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February 16, 2015
Come intern at Chalkbeat
Chalkbeat is offering a total of five paid, 10-week internships. Four are focused on daily education reporting in our four bureaus (New York, Denver, Indianapolis, Memphis), and one is a New York-based business development internship.
December 24, 2013
We’re on hiatus
EdNews is taking a brief pause during the holidays to recharge and prepare for the big relaunch as Chalkbeat Colorado.
February 25, 2013
Voices: A new beginning for EdNews Colorado
Alan Gottlieb reflects on a significant new development for EdNews Colorado, including the hiring of a new managing editor.
May 16, 2012
Commentary: How Denver looks from Memphis
A Memphis TV station gives Denver high marks for the Denver Plan and turnarounds. Watch and see if you think they got it right.
May 13, 2012
Commentary: Becca Bracy Knight podcast
The Broad Center's Becca Bracy Knight discusses the center's work developing talent to run school systems in this season's final Hot Lunch podcast.
March 18, 2012
Commentary: The shoe, the gourd & integration
Alan Gottlieb is publisher of Education News Colorado. The views expressed below are his alone and do not reflect the positions of EdNews or the Public Education and Business Coalition. I can think of no better preface to this piece than this wonderful clip from Monty Python's Life of Brian: A lively comment stream last week on an Education News Colorado story about Denver’s new SchoolChoice system prompted me to take a journey into the not-too-distant past. From 2001-2007, the second two-thirds of my decade at The Piton Foundation, I focused a lot of attention and a fair number of dollars on promoting socio-economic school integration. I believed then, as I do today, that integrated schools serve society well in a number of ways. While I subscribe to the softer arguments about promoting diversity and tolerance, what I found most compelling were the data on how low-income students fare better in economically mixed schools.
January 11, 2012
Commentary: Big artillery in the value-added wars
Researchers from Harvard and Columbia recently released the results of a massive study of the impact of teaching on student success, in school and later in life. The study tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years. The New York Times featured the study in an article last Friday. Value-added measures have been one of the hot-button issues in education, especially since the Los Angeles Times released its analysis of teacher effectiveness in 2010, naming names. The study found that "great teachers create great value – perhaps several times their annual salaries – and that test score impacts are helpful in identifying such teachers." But it also cautioned that: more work is needed to determine the best way to use VA for policy. For example, using VA in teacher evaluations could induce undesirable responses that make VA a poorer measure of teacher quality, such as teaching to the test or cheating. People will likely view this study through the lens of their preconceived notions and biases. Those who disparage value-added methodology will find ways to shoot holes in this study, while those who favor using test scores as a means of evaluating teacher effectiveness will say it conclusively bolsters their case. Here is a video of one of the study's authors presenting its findings. Let us know what you think.
November 3, 2011
Opinion: Summit 54 grows up
In September of 2010, Tony Caine, a wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur and options trader, invited a group of education policy experts to his adopted hometown of Aspen to talk about an idea he was hatching to help motivated, low-income students make it to and through a four-year college. I attended and wrote about that Summit 54 gathering and came away impressed by Caine's enthusiasm and spirit, but concerned that he was tying to create a new program in a field already crowded with organizations doing similar work with varied levels of success. Some of the other attendees I spoke with after the meeting felt much the same way; that Caine had the kernel of a good idea but might be wise to put his money behind an existing organization instead of creating something from scratch. During the meeting, Caine, now a youthful 54, invited people to be blunt with him when they thought his thinking was flawed. And they complied. It was hard at the time to tell whether Caine was taking the advice to heart. In the fall of 2010, he had already invested a good deal of time and money into creating Summit 54. He'd even spent big chunks of the previous year climbing all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks. It's now clear that he did indeed listen. The evidence sits in a shopping center at the intersection of East Iliff Avenue and South Buckley Road in Aurora, where the gorgeously appointed and well-equipped CollegeTrack-Summit 54 headquarters was dedicated Thursday night. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Aurora Public Schools Superintendent John Barry were among those present.
