Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 30, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“‘Myths & Lies’ That Threaten Our Schools: An Interview With David Berliner & Gene Glass”

‘Myths & Lies’ That Threaten Our Schools: An Interview With David Berliner & Gene Glass is my latest post at Education Week Teacher.

In it, David C. Berliner and Gene V. Glass answer a few questions about their book, “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools.”

Here are a couple of excerpts:

The-grand-myth-from

a-successful-public

July 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

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

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

“Stupid, absurd, non-defensible”: New NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on the problem with Arne Duncan, standardized tests and the war on teachers is from Salon.

The Problem Isn’t Teacher Recruiting; It’s Retention is from The Journal. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The Importance Of Teacher (& Student) Working Conditions.

Lessons from a school that scrapped a longer student day and made time for teachers is from The Hechinger Report. I’m adding it to the same list.

Teachers Can’t Be Effective Without Professional Working Conditions is from Gatsby in LA, and I’m adding it to the same list.

Low Salaries Keep Many Teachers Out Of The Middle Class: Report is from The Huffington Post. I’m adding this, too, to the same list.

New York Educators Fight Back on Attacks to Tenure is from The New York Times.

David Berliner Responds to Economists Who Discount Role of Child Poverty is from Diane Ravitch’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.

Let’s Have a Moratorium On Sports Analogies In Education is by Paul Bruno.

Will Free Online Courses Ever Replace a College Education? is from The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On MOOC’s — Help Me Find More.

Why public education needs teachers unions is by Gary Ravini. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teachers Unions Are Important.

A Double Dose of Math Has Diminishing Returns, Study Finds is from Education Week.

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Are Researchers Who Helped Popularize VAM Having Second Thoughts?

Two-and-a-half years ago, economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff published an extremely influential and well-known study that popularized Value-Added Measurements as a teacher evaluation tool and has caused huge damage to teachers, students and their families. You can see a collection of commentaries on their study here. They have also been public advocates of policy solutions using their studies as evidence (that same link will lead you to examples).

Flashforward to now. Gene V. Glass (you will be able to see an interview I did with he and his co-author David Berliner next week in my Ed Week blog — their book is titled 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education)> just tweeted out a new report from those same three researchers that indicate they might be having second thoughts.

It seemed to me a bit odd — they seemed to be defending VAM for most of it, but then ended with this kicker:

other-measures-of

Interesting…

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation.

July 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The New Yorker’s “Wrong Answer” Feature Is The Must-Read Education Article Of The Summer

The New Yorker, two months after publishing an excellent article on the school reform fiasco in Newark which made The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2014 – So Far list) has now published an extraordinary feature on the Atlanta testing scandal — Wrong Answer: In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school made a shocking choice — by Rachel Aviv. It’s freely available online.

The “go-to” quotations are numerous, and here are a few that are just the tip of the iceberg. After the excerpts, I include links to related “The Best” lists, though you might want to start-off at The Best Posts & Articles About The Atlanta Testing Scandal:

David-Berliner-the

After more than two thousand interviews, the investigators concluded that forty-four schools had cheated and that a “culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation has infested the district, allowing cheating—at all levels—to go unchecked for years.” They wrote that data had been “used as an abusive and cruel weapon to embarrass and punish.” Several teachers had been told that they had a choice: either make targets or be placed on a Performance Development Plan, which was often a precursor to termination. At one elementary school, during a faculty meeting, a principal forced a teacher whose students had tested poorly to crawl under the table.

To explain the improvement in scores, [Superintendent] Hall told the investigators that “an effective teacher three years in a row will completely close the gap between a child born in poverty and a child born to a middle-income family.” This theory, in its earliest form, derives from a study by William L. Sanders, a statistician formerly at the University of Tennessee, but the findings, which have contributed to a nationwide effort to rate teachers rigorously, have been overstated to the point of becoming a myth. According to a recent statement by the American Statistical Association, most studies show that teachers account for between one and fourteen per cent of variability in test scores.

John Ewing, who served as the executive director of the American Mathematical Society for fifteen years, told me that he is perplexed by educators’ “infatuation with data,” their faith that it is more authoritative than using their own judgment. He explains the problem in terms of Campbell’s law, a principle that describes the risks of using a single indicator to measure complex social phenomena: the greater the value placed on a quantitative measure, like test scores, the more likely it is that the people using it and the process it measures will be corrupted. “The end goal of education isn’t to get students to answer the right number of questions,” he said. “The goal is to have curious and creative students who can function in life.” In a 2011 paper in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, he warned that policymakers were using mathematics “to intimidate—to preëmpt debate about the goals of education and measures of success.”

