To Label or Not to Label? The new diagnostic changes to the DSM-5—the first in nearly twenty years—have generated discussion and debate among educators and others. One goal of these changes is to make the diagnostic criteria more specific and less subjective, excluding those who really do not have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A major change is the decision to group Asperger’s Syndrome under the umbrella of ASD. The jury is out on how these changes will affect the treatment and Read more here
I will begin with two anecdotes. First, when my bright and chatty 10-year-old was in pre-school, a well-meaning teacher pulled me aside and told me to have him tested for autism because he was engaging in repetitive behavior--writing the same story over and over again--and often seemed aloof. I was worried. I had seen similar behavior at home, but he was always responsive with his family. When he was tested, the diagnosis was a resounding negative. He has learned over time to be more socially aware. Read more here
It's the time of year when senioritis sets in, reggae is blaring from dorm room windows, and college-bound students sharpen their pencils to figure out how to pay for the next year of school. This is also the time of year when student financing becomes a political gold mine, as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney found out last year when he hastily backed an effort to keep interest rates from going up. Now the one-year fix that Romney backed is coming to an end. The 3.4 percent interest Read more here
Student Loans: Springboard or Ratchet? Back in the late 1970’s when I was starting my career as a public interest lawyer, I remember the dread that accompanied each month’s bill from Sallie Mae, who, at that time, was the goddess of all student loans (or so I thought). I think I owed just about $30 per month, but with a public interest lawyer’s starting salary of just $15,000 per year, there were months when making that payment, paying the rent and putting gas in my Read more here
People Like Free Stuff I don’t think there’s much mystery here. People like free stuff—especially when a] they’re told they’re entitled to it, b] it’s thought to be good for both the individual and the community, c] it’s described as a “loan” and not a “handout”, and d] it’s paid for by just sticking the tab on the national credit card. Warren’s proposal appeals to students because it disguises enormous Read more here
"Kids don't learn from people they don't like," said Rita Pierson, a teacher and anti-poverty advocate in opening an hour-long television program devoted to major themes in teaching and learning. Her presentation is available on the Web to promote the full program on PBS Tuesday and Thursday.
Pierson's message is that kids need human relationships with teachers in order to learn. She also makes no bones about how difficult it is for an adult to offer that kind of interaction with every...single...child.
"Will Read more here
I Am Their Friend, Not Their Peer When students say they don’t like a teacher, it most often means they don’t like how the teacher is treating them as persons. Those who do not work with young people may be surprised to learn students also do not like teachers who don’t respect them enough to actually teach them. As I often counsel newer teachers, we should not confuse students “liking” us with their respecting us. Part of my teaching philosophy from the start Read more here
It's test-taking time in the Washington, D.C. public schools, an annual ritual that my fifth grader is learning to despise. The DC Comprehensive Assessment System, known as DC CAS, is taken in mid-April for all public school students, beginning in second grade. It is a series of tests that assesses reading, math, science, and writing. "This annual test keeps DC Public Schools accountable for meeting high standards for our students' success," the district says on its Web site.
Here's how my son experiences Read more here
Guest: Not a Political Tool Here is a comment from Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University: Student learning assessment is an essential dimension of teaching, not something separate and apart from teaching. Teachers can only know whether their work is effective through assessing what students have learned in each lesson, class and course. Modern pedagogy emphasizes the engagement of students in active learning --- discussions, roleplays, simulations, small group Read more here
Fawn’s Son Sees the Damage Being Done Though still young, Fawn's son is wise enough to see how destructive our high-stakes testing system has become. He is absolutely right to despise the tests, or at least the toxic educational results of using the tests for high-stakes purposes. If it’s any comfort, he is far from alone, with resistance building across the country. This testing season has seen boycotts, opt-out campaigns, demonstrations, resolutions and community forums reaching unprecedented Read more here
Better Ways to Judge Teaching, Learning Across the country, parents, teachers, and students are beginning to pushback—hard—against the misuses and abuses of standardized testing in our educational system. First, most people do not understand what standardized achievement tests are actually designed to measure. They are not designed to measure what students have “learned” over a specific period of time or from a specific teacher. Therefore, attempts to use them for that Read more here
Part of the Fabric of What We Teach I don't remember anyone explicitly teaching me financial literacy, but ever since I was a working teenager, I've known how to manage my money and what it means to have debt, to pay interest, and the basics. Part of that was because my parents were small business people (I guess) but also part of it was because my peers were similarly inclined. I remember one high school math teacher talking about saving and I certainly remember when I had to get student Read more here
President Obama has declared April to be Financial Literacy Month. The goal is to "ensure all Americans have the skills to manage their fiscal resources effectively and avoid deceptive or predatory practices," he said in his proclamation.
