Monthly Archives: July 2012

Did It Work #2

Many folks are working on how to help more collegians graduate, particularly if they’re first-in-family to attend.  That’s why I found this randomized trial interesting.  It’s for first year college students.  The average GPA is 1.8 for the control group.  The research team tried 3 interventions:

a. Advice.

Peer advisors who email the freshmen regularly, have in person meetings, offer advice for coping and academics, etc.  The advisors receive training and a clearly-defined protocol of what to do.

b. Incentives.

Incentives for getting higher GPA than whatever you had before.  Each student is offered a $1000 bonus to hit a modest gain, and a $5,000 bonus to hit a stretch goal.

For example, a kid who has a 1.7 GPA, or a “C-” after one semester) would get $1,000 if he got a “B-” next time around.  And $5,000 if he got a  B+.

c. Combo platter.  These students got both advisors and incentives.

Which interventions do you think showed a statistically significant increase in college GPA, if any?

(Answer to yesterday’s Q in the comments).

– Guestblogger GGW

Teacher Choice 2

Subj: Teacher Choice 2

Edupolitics has 2 tribes.  “Reformers” (example Arne Duncan).  “Anti-the-current-type-of-reform-ers.”

Of course many people, including myself, find ourselves “picking and choosing” issues and ideas from both tribes.

One such issue that cleaves is school culture.

There are educommenters and bloggers like John Thompson, Nancy Winterbottom, and Gary Rubinstein who, I think, describe themselves as in the anti-Duncan camp, but also believe school culture in high-poverty schools is a key front-line issue.  It needs to be addressed with much more vigor and energy.  (I’m sure they’ll comment if I’m mischaracterizing their views, and I’ll edit the blog post if needed).  John has a book draft describing discipline issues in his large high school in Oklahoma City; Gary published a book called “The Reluctant Disciplinarian,” where he wrote “Too many teachers struggle through their first year, expending vast quantities of energy trying to maintain classroom discipline—at the expense of teaching.”

Every “No Excuses” charter leader and teacher would agree.  We further would contend that this is a teacher choice issue.  Future teachers should be allowed to choose programs that tackle these issues honestly.  John has blogged that this issue represents a cross-the-aisle “bipartisan” opportunity for educators from both tribes; he’s just asked charters acknowledge similar but identical school populations (because of selection and de-selection), which I’ve done before on my own blog.

By contrast, there are several superintendents that are pro Arne Duncan’s view of reform, but don’t think of school culture as Job One.

Instead, they think of school culture merely as one of several other issues — curriculum, teacher recruiting and evaluation, using data, differentiated instruction, turnarounds, and so forth.  If you asked these superintendents to describe PRECISELY what a good classroom would look like in terms of decorum (what’s okay, what’s not okay), what consequences would happen when things went wrong, how the principal should support the teachers to achieve that — you’d hear crickets.

Similarly, there are some who “anti-current-reform” folks who not only do not prioritize school culture, but actively reject our version of it.  Some are policymakers, scholars, or suburban educators who don’t spend much time in high-poverty schools.  But many are skilled educators from tough inner-city schools, often identifying themselves as progressive.

These critics reject that young teachers in inner-city schools need extensive, explicit instruction on how to create a positive classroom climate; or that such training is useful but should not be a graduate school course; or that our particular approach is “militaristic.”  There is selective citing of training videos and manuals, etc, without context.  In fairness, “Reformers” do the same thing sometimes to their opponents, so perhaps this is just how things go on the civility front.


In the comments section, I’ll post the introduction to our classroom management guide for new teacher trainees.  If I can figure out how to upload our Chuck Norris photos and other silly stuff et al, I’ll add that.  It’s in draft form.  We’re hoping to get feedback this year and publish it next year.  So anything thoughts now would be helpful.

Is this a reasonable starting point for recent college graduates who, one year later, will begin work as full-time teachers?

While our program is narrow (only for charter and turnaround schools), I’d love to hear in particular from any veteran educators from inner-city schools…..

GGW’s “Did It Work?”

This exciting feature allows you, in the comments section, to guess what happened in a randomized trial.  One per day all week.  Get it while it lasts.

If you want to participate, write if you think the intervention “worked.”  That is, measurably raised performance in some way, or not.  Other thoughts welcome.  Wonk bonus: include effect size in SDs!

I’ll wander back a day later and write the result.  No Googling!

Did It Work: A recent randomized experiment had 8 year olds get an hour of reading tutorial a week.  Tutors were volunteers from “business.”

(But not from Bain Capital.  Nor Solyndra).

