April 5, 2013
The News Journal
Opinion: By Bill Gates
Teachers deserve more feedback than test scores
In much the same way that sports teams identify and nurture talent, there is a window of opportunity in public education to create systems that encourage and develop fantastic teachers, leading to better results for students. Efforts are being made to define effective teaching and give teachers the support they need to be as effective as possible. But as states and districts rush to implement new teacher development and evaluation systems, there is a risk they’ll use hastily contrived, unproven measures. One glaring example is the rush to develop new assessments in grades and subjects not currently covered by state tests. Some states and districts are talking about developing tests for all subjects, including choir and gym, just so they have something to measure.
Opinion: School board should care about all students in district
A reference in last Friday’s article regarded Christina School Board’s taking so-called umbrage with New Castle County Councilman Jea Street’s well-stated commentary about the district and the board. He directly and honestly addressed issues – not personalities – dealing with the educational damage done to African-American youth in the district; it’s blatant and proven disproportionate disciplinary policies and practices; its decision to not keep a commitment made and the harm to students, teachers and the state of Delaware to the tune of millions of “to-be-returned” dollars. It dealt with an obvious lack of concern for the educational priorities students in favor of some board members’ worrying about their safety while attending meetings in the city.
Blog: Marc Porter Magee, Ph.D, President and Founder of 50CAN
Three principles for being a cage-busting advocate
We decided that plussing our accountability model meant learning from other groups. As we looked around the country for models, two education advocacy organizations stood out: Delaware’s Rodel Foundation and Tennessee Score. Over the past decade, both have succeeded in creating precision in their goals while driving forward with ambitious long-term plans. What’s more, they not only take responsibility for pushing hard for policy change, but also for seeing it through to successful implementation. They don’t declare victory until their efforts are actually securing big improvements for kids. With that kind of focus and commitment from community leaders, it’s no surprise that Delaware and Tennessee were the only winners of the first round of Race to the Top.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia about to roll out new grading system for schools and districts
Parents know their child’s grades. Later this month, they’ll learn whether that child’s school is making the grade. The state Department of Education will release grades for schools and districts under a new system designed to give parents a detailed look at performance in a wider range of areas beyond just standardized tests. The new system, called the College and Career Ready Performance Index, was the core of the state’s successful request for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind performance measures, which officials here and across the country said were simplistic and unrealistic.
The New York Times
Opinion: New test for computers: grading essays at college level
Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the “send” button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program. And then, instead of being done with that exam, imagine that the system would immediately let you rewrite the test to try to improve your grade. EdX, the nonprofit enterprise founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer courses on the Internet, has just introduced such a system and will make its automated software available free on the Web to any institution that wants to use it. The software uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers, freeing professors for other tasks. The new service will bring the educational consortium into a growing conflict over the role of automation in education. Although automated grading systems for multiple-choice and true-false tests are now widespread, the use of artificial intelligence technology to grade essay answers has not yet received widespread endorsement by educators and has many critics.
Crucible of change in Memphis as state takes on failing schools
Tennessee is removing schools with the lowest test scores and graduation rates from the oversight of school boards and pooling them in a special state-run district. Memphis is ground zero with 80% of the bottom-ranked schools. Most of the schools will be run by charter operators. All will emphasize frequent testing and data analysis. Many are instituting teacher performance pay, but will not offer tenure.
University of Maryland Diamondback
Maryland explores mandating High Schoolers take four years of math
A proposed Maryland bill would require high school students to take four years of math and assess high schoolers to find those in need of extensive remedial classes in college. Under S.B. 740, students would have to complete a degree plan after 45 credits, and universities would reach out to “near completers,” students who are close to meeting graduation credit requirements when they drop out.