June 4, 2015

Today In Nutty Ideas, Layton Sets A Standard, Nevada Is All Choice, Policy Innovation, Common Core, And Jim Shelton’s New Gig

By Bellwether

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A lot of news today, it’s all curated here, as every weekday, at RealClearEducation.com

Whatever you think about Success Academy (and it’s especially important to have really strong views if you haven’t spent time there) be sure to read this Lyndsey Layton article in The Washington Post. It discusses (a) actual teaching, a little (b) what frequently happens in schools around feedback and evaluation and (c) has nuance around the “backfill” issue  – actual substance! – as a criticism of Success rather than the usual blather. More, please!

Randi Weingarten seems never to have heard a faddish idea she doesn’t then propose: This time it’s getting rid of cut scores on the new Common Core tests altogether. Al Shanker has left the building. A cut score is the point considered proficient or passing on a standardized test (short primer on the various ways for doing it here (pdf)). Weingarten’s gambit seems to be more about making sure people don’t use results from the more rigorous assessments (and their more rigorous cut scores) to bash schools. That’s a legitimate point but not a reason to jettison cut scores. And, so far in the Common Core rollout I’ve seen a lot more said/written about not using the new tests to bash schools than I’ve actually seen them being used that way. It could be that Weingarten is a living embodiment of that old New Yorker cartoon? Most of the known world is not east of the Hudson and all of it is not east of the Great Lakes…

Nevada is all voucher*! Going to be interesting to see how this plays out. One angle I’m particularly in is what happens in hyper-rural communities. There are some very isolated schools in Nevada.  Is another angle to watch whether this strengthens Nevada Governor Sandoval’s hand in the Republican veepstakes? I’m not close enough to know but it sure seems plausible from the cheap seats. *Update: Or all Education Savings Account. Given how the policy is set up it seems a distinction w/o a difference in this case but advocates are taking exception to what they see as imprecise language. Neerav Kingsland has some good thoughts on all of this here.

Related, the other day Governing ran a piece about the lack of policy diversity among states. In general that’s a real issue. But on education I don’t see it as much. You don’t see this Nevada policy elsewhere! You see a lot of carbon copy RFPs and things like that but on policy the bigger problem is a lack of policy feedback. So, for instance, it’s hard to argue that state charter laws are copies of one another. And that’s why you have disastrous states with charters – e.g. Ohio – and states and cities really doing well – e.g. NJ, MA, NYC , etc…You’re starting to see the same thing with the “Achievement School District” turnaround model. The problem is the enormous gap between the evidence from all of this and ongoing policy design.  Jay Greene has raised this policy diversity issue and competitive federalism as a reason to be concerned about Common Core. I see it playing out a little differently but it’s definitely among the actual serious critiques of the Common Core.

Mike Petrilli on social capital and Putnam.  Robert Pondiscio on Grant Wiggins. Wiggins had plenty of strong views but he wasn’t close minded or a tribalist, something to admire.

Jim Shelton writes why he’s “not head of this foundation or why not raise a fund with these people or why not CEO of this company or why didn’t you ask this person for a few hundred million dollars.” Instead, he’s joining online ed outfit 2U.

Yesterday I wrote about how when most people criticize the Common Core they’re often really talking about something else.  Sandy Kress pushed back here.

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