October 19, 2011
Sen. Bennet's elegant tirade
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is usually a fairly soft-spoken guy. But after U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., employed a procedural move to halt a committee hearing on overhauling the No Child Left Behind Act Wednesday, Bennet made his displeasure abundantly clear. It's a measured and elegant tirade. Here's the video:
October 18, 2011
See who was invited to meet with Bush
Here's a full list of who will be meeting with former President George W. Bush Thursday at the offices of the non-profit group Get Smart Schools. Apparently the group was limited to under 25 and there was more demand than space. Strange, given Denver's reputation as a progressive city and Bush's reputation as not our most progressive president. The list:
October 14, 2011
Opinion: Hancock blasts school board dysfunction
Perhaps he was tired after a long night dealing with the Occupy Denver situation, but Denver Mayor Michael Hancock made some of his most forceful and critical public comments ever about the current school board during an event Friday morning. “If there was ever an argument for mayoral control, it was watching the board of education operate," he said. “But I know we can do better and I believe the people of Denver are going to show it on Nov.1.” That's when the city's voters will decide three of seven seats on the Denver Public Schools board. Hancock also for the first time publicly endorsed Jennifer Draper Carson for the District 5 northwest Denver seat. During a “Charter School Community Conversation” in Green Valley Ranch, sponsored by the Colorado League of Charter Schools, Hancock said that as a candidate earlier this year he decided that as mayor he would not push for control of DPS. The district, he said, “does not rise to the level of chaos and dysfunction” that prompted mayors and legislatures in places like Chicago, Hartford, Conn., and Washington, D.C., to seize control of the schools.
October 12, 2011
Clearing up misconceptions about online schools
This article was submitted by Lori Cooney, president of the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families. As an advocate of online public education in Colorado, a parent of successful online students, and a taxpayer, I am concerned that recent media attention focused on Colorado’s public online schools is only fueling some common misconceptions about this education option. Worse, if left unchecked, these misconceptions may ultimately become a pretext for misguided attempts to undermine public online schools and leave thousands of Colorado parents without a public school option that works for their child. Among those misconceptions is that online education somehow is a threat to traditional (sometimes called brick-and-mortar) schools, supposedly encroaching on their students and resources. But quite the opposite is true. While online school enrollment has grown substantially—precisely because it does serve such a critical need—it nonetheless accounts for less than 2 percent of all public school students in Colorado. In other words, online enrollment is barely a blip on the curve in terms of the overall fiscal status of public education.
October 3, 2011
Opinion: From the publisher: On teacher bashing
I attended an education reform conference last week as part of a panel on the “new media landscape” before a group of advocates and funders. I had the chance to sit in on a few other sessions, and some of what I heard got me thinking about the phenomenon of so-called “teacher-bashing.” Like many phrases tossed about in the current education debate, “teacher-bashing” is overused to the point of abuse. Up to now, I’ve tended to side with education advocates who scorn the phrase because it’s trotted out by teachers’ union spokespeople and their allies whenever someone criticizes a contract provision, or tenure, or speaks in favor of using standardized test scores as part of a teacher’s evaluation. But the more I listen to the way some “reform” advocates talk about teachers, the more I hear an underlying disdain that helps me understand why some educators are quick to trot out the “teacher-bashing” canard. Here’s the crux of the problem as I see it. People who denigrate some teachers for not being good enough to meet society’s current educational demands are aiming their disdain at the wrong target.
September 25, 2011
Does serving high-achievers well require segregation?
The blog post below this one synthesizes a recent article that is classic Rick Hess; questioning the conventional wisdom and making a compelling argument for something many of us would rather not confront. It's a brilliant piece, sure to spark a lot of debate. But I've found a puzzling inconsistency in his argument, which I hope he will address here or elsewhere. In his article, in which he questions the wisdom of focusing our educational priorities on narrowing achievement gaps (which, he argues, are being narrowed by pushing the top down as much as lifting the bottom up) Hess makes a pitch for school integration and tweaks "reformers" for dismissing it: ...in a terrible irony, achievement-gap mania has indirectly made it more difficult for reformers to promote integrated schools. Philanthropic foundations that support education causes are interested in serving as many poor and minority children as possible; when 30% to 40% of a student body is made up of white or affluent students, the school is deemed suspect, as reform-minded foundations see such programs as “wasting” a third of their seats. Bragging rights go to charter schools or programs that have the highest-octane mix of poor and minority kids. The upshot is that it is terribly difficult to generate interest in nurturing racially or socioeconomically integrated schools, even though just about every observer thinks that more such schools would be good for kids, communities, and the country.
