Would-be education reformers love to chide teachers. I’ve chided at times myself. But a recent New York Times article on artificial intelligence-based, computerized essay grading reminded me of one criticism that I find especially irritating . . . all the more since it generally comes from people whose proposals I otherwise support. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/science/new-test-for-computers-grading-essays-at-college-level.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 The criticism goes like this: Teachers and schools aren’t taking advantage of the huge breakthroughs in educational technology because they’re stuck … Continue reading»

So does the Common Core really matter, anyway?

When the debate over the common core standards first erupted, my initial reaction was, “do standards really matter that much, anyway?” This still strikes me as a good question. For all the fears and hopes surrounding the new standards, I can’t help wondering why so many people assume  that more rigorous standards (and of course the rigor of the new standards is itself disputed) will drive either true reform or … Continue reading»

An update on the voucher debate

  Again, my apologies for the long radio silence. We had a death in the family, and I’ve been too preoccupied to pursue my usual web surfing. I’m back home now, and wanted to share a couple of interesting articles about school vouchers. Yesterday’s New York Times ran an update on voucher laws around the country. I found the article remarkably balanced, with commentary from voucher supporters and … Continue reading»

Another bite at common core science standards

My apologies. This is the longest I’ve gone without posting since starting up this blog. A visit to family has been extended to include a funeral, and I’ve slackened off my internet surfing to attend to family issues. But I thought I’d quickly share this interesting article about the proposed common core science standards. The author’s biggest problem with the standards – the absence of required laboratory experiments … Continue reading»

Drawing the line in third grade?

Okay, here’s one where I’m genuinely torn. Today’s Washington Post included an article entitled “States draw a hard line on third-graders, holding some back over reading”.  A number of states, including the usual reform-minded suspects such as Florida and Indiana, have adopted a policy of holding back students who cannot read at the end of third grade. Their reasoning: After third grade students are expected to read for information, and students … Continue reading»

Another bite at a testing moratorium

I posted earlier on efforts by Washington state teachers to boycott standardized tests. Last month the superintendent of schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, likewise called for a testing moratorium while the state moved forward on implementing the common core standards. Here’s a link to his Washington Post op-ed: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/schools-need-time-to-implement-common-core-standards/2013/02/07/fb3a20dc-6bff-11e2-bd36-c0fe61a205f6_story.html Although the Superintendent Starr gives this only a glancing and indirect mention, much of what’s at issue in Maryland … Continue reading»

From time to time I’ve hosted guest bloggers (and I’m very willing to host more.) Today I am posting an article from Lisa Snell, who is the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank with a strong libertarian bent. And let me note again that I am not myself a libertarian, although I share a tendency to think that market competition often … Continue reading»

Some good education news from Florida

  From time to time I’ve highlighted states that have pursued education reforms especially aggressively. One of these states – and a state that Utah legislators have looked to as a model – is Florida. Here’s a quick summary from The Washington Post: Florida schools were given letter grades based on academic progress and achievement — a measure Bush said would provide parents a clearer picture of school … Continue reading»

When bribery succeeds

Okay, let’s be honest here.  Teachers – like parents – sometimes resort to bribery. If you write an additional practice essay  I’ll give you extra credt ( my personal favorite.) If you work quietly and productively at your desks for 15 minutes, we’ll watch the last ten minutes of that video before the bell rings. But what about bribing teachers? Teachers, or perhaps more accurately their official representatives, have generally … Continue reading»

Taking a harder look at Head Start

In his State of the Union Address President Obama called for a major expansion of preschool programs, though where he planned to find the money wasn’t quite as clear. It’s hard to quarrel with programs designed to give disadvantaged kids a boost, which is one reason why Head Start has proved virtually sacrosanct. Trouble is, the evidence suggests that a program costing about $8 billion a year, or $10,000 … Continue reading»