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Education News Bulletin: 30 August 2010

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  • bayarea-edupreneurs-owner@yahoogroups.com
    NewSchools and Our Ventures in the News Press Release: Teachers Trained by TNTP Earn Top Ratings for Third Consecutive Year in Louisiana Study: The New Teacher
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2010

      NewSchools and Our Ventures in the News

      Press Release: Teachers Trained by TNTP Earn Top Ratings for Third Consecutive Year in Louisiana Study: The New Teacher Project Earns Highest Ratings for Preparing Exceptionally Effective Teachers in Math, Reading, English Language Arts and Science

      NEW ORLEANS - The New Teacher Project's teacher preparation program consistently ranks among Louisiana's most effective, according to the third-year results of a state-sponsored study by researchers at Louisiana State University. TNTP was the only teacher preparation provider in the state to earn the highest possible rating for training effective teachers across four core subjects: math, reading, English language arts and science. According to the study, new teachers trained by the program showed evidence of being "more effective than experienced teachers" in advancing student academic growth in each of these subject areas. New teachers enrolled in TNTP's Louisiana Practitioner Teacher Program (LPTP) earn their certification during their first year teaching—a rigorous, field-based approach that immediately exposes teachers to the realities of the classroom and accelerates teachers' post-certification impact on student learning. It is specifically designed to help career changers who are new to teaching be immediately effective in high-need schools. (The New Teacher Project)



      For more information on the study, see also:


      New Orleans Schools Seize Post-Katrina Momentum


      NEW ORLEANS--As public schools open all over the city this month, you don't have to look far for signs of how the education landscape here has changed since Hurricane Katrina struck five years ago. There's the towering billboard visible from Interstate 10 near the Superdome urging families to enroll at Sophie B. Wright Charter School, just one example of the dominant place charters now fill in New Orleans' mix of schools. There are the arrays of portable classrooms that still serve as homes for some schools awaiting permanent facilities….. "We're experiencing a dramatic increase in academic achievement," said Paul G. Pastorek, the state superintendent of public instruction. "But perhaps more importantly, we have a revival of public schools in New Orleans. And it's a revival that has a lot of legs." Mr. Pastorek said another significant change is the influx of talented people from outside New Orleans who are now leading or teaching in the city's schools. "We've been successful in creating a pipeline of talent to New Orleans that we've never been able to attract before," he said, citing as examples the work of nonprofit organizations such as Teach For America, the New Teacher Project, and New Leaders for New Schools. "We have an environment where innovation and creativity is paramount. It's welcomed, it's nurtured. People see what's happening, and they want to be here." (Education Week – subscription required)




      Katrina rewrites the book on education in New Orleans


      NEW ORLEANS--Of all the things damaged by the storm and subsequent levee breaches, public education has arguably undergone the most far-reaching makeover. Most New Orleans schools were seized by the state and transformed into independently managed charters. Thousands of teachers were fired, and their union contract was never renewed. In a matter of months, the pre-Katrina New Orleans school system, infamous for corruption, rock-bottom academic performance and feces-smeared restrooms, was no more. On the fifth anniversary of Katrina, the city is in the midst of a vast educational experiment, with the futures of its most disadvantaged children at stake. Nearly three-quarters of the public schools are now charters, making New Orleans the first majority-charter city in the country and giving rise to a free-enterprise landscape that has spurred innovation but also created tiers of haves and have-nots. Test scores as a whole have risen rapidly, but some schools are performing abysmally, with others comprising a vast middle group, improving but still struggling to teach basic reading and math to low-income students who came in three, four, even five grade levels behind. … For now, Vallas allies like Jacobs wield enormous behind-the-scenes power. Each one of the city's nearly 60 charter schools has an appointed board whose workings often remain mysterious to the public. Then, there are nonprofits like New Schools for New Orleans, whose names are unknown to the average parent, but who perform vital functions such as training educators and deciding which charters deserve seed money. (Times-Picayune)




      Formative assessment that `clicks' with students


      NEW YORK--Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School, a member of Uncommon Schools, is the only school in New York City where every student in grades 5-8 passes the state exams. In grades 6-8, 75 percent of the students pass with advanced scores. Mathematics teacher Eric Green attributes this success to high student motivation and engagement. "The traditional procedural approach to math education doesn't get the students thinking and therefore doesn't lead to a full conceptual understanding," said Green. "At Uncommon Schools we're much more focused on the conceptual component than just showing students how to do it. Supported with direct instruction, our students explore problems and think critically." (eSchool news)




