Friday, June 21, 2013

Candidates for NYC Mayor Want to Shutdown Charters

The panderpalooza among the Democratic candidates for NYC mayor is a total disgrace, as Michael Benjamin highlights in this op ed:

None of the Democratic candidates for mayor has a plan for the city schools other than not being Mike Bloomberg. That’s it.

Well, not quite: They have one education policy: Bashing Eva Moskowitz, founder of the highly successful Success Academy Network charter schools. At every forum, you’ll hear them spit out Moskowitz’s name as if it were a curse.

The applause-line rhetoric about ending co-location is chiefly targeted at her. But in reality, the majority of co-locations involvetraditional public schools sharing a building.

Charters, and education reform generally, are now personified by Moskowitz. Her schools are safe and academically successful — yet some Democrats seem to want to shut them (and other successful charters) down.

…The anti-reform rhetoric is getting tiresome — and scary, if you care about the future of education in this city.

Instead of repairing our broken schools and restoring excellent gifted and talented feeder programs in minority neighborhoods, these candidates want to undermine most of the good schools we already have — not just successful charters, but also a key to excellence at schools like my alma mater, Bronx Science. They’d destroy 75 years of scholastic excellence based upon academic merit.

The UFT’s endorsement announcement Wednesday will probably be carried live on NY1 as though it were the Tony Awards. Many New Yorkers — not just the Democratic candidates — are anxious about who will be carrying the union’s banner in the rest of the primary season and probably in general election. Whoever earns that UFT endorsement will give charter parents and education reformers even more cause to worry.

It’s sad and outrageous that the only schools issues the candidates will address are those on the UFT’s wishlist. The future of education in New York should be more than not being Mike Bloomberg.

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UFT Endorses Bill Thompson

The UFT ended up endorsing Bill Thompson yesterday. (Also see Labor Seeks Influence in New York’s Mayoral Race). Yawn. DFER’s ED Joe Williams explains why:

In fact, on the same day that the UFT delegates will meet to make their mayoral endorsement, the union is scheduled to launch a task force to find out why more than four out of five active classroom teachers are completely disconnected from the once-proud union. In elections this spring, only 18% of the city's teaching force cared enough about what the UFT was doing that they even bothered to vote. (And of the 18% of active teachers who actually voted, one out of five of those teachers voted for someone other than Mulgrew.)

Mulgrew boldly declared recently that the UFT is not going to pick a mayor, it’s going to "make" a mayor. Unless he is talking about "making" the mayor of Boca Raton, that's unlikely to happen this year.

Where Shanker could claim to be the voice of thousands of city residents who marched with him across the East River, Mulgrew, essentially, speaks mainly for the washed-up UFT activists who are more likely to be headed for the buffet line at an early bird special somewhere in Florida than the election booth in Gotham this year.

This is one of the reasons the UFT hasn't endorsed a winning candidate for mayor in nearly a quarter century, since David Dinkins first run in 1990. Once considered a prime jewel for those aspiring to live in Gracie Mansion, today the UFT's endorsement is more show horse than work horse.

Like much of organized labor, the UFT is working to confront some changing realities in its rank-and-file. I actually believe the union will find its new voice and forge a novel new connection with the city's teachers at some point, out of necessity. The UFT endorsement will once again be one that truly matters in New York City. Just not this year.

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Doug Tuthill on Teachers Unions

 Doug Tuthill, President of Step Up for Students, which provides state-funded (tax credit) scholarships for more than 60,000 students in Florida, used to be a teacher union leader, so he has particularly interesting insights into how far the unions have fallen:

Over the last 20 years, the federal government and state governments have used standards, assessments and regulatory accountability to assert more top-down control over classroom teachers. As state-mandated teacher evaluation and merit pay systems have become ubiquitous, the level of teacher disempowerment and alienation has soared, and teacher unions have hunkered down and become even more defensive and conservative.

School choice is the way out – not only because it is breaking down public education’s 19th Century industrial management model, but because teacher unions are so economically tied to this model they are fighting to preserve it, even though it is bad for teachers and students. 

Ironically, teacher union dues today are used to perpetuate a dysfunctional management system, and to protect teachers from being abused by this same system. It’s crazy.

I say this as a former teacher union leader.

I started teaching in fall 1977. In January 1978, I sat at a table with other teachers and heard a divorced mother with two young children tearfully tell us she had rejected her boss’ sexual advances and now he was ending her employment contract. At the time, we didn’t have a union or a union contract.

