A really scary headline about kindergarteners

Rob Saxton is Oregon’s deputy superintendent of public instruction, reports the Washington Post. Jada Rupley is the early learning system director within the state Department of Education. Together they wrote an op-ed in The Oregonian that was published online with this headline:

Kindergarten test results a ‘sobering snapshot’

What could possibly be sobering about test results from kindergarteners?  What kind of tests are they giving to kindergarteners anyway?
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Ravitch: The ‘White House’s obsession with data is sick’

Education historian and activist Diane Ravitch has been blasting the Obama administration for a long time for education policies that have expanded the importance of standardized tests and promoted the privatization of public education, the Washington Post reports. She was just in Washington to talk with U.S. legislators about the dangers of corporate-influenced school reform and she made some of her strongest statements yet, according to my colleague Lyndsey Layton. Ravitch, who has become the unofficial leader of a growing anti-reform movement and who is promoting her new book, “The Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools,” was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten meeting with legislators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)…

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Charter experiment ‘spinning out of control’

What is happening in Durham County, N.C.,  is exactly what charter school critics have long feared: the destabilization of the traditional district system, the Washington Post reports. Ned Barnett, the editorial page editor of the News & Observer wrote in this piece that the spread of charter schools in the county since the state legislature lifted the cap on new charters in 2011 is out of control, serving to “undermine” the traditional system that educates most of the region’s children — without the kind of accountability that school reformers say they love…

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Why support for Common Core is sinking

“Hit the delay button.”  That was the message New York’s senators sent to state Education Commissioner John King during last week’s hearing, the Washington Post reports. Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan made it clear that if King did not act, senators on his panel would.  Senator Maziarz observed that the only Common Core supporters remaining are “yourself (King) and the members of the Board of Regents.”  To make his position crystal clear, Senator Latimer emphatically smacked the table while calling for a delay, likening the rollout of the Common Core to “steaming across the Atlantic” when there are icebergs in the water…

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Beware Chinese data: Its schools might not be so great

For much of my life, I have been obsessed with China, Jay Mathews reports for the Washington Post. A TV documentary about the Great Leap Forward caught my eye when I was 16. I studied Chinese language, government and history in college and graduate school, then spent five years as The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and Beijing. My wife, who was my Los Angeles Times competitor, and I wrote a book about the country. I love Chinese culture. I think the creative competition between China and the United States is a plus for humanity. But I learned long ago not to trust Chinese government statistics. Chinese officials these days are more enlightened and honest than the ones I dealt with, but they appear to be distorting data in ways that are harmful to educators’ efforts in China and the United States to learn from each other…

Some schools need $100 million for online Common Core tests

A new report from Maryland’s Education Department to the legislature says that the vast majority of schools in many of the state’s counties are not technologically prepared to give new online Common Core-aligned standardized tests and that at least $100 million will have to be spent by 2015 to get ready, the Washington Post reports. In Montgomery County alone, it is estimated that necessary computer purchases will cost some $10 million, wireless enhancements to the infrastructure another $3 million and other technological improvements an additional $4 million…

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A real school reform agenda for 2014

If you remember your No Child Left Behind history, 2014 is the year that all children were supposed to be scoring proficient on standardized tests, the Washington Post reports. That was, of course, a ridiculous goal, which the authors of the bill knew full well when they wrote it, and a symbol for just how misguided school reform has become. Here, George Wood, superintendent of Federal Hocking Local Schools, offers four things that reform really should be targeting…

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Funding formula shows potential to help disadvantaged

Weighted student budgeting comes and goes in American school districts, the Washington Post reports. I rarely write about it because it is difficult to describe without putting readers to sleep. It is also hard to make comparisons from one district to the next because everybody does this sort of portable student funding differently. And yet it is important because the technique can significantly improve the educations of low-income students. If done right, weighted student formulas provide more money to teach children who need extra help and allow educators to address each child’s needs. That is why I grabbed with eagerness a study of a new weighted student formula at one of the Washington area’s biggest and most important districts, Prince George’s County…

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America’s most challenging high schools

America’s Most Challenging High Schools ranks schools through an index formula that’s a simple ratio, reports the Washington Post: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. A ratio of 1.000 means the school had as many tests as graduates…

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