      East Palo Alto school test results soar -- too late: Boost in test scores too late to save Stanford charter school, shuttered in June


      EAST PALO ALTO--Success is bittersweet for Stanford University School of Education Dean Deborah Stipek. California Star Test results shot up this spring for students in the Stanford-sponsored charter school, East Palo Alto Academy Elementary School. But results of the May test, posted last week, were too late to save the three-year-old school. Citing poor academic performance, trustees of East Palo Alto's Ravenswood City School District voted April 22 to shut down the charter school. It closed its doors in June. Stanford continues to operate a charter high school in East Palo Alto, the East Palo Alto Academy High School. The Stanford elementary school's approximately 250 students -- who, along with their parents, had packed the Ravenswood trustees' meeting to plead for renewing their school's charter -- will go back to attending neighborhood campuses when the new school year opens this week…. Stipek said the early scores of East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS) -- now the top-performing public school in East Palo Alto -- were even worse than those of the Stanford school.  "If (EPACS) had been judged on the same criteria, they would have been shut down a long time ago and we wouldn't have seen the incredible good work they're doing now," Stipek said. The 13-year-old, K-8 EPACS had a 2009 Academic Performance Index score approaching that of some elementary schools in the Palo Alto Unified School District. With high demand for spots at the public charter school run by Aspire Public Schools, admission to EPACS is by lottery. (Palo Alto Online)




      D.C. students head back to school for new year


      WASHINGTON - Thousands of students in the District of Columbia are headed back to school. The new academic year for D.C. Public Schools begins Monday. Some children will be attending classes in revamped buildings, including Stoddert Elementary School in Northwest Washington, which is the city's first public school with a geothermal energy system. The school system also is trying out a pilot program that will bring fresh and local ingredients to cafeterias. Revolution Foods and D.C. Central Kitchen will provide meals to 14 schools. (WTOP Radio)



      Method Ties Teacher Ratings to Students' Scores: New Approach for Evaluating Educators Used in at Least 23 States; Union Calls Rating System Too Simplistic


      LSO ANGELES--Los Angeles parents shopping for supplies may soon be shopping for teachers using data that claims to tell just how good a teacher may be, CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen reports. "That sounds like a great idea for some parents who want to know more about their teachers' background," parent Ana Barcelo said. It's called value-added analysis, rating teachers based on students' test scores.  For instance, if a student ranked in the 60th percentile tests higher at the end of the year, the teacher gets a better rating. If the student falls, the teacher's rating falls. "The main job of a teacher is to help students grow, and if we don't know if the students are growing, we can't be sure whether the teacher is effective," said Timothy Daly, president of The New Teacher Project. (CBS – Los Angeles)



      Schools: Turnarounds and Charter Schools

      Thomas Friedman: Steal This Movie, Too


      NATIONAL--While Washington is consumed with whether our president is secretly a Muslim, or born abroad, possibly in outer space, I'd like to talk about some good news. But to see it, you have to stand on your head. You have to look at America from the bottom up, not from the top (Washington) down. And what you'll see from down there is that there is a movement stirring in this country around education. From the explosion of new charter schools to the new teachers' union contract in D.C., which will richly reward public school teachers who get their students to improve faster and weed out those who don't, Americans are finally taking their education crisis seriously. If you don't want to stand on your head, then just go to a theater near you after Sept. 24 and watch the new documentary "Waiting for Superman." You'll see just what I'm talking about. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, who also directed Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," "Waiting for Superman" takes its name from an opening interview with the remarkable Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone. HCZ has used a comprehensive strategy, including a prenatal Baby College, social service programs and longer days at its charter schools to forge a new highway to the future for one of New York's bleakest neighborhoods. (New York Times – registration required)



      After the Deluge, A New Education System: Today close to 70% of New Orleans children attend charter schools.


