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Reviews of Eduwonk.com

2007 Winner, Editor's Choice Best Education Blog
-- Performancing.com

2006 Winner, Best K-12 Administration Blog -- "Best of the Education Blog Awards"
-- eSchool News and Discovery Education

2006 Finalist, Best Education Blog
-- Weblog Awards

Least influential of education's most influential information sources.
-- Education Week Research Center

"unexpectedly entertaining"..."tackle[s] a potentially mindfogging subject with cutting clarity... they're reading those mushy, brain-numbing education stories so you don't have to!"
-- Slate's Mickey Kaus

"a very smart blog... [if] you're trying to separate the demagogic attacks on NCLB from the serious criticism, this is the site to read"
-- The New Republic's Ryan Lizza

"everyone who's anyone reads Eduwonk"
-- Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media's Richard Colvin

"full of very lively short items and is always on top of the news...He gets extra points for skewering my high school rating system"
-- Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

"a daily dose of information from the education policy world, blended with a shot of attitude and a dash of humor"
-- Education Week

"designed to cut through the fog and direct specialists and non-specialists alike to the center of the liveliest and most politically relevant debates on the future of our schools"
-- The New Dem Daily

"peppered with smart and witty comments on the education news of the day"
-- Education Gadfly

"don't hate Eduwonk cuz it's so good"
-- Alexander Russo, This Week In Education

"the morning's first stop for education bomb-throwers everywhere"
-- Mike Antonucci, Intercepts

"…the big dog on the ed policy blog-ck…"
-- Michele McLaughlin, AFT Blog

"I check Eduwonk several times a day, especially since I cut back on caffeine"
-- Joe Williams, fallen journalist, Executive Director, Democrats for Education Reform

"...one of the few bloggers who isn't completely nuts"
-- Mike Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

"I have just three 'go to' websites: The Texas Legislature, Texas Longhorn sports, and Eduwonk"
-- Sandy Kress, former education advisor to President Bush and former chairman, Dallas Board of Education

"penetrating analysis in a lively style on a wide range of issues"
-- Walt Gardner, champion letter-to-the-editor writer and retired teacher

-- Susan Ohanian

Education News and Analysis

American Educator
Chronicle of Higher Education
Education Next
Education Week
eSchool News
Inside Higher Ed
Jay Mathews' Class Struggle
Phi Delta Kappan
New York Times Education
School Wise Press
Teacher Magazine

Policy and Political Blogs

The American Scene
Andrew Sullivan.com
Booker Rising
The Corner
Daniel Drezner
Dangerous Thoughts
The Democratic Strategist
The Has Been
Huffington Post
Loose Cannon
Matthew Yglesias
The Plank (TNR)
Political Animal (Washington Monthly)
The Politico
Post Global
Real Clear Politics
Taking Note
Think Tank Town
Volokh Conspiracy
WSJ's Blog Federation
Washington Whispers


Collective Bargaining in Education: Negotiating Change in Today's Schools

Edited by Jane Hannaway and Andrew J. Rotherham

Why Newsweek's List of America's 100 Best High Schools Doesn't Make the Grade

By Andrew J. Rotherham
and Sara Mead

A Qualified Teacher
in Every Classroom

Edited by Frederick M. Hess, Andrew J. Rotherham,
and Kate Walsh

America's Teaching Crisis

By Jason Kamras and Andrew J. Rotherham

Rethinking Special Education For A New Century

Edited by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Andrew J. Rotherham
& Charles R. Hokanson, Jr.

