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The Answer Sheet: August, 2012

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 08/02/2012

Sal Khan responds to a critic — and the critic answers back

The responses to a guest post I published critiquing the Khan Academy included this e-mail from Salman Khan, founder of the academy. Now the author of the critique answers back.

By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 08/02/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/31/2012

Louisiana’s pretend voucher ‘accountability’ plan

From the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff department: Louisiana officials are pushing an “accountability” plan for private schools in the state's voucher program that doesn’t hold most of the schools accountable for anything.

By Valerie Strauss  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/31/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/31/2012

5 ways to teach kids to use technology safely

Here’s how parents and teachers can teach young children how to use technology safely.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/31/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:29 AM ET, 07/30/2012

Texas’s standardized tests flawed, researchers say

Researchers say they have found a design flaw in the assessments that Texas uses to evaluate student achievement that it makes the exams essentially useless for the purpose it was supposed to be designed for.

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:29 AM ET, 07/30/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 07/30/2012

Yes, algebra is necessary

“When I first saw yesterday’s New York Times op-ed I mistook it for a joke,” writes Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham. “The title, ‘Is algebra necessary’ had the ring of Thurber’s classic essay, ‘Is sex necessary?’ a send-up of psychological sex manuals of the 1920s.

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:00 AM ET, 07/30/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 07:57 AM ET, 07/30/2012

U-Va. star professor: Why I won’t ‘un-resign’

A star professor explains why he is rejecting pleas — including from reinstated President Teresa Sullivan.

By Valerie Strauss  |  07:57 AM ET, 07/30/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:09 PM ET, 07/29/2012

Education’s biggest design flaw

Traditional instruction in U.S. schools is dumping poorly organized information on the young, and they can’t process it. The problem isn’t the amount of information — the brain isn’t a bucket that can overflow. The problem is the information’s incoherence — and the consequences are important. Call it education’s big design flaw.

By Valerie Strauss  |  08:09 PM ET, 07/29/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 07/29/2012

Study: The problem with principal training and how to fix it

A major study on school leadership finds that districts need to do a lot more to recruit and train principals to ensure better leadership at public schools.

By Valerie Strauss  |  10:00 AM ET, 07/29/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 07/28/2012

Michelle Rhee in Britain: A false narrative

Michelle Rhee went to England recently and spoke of her great success in improving the D.C. public schools.

By Valerie Strauss  |  10:00 AM ET, 07/28/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:44 AM ET, 07/27/2012

Randi Weingarten calls for ‘new approach to unionism’ and support for Obama

American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten says it is time to accept political realities and forge a new approach to unionism in the face of attacks.

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:44 AM ET, 07/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 07/27/2012

How well does Khan Academy teach?

Here is a critique of the Khan Academy by two mathematicians who question whether the people who created some of the math videos available on the academy website understood how to teach.

By Valerie Strauss  |  10:50 AM ET, 07/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 07/26/2012

Some scary training for teachers

Check out some of the training being offered to students in a new two-year graduate teaching training program, which is subsidized by charter schools and venture philanthropies. It involves Chuck Norris. Yes, Chuck Norris.

By Valerie Strauss  |  12:00 PM ET, 07/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 07/25/2012

How Common Core will change testing in schools

At first glance, the assessments now being developed to accompany the Common Core State Standards do not appear to be much more than we already have, at least in terms of subject-matter covered and grade level. But that is only an illusion. 

By Valerie Strauss  |  12:30 PM ET, 07/25/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:46 PM ET, 07/24/2012

A strange ‘parent trigger’ court ruling

Parent trigger advocates say it gives parents more power in their children’s education. Opponents say the movement is led by people who want to expand charter schools.

By Valerie Strauss  |  02:46 PM ET, 07/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/24/2012

What’s missing from congressional hearing on teachers

Congressional hearings are supposed to provide lawmakers wth information they need to make policy and legislative decisions. But sometimes when you look at the witness lists, it is hard to figure out why legislators bother to hold them. Take Tuesday’s hearing about teacher certification.

By Valerie Strauss  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/24/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 07/23/2012

Merit pay and ‘loss aversion:’ Nonsense studies

Uh oh, educators, hold onto your hats!  It appears that a new catchphrase is coming to school reform, and it's called "loss aversion."

By Valerie Strauss  |  03:00 PM ET, 07/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:24 PM ET, 07/23/2012

Florida gives incorrect grades to hundreds of its public schools

The state of Florida, which led the movement that uses standardized test scores to “grade” individual schools, miscalculated the grades for hundreds of schools and is changing them.

By Valerie Strauss  |  01:24 PM ET, 07/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 07/23/2012

Khan Academy: The hype and the reality

Khan Academy boasts almost 3,300 videos that have been viewed over 160 million times. That’s a heroic achievement.

