Archives › 2011 › October

Oct 31 2011

Why I did TFA, and why you shouldn’t

There was a time, not very long ago, when I was an active volunteer alumni recruiter for TFA. And, as you might expect, I was great at it. One year, I think it was 1998, I did a recruitment session at Colorado College, a very small school, which brought the house down. A year later…

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Oct 26 2011

The Vindication Of P.S. 84 Part III

In the first two parts of this series I examined how the New York City progress report system is less about measuring a school’s quality and more about comparing schools.  The number of comparisons that occurs to determine the ‘progress’ score is staggering:  Students are compared to other students with the same starting score.  Students…

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Oct 25 2011

The Vindication Of P.S. 84 Part II

In the previous post I demonstrated how the New York City progress reports are distorted by a inappropriate use of ‘standard deviation’ to unfairly punish schools that score slightly below average on certain metrics when all the scores are very close together.  One such calculation gave P.S. 84 a .8 out of a possible 5…

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Oct 23 2011

The Vindication Of P.S. 84 Part I

I was inspired to get to the bottom of the New York City school progress report grades after reading this story from the New York Times Schoolbook website about P.S. 84 which was one of the thirty F rated schools this year despite seeming to be a very good school. To understand and analyze the…

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New York City’s Department of Education recently released their ‘progress reports’ for all the middle and elementary schools for the 2010-2011 school year. For each school they have a complicated formula that assigns up to 60 points for ‘progress’, up to 25 points for ‘achievement’, and up to 15 points for ‘school environment’. The scores…

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Oct 19 2011

Readin’ > ‘Rithmetic

Something that nearly every adult has wondered about, but is scared to say it out loud is “Is knowing math really that important?” They don’t say it out loud because they fear that someone, possibly a math teacher like me, or someone else who knows better, will put them in their place with a long…

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Oct 18 2011

A Newbie’s Guide To My Blog

If this is your first time here, Welcome! Over the past 3 years my posts have fallen into different categories, which you can access by locating the ‘categories’ menu on the right pane, near the bottom. ‘Teaching Advice’ is what I started using this blog for. I was working on my second book and I…

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Oct 15 2011

Reason #15 to be wary of #TeachForAmerica

I wrote about this topic a few months ago, but on Twitter I recently saw this: This got a lot of ‘amens’ and retweets, of course. What I’m about to say needs to be prefaced VERY carefully so as to not … Oh, the heck with it, Poverty IS Destiny. Wait. Wait. Don’t go away.…

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Oct 12 2011

New Orleans RSD — the ‘miracle’ district

The Louisiana Department Of Education just released the 2011 School Performance Data. As New Orleans has been hailed as a ‘miracle’ district, I was eager to see the results. As you might know, after Katrina the lowest performing schools were assembled into a district known as ‘The Recovery District’ (RSD) which has become a grand…

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Oct 11 2011

Talking a struggling TFAer off the ledge

To quit or not to quit. That is the question? It’s the same question I pondered twenty years ago, nearly to the day. TFA doesn’t publicize this, but a lot of the people who gave up all the other opportunities they might have taken do not complete their two year commitment to TFA. Aside from…

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Somewhere, Woodward and Bernstein are weeping. I entered the fight against the ‘reformers’ back in February after hearing Duncan claim that a school in Chicago got dramatic results by shutting down and replacing with a charter school in the same building with the same kids, but with different adults. It was important for Duncan to…

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Oct 02 2011

Panel with Ravitch and Rhee Part III

Click here for part I Click here for part II So far the panelists have had two rounds to discuss what the they think the cause of the achievement gap is and also what some possible remedies are. Only Rhee, as expected, thinks that more accountability will be a significant part of the solution. Amazingly,…

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Oct 01 2011

Panel With Ravitch and Rhee Part II

Click here for part I Part I ended with Michelle Rhee’s lengthy answer about how the achievement gap was caused, in part, by poor school management, two-prong outlets, and, of course, lack of teacher accountability. Her knowledge of the causes and remedies of the achievement gap must be put into some perspective as this blog…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

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