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The Answer Sheet: September 12, 2010 - September 18, 2010

Schools would be great if it weren't for the kids

Education author Alfie Kohn, referring to a Robert Samuelson column that blames failing schools on unmotivated students, writes: "Blaming students is the next logical step after blaming teachers. In fact, the two reflect the same general perspective on education, one in which commentators look down from their aeries and inform us that the trouble lies with the people in the classrooms rather than with the policies imposed on them."

By Valerie Strauss  | September 17, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (56)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  alfie kohn, how to motivate students, motivated students, newsweek, robert samuelson, samuelson column, school reform, unmotivated students  
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How the ACT caught up with the SAT

For more than 80 years, the SAT has been the nation’s dominant, standardized college admissions exam. This year – for the first time – as many students in the high school class of 2010 sat for the rival ACT as took the SAT. How did it happen?

By Valerie Strauss  | September 17, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, SAT and ACT, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  act, college admissions, crossing the finish line, fairtest, sat, sat act, sat or act, sat vs. act, standardized tests, test-optional colleges, test-optional schools, writing section act, writing section sat  
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While we wait for ‘Superman,’ let's focus on teaching

he founding director of a center that fosters best teaching practices saw "Waiting for Superman" and writes: "Conventional thinking tells us the best way to improve teacher effectiveness is to remove the ineffective teachers and replace them with effective ones. No doubt, this strategy is needed. But if we’re going for a fundamental shift in what we expect from schools, then a wholesale cast change won’t be the fix we imagine. We’ll risk ending up with a new batch of well-intentioned, but improperly prepared players in a flawed system."

By Valerie Strauss  | September 16, 2010; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Charter schools, D.C. Schools, Guest Bloggers, Teachers  | Tags:  center for inspired teaching, firing teachers, how to fix schools, inspired teachers, inspired teaching, professional development, school reform, superman movie, teacher development, teachers, waiting for superman  
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Why 'Waiting for Superman' premiere was chilling

Something chilling happened at the Washington D.C. premiere of "Waiting for Superman" that involved Michelle Rhee and the A-list audience.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 16, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  adrian fenty, al franken, arne duncan, charter schools, d.c. schools, david axelrod, fenty and gray, george miller, melody barnes, michelle rhee, movie premiere, obama and refoms, obama reform, president obama and school reform, research and education, research on charter schools, rhee and gray, superman film, superman premiere, teachers and unions, vincent gray, waiting for superman, what will rhee do?, when will rhee leave?, who will replace rhee  
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Study shows test score improvements

For those who follow test scores, here's a new study of five years of assessment trends showing that U.S. 4th and 8th graders are doing better in reading and math than they were in 2005. It’s not just according to the states’ own tests used for No Child Left Behind accountability, but also according to the federally sponsored National Assessment of Educational Progress.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 16, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Research, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  center on education progress, jack jenningers, study on test scores, test scores, test scores increase, test scores rising, test scores up  
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Are Texas's social studies standards really so bad?

Texas has now officially adopted highly controversial new social studies standards. Here's a different view of the standards and the process by which they were approved.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 16, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  History  | Tags:  rewriting history, texas rewrites history, texas social studies standards, texas standards  
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Is that so, Chancellor Rhee?

So, it turns out, the problem with school reforms in D.C. -- which contributed to the defeat of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty in the Democratic primary -- wasn’t that some of them were punitive and nonsensical. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee said in an interview today that the people just didn’t get it. It’s the people’s fault.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 15, 2010; 10:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  adrian fenty, d.c. schools, gray and fenty, is reform dead?, michelle rhee, msnbc, rhee, rhee and blame, rhee interview, school reform, vincent gray, will rhee stay  
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Rhee should stay or go, not be a lame duck

Oh no. Two D.C. Council members are essentially during Vincent Gray, the man expected to be Washington D.C.’s next mayor, to turn D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee into a lame duck.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 15, 2010; 8:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  d.c. election, d.c. schools, d.c. vote, gray and rhee, gray wins, is rhee leaving, is rhee staying, michelle rhee, vincent gray  
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Texas considers how Islam is portrayed in textbooks

The Texas Board of Education finally adopted its social studies standards a few weeks ago, seeming to put an end to the a huge controversy that erupted when critics accused religious fundamentalists of rewriting American history. Now, apparently, it is taking up a new issue: How students should learn about Islam.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 15, 2010; 3:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  History  | Tags:  social studies standards, texas and islam, texas and social studies, texas and standards, texas board of education, texas islam rule, texas school board  
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Meier: Trust and skepticism in public schools

Renowed school reformer Deborah Meier looks at the issue of what "well-educated" really means and how we get there.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 15, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Deborah Meier, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  adrian fenty, deb meier, deborah meier, michelle rhee, school reform  
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Mass personalization: Is this good for education?

