Archive for the 'International' Category

20th 2013
If This Education Research Were Real, You Might Buy Me a Cool Christmas Gift

Posted under International & Just For Fun & learning & Research

‘Tis the Christmas holiday season, and maybe (just maybe) my last posting of 2013. Nobody’s in school now, and education policy drifts even further from the brain as visions of sugarplums (or actually, new Lego sets) dance in small children’s heads.

Nonetheless, the season provides a great opportunity to drive home an important point about the research that underlies education policy debates. Jay Greene yesterday dispatched a message to Marc Tucker and Diane Ravitch, urging them to contact Santa Claus. (As a small aside, let me make the point that contacting the big jolly man in the red suit can be a difficult task. I’m still trying to get an explanation why last year I got earmuffs, mittens, and socks rather than a new PlayStation.)

Greene points us to a fabulous Education Next piece by Matthew Chingos with the provocative title, “Big Data Wins the War on Christmas.” It seems the Harvard graduate and Brookings Institution fellow stumbled onto some fascinating research data from the latest PISA international test results. Continue Reading »

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13th 2013
International Student Learning Comparisons Remind Why Dougco Is Raising Bar

Posted under Denver & Foreign Countries & Grades and Standards & High School & Innovation and Reform & International & learning & Parents & Public Charter Schools & Research & Suburban Schools

When I’m running a race, no matter how short my little legs may be, I don’t want to be left in the middle of the pack: I want to break the tape first… I want to WIN!! In America, including Colorado, we tend to think our suburban schools serving middle-class students are largely doing just fine. But that all depends on your perspective and your point of comparison.

It’s well past time to think beyond the school district next door or across the state. A group called America Achieves just released a report titled “Middle Class or Middle of the Pack” that ought to help wake up some people. Many of the chief excuses for America’s humdrum or weak showing on international tests just sort of melt away:

Many assume that poverty in America is pulling down the overall U.S. scores, but when you divide each nation into socio-economic quarters, you can see that even America’s middle class students are falling behind not only students of comparable advantage but also more disadvantaged students in several other countries.

Continue Reading »

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5th 2012
It’s Worth Stepping Back Even Further for a Full Picture of Education Funding

Posted under Independence Institute & International & PPC & School Finance

Tomorrow is decision day for a lot of big people in Colorado, voting to decide on several local school tax issues. Those who think more money is needed to bolster an inefficient K-12 system marshal incomplete funding figures, but thankfully my Education Policy Center friend was there to provide 9News viewers with a full picture of Colorado K-12 tax revenues.

Supporters of tax hikes tout selective rankings that make Colorado look as poor as possible compared to other states in education funding. We know Colorado isn’t 49th? But where are we really: 29th or 40th? But what if most states’ systems are inefficient? After all, while Colorado could be doing better, our student outcomes remain above the national average. Continue Reading »

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26th 2012
Harvard Study Puts Three States on Medal Stand for Boosting K-12 Achievement

Posted under Grades and Standards & International & learning & math & PPC & Public Charter Schools & reading & Research & Sciences

The latest edition of the Olympic Games is almost here (who else do you know who gets to live through two different Summer Olympics at age 5?), so what better time to hand out some figurative medals to states for K-12 student learning success? A new Harvard study by Eric Hanushek, Paul Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann sheds some helpful light on trends in Achievement Growth among nations and states.

The authors examine gold-standard test results of 4th and 8th graders to see where the United States’ progress from 1995 to 2009 ranks among 49 nations and how 41 individual U.S. states with enough data stack up against each other from 1992 to 2011. The good news? American students cumulatively picked up nearly a year’s worth of additional skills learned in math, science and reading, with stronger gains at the earlier grade level. The not-so-good news is we’re stuck in the middle of the pack:

Students in three countries–Latvia, Chile, and Brazil–improved at an annual rate of 4 percent of a std. dev., and students in another eight countries–Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia, and Lithuania–were making gains at twice the rate of students in the United States. By the previous rule of thumb, gains made by students in these 11 countries are estimated to be at least two years’ worth of learning. Another 13 countries also appeared to be doing better than the U.S.

I guess you could sum up American educational progress over the past 15 years with the word so-so. But the more fascinating part of the report to me is the comparison of 41 states who have participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) since it started in 1992. The authors of the Harvard report seized the Olympic spirit and handed out “medals” to the three states that have shown the biggest learning gains over the past two decades. And they are: Continue Reading »

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29th 2012
Taking a Few Leaps to Promote Excellent School Leadership in Colorado

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & innovation schools & International & PPC & Principals & School Accountability & School Board & State Legislature & Teachers & Urban Schools

Since today is February 29, I’ll take a timely leap from some of my usual fare to point you to two new podcasts produced by my Education Policy Center friends. In the first, Gina Schlieman explains how school-level autonomy has empowered some positive changes in Britain. In the second, foundation president Tom Kaesemeyer highlighted a program rewarding high-poverty Denver-area schools that are getting good results, and observed that exceptional principal leadership was at the top of the list of common school factors.

Next, a recently published op-ed by Ben DeGrow, who hosted both of the aforementioned podcasts, explains one of the key merits of Colorado’s 2010 educator effectiveness legislation:

Principals as instructional leaders will share accountability with classroom teachers for promoting student growth, which must make up at least half of educator evaluations.

