Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 14, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
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You’ll Want To Read This Interview With Education Researcher Kirabo Jackson

I’ve previously written about the work of education researcher Kirabo Jackson, particularly in More Evidence Showing The Dangers Of Using High-Stakes Testing For Teacher Evaluation and Statistic Of The Day: New Study Finds That Money Matters For Schools.

Today, Matt Barnum (whose work I have also shared several times) interviews him over at The 74, The 74 Interview: Kirabo Jackson on the Importance of School Spending, ‘Soft Skills’ and Teacher Quality.

You’ll definitely want to read the entire interview, but I was particularly struck by this part:

Can you describe the relationship between the teacher effects and students’ long-run outcomes?

The long-run outcomes that I look at in this current study, looking at students in ninth grade and their ninth-grade teachers. Then I look at their 12th grade outcomes, whether they graduate from high school and whether they report that they’re going to attend college. The finding there is that the teacher effects on these soft skills are much more predictive of their effects on these longer-run outcomes than the teacher effects on test scores. Teacher effects on test scores do predict — teachers who raise test scores are associated with higher levels of high school graduation and higher levels of students planning to go to four-year college, but the effects of teachers on the soft skills are much larger in magnitude.

I wasn’t quite sure if it said what I thought it said, so I corresponded with Matt, who gave me permission to include his responses – I think it’s pretty interesting and important and definitely food for thought:

LF: I really liked the interview you did with Kirabo Jackson, and plan to blog about it. I do have a question about one portion of it, however. In the response on soft skills and long-term outcomes, is he saying that ninth-grade teachers who are particularly good in helping student acquire soft skills are more successful “much larger in magnitude” in having students graduate and attend college? Or is he talking about other kinds of long-term outcomes?

Matt Barnum:

I think your initial interpretation is correct – that is teachers’ “value-added” to soft skills is more predictive than their value-added to test scores of students’ long run outcomes like graduating high school and attending college. However, teachers’ value-added to test scores *is* itself predictive of long run outcomes – just less so than their value-added to soft skills>

LF: One more question- in his past research, I know he has looked at suspension rates and other elements (I’ve listed them in a previous post about his studies tho can’t remember the others right now). That’s still the measurement he is using for ‘soft skills’?

Matt Barnum:

Yep – that’s right. The “soft skills” are “absences, suspensions, course grades, and on-time grade progression” and he’s connected teachers effects on those soft skills to teachers’ impacts on long run outcomes including high school graduation and college attendance. That is teachers who improve short-run soft skills (and test scores) also improve long-run outcomes.

January 15, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Statistic Of The Day: Study Finds That Reduced School Funding Negatively Impacts Students

To the surprise of not a single teacher anywhere, a new study has found that reduced school funding during the Great Recession had a negative impact on students.

Less money for schools after the recession meant lower test scores and graduation rates, study finds by Matt Barnum in Chalkbeat provides a good summary of the research, co-authored by Kirabo Jackson.

Here’s an excerpt:

 

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites For Learning That Money Does Matter For Schools.

December 30, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: More Studies Finding That If Educators Are Good At Raising Test Scores, They Might Be Missing The Boat With Other Skills

Over the next ten days, I’ll be taking a break now-and-then from blogging to both take some R & R and to finish-up some more extended writing projects.

During this short break, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite posts of 2017.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2016’s Best Posts From This Blog

I’ve previously posted about studies that have found that the laser-like focus on raising student test scores often identifies teachers who are good at doing that, but those VAM-like measures tend to short-change educators who are good at developing Social Emotional or “non-cognitive skills” (see More Evidence Showing The Dangers Of Using High-Stakes Testing For Teacher Evaluation ; Another Study Shows Limitations Of Standardized Tests For Teacher Evaluations; Study Finds Teachers Whose Students Achieve High Test Scores Often Don’t Do As Well With SEL Skills and SEL Weekly Update).

And those have been followed-up by further research finding that that ninth-grade teachers who are particularly good in helping student acquire non-cognitive skills are more successful “much larger in magnitude” in having students graduate and attend college than those whose work results in higher test scores alone (see You’ll Want To Read This Interview With Education Researcher Kirabo Jackson).

Two additional studies now reinforce the findings that focusing on test scores could result in teachers missing the boat on other critical factors.