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Fund Education Now Member Supports Charter

Gotta love this story from FL about a parent who led a Parent Trigger effort at her childrens’ school – despite being “a founding member of Fund Education Now, an organization that has been at the forefront of opposing charter school expansion and, most recently, legislation that would have empowered parents of children at failing schools to avail themselves of the same option exercised by Sket and her peers at last week's public meeting.” This is so common – unions, Ravitch, the politicians who have sold out to them, etc. fight like crazy to trap OTHER parents’ children in failing schools they would NEVER accept for their own children:

In a historic move last week, parents at Rowlett Elementary School in Bradenton overwhelmingly voted to turn their public magnet school into a charter, but one of the parents leading the effort is a longtime activist for an organization that opposes charter schools and “Parent Empowerment” legislation.

On June 10, 95 percent of voting parents and 94 percent of all of Rowlett's teachers voted to move forward a petition to the Manatee County School District to allow their school – whose magnet program focuses on performing arts, visual arts, and communications – to become the first public school in county history to be converted to a charter using a special process provided for under Florida law.

Christine Sket, a student advisory committee member with two sons enrolled in the school, has received a fair share of local press for helping spearhead the effort. But she is also a founding member of Fund Education Now, an organization that has been at the forefront of opposing charter school expansion and, most recently, legislation that would have empowered parents of children at failing schools to avail themselves of the same option exercised by Sket and her peers at last week's public meeting.

“I've distanced myself from Fund Education Now for the time being, because this does look hypocritical,” Sket, whose LinkedIn profile still lists her as being affiliated with the group, tells Sunshine State News. “But it isn't really [hypocritical].”

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Support Courtney English for Atlanta School Board

I was recently introduced (via email – we’ve not met yet) to Courtney English, a Morehouse and TFA alum and founding teacher at BEST Academy, the first all-male school in the city of Atlanta. He was elected four years ago to the Atlanta School Board at the age of 24 – the youngest person to be elected citywide in any capacity in the city of Atlanta’s history, and also the first full-time teacher elected to the Atlanta School Board. He is now running for re-election and needs to raise $100,000, so he’s asking for our support (you can donate at here). Here’s a note he sent to me to include here (also see here):

Like Whitney, I've devoted my career to improving education. I am grateful for his support and pledge to do all that I can to work toward our common goal of equality in education.
I was born and raised in Atlanta, and attended Atlanta public schools. As the only full-time teacher ever elected to the Atlanta school board, I understand the challenges facing teachers in the classroom, and more importantly, I know what it's like to be a student in that classroom.
If there has ever been a model for a system in need of reform, it is Atlanta.  51% of our students graduate from high school. We are addressing the biggest cheating scandal in education history. I have served one term on the school board and am seeking re-election because I'm not done. We must continue to clean up decades of administrative mismanagement, improve teacher evaluation systems, and enhance school autonomy.

I've got a tough race ahead of me. The status quo doesn't like change. Your generous contribution before the June 30thdeadline will help our campaign reach an aggressive goal and get us one step closer to educational equity.

I am deeply grateful for the support I have received from Whitney and look forward to earning yours.

Courtney English
Atlanta Board of Education

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Dan Loeb Stands Up to Teachers Union

Kudos to Dan Loeb for standing by his principles and standing up to bullying by the teachers union:

Daniel Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC, is escalating a battle between hedge-fund managers and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten over public-worker pensions.

Loeb, who manages $13.6 billion, had fellow hedge-fund chiefs Paul Tudor Jones, David Tepper and Paul Singer applauding in the ballroom of Manhattan’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel last month as he donated an extra $1 million to a group of charter schools to show his opposition to the head of the second-biggest U.S. teachers union.

In April, the union included the four billionaires on its “watch list” of money managers that support groups the labor organization said are hostile to traditional public pensions. The groups included StudentsFirst, an organization that backs eliminating tenure and funding charter schools at the same level as public ones.

“Some of you in this room have come under attack for supporting charter-school education reform and freedom in general,” Loeb told the audience. To show opposition to Weingarten, the “leader of this attack,” Loeb, 51, boosted his pledge to the nonprofit Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City, where he’s a director, to $3 million from $2 million.

