Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

October 20, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: Many States Spending Less On Schools Now Than Before Recession

You’ll want to check out the charts at today’s Washington Post article headlined These states are spending less on education now than before the Great Recession.

Here’s an excerpt:



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

October 16, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

President Obama On Those Who “Want To Blow Up The System”

President Obama spoke this week at something called The White House Frontiers Conference.

You can read his entire speech here, and a portion has been circulating on Twitter a lot. That portion is similar to the famous blueberry story about how schools can’t be run like businesses.

Here’s an excerpt:


He continues:

But the reason I say this is sometimes we get, I think, in the scientific community, the tech community, the entrepreneurial community, the sense of we just have to blow up the system, or create this parallel society and culture because government is inherently wrecked. No, it’s not inherently wrecked; it’s just government has to care for, for example, veterans who come home. That’s not on your balance sheet, that’s on our collective balance sheet, because we have a sacred duty to take care of those veterans. And that’s hard and it’s messy, and we’re building up legacy systems that we can’t just blow up.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts & Articles Explaining Why Schools Should Not Be Run Like Businesses.

October 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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 2016 – So Far):

Holding Ed Schools Accountable For The Teachers They Teach is from NPR.

Policy-to-Practice Metaphors: Chain of Command, Pasta, or Medley Relay Races? is by Larry Cuban.

Bilingual education has been absent from California public schools for almost 20 years. But that may soon change is from The L.A. Times. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Multilingual Education Act Ballot Initiative In California.

NEA Wants States to Go For Bold Changes Under ESSA, Listen to Teachers is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding The Every Student Succeeds Act.

The Washington Post asked Clinton, Trump for their education vision. Here’s what they said. is from… The Washington Post.

Chicago teachers reach last-minute contract deal, narrowly avert strike is from The Washington Post.

October 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“There is ‘Hope That ESSA Will Bring Positive Change To Classrooms'”

There is ‘Hope That ESSA Will Bring Positive Change To Classrooms’ is the headline of my latest Education Week Teacher column.

In it, Randi Weingarten, Barnett Berry, Morgan Polikoff, Erik M. Francis, and Jacki Gran write how they believe The Every Student Succeeds Act will affect classroom practice.

Here are some excerpts:






I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding The Every Student Succeeds Act.

October 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Winner Of Nobel Prize For Economics Opposes Teacher Merit Pay

This morning, I listened to a delightful NPR interview with the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics, Bengt Holmstrom.

I noted his skepticism of many typical incentives so, when I got home this evening, I searched online to see what, if anything, he might have written about education (despite my own skepticism about the role of economists in education  – see The Best Posts & Articles About The Role Of Economists In Education).

One thing I did discover was his opposition to teacher merit pay.

Here are excerpts from a couple of articles about him:



I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

October 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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 2016 – So Far):

From Deficiency to Strength: Shifting the Mindset about Education Inequality is by Yong Zhao. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Looking At Our Students Through The Lens Of Assets & Not Deficits.

Poverty Matters, But Not the Way You Think is by Peter DeWitt. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement.

Nevada high court blocks funding for school choice program is from The Associated Press. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why School Vouchers Are A Bad Idea (& Other Commentaries On “Choice”).

The Disproportionate Stress Plaguing American Teachers is from The Atlantic.

Two Connecticut School Systems, for the Rich and Poor is from The New Yorker.

State officials push alternative ways to report test scores is from Ed Source. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

Think Like a Genius is by Dana Goldstein at Slate, and is a great analysis of the use and misuse of IQ scores.

Education Department slammed for charter school oversight — by its own watchdog office is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

I’m adding this next tweet to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research:

These next tweets from Daniel Willingham are on the same topic, and I’m adding them to the same list:

October 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Report On EdSource Symposium On California Ed, Including What I Said About State Assessments


I, along with 600 others, attended EdSource’s Symposium on California education this past Thursday.

You can read an EdSource article about it, EdSource symposium focuses on state’s “new vision for school success” and also watch whichever parts you want at the embedded YouTube video of the entire day that’s at the bottom of this post.

