Archive for the 'Grades and Standards' Category

January
3rd 2014
Can Schools Boost Brain Skills for Reading, Not Just Raise Test Scores?

Posted under Grades and Standards & learning & reading & Research & School Accountability & Suburban Schools

Thanks once again to the edublog linking queen Joanne Jacobs, a December Scientific American column by psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman caught my attention. And it should yours, too.

The author unpacks a study of Boston students that found while some schools improved performance on standardized academic assessments, they didn’t really improve measures of cognitive ability. In other words, better schools boost scores on math and reading tests, but those students’ brain skills still are functioning about the same.

Kaufman begins the column by citing some of his own recent research that unsurprisingly shows “good standardized test takers also tend to have high cognitive ability.” I am curious to see more about how the two results mesh. As more schools increase test scores without registering an effect on brain skills, does the identified relationship or tendency fade? Continue Reading »

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December
19th 2013
And Then There Were Three (Years of Colorado School Grades)

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & School Choice

Three is a magic number… Yes it is! This week Colorado School Grades (CSG) issued their 3rd annual report cards of every public school in the state. If you don’t know what the website is about, I’m not going to rehash the basics except to say: Continue Reading »

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December
13th 2013
Big Testing (Why Not Funding?) Changes Coming Soon to Colorado K-12

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & Parents & School Choice & School Finance & State Board of Education & State Legislature

A couple of stories this week in Ed News Colorado serve as a reminder that whether or not there are new laws or reforms to debate, some kind of change will keep coming to the state’s schools. First comes from the State Board of Education’s Wednesday meeting, where we learned that schools and districts will have exactly one year reprieve on their formal accountability ratings after the new testing begins in 2014-15:

As for teachers, their students’ performance on the new tests will factor into their year-end evaluations starting in 2016.

“Some states declared a timeout,” said Elliott Asp, the special assistant to the commissioner and one of the architects behind the state’s plan for testing. “We don’t want to go there.”

We want to ensure greater accountability for learning results. But the shift to a new kind of testing system realistically demands some sort of accommodation. Providing a year’s worth of reprieve from sanctions or other consequences makes sense on the surface. The story drives home the reality of coming changes — a computerized test-taking system with new assessments rolling out in 2014-15. That puts the consequences back to 2015-16. Continue Reading »

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December
10th 2013
EAGLE-Net Broadband Delays Test Patient Hopes for Digital Learning Policies

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance

The power and potential of blended learning stand out in several ways. It can give students more control over their education — like having a customized playlist — and enable them to advance at their own pace. It can expand the reach of effective teachers and allow them to focus time more efficiently on what they do best. It can foster more innovation to speed up the process of building effective learning systems. And it can do all that without requiring new revenue.

Some of the greatest potential to help students lies in Colorado’s rural areas, and some districts have begun to embrace the possibilities. But in order to make blended learning work, they have to access digital technology in the form of high-speed Internet access. Hence, an eye-catching new story by Andy Vuong in the Denver Post (H/T Complete Colorado): Continue Reading »

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December
3rd 2013
Bad News for U.S. School Performance; How to Fix “Leaning Tower of PISA”?

Posted under Foreign Countries & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & learning & math & reading & Research & Sciences

Today is PISA Day, and I’m not referring to pepperoni pies or unusual Italian landmarks. The 2012 results from the Program for International Student Assessment are in, and it doesn’t look pretty for the good old USA. At least not on the surface.

First, let’s take a quick trip back to September, when I brought your attention to the unsettling book Endangering Prosperity and pointed out that America needs to take a different path to improve unimpressive math test scores. That was when our nation’s 15-year-olds scored a sub-par 487 on the PISA: Continue Reading »

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November
13th 2013
Survey of Tax Credit Scholarship Parents Gives Insights into School Choices

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Parents & Private Schools & Research & School Choice & Tax Credits

My eyes gleamed when I saw this new Friedman Foundation report, More Than Scores: An Analysis of Why and How Parents Choose Private Schools. Why? Not only because it used a survey of 754 parents in the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program, but also because it asked really helpful questions to understand why parents make the choices they do.

GOAL is a scholarship tax credit program, adopted by Georgia in 2008. Its features aren’t too much different than the ones my Education Policy Center friends recommend in A Scholarship Tax Credit Program for Colorado. You know, the type of program that could help thousands of Colorado Kids Win.

Such a program would encourage more donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations that provide K-12 private tuition assistance to students from low- and middle-income families. One idea you see in some choice programs is that private schools should be required to share certain information with parents. But the Friedman report by Benjamin Scafidi and Jim Kelly brings out an important survey finding: Continue Reading »

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November
7th 2013
New NAEP Math and Reading Scores Leave Me Longing for More Reform

Posted under Education Politics & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & School Choice & School Finance & Tax Credits & Teachers

The elections are over. I’m out from underneath the rock. It’s nice to see the sunshine again, to see that Amendment 66 was rejected (let’s think Kids Are First instead), and the reform message carried many major school board races.

Time to shift gears, though, with the release of 2013 results from NAEP, the nation’s gold-standard test. The overall picture, as reported by Education Week‘s Catherine Gewertz, is not too encouraging: Continue Reading »

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October
21st 2013
Even This Post Might Be Too Much Attention on Common Core Debate

Posted under Foreign Countries & Grades and Standards & Private Schools & Research & School Accountability & School Choice & Teachers

The reason I rarely write about Common Core is the same reason why I’m writing about it today. Huh, you say? America’s fourth most influential Edu-Scholar Eric Hanushek makes a persuasive case in U.S. News:

Policymakers and reform advocates alike have rallied around introducing a set of national content standards, suggesting that this will jump-start the stagnating achievement of U.S. students. As history clearly indicates, simply calling for students to know more is not the same as ensuring they will learn more.

Bottom line (read the whole article): Common Core standards are not going to move the needle on the important content and skills U.S. students learn. For every Massachusetts that performs fairly well with high standards, there’s a California that has high standards but struggles tremendously in its educational results. Continue Reading »

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September
16th 2013
The U.S. Needs a Different Path to Improve Our Unimpressive Math Scores

Posted under Grades and Standards & Just For Fun & learning & math & Research

Sometimes it’s good to step back and take a look at the big picture. That’s as true in the discussions about education reform as it is anywhere. A brand-new, 6-minute video does just that, but in a clever and lighthearted manner:

Continue Reading »

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August
27th 2013
Asking What Parents Want from Schools, Fordham Offers Interesting Market Niches

Posted under Denver & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Just For Fun & Parents & Research & School Choice

Once upon a time, there was a boring chick flick called What Women Want (don’t ask me what it was about, but I needed an easy segue). Today the Fordham Institute has taken a slightly different tack, with the release of the paper What Parents Want. They worked with Harris Interactive to conduct an extensive marketing survey to see what families might be looking for when they choose a school.

The idea is an interesting one, and the report really worth studying if you’re looking to start a school, especially in more populated areas. In the end, Fordham’s team identified six major categories, or “market niches,” that emerged, with certain characteristics of parents more likely to fit into one or more of the following: Continue Reading »

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