-Guestblogger Mike Goldstein

Headline: Goin’ Hog Wild

Thanks to Andy for inviting me over this week.  My name is Mike Goldstein.  I work at Match Education in Boston.

When Mitt Romney was elected governor, I was on his “transition” team.  That meant about 15 of us sat in a room one day, and Romney popped in a for a few minutes to shake hands.  I think there were salty snacks.

I was also on Deval Patrick’s “transition” team when he was elected governor.  That meant 100+ of us had several meetings, ultimately issued a report, and Patrick gave a speech at the end.  Lots of coffee.

There you have it folks, the difference between Rs and Ds.

Today’s Idea: Teacher Choice.  Context:

a. Reformist Vision of Schools: Hold each school accountable for results; give flexibility/freedom to get there.

b. Current Direction for Individual Teachers: Hold teachers accountable for results; do not, however, give much flexibility/freedom to get there.

c. Goldstein Gone Wild: Give individual teachers the same deal as a school.  If going to be held accountable, each teacher should get to make certain decisions, based on personal preference.  Here are some examples.

Political Upside: Teacher accountability polls at 70% or so, depending on phrasing/details.   Teacher freedom/flexibility (unpolled to my knowledge, but I’d extrapolate from other data to guess: quite popular).  Imagine being the first governor or mayor from either party taking a victory lap for accomplishing this.

-Guestblogger Mike Goldstein

Odds, Ends, And Goldstein!

We’ve had a lot of interesting guestbloggers through Eduwonk including teachers and administrators (kindergarten teacher Alice in Eduland is really up to some cool stuff these days) Steve Barr, Randi Weingarten, Chris Cerf, Diane Ravitch, Richard Whitmire, Michael Robbins, Eric Hanushek, Sara Mead and others but no one gets reviews and requests for encores like Michael Goldstein, the founder of the MATCH school in Boston and MATCH’s new graduate school of education.  So while I take a week away from the blog next week, he’s agreed to stop by to inform, entertain, and provoke you.  In other words, as longtime readers know, Goldstein’s gonna go wild.

New TNTP report coming about “the irreplacables” the teachers we can’t afford to lose.  Event in DC Monday July 30.

LA Times: Schools not told about test questions being posted online.  OK, but LA Times readers were told… And I heard about this from a few folks while calling around for this column a few months ago – and I live on the East Coast!

Also in CA, it’s obviously all about what’s best for the kids… Seriously, we can’t even reform the system to do more to make sure that adults who are dangerous to children are not near them? I know local teachers union leaders who are genuinely pained by the frequent assertion in the media that they would defend someone who abuses children.  But when stuff like this happens at the policy level it’s simply untenable and indefensible for everyone.

Don’t look for an ESEA reauthorization bill anytime soon – policy insiders are starting to talk about the next midterm election in the timeline – but in the meantime Morgan Polikoff and Andrew McEachin take a look at the lowest performing 5 percent and implications for accountability systems (pdf).

New York Charter School Center (BW works with them) has their new data report out, again let’s you slice and dice NY charter school data.   And new federal student loan rules here via Fed Register and some fiscal and marketing advice about them from Jason Delisle and Alex Holt here.

E akahele Hawaii! But Does Enforcement Matter?

Hawaii is under some scrutiny for its Race to the Top application, which was a slick production that has led to implementation challenges and put the state’s grant at risk. It’s also led to a lot of grumbling about the competition. But there is other data, too. The state’s new assessment results are in and continue to climb. That led Secretary of Ed Arne Duncan to give cautious encouragement in the local media.  Obviously, interested parties will want to visit the state next winter for a thorough examination.  But for now the narrative is not as tidy as it was.

Elsewhere – and unrelated to Hawaii specifically – former US DOE and Pennsylvania official Gene Hickok says that the threat of federal enforcement on elementary and secondary programs is overrated.

Posted on Jul 19, 2012 @ 7:31am

TN Eval, Can Behemoth FCPS Tolerate Any Competition? Common Confusion, And Indian Ed Webinar Thurs.

If you think there isn’t a lot of learning going on about teacher evaluation, check out this new report from TN (pdf).

If you think even the nation’s biggest and seemingly most successful school districts can tolerate a little competition read Kris Amundson calling BS on Fairfax County schools and charter schools.

If you think the federal government is awesome at running schools because of DoD schools then you haven’t looked at outcomes on reservation schools.  Webinar on Thursday about the National Indian Education Study with officials from USDOE.

And if you think Microsoft and the Gates Foundation are in cahoots, think again. Maybe there is too much of a firewall?  Microsoft releases a shared code system called…wait for it…Common Core.  Confusing!