What Research? And What Exactly Does It Show?

One of the most annoying phrases in education is “research shows.”

That bland phrase is used to cover a multitude of sins, which is why many teachers groan when they hear it. They know it often prefaces some new directive to stop doing what they have found to be successful and start doing something that will be dropped a few years hence to be replaced by something else “research shows” they should do. Continue reading

Mapping Out College Choices

Ed Trust is currently at the National Council of La Raza, or NCLR, annual conference in Los Angeles, where we are showcasing our College Results Online tool. Using that, we created an interactive map of the United States that plots hundreds of colleges and universities across the country and shows how well their students are doing: Do they graduate within six years? Are they burdened by student loans and defaulting within three years? Does the college enroll a fair percentage of Pell Grant-eligible students? Continue reading

Let’s Go Over This Again — A Quart Is One QUART-er of a Gallon

When my kids were in third grade, they spent an enormous amount of time on the graphical representation of data. That sounds like a good idea, but some of it got rather tedious and didn’t really help them understand mathematics. I remember a lot of pictures of faces where the shape of the nose represented their gender, and the number of eyelashes represented the number of books they had read — stuff like that.

On the other hand, my kids spent so little time on measurement that even through high school — despite my best efforts — they were still pretty fuzzy on how many quarts are in a gallon and feet in a mile.

This isn’t because my kids went to a terrible elementary school. It’s because even “good” elementary schools can lose their focus on what kids really need to learn and spend precious time on superficial activities that teachers hope will engage the kids. Continue reading

Don’t Be Duped by ‘Personal Learning Scholarships’ in FL, AZ

Parents want some authority over their child’s education, and who can blame them? But programs like the personal learning account program approved in Florida last month give parents a false sense of that authority, while shirking the state’s responsibility to ensure a quality education for every student.

On the surface, the “Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts” signed into law by Florida Gov. Rick Scott are appealing: Parents of children with disabilities can take the state money set aside for their children’s education and use it to purchase a variety of programs and services that they believe are best able to serve their kids’ needs.

What could be wrong with that? Turns out, a lot. Continue reading

School Leadership Matters to Teachers

How can high-poverty schools become the kinds of places teachers want to teach?

Stephanie Hirsch, executive director of Learning Forward, tackled that question in a webinar discussing a new study on teaching and learning from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (which I write about this week in Huffington Post). Continue reading

Curriculum vs. Standards in the Common Core Debate

An important distinction needs to be made between standards — which outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level — and curriculum — which is what happens day to day and week to week in classrooms. Standards remain constant, but curriculum can be altered year to year or classroom to classroom to ensure students are meeting the learning goals.

Let me illustrate with examples from three high-performing, high-poverty schools in three different states. I asked them to share with me lessons they had developed to meet three of Common Core’s reading and language arts standards, which say that fifth-graders should know how to:

Continue reading

50 Years Later: This Is Not a ‘Post-Racial’ Society

Today is the anniversary of a historic event: the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is hard to argue that America hasn’t come a long way. Measured by nearly every indicator, we have seen tremendous gains for blacks, as well as women and other racial and ethnic groups in this country. Many have benefited from a more equal playing field that created conditions to boost degree attainment, home ownership, and career opportunities. And, of course, we can’t forget to mention the nation’s first black president. It surely seemed unimaginable in 1964.

Some have said we are now a “post-racial” society, and I respectfully beg to differ. While there is much to celebrate, there is still much more to be done. Many of the gains we saw following the passage of the Civil Rights Act are quietly eroding: Continue reading