      NEW ORLEANS--Five years ago yesterday, the levees broke. Hurricane Katrina flooded roughly 80% of this city, causing nearly $100 billion in damage. The storm forced us to rebuild our homes, workplaces and many of our institutions—including our failing public education system. But from the flood waters, the most market-driven public school system in the country has emerged. Education reformers across America should take notice: The model is working. Citywide, the number of fourth-grade students who pass the state's standardized tests has jumped by almost a third—to 65% in 2010 from 49% in 2007. The passage rate among eighth-graders during the same period has improved at a similar clip, to 58% from 44%. … This decentralized system has encouraged educational entrepreneurship. Just as businesses may use different methods to deliver their products or services, so do New Orleans's charter schools. Some of the most successful charters are run by veteran principals who prefer veteran teachers from traditional education programs. Other successful charter schools, like the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), are new to the city and rely on alternatives like Teach for America. (Wall Street Journal – subscription required)



      See also Necessity Is the Mother of Invention: After Katrina, the failing schools of New Orleans were turned over to privately run charters. Five years later, they're on the mend.



      People: Teachers and Leaders


      State Group Piloting Teacher Prelicensing Exam


      NATIONAL--Education programs across 19 states are piloting a performance-based assessment for teacher-candidates that potentially could serve as a common prelicensing measure for new teachers. Based on a test in use in about 30 education schools in California, the Teacher Performance Assessment includes a "teaching event" requiring teachers to extensively document and submit for review artifacts of their planning, instruction, and ability to assess and respond to student needs. Five of the states taking part in the work—Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington—have committed in legislation to use a performance-based licensing test, and officials have signed memoranda of understanding agreeing to adopt the assessment if it proves to be technically valid and reliable. Supporters of the initiative see in the work an opportunity to focus on classroom-based effectiveness at the precertification benchmark—an area that has not received much attention as policymakers tackle the tenure-granting and annual evaluation processes. (Education Week – subscription required)



      Teachers blast L.A. Times for releasing effectiveness rankings


      LOS ANGELES--National and local teachers unions sharply criticized The Times on Sunday when the newspaper published a database of about 6,000 third- through fifth-grade city school teachers ranked by their effectiveness in raising student test scores. "It is the height of journalistic irresponsibility to make public these deeply flawed judgments about a teacher's effectiveness," said a statement issued by United Teachers Los Angeles. The database is part of a Times series that rated teachers by using a "value-added" analysis based on seven years of standardized test scores obtained from the Los Angeles Unified School District. The value-added method looks at previous student test performance and estimates how much a teacher added to or subtracted from a student's progress. By late Sunday afternoon, the database had generated more than 230,000 page views, an indication of the interest in the issue because Web traffic tends to be higher during the week. (Los Angeles Times – registration required)




      L.A. schools chief says district will adopt 'value added' approach: Cortines wants the method based on student test scores to count for at least 30% of instructor evaluations. But the teachers union must consent.


      LOS ANGELES--Revamping teacher evaluations with the goal of helping instructors improve has become an urgent priority in the nation's second-largest school district, Ramon C. Cortines, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said in an address to administrators Wednesday. Cortines said the district will develop and adopt a "value added" method that determines teachers' and schools' effectiveness based on student test scores. And he told a packed Hollywood High School auditorium that he's committed to using these ratings for at least 30% of a teacher's evaluation. The plan would require the consent of the teachers union. In a later interview, Cortines also said he was disappointed that California lost its bid Tuesday for $700 million in federal Race to the Top school improvement grants. L.A. Unified's share would have been $153 million. (Los Angeles Times – registration required)



      For more on LA, see also 'L.A. Times' Teacher Ratings Database Stirs Debate (by Larry Abramson) at



      U.S. schools chief to push disclosure of education data


      NATIONAL--U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will call for all states and school districts to make public whether their instructors are doing enough to raise students' test scores and to share other school-level information with parents, according to a text of a speech he is scheduled to make Wednesday. "The truth is always hard to swallow, but it can only make us better, stronger and smarter," according to remarks he plans to deliver in Little Rock, Ark. "That's what accountability is all about — facing the truth and taking responsibility." The lack of public accountability in California's schools compared with those in some other states could have been a factor Tuesday in the state's failure to win any money in the federal government's competitive Race to the Top education grant program. (Los Angeles Times – registration required)




      Lack of union support cited in Colorado's loss of Race to Top education funds

      COLORADO--Federal reviewers downgraded Colorado's Race to the Top application for education stimulus funds citing lack of union support, historic failure to raise student achievement and a "vague" plan. Colorado lost for the second straight time in the national grant competition, mystifying education reformers around the country who had touted the state's plan as one of the nation's most ambitious. Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien, who led the state's Race to the Top effort, said she would recommend against reapplying if the federal government hosts another round. "Something very fundamental in the process would have to change," she said. Colorado finished 17th out of 19 finalists with a score of 420 on a 500- point scale — the average of scores from five panelists who judged the state's application. (Denver Post)