States and municipalities seeking to boost returns for their retirement funds have invested billions of dollars with hedge funds. The AFT wants pension trustees to consider fund managers’ ties to groups that oppose defined-benefit retirement systems as a reason when hiring or firing them. Critics say that threatens the managers’ livelihoods.

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Neerav Kingsland on Relinquisher Model for Education Reform

Neerav Kingsland, head of New Schools for New Orleans, with another column focusing on the relinquisher model (as opposed to the reformer model):

In my contribution to the AEI-coordinated book A Roadmap for Education Reform, I outlined how Recovery School Districts can accelerate the three primary strategies of Relinquishment: (1) letting educators operate schools (2) giving families choice amongst these schools and (3) promoting sound government regulation over performance and equity.

Writing this chapter got me thinking: What if we were to create a roadmap not for immediate implementation but to guide us over the next couple of decades? This train of thought was further spurred on by a conversation I had with Seth Andrew, founder of Democracy Prep – where Seth told me that he’s sold on Relinquishment but that we need more arrows in our quiver if we want to significantly increase student achievement. I, of course, agreed.

So, to answer Seth’s question, what are the other arrows? Or, to put it another way, if in thirty years the United States develops an improved educational system, how will this have occurred?

My best guess: It will because of the following Four Arrows.

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RiShawn Biddle on the Importance of Strong Early Education

RiShawn Biddle on how school systems dumb down their curricula, especially for poor and minority kids. I’ve long believed that kids will live up – or live down – to whatever expectations are set for them (both at school and at home):

All kids can learn. It’s up to the adults to provide them the knowledge they need.

Just one out of every five middle-school students in seven states — California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington State — was provided Algebra 1 courses during the 2009-2010 school year. The woefulness of that statistic becomes even more so when you realize that these states have been the most-aggressive in pursuing the goal of providing all middle-school students with this important building block for success later at the traditional colleges, technical schools, and apprenticeship programs that make up higher education.

But as Dropout Nation dug deeper into the data culled from the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights database, it is especially clear that children from poor and minority backgrounds are being deprived of the college-preparatory curricula they need for future success.

A mere 13 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native students in these seven states took Algebra 1 in 2009-2010, the lowest percentage among all racial and ethnic groups. Just three states –California, Florida, and Virginia — have 15 percent or more of Native students learning about introductory algebra. Black and Latino middle school students are also less likely to gain access to Algebra 1. On average, just 16.8 percent of Latino middle-schoolers and 17.2 percent of black peers took Algebra 1 in 2009-2010. This is versus 28.5 percent of Asian students and 22.3 percent of white children in the middle grades in each state.

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Cleveland Turns Schools Around

Good news from Cleveland:

For years, public schools in Cleveland had some of the worst test scores in America; only 7 percent of their students went on to college.

But a unique partnership between traditional schools and high-performing charter schools is turning that around.

…A retired businessman and Cleveland native, Roskamm is re-opening shuttered schools across Cleveland.

He's the CEO of a group of charters known as "breakthrough schools."

"Our schools demonstrate, if they do nothing else, that there's nothing wrong with the children. That in the right environment they can thrive," said Roskamm.

"Breakthrough" uses three different models for learning.

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Private Preschools Receive Public Funding

Starting this fall, under an expansion led by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the number of Catholic schools in the city receiving taxpayer money for preschool will nearly double. Across the country, states and districts are increasingly funneling public funds to religious schools, private nursery schools and a variety of community-based nonprofit organizations that conduct preschool classes.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, about one-third of students enrolled in state-financed preschool programs attend classes conducted outside the public schools. In some states, the proportion is much higher: in New Jersey, close to 60 percent of students in publicly financed preschool are enrolled in private, nonprofit or Head Start centers, and in Florida, about 84 percent of 4-year-olds in state-financed prekindergarten attend classes run by private, faith-based or family centers.

Now, as President Obama pushes a proposal to provide public preschool for all 4-year-olds from families with low or moderate incomes, his administration acknowledges that many children will attend classes outside the public schools.

Advocates say that with standards for the educational credentials of the teachers, class sizes and the quality of curriculum, such arrangements can work.

