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Jeff Bernstein

Shanker Blog » The Arcane Rules That Drive Outcomes Under NCLB - 0 views

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    "A big part of successful policy making is unyielding attention to detail (an argument that regular readers of this blog hear often). Choices about design and implementation that may seem unimportant can play a substantial role in determining how policies play out in practice.

    A new paper, co-authored by Elizabeth Davidson, Randall Reback, Jonah Rockoff and Heather Schwartz, and presented at last month's annual conference of The Association for Education Finance and Policy, illustrates this principle vividly, and on a grand scale: With an analysis of outcomes in all 50 states during the early years of NCLB."
Jeff Bernstein

Federal Mandates on Local Education: Costs and Consequences - Yes, it's a Race, but i... - 0 views

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    "Much is being sacrificed to meet both this expensive mandate and the newly enacted tax cap, all while serious challenges to the program's validity and the research upon which it is based remain."
Jeff Bernstein

Invitation to a Dialogue - A Student's Call to Arms - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    "When President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law, few would have predicted that the next decade of education policy would unfold into a disaster of epic proportions. The law was based on a flawed concept of a "good education" - high scores on standardized tests."
Jeff Bernstein

Shanker Blog » NCLB And The Institutionalization Of Data Interpretation - 0 views

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    "Most of the attention to the methodological shortcomings of the law focuses on "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) - the crude requirement that all schools must make "adequate progress" toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014. And AYP is indeed an inept measure. But the problems are actually much deeper than AYP.

    Rather, it's the underlying methods and assumptions of NCLB (including AYP) that have had a persistent, negative impact on the way we interpret testing data.

    I'm not going to get into all of the details here, since I discuss them so frequently (follow the links below), but the most important issues include:"
Jeff Bernstein

Ed Waivers, Junk Rating Systems & Misplaced Blame: Case 1 - New York State « ... - 0 views

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    "I hope over the next several months to compile a series of posts where I look at what states have done to achieve their executive granted waivers from federal legislation. Yeah… let's be clear here, that all of this starts with an executive decision to ignore outright, undermine intentionally and explicitly, federal legislation. Yeah… that legislation may have some significant issues. It might just suck entirely. Nonetheless, this precedent is a scary one both in concept and in practice. Even when I don't like the legislation in question, I'm really uncomfortable having someone unilaterally over-ride or undermine it. It makes me all the more uncomfortable when that unilateral disregard for existing law is being used in a coercive manner - using access to federal funding to coerce states to adopt reform strategies that the current administration happens to prefer. The precedent at the federal level that legislation perceived as inconvenient can and should simply be ignored seems to encourage state departments of education to ignore statutory and constitutional provisions within their states that might be perceived similarly as inconvenient.
    Setting all of those really important civics issues aside - WHICH WE CERTAINLY SHOULD NOT BE DOING - the policies being adopted under this illegal (technical term - since it's in direct contradiction to a statute, with full recognition that this statute exists) coercive framework are toxic, racially disparate and yet another example of misplaced blame."
Jeff Bernstein

NCLB Waivers and Junk Science in New York « Diane Ravitch's blog - 0 views

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    "Bruce Baker has another brilliant analysis, this time gauging the validity of school ratings just released by the state of New York. A thumbnail sketch: New York is stiffing its neediest schools and districts.

    Here are the takeaways"
Jeff Bernstein

Fuller & Ladd: School Based Accountability and the Distribution of Teacher Quality Amon... - 0 views

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    We use North Carolina data to explore the extent to which teachers in the lower grades (K-2) of elementary school are lower quality than in the upper grades (3-5) and to examine the hypothesis that accountability contributes to a shortfall in teacher quality in the lower grades. Our concern with early elementary grades arises from recent studies that have highlighted that children's experiences in the early school years have long lasting effects on their outcomes, including college going and earnings. Using licensure test scores as the primary measure of teacher quality, we find that concern about teacher quality in the lower elementary grades is warranted. Teachers in those grades are of lower quality than teachers in the upper grades. Moreover, we find that accountability, especially the form required by the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, increases the relative shortfalls of teacher quality in the lower grades and increases the tendency of schools to move teachers of higher quality from lower to upper grades and teachers of lower quality from upper to lower grades. These findings support the conclusion that accountability pressure induces schools to pursue actions that work to the disadvantage of the children in the lower grades. 
Jeff Bernstein