Our-teachers-best

Here are some related “The Best” lists:

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

The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”

The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad)

The Best Posts Debunking The Myth Of “Five (Or Three) Great Teachers In A Row”

June 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles on Education Policy

'UTLA Protest Against Principal' photo (c) 2014, Clotee Allochuku - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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

Of course, the big news this week was the awful Vergara decision. Here are some good pieces that have come out and that I’m adding to California Court Rules It’s All The Teachers’ Fault, which is where I’ve been collecting post-court-decision analyses. You can also find a lot of background info at The Best Resources On California Court Case Attacking Teacher’s Rights (I used the photo to illustrate this post because of LA Supt Deasy’s public support of the ruling):

AFT’s Weingarten smacks Arne Duncan about his praise for Vergara decision is from The Washington Post.
Tenure Is Not the Problem is by Richard Kahlenberg.

Taking On Teacher Tenure Backfires is by Jesse Rothstein and appeared in The New York Times.

Fuzzy Math: The guesstimate that struck down California’s teacher tenure laws. is from Slate.

“Strict scrutiny” of Vergara ruling a setback for California teachers is by David B. Cohen.

A silver lining in the Vergara decision? is from The Washington Post.

Why that ruling against teacher tenure won’t help your schoolchildren appeared in The LA Times.

Here’s a great video response from National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel:

Here are posts on other policy topics:

Is Teacher Attrition Actually Increasing? is from The Shanker Blog.

Unions and the Concept of ‘Adult Interests’ is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teachers Unions Are Important.

The VA and VAM is by Gene Glass.

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.

I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.

Gates Foundation urges delay in using tests for teacher evaluation
is from The Washington Post.

April 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

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

'OUR KIDS MATTER' photo (c) 2008, William Murphy - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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

As California standardized testing gains steam, help center ‘inundated’ with teacher calls is from Southern California Public Radio. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

Students are test-driving new Common Core exams. You can too is a post from The Hechinger Report. It includes links to practice tests from the two testing consortia. The ones from PARCC have an answer key, though, at first glance, the SBAC ones do not (let me know if I just missed it). I’m adding this info to the same list, and I’m also adding it to A Beginning “The Best…” List Of Free & Decent Online Practice Sites For State Tests.

If Economists Studied Education Research, Would They Still Promote Value-Added Evaluations? is by John Thompson. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On California Court Case Attacking Teacher’s Rights.

Guest commentary: Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions is from The Contra Costa Times. I’m adding it to the same list.

Teacher of the Year to Union President is a good profile of the next President of the National Education Association.

Top 5 Myths and Lies About Teachers and Their Profession is from NEA Today.

Koch brothers help Kansas lawmakers strip teachers of tenure is from The Washington Post.

How ‘colorblind’ education reform policies actually ignore racial inequality is also from The Washington Post.

What’s The Evidence on School Devices and Software Improving Student Learning? is by Larry Cuban. I’m adding it to The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools.

David Berliner on PISA and Poverty is from Diane Ravitch’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On 2012 PISA Test Results.

CPS fails to nurture a true vision for charters is from Catalyst. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

February 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts On Education Policy

January 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts On Education Policy

December 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Posts & Articles On 2012 PISA Test Results

'Pisa2008_Pisa tower' photo (c) 2008, Wit Suphamungmee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Sorry, I couldn’t resist adding this photo

 

The Internet is awash with articles about this morning’s release of the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, test results.

I’m just quickly posting the best resources I’ve seen this morning (the last portion of this post has newly added important commentaries), and articles offering real insightful commentary will be coming later. However, I’ve included a few pieces that came out prior to this morning and, of course, you can also check out The Best Sites For Getting Some Perspective On International Test Comparison Demagoguery.

Here are choices, and please suggest more in the comments:

How public opinion about new PISA test scores is being manipulated is by Richard Rothstein.

Reading the PISA Tea Leaves: Who Is Responsible for Finland’s Decline and the Asian Magic is by Yong Zhao.

Randi On PISA: Time to End Failed Policies of NCLB & RTTT is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Key PISA test results for U.S. students is from The Washington Post.

