Now We Know Why Obama Doesn’t Understand VAM In order to truly understand value added modeling (VAM), forget the likes of me and of others who hold degrees in mathematics, or statistics, or measurement. Forget that we offer solid, detailed discussions of the problems of VAM. Forget also that those who formerly promoted VAM, like Louisiana’s George Noell, are mysteriously “no longer associated with the project.” According to Michael Bloomberg, just ask a banker. That’s right. Banker and former director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Obama administration Peter Orszag has written an enlightening piece for Bloomberg.com explaining that VAM really does work. First, let me begin with Orszag’s statement regarding “promoting the most talented teachers.” One way of measuring a teacher’s effectiveness has been to see how much his or her students’ test scores rise. According to our banker, VAM is the answer to the “teacher problem.” Critics complain, however, that this measurement has two potential flaws: Okay. Nope. Wow.
Why Education Without Creativity Isn't Enough Phaneesh Murthy, CEO of Indian outsourcing company iGate Patni. | Photo by Ritam Banerjee Last April, when sharing a stage at Facebook with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, President Obama summed up the conventional wisdom on what's needed to shape American minds for the global marketplace. "We've got to do such a better job when it comes to STEM education," he said. "That's how we're going to stay competitive for the future." If we could just tighten standards and lean harder on the STEM disciplines--science, technology, engineering, mathematics--we'd better our rigorous rivals in India and China, and get our economy firing on all cylinders. As with much conventional wisdom, this is conventional in the worst sense of that word. If you want the truth, talk to the competition. "In India, it takes engineers two to three years to recover from the damage of the education system." Murthy will tell you that the outsourcing industry is not some unstoppable force: It's hitting real limits. Or don't.
Washington Post Here’s a powerful piece about how an award-winning principal went from being a Common Core supporter to an opponent. This was written by Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is one of the co-authors of the principals’ letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by 1,535 New York principals. By Carol Burris When I first read about the Common Core State Standards, I cheered. I even co-authored a book, “Opening the Common Core,” on how to help schools meet that goal. I confess that I was naïve. I hear about those distortions every day. Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated—I personally think it is a bit over the top. Test scores are a rough proxy for learning.
The World Is My School: Welcome to the Era of Personalized Learning By Maria H. Andersen Future learning will become both more social and more personal, says an educational technology expert. Humans have always been learning, but how we learn has changed over time. The earliest means of education were highly personal: Oral histories passed from adults to children, informal or formal apprenticeships, and one-on-one tutoring have all been used in the early history of most cultures. Certainly, personalized learning is the more effective method. Mass education is adequate, as long as students are highly motivated to learn and get ahead of their peers. The vision of a modern education built around personalized learning is not new, but it is definitely tantalizing. Learning Technologies Today Let’s start by taking stock of the personalized technologies for information that we already have. This is a problem; for deep learning to occur, we need to have repeated exposure to the information, along with some time in between for reflection. A Simple Idea: Learn This
Breaking News: Providence Officials Oppose Graduation Test The Providence Student Union has taken a stand against the NECAP graduation test. Last Saturday, a few dozen local leaders took the test, any said it was too hard for them, and they are nervously waiting for their scores. When students take action, everything changes! Here is the news: “Providence City Council education committee opposes NECAP as graduation requirement” March 18, 2013 By Linda Borg PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The City Council’s education committee is asking the Rhode Island Department of Education to abandon using the New England Common Assessment Program as a requirement for high school graduation. In a resolution to be submitted before the City Council, the committee’s chair, Sam Zurier, calls the state test “unfair” because it doesn’t allow some children “a reasonable chance to succeed, and imposes devastating consequences on many children who, through no fault of their own, are not ready to achieve the required test scores.” Like this: Like Loading...
Canadian teens put a (Lego) man into space for just $400 It was probably a rather small step for Lego but it was certainly one giant leap for a Lego man when he was launched into space by a couple of Canadian teens recently. The mission was the result of the hard work and ingenuity of friends Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, who worked on their project during free time on weekends. It took them four months to complete and cost just $400. The space-bound contraption the two 17-year-olds came up with comprised an $85 weather balloon, a homemade parachute, a Styrofoam box, three point-and-shoot cameras, a wide-angle video camera, and a cell phone loaded with a GPS app so they’d be able to find the thing when it (hopefully) returned to Earth. The finishing touch came in the form of a Lego man holding the Canadian flag strapped to a gangplank attached to their creation. Now that it was built, the question was: would it get off the ground? At an altitude of just over four miles the GPS signal was, as expected, lost. [Source: Toronto Star]
Robin West: Michelle Rhees Costly Agenda (Michelle Rhee, Radical) Michelle Rhee’s new book, Radical: Fighting To Put Students First, is a captivating memoir. She tells the story of her childhood struggles with her Korean and American heritage, her education triumphs and frustrations from early grade school through college, and her experiences as a new Teach For America recruit in a struggling Baltimore school. Eventually, she rises as chancellor of Washington D.C. public schools and a crusader for education reform. Together these experiences are grist for a successful narrative that reveals her motivations and disposes the reader favorably towards Rhee. Equally interesting and moving are Rhee’s many anecdotes about admirable teachers who have made considerable, positive differences in the lives of low-income and disadvantaged children. But Radical is more than just a memoir studded with encomia to brilliant instructors. The fault for this does not lie solely with the critics’ self interest, as Rhee has protested in multiple interviews.
Noam Chomsky on the Purpose of Education by Maria Popova On the value of cultivating the capacity to seek the significant. In this talk based on his presentation at the Learning Without Frontiers conference in January, philosopher, linguist, and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky — easily one of our time’s sharpest thinkers — discusses the purpose of education. Despite the slow pace and the cheesy AfterEffects animated typography, the video is a treasure trove of insight on everything from the role of technology to the pitfalls of policy. On the industrialization of education, echoing Sir Ken Robinson’s admonition about its effects on creativity: There have been many measures taken to try to turn the educational system towards more control, more indoctrination, more vocational training, imposing a debt, which traps students and young people into a life of conformity… That’s the exact opposite of [what] traditionally comes out of The Enlightenment. On technology: Technology is basically neutral. On the whimsy of inquiry: ↬ @openculture