Here are a few highlights, along with some of the comments I made while on a panel discussing the Smarter Balanced tests:

The presentation on state education monies, by Mac Taylor from the state, was extremely informative. In fact, if you have a limited time, I’d suggest that his presentation is the one you want to watch if you live in California.

Here are a few tweets I sent out during his presentation:

Linda Darling-Hammon was up next:

I was on an afternoon panel about the Smarter Balanced assessments that was moderated by Linda.

Thanks to feedback I received from Ted Appel, Katie Hull, and colleagues at my school, I think I was able to make some relatively coherent comments that seemed to make sense to Linda and other panelists. Here are the points I made:

In response to the question about my experience with Smarter Balanced, I shared four concerns:

I can’t say with much certainty how aligned Smarter Balanced content is with Common Core we’re teaching. We’ve had a big focus on Common Core, but don’t really know if the content is aligned. I think that’s a big problem — I don’t think teachers really have an understanding of the test and its content and can’t say if it’s good or not.

Research has shown that familiarity with tech was a substantial issue for PARCC – based on what I saw in our school, I would not be surprised if it was the same. In some ways it measures familiarity with tech and not knowledge. That’s a big problem for a 100 percent free lunch school like ours.

We have a heavy emphasis on Social Emotional Learning Skills, including perseverance, at our school. And many of our teachers have , for years, met with students ahead of standardized test-taking and done goal-setting, discussed how it won’t measure how smart they are, but it’s an opportunity to demonstrate perseverance. And the feedback that I have gotten from students and teachers alike is the test is logistically confusing and, because of that, many more students just click away than formerly “bubbled” to get through the test. There is a high-degree of frustration. There are many types of answer choices – highlight, write, multiple choice – and you can’t move on until all are answered. The ELL accommodations confusing to me, much less the students.

We have access to the basic results when we look at the student online – basically a four digit number – but it doesn’t tell me anything I don’t know — it just says if standard met, nearly met, met or exceeded. It’s useless to inform teaching.

In response to a question about what assessment is useful at our school, I shared these assessments that actually inform my teaching and assist my students:

* We do a twice-a-year school wide writing assessment and teachers are pulled-out two days in the fall and two days in the spring to assess them and discuss what they mean for our teaching. You can read more about this process at “Instead of seeing students as Far Below Basic or Advanced, we see them as learners”

* In our English classes, we do reading fluency and cloze assessments three times a year. You can read more about them at The Best Resources On Reading Fluency (Including How To Measure It). If I have a ninth grader who reads 35 words a minute, that’s important to inform my instruction, including figuring out what additional support that student needs. If I have a student who reads at 200 words per minute but is getting F’s, then that tells me I need to find out what’s going on — issues at home, not motivated and need to figure out how I can help that student motivate him or herself. If the student is not feeling challenged, for example, perhaps he/she should go to our IB program.

* We are regularly visited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools, and they require a regular school self-examination of our practices. It some ways, it sounds similar to what is happening in Vermont now.

* And, of course, all of our International Baccalaureate assessments are evaluated by IB examiners outside of our school.

* One of the other panelists shared about portfolios students were required to show and present, and those sounded similar to what our students have to do in 12th grade as Senior Projects.

In response to a question about the role of tests in school or teacher accountability measures, I made these points (a special thanks to Ted Appel for helping me think through this – many of the words are really his):

I’d like to answer this question with a question: What is the purpose of the tests? Is it to help parents shop? Is it to label schools? If those are the purposes, then that can be achieved now just by looking at zip codes.

If it’s to help schools improve practice, how are they supposed to get the support they need to do that? If they don’t get it, the practice they change will be what they did before — push kids out (I can’t tell you how many ELLs and others were “counseled” out of other schools to come to ours) or game tests like they did with STAR (not challenge students who were on the bubble by putting them into higher level courses so they wouldn’t have to take the standardized tests for those subjects); or, as in the case of Washington DC school, encourage parents of “low-performers” to opt out of the tests.). Is the California Collaborative For Educational Excellence going to be up for that challenge? And how do they decide what “practices” need to be changed?  The bigger the role of test scores in school accountability measures, the fewer good practices will be enacted.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

Here’s the video of the conference:

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