Latest Edu-Reads

Max Marchitello finds that pension spending in Maryland is regressive. Accounting for pension spending amplifies the total spending gap between high- and low-poverty school districts by 34 percent.

“Chicago has the most pension debt of any major U.S. city, a shrinking population and an $838 million budget gap—and the city’s teachers have been striking since Thursday.” That sentence pretty well sums up this WSJ article on the many challenges facing Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Here’s a longer deep dive into the structural issues and the tough trade-offs pensions are forcing on state and local budgets.

In her 2003 book, Elizabeth Warren proposed an open enrollment system for schools. After reading her recent education platform, Andrew Ujifusa is asking, “why didn’t Warren propose open enrollment for public schools in her platform? Does she no longer support such a system? If not, why?”

Why do we assign new teachers to the hardest jobs? Although they can’t answer that question, a new study by Paul Bruno, Sarah Rabovsky, and Katharine Strunk documents the extent of the problem.

Speaking of new teachers, this is a great new ECS resource on what states are doing to support teacher recruitment and retention.

This is a cool piece from EdNavigator on how they think about building a language-inclusive culture and how it relates to their work with parents.

Mike Goldstein, the founder of Match Education in Boston (and a frequent Eduwonk commenter!), has a great entry in Fordham’s Wonkathon about why struggling students remain below grade level, and how to help them.

And here’s an update on the school that LeBron James supported in Akron.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman  

Latest Edu-Reads

Carrie Hahnel has a new piece up at looking at California Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal to spend $850 million to “buy down” school district contribution rates. Hahnel finds that districts with fewer low-income, English learner, and foster youth students will receive more of a benefit, mainly because those districts can afford to pay their teachers higher salaries.

Speaking of pensions, I have a new piece out this week on teachers and other public servants who lack Social Security coverage. Specifically, I write about two special rules Congress created to deal with workers who split their working careers in and out of Social Security. Those two provisions–the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset–are wildly unpopular, but I argue they help preserve the Social Security program’s progressive benefit formula.

A big new study looks at what happened after England got rid of its national teacher pay schedule. The authors conclude that, “These results provide clear evidence that public sector pay scales have a negative impact on productivity. Once schools have the freedom to set salaries, schools in high competition areas experience significant gains in student achievement. The gains in student performance were largest in schools that were the most restrained by national pay scales, those in high wage labor markets with high proportions of disadvantaged students.”

David Deming writes that, “The advantage for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors fades steadily after their first jobs, and by age 40 the earnings of people who majored in fields like social science or history have caught up.”

Bellwether’s Gwen Baker argues we need technology-driven learning tools designed to meet students where they are AND whole-course curriculum that assumes students are already performing at grade-level.

The actress Geena Davis is behind an effort to hold television networks accountable for producing children’s content with equal representation of males and females. In my opinion, the online version of the story has an unnecessarily provocative headline, whereas the print version went with the more neutral, “How Geena Davis is making children’s tv more equal with the help of tech.” Either way, it’s a good story.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman  

Latest Education News

“Enrolling in a Boston charter school doubles the likelihood that students lose their special education or English Language Learner status, but exposes students to a high-performing general education program that includes high intensity tutoring, data driven instruction, and increased instructional time. The positive effects extend to college: charters nearly double the likelihood that English Language Learners enroll in four-year colleges and quadruple the likelihood that special education students graduate from two-year college.” That’s from this new working paper from Elizabeth Setren.

Jason Weeby has five lessons about designing effective convenings.

Read Max Marchitello on how teacher pension plans exacerbate salary differences across districts. The comparisons of teachers in Santa Clara versus Oakland, CA are particularly eye-opening.

Two interesting data briefs on early-career teachers in North Carolina public schools from Kevin Bastian and EdNC. See this one on placement rates by preparation program, subject area, and race/ ethnicity of the teacher candidates. And this one on early-career performance and retention.

Are colleges of education really cash cows? NCTQ’s Amber Moorer digs into some new data suggesting it might be time to retire that myth.

And if you liked The Lion King, you should probably read this.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

Advancing Equity in the Classroom with High Expectations for All

Each year, AVID has the opportunity to provide professional learning for over 70,000 educators. Nearly four decades of training experience have taught us that the most impactful learning occurs when we help educators understand the WHY?