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RiShawn Biddle on Ed Schools

Here’s more on ed schools by RiShawn Biddle:

The End of Ed Schools — and Teacher Credentialing, Part II: There are numerous reasons why far too many low-quality teachers end up in classrooms perpetuating educational neglect and malpractice on our children. One is because the nation’s university schools of education do such a shoddy job in recruiting and training aspiring teachers. Another and equally important reason is because the battery of exams (including the PRAXIS tests administered by the Educational Testing Service and exams offered by the Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium that includes the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education) used in credentialing teachers (and, in some states, even to decide whether an aspiring teacher can be admitted into an ed school), do little to weed out laggard teachers from high quality counterparts. This is a considerable problem because PRAXIS and other exams are usually the only gates available for determining teacher competence; once teachers pass the exams, they land in the classroom, unlikely to leave the profession unless a district is aggressive in weeding out laggards through the use of evaluations using objective student test score growth data. Just as importantly, the exams end up being a drudgery for teachers, who often have to take more than one exam depending on whether or not they are instructing in more than one subject.

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NCTQ Study: Stronger Teacher Preparation Needed

More on the NCTQ study from DFER-CA head Gloria Romero:

We Californians like to think our state is the national leader in policy change and innovation, that new ideas are born here and other states follow our lead.

In one area, I am sad to say, that is not the case.

California is short-selling too many of its public school students because of education programs that inadequately prepare the next generation of teachers. A new review from the National Council on Teacher Quality that evaluates educational institutions, state by state, produced some sobering results for anyone who cares about what's going on inside California schools of education.

Among the more disturbing findings from the institutions that provided data:

• Half of 72 programs for elementary school preparation failed the evaluation, a higher failure rate than programs in any other state.

• California's secondary certification structure combined with inadequate coursework requirements, particularly in the sciences and social sciences, showed that only 17 percent of programs adequately prepared secondary teaching candidates in core subjects. That compared with 34 percent nationally.

• Coursework in a majority (63 percent) of California elementary programs did not mention a single strategy for teaching reading to English language learners.

• Of the 139 elementary and secondary programs that were evaluated on a four-star rating system, 33 programs earned no stars and only three earned as many as three. Not a single program earned four stars.

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Hunter College Excels in Teacher Prep

Kudos to Hunter College and David Steiner (who, before he was NYS Ed Commissioner (John King’s predecessor), was head of Hunter’s School of Education and partnered with KIPP, Uncommon Schools, and Achievement First to create what is now the pioneering Relay Graduate School of Education):

Dear Colleagues,
I write to share some good news about the Hunter College School of Education.

NCTQ and U.S. News & World Report today released new nationwide ratings of teacher preparation programs in which the Hunter College School of Education achieved extraordinary results. NCTQ's ratings indicate that Hunter offers the greatest breadth of quality across programs in the country, with all five of our scored programs in the 96th percentile or higher nationwide.

Hunter is cited in NCTQ's report as “the only institution that has three highly rated programs." Our score on undergraduate elementary teacher preparation was the highest awarded to any such program in the country, and only a tiny number of graduate elementary, secondary, and special education programs scored higher than ours.

A strong argument could be made that Hunter's School of Education, as a whole, has the best overall NCTQ results in the country. Although four Ed Schools each had a single program rated at four stars, no school but Hunter had such strength across the board, with three programs on the "Honor Roll" for recognized quality (defined as receiving three or more stars). Hunter is also commended for "strong design" for our commitment to using outcomes data to improve our programs - and celebrated for delivering extremely high quality at "bargain" tuition. These strong results are a great credit to our faculty and the leadership of President Raab. 

A final note: The NCTQ rating methodology has provoked controversy. This debate is important, but I write today to note that, whatever you may think of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach, Hunter's ratings are yet another indication of the high quality of our programs. 

Best wishes,

Dr. David M. Steiner
Klara and Larry Silverstein Dean
School of Education,
Hunter College, CUNY. 
Founding Director 
CUNY Institute for Education Policy,
Roosevelt House, NYC

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Gail Collins on Politics Surrounding Expanding Preschools

Gail Collins with a NYT op ed on the politics around expanding pre-K:

The nation’s fabled upward mobility has come to a screeching halt because low-income kids start behind in kindergarten and never catch up. Nobody has come up with a better idea for fixing the problem than early childhood education.

“People in my home state are like — ‘Oh, my God! I’m so glad you’re talking about this,’ ” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington.