This week, that National Assessment of Educational Progress will release new results on the economic literacy of 12th graders. The study was last conducted in 2006, before the financial collapse, and it showed while most students (79 percent) have a "basic" understanding Read more here
The Tobacco Tax is a Place to Start Providing high-quality pre-K for all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds across the country is an expensive proposition. So seeking out new and creative funding streams has merit. The tobacco tax is worth talking about, but it should not and cannot realistically be the long-term solution. The president’s plan would make $75.0 billion in federal pre-k funding mandatory, which means it wouldn’t have to be reapproved by Congress in each annual appropriations Read more here
A Policy Two-fer President Obama’s proposal to increase tobacco taxes to provide all low- and moderate-income four-year old children with high-quality preschool is an innovative, cost effective solution that will have promising results for our children, our healthcare, our economy, and our future. This is a win/win for the country. We can protect our kids and prevent them from ever starting to smoke, and use that money to give each child the best start possible. The statistics speak for Read more here
Penny For Your Thoughts I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t want high-quality pre-school for every child. But the Devil is in the adjective, isn’t it? I’m not sure we know what the adjective “high-quality” means in this context. So I would propose a one penny tax for one year to generate enough money to answer two questions: 1. What existing pre-school programs have been shown to be broadly and conclusively effective? 2. What is required to replicate these Read more here
President Issues Clear Focus: Birth to 5 The President’s Early Childhood and Preschool for All Initiative smartly addresses the need for comprehensive, birth to five early childhood development that will improve education health and economic outcomes—no matter how it is funded. The president’s Initiative is fiscally sound and makes dollars and sense. This is a great opportunity that must be seized to build a better U.S. President Obama sends a clear and well-documented Read more here
Investing In Our Future A high quality early education is crucial to ensuring that every child has a foundation upon which to grow and succeed. Unfortunately, too many children do not have access to pre-K programs that can have a positive and profound impact on their social, emotional, and cognitive development. Data shows that by far the most affective way to close the achievement gap is to prevent it from arising in the first place. The President’s comprehensive early education plan aims Read more here
California decided to tax each pack of cigarettes an extra 50 cents to try to get every child into preschool. That was 15 years ago. Last week, President Obama proposed taking a similar plan nationwide.
In his 2014 budget, Obama outlined a plan to pay for his universal preschool initiative by raising federal taxes on tobacco products, namely a 94-cent hike on each pack of cigarettes. According to the budget, the early education investments would cost $77 billion over the next 10 years, more than Read more here
It's about time for federal investment Today, too many children arrive at kindergarten without the skills they need to succeed in school; they start behind, making it even harder to catch up. Research shows that high-quality preschool can help ensure our children most in need are school ready and set them on the path for academic success. That’s why CAP supports the President’s bold commitment to early childhood education. The President’s budget proposes a $75 billion investment Read more here
Pre-K and Tobacco, Perfect Together? High quality pre-K for all funded by a tobacco tax is a winning combination. It makes perfect sense from both economic and political perspectives. Let’s start with the economic perspective. Economics is primarily concerned with two issues, efficiency and equity (fairness). The primary economic argument against higher taxes is that they lead people to make less optimal choices, perhaps even discouraging socially beneficial activities Read more here
The Senate is working on national immigration legislation that includes easier ways for foreign graduates of U.S. colleges and universities to stay in the country. President Obama wants foreign students in math, science, technology, and engineering to be given green cards automatically.
The foreign student provisions are part of a much larger debate on immigration, but they touch on some quiet, but very real concerns among families. Will foreign students displace my own kid? What if the foreign Read more here
Diversity or Dollars? Diversity on various dimensions is a wonderful asset for effective education, right? Bringing different viewpoints, experiences, or ways of understanding the world is an essential element in achieving important educational goals — whether it be approaching a challenging physics problem from different perspectives, or promoting civic tolerance and cohesion by developing understanding of multiple viewpoints. Of course, in a global economy, individuals, Read more here
With the National Rifle Association offering its prescription for safer schools this week, a group of civil rights activists preemptively weighed in on the issue last week, arguing that adding armed police to schools will not do anything to increase our children's safety. The conversation takes place almost four months after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The Senate is poised to vote on a range of gun control measures in response to the Newtown shooting next Read more here
As the principal of one of the nation’s top-performing, public, charter schools, my perspective about who’s responsible for educating students somewhat defies the contemporary dogma of modern public schooling. My charter school is predicated upon the fundamental notion that parents are ultimately in charge of their child’s education. This notion holds true when it comes to a child’s safety, too. That this longstanding, nationally embraced perspective has been lately lost on most public systems Read more here
Getting Outside the Traditional Givens The dominant notion has been that the country's goals for learning will be met if we just add standards, measurement and consequences -- accountability -- into the traditional model of school. That was politically realistic: If the effort at standards had proposed to change school in radical ways, nobody would have listened. So 'standards' bought into the givens of conventional school. As does the Common Core today. Last July at the ECS meeting in Atlanta I Read more here
The Common Core State Standards offer the perfect case study in misplaced expectations. The school standards that 46 states are implementing have been billed by advocates as the answer to the country's K-12 ills and by critics as the beginning of federalized schools. In truth, they are merely a set of benchmarks put together by well-meaning people who may or may not have accurately pinpointed the areas where students and teachers need the most help.
