The last two days have been extremely educational.
On Wednesday, I was with a group of state leaders, convened by CCSSO, wrestling with Common Core implementation and all of the issues tied to it (assessments, accountability, human capital, etc.).
The combined effect of these events is my heightened concern about the chances for the kind of implementation that produces the ground-shaking results so many have forecast.
The good news is that lots of talented people are engaged in this work. That gives me hope.
The bad news is that the work is extremely complicated and this is getting obscured by lots of sycophantic cheerleading. (Two bright spots from today: Rick Hess’s general skepticism about CC implementation and USED’s Joanne Weiss’s encouragement of a “continuous improvement” mindset that will accept setbacks and lead to course corrections.)
I’m going to write more about these matters in the days to come. But for now, I’d like to call your attention to a recent report. Before I went to work for a state department of education, I probably wouldn’t have read “Strength in Numbers,” the study on state assessments by Brookings’ Matthew Chingos.
But my time at an SEA and today’s CC struggles have taught me just how important and complex (and underappreciated) assessment issues are. Tests are expensive and they serve as
The boring National Children's Museum could be considered a by-product of our nation's poor social-studies standards.
Photo from In The Air.
The so-called “National Children's Museum” that recently opened in Washington has already been panned in the Washington Post as a feeble excuse for a national anything—and a bore for kids.
No, I haven't been there myself—and based on that review will not hasten to take my granddaughters. But a friend recently took her young children, and this commentary makes a link that hadn't occurred to me but turns out to be painfully plausible:
“A couple weeks ago my family went to the new ‘National’ children's museum. The whole small place felt like the sad outworking of too many years of mushy social-studies standards. No structured content, just a mish mash of world culture with clothing and food prep, etc., focusing on their place in the world, neighborhoods, even a bunk bed to understand...not sure what.”
Fordham has been reviewing state social-studies standards (well, history standards) for fifteen years now and has never found more than a few bright spots—that is, states that have done a good job of organizing their academic expectations for this key subject. South
Zuckerberg will give away $500 million to Newark schools.
Photo by deneyterrio via photopin cc.
After a massive donation to district schools of Newark, NJ, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is planning to give away $500 million to education and health, with details TBD. I’d love to see Mr. Zuckerberg invest in the urban school system of the future instead of jamming more money into broken urban districts. My intellectual doppelganger, Neerav Kingsland, feels the same way.
The ladies of Politics K-12 always know what to write about. This piece about RTTT-D scoring by Michele McNeil is a great example. It has all of the pertinent information that a casual RTTT-D follower could want and valuable insights for those closer to the competition. It’s a must-read for people interested in federal education policymaking and implementation—and for anyone trying to learn how to blog.
Add Indianapolis to the list of cities doing chartering right: Stanford’s CREDO found that not only are its charters improving student performance at a faster clip, they are serving a similar student demographic. Indy joins the ranks of NYC, New Orleans, and Newark as cities showing how a charter sector can significantly outperform the failed
The remarkable spread of free online courses through American higher education has prompted major soul-searching and some fast footwork among traditional universities and their national organizations.
The next step: K-12 MOOCs provided by topflight schools to students beyond their own campuses.
Photo by poperotico via photopin cc
You can already find “MOOCs” (massive open online courses) on a host of websites, created and delivered by a wide array of institutions and individuals.
As I write, Coursera offers 207 courses, ranging from astronomy to public health, presented by professors at such upscale schools as CalTech, Duke, and Stanford (where, as best I can tell, all this originated—and just a few years ago). Udacity offers about twenty courses, EdX (founded by Harvard and MIT) around ten.
Providers such as these are proliferating and expanding via a hodgepodge of for- and non-profit organizations with offerings that range from free to pricey. And participation is soaring, too. Coursera claims two million course-takers worldwide—and since the courses are online, one can indeed take them anyplace, anytime.
This remarkably rapid development carries huge potential for universalizing and customizing higher education and for enormous cost savings. But it collides with age-old traditions and deeply entrenched practices regarding how one earns a college degree—and it also carries enormous risks. Who determines which students “pass” these on-line
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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