September 13, 2011
Student growth percentiles and shoe leather
Editor's note: This piece was submitted by Damian W. Betebenner, Richard J. Wenning and Professor Derek C. Briggs. Thumbnail biographies of the three authors appear at the bottom of this article. Bruce D. Baker recently published a critique of The Colorado Growth Model and its use of Student Growth Percentiles in his School Finance 101 blog (cross-posted on Education News Colorado). In his blog, he both mischaracterizes the SGP methodology and the policy context. Having participated in creating the Colorado Growth Model and leading the policy development associated with it, we thought it would be useful to clarify these misconceptions. In work over the past decade with over two dozen State Education Agencies (SEAs) to develop models of student growth based upon state assessment results, one lesson that is repeatedly learned is that data, regardless of their quality, can be used well and can be used poorly. Unfortunately Professor Baker conflates the data (i.e. the measure) with the use. A primary purpose in the development of the Colorado Growth Model (Student Growth Percentiles/SGPs) was to distinguish the measure from the use: To separate the description of student progress (the SGP) from the attribution of responsibility for that progress. There is a continuum of opinion about how large-scale assessment data and derived quantities can be used in accountability systems. On one extreme are those who believe large-scale assessment results are the ONLY “objective” indicator and thus any judgment about educator/education quality should be based on such measures. At the other extreme are those that hold that any use of large-scale assessment data is an abuse.
September 12, 2011
Hess: Don’t trust ‘I’m for the kids’
People seeking a dose of iconoclastic thinking and blunt talk about education reform might want to seek out Rick Hess. A resident…
September 6, 2011
Lobato case: Whose constitution is it, anyway?
Editor's note: The following piece was written by Ken DeLay, executive director of the Colorado Association of School Boards. Students do not show up at the schoolhouse door equally well equipped for success. We know, for example, that young children who grow up in homes where adults regularly read and speak to them by age three have heard 30 million more words and have a vocabulary more than twice as large as children who grow up without those experiences. There are also differences in intellect and a host of other factors that affect student learning. Colorado’s public schools have been rightly challenged to accept every one of these children, no matter how well equipped to learn, and to launch them into adulthood 12 years later fully prepared for college or career. Leaving aside the legal analysis and the political jousting, the plaintiffs in the just-concluded Lobato trial are seeking only recognition of the fact that it costs more to educate the child with a vocabulary less than half that of his peers and a life experience of hearing more than 30 million fewer spoken words, and an order requiring the state to create a plan for funding those costs. The plaintiffs’ claims are rooted in an old idea. We get what we pay for.
September 2, 2011
Student growth percentiles are problematic too
Editor's note: This piece is cross-posted from Bruce D. Baker's School Finance 101 blog. Baker is a professor at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. He recently testified for the plaintiffs in the Lobato Colorado school funding trial. In the face of all of the public criticism over the imprecision of value-added estimates of teacher effectiveness, and debates over whether newspapers or school districts should publish VAM estimates of teacher effectiveness, policymakers in several states have come up with a clever shell game. Their argument? We don’t use VAM… ‘cuz we know it has lots of problems, we use Student Growth Percentiles instead. They don’t have those problems. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! Put really simply, as a tool for inferring which teacher is “better” than another, or which school outperforms another, SGP is worse, not better than VAM. This is largely because SGP is simply not designed for this purpose. And those who are now suggesting that it is are simply wrong. Further, those who actually support using tools like VAM to infer differences in teacher quality or school quality should be most nervous about the newly found popularity of SGP as an evaluation tool.