To actually offer that help, roll up your sleeves Read more here
A Great Idea at Risk The Common Core is another great idea at risk of being sabotaged by our penchant for accountability. Call it what you will but in this day of global competition we need a set of national standards. We are the United States of America in everything except education, with fifty sets of standards and fifty ways to evaluate them. But the Common Core goes beyond the potential for national standards. They propose to lift our pedagogy beyond the recall, recognition and knowledge levels Read more here
Success in Implementing the Common Core The new report from Carnegie Corporation, Opportunity by Design – New High School Models for Student Success, makes clear that a business-as-usual approach to education will be woefully inadequate to support millions of students in meeting the new Common Core State Standards. It calls for “next generation” learning that is “personalized and deeply engaging, focused on deeper learning of higher order content, complex skills and Read more here
It may seem like sacrilege to subject the "good debt" of federal student loans to the ups and downs of market forces, but lawmakers eventually will have no choice. It's probably not a bad idea anyway.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee kicked off what is likely to be a long conversation about the costs of college last week at a hearing where Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., proposed moving to a market-based system for student loans. Interest rates for new student loans would fluctuate Read more here
Debt Escalation & Impact on Education Both parties are right to focus on the growing challenge of student loan debt. The incessant escalation of debt over the last two decades will continue to have an impact on whether students go to college at all, where they go, and what choices they make after leaving college, from jobs to lifestyle opportunities. Eliminating debt from the student finance equation seems unlikely--and perhaps unwise given the continued benefits of college degrees Read more here
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., last Friday visited a private Catholic school, St. Mary's Academy in New Orleans, for a tour and a discussion with local education officials and families. The purpose of the visit, (gumbo and sazerac aside) was to promote Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's education agenda, much of which has landed in court. "We want to explore what has been gained in terms of experience to see how we can learn from this at the federal level," Cantor said after the event.
Jindal, Read more here
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood Educators around the country tell me they aren’t optimistic about reform. Morale is low. They are overwhelmed by the present and anxious about the future. New evaluation systems, new tests from new consortia, and new curriculum from the Common Core are coming to classrooms everywhere whether teachers are ready or not. And many of them feel that they are not. We are asking more of teachers than ever before. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this; asking more of Read more here
Loose Remarks Aside, Sequester Will Hurt While Education Secretary Arne Duncan may have been loose in his remarks on sequestration last week, the education community should not respond-in-kind when it comes to the very real threat of budget shortfalls, school closings and “pink slips” that can devastate our children and communities. This is especially true for our youngest learners, who will ultimately decide the fate of our nation and economy. Without hyperbole, here are the facts. Read more here
Leadership Goes Beyond Pinocchio's Noses Irresponsible Leadership That Goes Beyond Pinocchio's Noses The Center for Education Reform wrote last week about the Chicken Little behavior this administration is leading on education, along with countless school leaders and association spokespeople. We are happy to have sparked a mini-debate on the subject! But what remains absolutely astonishing is that among all of these thousands of entities that spend and receive federal money, no one seems to Read more here
Act Like Adults Let's see. Sounding a lot like an anguished teen, Secretary Duncan has suggested that a 5.3% cut in federal education programs (which account for about 10% of K-12 spending) is devastating. Now, as memory serves, this is the same guy who (falsely) claimed in 2010 that districts had been slashing spending, "through muscle, to bone" since 2003. It's also the guy who brags that the feds provided more than Read more here
Education Secretary Arne Duncan had a rough week. I can't recap his shenanigans leading up to the sequestration any better than Education Week's Alyson Klein. Check out her post on the topic here.
