MLK’s prescient thinking on education reform

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote repeatedly on the subject of education and some of his thinking on the subject, while decades old, is still relevant, the Washington Post reports. Each year on the federal holiday that honors his life, I publish excerpts of King writings on education. Here they are: From “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” (New York: Harper & Row, 1967).

“In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike…”

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What research exposed about market-based ed reform in 2011

If 2010 was the year of the bombshell in research in the three “major areas” of market-based education reform–charter schools, performance pay, and value-added in evaluations–then 2011 was the year of the slow, sustained march, says Matthew Di Carlo, senior fellow at the non-profit Albert Shanker Institute, for the Washington Post. Last year, the landmark Race to the Top program was accompanied by a set of extremely consequential research reports, ranging from the policy-related importance of the first experimental study of teacher-level performance pay (the POINT program in Nashville) and the preliminary report of the $45 million Measures of Effective Teaching project, to the political controversy of the Los Angeles Times’ release of teachers’ scores from their commissioned analysis of Los Angeles testing data…

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‘Principal pipeline’ project targets six major districts

A new initiative will train effective school principals to determine if this boosts student achievement.

Six school districts will receive funding from a $75 million initiative that will help them develop a much larger corps of effective school principals and determine whether this improves student achievement across the districts, especially in the highest-need schools.

Based on 10 years of research, the Wallace Foundation, the nonprofit educational group spearheading the project, has identified four key parts of a “principal pipeline” that can develop and ensure the success of a sufficient number of school principals to meet district needs: rigorous job requirements, high-quality training, selective hiring, and on-the-job evaluation and support.

The six districts, which serve thousands of low-income students, are Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; Denver; Gwinnett County, Ga.; Hillsborough County, Fla.; New York City; and Prince George’s County, Md.…Read More

States face challenges when it comes to school reform

A new report recommends ways the federal government might help SEAs.

With a renewed focus on student achievement and school reform, many state education agencies (SEAs) find themselves under pressure to change operations and show positive results, and a new report gives several suggestions for how state education leaders can work within their states, and with the federal government, to effect change.

Once a relatively low-profile job, the position of state education leader has become more prominent with increased scrutiny on performance and test scores under No Child Left Behind, combined with President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative and its emphasis on school reform.

SEAs, often referred to as a state’s department of education or department of public instruction, administer state and federal laws, allocate state and federal resources, and offer guidance to districts throughout the state.…Read More

What makes an effective school principal?

Studies show that principals have a strong effect on school culture, teacher quality and satisfaction, and policy implementation—but existing principal evaluation systems too often lack transparency and consistency.

Recent research shows that good principals in K-12 schools can create dramatic improvement, particularly in the lowest performing schools—but the consistency, fairness, and value of current principal evaluation practices are questionable.

An overview of current research on principal evaluation, introduced July 14 at a National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) conference, provides guidance to state and district efforts to evaluate principals more effectively.

Despite the potential for successful principal evaluations to improve schools, improvements in principal evaluation systems are “long overdue,” according to the report “Designing Principal Evaluations Systems: Research to Guide Decision-Making” by co-authors Matthew Clifford, senior research scientist at the American Institutes of Research (AIR), and Steven Ross, professor of education at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Research and Reform in Education, in collaboration with NAESP.…Read More

Report highlights importance of early childhood education

Children who attend high-quality pre-kindergarten programs are more likely to graduate from high school.

Children who attend high-quality pre-kindergarten programs are more likely to graduate from high school, says a new report that calls on states and communities to build an aligned system to support early childhood learning and kindergarten programs.

The report from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), called “Building and Supporting an Aligned System: A Vision for Transforming Education across the Pre-K-Grade Three Years,” claims that “high-quality early learning can substantially increase the likelihood of academic success.”

“I certainly see this report to be a really strong signal to the K-12 world, as much as the early childhood [learning] world, that there is room for everybody at the table, and in fact, we need everybody at the table to make sure that young children are going to get what they need,” said Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative.…Read More

Report shows education options expanding across U.S.

A decade of growth in education options has led to a significant shift in where U.S. students are going to school.

When it comes to education options—from kindergarten up through college—the decision is no longer simple for students and their parents, a new federal report suggests.

Children don’t just attend their neighborhood public school anymore. They often choose between that and the charter school across town, as the number of students enrolled in charter schools has more than tripled since 2000.

And after graduation, students increasingly are looking beyond traditional state and private schools for a higher education. For-profit colleges—offering flexible schedules but high costs and lower graduation rates—have enrolled one out of four new undergraduate students in the U.S. since 2000.…Read More

What the U.S. can learn about improving teacher effectiveness

International school systems can help the U.S. improve its teacher recruitment methods, a new report suggests.

U.S. policy makers and educators should look to high-performing global education systems for valuable lessons as they seek to develop systems that improve teacher and school leader effectiveness, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE).

The report comes in advance of the International Summit on the Teaching Profession, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and designed to engage countries around the globe in an intensive discussion about promising practices for recruiting, preparing, developing, supporting, retaining, evaluating, and compensating world-class teachers.

“Teacher and Leader Effectiveness in High-Performing Education Systems,” edited by Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University professor and co-director of SCOPE, and Robert Rothman, a senior AEE fellow, examines highly effective lessons from global education systems that develop and support teachers and leaders in Finland, Ontario, and Singapore.…Read More

Stakeholders differ on college and career readiness

A large majority of students and executives believe few career opportunities will exist for those without some postsecondary education.

A new report reveals that while teachers, parents, students, and executives believe that college and career readiness is essential to students’ post-high school success, the groups rate this differently in terms of importance.

As a group, 73 percent of parents say the goal “must be accomplished as one of the highest priorities in education,” in contrast to 54 percent of teachers and 48 percent of executives.

When it comes to students, most agree with parents on the importance of this goal. Eighty-four percent of middle and high school students believe it is absolutely essential or very important that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career, while only 16 percent say that it is somewhat important or not at all important.…Read More