Friday, June 18, 2010

Explain changes to standards

Will NJDOE ever explain the differences between the NJ standards and the common core?
Well, they could simply trust Sandra Alberti, director of the education department's Office of Math and Science Standards, who described the new standards as "clearer, fewer, higher" than the preceding standards.
Wow - that is quite an explanation!
See More here

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Commissioner Schundler on Common Core

Commissioner Schundler 's comments on the Common Core Math Standards
“When you reach high school and you aren’t able to do three-digit multiplication, that’s a real problem,” said state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler. “Part of the problem is we move students through so fast that they don’t gain that ability.”
THREE-DIGIT MULTIPLICATION - now that is a huge math issue, Mr. Commissioner!
Still, there was some urgency to Schundler wanting the board to move on the national standards, as New Jersey’s participation will also gain it points on the pending application for $400 million in federal Race to the Top funds.
Yes, THE real truth is purely political.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Common Standards Get Final, Quiet Approval in Kentucky

Common Standards Get Final, Quiet Approval in Kentucky

See my comments at the end of the article - setting the record straight after misinformation was posted by the anti reformists.

Pulling Weeds in the Garden State

Pulling Weeds in the Garden State
NJEA vs Christie

Friday, June 11, 2010

No magic bullet for education

From the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, May 30, 2010.  EDITORIAL
 No magic bullet for education

America keeps looking for one simple solution for its education shortcomings. There isn't one.

The "unschooling" movement of the 1970s featured open classrooms, in which children studied what they were most interested in, when they felt ready. That was followed by today's back-to-basics, early-start model, in which students complete math worksheets in kindergarten and are supposed to take algebra by eighth grade at the latest. Under the "whole language" philosophy of the 1980s, children were expected to learn to read by having books read to them. By the late 1990s, reading lessons were dominated by phonics, with little time spent on the joys of what reading is all about - unlocking the world of stories and information.

A little more than a decade ago, educators bore no responsibility for their students' failure; it was considered the fault of the students, their parents and unequal social circumstances. Now schools are held liable for whether students learn, regardless of the students' lack of effort or previous preparation, and are held solely accountable for reaching unrealistic goals of achievement.

No wonder schools have a chronic case of educational whiplash. If there's a single aspect of schooling that ought to end, it's the decades of abrupt and destructive swings from one extreme to another. There is no magic in the magic-bullet approach to learning. Charters are neither evil nor saviors; they can be a useful complement to public schools, but they have not blazed a sure-fire path to student achievement. Decreeing that all students will be proficient in math and reading by 2014 hasn't moved us dramatically closer to the mark.

Now consider the latest rush to extremes: teacher evaluations. In its effort to promote school reform with Race to the Top grants, the Obama administration rightly criticized state laws - such as one then in effect in California - that prohibited schools from making student test scores a part of teacher evaluations, and declared that such laws would preclude a state from qualifying for grants.

The firewall was obviously unreasonable. Part of what the public expects from schools is improvement over the years on test scores, which are clearly related to the quality of instruction. We have endorsed the idea of taking scores into account in teacher evaluations, while cautioning that standardized tests are just one of many factors - and not necessarily the most important one - that should go into a thoughtful and relevant performance evaluation.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

John Wooden & Teaching

 From Michael Martin, Research Analyst, Arizona School Boards Association.
 From a book Mr. Martin may be publishing:

The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) men's basketball team coached by John Wooden won 10 national NCAA championships in 12 years, including seven consecutive national championships from 1966 to 1973, four perfect 30-0 seasons, and in one streak from 1971 to 
1974 won 88 straight games. This despite graduating students each year and acquiring new recruits. And after Wooden retired it was 20 years before UCLA won another national championship. Obviously Wooden knew something few others understood about teaching.

An ESPN series about sports legends asked this legendary college basketball coach, "What is the key to being a good teacher?" John Wooden replied "I think anyone in a position of supervision, if they're not listening to those under them, they're not going to get good results. The supervisor must make sure that all of those under his supervision understand they're working with him, not for him."

It seems pertinent to ask "Why would the greatest college basketball coach in history 'listen' to his students instead of requiring them to listen to him?" Wooden says because that was what made him the greatest basketball coach in history. Wooden did not "teach" basketball, Wooden essentially said he considered his role as collaborating "with" his students. Note also that Wooden described his role as "supervision" rather than teaching, and he described 
"supervision" as "must make sure that all of those under his supervision understand they're working with him, not for him."

Collaboration, not teaching.

Friday, June 4, 2010

National Standards Misconceptions

National Standards Misconceptions

Misconception #1: National standards would make American students more competitive with their international peers. The relationship between standards and academic achievement is unclear. While it's true that many of the countries that outperform the U.S. on international tests have national standards, so do most of the countries that score lower than the U.S. Even when it comes to state standards, the relationship between academic performance and the quality of those standards is not consistent.

Misconception #2: National standards are necessary so parents can understand how their children compare with other children across the country. The information parents need is already available. State tests let parents know how well their children have mastered the curriculum. The National Assessment of Educational Progress and other standardized tests compare students' performance nationally, exposing any "dumbing down" of state tests. Policies should require clear reporting of this data to parents, which in too many states is not standard practice.
Misconception #3: National standards are necessary because of the variance in the quality of state standards. Some states do have higher standards than others. But the same pressures that drive down state standards would likely plague national standards — and if national standards were defined down, they would undercut states with higher standards, such as Massachusetts. This would let the goal of uniformity trump the pursuit of excellence.