Are Finland’s vaunted schools slipping? is by Pasi Sahlberg.

Tom Loveless: Why Shanghai Leads the World on International Tests Like PISA is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

U.S. students lag around average on international science, math and reading test is from The Washington Post.

OECD education report: Lessons for the UK from other nations is an exhaustive series of articles from The Telegraph.

American 15-Year-Olds Lag, Mainly in Math, on International Standardized Tests is from The New York Times.

Take-away Pisa for busy people is from The BBC.

Are you Smarter Than a 15-Year-Old? is from Smithsonian Magazine.

Here are a number of resources from OECD, which administers the test:

PISA 2012 Results: What Makes Schools Successful? ReSouRceS, PolIcIeS And PRActIceS

PISA 2012 Results in Focus: What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know

PISA 2012 Results: Ready to Learn: Students’ Engagement, Drive and Self-Beliefs (Volume III)

PISA 2012 Results

NASSP Statement on PISA Results: Despite Fervor Over Scores, US Continues to Ignore Lessons

My View of the PISA Scores is by Diane Ravitch.

The PISA Puzzle is by Dana Goldstein. Here are a couple of excerpts from her Slate piece:

There’s another PISA result that should be heeded just as much as, if not more than, the rankings themselves: The OECD found that school systems with greater teacher leadership opportunities, like Canada’s, outperform those like ours, in which administrators and policymakers exert more top-down control over the classroom, through scripted lessons or teacher evaluation systems that heavily weigh student test scores. Yet you won’t hear about that much on PISA Day, because those have both become popular interventions during the Obama era of education reform…..

Maybe the takeaway from PISA shouldn’t be that Common Core is the answer, but rather that we need a comprehensive approach to educating and caring for our poorest children in order to close the achievement gap between rich and poor in this country, and between American students and their developed-nation peers.

 

Four lessons on new PISA scores — Ravitch is from The Washington Post.

So…what can we DO about those low PISA scores? is by Barnett Berry.

Could Changes in School Culture Make U.S. Schools More Competitive? is from Ed Week.

10 things teachers need to know about the Pisa results is from The Guardian.

7 Reasons I Don’t Care About the PISA Results is by Rick Hess at Education Week.

Quote Of The Day: “Our Kids — Coddled or Confident?”

Want to Look Great on Global Education Surveys? Test Only the Top Students is from Business Week.

The Meaning of PISA is by Marc Tucker at Ed Week.

“PISA Day”—An Ideological and Hyperventilated Exercise is by Richard Rothstein.

Attention OECD-PISA: Your Silence on China is Wrong is by Tom Loveless.

The New York Times Editorializes on Teachers and PISA, with Multiple Errors is from Diane Ravitch.

A PISA contradiction is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

Why Arne Duncan’s PISA Comments Miss the Mark is from Education Week.

The Global Search for Education: The World Test? is from The Huffington Post.

Beware Chinese data: Its schools might not be so great is by Jay Mathews at The Washington Post.

How Does PISA Put the World at Risk (Part 1): Romanticizing Misery is by Yong Zhao.

David Berliner on PISA and Poverty is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

How Does PISA Put the World at Risk (Part 5): Racing to the Past is by Yong Zhao.

Academics call for pause in PISA tests is from The Washington Post.

May 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Interesting Tweets From #CalTURN Conference

The California Teacher Union Reform Network just had a conference over the weekend, and here are some interesting and useful tweets that came out of it. Most were shared by David B. Cohen. David Berliner and Linda Darling-Hammond were two of the speakers there, and spoke about standardized testing and Common Core (among other topics).

I’ve used Storify to collect the tweets:


September 15, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

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

Here are some relatively recent posts and articles on education policy:

Economists: Return Your Salaries for Producing Flawed Studies is by Barnett Berry. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On “Loss Aversion” & Schools.

This is a very interesting short video interview with Malcolm Gladwell, especially the last minute:

Berliner on Education and Inequality is from Diane Ravitch’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.

Lowering the Temperature on Claims of “Summer Learning Loss” is by Alfie Kohn and gives a different perspective from what we usually hear. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The “Summer Slide.”

Education reform’s central myths is from Salon. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Getting Some Perspective On International Test Comparison Demagoguery.

In Math and Science, Have American Students Fallen Behind? is from The National Education Policy Center. I’m adding it to the same list.

Khan Academy: Rise and Backlash is a Storify from Education Week Teacher. I’m adding it to The Best Posts About The Khan Academy.