The principle of “mass personalization” is straightforward: by gathering data on individual customers, a company can target its advertising. What would “mass personalization” look like in education?

By Valerie Strauss  | September 15, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, National Standards, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  common core standards, diana senechal, mass personalization, school reform  
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What Gray, Rhee should do now for D.C. schools

D.C. school kids and parents and teachers don’t need uncertainty about who is going to be in charge of the system. That means Vincent Gray and Michelle Rhee have to figure out quickly if they can work together or not.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 15, 2010; 6:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  D.C. Schools, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  d.c. school reform, fenty loses, gray and rhee, gray wins, is rhee leaving, michelle rhee, rhee and fenty, rhee and gray, what now for d.c. schools, will rhee leave?  
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About that Time magazine education poll

Here are some questions about Time magazine's recent education poll.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 14, 2010; 5:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Matthew Di Carlo, School turnarounds/reform, Standardized Tests, Teacher assessment  | Tags:  merit pay, time and education poll, time magazine education poll, time poll and schools  
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A state ranking scandal: Not So Smart, ALEC

Principal George Wood dissects a ranking system of states on school performance and reform that doesn't make sense.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 14, 2010; 12:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  George Wood, Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Councilranking, NAEP and states, florida and ranking, george wood, louisiana and ranking, massachusetts and ranking, michigan and ranking, new hampshire and ranking, new mexico and ranking, new york and ranking, performance rankings, performance ratings, ranking states, reform rankings, school reform rankings, state ratings, state school rankings, vermont and ranking  
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Obama picked wrong school to give speech

The Philadelphia school chosen for President Obama’s second annual “back to school” speech to students around the country is consistently ranked as a great public college-preparatory institution. That’s why he should have picked a different school to visit.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 14, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  central falls high school, elliott school, obama and back to school, obama and back to school speech, obama and masterman school, obama and school reform, obama and speech, obama and speech and students, obama speech, president obama and back to school, president obama and school reform, restructured schools, t.c. williams, t.c. williams high school, urgent need of reform list  
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Obama ed policy lacks scientific support -- Willingham

Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham calls into question President Obama's judgment on the administration's education policy, saying that it has no scientific support.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 13, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Charter schools, Daniel Willingham, Education Secretary Duncan, Guest Bloggers, National Standards, Race to the Top, Research, School turnarounds/reform, Standardized Tests, Teacher assessment  | Tags:  common core standards, daniel willingham, duncan and policy, duncan and reforms, naep, national assessment of educational progress, obama and education policy, obama and inaugural address, obama and school reform, president obama and education, race to the top, race to the top requirements, science and obama administration, teacher assessment  
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Student loan default rates increase -- especially at for-profit schools

The national student loan default rate is rising, according to new statistics released today, and students who obtain loans to attend for-profit loans are more likely to default than those in non-profit institutions.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 13, 2010; 1:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  College Costs  | Tags:  college costs, for-profits and students loans, loan default rate increases, student loans, students and loan student rate  
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Class size DOES matter after all

A veteran teacher says that class size affects student performance as he takes issue with a post last week on The Answer Sheet which argued otherwise.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 13, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Class size, Guest Bloggers, Larry Ferlazzo  | Tags:  STAR and class size, class size, class size and tennessee, class size matters, justin snider, larry ferlazzo  
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If Rhee leaves ... if Rhee stays

If D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee leaves, the schools won't crumble. If she stays, and there is a good argument to be made for consistency in leadership, she should broaden her view of how to evaluate teachers and schools.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 12, 2010; 1:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  IMPACT, NAEP, Rhee and IMPACT, d.c. school reform, d.c. schools, fenty and gray, future of D.C. schools, michelle rhee, rhee and fenty  
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