Archive for the 'Edublogging' Category

December
11th 2014
Important Scribbles: What Drawings May Say About Lives at Home

Posted under Arts & Early Childhood & Edublogging & Elementary School & Research

Unfortunately for you, faithful readers, I’m operating on a bit of a time crunch today. Because of that, we will forgo our usual lofty education discussion in favor of something a little different: Drawing. I can’t say I’m sad about the diversion; drawing happens to be one of my favorite pastimes. Besides, I’m sure you all need a break after yesterday’s very, very exciting event at the Colorado Supreme Court.

I like to consider myself a titan in the world of little guy art. Fire-breathing dragons, Play Doh monsters, aliens—you name it, I’ve drawn it. But as it turns out, my drawings may reveal more about me than my somewhat nerdy inclinations. A new study from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill indicates that the drawings of six year olds may offer important hints into what’s going on in those children’s lives. Continue Reading »

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November
20th 2014
Positive Movement in Jeffco: A Welcome Change

Posted under Edublogging & Education Politics & Elementary School & Journalism & Middle School & Urban Schools

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s Jefferson County day for yours truly. Okay, I made the Thursday thing up just now, but we are indeed going to talk about Jeffco. Don’t suit up and brace yourselves for more negativity quite yet, though; today’s post will isn’t about teacher sick-outs, student protests, or an inexplicable disdain for more representative curriculum review committees. Instead, I’d like to highlight a Denver Post article about some positive efforts by a group called the Edgewater Collective to improve educational outcomes for some of Jeffco’s most at-risk students.

As you may have noticed, many anti-reform groups try to whitewash any assertion that Jeffco may have some room for improvement by arguing that the district as a whole is doing well compared to neighboring districts. As much as I wish that rosy picture were entirely accurate, it isn’t. It masks the fact that certain areas within Jeffco are in desperate need of attention. And even when that fact is acknowledged, it is too often swept aside as “unfixable” or “out of our control.”

Nowhere is the need for change more obvious than the Jefferson Articulation Area within Edgewater, where the overwhelming majority of students are low-income and trapped in schools that are, put bluntly, failing them. Fortunately for those students, not everyone is ignoring the problem or brushing it aside. Continue Reading »

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November
18th 2014
Customized Success: New Study Hints at the Power of Personalized Learning

Posted under Edublogging & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & Research

Earlier this month, I wrote about some new brain science (sorry for the technical terminology) highlighting the potential benefits of personalized learning for children with ADHD. And as if that wasn’t interesting enough, I soon discovered another juicy piece of new research on personalized learning in charter schools.

Before I could really chow down on the wonky goodness, though, reality demanded that I detour back to Jeffco for a quick update on the district’s ongoing, still-nonsensical drama. Then Douglas County, that pesky bastion of meaningful school reform, had to go and regain its spot in the top tier of Colorado’s school accreditation system. Yeah, it was a busy couple of weeks in Colorado education.

Things have settled a bit now, so I’ve been able to sit down and devour my latest tasty wonk morsel: A study on the effects of personalized learning from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the RAND Corporation. Using test data, teacher logs, teacher surveys, student surveys, and a few interviews with administrators, the study looks at 23 charter schools that have implemented personalized learning approaches. Importantly, most of the schools included in the study are located in urban areas and have high percentages of low-income and minority students.

It’s a pretty lengthy study with a lot to say, and I encourage you to read the full report if you need something tasty to chew on. For now, though, we’ll just focus on what I think is the most important highlight: Student achievement results. Continue Reading »

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November
6th 2014
ADHD and Education: A New Take on Personalized Learning

Posted under Edublogging & Innovation and Reform & innovation schools & learning & Suburban Schools

As this year’s election silliness mercifully raged to a close earlier in the week (well, kind of), I teased you with the promise of a blog post on ADHD as it relates to customized education and personalized learning. I then proceeded to torture you with a discussion about yet another interpretation of this year’s education survey data. It must not have been too bad, though, because you’re back for more. And I intend to fulfill my promise.

Our discussion of ADHD’s relationship with education reform begins with a fascinating New York Times article by Dr. Richard Friedman, a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Cornell. Friedman starts out by stating a fact well known by many in the education world: The rates of diagnosis and treatment of ADHD have risen sharply over the years. According to Friedman, it is now the most prevalent psychiatric disorder among American children between the ages of 4 and 17, affecting in the neighborhood of 11% of that population at some point. Friedman points out that this has led many people to wonder whether ADHD is a real disease:

… [Y]ou may wonder whether something that affects so many people can really be a disease … And for a good reason. Recent neuroscience research shows that people with ADHD are actually hard-wired for novelty-seeking — a trait that had, until relatively recently, a distinct evolutionary advantage. Compared with the rest of us, they have sluggish and underfed brain reward circuits, so much of everyday life feels routine and understimulating. Continue Reading »

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September
12th 2014
Colorado More Leader than Laggard: A Report Card Eddie Can (Mostly) Enjoy

Posted under Edublogging & Grades and Standards & Journalism & math & Public Charter Schools & reading & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably know I have a fondness for report cards. A certain kind, anyway. Just as long as it’s not my report card going home to my parents about my performance. Seriously, though, I like to talk about report cards related to education policy — some more helpful or accurate or comprehensive than others.