Privatizing Public Schools: Big Firms Eyeing Profits From U.S. K-12 Market is from Reuters. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Explaining Why Schools Should Not Be Run Like Businesses.

Education jargon: What ‘no excuses’ and other terms really mean appeared on Valerie Strauss’ blog.

Time, Not Talent, Marks a Boston Globe Writer is from EduShyster.

December 11, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
5 Comments

The Best Videos For Educators In 2011

This is always one of my favorite year-end lists to do…..

You might also be interested in:

Part Two Of The Best Videos For Educators — 2010

The Ten Best Videos For Educators — 2010

And you might also want to see The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual — Part One and The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos For Educators In 2011:

The World Wildlife Fund created this amazing forty second video:

The world is where we live from WWF on Vimeo.

It publicizes another pretty impressive creation of theirs — My World.

Here are two amazing videos taken from The International Space Station:

Daniel Pink was recently interviewed on a local Washington, D.C. television show along with a local university official. You watch it all here, but I thought the few minutes he spent discussing the role of grades, autonomy and inquiry in education to be particularly thought-provoking. I used Tube Chop to “chop” those two brief segments and have them embedded below. I don’t know if they will come through on an RSS Readers, so you might have to click through to my blog in order to view them.

Near the end of the extensive Bloom’s Taxonomy lesson I describe in my book, I show some fun videos demonstrating the thinking levels through scenes from Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Links to those videos can be found at The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom.

The creators of those videos have now made some follow-up ones.

The Pirates of The Caribbean video has been shortened, and the sound has been enhanced so it’s easier to hear the words:

And a sequel to the Star Wars one has been made using clips from The Empire Strikes Back:

Dan Ariely has done a lot of research on motivation. Here’s a short video of him talking about pay for performance. I was particularly struck by something he says near the end. He asks if we were going in for surgery, would we want to tell the surgeon that if he/her does his job well we’ll give him a lot of money and if he doesn’t do his job well we’ll sue him, or would we rather have him just concentrate on doing his job?

Perhaps advocates of merit pay for teachers might want to think about that question, too?

If you want to teach the difference between correlation & causation, this could be the video for you…..It could be, that is, if you don’t mind using a beer commercial (Showing amazing stuff to the beer is supposed to make it amazing :) ):

Sesame Street has a fun and useful interactive YouTube video on the scientific method. I’m adding it to other interactive videos on The Best — And Easiest — Ways To Use YouTube If, Like Us, Only Teachers Have Access To It (where I also explain how I use them in class):

The PBS News Hour produced this segment on self control and young people. It uses financial literacy as an initial hook, but it’s mainly about the famous marshmallow test and a recent updated study:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

If you skip through an off-color remark made by the celery near the beginning of this video, it could be a short and fun way to introduce the idea of personification to students. Check out “Meltdown: Where Last Night’s Leftovers Battle For Their Lives”:

MELTDOWN from Dave Green on Vimeo.

Transocean (greatly responsible for last year’s Gulf Oil Spill) just gave their executives huge bonuses because of their…safety record. Jon Stewart does a great short bit on it. It seems to me this is a good example of either Campbell’s Law, or and example of how incentives don’t work, or both.

Well-known and respected author/researcher David Berliner (I’ve posted about his work several times) gives a very understandable explanation of “Campbell’s Law” in this video. The “law” says:

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it was intended to monitor.

It’s an important critique of the use of standardized tests in schools for teacher or student evaluation.

The night Diane Ravitch was the guest on the Daily Show was amazing! Here are three clips from it:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in the Dairyland – For Richer and Poorer
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

And here’s a segment from yet another Daily Show:

An amazing book, Teaching 2030:What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools–Now and in the Future, was published this year. An animated summary of the book is now available, and I’ve embedded it below. It’s worth watching both for the content and for the visuals.

Based on the fact this video has over nine million views on YouTube, I may be the last person who has seen it, but it’s still a great video to get students to think more carefully about their writing:

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 800 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

October 11, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Standardized Test Critiques & Potential Alternatives”

Standardized Test Critiques & Potential Alternatives is the title of the the newest post at my Education Week Teacher column.

It includes guest responses from Professors David Berliner and Yong Zhao, two of the most well-respected researchers on education in the United States.

