She has also written The problem(s) with the Common Core standards.

The Common Core: Policy Triumph or Commercial Bonanza? by Nancy Flanagan at Ed Week.

Will National Standards Improve Education? is a useful New York Times forum.

Common Core Standards: Hardly an Evidence-based Policy by Larry Cuban.

National Standards a Wild Goose Chase by Anthony Cody at Ed Week.

David Cohen has a very thoughtful post titled Common Core Confusion. Be sure to read the comments, too.

Common Core Confusion – ASCD Edition is by David B. Cohen.

Jeffrey N. Golub: Common Core Standards Leave Teachers Out of the Equation is from Ed Week.

Good riddance to new national standards is by Jay Mathews at The Washington Post.

Choking on the Common Core Standards is by Joanne Yatvin and appeared in The Washington Post.

Common Core won’t likely boost student achievement, analysis says is from Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

Common Core: David Coleman is no Doug Lemov… is by Alice Mercer.

Why Common Core Standards Will Fail is by Larry Cuban.

Standardization: From Carnegie Units to Common Core Standards is a guest post at Larry Cuban’s blog.

Why Common Core standards will fail is by Jay Mathews at The Washington Post.

These Are The Standards We Should Focus On: “The Core Standards That Matter Most in My Classroom”

Teacher: One (maddening) day working with the Common Core is from The Washington Post.

Does the Common Core Matter? appeared in Education Week.

The Common Core: The Technocrats Re-engineer Learning is by Anthony Cody.

Common Core standards drive wedge in education circles is from USA .

Yong Zhao Interview: Will the Common Core Create World-Class Learners? appeared in Anthony Cody’s blog at Education Week.

Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core is by Yong Zhao.

My View of the Common Core Standards is by Diane Ravitch.

Common Core vs. Common Sense
appeared in Education Week.

Five Questions to Ask about the Common Core is by Yong Zhao (and here’s a follow-up by him).

A tough critique of Common Core on early childhood education is from The Washington Post.

Speaking Back to the Common Core is by Thomas Newkirk.

Common Core: Will it hurt struggling readers? is by Laura Robb.

Common Core supporter: ‘I see the opportunity being squandered’ is by Stephen Lazar.

Quote Of The Day: “Was adopting Common Core a mistake?”

The Common Core’s Fundamental Trouble is from Rethinking Schools.

Why Common Core Standards Will Succeed is an ironic title of a Larry Cuban post.

Linda Darling-Hammond on the Common Core Standards appeared in Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Federal Bureaucrats Declare ‘Hunger Games’ More Complex Than ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ The Common Core’s absurd new reading guidelines is from The New Republic.

The WOW! factor of CCSS is by Alice Mercer.

Following Common Core money: Where are millions of dollars going? is by Carol Burris and appeared in The Washington Post.

The Common Core Kool-Aid is from Rick Hess.

Common Core and the Food Pyramid is also by Rick Hess.

When, How and With Whom to Battle the Common Core? is by Nancy Flanagan.

Everything you need to know about Common Core is by Diane Ravitch.

Why Common Core Advocates Should Let Teachers Lead It is by Jeff Bryant.

A challenge: Teach 8th grade Common Core before endorsing it is from The Washington Post.

The coming Common Core meltdown is by Stan Karp.

Teachers union head calls for Core ‘course correction’ is from The Washington Post.

McKinsey & Company Projects That Common Core Implementation Will Result In 15% Increase In Dropout Rate

How Common Core Could Double Dropout Rate is by John Thompson.

Will Common Core double the high school dropout rate? is from The Washington Post. In it, Valerie Strauss picks-up and elaborates on my previous post, McKinsey & Company Projects That Common Core Implementation Will Result In 15% Increase In Dropout Rate.

Common Core’s five big half-truths is by Frederick Hess.

Common Core: yes or no? A debate. appeared in The Washington Post.

Common Core calls for kids to read books that ‘frustrate’ them. Is that a good idea? appeared in The Washington Post.

Has “Education Post” Already Changed Its “Kinder, Gentler” Tune? is by John Thompson

Teachers grade Common Core: C+ and room for improvement is from The Christian Science Monitor.

How to start cleaning up the Common Core is by Carol Burris.

