Archive for the 'Sciences' Category

17th 2015
Friday Decisions: A Furry Friend, Sneak-onomics, and Extra Ice Cream!

Posted under Accountability & Denver & Elementary School & Just For Fun & Middle School & Sciences & Social Studies & Suburban Schools & Testing & Urban Schools

Yesterday the Colorado Department of Education released CMAS science and social studies test results. It’s only the second year the test has been given (science to 5th and 8th graders, social studies to 4th and 7th graders), so you can’t read too much into the trend lines.

The bottom line is that scores are up slightly (except for 8th grade science), but overall Colorado students are not on track in these areas. Colorado Public Radio also notes that, as in other tested areas, there is a sizable achievement gap among ethnic groups.

The overall trend of small gains in 3 of the 4 subject areas generally seems to hold locally in places like Denver, Boulder, Loveland, and Grand Junction. (Thanks to Chalkbeat, you can search scores for individual districts and schools.)

But that’s all just prelude to (finally!) Friday fun time. Continue Reading »

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5th 2014
New ACE Study Opens Mind on Comparing Public, Private Schools

Posted under Denver & High School & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & Research & School Choice & Sciences & Tax Credits & Urban Schools

Time flies when you’re young and enjoying early summertime fun. Why, it was only last week I told you all about the bad smell left by a new book attacking private schools with weak and questionable data. Thanks, Patrick Wolf and Education Next.

However, in writing that post, I may have made a mistake. It’s not easy for a stubborn little edublogger to admit he should change his mind, but a new development this week might just do it. I wrote the following sentence: “It’s extraordinarily challenging to make broad, facile comparisons between the two sectors of education.”

It may not be terribly challenging at all to make simplistic comparisons. What’s more, it appears eminently possible to make meaningful comparisons between public and private schools on a number of academic data points. Yesterday, the local nonprofit group ACE Scholarships released a pilot analysis showing how scholarship students in 6 of their 150 partner schools fare compared with charter and other public school options available. Continue Reading »

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1st 2014
Outperforming International Peers: A Delicious Piece of Dougco PISA News

Posted under Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & Research & Sciences & Suburban Schools

Nearly a year ago I pointed readers to an enlightening report from a group called America Achieves. The report showed how, based on international tests, even our nation’s middle-class students were falling behind their socioeconomic peers in many other countries. The findings reminded us why the bold innovators in Douglas County have been working to raise the bar.

But how do Dougco students themselves compare with their international counterparts? We have a fresh sample that offers a clear glimpse. Yesterday the district released 2012 PISA results for 15-year-olds in the two participating Dougco high schools: Continue Reading »


23rd 2014
“All Aboard” with Blended Learning and My Future “Learning Engineer” Career

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Public Charter Schools & Sciences & Teachers

When was the last time you asked a kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and got the answer: “A Learning Engineer!” If you’re being honest, you likely would say it’s never happened. But maybe that all will begin to change soon. Rick Hess and Bror Saxberg give life to the concept in a new book that’s excerpted as “Education Rebooted” at Education Next:

When it comes to realizing the promise of digital technology, educators need to start approaching classroom challenges as learning engineers. While such a label may sound unfamiliar at first, stick with us for a moment. The fact is that learning engineering is what tech-savvy education leaders—and more than a few who aren’t so tech-savvy—already do every day (whether they know it or not). These educators ask what problems need to be solved for students, turn to research to identify solutions, and devise smarter, better ways to promote terrific teaching and learning. What is education technology’s role in all of this? Learning engineers see this technology as a tool, not a solution.

At times I’ve thought about becoming a railroad engineer (I kind of like the tall, striped hats!). A lot better than a chemical engineer, which I have to confess sounds hard and boring. Since I rarely act rude, maybe a civil engineer would be appropriate. But no: for now, I’ll set my sights on becoming a learning engineer. Continue Reading »

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17th 2014
Jeffco Middle School STEM Discussion Makes Me Scratch My Head

Posted under Education Politics & Middle School & Parents & School Board & School Choice & Sciences & Suburban Schools

Last night little Eddie was able to drop in on a school board meeting for what was until recently the largest school district in Colorado. That’s right. The Jeffco Board of Education took the show out into the community, coming to the people and giving residents a chance to sign up online to make public comments. (Apparently, this is all a new thing.)

So it was kind of funny to hear a couple of the commenters complain that the school board wasn’t being transparent enough because they increased transparency. I may be pretty smart, but some things are hard for me to get.

Part of the reason for the big crowd at the Arvada High School auditorium was a debate about adding sixth grade to Deer Creek Middle School as part of an expanded STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) program. Now I don’t necessarily have an opinion on this course of action, but the way it’s been handled sends up red warning flags. Continue Reading »


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 & 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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20th 2013
Research Shows At Least Some Kinds of Field Trips Really Do Benefit Students

Posted under Arts & Just For Fun & Research & Rural Schools & Sciences

I’ve been delinquent from blogging so much lately, you may think little Eddie just has been on a long field trip. Well, before you get too critical, you might want to consider the great advantages this could have for me. The results of a first-of-its-kind study, outlined by Dr. Jay Greene for Education Next, are worth a closer look:

Today, culturally enriching field trips are in decline. Museums across the country report a steep drop in school tours. For example, the Field Museum in Chicago at one time welcomed more than 300,000 students every year. Recently the number is below 200,000. Between 2002 and 2007, Cincinnati arts organizations saw a 30 percent decrease in student attendance. A survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that more than half of schools eliminated planned field trips in 2010–11.

Continue Reading »

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12th 2012
Are Colo. School Districts Really Doing Better on New Global Report Card?

Posted under Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Research & Sciences

When confronted with the question of how well our schools are doing, too often we lack the full context needed to compare and understand what knowledge and skills students are acquiring to be strong citizens, competent workers, and trailblazing entrepreneurs for the next generation. Last year I told you about the Global Report Card, which found an effective way to compare the performance of school districts across America with national and international benchmarks.

This week the George W. Bush Institute launched GRC version 2.0 with fresh data from 2009. Taking a look at the data, Atlantic senior editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz asks “How Does Your Child’s School Rank Against the Rest of the World?” She examines a couple districts as an example to frame the question: Continue Reading »

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1st 2012
Don’t Ask to “Show Me” Why K-12 Education Needs Differential Teacher Pay

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Research & School Board & Sciences & Teachers

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably are well aware of the numerous flaws in the way our K-12 education system pays teachers. Most of the flaws emanate from the single salary schedule, which the vast majority of school districts use. Pay is differentiated almost exclusively by seniority and academic credentials, factors that have very little or no impact on meeting student learning needs.

Why can’t we differentiate pay based on instructional specialty, how hard it is to find someone qualified to teach in a particular area? A new report by James Shuls of the Show-Me Institute sheds some interesting light on the need for that commonsense approach. Missouri has far more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs available than non-STEM jobs, so shouldn’t there be a premium for people who are qualified in those areas? Continue Reading »

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26th 2012
Colorado Initiative’s Early Success Raises the Math and Science Bar (Gulp)

Posted under Grades and Standards & High School & Sciences & Teachers

I occasionally get accused of being some kind of verbal prodigy. Less often do I get asked about my math and science skills. And frankly, it’s fine with me not to go there. But I get the scope of the problem associated with not enough students qualified and ready for careers in science, math and engineering. And so does the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), which I told you about last December.

The difference is NMSI is doing something about it — something remarkable and effective, something that has begun taking off in Colorado, as their new 4-minute video shares: Continue Reading »

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