Making The Cut: How States Set Passing Scores on Standardized Tests

By Andrew J. Rotherham

Education Blogs

A Constrained Vision
Andrew Pass
a schoolyard blog
Assorted Stuff
Mr. B-G's English Blog
Barnett Berry
Bill Jackson's Education Blog
Bridging Differences (Meier and Ravitch)
Bulletin Board (NASBE)
Campaign K-12 (Ed Week)
Chaos Theory
Charter Blog (NAPCS)
Charter School Policy Inst. Blog
Chez Dormont
Chris Correa
Class Context
The College Puzzle
College Ready Blog (Athens Learning Group)
The Common School
Conversation Starters
Core Knowledge Blog
Critical Mass
Dangerously Irrelevant
Daryl Cobranchi
Dave Shearon
Dave Saba (ABCTE)
DC Education Blog
Dems for Education Reform
The Deputy Head
Early Ed Watch
Early Stories
Educated Nation
Educating One Mind
The Education Network
The Education Wonks
Edwize (UFT)
Eponymous Educator
Essential Blog
Extra Credit
Flypaper (Fordham)
Fordham Fellows
From The Trenches
The Gadfly
Get On The Bus (Dayton Daily News)
Get Schooled (AJC)
The Gradebook (St. Pete Times)
Grumpy Professor
The Hall Monitor
Higher Ed Watch
Hip Teacher
I Thought A Think
In Other News (Ed Week)
Inside Pre-K
Jay Greene
Jenny D.
John Merrow
K-12 Hotlinks
Kindling Flames
Kitchen Table Math
Learning Now (PBS)
The Life That Chose Me
Mathew K. Tabor
Media Infusion
Ms. Frizzle
Moving At The Speed Of Creativity
NCLB Act II (Ed Week)
NSBA's BoardBuzz
NYC Educator
Paper Trail (USN)
ParaNews (NCP)
Paul Baker
The Portable Princess
The PrincipalsPage
Principal's Policy Blog (NASSP)
Quasi Dictum
Roy Romer
Running on Empty
School of Blog
School Zone (MJS)
Schools for Tomorrow
Science After School
SF Schools
Sherman Dorn
SITE Mentor
Small Talk
Special Education Law Blog
Starting Over (Ed Week)
Swift & Change Able
Teach and Learn
Teacher Voices
Teachers At Risk
Teachers' Lounge
Teaching in the 408
Teaching Rookie
Think Lab
This is how I Swim
This Week In Education
Tim Fredrick
Up The Down Staircase
Urban Angle
What up, Mz. Smlph?
Whitney Tilson
Why Boys Fail
Why Homeschool

Educational Resources and Organizations

AALE Charter School Accreditation
Alliance for Excellent Education
American Association of School Administrators
American Educational Research Association
American Federation of Teachers
American Institutes For Research
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Aspen Institute
Asia Society
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Broad Foundation
The Brookings Institution
Building Excellent Schools
Center for American Progress
Center for Education Reform
Center for School Change
Center on Education Policy
Center on Reinventing Public Education
Citizens Commission On Civil Rights
Coalition of Essential Schools
Community College Research Center
Community Training and Assistance Center
Council of Chief State School Officers
Council of Great City Schools
Core Knowledge Foundation
Data Quality Campaign
Democratic Leadership Council
eSchool News
Education Commission of the States
Education Evolving
Education Sector
The Education Trust
George Lucas Educational Foundation
Haberman Foundation
Hechinger Institute On Education and the Media
Joyce Foundation
Just for the Kids
Knowledge Alliance
Learning Point Associates
Local School Directory
Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
The Mind Trust
National Academies Center for Education
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Center for Postsecondary Research
National Center on Education and the Economy
National Charter School Research Project
National Council on Teacher Quality
National Education Association
National Education Writers Association
National Governors Association
National Institute for Excellence in Teaching
National School Boards Association
New Leaders for New Schools
New Schools Venture Fund
The New Teacher Project
New Vision
Pre-K Now
Harvard's Program On Education Policy and Governance
Progressive Policy Institute
PPI's 21st Century Schools Project
Public Agenda
Public Impact
Reading Reform Foundation
Rick Hess' World HQ
The Savvy Source for Parents
Scholastic Administrator
School Data Direct
Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Services
Standards Work
Teach for America
The Teaching Commission
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Trust for Early Education
Uncommon Schools
United States Department of Education
The Urban Institute

Opinions on Eduwonk reflect the views of the author, Education Sector does not take institutional positions. Outgoing links do not constitute an endorsement.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Making It Up As You Go Along

In Washington they give the students beer while they're taking the state's standardized tests! OK, that's not quite true...but I'd be allowed to say it on the exam anyway!
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

George Who?

More evidence that Republicans on the Hill really are running scared: They could only find 27 of them to vote against a Specter - Harkin amendment today in the Senate adding $7 billion into the budget for education, training, labor, and health.
Posted at 4:55 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

What's The Matter With Kansas?
Too much sex, apparently. So the state board of education is now requiring parental opt-in for sex ed classes. Not sure it's a good idea to keep young Kansans ignorant about this stuff though, the place is starting to get a little crowded...Actually, less to the new policy than meets the eye but as good a culture war skirmish as any.
Posted at 4:54 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Stompin' Stossel Update: Time For Edushuttle Diplomacy or Edu Don King!
The protest against John Stossel seems to have gone nowhere. So now it's letter writin' time! He's done for now! Meanwhile, Joe Williams notes that despite the anti-Stossel assault, Disney's stock is rising. You can play along yourself here. And, this still seems to Eduwonk be the best PR Stossel has enjoyed in a while.

