The Teaching Commission says hey, policymakers, look over here! They’ve got some good ideas.
PA NCLB legal challenged settled. Scroll to the bottom of this NSBA newsletter for more. Even better, subscribe to this top-drawer product and get it free yourself.
New report (pdf) from the Civil Rights Project about NCLB’s views on teachers. A lot of what you’d expect (federally funded tutoring is a “sanction”, don’t tell that to the proponents of after-school programs…) although there are some interesting nuggets in here for close readers. However, it would be far more useful if there were more analytical overlay with other research and literature (pdf) about expectations in low-performing schools, and likewise more interesting if the conclusions were not so dreadfully predictable.
The John Locke Foundation says charter schools in NC are doing great. However, they ignore this study. Locke’s probably not rolling in his grave though. The foundation emphasizes a lot of other things that charters are doing, and Locke himself would likely find a lot to criticize about today’s emphasis on standards. He did, after all, have Some Thoughts Concerning Education (albeit elitist ones). Still, if you’re concerned about student achievement, Ladd and Hoxby both offer a red-flag on NC.
One other study generating some buzz right now is the new “Teachabilty Index” (pdf) produced by Manhattan Institute’s Greene and Forster. You can read a discussion about it from Wash. Post’s Mathews here. Basically, Greene and Forster compiled an index of factors affecting learning and argue that conditions have improved and students are thus more “teachable.” There is a lot more to it than that, read it.
It has of course sparked the usual debate but that back and forth seems a lesser issue than the larger question of whether it’s valid to aggregate individual factors like this in an index and draw broad inferences from it. More importantly, though, is the study asking the wrong question or in the wrong way? Overall “teachablity” matters a lot less than disaggregated information about the hardest-to-teach students. After all, that’s where the thrust of today’s improvement efforts are aimed. The quality of life in this country has improved over the last 30-years (for an interesting look at that buy this book), but progress doesn’t mean there are not still serious problems in many communities. But, there are enough public schools doing great work with disadvantaged students to give the lie to the idea that demographics are destiny. Political will is destiny. We don’t need an index to tell us that.