• The Board of Education for the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) recently adopted Vision 2020 for Student Success, a long-range plan for improving performance and student outcomes. One element of this plan is Support and Guidance from District Leadership, which describes the work of the district office as, “A central administration that facilitates the work of principals, teachers, and school communities… (Vision 2020 pg.

  • “Turning around schools is challenging work,” according to Alan Daly, and knowledge about how the process works is in short supply. (See here). The fact that we know so little about how to improve student achievement in persistently low-performing schools is one of the enduring shames of the education research community.

  • The contemporary politics of education cannot produce Learning 2.0. The problem is not—as many who call themselves “reformers” allege—with education interest groups. Politics is always full of interest groups, and some of the loudest reformers are reaping generous personal benefits. The problem is that the system is focused on the wrong things. For most of the last four decades, the interest groups in public education have battled over mandates and regulations: increasingly fine grained rules about who gets paid for what and what paperwork needs to be delivered as evidence of performance.

  • Brad Olsen’s thoughtful post on the forthcoming NCTQ/US News rankings of teacher education programs echoes some more general concerns about holding teachers and schools accountable. These concerns have come forward most recently in discussions of “value-added” assessment of individual teachers, but they are equally familiar from the decade-long debate over how to measure schools’ performance under NCLB.

  • The essence of Learning 2.0

    This blog post is part 2 of 3. For the first part of Learning 2.0, click here.

  • As the current controversy over parent takeovers of schools illustrates, almost all the politics of education concerns rearranging adult power and privilege. Relatively little political energy is spent consciously designing a contemporary system of public education. That should change.

  • As California begins to move toward implementation of common core standards, one key issue is how the rollout of new standards will intersect with the rapidly expanding use of digital technologies in the education system. For example, should California continue to provide printed textbooks for students, or should the state move instead to support teachers’ and students’ access to on-line instructional materials? The question may be obvious, but the answer is not.

  • Concerns about budget cuts seem to be triggering unconventional measures to access or secure education funds. For example, on 2/17 the Orange County Register reported that in the Anaheim school district, students with more than four unexcused absences have to carry a handheld GPS device that receives an automated phone message to remind the students that they need to get to school on time. Overall, this truancy prevention program costs about $8 per day for each student.

  • Spring is less than a month away. If one looks carefully, the sights of spring abound—small buds are on the trees, grasses push through the soil, and tax appointments are increasingly hard to come by. The sounds of spring are also present in California schools—one can hear the flap of CST forms as they land at schools, the far off warble of the CAHSEE getting closer, and the sound of number 2 pencils filling in ovals. However, this spring concert also portends the ‘result drums’ that provide the beat for the educational improvement dance.

  • Yesterday the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) released a critique of the notorious analysis of teachers’ value-added published by the Los Angeles Times last summer. (For the original story see here) For the NEPC critique, see here). Two professors at the University of Colorado re-analyzed the data on which the Times’ report was based, and concluded that the Times’ research was “demonstrably inadequate to support the published rankings.” This apparently straightforward statement conflates two different claims, which in honesty ought to be treated separately.


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