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The Answer Sheet: July 18, 2010 - July 24, 2010

The problem with how Rhee fired teachers

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is entirely correct when she says that “every child in a District of Columbia public school has a right to a highly effective teacher” in every classroom. But if Rhee really thinks that her IMPACT evaluation system of teachers is going to get get her there, then she is fooling herself, and everybody else who agrees with her.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 23, 2010; 11:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (124)
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Standardized Tests, Teacher assessment, Teachers  | Tags:  IMPACT system, dc cas, high-stakes standardized tests, michelle rhee fires teacher, rhee fires teachers, teachers in d.c. fired, value added, value added systems  
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The history of ice cream (July is National Ice Cream Month)

I love history. I love ice cream (and so did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and, of course, Dolley Madison). So, to mark National Ice Cream Month, for which we have Ronald Reagan to thank, here is the history of ice cream. It’s more interesting than you might think and even your kids might like it.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 23, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  History  | Tags:  history, july is national ice cream month, national ice cream month, the history of ice cream  
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Tunisia bans spanking (even by parents)

Talk about government involvement in the home: Tunisia lawmakers have voted to ban spanking of children by anybody, parents included.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 23, 2010; 2:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Discipline, Parents  | Tags:  ban on spanking, corporal punishment, should kids be spanked?, tunisia bans spanking  
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From a list of ideas to an 11,200-word essay

In this letter a high school student details how he wrote a scholarly history paper that was published and what he learned from the experience.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 23, 2010; 12:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  History  | Tags:  concord review, history, how to write a research paper, walter johnson high school, writing research papers  
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Wake County diversity battle

“Idea intrigues Wake school board factions.” That’s the headline in a story in North Carolina’s News & Observer today. I know what some of you are thinking about school boards. Stop it. What's the idea?

By Valerie Strauss  | July 22, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Equity  | Tags:  arrests in wake county, busing in wake county, controlled choice, diversity issues, wake county and busing, wake county and diversity, wake county school board  
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Poverty, student achievement, HCZ: Berliner

A new Brookings Institution report says there is "no compelling evidence that investments in parenting classes, health services, nutritional programs and community improvement in general have appreciable effects on student achievement in schools in the U.S." Is that really true?

By Valerie Strauss  | July 22, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  David Berliner, Equity, Guest Bloggers, Learning  | Tags:  alexander russo, brookings institution report, brookings report and hcz, david berliner, effects of poverty on student achievement, factors in student achievement, harlem children's zone, jay mathews, student achievement, whitehurst report  
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Do high standards really help kids?

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute tells us that the proposed national math and English-language standards are “clearly superior” to those standards in most of the states. Well, so what? Are national standards an effective education reform?

By Valerie Strauss  | July 21, 2010; 2:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
Categories:  National Standards, Research, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  accountability systems and standards, assessing the standards, common standards initiative, do we need national standards, epic, fordham institute and standards, fordham report, grading the standards, how good are the common core standards, thomas b. fordham institute  
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Alexander Russo on Jay Mathews and Harlem Children's Zone

There's nothing like a good fight to spice up a hot July day, so here, Alexander Russo of "This Week in Education" takes on my esteemed colleague Jay Mathews over the Harlem Children's Zone.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 21, 2010; 7:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Charter schools, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  alexander russo, brookings and harlem children's zone, brookings and hcz, criticism of harlem children's zone, geoffrey canada, harlem children's zone, hcz and hype, jay mathews, poverty and school reform, poverty and student achievement, promise academy, promise charter academies, this week in education  
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Primer for ed reformers (or, it’s the curriculum, stupid!)

A curriculum expert says school reformers are ignoring this truth: "I say the familiar “core curriculum” in use in America’s schools and colleges is a problem-plagued, dysfunctional,19th Century relic that fits the 21st Century about as well as the first Model T Ford fits into I-75 traffic." And here's how to fix it.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 21, 2010; 7:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Learning, National Standards  | Tags:  changing the curriculum, common core standards, curriculum reform, how to design curriculum, how to reform a school, marion brady, national standards, primer for reforms, race to the top, school reform, the answer sheet  
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A how-to-get-through-college book for parents

The author of "The Naked Roommate" has written a book about college life but not for kids. Rather it is for the parents, who are now more involved than ever in their child's college.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 20, 2010; 3:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  College Life  | Tags:  college and homesickness, college freshman, college life, harlan cohen, parents and college, the happiest kid on campus, the naked roommate  
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Cutting food stamps for Race to the Top?

There is something peculiar about the Obama administration’s fierce determination to keep every dime of Race to the Top money that it wants. It is so insistent that it apparently offered to cut the food stamps program to keep Race money.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 20, 2010; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, Race to the Top  | Tags:  arne duncan, cutting food stamps, david obey, duncan and obey, edu jobs, edu jobs bill, education and civil rights, education secretary arne duncan, edujobs bill, extending race to the top, fiscal times, race to the top, race to the top funding, y  
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Education law 'tales of the weird'

Here are some education stories that are, well, just a little weird.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 20, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Tags:  education law, strange education stories, weird education stories  
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New test scoring problems for Pearson

On the heels of a fiasco in Florida with scoring the state achievement tests, NCS Pearson has a new scoring problem, this time in Minnesota. Here's a list of similar problems, underscoring why using standardized test scores for high-stakes decisions is wrong.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 19, 2010; 11:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Standardized Tests  | Tags:  FCAT results delayed, FCAT scores delayed, FairTEST, fairtest, minnesota test scores delayed, ncs pearson, pearson and FCAT, pearson and minnesota tests, pearson and scoring tests, standardized tests, test results delayed  
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A letter to Secretary Arne Duncan

A businesswoman and education activist writes a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan about the difference between his words and his policies.

By Valerie Strauss  | July 19, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan  | Tags:  arne duncan, failure of nclb, nclb, obama's education blueprint, race to the top grants, rita solnet, school reform  
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