Residents of Washington, you are really doing an excellent job of lobbying Murray on this issue. But, honestly, she is not your problem. Patty Murray used to be a preschool teacher. If you happen to have any relatives in Kentucky, call them up and tell them to start nagging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The Leader opposes tax hikes,” a McConnell spokesman said when asked about the president’s plan. Notice that he did not say cigarette tax. Kentucky lawmakers are so committed to tobacco that former Senator Jim Bunning once single-handedly held up President Obama’s nominee for deputy U.S. trade representative because he was angry at Canada for banning the sale of candy-flavored cigarettes. But there’s something about saying “I oppose using a tax on Marlboros to fund education of low-income 4-year-olds” that people seem to find unpleasant.
I am telling you all this because nothing major is going to happen for early-childhood education without an enormous groundswell of public demand. This is a cause that’s extremely popular in theory. But its advocates have no power to reward or punish. Lawmakers who labor on behalf of preschool programs may get stars in heaven, but they don’t get squat in campaign contributions. And the ones who eliminate money for infant care programs have no fear whatsoever that they’ll lose an election over it.

Look at McConnell. The Head Start programs in his state are already shrinking because of sequestration cuts. In western Kentucky, Audubon Area Community Services has had to close 12 classrooms and lay off 42 staff members. McConnell is running for re-election, but you do not see him sending out press releases demanding more money for preschool teachers. No, he’s bragging about killing an amendment to the farm bill that would have eliminated tobacco subsidies. (“I was happy to lead the fight to protect our farmers from another assault by Washington to go after our home-state jobs.”)

If you want to lobby, I’d start with the Senate. The House is impossible, working under a budget that cuts spending on health and education about 22 percent below last year’s level.

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New Book from Leaders of Uncommon Schools

Hello, Uncommon Supporters—
I hope the beginning of June finds you well.  I’m writing today to congratulate three Uncommon leaders – Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, Juliana Worrell, and Aja Settles – on their new book, Great Habits, Great Readers: A Practical Guide for K-4 Reading in the Light of Common Corepublished just this week.  For those of you who don’t know Paul, Juliana, and Aja, let me introduce you.  Paul has been the Managing Director of Uncommon Newark since Uncommon first began, and Executive Director of North Star Academy before that, helping grow our Newark region from three schools to nine schools now serving nearly 2,200 students.  His previous books, Driven by Data and Leverage Leadership,have codified and shared with the world some of the amazing work of our teachers and instructional leaders.  Juliana is the Founding Principal of Fairmount Elementary School in Newark, previously serving as a founding teacher at Vailsburg Elementary School.  Aja was the Founding Principal of West Side Park Elementary School in Newark, and was also a founding teacher at Vailsburg Elementary School.

Starting in 2008, Paul, Juliana, and Aja worked with many others across Uncommon – including Nikki Bridges, Principal of Leadership Prep Ocean Hill Elementary Academy in NYC; Emily Hoefling-Crouch, Principal of Leadership Prep Canarsie Elementary Academy in NYC; Julie Jackson, Managing Director of our New York City and Newark Elementary Schools; Erica Woolway, Chief Academic Officer of our Teach Like a Champion team; and Katie Yezzi, Principal of Troy Prep Elementary School – to do what we are doing more and more at Uncommon: spending time watching some of our truly exceptional teachers, across our regions.  Over the four-year period, they identified what these teachers were doing, codified it, watched our teachers again, and tweaked what they had.  Then, they figured out how to make it sticky and how to teach it.  And they shared it, first in our internal K-4 reading taxonomy that is being used across our elementary schools – and now with the world in Great Habits, Great Readers.  As I know the authors would say themselves, what they have written is simply a reflection and compilation of the great work our elementary school leaders and teachers have done, both past and present.
In their work, the authors began to focus on the fact that, like the rest of us, our elementary scholars are what they repeatedly do.  Habits are formed early, and building great readers is about building great reading habits early, including by using moments when a scholar makes a mistake to redirect them to better habits.  Uncommonly great teachers are constantly finding ways to instill great habits in their young scholars and the K-4 reading taxonomy, as well as this book, aim to make more teachers uncommon through that focus.
We are hopeful that the work we have already done for the K-4 reading taxonomy – and the work we have done and will continue to do in 5-8 reading – will help us hit the ground running to address the Common Core, and ensure we are preparing each and every one of our students for college success.  And we are hopeful that Great Habits, Great Readerswill help others outside of Uncommon hit the ground running too.  Thank you Paul, Juliana, and Aja for your work to make us better, and for helping us share what we have learned.  Thank you to every teacher and leader who had some role in the Uncommon-wide working group whose work led to the creation of the K-4 reading taxonomy.  Thank you to the reading teachers across Uncommon who work every day to help our students master the literacy skills they need to continue to learn.  And thank you to all of Uncommon’s other teachers who use their own classes to further instill a love and mastery of reading in our scholars.  The work each is doing will follow our students throughout their lives.   
Lastly, thank you for all that you do to support our scholars, teachers, and leaders. The launch of this book would not have been possible without you.

