Compared with the countries that outperform us in education, we do very little to measure, develop and reward excellent teaching. We have been expecting teachers to be effective without giving them feedback and training.Read the whole thing.
To flip the curve, we have to identify great teachers, find out what makes them so effective and transfer those skills to others so more students can enjoy top teachers and high achievement.
The value of measuring effectiveness is clear when you compare teachers to members of other professions - farmers, engineers, computer programmers, even athletes. These professionals are more advanced than their predecessors - because they have clear indicators of excellence, their success depends on performance and they eagerly learn from the best.
The same advances haven't been made in teaching because we haven't built a system to measure and promote excellence. Instead, we have poured money into proxies, things we hoped would have an impact on student achievement. The United States spends $50 billion a year on automatic salary increases based on teacher seniority. It's reasonable to suppose that teachers who have served longer are more effective, but the evidence says that's not true. After the first few years, seniority seems to have no effect on student achievement.
Another standard feature of school budgets is a bump in pay for advanced degrees. Such raises have almost no impact on achievement, but every year they cost $15 billion that would help students more if spent in other ways.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Rather than a school that is exclusively on the Web or in a traditional classroom, Alianza Academy is testing a hybrid, the first of its kind in Utah. Every student will have access to a computer or digital tablet, but all instruction will take place during a regular school day on four separate campuses with the assistance of learning coaches and certified teachers. Alianza hopes the hybrid model will help diminish the persistent achievement gaps between affluent and economically disadvantaged students and whites and minorities.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
- The legislature authorized school districts to levy property taxes to educate students, not to maintain a local school bureaucracy. Tax dollars don't belong to a district, or to a charter school. They belong to taxpayers and the students they are intended to educate.
- A student who chooses a charter school has the same value to taxpayers and the same rights to taxpayer support as a student who chooses a traditional district school.
- When districts make decisions and policies and offer an educational product that creates large enough dissatisfaction among parents that thousands of families leave that situation for a better fit at a charter school, the bill shouldn't be paid by taxpayers where the local district has the unanimous support of its families and students.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
- Charter school students are not second-class citizens of public education. The education of charter school students has as much value to taxpayers as for students who attend district schools.
- Charter school funding should be from a stable and ongoing funding source, so that parents who want a charter school education for their children aren't kept out by arbitrary caps.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
A bill that would encourage more charter schools in Indiana is picking up steam in the statehouse...but it's also getting heat from teachers.
In Evansville Saturday, legislators and educators got together to talk about the good and the bad of the bill.
At the statehouse last week, anger over Governor Mitch Daniels' education reform, which some teachers say puts too much emphasis on charter schools.
Governor Daniels' proposed plan makes it easier for communities to start them...and easier for public school kids to make the switch.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Educational associations and unions commonly cite three reasons: ( 1) Students in the best schools are offspring of more intelligent parents; (2) The best schools have better facilities and equipment (e.g., library, lab equipment, computers); and (3) the best schools have higher paid, and therefore, better teachers.
I recently visited a high-performing charter school to try to understand what accounts for its success. I found that none of the three reasons was valid. This school's extraordinary performance was driven by a highly disciplined educational system. The system was reinforced by a high performance culture.
American Preparatory Academy (APA) runs two charter schools in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. Founded in 2003, APA operates two campuses in Utah -- one in Draper and another in West Valley.
Today, APA test scores far exceed state averages in every academic subject in every grade. For example: fifth grade math - 95% (APA) vs. 73% (state average), fifth grade science - 100% vs. 73% and fifth grade language arts - 95% vs. 67%. Whether comparing to state averages or to public schools in the same neighborhood, it's not even close.
APA's success is not from more intelligent students. As a charter school, tuition is free and students are accepted by lottery. It's not from more funding. APA receives $500 less per student from the state than traditional Utah public schools. And it's not from higher paid teachers.
When compared to their Utah public school peers, APA teachers are younger, less experienced, have fewer education degrees and are paid 16% less than union teachers. Educators typically define "professional capabilities" by advanced degrees and years of teaching experience. But if learning is the measure of success, degrees and experience may not be the best predictors. APA's young teachers, some without education degrees, are blowing away experienced teachers with master's degrees. Teacher's unions don't like APA.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
- They measure the wrong things
- They set standards inconsistent with the stated purpose
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Utah is on the verge of having the best K-12 online learning policy in the country. SB65 makes provision for multiple statewide providers and student choice to the course level.Read the whole thing here.
While high schools around the country are cutting expensive courses, students in Utah high schools this fall may have access to every AP course, any foreign language, and high level STEM courses rich with computer simulations. Assuming bill passage, students that are struggling will have several personalized options that will allow them to catch up.
SB65 encourages providers to support completion by withholding 40% of the funding until the student successfully finishes a course. The bill expands options and creates the opportunity for students to graduate early. More options, better outcomes, reduced costs--it's a good deal for Utah students, schools, and taxpayers.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill that reinstates the reporting of assessment results for public schools passed the House Wednesday and awaits the governor's signature.
Sponsored by Howard Stephenson, R- Draper, SB115 restores the state's U-PASS reporting system — which gives citizens an at-a-glance view of how students at schools in Utah are doing on their state standardized tests.
Stephenson said U-PASS reporting was inadvertently suspended for two years by legislation last session. At that time, lawmakers opted to suspend the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test, an assessment tenth graders had to pass in order to graduate, due to budget constraints. Part of that bill included suspending U-PASS reports.
Stephenson told the House Education Committee his legislation is simple and is an effort to bring back the accountability U-PASS provides.
At a State Board of Education meeting last month, State Superintendent Larry Shumway said his staff is already working to compile the data. Stephenson's bill will make assessment reports available for the 2010-2011 school year.