At AVID our foundational WHY is equity: ensuring that all students have the skills, knowledge, and opportunities to maximize their potential, to realize their dreams, and to feel connected to and responsible for others. Equity is not something we DO; it is an outcome of what we do and our most powerful levers are our mindsets, beliefs, and our instructional decisions and actions.

The hallmark of AVID’s professional learning is immersing educators into rigorous learning experiences examine their mindsets, challenge their beliefs, and experience instructional practices that scaffold learning to meet high expectations. The goal: equip educators to close opportunity and achievement gaps by ensuring equitable access to rigorous learning for students.

The Head: Aligning Mindset

Creating equitable classrooms requires a particular mindset. An educators mindset communicates how we expect students to show up in the classroom – whether we invite them to make the space their own or require them to comply to a pre-established environment. Mindset also drives expectations – do we evaluate a student’s chance of success based on perceived talent or on their willingness to work hard? These expectations determine whether or not students receive access to opportunities and support necessary to achieve at high levels.

Therefore, we encourage our educators to examine their “heads” or mindsets, reflecting honestly on how they impact students’ agency and ownership for their learning and how mindsets can set the stage for how hopeful and committed students feel to their success.

We challenge our educators to monitor responses to students’ attempts at learning for language like “Why do you think you got those results? What can you learn from them?”  or “I wonder what other options your group can try?” We want them to be able to indicated whether the messaging growth-oriented.

We also invite our educators to evaluate to what degree the classroom is student-centered vs. teacher-centered – what is on the walls, who does the most talking during a class period, and if lesson plans include more authentic student-driven activities or teacher lecture – and we ask them to consider the implications.

If equity is about creating opportunities for all students, educators must exercise mindsets that promote opportunity, hope, growth, and support.

The Heart: Building Relationships

Building relationships is a vital skill set for teachers. If educators are unable to connect with our colleagues, students, families, and community, then we cannot be successful in the classroom. Having capacity to build relationships – especially with students – is what makes it possible to do the hard work of remedying inequities in the classroom. Authentic relationships are built from beliefs that everyone deserves respect and that learning about others enhances our understanding of ourselves and the world.

Teaching students how to build relationships is also paramount–it enables students to collaborate in meaningful ways, to leverage others’ strengths and knowledge to learn, and to feel comfortable trying new things and potentially failing. What the teacher models and holds students accountable for in the classroom sets the stage for how well students build relationships elsewhere.

We encourage our teachers to create opportunities – including through learning experiences and the physical space – that allows students to authentically engage with one another.

A classroom where students are actively engaged in the learning because they care about living up to the teacher’s expectations, they care about what their peers think and say, and they take risks because relationships make it safe – here you have an equitable playing field.

The Hands: Leveraging Strategies

This is where the rubber meets the road: using instructional strategies that will challenge students and will also scaffold their learning to reach the high expectations bar.  This is also about equipping students with an arsenal of strategies that are portable, so they can learn anything anywhere–that’s maximizing potential and driving equity.

AVID’s WICOR framework provides a way to ensure rigorous teaching and student access. When students are Writing, Inquiring, Collaborating, Organizing and Reading every day, they improve their communication skills, critical thinking, and sense of ownership and efficacy. When educators are facilitating learning by leveraging these strategies to encourage learning, they are helping students tackle challenging content. Students learn how to write like a scientist, for example, and how to write focused notes; how to inquire like a designer; how to collaborate like a project team; and how to organize their thinking, time, and things.

Equitable teaching is accomplished when educators have high expectations for their students and they establish productive mindsets, build authentic relationships, and leverage intentional instructional strategies so students can meet those expectations.

Michelle Mullen oversees learning programs, products, and services, including K–12 and higher education curriculum, English learner and STEM support, publications, professional learning, leadership development, and AVID National Demonstration Schools. These teams support schools and districts with program resources and learning experiences to ensure quality AVID implementation, educator engagement, and student achievement. Ms. Mullen believes passionately in the potential of our young people and she is energized by work that builds student and educator capacity, opportunity, and hope.