P.L. Thomas: Bi-partisan Failure: Misreading Education "Gaps" - 0 views

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    The single greatest bi-partisan success of NCLB, the argument has been, is that the federal government began forcing all schools to address the achievement gaps among subgroups of students, impacting significantly how schools identified, tested, and displayed test data related to English language learners, African American students, and special needs students.

    Here, though, the use of the term "achievement gap" has never been challenged or examined for what agenda it fulfills or how it positions our entire national view of students, teachers, and schools.
Jeff Bernstein

Rog Lucido: What do we Tell the Teachers who Take Our Place? - Living in Dialogue - Edu... - 0 views

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    For years teachers had been through educational trends that were here today and gone tomorrow. So, NCLB was viewed just another fad. Educator cooperation should be easy. But what was hidden from sight would be the insidious impact that fear and threats would have on teaching and learning as reliance on test score results and interpretations dominated school life from the classroom to staff meetings and teacher-administrator interactions.
Jeff Bernstein

Education Week: High-Stakes Testing Is Putting the Nation At Risk - 0 views

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    We believe that this federal law, now in its sixth year, puts American public school students in serious jeopardy. Extensive reviews of empirical and theoretical work, along with conversations with hundreds of educators across the country, have convinced us that if Congress does not act in this session to fundamentally transform the law's accountability provision, young people and their educators will suffer serious and long-term consequences. If the title were not already taken, our thoughts on this subject could be headlined "A Nation at Risk."
    We note in passing that only people who have no contact with children could write legislation demanding that every child reach a high level of performance in three subjects, thereby denying that individual differences exist. Only those same people could also believe that all children would reach high levels of proficiency at precisely the same rate of speed.
Jeff Bernstein

Picking Up the Pieces of No Child Left Behind - Randi Weingarten - National - The Atlantic - 0 views

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    NCLB's fixation on testing has sabotaged the law's noble intention. Schools have become focused on compliance rather than on innovation and achievement. We've become obsessed with hitting test-score targets and sanctioning schools and educators; instead, we should be focused on improving teaching and learning. We've narrowed the curriculum; instead we should be paving a path to critical thinking and problem solving -- the very kinds of knowledge and skills our children need to be well-educated and to compete in today's global economy.
Jeff Bernstein

Funding a Movement: U.S. Department of Education Pours Millions into Groups Advocating ... - 0 views

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    Over the past three years, more than $75 million in federal education funding has been diverted to just a handful of private, pro-voucher advocacy groups. This torrent of public funding appears to benefit and strengthen the advocacy infrastructure created by a network of right-wing foundations dedicated to the privatization of public education.  
Jeff Bernstein

The Pattern on the Rug - Bridging Differences - Education Week - 1 views

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    There comes a time when you look at the rug on the floor, the one you've seen many times, and you see a pattern that you had never noticed before. You may have seen this squiggle or that flower, but you did not see the pattern into which the squiggles and flowers and trails of ivy combined.

    In American education, we can now discern the pattern on the rug.

    Consider the budget cuts to schools in the past four years. From the budget cuts come layoffs, rising class sizes, less time for the arts and physical education, less time for history, civics, foreign languages, and other non-tested subjects. Add on the mandates of No Child Left Behind, which demands 100 percent proficiency in math and reading and stigmatizes more than half the public schools in the nation as "failing" for not reaching an unattainable goal.

