Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Round up of links

  • If somehow the talk of "21st century segregation" in today's Pioneer Institute column got you wondering, I'd advise you to look at the wide array of research demonstrating that charter schools are putting us right back into dealing with the 20th (and previous) century segregation. There's plenty of research out there on this.
  • Popping a bit outside the usual K-12 focus here, this article on the Ivy League and real education is an interesting read. 
  • If you're trying to figure out what you can do to help the kids fleeing violence to our south, First Focus has some suggestions. Also, see more at Border Kids Relief. 
  • When you see this report about principals' expectations, remember that correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation. 
  • How kids are faring across the country

    With the local hype, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Annie E. Casey Foundation had sponsored a study just on Massachusetts, but in fact their annual KIDS COUNT report looks at all fifty states. If you get a chance, I'd recommend giving it a read, as there is solid information here beyond that Massachusetts is doing well.
    Something which I suspect won't make the press, but should, is this note of caution on recent educational policy changes:
    The effects of these major, costly policy  changes are not yet clear. National math  and reading scores as well as high school  graduation rates have steadily improved  for students of all races and income levels, ents preceded  the policy changes of the past decade. 
    Also, this, on the gaps between students:
    Given that in-school factors account for only a third or less of the variation in test scores, we must face the fact that our high child poverty rate constrains our nation’s academic achievement. 
    If you're looking at what we should be tackling, there's your answer.

    Friday, July 18, 2014

    Joint meeting on transportation next week

    On Wednesday of this coming week, the Finance and Operations Committee is meeting jointly with the Education Committee of the City Council. We'll be talking about the transportation audit. 
    The meeting is at 5:30 on the fourth floor of the Durkin Administration Building.

    Friday afternoon puzzler

    You may remember that part of the new Massachusetts teacher evaluation system is a "Student Impact Rating," which, while based on multiple measures, by state law (enacted due to Race to the Top) includes student test scores.
    But which scores? From which test?
    Addressing this issue--I'm not sure I'd say 'answering this questsion'--is this memo from Commissioner Chester.
    They're going to use two years of data: 2014-15 and 2015-16. If I'm understanding the memo correctly, if the 2014-15 PARCC scores (should your district be using them) don't agree with the 2013-14 MCAS scores and 2015-16 scores of whatever test we're using at that time, they'll throw those out (or rather, have the districts do so, because the state isn't doing this work), and they'll use the 2013-14 MCAS scores.
    There are several statements in this memo about all of this aligning being a "strong indicator of student learning." No, no, it's not. Student growth percentiles is not a legitmate way to evaluate teachers (it's actually worse than value added). Please allow me to direct you to Bruce Baker on why not.
    Also, this is based not on one, but on two entirely different tests (possibly! We don't actually even know what we're using for the second of these years!), which makes this all that much more crazy in asserting that these are meaningful comparisons that should have real value.
    I am sure that there will be more on this to come, as this information starts to get around.

    Enough with the college and career ready already

    Look, all, I'm with you all the way on how the gap amongst children starts well before school, well before preschool, as soon as children start picking up language and such.
    But, really, enough already with this sort of thing:
    Thank you for your interest in building a foundation for college and career success from children from birth through grade 3.
    No, I'm not interested in "building a foundation for college and career success..from birth."
    I'm interested in building people.

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    Free Fun Friday tomorrow!

    Tomorrow's Free Fun Friday from the Highland Foundation includes:


    Some coverage from yesterday

  • Hey, the Globe talked to a parent! From Boston! Who worked against the bill! Maybe the Globe will realize that such parents exist now?
  • Probably the most informative press coverage on this I've seen has come from MassLive, who not only got some good quotes from Senator Chang-Diaz, but scored an interview with Senate President Murray. I'd recommend reading that, as it has insight not only into what happened yesterday (for example: "In some ways, the vote could be looked at as a reflection of the changing makeup of the Senate that has seen an influx of more liberal members in recent years. Murray said she was surprised by the final tally, and noted that “progressives” voted against the bills"), but the largest question of how and why people vote the way they do (much discussion of a democratic process). Those running around waving their hands in their air and yelling about teachers' unions are missing the conversations constituents had with Senators and a Senate leadership that allowed them to vote the way they chose to.
  • The T&G has updated their article since yesterday. 
  • possibly more to come, but that's what I've got so far...