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Class Struggle: January 3, 2010 - January 9, 2010

Stop the two-hour snow delays

Closing schools in blizzards makes sense. But was today's two hour delay really necessary? Couldn't we persuade the lawyers to let some brave school board pilot a program that takes a tougher attitude toward closing or delaying schools, and see what happened, with a foundation grant to take care of what I expect would be a rise in their insurance coverage?

By Jay Mathews  |  January 8, 2010; 12:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Tags: Graeme R. Newman; wasting class time, school closings; school delays; school bomb threats  
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Clickable data on D.C. schools

For those of you who don't have time right now to check it out, the data explorer offers a scatterplot of D.C. public schools, both regular and charter, with percent of students scoring proficient in 2009 on the vertical axis and school change from 2006 to 2009 in percent proficient on the horizontal axis.

By Jay Mathews  |  January 8, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: school test score data; D.C. schools; Friends of Choice in Urban Schools; showing how schools change; Jeff Noel; Barnaby Towns; No Child Left Behind;  
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Gifted education outrages

When students complained about having to choose between AP physics, too tough for them, or regular physics, too boring--a complaint I hear often from Fairfax County---the Quaker Valley staff said they could skip regular physics classes that were too slow for them, as long as they spent that class time doing something productive in the library and did well on their quizzes, tests and labs.

By Jay Mathews  |  January 6, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (55)
Categories:  Extra Credit  | Tags: Quaker Valley High School; gifted education; letting students schedule their days; violating standard educational procedures  
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Mr. President: You left Hawaii too soon

I wish the president had stayed in Hawaii and used his considerable influence in his home state to solve a crisis that is hurting thousands of kids right now---the stalled talks that have forced the state to cut school days by ten percent this year. That is precious learning time that those students are not going to get back.

By Jay Mathews  |  January 6, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags: Hawaiian schools crisis, President Obama, class size, furlough Fridays, president's home state, terrorist incident  
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First big crisis over for Rhee--when's the next one?

I have expressed some doubt about the significance of the latest D.C. success on federal math tests for fourth graders. But my skepticism is meaningless in this context. If the test scores look good, it is going to be hard to dislodge her, or to beat her patron Mayor Fenty in the election this year.

By Jay Mathews  |  January 5, 2010; 12:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Bill Turque, D.C. schools, D.C. teacher contract, Michelle Rhee, Tom Toles  
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D.C. teacher evaluation program leader critiques my column

As IMPACT continues to develop, we plan on synthesizing what we see in the best classrooms and sharing this information with teachers across the district.

By Jay Mathews  |  January 4, 2010; 12:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: D.C. schools, IMPACT teacher evaluation, Jason Kamras, John F. Mahoney, Master Educator  
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Can D.C. teacher evaluations be too admiring?

Mahoney deserves his high marks. But parts of the evaluation were vague. On multiple learning styles, the report said “Mr. Mahoney attempted and effectively targeted three learning styles: visual, kinesthetic and interpersonal,” without giving any examples.

By Jay Mathews  |  January 3, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: D.C. IMPACT program, Dan Goldfarb, John F. Mahoney, admiring evaluators, teacher evaluations  
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