August 17, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Videos For Educators In 2011 — So Far

I usually just do a year-end list of The Best Videos For Educators and many other topics, but it gets a little crazy having to review all of my zillion posts at once. So, to make it easier for me — and perhaps, to make it a little more useful to readers — I’m going to start publishing mid-year lists, too. These won’t be ranked, unlike my year-end “The Best…” lists, and just because a site appears on a mid-year list doesn’t guarantee it will be included in an end-of-the-year one. But, at least, I won’t have to review all my year’s posts in December…

You might also be interested in:

Part Two Of The Best Videos For Educators — 2010

The Ten Best Videos For Educators — 2010

And you might also want to see The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual — Part One and The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos For Educators In 2011 — So Far:

Near the end of the extensive Bloom’s Taxonomy lesson I describe in my book, I show some fun videos demonstrating the thinking levels through scenes from Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Links to those videos can be found at The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom.

The creators of those videos have now made some follow-up ones.

The Pirates of The Caribbean video has been shortened, and the sound has been enhanced so it’s easier to hear the words:

And a sequel to the Star Wars one has been made using clips from The Empire Strikes Back:

Dan Ariely has done a lot of research on motivation. Here’s a short video of him talking about pay for performance. I was particularly struck by something he says near the end. He asks if we were going in for surgery, would we want to tell the surgeon that if he/her does his job well we’ll give him a lot of money and if he doesn’t do his job well we’ll sue him, or would we rather have him just concentrate on doing his job?

Perhaps advocates of merit pay for teachers might want to think about that question, too?

If you want to teach the difference between correlation & causation, this could be the video for you…..It could be, that is, if you don’t mind using a beer commercial (Showing amazing stuff to the beer is supposed to make it amazing :) ):

Sesame Street has a fun and useful interactive YouTube video on the scientific method. I’m adding it to other interactive videos on The Best — And Easiest — Ways To Use YouTube If, Like Us, Only Teachers Have Access To It (where I also explain how I use them in class):

The PBS News Hour produced this segment on self control and young people. It uses financial literacy as an initial hook, but it’s mainly about the famous marshmallow test and a recent updated study:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

If you skip through an off-color remark made by the celery near the beginning of this video, it could be a short and fun way to introduce the idea of personification to students. Check out “Meltdown: Where Last Night’s Leftovers Battle For Their Lives”:

MELTDOWN from Dave Green on Vimeo.

Transocean (greatly responsible for last year’s Gulf Oil Spill) just gave their executives huge bonuses because of their…safety record. Jon Stewart does a great short bit on it. It seems to me this is a good example of either Campbell’s Law, or and example of how incentives don’t work, or both.

Well-known and respected author/researcher David Berliner (I’ve posted about his work several times) gives a very understandable explanation of “Campbell’s Law” in this video. The “law” says:

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it was intended to monitor.

It’s an important critique of the use of standardized tests in schools for teacher or student evaluation.

The night Diane Ravitch was the guest on the Daily Show was amazing! Here are three clips from it:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in the Dairyland – For Richer and Poorer
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

And here’s a segment from yet another Daily Show:

An amazing book, Teaching 2030:What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools–Now and in the Future, was published this year. An animated summary of the book is now available, and I’ve embedded it below. It’s worth watching both for the content and for the visuals.

Based on the fact this video has over nine million views on YouTube, I may be the last person who has seen it, but it’s still a great video to get students to think more carefully about their writing:

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 700 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

April 4, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“As The Stakes Go Up, The Validity Goes Down”

Well-known and respected author/researcher David Berliner (I’ve posted about his work several times) gives a very understandable explanation of “Campbell’s Law” in this video (this post’s title comes from his comments). The “law” says:

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it was intended to monitor.

It’s an important critique of the use of standardized tests in schools for teacher or student evaluation.

I found the clip on Joe Bower’s blog, and it’s worth reading that post and his previous posts on the topic.

This clip comes from a more extensive address that Berliner gave in Michigan. You can see his entire speech here.

Speaking of the misuse of standardized testing, Jonah Lehrer has also written an important article titled Measurements That Mislead.

In addition, a “must-read” series of posts have been written by Anthony Cody over a Education Week. He has been engaged in a quasi-dialogue with the Department of Education about the meaning of President Obama’s criticism of standardized testing last week.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad).

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.

Wealthy Kids Have A Huge Advantage On The SAT is from Business Insider. And this Wall Street Journal article, SAT Scores and Income Inequality: How Wealthier Kids Rank Higher, is a particularly interesting piece on the same topic.