In an unusual step, legislators and Governor Hickenlooper recently ratified some of the details for the state’s coming new educator evaluation system. It’s by design, not by accident, that the policy holds principals to similar standards as teachers. Such a system gives school instructional leaders more reason to retain or remove teachers based on their professional effectiveness at helping students learn. Will it be perfect? No. Are there any devils in the details? Maybe. But I’ll do my part to keep things focused in the right direction. Continue Reading »

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28th 2011
Colorado School Districts Part of Mediocre Picture in International Comparison

Posted under Denver & International & learning & math & PPC & Research & Suburban Schools

Last week I pointed you to a provocative new Rick Hess essay that asked whether education reform has paid too much attention to focusing on urban, high-poverty areas and on closing achievement gaps. Well, almost as if on cue, Jay Greene and Josh McGee write in Education Next about their new study on how suburban U.S. school districts compare internationally in math (based on most recent 2007 data):

Affluent suburban districts may be outperforming their large urban neighbors, but they fail to achieve near the top of international comparisons…. White Plains, New York, in suburban Westchester County, is only at the 39th percentile in math relative to our global comparison group. Grosse Point, Michigan, outside of Detroit, is at the 56th percentile. Evanston, Illinois, the home of Northwestern University outside of Chicago, is at the 48th percentile in math. The average student in Montgomery County, Maryland, where many of the national government leaders send their children to school, is at the 50th percentile in math relative to students in other developed countries….

It goes on, but you get the flavor. If you’re wondering about your own school district, you can check out the handy new web tool Greene and company created called The Global Report Card. All in all, it’s an interesting tool that may be worth further exploring. The findings reported by Greene and McGee do raise some cause for concern: Continue Reading »

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2nd 2009
New Study: Teacher Performance Pay Helps Students in India Learn

Posted under Denver & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & International & Parents & Research & Teachers & Urban Schools

I don’t know a lot about India, except that a whole lot of people live there and my parents love the food (Me? I’ll stick with hot dogs and mac & cheese). But then yesterday I found this story about a study of India’s education system (PDF):

We find that the teacher performance pay program was highly effective in improving student learning. At the end of two years of the program, students in incentive schools performed significantly better than those in comparison schools by 0.28 and 0.16 standard deviations (SD) in math and language tests respectively….

Continue Reading »

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11th 2008
United States Not Doing As Well in Online “Education Olympics”

Posted under Grades and Standards & International

Olympic excitement has taken hold. All eyes are on China to watch the best swimmers, runners, cyclists, gymnasts, boxers, weightlifters, shooters, and ballplayers compete at the highest level and represent their countries under the brightest lights on the international stage.

But there’s another Olympics taking place, as well. The Thomas Fordham Foundation has created the Education Olympics website, as a way to measure America’s education performance versus other nations, according to a series of different measures. After two events, Finland and Norway have taken home the gold, while the United States has been shut out of the medal count so far.

You can stay tuned with video clips that provide “coverage” of the “events”. Here’s hoping – and all but expecting – that the United States will perform better in the real Summer Olympics in Beijing than in the Education Olympics.


6th 2008
Why School Choice? Required BBC Viewing for Education Policy Makers

Posted under Education Politics & Independence Institute & International & School Choice

The Education Policy Center people said they’re a little busy today. So instead of having them write anything, I asked them to show you this video, which makes a very compelling argument for school choice:

This clip from the 1980s British sitcom Yes Prime Minister should be required viewing for education policy makers. It may come from overseas, and it may be 20 years old, but the brilliant common sense that flows through the satire in this piece feels like a breath of fresh air for Colorado. Of course – for the choices already available to them, Colorado families have a great resource in the School Choice for Kids website.

(H/T Jay Greene, via What’s Wrong With the World?)

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10th 2008
Please Don’t Indoctrinate Me!

Posted under Governor & Independence Institute & International & Parents & Principals & Teachers

My parents and my friends at the Education Policy Center say that school is a place for learning what I need to be successful some day, and that includes hearing both sides of an argument. It’s kind of scary then to see that some schools are busy indoctrinating kids.

As the Heartland Institute points out, the British High Court ruled that due to at least 11 scientific errors contained in Al Gore’s feature-length movie An Inconvenient Truth, schools who show the movie to students in class must balance the presentation with contradictory evidence.

In Colorado, our Governor Bill Ritter has made it clear he wants all K-12 students “to understand the science of climate change.” Yet as more students are exposed to this topic, it is important they receive a balanced presentation and not an uncritical indoctrination from Al Gore’s movie.

The British approach is to make a universal mandate for all their classrooms. But in Colorado, we value local control. One way then to ensure your public school student is not being indoctrinated in climate change hysteria or anything else is to petition the local school board or your school principal. Of course, school leaders are more likely to listen to the concerns of students and parents where they have the power of choice and can use their feet to find someplace that doesn’t indoctrinate.

An important tool helping parents to become good education consumers is our School Choice for Kids website – search to find the right school near you! As for me, I’ve still got a lot of time before school begins again. I’m going to go enjoy it.

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