So, here's a suggestion for the forces arrayed against Stossel: Have a public debate. There is nothing like a little sunshine and public airing of issues to make or break a case. Get an impartial, but knowledgeable, moderator like Hechinger's Richard Colvin and have UFT chief Randi Weingarten and Stossel debate the issue at hand, whether Stossel's recent 20/20 piece on schools was biased. It would pack Washington's National Press Club.

If we can't get them together live, Eduwonk will happily give them each 1000 words of eduspace here to make their cases and another 500 words to rebut each other. So far the UFT is hitting Stossel for being biased and he's hitting them for being angry at him. Let's instead debate the content of the show and let the public decide.

Posted at 2:46 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Fat Envelope, Thin Envelope, Thinking Outside The Envelope
At Inside Higher Ed Ed Sector's Carey writes that the attention to competitive college admissions at this time of year obscures the reality of higher education today:

Only 11 percent of college-bound seniors enroll at institutions that reject a majority of their applicants. For most students, the hard part of college isn’t getting in — it’s getting out.

The numbers are stark: Only 37 percent of college students graduate in four years, less than two-thirds finish in six...

...the media should look beyond their own lives and aspirations when they shape the public perception of higher education and the admissions process.
Posted at 11:11 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Stop The Presses...Literally
US News education ace Ben Wildavsky, who not only writes for the magazine but plays a key role in projects like the college rankings and their book on how to become a teacher, is leaving the magazine early next month to head to the Kauffman Foundation to be a senior fellow in research and policy. He's a catch, implications for US News and for Kauffman.
Posted at 8:45 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

If You're Going To San Francisco...

...be sure to wear a...flack jacket. The contract situation is deteriorating and word on the edustreet is that some serious eduunrest could be in the offing...Perhaps the corybantic guestblogging Joe Williams will have more 411...

Update: He does.
Posted at 5:49 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

More Milwaukee Vouchers
NPR's "On Point" hosts a discussion/debate about school vouchers. MJS's Alan Borsuk, voucher researcher John Witte, voucher proponent Howard Fuller and opponent Stan Johnson. It's a well done and informative discussion without the hysterics, worth checking out.
Posted at 4:12 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

NYC Parents
There is a lot of debate going on in New York City about what "parents" want. Joe Williams rounds it up at Chalkboard for you.

Two thoughts (plus a bonus thought). First, it's important to disentangle professional parents groups, which, not to put too fine of a point on it, are often shills for the teachers' unions from average parents.* See, for instance, here and here. Second, the "parent groups" in New York City have now decided they oppose public charter schools there. This is probably tied into larger disagreements that these groups have with Bloomberg-Klein. But, considering the popularity of existing charter schools in New York City and the waiting lists, it is sort of ludicrous to say that "parents" oppose them. (Disc. I'm on the board of NYSCA).

*What's also unfortunate here for Eduwonk's money is that UFT head Randi Weingarten's charter initiative is pretty forward looking though very controversial within the AFT. This will just complicate that.
Posted at 9:31 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Blood In The Water
Over at This Week Martin Brody Russo attacks CAP's Robert Gordon over his Ed Week commentary about national standards ($) (which was based on this Eduwonk post during Gordon's guest-blogging stint here).

Russo's right that the politics of this issue are too frequently ignored. There are lots of people in the think tank world all hot and bothered about this. Yet despite thoughtful arguments for and against the idea none of them can explain --beyond generalities-- how this issue actually goes anywhere on the Hill considering the political realities up there, and regardless of what happens in November. It's one of those classic "where the rubber meets the sky" think tanky moments.

But it's not fair to castigate Gordon for having a tin ear just because this week's news about testing screw-ups coincides with his piece. One doesn't get an Ed Week commentary published in real time. Nor should he be castigated for raising the issue. It's an important one, worthy of debate on the merits, and at some point perhaps the politics will change particularly as NCLB becomes more ingrained and the debate turns more toward what NCLB 2.0 and 3.0 ought to look like.

