Mississippi: Common Core Lite

Mississippi is a little more than half way through a public comment period on the 2014 Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards for English Language Arts—a document that is co-branded with the Common Core and Mississippi Department of Education logos on every page. The Common Core squabbles in Mississippi became interesting last week when a…

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Interrupting the Cycle of Poverty

Of all the reasons to continuously try to improve our schools, one of the most important is interrupting the cycle of poverty. Just imagine a world in which schools have a greater impact on achievement than families. That may be far off (though not impossible), but the work educators currently do every day has the potential…

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Valid, Reliable, and Unfair

As schools across the country anxiously await the results of their new Common Core–aligned assessments, there’s one thing I wish all policy makers understood: The reading comprehension tests are valid, reliable, and unfair. Standards-based assessments mean very different things in reading and math. The math standards include mathematics content—they clearly specify what math knowledge and…

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Math and Science Increase Wages–Even Without College

In my last post, I mentioned a couple of reports showing huge disparities in the courses offered by high schools, with especially serious problems in access to advanced math, chemistry, and physics. I think such inequities are an embarrassment to the very idea of America. But I’ve met people who disagree. They see alternative courses…

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The (Knowledge) Rich Get Richer

If I could accomplish just one thing in my career, it would be to have all leaders take equalizing opportunity to learn seriously. If knowledge equality were a top priority, much would change from early childhood through college. One thing that would no longer be tolerated is denying access to essential courses. According to a…

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A Full Year of Knowledge, Questions, Thinking, and Learning

By Ilene Shafran Ilene Shafran is a second grade teacher with twenty-four years of experience. Her diverse public school has a large English as a second language population and has earned a Blue Ribbon  from the US Department of Education. Shafran is involved in curriculum design, is a facilitator for a professional learning committee, and…

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In Defense of Facts

One of my favorite blogs is by Katie Ashford, the director of inclusion at Michaela Community School in London (where another favorite blogger, Joe Kirby, is head of English). Ashford believes all children are capable of tackling rigorous content, and she mixes a strong research base with practical advice. In a recent post, she does…

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“Knowledge Capital” Determines Economic Growth

With the recession still fresh in our minds and questions about whether college is worth the cost, some may be wondering just how much schooling matters. If they go searching for answers, they may even find confusing claims like this: “at the global level, no relationship has been found between a more educated population and…

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Seeking Confirmation

Of all the problems with school reform, one of the biggest seems to be the tendency to seek bits of evidence that confirm preconceived notions. Silver bullets, tunnel vision, blind faith—call it whatever you want—somehow, those of us interested in school improvement have to stop searching for THE change. There is no one change that…

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Teachers Want to Learn about Curriculum Design

The July 2nd SmartBrief has a little reader poll that doesn’t appear scientific or representative or trustworthy at all. But still, it brightens my day. More than a host of trendy topics, educators want to learn about curriculum design: Which topics are you most interested in learning about in your self-directed PD this summer? Curriculum…

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