Archive for November, 2010

30th 2010
2010 Edublog Award Nominations

Posted under Edublogging & Independence Institute & Just For Fun

Last year I told you that all I wanted for Christmas was to be nominated for an Edublog Award. Ok, so it wasn’t really ALL I wanted for Christmas, but that’s beside the point.

Well, the 2010 Edublog Awards competition is up and running, and I am proud to say that someone DID nominate me! Thank you so much to Lori at Lori’s LOLz for putting my name in the virtual hat as a contender for “Best Individual Blog”:

Ben DeGrow, along with 5-year old Eddie keep their eyes on the goings on in education in Colorado. Every day I look forward to reading their thoughts on the latest news and information that they share along with their ‘Edifying’ podcasts.

All I can say right now is that both Ben and I are blushing. Seriously, though, I’m very grateful to Lori and very honored for the consideration. Here are my nominations (know that there are more categories than these):

If I had time to explain why each of the nominations was made, I’d do so. But I invite you to check them out for yourself and add them to your regular reading, if you have any interest in education policy. Remember, if you have your own blog, you can make your 2010 Edublog Award nominations, too, but you have to do so by this Friday, December 3.

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29th 2010
Parental Involvement is Great, Even Better if the Parents Choose the School

Posted under Denver & High School & Independence Institute & Parents & Research & School Choice

Yesterday’s Denver Post featured an interesting story on a successful program at Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School and its feeder schools to engage parents:

The collaboration is focused on aligning academics and empowering parents — providing them with training, taking them to visit colleges, encouraging them to volunteer and getting them to attend parent-teacher conferences.

Not long ago, it was typical for only 100 parents to attend parent-teacher conferences at the high school. This year, an estimated 1,500 parents showed up.

Wow, that’s a huge improvement! No doubt parental involvement is an important contributing factor to student success. That includes the research-based findings that show students fare better when their parents actively choose the school their children attend. And even better if they make a well-informed choice. That’s one of the main reasons my Education Policy Center friends have created and maintain the very valuable School Choice for Kids website.

So yeah, my first instinct would be to hesitate at my mom and dad showing up at every parent-teacher conference. (Kind of like my hesitation at having to eat broccoli and other green vegetables for dinner.) But on the other hand, odds are that kind of interaction is only going to benefit my academic success in the long run. When parents choose a school, especially if they choose wisely, their involvement means that much more.

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24th 2010
Value-Added Teacher Evaluation Makes Sense: Just Look at Baseball

Posted under Just For Fun & Research & Teachers

Thanksgiving is football season, so I thought it would be a perfect time to highlight the intersection of education reform and… baseball. Yes, that’s right. Writing on the Education Next blog, Harvard professor Paul Peterson brought my attention to a great new consensus report from the Brookings Institution on the role of value-added in teacher evaluations.

Value-added? You know what I’m talking about. Measuring how much students gain and improve academically in a teacher’s classroom. Specifically, the Brookings report takes on four major areas:

  1. Value-added can be valuable without supporting every possible use of the information — including releasing it to the public
  2. Since the interests of students and teachers don’t align, their consequences from value-added should be different, too
  3. Value-added measurements turn out to be as reliable as high-stakes performance measures used in non-education fields
  4. Teacher evaluation systems that use value-added prove to be more reliable than systems that do not use it

Continue Reading »

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23rd 2010
National School Choice Week is Two Months Away: What Will You Do?

Posted under Education Politics & Parents & School Choice

We’re getting really close to Thanksgiving. Many of you are probably daydreaming about turkey dinners, football and family gatherings. But let’s look ahead. Exactly two months from today begins National School Choice Week:

Our message is simple: we need a K-12 education system that provides a wide array of options. We need an effective education system that has the flexibility to personalize and motivate students and allow parents to choose the school that is best for their child.

National School Choice Week was created to provide a concentrated focus on this mission – a time for the media and the public to hear our resounding message and a time to bring new voices into the chorus. There is no one organization behind this effort; those working on setting it up come from a variety of school reform organizations. We may each have a specialty: charter school growth and success, universal vouchers and tuition tax credits, corralling out-of-control spending, or union accountability, but each is equally important and all should plan to be a part of this special week.

National School Choice Week needs your participation to succeed as a bullhorn for the school choice movement. Sign up for updates about this national upcoming event and stay tuned to learn how you and your organization can maximize its opportunities and help the school choice movement pump up the volume.

In honor of the coming occasion, the Education Action Group has posted a series of videos — including an interview with well-known political analyst Dick Morris, who says the need for fiscal responsibility makes the timing right for school choice to advance across the country, and a feature of Chicago parents demanding more school choice options from their local board of education.

What will you do to celebrate National School Choice Week? If you’re like me, that should give something else to think about over the long holiday weekend.

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22nd 2010
Blogging for Real Education Reform? Let’s Take on Master’s Bumps, Productivity

Posted under Edublogging & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & School Finance & Teachers

Thanks to Mike Antonucci’s Intercepts blog, I learned that today is “National Blogging for Real Education Reform Day.” The American Association of School Administrators and ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) are hosting this “grassroots effort to bring together Pk-12 and higher education educators.”