August 30, 2011
From the publisher: EdNews site enhancements
Today, we are introducing some enhancements to the Education News Colorado website. As time goes by, we learn more about gaps in information that a site like ours can fill. We also study data from Google Analytics and elsewhere to see which of our offerings are most popular with readers. We’re committed to being responsive to what our readers want and need. Here is a list of what’s new on the site, all of it easily found through our new, secondary menu bar, which sits under the main menu bar, just below the EdNews logo: Easy access to databases. Our searchable databases of information on subjects including test scores, remediation rates, state ratings and drug offenses by schools are now grouped conveniently under a new heading on the secondary menu bar. Click on the EdNews’ databases item under the Data Center heading to find the list of databases. In-depth issues. Another new secondary menu bar item highlights a current education issue to which we’ve dedicated extensive coverage. This item debuts with a link to all EdNews stories on the Lobato funding adequacy trial. Timely topics. Here is the place to go if you want to sound like an education wonk. Read our CliffsNotes-like summaries and descriptions of complex education topics and you’ll be able to spout off on issues like those on the site today -- state testing, school funding and vouchers. Over time we will add additional topics pages. Do you have a topic in mind you’d like to see summarized in an accurate, objective fashion? Drop us a line. Easier access to education law and bill tracker features. The secondary menu bar now provides easy, one-click access to this popular and useful feature. The tracker allows you to read new education law and, during the legislative session, bills that are working their way through the system.
August 30, 2011
Why won't DPS spread ELL success to innovation schools?
The following article was submitted to EdNews by Denver school board member Andrea Mérida. It is also posted on her blog While the politics of education reform swirl all around us, it’s important to keep clear on what works and what doesn’t. The good news is that the Denver Public Schools is actually doing very well in supporting a particular segment of our student population, English learners. The confusing part is that we seem ready to ignore that fact and follow a path that is completely divergent from real, lasting reform. The right path to close the achievement gap and provide opportunity for all Denver’s students is clear, and we would do well to heed the evidence. In 1999, the Department of Justice won a decision on behalf of the Congress of Hispanic Educators which asserted that the Denver Public Schools lacked adequate programs for students of limited English proficiency. DPS was ordered to allow parents to choose either full Spanish-language instruction, sheltered instruction (English with instructions in Spanish) or complete English immersion for their children (Click here to read those court documents). Around 35 percent of DPS students are classified as English language learners (ELLs). Not all these students come from Spanish-speaking homes; they also speak Vietnamese, Arabic, Somali, Nepali, and Karen/Burmese. Spanish-speaking students represent around 57 percent of DPS’ ELL population. The CSAPs taken in March 2011 show that “exited” ELLs, or those students who now are proficient enough to be placed in English-only classrooms, outperform district averages. Keeping in mind that these standardized tests are only an indicator of performance, these students also have surpassed Asian/Pacific Islander and Anglo students in many categories. These exited ELLs now take the CSAP in English. The following graphs show the percentages of elementary-aged ELLs scoring at or above proficiency in subjects tested by CSAP. ELLs outperform their Anglo counterparts in reading, writing and math and are very competitive with Asian students in science.
August 26, 2011
CEA responds to PACE op-ed
The following was submitted by Mike Wetzel, public relations director for the Colorado Education Association. The Colorado Education Association has no problems and much praise for the title of Tim Farmer’s editorial, “Professional associations are the future of teaching.” Nearly 40,000 education professionals have voluntarily chosen to join CEA because they believe membership in this organization advances the teaching profession in Colorado. That phrase would’ve made a great CEA bumper sticker, had we thought of it first. After the title, though, Mr. Farmer launches into a false argument that an organization with a union component - one that advances the teaching profession by advocating for fair salaries, decent working conditions and legal protections - cannot also have a robust, even larger, professional component. Our recent work on the state council to define educator effectiveness for a new statewide evaluation system, in accordance with Senate Bill 191, is a great example of CEA’s professional achievements. CEA had three members on the State Council for Educator Effectiveness who pushed for statewide accountability measures.