Also, all that said, Gordon's piece is really well done and worth your time to read.

Update: Russo backpedals.
Posted at 9:04 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ms. Frizzle Sizzles

Very interesting post by Ms. Frizzle responding to some FAQ's. Worth reading it all.
Posted at 3:29 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

If You Say It They Will Come, Part Deux
It’s a grim reality, but educators must face this fact, says Southington school Superintendent Harvey Polansky: It’s harder to get into the University of Connecticut’s undergraduate teacher preparation program than it is law school.

So says this article (thx to reader DP).

Perhaps, but that would make U-Conn's program pretty exceptional. US News ranks its law school 49th in the nation and it has an acceptance rate of 20 percent. Meanwhile, while data isn't available on the undergraduate education program, the graduate program at U-Conn has a master's level acceptance rate of 86 percent and a Ph.D. acceptance rate of 31 percent.

Part one here.
Posted at 12:24 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

What's In An AYP Rating? And, Why It Matters
Most everyone in the political and policy world was fixated on all the "what does it mean" questions about Sunday's NYT Mag story on Mark Warner. But there was also some chattering about the Outlook spread on No Child Left Behind in the Wash. Post. It was well done including reactions from DC-area principals, an NCLB primer by Jay Mathews, and a map of DC-area schools (pdf) not making "adequate yearly progress" or AYP.

But despite the primer, readers might have been left wondering about these adequate yearly progress targets. That's understandable, it's confusing, and they're not the result of a single calculation. Instead, it's a multi-step process with opportunities to increase or decrease the level of difficulty at each one. It goes something like this:

First, the state chooses a test to use. This can be a pre-existing test used elsewhere, a custom-designed one based on the state's standards, or a combination of the two. Obviously, the degree of difficulty is a big issue here.

Second, the state decides what the cut score on the test will be for a student to be "proficient" as well as "basic", "advanced", and any other delineations of performance the state wants to have. In other words, how many questions does a student need to answer correctly? For No Child Left Behind the most important category is proficient because that is what the law's "adequate yearly progress" ratings are based on. There are several methods for determining cut scores. What's most important to remember about them is that they all rely on professional judgment. There is no revealed source of truth about what a fifth-grader or a high school student needs to know and be able to do. At the risk of oversimplifying too much, the three most common methods are based on using expert judgment from a panel of experts to come up with cut scores, comparing and contrasting how various groups of test takers do on the test, and scaling the questions from easy to hard and determining various delineations for performance along the scale. Again, plenty of chances to increase or reduce the level of difficulty in this process.

But, while newspapers commonly report the percentage of students passing a test, they rarely report on what the cut scores are and when and how they are set. The composition of the professionals involved also matters a lot. Is it just K-12 teachers, or outside experts for instance representatives of higher education, too? Lack of attention to this process is unfortunate because there is plenty of opportunity for mischief and a state with a difficult test and a high cut score, say 40 out of 50, is going to have different results than a state with an easier test or a low cut scores. But, cut scores of half to 2/3 of the questions correct in order to be "proficient" are not at all uncommon. All this is public information or can be obtained through a FOIA. And it's all extremely relevant to all this.

Finally, the state uses the test and the cut scores for its own accountability system and now for No Child Left Behind. What NCLB basically requires is for state to set escalating targets for how many students at a school must be proficient on the state test in order for that school to make adequate yearly progress under the federal law. This is where there is a lot of confusion. Over time the No Child Left Behind doesn't make the tests harder, in other words it doesn't require states to change the cut scores, rather it raises the percentage of students at a school who must pass the test. It's worth noting that this percentage of students who must pass for a school to make AYP is still often relatively low, you can see state plans and targets here. And, in addition to looking at how many students overall pass the test, No Child also holds schools accountable for how well minority and low-income students do as well. It's this latter requirement that is causing a lot of the angst about NCLB as schools that were previously considered to be excellent schools don't make AYP because poor youngsters or low-income youngsters are lagging far behind. Good AYP primer here (pdf).

So, while the Post package on Sunday was excellent and nice attention to the issue, a chart clearly showing readers cut scores on these tests, the percentage of students at a school who need to pass the test in order for the school to make adequate yearly progress, and perhaps some professional evaluation of the state standards (divergent groups like the Fordham Foundation and the AFT periodically produce these and groups like Achieve also study standards and tests) as well as any other relevant context might have helped give readers a fuller picture of what's happening and why.