I like to help educate people and am definitely grassroots, but I probably don’t fit the bill of whom they’re looking for to blog on the topic. Nevertheless, here’s a post for real education reform on November 22, 2010, and it has to do with educators. Specifically the way they are paid. I’m talking about all the money we pay teachers and other educators just because they have a master’s degree.

As noted in a Saturday Associated Press story (H/T This Week in Education), we spend about $8.6 billion nationally each year on these “master’s bumps” — which have no connection to improved student learning. In Colorado, thanks to the research of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, we know the amount is nearly $140 million annually (that figure is from year-old data). My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow pointed this out in July 2009 testimony he gave before the state’s Fiscal Stability Commission. Continue Reading »


19th 2010
DPS Board Adopts Reform Plan in Second Big, Exciting Local Meeting This Week

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & School Board & Urban Schools

This is not the week for your average, run-of-the-mill, humdrum school board meeting. Not in Colorado, not in the Denver metro area. I already highlighted the heavy attendance at Douglas County’s Tuesday public testimony on their School Choice Task Force proposals and all the attention generated from it.

Then there was last night in the Denver Public Schools, as a divided Board of Education was set to weigh a controversial turnaround reform proposal affecting the Far Northeast (FNE) part of the city. According to Jeremy Meyer in the Denver Post, the Board stayed up well past my bedtime to approve the proposal on a 4-3 vote.

The newly-approved proposal includes a lot of features — which are well broken down in Nancy Mitchell’s Ed News Colorado story. One piece is an expansion of the successful Denver School of Science and Technology program using shared space in the Cole Arts and Science Academy innovation school. My Education Policy Center friends alerted you to this possible development back in March on an iVoices podcast with Cole principal Julie Murgel.

In its story, Ed News Colorado also published a 4-minute highlight video from the Denver school board meeting, a more balanced presentation than the 5-minute video from Douglas County two days ago. Was this proposal the right path for Denver’s school reformers to pursue? Given the low performance of the FNE schools being turned over and some strategies included in the plan, there is at least some real hope of success. Stay tuned.

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18th 2010
Experts Weigh In on “Grim” Results, “Tiny” Gains in 12th Grade NAEP Scores

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & Research

I only have time for a short posting this morning, but thought you should be aware of the newly-released results of the 12th-grade NAEP (National Achievement of Educational Progress) test scores. Instead of weighing in, I’ll point you to the analysis of a few others. First, Fordham’s Checker Finn writes:

The big news, alas, isn’t news at all, which is that proficiency levels remain dreadfully low in both reading and math (worse in math), that gains have been tiny, that college readiness is nowhere near what it ought to be, that the achievement gap hasn’t narrowed by a micron….

Continue Reading »

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17th 2010
Speaking Out for Douglas County’s Important Private School Choice Proposal

Posted under Homeschooling & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Parents & Public Charter Schools & School Board & School Choice & Suburban Schools

So last night the Douglas County Board of Education hosted an hour of public comment on proposals made by the community’s School Choice Task Force. Of course, the testimony overwhelmingly was about the “Option Certificates,” or voucher, proposal. The Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer reports that public comments “were evenly split for and against the plan.”

Ed News Colorado’s Nancy Mitchell says the comments were about 60/40 against the private school choice proposal, though their embedded five-minute video dedicates 80 percent of airtime to opponents. In addition to the Ed News video, you should watch the local 9News report, including a great comment from Douglas County resident and task force member Charcie Russell:

“It’s not about private versus public, it’s really about more choice, and I see that great for kids, great for parents, and great for the district,” Russell said.

It’s not surprising to see passion on both sides. The opposition, though, should consider the merits of their arguments. Drawing from resources at the Foundation for Educational Choice and the Institute for Justice, my Education Policy Center friends have compiled the following document to address concerns about effects on public school performance, fiscal impact and constitutionality: Continue Reading »


15th 2010
Congratulations to Michelle Pearson, Colorado’s 2011 Teacher of the Year

Posted under Grades and Standards & Middle School & Teachers

With a little snow finally starting to fall around here, it’s time to go outside and play. So instead of any sort of grand analysis today, I just want to extend my congratulations to Michelle Pearson — who last week was named Colorado’s 2011 Teacher of the Year:

Pearson comes from a teaching family; both the maternal and paternal sides of her family had teachers in them, working in schools in the U.S. and Canada. She says her greatest accomplishments in education have not been what she’s done alone, but what students, families, colleagues and the community do together. Pearson believes standards are the key to teaching. She says in a true standards-based environment students should understand what they are learning, why they are learning it and be able to connect their work to their world.

Her belief in the importance of standards is exemplified by her recent service on the Colorado Department of Education’s social studies standards committee (along with my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow). Continue Reading »

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12th 2010
Is This What Waiting for Superman Would Look Like If Made in Taiwan?

Posted under Foreign Countries & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun

It’s Friday. Time to lighten up with a 90-second summary of the new education reform movie Waiting for Superman produced by Taiwanese animators, a video you simply have to see to believe (H/T Jay Greene):

Michelle Rhee as a martial arts heroine with a “Reform” bandanna and a broom? My little heart is going pitter-patter….

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