August 23, 2011
From the publisher: Some random thoughts
Having stayed out of the fray for several months working on the business end of EdNews, I’ve gained some distance and perspective on the flashpoints that have been dominating the education reform debate. From a freshly detached point of view, a few things seem clear to me. In no particular order: *** Granted, it makes no sense to evaluate educators solely on how students perform on standardized tests, imperfect instruments at best. It makes even less sense, though, to escalate this to a generalized anti-testing frenzy, as some have done. Measuring progress and achievement is essential to improvement. So by all means, find some others measures to augment testing, and throttle way back on the test-prep and test-score obsession. But keep testing. *** Both “sides” in the reform debate like to use Finland as an example of a country that has solved the public education puzzle. On one side, advocates point out that Finnish teachers are unionized, effective and well prepared. They are a respected and admired pillar of Finnish society. Advocates on the other side point out that the teachers in Finland have had to clear some high bars to get into the profession. It takes more than a pulse and an inflated grade point average to get a Finnish teaching license. Until we can figure out how to make teaching a true profession in this country, and attract a larger number of highest caliber applicants, our education system will not match Finland’s results. What can we do to make teachers feel efficacious? How do we make teaching a career as appealing as engineering, law or medicine? And then what do we do about current teachers who wouldn’t be able to clear the Finnish bar?
July 27, 2011
Opinion: Campaign launches; funders unknown
The One Chance Colorado education reform advocacy campaign officially launches today with a 30-second TV ad on five stations, a website and social media presence. Here’s a look at the campaign’s first ad: I wrote about the campaign last week, and there’s not a lot more detail to offer than what leaked out then. Look for billboards, signs at bus-stops, and a presence on Twitter, Facebook and the web. The statewide campaign has been in the works for over a year. The timing of its launch corresponds with the start of a new school year, former Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien said yesterday. The campaign is tentatively scheduled to last through September, but could go longer depending on the success of fundraising efforts.
July 26, 2011
Will Dougco 'voucher charter' undermine charter schools?
Editor's note: This post and the one that follows offer two differing perspectives on aspects of the Douglas County School District's voucher program, which is slated to begin early next month, but is being challenged in court by several groups. This post was submitted by Jim Griffin, president of the Colorado League of Charter Schools In recent days, the Colorado League of Charter Schools has publicly commented on its concern about the Douglas County Choice Scholarship charter school. First, we want to make it clear that our concerns are about the way Douglas County School District is choosing to implement its scholarship program. We are not taking issue with Douglas County’s intentions nor its scholarship program in general. Charter schools were built on the foundation of innovation and choice. Therefore, the League applauds Douglas County’s attempts at using innovation to provide parents with additional educational options. Unfortunately, however, the Douglas County School District decided to use the Colorado Charter Schools Act as a vehicle to implement their voucher program, which creates a number of issues and could ultimately be detrimental to the Colorado charter school community as a whole.
July 21, 2011
Opinion: High-octane ed reform campaign coming
National education blogger Alexander Russo broke news yesterday about a new and well-funded education reform advocacy campaign that will launch in Denver next week. Called “One Chance Colorado,” the eight- to 10-week campaign will use billboards, slick, political campaign-style TV ads, bus stop posters and web-based strategies to push for “accountability at every level;” recruiting and supporting strong teachers and getting rid of weak ones; investing in good schools and “rapidly addressing” underperforming schools; and putting education ahead of politics. There will also be a “field organizing” component to the campaign. People involved in the campaign were reluctant to discuss it ahead of next week’s official launch. But here’s what I’ve learned:
July 20, 2011
"Using the indefensible to defend the status quo"
Interesting thoughts from Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle on how some standardized testing critics are using the Atlanta scandal to overstate their case. Here's a highlight: Plenty has already been said about the cheating scandal at the Atlanta school district. And, as one would expect, education traditionalists such as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Diane Ravitch proclaimed that the mess proved that standardized testing leads to perverse incentives that force teachers to behave unethically, provide low-quality instruction, and ultimately, poorly serve the children in their care...
