In this week's education news: Bill de Blasio calls an education reform advocate for schools chancellor, the Common Core shows positive results on student outcomes and the Department of Education creates a plan to replace retiring baby boomer teachers.
Public Charter Schools Succeed with Longer Hours and Higher Teacher Pay
New York Daily News // November 19, 2013
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) runs several public charter schools in New York City. Two of these charters, high schools located in Brooklyn and the Bronx, are wildly successful. A third elementary school charter in East New York, however, is failing to adequately teach its students.
At the East New York charter school, only 10% of students passed the state reading exam and 13% passed the math exam, well below the 26% and 30% respectively across New York City.
As the New York Daily News reports, the successful UFT charter schools are succeeding because of longer classroom hours and higher teacher pay:
In both locations, all the teachers are members of the union. In the Bronx, though, they work longer hours than their counterparts at other city schools and are paid 20% more.
The results have been impressive: every member of the class of 2013 graduated in four years, and 20% of those students graduated with an Advanced Regents diploma.
de Blasio Examines Education Reform Advocate for Schools Chancellor
New York Daily News // November 20, 2013
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has put together a 60-member transition team tasked with helping select deputy mayors and other top positions at City Hall. According to the New York Daily News, de Blasio and his transition team have examined Kaya Henderson for schools chancellor:
One possibility for schools chancellor who fits that criteria is Kaya Henderson, the current head of the Washington school system and a Mount Vernon, Westchester, native, said a source.
Henderson, an education reform advocate, would be a peculiar choice for de Blasio, who campaigned on reversing Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education reform policies in New York City. But the Daily News notes that Henderson has experience working with teachers unions to reach a new contract:
Henderson has experience hammering out a contract with D.C.'s tough teachers union - an obstacle that the next Big Apple chancellor will face - but shares much of Mayor Bloomberg's education reform philosophy, which could make her unpalatable to de Blasio.
New York Times Op-Ed: The Common Core Shows Positive Results
New York Times // November 19, 2013
Nationally, student performance has been experiencing slow progress. However, results indicate that states with tougher education reforms significantly advance student performance.
In an opinion piece, the New York Times states that teacher evaluation systems and the Common Core have been proven to increase student scores:
Both reforms — or at least the principles behind them — got a welcome boost from reading and math scores released recently by the federal government. Although the nation as a whole still has a long way to go to match high-performing school systems abroad, states that have toughened their teacher evaluations and standards have shown positive results.
Opinion: Common Core Critiques Don't Account for Students
New York Post // November 20, 2013
Recently, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan push backed on the criticism, pointing out that the higher standards resulting in lower test scores should not deter parents from supporting the Common Core.
An opinion piece in the New York Post supports Duncan’s stance and argues that the Common Core is essential for preventing the kind of grade inflation previously seen in New York:
Public education’s problems are legion, but few are more corrosive to student accomplishment — and to public confidence — than grade inflation. That was Duncan’s point.
Newsday Op-Ed: Suburbs Need Education Reform Too
Newsday // November 20, 2013
The tougher standards associated with the Common Core have shown that education reform is needed in the suburbs where schools have traditionally performed well.
This week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan challenged the assumption that only inner city schools need improvements.
The Newsday opinion piece cites Long Island as example to support Duncan’s point:
On Long Island, where prosperity and property values were built on the promise of superb schools, only about 50 percent of students finish high school ready for college-level work. As many as 60 percent of enrollees in Suffolk and Nassau's community colleges must take remedial courses. The problem is not that the local schools haven't traditionally been good, experts say. It's that they haven't changed to reflect a world that's quickly becoming more demanding, competitive and technologically complex.
The opinion piece also explains that the lower proficiency rates shouldn’t slow down the implementation of the Common Core:
Our standards have been too low. The schools are not preparing our kids as well as we had hoped. And it has to change.
New Campaign Will Recruit Top College Students as Educators
New York Times // November 20, 2013
A new public service campaign is aimed at recruiting high performing college students to become classroom teachers.
The campaign was created by the Department of Education along with the Advertising Council, Microsoft, State Farm Insurance, Teach for America, the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions and several other educational groups.
The New York Times article explains:
According to the Department of Education, as many as one million teachers could retire in the next four to six years. Hoping to attract young, high-achieving college graduates — particularly in science, math and engineering — the campaign, called Teach, uses video spots and radio announcements that portray teaching as creative, invigorating and meaningful, and as compelling a career as medicine, acting or engineering.
The article goes on to quote US Education Secretary Arne Duncan:
In addition to recruiting more candidates with science and math backgrounds, Mr. Duncan said, the nation’s public schools need to attract more Hispanics and blacks, particularly men, to teaching. Citing the model of several countries where students regularly score high on standardized tests, Mr. Duncan said that they pull their teaching corps from the top tenth to top third of college graduates. He said he wanted to persuade “very, very high caliber college graduates to come and work in our nation’s schools.”
Study Shows That Frequent Testing Improves Performance
New York Times // November 20, 2013
A study on a psychology course taught at the University of Texas found that quizzing students at the beginning of every class improved student performance as opposed to conducting traditional midterm and final exams.
The New York Times article states:
“This study is important because it introduces a new method to implement frequent quizzing with feedback in large classrooms, which can be difficult to do,” said Jeffrey D. Karpicke, a professor of psychology at Purdue, who was not involved in the study.
He added, “This is the first large study to show that classroom quizzing can help reduce achievement gaps” due to socioeconomic background.
The article continues to discuss how students from lower-income areas benefited from the quizzes:
The grade improvements were sharpest among students from lower-income backgrounds — those from poor-quality schools “who were always smartest in class,” [Dr. Samuel D. Gosling] said.
“Then they get here and, when they fail the first midterm, they think it’s a fluke,” he went on. “By the time they’ve failed the second one, it’s too late. The hole’s too deep. The quizzes make it impossible to maintain that state of denial.”
Opinion: Teacher Unions Contribute to Unnecessary Student Testing
New York Daily News // November 21, 2013
Student testing has become a major topic of debate. This week, the New York State United Teachers released a statement criticizing the increase in testing but failed to take responsibility for the excessive testing.
In a New York Daily News opinion piece, education advocacy leaders Tim Daly and Joe Williams argue that teacher unions have contributed to the excessive student testing through the execution of the local bargaining agreement. The agreement allows tests not required by the state to be implemented in local districts.
Furthermore, Daly and Williams urges teacher unions to remove the agreement:
But if the union is sincere about reining in truly excessive testing and building truly useful evaluation systems, the easiest fix is to tackle this problem where it first arose: at the local bargaining table. There’s nothing stopping the state teachers union from taking action to fix this issue tomorrow.