Let's just say that Duncan took one for the White House team in his impassioned pleas to stop the automatic budget cuts that went into effect Friday. And it wasn't pretty. He got four "Pinnochios" from the Washington Post's fact checker Glenn Kessler for his "the sky is falling" statements about "teachers Read more here
The Schools Who Can Least Afford It The problem with the Sequester is that no one ever thought that it would happen. It is $85 billion in cuts without rhyme or reason. Indiscriminate cuts made regardless of program demand or effectiveness that will, by virtue of its poor design, hurt those that can least afford it. Last June AASA held an event at the Capitol, concerned that no one in Washington was paying attention to the Sequester. No one seemed to be listening. Throughout the Presidential Read more here
I am one step ahead of my 10-year-old son on my iPhone skills, but that's only because I know my iTunes password and he doesn't. He can text faster on the cheap cell phone I bought him than he can type on the cheap laptop I bought him. How am I going to keep up when he starts using those tools to keep up with his friends? And how will I handle the kids who think he's weird?
Kids pick up technological skills faster than emotional skills, which can only escalate the damage they can do to one another Read more here
President Obama got religion on early childhood education last week, proposing for the first time in his State of the Union address that all four-year-olds have access to high quality preschool. His start point is slightly less ambitious than universal pre-K, making sure that "low- and moderate-income" kids have access to it first. Not a bad start.
We already know the reasons that governments should invest in early education. "Studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade Read more here
STEM as Urban Myth? Maybe it’s time we turned the STEM shortage political bloviations over to Mythbusters. We haven't heard this many anguished cries of alarm since Eisenhower and Sputnik. At least the 1958 National Defense Education Act resulted in a massive improvement in science textbooks and instruction – an approach with more promise than importing indentured foreign workers. The first step in busting this Read more here
Since when did the conversation about education in the United States morph from leaving no child behind to finding and keeping science and engineering college majors? Answer: Since President Obama figured out that linking education to a skill-based economy was the best way to call attention to an issue normally relegated to the third tier of politics.
Last year's State of the Union address marked a noted departure from the president's previous speech--he emphasized higher education and barely touched Read more here
Turning Around Turnarounds Once we understand the interconnectedness between schools and communities and the indisputable causes of academic results, we will quickly end the reckless and unfounded school turnaround and closure policies of the last decade. We will understand that the best path for addressing the educational crisis in disadvantaged communities is through collaboration among parents, teachers and administrators, combined with financial investment. At one level, I applaud Sec. Duncan Read more here
Give credit to Education Secretary Arne Duncan for showing up at a hearing last week where hundreds of irate students and parents complained that the department's position on closing schools has resulted in harm for low-income students of color.
Allegations of civil rights violations and the legal-speak "disparate impact" are too tame to reflect the raucous, angry tone of the meeting. "I came here to demand. I ain't asking for, not a damn thing. I am telling you that I am demanding an education Read more here
Three Reasons Schools Close The following was posted on Education Gadfly last week: Secretary Duncan and his team were mobbed the other day by agitated parents and kids protesting the closing of public schools around the land. Though Uncle Sam has no real control over this, it's true that Duncan came to Washington promising to close (or overhaul) a thousand schools a year and, more recently, has been pressing for radical action in the lowest-performing 5 percent—i.e., Read more here
Not a Solution Closing a school is an action that indicates that things are so bad that they are irreparable. Nothing and no one in the school is worth saving. I closed many schools during my twenty-seven years as a superintendent but it was always for economic reasons. Buildings were half empty and consolidation was called for. Even so, I bear the scars from those school closing fights as parents fought hard to maintain their neighborhood school open. Everyone agreed that cost-effectiveness Read more here
CREDO brings facts to closing debate The most important event related to school closings last week was not Journey for Justice, it was the Center for Research on Education Outcomes’ (CREDO) study of “Charter School Growth and Replication.” Among the study’s findings: “It is possible to organize a [new charter] school to be excellent on Day One. … The attributes of a school – urban, high poverty or high minority – have no relation to the performance Read more here
Attention state legislators: Your universities need your help. (And for that matter, your K-12 public school districts could stand some attention.) Here's the deal. They can do all sorts of good things for you--produce graduates, keep tuition rates stable, provide the bridges from high school to college to jobs--but it's awfully hard for them to focus on any of that when they're wondering what their funding will be next month. We know you're struggling to balance your budgets, and it's not a simple Read more here
Two years ago, I sat in the 8th floor of the Watergate building at a National Journal dinner on education. The main attractions of the event were researchers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who were about a year into a three-year intensive study on teacher evaluations. As they described their research, the diners were incredulous.
"Teachers let you videotape them?" Yes. They analyzed 13,000 digital video lessons.
"Weren't they upset at you reviewing them?" Actually, the teachers in Read more here
Gates’ Foundation MET Study: Surprised? I deliberately avoided looking at any of the social media spin on the final report of the Gates Foundation funded Measurements of Effective Teaching (MET) study until after I had done my own reading. I took the same approach to the release of the first report back in December 2010. Then, as now, there are several things about this study that I admire. Like Fawn Johnson (National Journal.com Education Experts editor), I am impressed with the Read more here