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:20 AM ET, 07/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:20 AM ET, 07/21/2012

Guns at school

“Guns have no place in schools,” Arizona State University’s president said earlier this year.

By Valerie Strauss  |  09:20 AM ET, 07/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 07/20/2012

Summer learning loss: What’s true and false

The idea of summer learning loss — the implication being that it’s risky to give kids a three-month vacation from school because they’ll forget everything they were taught — has become the media’s favorite seasonally specific education topic. Alfie Kohn answers this question: Is summer learning loss real?

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:00 AM ET, 07/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/20/2012

The rat race of childhood: Why we need to balance students’ lives

The discussion about why women still can’t have it all — as detailed in an Atlantic article by Anne-Marie Slaughter — should be broadened to include children, who are encouraged to “multi-task” and “buckle down,” to set their sights on college admissions and perfect test scores, and to grind through busy work and Scantron sheets at the expense of creative and imaginary play, family time, and just plain downtime.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/19/2012

Colbert skewers Texas GOP on ‘critical thinking’

I thought I’d heard enough about the Texas Republican Party’s platform that rejects the teaching of critical thinking skills until I heard Stephen Colbert’s take on it: “For too long we have blindly accepted the idea of not blindly accepting ideas.” And a lot more.

By Valerie Strauss  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/19/2012

Why we need to relentlessly pursue diversity in schools

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, America is fast becoming a majority-minority nation, one where the very classification of “minority” soon will become outmoded.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:56 AM ET, 07/18/2012

The Onion: ‘Can we please, just once, have a real teacher?’

Here’s a hilarious point-counterpoint on Teach for America for by the satirical newspaper The Onion.

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:56 AM ET, 07/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/18/2012

Key questions for Democrats on ‘school choice’

Left-leaning people everywhere recently got a hoot when the Texas Republican Party declared its opposition to the teaching of “Higher Order Thinking Skills,” including “critical thinking skills,” in public schools. Here’s an argument that when it comes to the subject of education, there’s little evidence that critical thinking is widespread among Democrats.

By Valerie Strauss  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/18/2012

Does 5 weeks of training make a teacher ‘highly qualified?’ — Updated

Should someone with five weeks of teacher training be considered a highly qualified teacher?

By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/18/2012

Some good news for multitaskers

Psychologists have not had anything nice to say about multitasking. But cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham writes about new research that suggests that the news may not be all bad.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:50 PM ET, 07/17/2012

The hard bigotry of poverty: Why ignoring it will doom school reform

Closing the achievement gap between rich and poor, a teacher writes, will first require Americans to recognize a far more uncomfortable reality: The policies employed to purportedly address the struggles of low-income children have ushered in a new era of school segregation. Claiming that poverty is no excuse for student failure trivializes the damage caused by years of actions and inactions that have widened the gaps between rich and poor communities.

By Valerie Strauss  |  01:50 PM ET, 07/17/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:32 PM ET, 07/16/2012

The Dragas-Sullivan statement: Who’s kidding whom at U-Va.?

Statement talks about their commitment to work together — as if recent drama never happened.

By Valerie Strauss  |  06:32 PM ET, 07/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:38 PM ET, 07/16/2012

How to fix the charter school movement (and what Albert Shanker really said)

Education historian Diane Ravitch calls out New Jersey’s education chief, Chris Cerf, for an article he wrote about charter schools and explains how the movement can be fixed. She also shows how Cerf misquotes the late union leader Albert Shanker.

By Valerie Strauss  |  02:38 PM ET, 07/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/16/2012

School district’s new approach to summer learning

The superintendent of Pittsburgh public schools writes about a new approach to summer school that is far different from the traditional.

By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/16/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:55 AM ET, 07/15/2012

Why U-Va.’s governing board should go

There’s a charade playing out right now at the University of Virginia — and it’s not a game.

By Valerie Strauss  |  10:55 AM ET, 07/15/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 07/14/2012

How underfunding schools really hurts kids

The consequence of underfunding schools are more than just a lack of books and chalk. It is easy to see how the resource gap is directly related to the achievement gap.

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:00 AM ET, 07/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/13/2012

Louisiana voucher scheme fails to attract many students

The state of Louisiana offered some 450,000 publicly funded vouchers for students to use to pay for private school tuition. But no more than 2 percent of students applied for the vouchers. Why did this happen?

By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/13/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:45 PM ET, 07/12/2012

Report on Penn State board’s failures has ramifications for U-Va. board — update

Penn State’s board commissioned a report which blasted its mishandling of the Sandusky child abuse matter. The U-Va. Board of Visitors should probably do some similar introspection.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:45 PM ET, 07/12/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/12/2012

Is Khan Academy a real ‘education solution’?

The Khan Academy has been in the education news though it’s not the kind of publicity that its founder, Salman Khan, would have chosen if given the choice. Here’s an examination of whether the academy is really a solution to education’s most in­trac­table problems as many claim.

