4 challenges–and solutions–around assessments and accountability

A new report examines some of the biggest challenges related to assessments and accountability, and offers recommendations for educators and policymakers as they move past spring 2021 and aim to improve student success rates.

The report comes from NWEA and Education Reform Now (ERN), which worked together with organizations representing state departments of education, school districts, policy and advocacy groups, and universities, to identify recommendations and potential policy options that re-envision assessments and accountability measures this spring—and–beyond to better advance student success.

The overall goal? Through productive meetings and discussions, identify ways to ensure systems support deeper learning and give educators and policymakers the critical data they need to support students, improve achievement and outcomes, target resources, and develop new instructional policies and practices.…Read More

3 common misconceptions that thwart school improvement

Misconceptions are dangerous things. They shackle our visions of what’s possible and doom us to consequences we do not expect. For example, a student who believes her genes predetermine her academic abilities may avoid crucial learning experiences that are initially challenging. A student who believes his postgraduation success will flow from his intellectual prowess may gasp when he loses his first job due to interpersonal ineptitude.

School leaders, especially, need accurate notions of how the world works if they want their school improvement efforts to succeed. Yet many bold and promising ideas to transform schools falter when leaders rely on conventional wisdom about how to make their initiatives flourish.

Recently, my colleagues and I released a research paper that unveils common misconceptions about change management in schools. Given that many school initiatives falter for lack of teacher buy-in, we set out to uncover what actually causes teachers to change their practices. Using research methods based on the Jobs to Be Done Theory—an approach for identifying the causes driving demand for new products, services, and solutions—we asked teachers about the specific circumstances and events that led them to adopt new instructional practices.…Read More

5 school areas that desperately need student voices

As a graduate journalism student over 20 years ago, I worked on a thesis project centered on education reform news reporting. I was analyzing how often education reporters included students in their stories about education. Probably no surprise…it was almost non-existent.

Traditionally, no entity has ignored their primary customer, consumer or constituent more than education with students. I was fortunate enough early on as a beginning teacher to discover the power of student voice and student-generated ideas. Throughout my career, I have always benefited from asking my students what they thought, what they are interested in and where they would like things to go.

If we are serious about providing each and every student a truly transformational 21st century education, then we should consider including student voices in the following five school areas:…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

Accountability without autonomy is tyranny

When educational research reaches the public through the corporate media, the consequences are often dire, explains P.L. Thomas for the Daily Kos. Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff released “The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood” and immediately The New York Times pronounced in “Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gains”. The simplistic and idealistic headline reflects the central failure of the media in the education reform debate…

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Ending education reform to reimagine what’s possible

According to a recent PEW Research Study, 66 percent of Americans say either that the education system in this country needs to be completely rebuilt or that it requires major changes. I couldn’t agree more. In this post, I am infusing innovation research into the education reform debate. We need to ditch the agenda to reform, and shift our focus on to creating anew. In my TEDx talk, “Go All In on Education,” I took the audience through a visualization exercise using the four images below. Most critics make the mistake of assuming that innovation does not exist in education. I can assure you that innovation exists; the problem has a lot to do with the environment and the ability for disruptive ideas to thrive. Below is an outline of two critical issues we face as it relates to the environment in education…

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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 it’s time for a reset of education reform

The end of another school year is leaving a bad taste in many people’s mouths, The Washington Post reports. A steady diet of government austerity and top-down “accountability” mandates have left numerous communities across the country with a severe case of sour stomachs over how their schools are being governed. As the school year closed in Michigan, hundreds of protestors gathered at the state capital in Lansing to protest state school budgets and policies that have left classrooms overcrowded and eliminated art, music, and other educational programs in schools. In Pennsylvania, teachers, parents, and public school activists have staged multiple actions (see here, here, and here) to protest severe budget cuts that have eliminated programs and laid off teachers…

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A different kind of ‘flipped’ learning: Students teaching students

Learning should be centered on the student, not the teacher, McGuire writes.

American philosopher, psychologist, and educational crusader John Dewey often wrote about education reform, and although he died in 1952, several recurrent themes in his writings have special significance for modern teachers.

Dewey continually argued that education and learning were social and interactive processes. He also believed that students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum and that all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning.…Read More

Do school reformers use threats to drive agenda?

Education reformers haven’t been able to persuade everybody to their point of view, so increasingly, they use threats, the Washington Post reports. Here’s a piece about why that approach won’t work. It was written by Eric Shieh is a founding teacher of the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, “A School for a Sustainable City,” in New York City, where he teaches music and leads curriculum development. This appeared on The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, non-partisan education-news outlet affiliated with the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media

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