What Americans Want to Know

Sometimes, dreams really do come true. In June, I called for knowledge equality through a new, crowd-sourced effort to specify what all of our children should have the opportunity to learn. Now, a similar project is underway. Eric Liu, of the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship and American Identity Program and Citizen University, is calling on all of us…

Read More ›

Differentiation’s Dirty Little Secret

I’ve been visiting a lot of elementary schools lately, and I’ve noticed a dangerous pattern: instruction that’s called “differentiated” but looks an awful lot like tracking. To varying degrees, I’ve seen it in high- and low-scoring schools, some using Core Knowledge, some not. Here’s a typical scenario (abstracted from my admittedly limited experience). The whole…

Read More ›

Dear Chiefs: This Is Your Chance to Close the Reading Achievement Gap

Assuming all goes as planned, we should have a new federal education law by the end of the year. Dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), this version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would greatly increase states’ options for evaluating schools and teachers. As this ESSA cheat sheet explains: States would still have…

Read More ›

Is Your School Increasing the Achievement Gap?

I have a very simple proposition: The more we teach, the more students learn—but some students get taught more than others. There’s plenty of evidence to back me up, so I’ll just go with the most recent study I’ve seen that make this point. Bill Schmidt and his research team found that all around the…

Read More ›

Stop Reforming, Start Improving

This post first appeared on The Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog. “Programmatic series of studies”—that’s how one of my psychology professors described research on learning and memory around twenty years ago. Do a study, tweak it, try again. Persist. I was reminded of that while reading Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get…

Read More ›

Joy Hakim’s Science Stories: Proof that Informative Can Be Engaging

Kiana Hernandez is a young woman who opted out of a standardized test last spring. She had her reasons, as the Mother Jones article about her details, but that’s not what interests me about her story. What grabbed me is the reading instruction she received—or endured: She’d failed the Florida reading test every year since…

Read More ›

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…

Read More ›

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…

Read More ›

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…

Read More ›

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…

Read More ›