Teacher Effects on Complex Cognitive Skills and Social-Emotional Competencies is the title of one by Matthew A. Kraft. Here’s an excerpt:

 

One additional practical benefit from his paper is that he reproduces in the appendix copies of simple surveys that have been used to measure perseverance and a growth mindset. No, they shouldn’t be used for high-stakes assessment (you can find lots of articles at The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources about why that’s a bad idea). However, I think they could be very useful for those of us in the classroom who want to use it in the spirit of being data-informed and not data-driven (The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”) as formative assessments.

Chalkbeat covers more research at When teachers are better at raising test scores, their students are less happy, study finds.

And before some begin to wonder if “happiness” is a loosey-goosey term that means teachers just have to show movies and give out candy, the researcher instead finds that a pre-requisite for student happiness is creating an “emotionally supportive classroom environment.”

I think everyone would agree that this kind of atmosphere is a critical one for learning to flourish.

So, perhaps evaluating teacher effectiveness is far-more complicated than many think. Who would have thought?

November 24, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The best and worst education news in 2017

Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post always publishes my annual list, and she’ll reprint it in early December.  However, she told me it was okay to give readers of my blog an early peak.

I’m adding this post to All 2017 “Best” Lists In One Place.

Here is my annual recap of the year’s Best & Worst Education News. As usual, I don’t presume to say it’s all-encompassing, so I hope you’ll take time to share your own choices. I’ll list the ones I think are the best first, followed by the worst. It’s too hard to rank them within those categories, so I’m not listing them in any order.

 

The Best Education News Of 2017

* More states are backing-off using student test scores as part of a teacher evaluation process.  That’s good news because of increasing research showing that those scores don’t provide accurate pictures of student academic achievement and, in fact, don’t show student advancement in many other important skills (not to mention penalizing teachers of so-called “at risk” students).

* Speaking of using test scores to evaluate teachers, Bill Gates announced that his foundation would no longer fund projects that promote that practice.  Instead, he says the foundation will focus on “local ideas.”   That’s good news though, of course, the devil will be in the details.

* Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones was awarded a MacArthur Genius grant for her work on the impact of segregation in schools and housing. You can read an example of her work here.

* An attempt by the state of New Mexico to water down teaching of evolution and climate science was largely beaten back by grassroots opposition.

* A federal judge in Arizona ruled that the state’s stopping a Mexican-American Studies program was wrongly driven by “racial animus.”  The termination of the course ended up being a perfect example of the community organizing adage that “your opponents often do the best organizing for you” as it helped create momentum for ethnic studies courses to expand rapidly throughout the United States.

* Federal data was released showing a decrease in school violence and an increase in students feeling safer at their schools.

* The high school drop-out rate has continued to decrease for all ethnic groups.  Education researcher Kirabo Jackson points out that this positive development also has an often un-reported effect on standardized test scores – while various test scores used to label schools might not be increasing rapidly, that “slow” growth coincides with that substantial reduction of the drop-out rates across all ethnic groups. So, the overall student population taking the tests now has different, and more challenging, characteristics than the student population who formerly took the test.

* The New Teacher Center released an important report finding that increased levels of teacher leadership in schools led to increased student academic achievement. It would be nice if Central Offices and principals read it.

* Researchers found that when teachers at charter schools unionized, student achievement went-up.  What about that?  It’s almost like “teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.”

* Obamacare repeal failed, so its many benefits to our students, their families and our schools continue to be safe – for now.  Yes, it’s true – what happens outside of school has a big impact on what happens in school.

* Millions of students had great learning experiences in their schools this year.

 

The Worst Education News Of 2017

* President Trump kicked things off at his inauguration by saying that schools are “flush with cash” and our “beautiful students are deprived of all knowledge.”  He got the “beautiful students” part right, but blew it on everything else.

* President Trump announced the repeal of DACA, which could result in 20,000 teachers in the program facing deportation, along with 780,000 others.

* Betsy DeVos became U.S. Secretary of Education after a disasterous confirmation hearing which she blames on being “under-coached” (way to model taking personal responsibility!).  In addition to making a number of verbal miscues (no, public schools are not “taxis” and  school choice is not “Uber”; schools aren’t like “food trucks” and education is not a “side of fries”; and historically black college and universities are not “pioneers of school choice”), she has also made many destructive policy decisions, including ones on civil rights and for-profit colleges.  If her school choice plan is approved by Congress (or if she takes action on choice without Congressional approval), her legacy will only get worse.

* The Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case next year that will likely lead to the prohibition of required payment of union fees and a terrible blow to teacher unions and others (not to mention students and their families).

