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The Answer Sheet: December 5, 2010 - December 11, 2010

Colleges start revealing early admissions decisions

High school students around the nation who applied to early-decision programs at colleges and universities are starting to learn their fate ahead of the usual Dec. 15 “reveal” date.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 11, 2010; 11:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  college admissions, early admissions, early decision  
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'If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging'

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the new PISA results are a "wake up call" for him. But is the call he is hearing the right one?

By Valerie Strauss  | December 11, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan, Guest Bloggers, Kevin Welner, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  PISA scores, arne duncan, nclb, no child left behind, pisa, school reform  
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Finalists for young adult literature award

Here are the five books selected by the Young Adult Library Services Association as finalists for the 2011 William C. Morris Award, which honors a book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 10, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Literature, Reading  | Tags:  YAL, adolescent lit, adolescent literature, american library association, books for teens, literature, reading, teen novels, young adult lit, young adult literature  
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Valerie vs. Jay on Teach for America, KIPP, etc.

My friend and colleague Jay Mathews, the most knowledgeable education reporter ever, challenged me to a debate. It evolved into a discussion about Teach for America. Here it is.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 10, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  education programs, education schools, jay mathews, kipp, mathews strauss debate, teach for america, teach for america debate, teacher education, teachers, valerie strauss  
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Teachers: What we need to do to fix schools

Fourteen teachers from urban schools around the country worked for a year to study how to improve troubled schools. Here are the results.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 9, 2010; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Larry Ferlazzo, School turnarounds/reform, Teachers  | Tags:  larry ferlazzo, quality teachers, school reform, teacher assessment, teacher development, teacher planning, teachers, teachers leadership network, urban schools, urban teachers  
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Teachers: How much more can we take?

Established, expert teachers tell their personal stories about how the joy is going out of their profession and why they are thinking the previously unthinkable: getting out.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 9, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  teachers, teaching profession, urban schools, urban teachers, veteran teachers  
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How poverty affected U.S. PISA scores

How did the effects of poverty affect the latest scores on the Program for International Student Assessment, known as PISA?

By Valerie Strauss  | December 9, 2010; 10:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Research, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  pisa, pisa results, pisa scores, school reform, standardized tests, stephen krashen  
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Kohn: Remember when we had higher standards? Neither do I

When, Alfie Kohn asks, haven't we been complaining about low standards in public schools and calling for accountability? The answer: Apparently, never. A golden period never existed.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 9, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Alfie Kohn, Guest Bloggers, National Standards  | Tags:  accountability, alfie kohn, common standards, education system, nation at risk, reagan administration, school reform, standards  
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Absent teachers reserve 'crisis' created by Klein, Bloomberg, union

A teacher explains how all sides are responsible for the mess surrounding New York City's "absent teacher reserve: "If this self-inflicted "crisis" were given to a business management class as a case study, it's likely that they would conclude that the negotiators on both sides of the table were idiots."

By Valerie Strauss  | December 8, 2010; 3:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Teachers  | Tags:  cathie black, cathleen black, joel klein, new york city schools, nyc schools, teacher assessment, teacher tenure, teachers  
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Schools eligible for 2011 John Lennon Scholarship

The John Lennon Scholarship Program created by Yoko Ono is now accepting applicants from a certain group of schools. Here they are.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 8, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  College Costs  | Tags:  Appalachian State University, Bard College, Belmont University, Berklee College of Music, Birmingham-Southern College, Brown University, California State University Northridge, Carnegie Mellon University, Catawba College, City College of New York, Clark Atlanta University, Colorado State University, Columbia College (Chicago), DePaul University, Drexel University, Elmhurst College, Emory University, Florida State University, Full Sail, Georgia State University, Harvard University, Hunter College, Indiana University, Ithaca College, Lehigh University, Loyola University (New Orleans), Michigan State University, Middle Tennessee S. University, Millikin University, New England Conservatory, New York University, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, Purchase College (SUNY), UCLA, University of Alabama, University of California Los Angeles, University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Florida, University of Houston, University of Idaho, University of Memphis, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of North Alabama, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of North Texas, University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah, Vanderbilt University, Wilkes Community College, Yale University, john lennon, john lennon scholarships, menc, national association for music education, yoko ono  
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A primer on (and problems with) market-based reform

Here's a primer on market-based school reform, the vision of its proponents and why their agenda is not the best thing for children.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 8, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  andy smarick, arne duncan, checker finn, chester finn, democrats for education reform, dfer, fordham institute, geoffrey canada, green dot charter schools, harlem children's zone, jeb bush, joel klein, kipp, kipp schools, market-based reform, michael bloomberg, michelle rhee, richard barth, rick hess, rick scott, school reform, steve barr, wendy kopp, whitney tilson  
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Hysteria over PISA misses the point

Reaction in the United States to the PISA results -- in which American 15 year olds scored essentially average in reading, math and science -- was swift, sharp, and perhaps hysterical. But it missed the big point: No Child Left Behind didn't do anything to improve things.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 7, 2010; 4:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  No Child Left Behind, Standardized Tests  | Tags:  international comparisons, nclb, no child left behind, pisa, pisa rankings, pisa reaction, u.s. scoring on pisa, where u.s. ranks in pisa  
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Ravitch to Gates: Let's talk

Education historian Diane Ravitch invites Bill Gates to a public discussion on education reform, and explains why public schools must remain public.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 7, 2010; 11:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Diane Ravitch, Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  bill gates, checker finn, diane ravitch, education policy, federal control of schools, local control of schools, obama and school reform, republicans in congress, school reform, school reform policies, wall street journal  
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Sample PISA questions given to 15-year-olds

Here are some sample questions given to 15-year-old students on the PISA exam. Test yourself.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 7, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Standardized Tests  | Tags:  international comparisons, pisa, pisa questions, pisa results, sample questions  
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Assessing teachers without fetishizing test-based reforms

An educator writes that policymakers are fetishizing student scores on standardized tests and using them as a crutch rather than turning to sensible solutions to improve public schools. There are better ways to assess teacher quality, he says.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 7, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Kevin Welner, Teacher assessment  | Tags:  assessing teachers, los angeles times, no child left behind, race to the top, standardized tests, teacher assessment, teacher evaluation, test scores, value added  
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Michelle Rhee, celebrity, goes national

Running the Washington D.C. schools wasn’t a big enough platform for the super star Michelle Rhee. She's onto her next act.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 6, 2010; 4:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Educational leadership, No Child Left Behind, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  joel klein, michelle rhee, public schools, school reform, students first  
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Willingham: Close to a magic bullet in education

Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham writes about something that he says may come as close to being a magic bullet in education as anything.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 6, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Achievement gap, Daniel Willingham, Guest Bloggers, Research  | Tags:  achievement gap, daniel willingham, education research, gender gap, school reform  
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Do international test comparisons make sense?

Tomorrow we will learn the latest results of a major international test, and we can expect a lot of angst over the ranking of U.S. students. Before the hullabalo starts, let's look back at what Gerald Bracey thought about international comparisons. The short answer: Not much.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 6, 2010; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Standardized Tests  | Tags:  gerald bracey, how u.s. students fare internationally, how u.s. students rank, international comparisons, pisa, standardized tests, timss, u.s. comparisons internationally  
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When teachers are their own worst enemies

An educator/author argues that teachers, however unwittingly, helped create the accountability movement that is now "choking" them.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 5, 2010; 1:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Accountability, Guest Bloggers, Teachers  | Tags:  accountability movement, california standards test, common core standards, common standards, criterion-based tests, public schools, school reform, standardized test, standards movement, teachers  
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