August 20, 2015

Can You Even Remember Your SAT Scores? FL Teachers Must! Landrieu Changes Lanes, Teacher Perceptions, And I Weep For Yale Students…Breaking: Common Core A Flashpoint!

By Bellwether

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Changing Lanes with former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. Carl Cannon and I took a car ride with Mary Landrieu the other day to talk centrist politics, New Orleans rebuilding, and her health care vote (which she would unhesitatingly cast again). She just can’t make her mind up about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (includes Common Core politics). Also don’t miss this Atlantic article about what her brother Mitch is up to in New Orleans around violence. 

PSA – “Soft bigotry of low expectations” is not just a catch phrase.  In case you haven’t heard, Jeb Bush’s Common Core position is controversial!

The hardships of being a Yale student. In response to yesterday’s Times op-ed on Yale’s spending on money mangers that had all right-thinking people outraged, Matt Levine points out that,

Yale spent almost three times as much money on private equity managers as it did on students, but the private equity managers gave Yale almost ten times as much money as the students did. And Yale didn’t need to feed, house or teach them.

True, education really is a dog of a business. But if you actually want to see more endowment money flowing to student aid you have to convince donors that their money should go to student aid or unrestricted purposes. That’s hard when people want to endow chairs, buildings, and all sorts of naming rights kinds of things or particular initiatives that are important to them. Maybe stop beating up money mangers for their gifts to schools and instead beat them up for not giving unrestricted dollars or donations earmarked for student aid? Surely couldn’t be less productive than the current conversation. Also, most colleges don’t have endowments at all and for those that do most aren’t that big. So I guess it’s OK to get all worked up about the hardships of students at Yale (or similar schools) if that is your thing. But, it’s not really where the action is and if you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time worried about that rather than, say, the University of Connecticut, you might want to pause and think?

The hardships of being a teacher with good SAT scores. Florida wants to pay teachers more if they had good ACT or SAT scores. Cue the usual controversy, refusals, etc... Seems like two things are true at once here. SAT scores are actually a modest predictor of teaching performance – probably owing to the verbal ability required to do the job well. Not much attention to that in all the coverage (might spoil the fun and why break with tradition?). But, SAT scores and most other similar measures (including current credentialing) are swamped by the predictive leverage of, you know, actual job performance. In other words the best predictor of future job performance is past job performance in the classroom with real kids. (So, please pay no attention to our crazy and costly teacher credentialing regimes!) Also true, this Florida deal is sort of a crazy policy anyway. A better policy might be encouraging and incentivizing students with strong scores to find their way to programs in the UTeach vein? But that’s a lot of work. Too much apparently for Florida. Instead, Florida is kind of cutting out the middle man but not in a useful way. Fine thing to argue about though because everyone already has their talking points.

ICYMI – Opt-out students in New York mostly aren’t poor, diverse, or good at taking tests but there are a lot of them. And that’s why there is a political potency to their movement public officials should handle with care.

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