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Feb 13 2014

Kane Unable

Harvard professor Thomas Kane recently testified on behalf of the ‘families’ in the Vergera vs. California case.  The plaintiffs in this case seek for the teacher tenure process and the LIFO layoff priorities to be changed in order to ensure that students in California have more of a chance to be taught by an ‘effective’…

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Nov 08 2013

Will TNTP demand accountability from itself?

The New Teacher Project (TNTP) was a spin-off of TFA and originally led by Michelle Rhee.  Having worked as a trainer for both organizations, I generally liked working for TNTP more than TFA.  I found the TNTP trainees to be more mature and more committed to education as many of them were ‘career changers’ and…

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Nov 07 2013

On the latest D.C. NAEP Miracle

Today the results from the 2013 NAEP came out, and ‘reformers’ everywhere are celebrating the amazing gains by states with an aggressive reform agenda.  In 2011, the average national score for the four main NAEP tests (4th grade reading, 4th grade math, 8th grade reading, and 8th grade math) was about a 250, with the…

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Nov 05 2013

New TFA Miracle Claims

Today TFA released their annual letter.  Looking at the announcement of the letter on their website, I saw this image, which shows all the aspects of TFA’s influence, though, to me, it looks a lot like what you see on the wall of a police department as they are investigating a crime and hanging up…

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Sep 23 2013

Polis Joke

Jared Polis is a Democratic Colorado Congressman.  He recently had this interchange with Randi Weingarten on Twitter about Diane Ravitch. Though this caused a backlash, he seems to be standing by his comment.  This ordeal has been well documented by Jersey Jazzman and Jonathan Pelto. Polis is a charter school supporter and has opened a…

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A report was recently released which according to some TFA defenders “settles the issue” about the effectiveness of Teach For America teachers.  By comparing the standardized test scores of TFA teachers with varying amounts of experience to non-TFA teachers teaching in the same buildings, the study concludes that the students of TFA secondary math teachers…

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Aug 20 2013

The Underachievement School District

If you’re a parent, a student, or a teacher, the last thing you want to hear is that the state you live in has been commended by Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, as a ‘reform’ leader.  This has been occurring recently in the state of Tennessee. The state education commissioner of Tennessee is former TFA…

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Aug 13 2013

How To Define ‘Success’?

The new and improved New York State tests have arrived and the higher standards have taken much of the air out of many charter chain’s balloons.  Schools, in particular, from KIPP and Democracy Prep have seen their status change from ‘above average’ to ‘below average’ overnight, at least based on the ‘reform’ definition of quality.…

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Aug 09 2013

Driven by data … right off a cliff

Yesterday the big announcement in New York was the results of the latest ‘common core aligned’ state tests.  As expected, the scores plummeted.  The New York Times reported that from last year to this one, the percent of students scoring ‘proficient’ on English dropped from 47% to 26% while the percent scoring ‘proficient’ on Math…

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Aug 01 2013

Fat (Lie) Tuesday

Yesterday, there was some exciting news out of New Orleans.  I learned about it from a tweet by TFA co-CEO Elisa Villanueva-Beard. Now I’ve written before about The New Orleans ‘Miracle.’  They generally have a way of twisting whatever numbers they get into something that they can celebrate.  In this case, I read the article…

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Yesterday I noticed what I considered an unusual pair of re-Tweets by Randi Weingarten, president of the UFT. Weingarten is one of the few people on ‘my side’ of the ed reform debate who I have never met, personally.  She was portrayed as the ‘villain’ to Michelle Rhee’s ‘hero’ in ‘Waiting For Superman’ and also…

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Jun 13 2013

Home Field Advantage

In New York State, the high school standardized tests are called ‘The Regents’ exams.  Unlike the state tests for grades 3 through 8, which are graded externally, the Regents have always been scored by the teachers in the school.  After they are graded, the tests would then sent off to Albany where they could be…

