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Fix, Don’t Discard MCAS/PARCC

This fall I had one on one conversations with many of our state's leaders and experts on the misplaced opposition to testing in gen...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ted Cruz on CC

At the Values Voter Summit today, Sen. Ted Cruz urged attendees to repeal the Common Core State Standards.
“We're 39 days away from a pivotal election,” he said. “How do we win? We defend the values that are American values. We stand for life. We stand for marriage. We stand for Israel. We bring back jobs and opportunity and unleash small businesses to make it easier for people to achieve the American dream. We abolish the IRS. We repeal Common Core!”

In February, Cruz signed onto a Senate resolution “strongly denouncing the President’s coercion of States into adopting the Common Core State Standards by conferring preferences in Federal grants and flexibility waivers.”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Parents views on student data and privacy

Executive Summary 
1. Parents worldwide see many important benefits stemming from in-school 
access to Internet applications, especially those that can help children acquire 
21st century skills needed in the global economy.

2. Two in three parents globally are aware that their children’s in-school Internet 
use could be data-mined for ad-targeting purposes. Intensity of concern grows 
in nearly every country when parents learn more about in-school data mining. 

3. Although a majority of parents hold schools the most responsible for curtailing 
Internet tracking, four in five parents worldwide report that they would take 
action against the practice themselves. But parents welcome appropriate 

Internet applications in schools if strong privacy safeguards are in place. 

EdWeek - The Common Core Is Working in My Classroom

The Common Core Is Working in My Classroom

Inspired by Professor Nellick's demanding and engaging instructional approach, I have now taught Moby Dick to my high school English students for 21 years. But four years ago, I began to consider how I could make the novel even more relevant and captivating for students as my department began translating the Common Core State Standards into our school's curriculum.

The common core challenges teachers to provide high school students with an appreciation of the foundational works of American literature. The standards' emphasis on depth of understanding over breadth prompted me to re-evaluate how to better employ the study of language, how to enrich the reading of Moby Dick with activities that emphasize speaking and listening skills, and how I could enhance students' understanding of Ishmael's epic journey through more thoughtful writing assignments.

My students now marvel at how gaining familiarity with biblical and classical allusions adds layers of meaning to the novel. They work with each other to discover how Moby Dick's tone and themes have (and continue to) influence other genres, from LeRoy Nieman's artwork to Elton John and Bernie Taupin's "Hey Ahab." They pore over the last paragraph of President Obama's first inaugural address to explore how it relates to the novel's ironic conclusion in which Ishmael is the only one left to tell the tale.
"The common core is not education's version of Ahab's 'ungraspable phantom,' despite what some politicians would have us believe."

As a result, my teaching of Moby has become much more than an exploration of a whaling vessel named after a defeated Indian tribe, an obsessed whaling captain, and an impetuous "simple sailor." It opens students' eyes to the enduring power and magic of literature.

Through the Pequod's journey on the high seas, my students begin to appreciate their own world in all of the beauty and peril, comfort and threat that Ishmael observed and Ahab cursed. Reflecting on the character qualities of the fanatical Ahab, students can gain insight into examples of real-world evil, exhibited by the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Saddam Hussein, or other obsessive, paranoid individuals.

"Ignorance is the parent of fear," Ishmael cautions readers in one passage, and that is true not only in history and literature, but too often in the petty, day-to-day skirmishing of local, state, and national politics. Sadly, in too many communities across the country, the common core is being held hostage by exactly the kind of fear Ishmael warned against.

Mike Schmoker argues that while we shouldn't abandon the standards, teachers need time to pilot them. “The Common Core Is Not Ready .”

That the common core has become a punching bag in my home state of Kansas and other places has more to do with political partisanship than reasoned review. After I spoke to a joint session of the Kansas House and Senate education committees earlier this year, I was approached by two adults armed with anti-common-core fliers. I asked them to which of the standards they objected, and neither had an answer. It wasn't, they said, about "particular standards," but that "the federal government is mandating them," and "they are just too hard." Clearly, they had no idea that the standards are not mandated by the federal government, or about the elegant and synchronous content of the English/language arts standards that build seamlessly on prior learning. And our students, in my experience, can handle the rigor.