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.

April 3, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
6 Comments

The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad)

Check out excerpt from my book, Self-Driven Learning, “Ethical and Effective Test Prep”

It’s approaching the time in many states when our students will have to take annual standardized tests.

I’ve written quite a few posts about how I prepare my students to take them, as well as posts writing about how bad the tests are. I thought I’d bring them all together in one “The Best…” list.

I’ve made it quite clear that our school we intentionally do little explicit “test-prep” work with our students. Instead, we believe the work we do during the entire year prepares them to be lifelong learners and that will show-up in test results. We also do a number of things to help students feel positive on test days.

Please feel free to offer suggestions for other good resources on how to prepare students for the tests, or pieces that show why the tests are bad.

You might also be interested in A Beginning “The Best…” List Of Free & Decent Online Practice Sites For State Tests — Help Me Add More!

Here are my choices for The Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad):

PREPARING FOR TESTS

Test-Taking Strategies

Testing Time

Getting Into A “Smart” Frame Of Mind on Test-Days

What Snacks Do You Give Students On Test-Taking Days?

Display The Letter “A” On Test Days & Your Students Will Do Better?

More On Test-Day Brain-”Priming”

Test-Prep Tips

Talking With Students About Standardized Tests

More Test-Prep Hints

“To Improve Girls’ Science Scores, Show Them Women Scientists”

A Beginning “The Best…” List Of Free & Decent Online Practice Sites For State Tests — Help Me Add More!

Brief Social Conversations Improves Performance On Cognitive Tasks

Thinking About Our Ancestors Helps Us Do Better In Tests

“Brief Diversions Vastly Improve Focus, Researchers Find”

The Most Effective Thing I’ve Done To Prepare Students For Standardized Tests

“Write About A Success That One Of Your Ancestors Had”

The Cognitive Benefits of Chewing Gum is by Jonah Lehrer at Wired. He reports on a study that showed test-takers chewing gum scored higher than those who did it — it kept the chewers more alert. I thought was particularly interesting because the only other similar research I had read was financed by the Wrigley Company, which didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in its integrity.

Chewing Gum May Improve Test Scores reports on a new study that says chewing gum can improve test performance, but only for fifteen or twenty minutes after chewing stops. It says the gum should only be chewed prior to the test and will actually ultimately hurt test performance if it continues. contradicts the previous study.

Does chewing gum help you concentrate? Maybe briefly. is by Dan Willingham.

Can chewing gum before a test improve score? is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

How NOT To Prepare A Student For A Standardized Test

The Advantages Of Helping Students Feel Powerful

Standardized Tests & Student Motivation

WHY THESE TESTS ARE BAD:

Meeting Testing Goals By Lowering Standards

“Why Rising Test Scores May Not Mean Increased Learning”

Standardized Tests

So Is What Obama Was Talking About…

“Test scores poor tool for teacher evaluation”

Refusing To Give A Standardized Test

“Why you should be skeptical about standardized test scores”

Race to Self Destruction: A History Lesson for Education Reformers is by Yong Zhao.

Michelle Rhee’s Cheating Scandal is by Dana Goldstein.

Transcript (& Selected Highlights) From President Obama’s Town Hall Meeting On Education

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer by Dan DiMaggio

“As The Stakes Go Up, The Validity Goes Down”

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

Do Standardized Tests Reflect Student Learning in Schools? is by Patrick Ledesma.

Resistance to test-based school reform is growing is by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

‘I am a bad teacher’ appeared in Valerie Strauss’ blog in The Washington Post.

New National Research Council Report Finds That Incentives & Punishments Not Successful In Helping Schools & Their Students

High-stakes tests and cheating: An inevitable combination? is from The Hechinger Report.

Testing Insanity: Amount of Time on Testing is a fascinating chart by John T. Spencer.

Is the use of standardized tests improving education in America? is a good summary of research from Pro/Con.

If Gifted And Talented Programs Don’t Boost Scores, Should We Eliminate Them? comes from The Shanker Blog.

Why Test-Driven Accountability Is Grasping at Straws is by John Thompson

Standardized tests for everyone? In the Internet age, that’s the wrong answer. is from The Washington Post.

Undermining quality teaching and learning: A self-determination theory perspective on high-stakes testing

“Teach With, Not ‘To” The Test”

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids is from Valerie Strauss’ blog at The Washington Post.

music video comes via Tom Whitby and The Educator’s PLN:

Standardized Testing & Creative Thinking


Remembering Test Scores and Learning about Regression toward the Mean
is by Larry Cuban.