    Along comes the Obama administration with the Race to the Top, and the pattern on the rug gets clearer.
Jeff Bernstein

The Three Biggest Mistakes in Education - Finding Common Ground - Education Week - 0 views

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    There are three issues that, in my experience, have been the biggest mistakes in education. These educational policies were supposedly created to level the playing field but they did nothing more than show that some teams brought their best equipment and others didn't have any equipment at all. Those three biggest mistakes are No Child Left Behind (NCLB), high stakes testing and the need to outperform the world.
Jeff Bernstein

NCLB waivers give bad policy new lease on life « Rethinking Schools Blog - 0 views

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    The Obama Administration's approval last week of 10 state applications for waivers from NCLB was another missed opportunity to learn from a decade of policy failure. Instead of changing the disastrous direction of federal education policy, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's waiver process allows states to reproduce some of the worst aspects of NCLB's "test and punish" approach while continuing to ignore real issues, like reducing concentrated poverty or providing equitable funding and high quality pre-K for all schools.
Jeff Bernstein

New York State Tests: 3rd Grade 2010 | Gary Rubinstein's Blog - 0 views

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    Nine year olds should not have to take tests that will determine the fate of their schools or their teacher's jobs.  NCLB mandates that they do, so I decided to take a look at the New York State 3rd grade math test from 2010.
Jeff Bernstein

Luther Spoehr: Review of Jack Schneider's "Excellence for All: How a New Breed of Refor... - 0 views

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    Jack Schneider of Carleton College has written a clear, original, thought-provoking book about three significant strands in the fabric of contemporary school reform:  the "small schools" movement, Teach For America, and the Advanced Placement program.  In the process, he manages both to emphasize how in his estimation they are improving public schools and to highlight some of the ironies involved in their implementation.  Not until his concluding chapter, however, does he really come to grips with their most significant vagaries and limitations.
Jeff Bernstein

Diane Ravitch: Obama Grants Waivers to NCLB and Makes a Bad Situation Worse - The Daily... - 0 views

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    Secretary Arne Duncan is right about the No Child Left Behind law: It is an unmitigated disaster. Signed into law a decade ago by President George W. Bush, NCLB is widely despised for turning schools into testing factories. By mandating that every student in the nation would be "proficient" by 2014, as judged by state tests, it set a goal that no nation in the world has ever met, and that no state in this nation is close to meeting. The goal is laudable but out of reach. It's comparable to Congress mandating that every city, town, and village in the nation must be crime-free by 2014 ... or their police departments would be severely punished.
Jeff Bernstein

NYC Public School Parents: The state's proposed NCLB waiver responds to none of our con... - 0 views

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    A summary of the public comment and the response by NYSED for their waiver application from NCLB is now posted online; presumably the application will be voted on by the Regents Monday or Tuesday.
    NYSED says it received "over 50 submissions from "persons associated with Class Size Matters" and over twenty submissions from individuals associated with the principals' letter, signed by over one third of New York's principals, objecting to the new teacher evaluation being developed by the state.  Yet the NYSED summary responded substantively to none of our concerns, as expressed in our earlier letter.
Jeff Bernstein

Does President Obama Know What Race to the Top Is? - Bridging Differences - Education Week - 0 views

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    I don't know about you, but I am growing convinced that President Barack Obama doesn't know what Race to the Top is. I don't think he really understands what his own administration is doing to education. In his State of the Union address last week, he said that he wanted teachers to "stop teaching to the test." He also said that teachers should teach with "creativity and passion." And he said that schools should reward the best teachers and replace those who weren't doing a good job. To "reward the best" and "fire the worst," states and districts are relying on test scores. The Race to the Top says they must.

    Deconstruct this. Teachers would love to "stop teaching to the test," but Race to the Top makes test scores the measure of every teacher. If teachers take the President's advice (and they would love to!), their students might not get higher test scores every year, and teachers might be fired, and their schools might be closed.

    Why does President Obama think that teachers can "stop teaching to the test" when their livelihood, their reputation, and the survival of their school depends on the outcome of those all-important standardized tests?
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