The standards elevate the English language, invite students to discover the enduring relevance and wonder of great literature, and have improved my teaching of this classic novel. While questions about implementation and appropriate uses of the common core persist, the challenges are not insurmountable: Individual states will decide on the proper role of the common core and its aligned assessments, and the appropriate use of those assessments in evaluating teachers. The bottom line is that the common core is not education's version of Ahab's "ungraspable phantom," despite what some politicians would have us believe.

We can only conquer our fears by confronting them, and every year at the beginning of the second semester, a new class winces when I hand out the thick novel. By the time I ask students to hand their copies back in at the end of the third quarter, they wince again, this time at the thought of parting with a story that has in many ways become their own.

My own love of this great novel began with an inspired and inspiring educator, and Moby Dick was a classic of American literature long before the common core existed. But the common core not only sets higher expectations for what American students can achieve, it has also helped enliven and enhance my own teaching of this important work, and likely that of other educators. It is helping to ensure that "Call me Ishmael" will resonate even more deeply with the next generation of students.

US Higher Ed declide

College enrollment overall declined by 463,000 students between 2012 and 2013, following a similar drop the previous year, a new Census Bureau report shows.
The cumulative two-year drop of 930,000 is the largest since before the recession, the bureau said.  It stands in contrast to significant growth in enrollment from 2006 to 2011, when 3.2 million additional students entered college.

While four-year college enrollment grew by 1 percent in 2012-13, community college enrollment fell 10 percent.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Young Invincibles Exposes Parthenon Data Analysis Bias

A recent study by The Parthenon Group of President Barack Obama’s proposed gainful employment regulations is deeply flawed, a new brief from the advocacy group Young Invincibles argues.
The Parthenon study found that student characteristics, such as whether a student is disadvantaged, influence colleges’ performance under the proposed gainful employment rule. The proposed rule, it concludes, “is effective at measuring the type of students enrolled in a program but it does not and cannot measure the success of the program in preparing its students for gainful employment.”

Young Invincibles’ brief says Parthenon’s methodology “is flawed and their results are unreliable,”  and that Parthenon’s analysis ultimately shifts blame off of for-profit colleges and onto students.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Student access to devices

About 80 percent of students use a laptop to do their schoolwork and about half of students use tablets or smartphones to get their work done, according to a report released by Pearson today.

But classrooms are having a harder time catching up. Only one in six students attend a school that offers a laptop or tablet for every student. About 62 percent of students have access to wireless Internet at school, while more than 90 percent have access at home.

The survey asked 2,252 elementary, middle and high school students about their current use of mobile technology for learning and how they want to use it in the future.

Elementary and middle school students were more likely to use tablets regularly, while high school students were more likely to use smartphones. More than half of students across all grades own a smartphone and more than half of elementary or middle school students owned a tablet.

African American and Hispanic students were more likely to think technology can help cater to their specific learning needs in class.

Friday, September 5, 2014

GEMS says US spends ineffectively on K12

The United States could become more efficient at delivering education — and might see better results — if it raised class sizes by 10 percent or cut teacher salaries by 5 percent, according to a study released today by GEMS Education Solutions, a global education consulting firm.
The report, “The Efficiency Index,” analyzes education spending in 30 nations and compares those budgets to results on the global PISA exam. It concludes that the U.S., which has historically posted poor to middling scores on PISA, is overpaying its teachers and could boost its test scores in part by allocating funding more efficiently.
Finland, by contrast, gets high marks as the most efficient country in the OECD when it comes to education spending. Other countries that come in for praise include Korea, Japan, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The report finds that teacher salaries and pupil-teacher ratio have the most impact  on PISA scores. Other factors, including teacher training and instructional materials, did not have a statistically significant effect on PISA scores.