      Tools: Academic Systems and Solutions


      New Website Lets Students Bet On Grades


      NATIONAL--Many parents pay their kids for bringing home 'A's. The web startup Ultrinsic.com will let college students wager cash on their ability to meet -- or exceed -- a certain grade. Ultrinsic's co-founder, Jeremy Gelbart, says the venture will motivate students, while critics fear it could encourage online gambling. (National Public Radio)




      States Inch Ahead on Reporting Graduation Data


      NATIONAL--More than eight years after the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law, some states still aren't complying with its requirement that they report graduation rates for subgroups of students, such as English-language learners or economically disadvantaged children. But officials from some of those states now say they've gained the capacity to report those numbers and will be ready when the federal government requires graduation rates for subgroups of students to be used to judge adequate yearly progress under the law in the 2011-12 school year. In the 2007-08 school year, the most recent for which state-by-state data reported to the federal government are available, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia reported a graduation rate only for "all students," not for any subgroups, in their consolidated state performance reports to the U.S. Department of Education. (Education Week – subscription required)




      Online Learning Attempts to Make the Grade in Chicago Schools


      CHICAGO--Clinton Parker, a senior at Julian High School, worked quietly at his computer in August as the clicks of mice from more than a dozen students punctured the air of an otherwise silent computer lab. A teacher zipped through the classroom, assisting students as they worked their way through online classes that they had either failed during the school year or needed to pass to catch up with classmates. By the time summer school had ended, Parker was among the more than 4,000 city schools students who earned credits taking online courses. What would have taken another year of school—much of which Parker readily admits he would have skipped -- took just a few months, and he received his diploma. The "credit recovery program" at Julian illustrates why supporters say online learning has the potential to revolutionize education. It can be inexpensive, convenient and flexible—valuable attributes for a cash-strapped district like the Chicago Public Schools. For those reasons, it's now one of the fastest-growing areas of education. But research hasn't kept up with the rapid expansion, making it tough to know whether the programs really work. Chicago Public Schools now offers a battery of online programs, ranging from math and reading enrichment, in which elementary students spend a few hours a week online using a specific curriculum, to a virtual charter school with students learning almost entirely from home. (Education Week – subscription required)




      The Education Gap Is Not A Race War


      WASHINGTON--Washington D.C. is running one of the most agressive experiments in public school reform in the country under its school chacellor, Michelle Rhee. Unfortunately for Rhee, she also happens to have a fairly contentious relationship with Bill Turque, the Washington Post's education reporter. And in today's paper, Turque reports the alarming news that the black-white achievement gap is growing: After two years of progress, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's effort to narrow the vast achievement gap separating white and African American students in D.C. public schools has stalled, an analysis of 2010 test score data shows. ...

      But year-to-year results show that progress has slowed markedly. After narrowing from 2007 to last year, the gap in secondary math proficiency widened by slightly less than 2 percentage points. Secondary reading scores show the same flattening trajectory. First of all, a small one-year blip is not front-page news. Turque dos note that the tiny one-year reversion follows several previous years of enormous gains. But this information is a reason to re-write the story completely, not to be mentioned as a caveat in a front pager touting Rhee's failure. Second, and more importantly, the growing racial gap at the secondary level is entirely caused by higher rates of growth among white students. Black students had slightly higher scores as well, just not quite as high. (The New Republic)




      Public Policy: Federal, State and Local

      Blog: Checker Finn: A sober reflection on Race to the Top results


      NATIONAL--On sober, morning-after reflection, let me say this about Race to the Top. Arne Duncan deserves at least a B for initiating and persevering with it. With a relatively small (by federal standards) amount of money, he has catalyzed a large amount of worthwhile education-reform activity in a great many places. And the directions in which he has bribed the system to move are important directions to move in. This wouldn't have happened without the program's competition-style design, with states vying for (relatively) scarce money. (It helped, of course, that states and districts are desperate for money!) But determining the outcome of a high-profile grants competition is a tricky, risky undertaking. Had the Duncan team opted to use their own judgment, the outcome might have been better in terms of who won, but he would have been accused of playing mid-term-election politics and surely the White House (and influential Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the statehouses) would have inserted themselves into that process. Meaning that the outcome might not have been better. Instead, the administration opted for strict adherence to "peer review" of the written applications that states submitted (as well as oral presentations, etc.) This is not a satisfactory system, either, as it is swayed by the selection of reviewers (not all of whom share the Secretary's reform priorities), by the criteria and instructions given to them (and how they interpret those criteria), and by skillful grant-writers who are fully capable of asserting claims, plans and promises that the actual applicants (i.e. states) have no genuine commitment or capacity to carry out. This was already a major problem 25 years ago when I worked at the Education Department and it has steadily worsened since then. (Fordham)




      Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants schools to give parents, teachers more data


      LITTLE ROCK - Education Secretary Arne Duncan, stoking a national debate over a Los Angeles Times series that examines how much individual teachers have raised test scores, urged public schools Wednesday to give educators more data on student achievement and parents a full report on teacher effectiveness. "In other fields, we talk about success constantly, with statistics and other measures to prove it," Duncan said in the advance text of a speech he planned to give Wednesday evening in the Arkansas capital. "Why, in education, are we scared to talk about what success looks like? What is there to hide?" Duncan added: "Every state and district should be collecting and sharing information about teacher effectiveness with teachers and - in the context of other important measures - with parents." (Washington Post – registration required)




      Louisiana: $1.8. Billion for Schools Lost to Katrina


      LOUISIANA--The Obama administration will give New Orleans $1.8 billion in a lump-sum reimbursement for schools that were damaged or destroyed in the flooding after Hurricane Katrina, Senator Mary L. Landrieu, a Democrat, announced Wednesday. The settlement will pay for 87 school campuses in the city to replace the 127 that existed before Katrina. The public education system in New Orleans was in the first stages of a radical overhaul before the storm, with the creation of a state-run Recovery School District in addition to the pre-existing Orleans Parish School Board. Over three-fifths of the city's students now attend charter schools. A spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not confirm the figure but said that a major announcement would come later in the week. (New York Times – registration required)




      Jay Mathews: Forget about the achievement gap


      WASHINGTON--The D.C. mayoral race is deeply split on most issues, but everyone agrees on one thing: We must reduce the achievement gap between minority and white students. It is too bad, then, that that the gap is such a mindless measure of school progress. D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray says: "The achievement gap ... really has not been reduced over the past three years irrespective of test scores. It really is an important thing. " Mayor Adrian Fenty's campaign web site endorses the gap's significance but insists the mayor has "narrowed the achievement gap by as much as 20 percent . . . from 2007 to 2009." The Post's splendid columnist Colbert I. King says the gaps in test scores between the children of city's affluent and poor, between white and black, "go to the heart of school reform efforts." The actual numbers tell another story. Here is what my colleague Bill Turque reported in his Aug. 19 story on the education issues in the mayoral race: "Average math scores of white D.C. fourth graders [on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)] grew from 262 in 2007 to 270 last year (on a scale of 500). Scores rose three points for D.C. African American students, from 209 to 212. So the gap widened from 53 to 58." (Washington Post – registration required)






      The Humanities for Love, Not Money


      NATIONAL--WHEN the renowned educators Mortimer J. Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins first decided to expand their Great Books course beyond the University of Chicago's walls, they recruited some of Chicago's most prominent businessmen. In what was called the Fat Men's Great Books Course, the executives and their wives started meeting every other Friday evening in the fall of 1943 to discuss Plato, Shakespeare and Goethe. The course eventually evolved into the Basic Program in Liberal Education and is now run out of the Graham School of General Studies, the university's continuing education arm. And despite the recent recession, enrollment has increased in recent years, said Daniel Shannon, dean of the school. Other continuing education programs around the nation have noticed a similarly strong interest in their arts and humanities courses. This growth comes amid a vigorous debate in the broader world of education about whether courses and material should be tied more tightly to the job market. Training more engineers and technicians is a constant refrain. (New York Times – registration required)




      You've Been Pre-Approved

      NATIONAL--If community colleges were to find all the formerly enrolled students whose academic records qualify them for an associate degree and retroactively award them the credential, then the number of associate degrees awarded in the United States would increase by at least 12%. This projection by the Institute for Higher Education Policy is one reason why it is working with the Lumina Foundation for Education to roll out Project Win-Win. The initiative will help 35 community colleges and four-year institutions in six states track down these students and those who were near completion. (Inside Higher Ed)



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