That's because the mix among these variables matters a lot. Difficulty of the test, what the cut scores are, and what the state's adequate yearly progress targets are all bear on the final percentage of schools making or not making AYP.
Posted at 10:59 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

It's Over...
Gotta be fast on the draw around here. Reader Emily Cherniack of the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition & Language Instruction Education Programs was the first to email the correct answer to this morning's contest: Ravitch was Kosar's dissertation advisor. She wins a book (second prize, two books!).
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Three New Reports
Ed Trust turns in an interesting new report (pdf) about student achievement patterns. Overall punchline: Encouraging signs in elementary schools, still slow times at the nation's high schools in terms of the gaps. The report is basically a repackaging of 2003-2005 achievement data but it's useful one-stop shopping for this information and a handy dashboard.

RAND takes a look at California's public charter schools. Most critics and the Kool-Aid drinking proponents will be unhappy with the sober and evenhanded report (pdf):

Our results from California show that charter schools generally perform on par with traditional public schools, but they have not closed the achievement gaps for minorities and have not had the expected competitive effects on traditional public schools. On a more positive note, they have achieved comparable test score results with fewer public resources than have traditional schools and have emphasized non-core subjects. The evidence shows that charter schools have not created “white enclaves” or “skimmed” high-quality students from traditional public schools—in fact, charter schools have proven to be more popular among black and lower-achieving students and may have actually created “black enclaves.”

Ed Sector's Carey takes a look at what's happened with No Child Left Behind's mostly overlooked emphasis on better targeting federal education dollars to low-income kids in a new Chart You Can Trust. Eduwonk flashback here and here.
Posted at 10:31 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Two Standards Op-Eds...And A Contest!
Kevin Kosar, author of this book about national standards, turns in an op-ed on their resurgence as an issue. In The Chronicle of Higher Education Diane Ravitch discusses the evolution of national standards setting.

There is a connection here, non-issue specific, first reader to email it in wins a free copy of Collective Bargaining In Education: Negotiating Change In Today's Schools.
Posted at 8:45 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

More Russo Comments...And, EduPuppy Love Or EduStalking?
While remarking on how nice it is to see edublogs engage with one another This Week's Russo takes a minute to whine that "real blogs have comments." Boo hoo. We've discussed this before but it's worth airing.

First, contra Russo's assertion, isn't the fact that three edublogs can have an ongoing debate evidence that you don't need a comments feature to foster discussion rather than evidence you do?

Second, with a few exceptions, I don't really see much value in comments. Sorry, I know it's not bloggy PC to say that, but they tend to be (a) pretty scarce* in the eduworld and overall (b) a lot of "me tooing" (c) often factually challenged on all sides the issues and (d) name calling and howling at the moon.** And, for all that, they're a lot of work to maintain, particularly on higher traffic blogs and if you carry an organizational brand (the quid pro quo for organizational tech support) so you have to monitor them.***

Finally, this whole standard that Russo and a few others**** seek to establish is unserious and undemocratic. It's unserious because having comments makes something a "blog" in the first place? Tell that to Andrew Sullivan, Instapundit, etc...It's undemocratic because what makes blogs interesting as a medium is their diversity. My blog is no more or less bloggy than some random person blogging about their personal life or an organizational mouthpiece blog and we all ought to resist this "bloggier than thou" temptation to start drawing lines. It's human nature, but still our better bloggy angels should prevail. Frankly, this whole thing strikes me as typical and marginal whining about process over substance anyway.

*Let's be serious, not infrequently Russo pastes emails and posts from other blogs into his comments so I don't see some flourishing orgy of public expression being extinguished here.

**By the way, I reserve the right to change my mind about all this as time goes on but I don't see the great value lost right now.

***I don't have the time to censor the likes of Mr. Sun.

****I seem to have an adorable little edustalker named One-L following me around the edusphere whining and harrumphing about this very issue. See, for instance, here and here. It's kinda cute and flattering and all that but at the same time a little creepy, too. Just in case, do they have edurestraining orders? It does make me wonder how on earth NCLB will ever get "fixed" if this is how One-L spends her, apparently scarce, time...And, by her temporal logic, the AFL-CIO's fun blog, isn't a blog after all either...hmmm...Coming Next: "One L" says Eduwonk isn't a real blogger 'cause Eduwonk isn't his real name. Dang! That one won't work either...
Posted at 8:35 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post