Nope! Why adaptive software is not the same as personalized learning

Sorry, adaptive software is not the same as personalized learning.

We all know that changes in public education move slowly, but there’s one specific educational dilemma we’ve been mired in for decades, with varying levels of rhetoric and hand-wringing: How can we maximize individual student achievement with group instruction?

This is what Education Secretary Arne Duncan was talking about in 2010 when he called for “transformational productivity reforms that can also boost student outcomes.” Over the last century, we’ve put a lot of effort into solving this problem with varying degrees of success.…Read More

What is Obama’s K-12 education legacy?

Common Core, Race to the Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—just a few top-down, often-controversial, metrics-heavy K-12 reform initiatives favored by the Obama Administration that seemed to have a lot more traction during the President’s first-term with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the helm than during the second term.

“President Barack Obama will perhaps be best remembered for what many considered a top-down approach to education reform, and Arne Duncan was the architect of that strategy,” writes Tara Garcia Mathewson for EducationDIVE. From a strong support of Common Core to even the ESSA, “a strict emphasis on standards is one of the biggest marks of the administration.”

[For the higher education version of this story, click here.]…Read More

Education Department tries to ease testing worries

Education Sec. Duncan: States can delay the use of high-stakes exams in their teacher evaluation systems

education-testingEducation Secretary Arne Duncan on Aug. 21 said that states can apply for extra time before they use student test scores to judge teachers’ performance.

Duncan’s decision is an acknowledgement of the concerns by teachers’ unions and others that it’s too early to make teacher personnel decisions based on how well students do on new assessments developed under the Common Core standards that will be used in much of the country this school year.

The move affects the more than 40 states and the District of Columbia that have a waiver around stringent parts of the No Left Behind education law. One condition the Obama administration put on obtaining a waiver was the development of a meaningful teacher evaluation system.…Read More

How the Common Core became education’s biggest bogeyman

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Arne Duncan made a glib remark about the Common Core that quickly blew up, the Huffington Post reports. Speaking before a gathering of state schools chiefs, the secretary of education dismissed growing opposition to the new national set of learning standards, saying “white suburban moms” were rising up against the Core simply because its more rigorous tests meant they were being told “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.” The riff wasn’t all that different from Duncan’s usual words of support for the Common Core…

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Duncan: U.S. failing ‘core responsibilities’ on education

Education Secretary urges stakeholders to put aside ‘rhetoric and disrespect’ and come together to improve schools

arne-duncan-education[Editor’s note: In a Sept. 30 speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged education stakeholders to move “beyond the Beltway Bubble” and find common solutions for improving the nation’s schools. His remarks are published in their entirety here.]

In what seems to have become an annual ritual, I’m here again today to report on the state of education in America. What I can tell you after nearly five years in Washington is that the public narrative that you hear inside the Beltway and online doesn’t reflect the reality I see in classrooms and schools all across America.

This town, which so often thinks that it’s somehow the center of the universe, is, instead, an alternative universe.…Read More

Why Common Core tests won’t be what Arne Duncan promised

On Sept. 2, 2010, Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a speech called “Beyond The Bubble Tests: The Next Generation of Assessments.” Duncan was referring to standardized tests that were just then starting to be created to align with the Common Core State Standards, the Washington Post reports. These tests, being developed by two multi-state consortia with $360 million in federal funds, promised to go beyond the familiar multiple-choice standardized tests that have been foisted on students for more than a decade with increasingly high stakes attached to the scores…

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ED considering district-by-district NCLB waivers

Education Secretary Arne Duncan seems to be softening his opposition to district-level waivers to the No Child Left Behind law. (Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com)

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is talking with individual school districts about how to free them from unworkable parts of the federal No Child Left Behind law, signaling he is open to an approach he long tried to avoid.

The Education Department (ED) has given 34 states and the District of Columbia permission to ignore parts of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, and eight others have waiver applications pending ahead of next week’s application deadline.

But that still leaves eight states—giants California and Texas among them—operating under the law and set to fall short of its requirements, such as all students being proficient in math and reading by 2014.…Read More

Open letter to Arne Duncan from Chicago teachers

A coalition of teachers from public and private schools — including the school that Education Secretary Arne Duncan attended as a child and where President Obama’s daughters were enrolled before they moved to Washington — are releasing an open letter to Duncan expressing concerns about department policies that they say promote the overuse of standardized tests, the Washington Post reports. Among the signees are teachers from the Ariel Community Academy, a public school that was founded by a team of people that included Duncan. The letter is being released the same day that President Obama is speaking in Chicago about his second-term policy initiatives, including a push for gun control. That appeal has special resonance in the city, which had more than 500 homicides last year and is reeling from the shooting of a star teen student just after she had performed with her band on Obama’s inaugural ceremonies in Washington D.C. Duncan attended her funeral last week, along with First Lady Michelle Obama…

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Duncan: Hard to teach kids scared of being killed

“The vast majority of teachers don’t want guns in the schools,” Duncan said. “They want more social workers, counselors, mental-health services, after-school programs.” (Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com)

Too many students worry more about being killed by a gun than learning in the classroom, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said on Jan. 17, as he cautioned that firearms alone do not make schools safer.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Duncan said he understands the urgent concerns over school safety in the wake of last month’s shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 students dead. He called the 23 executive orders that President Barack Obama signed Jan. 15 a move in the correct direction but emphasized that they alone were not enough.

“This was only a first step. We need a lot less children being shot dead. We need a lot less children living in fear,” he said, urging leaders to listen to teachers.…Read More

Education chief wants textbooks to go digital

“The world is changing,” Duncan said. “This has to be where we go as a country.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Oct. 2 called for the nation to move as fast as possible away from printed textbooks and toward digital ones. “Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete,” he declared.

It’s not just a matter of keeping up with the times, Duncan said in remarks to the National Press Club. It’s about keeping up with other countries whose students are leaving their American counterparts in the dust.

South Korea, which consistently outperforms the U.S. when it comes to educational outcomes, is moving far faster than the U.S. in adopting digital learning environments. One of the most wired countries in the world, South Korea has set a goal to go fully digital with its textbooks by 2015.…Read More