July 7, 2011
National ed blog highlights: July 7
Here's a sampling of interesting blog posts from around the country over the past several days. The unnoticed NEA policy shift. Intercepts Education reform’s big lie exposed! The Frustrated Teacher Test cheating in perspective. Paul Hill, writing on Eduwonk Poverty matters. But so does school reform. Students First Promise Neighborhoods update. Paul Tough Obama and schooling: Two fact patterns. Rick Hess
July 5, 2011
Opinion: Schoales taking helm at A+ Denver
The A+ Denver citizens committee is about to get a makeover, with longtime Denver education reformer Van Schoales taking the helm of the organization later this month. By hiring Schoales, the A+ board and its co-chairs, Terrance Carroll (former speaker of the state House of Representatives) and Mary Gittings Cronin (who ran the Piton Foundation for 21 years) would seem to be signaling a desire to raise the organization’s profile and sharpen its edge. (Full disclosure: Schoales and I are old friends, and he is a frequent contributor to the Education News Colorado opinion and commentary blog) Cronin said the organization would continue to pursue its mission – “to harness the power of Denver's civic leadership to build public will and advocate for reforms necessary to dramatically increase student achievement in public education in Denver.” She said expects that Schoales “will relate well with Superintendent (Tom) Boasberg and we look forward to him reenergizing and reactivating the membership of A+.” But she also made it clear that Schoales’ job isn’t to act as head cheerleader. “We expect that under his leadership the focus of A+ will continue to be as it has been, which is providing support to the DPS reform agenda, but also very importantly holding the district accountable for results. Everything is focused on academic success for kids.”
June 22, 2011
National ed blog highlights: June 22
More education opinion and commentary from across the country. Eva Moskowitz of Geoffrey Canada for NYC mayor? GothamSchools Family values don’t matter anymore? Thoughts on Education Policy blog The rise and fall of teacher ‘coolness.’ Philadelphia Notebook KIPP and the college completion conundrum. Rick Hess Straight Up Rage against the machine. Mike Antonucci’s Intercepts D.C., Detroit and school autonomy. The Quick and the Ed Why I am marching July 30. Diane Ravitch Disruptiness in K-12: Historical perspectives. Sherman Dorn
June 15, 2011
National ed blog highlights: June 15
Here is our weekly roundup of interesting posts from education blogs around the country. Duncan’s imperial overreach. Rick Hess More on overreach. Hess again Public employee unions vs. Dem governors. Intercepts First year of “Teacherpocalypse” – less that 1% reduction in force. Intercepts On treating students, educators like rats in a maze. Ravitch, Bridging Differences A different take on the study Ravitch lauds. Joanne Jacobs Whatever happened to intrinsic motivation? Failing Schools The upside and downside of urban school reform. Larry Cuban Choice is not a magic integration bullet. Learning First Alliance
June 14, 2011
Grade inflation rampant at ed schools?
This graph illustrates the extreme grade inflation that prevails at many schools of education. The X axis represents GPA (4 is an A, etc). Read more here.
June 13, 2011
Omaha integration plan highlights challenges
Anyone who has read this blog over time knows that my librul heart bleeds for school integration, and particularly socio-economic mixing of student populations. Other bloggers and commenters here have pointed out that economically integrating schools is a sweet and quaint notion, entirely impractical in an environment where neighborhoods are segregated and local control rules the day. And, some argue, since "no excuses" schools are proving that high-poverty student bodies can succeed under the right conditions, why batter one's head against the brick wall of integration? That all may be so. I believe in multiple strategies, though, so while letting a thousand "no excuses" flowers bloom, I also hope communities keep looking for creative ways to foster integration. A new article in The American Prospect highlights one community's push to socio-economically integrate its schools. Omaha might not seem the likeliest place to push an aggressive integration agenda, but the Learning Community program is unlike anything I've read about elsewhere in the country.
