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Class Struggle: February 21, 2010 - February 27, 2010

Training teachers like ice skaters

Mike Goldstein, founder of the successful MATCH charter school in Boston, wondered if there were some way to teach novice instructors more effectively what they needed to do in urban classrooms before they started. He saw the worth of what we might call the ice skater model, in honor of the winter Olympics.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 26, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Trends  | Tags: MATCH charter school, Mike Goldstein, deliberate practice, having new teachers repeat methods frequently while being watched, training new teachers  
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Should 9th graders take AP?

I saw no reason why many 14-year-olds couldn’t handle the AP course, even if it was the equivalent of what 18-year-old college freshmen get in state universities. My nerdy peer group would have loved digging into the Hundred Years War (all that blood!) if we had had AP when we were that age. That variety of early teen is still common in this region.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 24, 2010; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Local Living  | Tags: 9th grade AP, AP World History, Advanced Placement, Arlington County, Yorktown High, students too young for AP  
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Let me pick my kid's teacher

Would it be so bad if parents had a chance to tell the principal, without fear of being shunned as pushy jerks, that their child might react better to one brand of teaching than another? Many parents do this anyway, quietly. I don't see the harm in a note on the school Web site, or in the parent bulletin, telling parents the principal would be happy to hear their teacher preferences, although would of course can make no promises.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 24, 2010; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Ben Jimenez, Jaime Escalante, parents picking their child's teacher, principals let parents pick teachers, pushy parents, teacher shopping  
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Crawling toward national tests

Two leaders of the necessarily slow and difficult movement to give American children everywhere the educations they deserve dropped by the Post last week at the invitation of my distinguished colleague David Broder and provided an update on the future of national standards and tests.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 23, 2010; 1:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Jack Markell, James B. Hunt Jr, common standard, common tests, national education standards  
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Welcoming a new school rating

My clever colleague Valerie Strauss suggested readers come up with alternatives to my high school rating system, the Challenge Index. On Feb. 20 she posted an intriguing suggestion by Montgomery County parent Louis Wilen, which she dubbed the Wilen Index, on how to move school rankings to a new level. This was smart because not only did it reveal she was working on Saturday, and thus winning our editors' untold devotion (I was at the supermarket with the other househusbands), but it showed how easily and cheaply I can be replaced.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 22, 2010; 3:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags: Challenge Index, Collegiate Learning, Collegiate Learning Assessment, Louis Wilen, Wilen Index, using PSAT and SAT to rate schools  
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Help pick non-fiction for schools

Educators say non-fiction is more difficult than fiction for students to comprehend. It requires more factual knowledge, beyond fiction’s simple truths of love, hate, passion and remorse. So we have a pathetic cycle. Students don’t know enough about the real world because they don’t read non-fiction and they can’t read non-fiction because they don’t know enough about the real world.

By Jay Mathews  |  February 21, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (117)
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags: E.D. Hirsch Jr., Will Fitzhugh, high school pro-fiction bias, high schools lack non-fiction, your favorite non-fiction  
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