* Millions of teachers, students and their families suffered, and continue to suffer, from Hurricanes Harvey ; Irma, and Maria (especially those in Puerto Rico), as well as the Santa Rose fires.

* The Koch brothers have begun an eleven-state effort to recruit and convince Latino families that they should support public school privatization efforts.

* In what might be the most offensive school-related comment by a public official this year (during a time where there has been a lot of competition for that title), an Oklahoma state legislator suggested the state save money by turning over all English Language Learners to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “Identify them and then turn them over to ICE to see if they truly are citizens — and do we really have to educate noncitizens?” said Republican Rep. Mike Ritze.

* A Florida High School apparently never got the memo that shaming students is an effective and unethical method of instruction.  In the tradition of schools in the recent past who have given students different colored wristbands for certain privileges and special dances based on behavior and grades, this high school “segregates students at lunch based on GPA.”

* As the PBS News Hour reports, “In 30 states, geographic communities can legally break away from large public school districts and form their own. As a result, a growing number of white and wealthier neighborhoods are creating their own schools and siphoning property taxes away from poorer, more diverse districts.”  I guess we all have to replicate the work of Nikole Hannah-Jones and others like her.

* More and more schools are grading students’ Social and Emotional Learning Schools.  Bad idea!  Learn more at Why Schools Should Not Grade Character Traits.

* Millions of students should have gotten a better education than they did this year.

 

The Most Important Education News Of 2017 That Isn’t Good or Bad

* Most states have submitted plans to the U.S. Department of Education about how they are going to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act.  It’s easy for plans to look good on paper.  Let’s see how they are implemented….

* Smarter Balanced and PARCC are the two most common standardized tests given in K-12 schools throughout the United States, In an under-reported story this year, all Smarter Balanced State English test scores went down & most PARCC states went up.  I’m not sure what it means, but it seems important to me.

 

You might also be interested in previous editions of this list:

The good — and very, very bad — education news of 2016

Best and worst Education News of 2015 – a teacher’s list

Best and worst education news of 2014 – a teacher’s list

The Best and worst education news of 2013

The best — and worst — education news of 2012

 

November 4, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

More Studies Finding That If Educators Are Good At Raising Test Scores, They Might Be Missing The Boat With Other Skills

I’ve previously posted about studies that have found that the laser-like focus on raising student test scores often identifies teachers who are good at doing that, but those VAM-like measures tend to short-change educators who are good at developing Social Emotional or “non-cognitive skills” (see More Evidence Showing The Dangers Of Using High-Stakes Testing For Teacher Evaluation ; Another Study Shows Limitations Of Standardized Tests For Teacher Evaluations; Study Finds Teachers Whose Students Achieve High Test Scores Often Don’t Do As Well With SEL Skills and SEL Weekly Update).

And those have been followed-up by further research finding that that ninth-grade teachers who are particularly good in helping student acquire non-cognitive skills are more successful “much larger in magnitude” in having students graduate and attend college than those whose work results in higher test scores alone (see You’ll Want To Read This Interview With Education Researcher Kirabo Jackson).

Two additional studies now reinforce the findings that focusing on test scores could result in teachers missing the boat on other critical factors.

Teacher Effects on Complex Cognitive Skills and Social-Emotional Competencies is the title of one by Matthew A. Kraft. Here’s an excerpt:

 

One additional practical benefit from his paper is that he reproduces in the appendix copies of simple surveys that have been used to measure perseverance and a growth mindset. No, they shouldn’t be used for high-stakes assessment (you can find lots of articles at The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources about why that’s a bad idea). However, I think they could be very useful for those of us in the classroom who want to use it in the spirit of being data-informed and not data-driven (The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”) as formative assessments.

Chalkbeat covers more research at When teachers are better at raising test scores, their students are less happy, study finds.

And before some begin to wonder if “happiness” is a loosey-goosey term that means teachers just have to show movies and give out candy, the researcher instead finds that a pre-requisite for student happiness is creating an “emotionally supportive classroom environment.”

I think everyone would agree that this kind of atmosphere is a critical one for learning to flourish.

So, perhaps evaluating teacher effectiveness is far-more complicated than many think. Who would have thought?

August 12, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

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

Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues (You might also be interested in The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2017 – So Far):

A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry is from The New York Times.

Betsy DeVos: School Voucher Program Could Be Included in Tax Overhaul Discussion is from TIME. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Our New U.S. Secretary of Education.

After 6 months on job, education chief still highly divisive is from The Associated Press. I’m adding it to the same list.

