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Look at #cftrecommendations for insight into education

February 2, 2015

Here are some interesting pieces I have recently read.  I have provided links.  In some cases, you might need a subscription to read the full article.

Principal: What I’ve learned about annual standardized testing, Washington Post, by Valerie Strauss, February 1

  • This piece looks the issue of school reform through the lens of a principal in New York City.  The following quote speaks to the content of the article.  Policymakers get out of the way of education reform!  Teachers need to be more invested in the changes that improve student learning.

“My experience in the education world is that there are really two worlds in it. One is the world of contract and consultants and academics and experts and plenty of officials at the federal state and local level. And the other is a world of principals and classroom teachers who are actually providing education to students. What I’m hearing from my principals’ and teachers’ world is that the footprint of that first world has become way too big in their lives to the point where it’s inhibiting their ability to do the jobs they’re entrusted to do.”

Five Myths About School Improvement, Educational Leadership, by Marge Scherer, February 2015, page 7

  • Myth #1: We don’t really know what works.  We do and Ms. Scherer points out where reform works.
  • Myth #2: A single reform will move the needle.  No single reform has ever moved the needle in education
  • Myth #3: One improvement is as good as another.  Ms. Scherer points out that John Hattie’s extensive research proves this wrong.
  • Myth #4: Researchers agree about what’s needed most.  I don’t believe that most researchers really can agree on what is needed most.  Many of them spend almost no time in the classroom and don’t understand teachers’ hopes, joys, and frustrations.
  • Myth #5: Educators resist accountability.  Ms. Scherer points out that just because teachers, administrators and/or unions don’t agree with policymakers attempts to construct ways to hold schools or teachers accountable doesn’t mean educators resist accountability.  They just might not agree because the policies are bad ideas for teaching and learning.

From Gotcha to Growth, JSD, by Janice Bradley, December 2014

  • This is an excellent article about how important it is for principals to construct a supervision and evaluation process that values growth and does not focus on trying to “get the teacher.”  The author shares the model of a collaborative design cycle (page 14) as a means towards engaging teachers in meaningful growth.

The Art of Giving and Receiving  Advice, Harvard Business Review, by David Garvin and Joshua Margolis, January 2015.

  • These authors hit the nail on the head when they unravel the challenges of mentoring or being mentored.  Why is this harder than it looks to give and receive advice?  How do you choose the right advisors or mentors to guide you through challenging situations?   The key is trying to clearly articulate the problem that needs to be solved  There is a good table on page 63 that summarizes roles advisors often find themselves in and desired outcomes from these experiences.

Four Ways We Must Improve Student Health Services, Education Week, by Stephen Brock and Thomas Brant, January 21, 2015

  • These authors point out that our society is terribly inadequate in meeting the mental health needs of our young children and adolescents.  We tend to only focus on the issue when there is a national tragedy like the Sandy Hook school shooting.  They advocate for schools providing a continuum of school and community health supports.   That schools broaden access to mental health services beyond students with special needs.  That schools work on improving school-community collaboration with the intent of providing integrated services.  Finally, empower families to manage the myriad decisions and resources they need to support their child’s mental health.

Activists Learn Art of ‘Test Refusal,” Education Week, by Liana Heitin, January 28, 2015

  • A fascinating story about activists around the country that are trying to get their voices heard around opposition to the extensive high-stakes testing that most students are subjected to.   They report on the regional “Opt Out” campaigns where parents keep their children from participating in excessive high-stakes tests.  The number of tests students are subjected to varies from state-to-state.  However, there is consensus that all the testing requires a significant allocation of school time  to review and preparation.  Some would argue that this ‘testing time’ (as much as 20 standardized tests in a year) is not engaging for students and doesn’t lead to deeper understanding of knowledge and skills.

Hope you enjoy these six pieces!

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