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Linda Darling-Hammond and Randi Weingarten: Time for a New Accountability in American Education

Here is an exciting piece in the Huffington Post by Linda Darling-Hammond and Randi Weingarten.  It’s about how we should be doing accountability.  It is  consistent with the Trust Teachers post I did at bit ago and this one on Hargreaves and Braun awhile ago, but it’s better because Darling-Hammond and Weingarten render authoritative portraits of the two dramatically contrasting policies: New York’s failure in the Common Core and testing compared to California’s success.  (more…)

CA students react to new Smarter Balanced field test: “you had to put down reasons”

Reactions to the Smarter Balanced field test continue to range from positive to negative.  Nashua seems to be doing pretty well.  And here’s a thoughtful two part critique (here and here) from Washington State with detailed observations, both positive and negative,  about the difficulty and computer facility required.  And from EdSource comes a ground level view from one California Classroom: (more…)

The LA Times takes a calm view of the Common Core and likes what it sees

The LA Times just ran two Common Core editorials that are particularly good at putting the arguments in a concise, balanced way.  California is one of the states doing a particularly good job of implementing the new standards, so these piecers reflect an informed view in an important state that has taken a sensible approach.

From In defense of Common Core, March 13:

What gets lost amid the political and administrative squabbling is the issue that ought to matter most: whether the Common Core standards are a solid improvement on what most states, including California, had before. And with a few caveats, they are. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics praises them for following a more logical track in building math skills. The standards are also more closely aligned with how the top-scoring nations in international tests teach math. Educators are pleased that students will do more writing under the standards; colleges have long complained about the poor writing skills of incoming students.

California’s old curriculum standards were particularly well known for being a mile wide and an inch deep. Here’s one small example: In the middle of second grade, students were taught about obtuse and acute angles even though they had no geometry background to understand the concept. Although they didn’t know what a right angle was or how many degrees it had, they would do a few work sheets and then drop the subject for several years.

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Charters replacing school boards – a future NH can’t afford

In New Hampshire, we tend to see charters as locally grown alternative schools for a few students with special needs or special talents.  Many of us have children or neighbors who may have benefitted from a charter school.

But if you stand back and look at the charter school movement in the United States, the picture is much different.  Although overall charter school performance is essentially the same as that of traditional public schools, the opportunity to create a privately managed school with public funding has, with heavy promotion from the U.S. Department of Education, led to high growth in charter enrollments.  There are now almost 3 million charter school students in the U.S., double the number in the 2007/8 school year.  One third of the schools, with 44% of the students, are managed by multi-school management organizations.  (Just over half of those are for-profit.).

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Common Core standards bring dramatic changes to elementary school math | EdSource Today

Here is a great article from EdSource, a California group dedicated to improving teaching and learning.  Although CA could not be further from NH in every way, this whole story about how the Common Core math standards are affecting K-3 teaching in CA sounds as if it could have come from Sanborn, Whitefield, Portsmouth or many other NH school districts.

A particularly good story comes at the end of the piece:

Juh’Ziyah Atchinson, 5, was one the students who couldn’t seem to get it right. Dawson, who has been trained in a method of teaching mathematics called cognitively guided instruction, was more interested in understanding why Juh’Ziyah kept counting bears twice than he was in correcting her. The idea behind this method is for teachers to build on a child’s existing knowledge about math to guide them to the correct answer, rather than quickly correcting them. Instead of simply telling Juh’Ziyah to only count each bear once, Dawson started a conversation with the little girl to determine if she even understood that basic counting rule.

Path of discovery

“I’m not an imparter of information,” Dawson said later. “I want my children to discover.”

Getting them to discover often means conversations where Dawson simply says out loud what he’s seen a child do – “I noticed you counted a few (bears) twice.” Observations like this are meant to make a child reflect on what she has just done and hopefully learn something new by being directed to focus on the actions called out by the teacher.

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