Brett Peiser
Chief Executive Officer
Uncommon Schools

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Three School Leaders Granted The Ryan Award

Three school leaders were just honored by the Accelerate Institute:

For the first time, a national award has been created for the real life heroes who are transforming urban schools. The Ryan Award, given out by the Accelerate Institute, is the first major national award recognizing the amazing school leaders across America who are getting the job done. Awardees receive a $25,000 honorarium and the opportunity to be featured as a special guest lecturer in the summer program of the Accelerate Institute at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.  Ben Marcovitz, Sci Academy (New Orleans), James Troupis, Gary Comer College Prep (Chicago) and Shantelle Wright, Achievement Prep  (Washington, DC) were inducted as the inaugural awardees for The  Ryan Award. These are leaders that over a number of years are doing close to two years’ worth of learning every year. Their stories and strategies will be profiled so that the next generation of school leaders can gain powerful inspiration and insight from their successes. The Ryan Award was established by the Accelerate Institute (formerly The Alain Locke Initiative) and made possible by the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Foundation.

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New News App for Students

 From a friend:

Introducing Newsela Beta – Leveled Nonfiction and Daily News  
Newsela helps students climb the staircase of reading complexity from elementary through high school by providing daily news articles written at five levels of difficulty. Newsela adapts to each student's reading ability so they always get just-right content while having the power to re-level articles with a single click. Articles are paired with quizzes aligned to the Common Core standards for informational text so teachers can track their students' progress on a daily basis. Newsela Beta is available for free to teachers and classrooms. Register today at

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The National Council on Teacher Quality Study Released


The National Council on Teacher Quality has released its long-awaited (8 years in the making) study and the results are exactly what I expected: a DEVASTATING indictment of our country’s ed schools. Here is the summary:

For now, the evaluations provide clear and convincing evidence, based on a four-star rating system, that a vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers adequate return on their investment of time and tuition dollars. These are among the most alarming findings:

·  Less than 10 percent of rated programs earn three stars or more. Only four programs, all secondary, earn four stars: Lipscomb and Vanderbilt, both in Tennessee; Ohio State University; and Furman University in South Carolina. Only one institution, Ohio State, earns more than three stars for both an elementary (3½ stars) and a secondary (4 stars) program.

· It is far too easy to get into a teacher preparation program. Just over a quarter of programs restrict admissions to students in the top half of their class, compared with the highest-performing countries, which limit entry to the top third.

· Fewer than one in nine elementary programs and just over one-third of high school programs are preparing candidates in content at the level necessary to teach the new Common Core State Standards now being implemented in classrooms in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

· The “reading wars” are far from over. Three out of four elementary teacher preparation programs still are not teaching the methods of reading instruction that could substantially lower the number of children who never become proficient readers, from 30 percent to under 10 percent. Instead, the teacher candidate is all too often told to develop his or her “own unique approach” to teaching reading.

· Just 7 percent of programs ensure that their student teachers will have uniformly strong experiences, such as only allowing them to be placed in classrooms taught by teachers who are themselves effective, not just willing volunteers.

You can download the entire 122-page report here

This strongly supports what I’ve long said: our country would be much better off if an ed school degree were NOT required to be a teacher. Instead, ed schools would be like business schools, where employers can choose whether an MBA is a requirement for certain jobs, a nice-to-have (perhaps depending on which school the MBA was earned from), or not important at all. If this happened, I confidently predict that 90% of ed schools would soon go out of business, which would be a great thing, and the remaining 10% would completely restructure themselves to really add value.

But this isn’t going to happen, so realistically the model for our nation’s ed schools is what happened a century ago to our medical schools. On the NCTQ web site is a great 1:44 video what we did starting in 1910 with our 155 medical schools (which, like our ed schools today, were mostly schools of quackery). Related to this, here is page 114 of my school reform presentation:

Imagine that we trained doctors the same way we train teachers: that our least accomplished college grads went to medical schools, which were noncompetitive schools of quackery that taught students little. Upon graduating, new doctors had to pass nothing more than an eighth-grade level test (or none at all) and were immediately thrown into emergency rooms, treating the neediest patients. Of course, the mortality rates would be off the charts for these patients, almost all of whom are poor and minority.

