Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 23, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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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, Posts & Videos On Education Policy In 2014 – Part Two):

Here are two interesting pieces about what’s happening here in California:

New California teaching credentials decline for 10th successive year is from Ed Source.

California Can Hit Accountability Snooze Button is from Ed Week.

The Agony of Taking a Standardized Test on a Computer is from Slate. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

Activists look to courts to weaken grip of California teachers union is from The Sacramento Bee. What AFT members need to know about the ‘Friedrichs’ case is from The American Federation of Teachers. I’m adding both to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teachers Unions Are Important.

Survey: Most Teachers Aren’t Very Enthusiastic About Their Profession is from Ed Week.

Pros And Cons Of Standardized Testing is satire from The Onion. I’m adding it to The Best Education Articles From “The Onion.”

I’m adding this tweet to The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children:

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May 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Quote Of The Day: “Teachers Of The Year” Identify Key School Challenges

Scholastic just released results of a poll they did with this year’s state “Teachers Of The Year.”

You can read about it at Scholastic and in The Washington Post article, Poverty, family stress are thwarting student success, top teachers say.

Here’s an excerpt from The Post article:

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You might also be interested in The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.

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May 17, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Today Is The 61st Anniversary Of Brown v. Board Of Education – Here Are Related Resources

Today is the 61st Anniversary of the Brown v. Board Of Education Supreme Court ruling.

The Huffington Post has published a useful “state of education for black students in 2015.”

You might also be interested in last year’s The Best Commentaries On The 60th Anniversary Of Brown vs. Board Of Education.

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May 11, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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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, Posts & Videos On Education Policy In 2014 – Part Two):

School Districts Embrace Business Model of Data Collection is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven.”

Teachers unions battle court ruling on tenure laws is from The San Francisco Chronicle. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On California Court Case Attacking Teacher’s Rights.

More Rigorous GED Spurs Jitters, Competition is from Education Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Dangers Of The New GED Exam.

Most states lacked expertise to improve worst schools is from The Washington Post. Ed Week has a piece on the same report. I’m adding them to The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models.

What Really Happened to Atlanta’s Students When Their Teachers Cheated is from The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Commentaries On The Atlanta Test-Cheating Verdict.

What are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet talking about? is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy.

Is Testing Students the Answer to America’s Education Woes? is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to My Best Posts On How To Prepare For Standardized Tests (And Why They’re Bad).

Suit against teachers unions isn’t about free speech but silencing members is from The Los Angeles Times.

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

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May 9, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Quote Of The Day: It’s Not An Achievement Gap – It’s An Advantage Gap

Here’s how standardized tests like the SAT have poisoned America’s classrooms is the headline of a Business Insider interview with author and NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz.

Here’s an excerpt:

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

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May 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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What Are The School Implications Of New Chetty Study On Geographical Mobility?

Regular readers of this blog, and informed educators everywhere, know about the damage economist Raj Chetty has done to teachers, students, and schools by his exaggerated pronouncements about the education policy implications of his past work.

Today, he unveiled a new study that, as usual, has received lavish media attention. This one is very intriguing though, of course, his past work makes me a little wary of his conclusions in this one. It is difficult to be wary,, though, of such common sense results. Basically, he says that low-income children moving from poor neighborhoods to middle-income neighborhoods results in better life outcomes for the kids when they are adults.

Duh, you might say. Of course, living in areas with better-supported schools, less crime, and better community services would lead to more success for kids. Agreed. However, a previous study of much of the same data a few years ago did not find that to be the case. Chetty says his results are different because more years have passed and the positive outcomes took longer to become apparent.

Here are links to today’s articles on the study:

The New York Times has an article and an amazing interactive on the study.

Want to help poor kids? Help their parents move to a better neighborhood. is from Vox.

Where Poor Kids Grow Up Makes A Huge Difference is from NPR.

I’m wondering if the study’s conclusions, if accurate, might specifically apply to education policy discussions in two ways:

One, though I doubt it will, it would be great it would quiet those who push Social Emotional Learning as a “Let Them Eat Character” approach to responding to poverty instead of seeing SEL for what it is — if done well, a useful supplement to classroom instruction. Interestingly enough, the most public proponent of that mistaken and damaging perspective is New York Times columnist David Brooks, who pushed it again in a widely ridiculed weekend column. You can read more about this topic at my Washington Post column, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning.

Despite what Brooks and other might say, escaping poverty is not just a problem of “psychology.”

Secondly, I wonder if it might not be a stretch to think this study says something about the damaging effects of classroom tracking by ability (see The Best Resources For Learning About Ability Grouping & Tracking)?

Plenty of studies have shown that students facing more challenges benefit more being in a mixed-ability classroom than in a lower-tracked one. The counter argument has been that some research shows that advanced learners do not gain similar benefits and are even hurt. However, as Carol Tomlinson has discussed, those studies showing a disadvantage for advanced learners have not been done in classrooms where teachers have been trained in differentiating up (she calls it a “plus-one” environment), as well as differentiating down.

As she writes:

The studies most cited in terms of benefits of homogeneous instruction for bright learners examined two conditions: heterogeneous classrooms in which little or nothing was done to provide plus-one learning for advanced learners, and homogeneous classrooms in which teachers regularly planned for plus-one learning.

In the two decades since those studies, I’ve observed and studied schools in which the entire faculty focused on providing a third condition: differentiation in mixed-ability classrooms where regular planning for a full spectrum of learners—including advanced learners—was a given.

It seems to me that a middle-class neighborhood with low-income families integrated within it is, in many ways, similar to the kind of classroom Tomlinson has observed — where, by force of numbers alone, a “plus-one” environment naturally occurs.

And, according to the Chetty study, what are the results of this kind of mixed-ability community for the young people who are in a more “advanced” position when families with more challenges move in?

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(Thanks to Derek Thompson for bringing attention to that section of the Chetty study)

So, what do you think – am I as guilty of exaggerating the implications of this study as I have accused Chetty of being about his previous research?

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May 2, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Resources For Learning About Restorative Practices – Help Me Find More

We’ve begun implementing some restorative practices at our school, and I’ll be posting about the topic on a future Education Week Teacher column.

Here are a few resources that seem helpful, and I hope that readers will share more in the comments section:

Opening Up, Students Transform a Vicious Circle is from The New York Times.

Restorative Justice: Resources for Schools is from Edutopia.

Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships & Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools is from Opportunity to Learn.

An Alternative To Suspension And Expulsion: ‘Circle Up!’ is from NPR.

What Eva Moskowitz gets wrong about restorative discipline is from Chalkbeat.

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