June 12, 2011
Marc Tucker's provocative new manifesto
Marc Tucker and his National Center on Education and the Economy made a big splash back in 2006 with the publication of "Tough Choices or Tough Times," a provocative manifesto calling for a radical overhaul of public education in the U.S. Tucker's central argument was that we are falling far behind other nations because we are stuck in old paradigms about how education should look. Now, in an update of sorts, Tucker has released "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants," a 47-page paper that lays out two major and fundamental steps he believes the U.S. must begin taking immediately. Characteristically forceful and provocative, Tucker lays it out in stark terms:
June 9, 2011
Listen to Ravitch, Alter talk past each other
It's billed as a debate, but the 35-minute session featuring Diane Ravitch and Jonathan Alter Wednesday on a local talk show was more two people filibustering than anything resembling a true give-and-take. Host David Sirota didn't pretend to be a disinterested third party, coming down, as one would expect, firmly on Ravitch's side. Listen to it here. (Thanks to GothamSchools) Still, having the two on his program was a coup of sorts. The dust-up between them began when Ravitch wrote an op-ed last week in the New York Times, in which she questioned the "miracle" mythology around certain schools, including Denver's Bruce Randolph. Alter, a long-time Newsweek correspondent who now writes for Bloomberg News, penned a column accusing Ravitch of attempting to derail current reforms. He called her "the education world’s very own Whittaker Chambers, the famous communist turned strident anti-communist of the 1940s." Neither Ravitch nor Alter broke new ground, but they spent at least 10 minutes talking about Bruce Randolph. Ravitch, the hater of standardized tests, used test scores to build her argument that Randolph is an abysmal school, while Alter said based on growth data, Randolph looks more like the shining star President Obama, Michael Bennet and others have held it up to be. If you have no opinion on the matter, have a listen. I doubt you'll feel terribly enlightened or swayed by either Ravitch or Alter. If you come down on one side or the other, then you'll probably feel your champion scored a knockout.
June 8, 2011
National ed blog highlights: June 8
Our latest, idiosyncratic scan of education blogs yielded several interesting posts. Enjoy. A glut of new reports raise doubts about Obama's teacher agenda. Dana Goldstein Lessons for a business community ready to step up. Rick Hess Straight Up The business of teacher evaluation. Stephen Sawchuk, Teacher Beat Diane Ravitch responds to Jonathan Alter's broadside. Bridging Differences Responding to Ravitch: The ends of education reform. Mike Petrelli, Flypaper
June 7, 2011
PBS’ Merrow on ‘grading schools’
This nine-minute video from the PBS News Hour examines an elementary school in the Bronx suffering from low test scores and poses the question:…
June 6, 2011
DPS' response to the credit recovery controversy
Editor's note: This post was submitted to Education News Colorado by Antwan Wilson, Denver Public Schools' assistant superintendent, office of post-secondary readiness. It offers the district's response to this blog post from EdNews Publisher Alan Gottlieb, and this article from Westword. I wanted to take this opportunity to address the concerns raised in recent media reports about the credit recovery at North High School. The issues raised in the report are very serious ones, and we are actively investigating the claims and reviewing our overall credit-recovery procedures. Should we find violations of our guidelines or ethical standards or the need to implement clearer or stronger policies, we will take action to ensure the integrity and rigor of that program and all of our programs. We certainly recognize that for our diplomas to have value, our programs must be - and be seen as - rigorous. In addressing the concerns about rigor, it’s important to take a minute to discuss the purpose of credit recovery and where it fits in our overall high school programs. To date, that investigation has determined at a minimum that there were serious deficiencies in following procedures and keeping records during the 2009-10 school year. First, a word on rigor. Over the past several years, the Denver Public Schools has significantly strengthened the rigor of its high school programs. The district has increased the number of credits required for graduation from 220 to 240 (the highest in the state to our knowledge) by adding a fourth year of math and additional lab-science requirement, among other changes. We have nearly doubled the number of students taking and receiving college credit from Advanced Placement courses over the past five years, and we have also nearly tripled the number of students concurrently enrolled in college-level courses. The percent of concurrently enrolled students receiving As, Bs, or Cs in these college level courses (and therefore college credit) is over 80 percent. And these increases cross all racial and socioeconomic groups. Our district also has posted double-digit gains in math and reading proficiency on state assessments over the past five years. Our mission at DPS is to ensure that all of our students graduate high school and successfully pursue postsecondary opportunities and become successful world citizens. This is an important mission in that it sets a high bar that requires that we implement a system district-wide that meets the needs of all of our students regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what their previous academic performance may have been. Aligning mission to Denver Plan This mission aligns with the 2010 Denver Plan goal of being the best urban school district in the country. It says that we recognize and appreciate the diversity within our student population and the many unique needs of our students and we are making it our responsibility to construct a system that prepares all students for success in the college and career opportunities they seek. READ THE REST OF THIS STORY IN THE BLOG ARCHIVE
June 2, 2011
National ed blog highlights: June 2
Here is an unscientific sampling of education blog highlights from the past several days: Charter schools and low-SES kids: Damned if they do, damned if they don't? Matthew Yglesias Seven obvious things in education that are ignored. Washington Post Answer Sheet blog Eight reformer state education chiefs endorse NCTQ review of teacher prep programs. Teacher Beat blog Diane Ravitch is right to pop myth balloons about miracle schools (including Bruce Randolph) Flypaper Data-driven policymaking? In your dreams. Larry Cuban's blog Big flaws in NYT piece on Gates Foundation influence. Rick Hess Straight Up READ THE REST OF THIS STORY IN THE BLOG ARCHIVE
May 31, 2011
From the publisher: "Juking the stats" in DPS
“Juking the stats. Making robberies into larcenies. Making rapes disappear. You juke the stats and majors become colonels. I’ve been here before.” -- a cop-turned-teacher in HBO’s series “The Wire,” when asked to boost test scores. Last week’s article in Westword about abuses in Denver North High School’s “credit recovery” program touched a nerve, and for good reason. It’s a textbook example of kids being used to make adults look better. There’s no reason to believe the problems detailed in Melanie Asmar’s story are limited to North. In fact I’ve received emails from people at other Denver high schools alleging similarly questionable practices. And the New York Times wrote a national story about credit recovery abuses in April. I’m sure most of the adults involved - heck, probably all of them – allowed and in some cases encouraged kids to cheat on credit recovery homework and exams thinking it was in the best interest of those kids. So many studies, after all, have shown that young people’s prospects improve significantly with a high school diploma. District leadership needs to do some soul-searching about whether the pressure exerted on high schools to improve graduation rates tacitly encourages school administrators to juke the stats to make themselves and the district look better. If the diploma has been watered down to the extent that the credential becomes meaningless, though, then every graduate of North High School is hurt by this extreme manifestation of the “pobrecito syndrome” (as in “oh, these poor babies’ lives are so hard we can’t expect too much of them.”) There’s also an element here of gaming the system for less altruistic reasons. Juking the stats doesn’t just happen in “The Wire.” It’s exactly what happened in North High’s credit recovery program. For those of you who haven’t read it, here are the main points from Asmar’s story. READ THE REST OF THIS STORY IN THE BLOG ARCHIVE
February 20, 2011
Podcast: Budget cuts rock education world
Can steep budget cuts be eased a bit? EdNews Capitol Editor Todd Engdahl discusses Hickenlooper's plan ... [click arrow]
September 16, 2010
Opinion video: Youth critique, praise new non-profit
Summit 54, a new non-profit started by an Aspen hedge fund manager, aims to help “academically motivated” eighth graders attending sub-par high…
August 19, 2010
Video: First day of school in Denver
August 13, 2010
Video: DPS dedicates Evie Garrett Dennis campus
Former DPS Superintendent Evie Dennis at the dedication of a three-school campus named in her honor…
May 11, 2010
Lt. Gov. O’Brien praises EdNews
Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien…
April 29, 2010
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March 6, 2010
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March 3, 2010
College students protest budget cuts
February 10, 2010
West Denver Prep lottery: Exultation, despair
February 4, 2010
Denver Public Schools makes high school gains
January 19, 2010
VIDEO: Colorado Race to the Top submission press conference
Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien…
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