By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/12/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 07/11/2012

Are U.S. schools too easy?

A report appeared this week by the Center for American Progress asserting that “schools are too easy.” Are they really, education historian Diane Ravitch asks, and answers.

By Valerie Strauss  |  01:00 PM ET, 07/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/11/2012

Has Florida governor had a testing epiphany?

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who until now hadn’t seen a test he didn’t like, seems to have come to some sort of epiphany: The state that has been a national model for test-based school reform just may be testing school children too much.

By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/10/2012

Before ‘Fifty Shades of Grey:’ Bestsellers of last century

If you have finished reading (or never would touch) the erotic “Fifty Shades of Grey” and looking for something a little, well, different to pick up this summer, here are some book lists that you might not have come across: Bestsellers from the past. Way in the past.

By Valerie Strauss  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/10/2012

Georgia professors blast teacher evaluation system

Professors from colleges and universities in Georgia have written an open letter to the governor, Nathan Deal, and other officials involved with education policy to express opposition to a new teacher evaluation system that depends largely on student standardized test scores.

By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:02 AM ET, 07/09/2012

The Common Bore

An educator writes: “The three words to best describe an effective classroom are engagement, engagement, engagement. Those who make policy would disagree, it seems, since policy promulgated at the national and state level has less to do with engagement and more to do with obedience.”

By Valerie Strauss  |  10:02 AM ET, 07/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/09/2012

Texas GOP rejects ‘critical thinking’ skills. Really.

In the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff department, the Republican Party of Texas wrote in its 2012 platform that itopposes the teaching of “higher order thinking skills” because it believes the purpose is to challenge a student’s “fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.”

By Valerie Strauss  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/09/2012

The worst master’s degree?

American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan was not amused by a Forbes article identifying the library and information science degree as the worst master’s for a student to pursue.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/09/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:22 PM ET, 07/07/2012

The hardest jobs to fill (think plumbers)

Reformers who think that students should be studying subjects that will help them fill empty jobs should be pushing for more vocational education in the skilled trades.

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:22 PM ET, 07/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 07/07/2012

An all-too-true parody on ed reform

When I first started reading the piece below, I wasn’t sure if it was real or if it was parody. I was relieved to find that it was the latter, though in these crazy days of education reform, it could have been the work of a real education department.

By Valerie Strauss  |  12:30 PM ET, 07/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:23 AM ET, 07/06/2012

How to get kids reading and writing over the summer

Here’s a set of exercises that builds the critical reading and writing skills that students develop in school by encouraging them to write for themselves

By Valerie Strauss  |  10:23 AM ET, 07/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/06/2012

Big money aids Washington state charter bid

Three times the voters in Washington have rejected charter schools in their state — in 1996, 2000 and 2004 — but a new bid to win approval has big money behind it.

By Valerie Strauss  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/06/2012

Why the Gates Foundation is so puzzling

Education historian Diane Ravitch writes about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured billions of dollars into questionable education reforms, is so puzzling.

By Valerie Strauss  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/06/2012

The difference between live and taped lectures

Little attention is given to the affective domain of learning.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/05/2012

Is ‘filling the pail’ any way to train teachers?

At the Relay Graduate School of Education, teacher education that balances research, theory and practice has been replaced by ‘filling the pail’ training. Designed to serve the needs of three charter school chains — KIPP, Achievement First and Uncommon Schools— RGSE has no university affiliation, yet awards masters degrees in New York State.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:19 PM ET, 07/04/2012

How hot was July 4, 1776? Thanks to Jefferson, we know

Thanks to Thomas Jefferson, perhaps the country’s first real weatherman, we know.

By Valerie Strauss  |  12:19 PM ET, 07/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/04/2012

July 4 quiz: See how much you know

Test yourself with this Fourth of July quiz and see how much you really know about the birth of the United States.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 07/03/2012

July 4th facts on flags, fireworks, food and more

If you are at all curious about what country manufactures American flags and the fireworks we light on July 4th, and where your Independence Day BBQ food comes from, read this.

By Valerie Strauss  |  04:00 AM ET, 07/03/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:13 AM ET, 07/02/2012

Why July 2 is really America’s independence day

John Adams wrote: “the Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America...”

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:13 AM ET, 07/02/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:37 AM ET, 07/02/2012

Why U.S. can’t get back to head of the class (because it was never there)

The idea that the United States once was a world leader in elementary and secondary education, while a compelling part of our belief system, is false. We never ranked #1. We can’t get back to the head of the class because we never were the head of the class.

By Valerie Strauss  |  09:37 AM ET, 07/02/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:37 AM ET, 06/30/2012

Testing mandates flunk cost-benefit analysis

Here’s a cost-benefit analysis of the accountability movement now being administered in public education, primarily in the form of testing mandates. It flunks.

By Valerie Strauss  |  11:37 AM ET, 06/30/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

 

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