The Two Biggest Mistakes in the Common Core Standards is by Grant Wiggins.

How Twitter is changing the national Common Core debate is an intriguing article about an interesting project.

Superintendents, but not teachers, give high grades to Common Core rollout is from Ed Source.

Common Core, College Readiness Skills Don’t Match Up, Study Says is from Ed Week.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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

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

November 15, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo

Do Teachers REALLY Come From The Bottom Third Of Colleges? Or Is That Statistic A Bunch Of Baloney?

Be sure to check-out The Shanker Blog’s post on this same topic

In listening to the trio of Gingrich, Sharpton and Duncan on Meet The Press today, one of the things that struck me was this videotaped piece from Bruce Stewart, formerly the head of the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.:

MR. BRUCE STEWART: When I began teaching in the ’60s, we had that population of people. And since then, because greater opportunities have opened up for young women and for minorities, there’s been a great brain drain from American schools. I think we want to get those people back. If you look at Singapore, look at Finland, the reason they consistently are testing their population of students in the top levels of international exams, it’s the quality of their teaching force. They all come from the top third of their colleges, universities. In the United States, our tendency today is to have that pool of teachers coming from the bottom third of college and universities and from the bottom third of those classes. That’s something we need to reverse and to change.

I’ve heard this kind of statistic about teachers coming from the bottom third of something or other before (though never about the bottom third of classes — I don’t know where he got that bizarre statistic from), and just ignored it. But hearing it on Meet The Press, from the director of a private school, got “my dander up” and I decided to look into where those numbers came from and how valid and reliable they were. It was quite a ride on a Sunday afternoon….

Here is what I found…

Tons of people use a McKinsey report as the reference for the statistic of teachers coming from the bottom third of colleges.  That report just uses a quote saying that:

“We are now recruiting our teachers from the bottom third of high school students going to college…” (p. 19)

It uses as its citation “Tough Choices Or Tough Times” , a report issued by The New Commission On The Skills Of The American Workforce in 2007.

So I went there. The link in the preceding paragraph only leads to a downloadable summary, which just stated the same statistic with no citation of a source. So, I went to Amazon, downloaded a Kindle Reader for my PC, and purchased the whole report.

That report uses as its source a “Report From The Department Of Education, National Center For Education Statistics, The Condition Of Education 2002.” It quotes the report as saying:

“A report by the National Council on Teacher Quality in 2004 said that the profession attracts a ‘disproportionately high number of candidates from the lower end of the distribution of academic ability.’ And, college graduates whose SAT or ACT scores were in the bottom quartile were more than twice as likely as those in the top quartile to have majored in education.”

Well, I couldn’t find that exact quote (but admittedly, I was getting a bit punch drunk by that time and might just have missed it) in the Condition of Education 2002, though page 91 has a lot of mathematical discussions of this topic, little of which I could understand (perhaps a math teacher can take a look?). I also found it interesting that I couldn’t find any other Condition of Education reports (they’re issued every year) that examine that topic.

However, I did find information on the National Council on Teacher Quality report that was quoted (which also based its critique on SAT and ACT scores), including criticism of its methodology — it apparently only included a portion of people who were going to be teachers.  In fact, it excluded that portion who typically score the highest on SAT (the link takes to you a NY Times article about it that gives details). Also, ironically, in the same year, the same National Council on Teacher Quality came out with another report basically dismissing SAT scores as a valid and reliable predictor of teacher effectiveness, saying:

“…measurable teacher attributes like SAT scores…account for only a small portion of why some teachers are more effective than others.” (p. 10)

So, after all that, what are my conclusions?

First, I’d love to find out where the Sidwell guy came-up with his numbers, since they seem to be flat-out wrong.

Second, I’d love for a math person to examine the numbers on page 91 of the report on the Condition of Education 2002 to tell me what it really says in plain English.

Third, based on what I read of the criticism of the National Council of Teacher Quality report, this “bottom one-third” number also appears to be flat-out wrong.

And fourth, even if their numbers were right (which they don’t appear to be), it’s all much ado about nothing because they themselves say it’s not a reliable predictor of teacher effectiveness.

In other words, this bottom-third thing does seem to me to be a bunch of baloney.

What do you think? Let me know if I’m right or wrong, please!

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