Standardized Testing Fails the Exam is by W. James Popham and appeared in Edutopia

Study: Students from high schools with improving ISTEP scores perform no better on ACT exams is from Indiana University. Here is Diane Ravitch’s commentary on it. Here are more of her thoughts.

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


Massachusetts professors protest high-stakes standardized tests
is from The Washington Post.

Quote Of The Day: Historical Misuse Of Standardized Testing

My discussion with Matt Barnum Part 1 is by Gary Rubinstein.

Shouldn’t We Have Choice in Testing? is by John Thompson.

‘Test-and-punish’ sabotages quality of children’s education is by Linda Darling-Hammond.

Test Prep Hullabaloo — Maybe Short Term Gain, For Sure Long Term Loss

Quote Of The Day: UK Study Questions Focus On Test Prep

The Dark History of the Multiple-Choice Test is from Edutopia.

Why Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Educational Quality is by James Popham (it’s older, but great).

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

Games People Play in Modern School Reform is by Sam Chaltain.

The Best Posts On Study Finding That Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Cognitive Ability

This is older study by David Berliner on high-stakes testing, but it’s important and informative.

The Real World Is Not an Exam is from The New York Times.

Here’s A Headline I Like: “School standardized testing is under growing attack”

SURVIVING THE POST-TEST BLUES

Post-Test Weeks…

WHAT STUDENTS THINK OF THEM

My Students Reflect On Standardized Tests

Building Social Capital In The Classroom Helps With Test-Taking

Additional suggestions are welcome. Though many of these posts point to articles written by others, I’m sure I’ve missed some great ones that are out there. I’d love to revise list and add them.

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

You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

November 4, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The “Best” Articles (And Blog Posts) About Education Policy — 2009

As I did in last year’sThe “Best” Articles About Education — 2008 and in the previous year’s The “Best” Articles About Education — 2007, I’ve put quotes around the word “Best” in the title of this list since I’m sure there are many, many articles about education I have not read and posted about this year. I’m particularly interested in hearing people’s suggestions for additions to this list.   This list, as the title says,  focuses on education policy issues.  I’ll have another one coming-up titled “The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers — 2009.”  I’ll also be writing “The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice — 2009.”

Unlike in previous year’s, though, I could not bring myself to rank them in order of preference — they all were just too good.

Where the titles of the articles or blog posts are self-explanatory, I haven’t included any additional description.

Here are my choices for The “Best” Articles (And Blog Posts) About Education — 2009:

Diane Ravitch wrote an excellent post titled What’s Wrong With Merit Pay.

Crazy Talk is the title of a great piece Doug Noon wrote for Change.Org a few months ago. It offers an excellent critique of Secretary Duncan’s plans.

Slate Magazine published what I think is an exceptionally insightful critique of KIPP Schools written by Sara Mosle.  It’s called The Educational Experiment We Really Need: What the Knowledge Is Power Program has yet to prove.

Claus von Zastrow has wrote great blog post titled Taking the Easy Way Out. He talks about the recent tendency of journalists (who really should know better) to claim there are easy answers to some of the challenges facing our schools.

The Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning’s blog shared the results of two pretty interesting surveys. In one, 500 recent drop outs were asked about the reasons they decided to drop out of school. The other survey collected data from over 23,000 3-5 minute visits around the country.

How can we close the achievement gap? You can read the answer to that question from my favorite writer on education reform issues, Richard Rothstein.

Does Slow and Steady Win the Race? A Conversation with Top Researcher Russ Whitehurst offers an exceptionally well-balanced perspective on school reform — one that’s well-worth reading.

Anthony Cody wrote an excellent post titled National Standards A Wild Goose Chase.

Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success is a study released by The Great Lakes Center For Education Research and Practice. It details “out-of-school” factors that affect learning success.

A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education is an excellent article by a former textbook editor. It tells, in horrifying detail, how publishers develop the textbooks our school districts buy.

Alice Mercer wrote an absolutely great post at our group blog, In Practice. It’s titled “Why Not Cure Poverty Instead?” and is outgrowth of a conversation about Ruby Payne.

