Educational Reform In The News

In-The-NewsJust like we teach our students, one of the best ways to stay on top of any issue is to read up on it and then discuss it with your peers. That practice doesn’t stop when the diplomas are handed out, and it certainly shouldn’t be curtailed when you’re an educator.

So starting today, and continuing whenever we have a batch of insightful reads to share, we’re going to curate recent news items on our blog that you might find deserve further reading. These blog entries, tagged “In the News,” contain current newspaper features, magazine articles, white papers, studies and findings that we think might be of interest to educators — not to mention members of our own student body and parents.

Our hope is that these brief recaps keep you informed and up to date on the goings-on in the education field.

Here’s our first offering:

Educational reform. A good choice? (From The Economist – Oct. 6, 2014): School vouchers are a divisive subject in America. Proponents claim that vouchers not only grant parents the opportunity to send their children to a private school, but also raise the quality of all education by creating more competition between schools. Critics complain that these subsidies divert necessary resources from public schools, and rarely cover the full cost of a private education. To settle this debate, many have looked to Sweden, where vouchers were introduced in 1992. The results there have been cited as both a case for and against vouchers. So, what has been the actual effect of this Swedish experiment? Read more here.

Fixing the best schools in the world (From Bloomberg Businessweek – Sept. 24, 2014): While some critics dispute the Programme for International Student Assessment rankings — arguing that U.S. schools are evaluated as a national collective, not city-by-city as Chinese schools are — most agree that China produces formidable test takers. The school system in Shanghai, the nation’s largest and wealthiest city, is widely accepted as the most rigorous education system in the world. But Qiu Zhonghai thinks it can do better. Throughout his career he has been pushing the system to improve and adapt alongside China’s fast-changing economy. Today, Qiu is an elder statesman among a growing number of younger, more radical pioneers who think the Chinese education system, for all its success, is archaic and in need of sweeping reform. Read more here.

How a national moratorium on standardized testing could work (From The Washington Post — October 14, 2014): In early 2012, Robert Scott, then the commissioner of education in Texas, rocked the world of education reform when he declared that school accountability systems based on high-stakes standardized tests had led to a “perversion” of what a quality education should be and he called “the assessment and accountability regime” not only “a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex.”  Different kinds of protests by parents and educators, school boards and students began in Texas, California, New York and other states, and the year ended with a public call by Joshua Starr, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing. Since then the “test reform movement” has grown around the country, with tens of thousands of parents opting their children out of mandated standardized tests, teachers are starting to raise their voices and refusing to administer them, students are leading protests for sanity in school accountability. That all brings us to a new call for a full-scale testing moratorium, this one by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a nonprofit organization known as FairTest that is dedicated to ending the misuse and abuse of standardized tests. Read more here.

As apprentices in classrooms, teachers learn what works (From The New York Times – Oct. 10, 2014): Monica DeSantiago wondered how in the world she would get the students to respect her. It was the beginning of her yearlong apprenticeship as a math teacher at Berkley Maynard Academy, a charter school in this diverse city east of San Francisco. The petite, soft-spoken 23-year-old woman had heard descriptions of incoming sixth graders as a rowdy bunch. She watched closely as Pamela Saberton, a teacher with seven years’ experience in city public schools and DeSantiago’s mentor for the year, strolled the room. Saberton rarely raised her voice, but kept up a constant patter as she recited what the students were doing, as in, “Keion is sitting quietly,” or “Reevan is working on her math problems.” To DeSantiago, the practice seemed unnatural, if not bizarre. But the students quieted and focused on a getting-to-know-you activity, writing down their hobbies and favorite foods. Over the coming year, Saberton would share dozens of such strategies with DeSantiago, one of 29 prospective teachers earning a small stipend while participating in a residency program run by Aspire Public Schools, a charter system with schools in California and Memphis. Read more here.

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