(Incidentally, it's easy to imagine what defenders of this outrageous and immoral system would say: "It's not the doctors' fault. Look at how many of our patients are obese, have bad diets, drink and smoke too much, etc. What can we be expected to do when you ask us to treat such patients???" (This is, of course, exactly what the unions say.))

In an ideal world, the teachers in this country would go through a rigorous development program, as doctors do, that would look something like this:

·         Ed schools would be highly competitive (the nations with the highest achieving students like Finland and Singapore only take teachers from the top 10 percent of college graduates);
·         Ed schools would be rigorous and provide students with real preparation;
·         Graduates would have to pass a tough exam demonstrating that they'd mastered the content;
·         New teachers would enter a carefully controlled and monitored environment, with seasoned mentors by their side to make sure they learned (and did no harm);
·         Effective teachers would be rewarded and given more responsibility; and
·         Ineffective ones would be given additional support and, if that didn't work, counseled out.

In our dysfunctional, Alice-in-Wonderland education world, not one of these six things happens with any regularity.

If we had a system to select, train and evaluate teachers that was as good as the one for doctors, the resulting quality would be as good and the public would surely support paying teachers as well as doctors.

Arne Duncan has it exactly right: 

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who has criticized education colleges, praised the ratings. "Teachers deserve better support and better training than teachers' colleges today provide, and school districts should be able to make well-informed hiring choices," he said.

Here are some articles about this report:

The WSJ’s Stephanie Banchero:

U.S. colleges of education are an "industry of mediocrity" that churns out teachers ill-prepared to work in elementary and high-school classrooms, according to a report by a nonprofit advocacy group that represents the first comprehensive review of such programs.

The study, by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which has long promoted overhauling U.S. teacher preparation, assigned ratings of up to four stars to 1,200 programs at 608 institutions that collectively account for 72% of the graduates of all such programs in the nation. U.S. News & World Report will publish the results Tuesday. They are similar to the magazine's rankings of top colleges, undergraduate engineering programs and business and law schools—which are widely followed but whose methodology some education officials have criticized.

There’s nothing necessarily surprising about the results from the National Council on Teacher Quality’s review of 1,130 of the nation’s university schools of education. After all, evidence has long ago demonstrated that most ed schools do a shoddy job of recruiting aspiring teachers and even fewer provide the high-quality training — especially in reading and math instruction — aspiring teachers to be successful in classrooms. So no one can really be shocked by the fact that just four ed schools have garnered a full four stars from NCTQ for training aspiring high school and middle school teachers — and no ed school reviewed scored the top rating for training teachers working at the elementary level. Nor can one be shocked that only one out of every four ed schools recruited aspiring teachers from the top 50 percent of all students on college campuses — and that none of them bothered to even conduct interviews of their prospective students as part of their selection processes.

Kate Walsh wants to bust up the teacher preparation market.

That's why on Tuesday her group, the National Center for Teaching Quality, is releasing its first ranking of teacher preparation programs on the U.S. News & World Report website. The nearly across-the-board extremely low scores pull back the curtain on "an industry of mediocrity," according to a report released in conjunction with the rankings.

"The field of teacher preparation has rejected any notion that its role is to train the next generation of teachers," the authors write. "Any training regimen in classroom management or reading instruction runs the risk, the field worries, of new teachers pulling from a fixed bag of tricks rather than considering each class as something new and unique."

Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Valerie Strauss really hate the NCTQ report, which tells me how spot-on it must be. Here’s LDH’s critique, which focuses on three things: lack of data (how ironic, given that most ed schools refused to cooperate); the fact that some states with high student test scores had ed schools with low grades (so what???), and cherry picking a few supposedly incorrect facts in the 112-page report.

This week, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) issued a report titled: NCTQ Teacher Prep Review.  Billed as a consumer’s guide, the report rates programs on a list of criteria ranging from selection and content preparation to coursework and student teaching aimed at the development of teaching skills. While the report appropriately focuses on these aspects of teacher education, it does not, unfortunately, accurately reflect the work of teacher education programs in California or nationally.

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