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May 20 2013

At KIPP, at least for 07102, zip code is destiny

One of the most annoying phrases uttered in ed reform is some version of ‘poverty is not destiny.’  Occasionally they mix it up a little with something like ‘zip code is not destiny.’  The implication is that there are some people out there who think that every person born into poverty or born in a…

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May 12 2013

Canada’s Legend-ary TED Talk Lie

Geoffrey Canada recently did a TED talk entitled ‘Our failing schools.  Enough is enough.’  Canada is the president and CEO of The Harlem Children’s Zone and star of ‘Waiting For Superman.’ The premise of Harlem Children’s Zone is a good one.  It serves to provide school and complete wrap-around services (health, mental health, nutrition, etc.)…

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Feb 28 2013

Unions and charters are strange bedfellows

When you ask the leader of an allegedly high performing charter school what makes them so successful, they generally say that they have more flexibility with hiring and firing since they are free from pesky union contracts.  This is why I found it quite odd that I received an announcement with job openings at a…

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Feb 19 2013

Et tu, Rube?

On a post I wrote last week called ‘The Status Quo Miracle District,” I got a bunch of angry comments from people who seemed to feel betrayed by my ‘debunking’ of the media inflated claims of a ‘public’ school district. This is the first comment: Very unhelpful. With friends like you, public education needs no…

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Feb 13 2013

The Status Quo Miracle District

Over the past two years I’ve spent a lot of time debunking ‘miracle’ schools and ‘miracle’ districts.  The way it works is that some politician or journalist tells a story about how this school or district has come up with a way to get their high poverty students to score as well in standardized tests…

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Jan 13 2013

$50 million. 3 years. No clue.

In my last post, I showed how in the final report from the Gates Foundation MET project they produced a very misleading graph.  Though the implication of this graph — namely, that value-added measures are consistent from one year to the next — was not the only point of this study, I called it THE…

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Jan 09 2013

The 50 million dollar lie

Last year I spent a lot of time making scatter plots of the released New York City teacher data reports to demonstrate how unreliable value-added measurements are.  Over a series of six posts which you can read here I showed that the same teacher can get completely different value-added rankings in two consecutive years, in…

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My father, the occasionally high profile defense attorney Ronald Rubinstein, graduated from Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn in 1956.  Fifty years later, the NYC DOE began the process of phasing out the school and replacing it with three small school on what is now the Tilden Educational campus. The NYC DOE recently released…

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Nov 22 2012

Ready or not …

  On my recent visit to KIPP NYC College Prep High School, I received one of their newsletters.  In it I found this graph demonstrating how their students rank in ‘college readiness’ compared to other Black, Latino, and NYC students in general.  According to this ‘college readiness’ metric, 72% of the KIPP students were ready…

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Nov 14 2012

My visit to KIPP

On Veteran’s Day I toured the KIPP High School here in New York City.  Public schools were closed but some charters were open (one of those ‘needs of the kids ahead of the needs of the adults’ things, I think).  So on Veteran’s Day I went to visit a school that had few veteran teachers.…

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Nov 11 2012

TNTP releases odd report about progress in D.C.

For people following ed reform in this country, Washington D.C. is the most significant place to track.  Though New Orleans is the place where the most experimentation is going on, the people doing the reforms there also control the data so it is tough to get a realistic picture of what is going on down…

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Nov 01 2012

‘Insufficient Resources’ Is Destiny

When I hear the mantras ‘Poverty Is Not Destiny,’ and ‘Poverty Is Not An Excuse,’ I can understand why they are so compelling.  The problem, though, is the ambiguity of the key words:  ‘Poverty,’ ‘Destiny,’ and ‘Excuse’. If ‘Poverty Is Not Destiny’ just means that it is ‘possible’ for someone who grows up poor to…

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Now that ‘Won’t Back Down’ has become one of the biggest bombs in film history, we can forget about it and enjoy a new documentary called ‘Brooklyn Castle’ about the celebrated Chess team from Brooklyn Middle School I.S. 318.  I’ve only seen the preview so far, but already know that this is going to be…

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