When Privatization Means Segregation: Setting the Record Straight on School Vouchers is by Leo Casey. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why School Vouchers Are A Bad Idea (& Other Commentaries On “Choice”).

What should America do about its worst public schools? States still don’t seem to know. is from The Washington Post.

Black plaintiffs in Alabama appeal decision to allow white city to secede from its school district is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About School Desegregation (& Segregation) – Help Me Find More.

This sequence of tweets from education researcher Kirabo Jackson (You’ll Want To Read This Interview With Education Researcher Kirabo Jackson) seem pretty important to me. He points out that while test scores might not be increasing rapidly, that “slow” growth coincides with a substantial reduction of the drop-out rates across all ethnic groups. So, the overall student population taking the tests now has different, and more challenging, characteristics than the student population who formerly took the test:

June 3, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

My Favorite Posts In 2017 – So Far

 

Every year I identify my personal favorite posts, and it’s time for my mid-year selection.

You can see my choices for each of the past ten years here.

And you can also see a list of my My All-Time Favorite Posts!

I’ve also been highlighting some of the “best-of-the-best” in the “A Look Back” series.

I’m adding this post to All Mid-Year 2017 “Best” Lists In One Place.

Here are My Favorite Posts In 2016 — Part Two:

NON-“BEST” LISTS:

Two New & Very Useful Writing Frames For Teachers & Students

“Four ways to encourage speaking in the ELL classroom” Is My New British Council Post

I Talk About My Biggest Teaching Mistake In This Radio Interview

Here’s A Plan For An Oral Skills Class Next Year – Please Help Make It Better!

Amazing Bruce Springsteen Video On The Importance Of Practice

Guest Post: What ELLs Taught Our School In A Week-Long Empathy Project

New Animated Video I’ve Done With Ed Week: “What Is ‘Transfer of Learning’ and How Does It Help Students?”

Guest Post From Lorin W. Anderson, Co-Author Of The Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy

“Knowledge” & Bloom’s Pyramid

Google’s Brand New “AutoDraw” Is Likely To Become A Favorite Place For Those Of Us Who Are Artistically-Challenged

Everything You Wanted To Know About How We’re Using Virtual Reality With ELLs, But Were Afraid To Ask

Now This Is A Student Goal-Setting Strategy That May Actually Work

What ‘Scarcity’ Does To The Mind & Why Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough

Here Are Some Of The Knowledge Questions My TOK Students Are Using For Oral Presentations This Year

“Everyone Is A Teacher” Is A New Engagement Strategy I’m Using & It Seems To Be Working

Here’s My Entire ELL Beginners Seven-Week Unit On Writing A Story (Including Hand-outs & Links)

ASCD Educational Leadership Publishes My Article On Personalized Learning

We Should Be Obsessed With Racial Equity

You’ll Want To Read This Interview With Education Researcher Kirabo Jackson

“Putting Teacher Action Research Into Action” Is My New British Council Post

Here’s A Lesson – & A Template – That Intermediate ELL Students Taught Beginners

My Latest NY Times Post For ELLs Is On Teaching About “Fake News”

Video: “Adobe Spark” Is Excellent Tool For ELLs

What Does “Direct Instruction” Really Mean?

Play-Doh & IB Theory Of Knowledge: Student Hand-Out & Videos

Our School Is Not “Flush With Cash” & Our Students Are Not “Deprived Of All Knowledge”

“BEST” LISTS:

The Best Articles, Posts & Videos On John Hattie’s Research

The Best Resources Explaining Why We Need To Support The Home Language Of ELLs

The Thirty-Seven “All-Time” Best Lists

The Best Practical Resources For Helping Teachers, Students & Families Respond To Immigration Challenges

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources For Fighting Islamophobia In Schools

The Best Resources On Providing Scaffolds To Students

May 20, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

SEL Weekly Update

I’ve recently begun this weekly post where I’ll be sharing resources I’m adding to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources or other related “Best” lists:

The Wallace Foundation has come out with a big report on SEL programs in elementary schools. You can also read an article about it at Ed Source.

10 Incredible Lessons We Learned From Michael Phelps on Grit and Perseverance is a very accessible article that could easily be used with students, along with a simple writing prompt. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”

Can a Difficult Childhood Enhance Cognition? is from The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Looking At Our Students Through The Lens Of Assets & Not Deficits.

When an Argument Gets Too Heated, Here’s What to Say is from The Harvard Business Review.

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