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Another Missed Opportunity for Reform? Today, states across the country will submit applications to the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top fund.
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Looking Back, Looking Forward Volume 1, No. 1--the first-ever issue of the Harvard Education Letter--looks older than its 25 years. The well-thumbed issue we keep in our makeshift archive (a plastic three-ring binder) is slightly tattered, the words worn where the issue was folded in three for mailing. All three holes in its three-hole punch are ripped.
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“Platooning” and the Industrial Model of Schooling "Platooning" is another example of the intensification of the factory model of schooling which ignores most of what we've learned from scientific psychology about how human beings learn and grow.
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"Platooning" Touches a Nerve Reaction to my story on efforts to departmentalize elementary education around the country has come fast and furious since it was published in this month's Harvard Education Letter.
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Behind the Classroom Door: A rare glimpse indicates the extent—and persistence—of variation in teacher practice In recent years, a raft of research has called attention to the importance of effective teaching in influencing student achievement. Yet federal and state accountability policies continue to focus primarily at the school level: using schools as the unit of performance, identifying “failing schools,” and more recently targeting “turnaround schools” for special intervention. One of the best-kept secrets in educational research, it seems, is the fact that differences in the quality of instruction from classroom to classroom within schools are greater than differences in instructional quality between schools. This finding has been documented in a variety of studies, most of which used indirect measures to evaluate instruction (such as relying on teachers’ perceptions or looking at curriculum materials to determine how much time they spent on particular topics). Despite the limitations of these measures, these studies have suggested that there is considerable variation in practice even among teachers in the same building.
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The Real Race to the Top: To win, your district needs a strategy—not just a strategic plan The Obama administration’s planned investments of $100 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and an additional $4 billion in Race to the Top funds offer tremendous opportunities for school systems to focus intently on the work that will bring the greatest learning results for students. However, these new funding programs also have the potential to be just two more things (albeit big things) to which districts react haphazardly. Whether our society will reap a return on these massive investments depends on whether school systems are able to use these funds strategically.
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Why School Boards Fail to Perform School boards are more or less invisible partners in education reform. Nancy Walser correctly notes that the role that school boards can play in school improvement tends to get overlooked. On the other hand, many boards fail to perform in the high-functioning manner of those that she studied.
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Know What You’re Doing Great consternation has greeted Secretary Arne Duncan's stated goal of turning around 5,000 of the country's lowest-performing schools over the next five years.
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The Need for a Moratorium on High-stakes Testing There is a growing movement in the US to abandon high-stakes tests because they don't work as anticipated and are costly. I agree, but hope that we don't throw out the need for accountability along with the high-stakes bathwater.
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The Race to the Top The U.S. Department of Education's proposed guidelines for awarding Race to the Top grants communicate a powerful message. States barring the use of student data in decisions about teacher and principal evaluation will not be eligible for funds.
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