The National Journal ran a piece  on paying students for increased test scores.  I was pleased to see a number of thoughtful responses criticizing the idea, and disappointed to see what people said in support.  I was particularly pleased with the response by Bob Peterson (from one of my favorite magazines, Rethinking Schools).

Extreme School Makeover: Creating the Conditions for Success is a blog post by Claus von Zastrow that is one of the best, and most reasonable, descriptions of what it might take to “turnaround” a troubled school.  He highlights the key elements of a successful strategy and makes it clear that there is no one single answer that will provide a solution — no matter what some “expert” school reformers might think.

David Cohen, a teacher from Palo Alto whom I know through the Teacher Leaders Network, co-wrote a great op ed piece in the  Sacramento Bee. It’s called “Test scores poor tool for teacher evaluation.”

Earlier in the year, there was quite a bit of commentary in the educational blogosphere about a not particularly helpful or insightful op-ed piece in the New York TImes by Nicholas Kristof.  In it, he touts the mythical figure that:

A Los Angeles study suggested that four consecutive years of having a teacher from the top 25 percent of the pool would erase the black-white testing gap.

There are three posts about Kristof’s column that I think are particularly thoughtful that I want to include here:

In Search Of The Top 25 Percent Teacher from Public School Insights

The Miracle Teacher, Revisited by Diane Ravitch at Bridging The Differences

We Need Schools That ‘Train’ Our Judgment by Deborah Meier, also at Bridging The Differences.

Larry Cuban wrote Fixing Urban Schools: Sprinters or Marathoners?. It’s about superintendents, and I shared it with our new one here.

State’s exit exams deserve a failing grade is an op ed piece by the late education researcher/author Gerald Bracey that appeared in the Sacramento Bee.

Education researcher David Berliner wrote an excellent guest post in The Answer Sheet, a Washington Post education blog. It’s called Why Rising Test Scores May Not Mean Increased Learning.

Blinded by Reform is an exceptionally well-balanced and reasonable critique of some of the questionable strategies Education Secretary Duncan and the Obama administration is pushing on schools. It’s written by Mike Rose, who is on the faculty of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the author of “Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us.”

Do You Want To “Build Influence”? is not specifically about education policy, but does provide some ideas for those who want to change it.

The late education researcher Gerald Bracey published his last “Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education.

And, lastly, I’m going to include the piece I wrote at Public School Insights titled Parent Involvement or Parent Engagement? It’s an excerpt from my recent book, Building Parent Engagement In Schools.”

I’m also adding a short post I wrote about federal funding for literacy programs titled “I just thought it would end differently this time.”

Compasses Or Road Maps?

Suggestions and feedback, as always, are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

October 1, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Why Rising Test Scores May Not Mean Increased Learning”

Education researcher David Berliner has just written an excellent guest post in The Answer Sheet, a Washington Post education blog. It’s called Why Rising Test Scores May Not Mean Increased Learning.

I’ve posted in the past about Berliner’s exceptional work.

In his guest post, he makes six key points, and he elaborates on each one. I’d strongly recommend you read his entire post. I’m just going to briefly quote each of the six:

1). Virtually all states have changed the passing score on tests so that more children are classified proficient.

2). School districts across the nation engage in excessive, perhaps unethical, and, in some cases, illegal test preparation. This results in higher test scores, but not necessarily greater learning.

3) Familiarity with the objectives and the items on a test invariably results in increased test scores.

4) The test items we use do not tap the knowledge we really want to assess.

5) Afraid they could be fired or their schools closed because of NCLB test scores, district and school administrators invent ways to prevent the poorest performing students from taking tests.

6) It is common for scores to go up because of cheating. For example, there are companies that look for anomalies in test scoring. They often find incidents such as a low-scoring student suddenly getting seven items right in a row, or a class in a low-performing school suddenly outperforming classes in a neighboring high-performing school. These may or may not be instances of cheating, but several hundred of these anomalies are associated with NCLB tests in many states.

March 10, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success”

Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success has just been released by The Great Lakes Center For Education Research and Practice. It details “out-of-school” factors that affect learning success.

The report is similar to what Richard Rothstein (whose articles I’ve included in The best articles about Education 2007 and The “Best” Articles About Education — 2008) writes about a lot.   Rothstein, and the report, talk about how schools can narrow the achievement gap, but not get rid of it unless a number of these social inequities are addressed.

I’m planning to write a longer post about this in our group blog, In Practice, but thought that readers might like to learn about the report now.  Who knows when I’m going to get around to that In Practice post!