Today it’s a piece called Leaders and Laggards, put out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the help of a couple American Enterprise scholars, that ranks states on a big slate of K-12 education measures.

The study assigns each state a letter grade for each of 11 major categories, and in a couple of cases compares them to the last release in 2007 (Colorado’s grades listed in parentheses): Continue Reading »

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May
27th 2014
A Year without Lobato Means Another School Finance Case Looms in Colorado

Posted under Courts & Edublogging & Governor & School Finance & State Legislature

Life here in Colorado just isn’t the same without a pending school finance lawsuit. For about eight years, the Lobato case lingered in the background — sometimes drearily, sometimes dramatically — as students and teachers, principals and parents, school boards and state lawmakers went about the work associated with their various roles in the K-12 education world.

It was almost exactly one year ago today that the Colorado Supreme Court issued its final Lobato ruling, and I began clinging to a ray of hope for true school finance reform.

What we got instead was the Amendment 66 tax hike, soundly defeated by Colorado voters. In the election’s aftermath, the state legislature came back with the so-called Student Success Act — which gave us a couple small advances but left some real opportunities for student-focused funding off the table.

Then today we read in the Boulder Daily Camera: Continue Reading »

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January
2nd 2014
Colorado K-12 Policy and Trends: Eddie’s Eight Emerging Questions for 2014

Posted under Courts & Edublogging & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning & Online Schools & Parents & Preschool & Principals & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature & Tax Credits & Teachers & Urban Schools

Unbelievably, another new year is already underway, and I’m left to ponder what kind of hopes it holds out for Colorado kids and families seeking the best educational opportunities and outcomes possible. While I recover from the blissful batch of toys, games, and goodies, it seems like a perfect time to ponder what might emerge out of the chaos in 2014: Continue Reading »

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June
19th 2013
NCTQ’s Report on Teacher Prep Programs Must Do More Than Rattle a Few Cages

Posted under Edublogging & education schools & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & reading & Research & Teachers

Any large-scale effort at serious reform or innovation in K-12 education eventually leads to the vexing question of what to do about teacher preparation, ensuring there are enough effective instructors available. The consensus is fairly widespread that broadly speaking, today’s schools of education just aren’t getting the job done.

Released this week, the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Prep Review has been a long time in coming. The large-scale analysis of more than 1,100 teacher prep programs, in painting a bleak picture, has stirred up lots of debate and discussion. Here follow some of the highlights: Continue Reading »

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April
1st 2013
Change of Heart on Choice, Reform, Funding, and Unions: Time for Ed Is Playing!!

Posted under Courts & Edublogging & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & Parents & PPC & Principals & Private Schools & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & Teachers

It’s been several days since I’ve had a chance to write here. The end of my spring break provided a lot of time for reflection on some issues that really have been bothering me. Now that I’ve had time to re-evaluate my well-known positions on some key education issues, I feel it is my obligation to share with you the following:

  1. When it comes to education, I’ve come to agree with Diane Ravitch that parents don’t really know what is best for kids. They should leave it all up to the experts in the classroom and the school district administration building. (I would also like to apply this logic to the question of eating vegetables, an area in which I’m now considered an expert.)
  2. As a result, I now believe this whole idea of school choice is really overblown, and actually undermines the great work professional educators do on our behalf every day. Instead of celebrating the recent Indiana Supreme Court decision, we all should be sobbing our hearts out right along with the Hoosiers fans, whose team went down hard in the Sweet 16.
  3. I’ve also made a resolution to stop spending nearly so much time praising the innovative, transformational work going on in school districts like Douglas County and Falcon 49. In fact, I feel really bad for all the time and energy I’ve spent undermining the great traditions of public education unions and bureaucracy.
  4. Continue Reading »

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January
4th 2013
Can We Get a Truly Comparable Picture of State Graduation Rates?

Posted under Edublogging & Grades and Standards & High School & learning & PPC & Research

A Friday quickie for readers to chew on. Back in late November, the U.S. Department of Education released the first-ever data where we could truly compare the rates at which students in different states are graduating high school on time. Unfortunately, Colorado’s 74 percent graduation rate put us in the bottom third.

But now that we can finally look at all states based on a common measure of how well students are completing their secondary education (more than 43 years after we put a man on the moon), someone has to ask: Just how accurate is the comparison? In an insightful new EdFly blog post, Florida’s Mike Thomas reminds us that different graduation standards can seriously cloud the picture. After highlighting some different headlines that take to task certain states’ graduation output, he notes: Continue Reading »

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