Ex-UNI professor leaves $1.5M for math students


My undergraduate advisor, Bonnie Litwiller, left $1.5 million to the University of Northern Iowa for the creation of math teacher scholarships.

Report: DPS must set higher goals | EdNewsColorado


It's important to have goals, and it's best if those goals exceed a mere "expectation" (something you'd expect to achieve without extra effort) yet fall short of something so lofty there's little to no chance of achieving them. In other words, goals need to be reasonable.

Denver Public Schools has recently been advised by advocacy groups that they need to set higher goals. Some of these goals might be reasonable, but there's something else we need to consider when it comes to goals: If you are trying yet unable to meet a lower goal, simply raising the goal probably won't fix anything.

We see this with education standards all the time. If the headline says, "Only 40% of students are proficient on math standards," the answer seems to be, "We need higher standards!" Wait...how is that supposed to help the 60% that weren't meeting the lower standards? If you're not willing to squarely focus on why goals are met and not met, moving goals around is of little relevance.

For math teachers, conversion to new standards may be tough | GothamSchools


There are going to be some awkward moments in the transition to the Common Core State Standards for mathematics, primarily because skills that frequently appeared before are now appearing a grade lower. Since students aren't getting any younger, it will be as if they're leapfrogging some standards, which is sure to cause some problems in the transition. There's hope that the path forward can still be smooth, even though it might take years to get there.

Romney’s Absurd Claims « Diane Ravitch's blog


Despite all the work to be done in education, it is important to recognize that we've made progress and, in many ways, we're getting better outcomes now more than ever. But people like to create opportunity out of a crisis, and if there's no crisis then the next best thing is to make one up.

HechingerEd Blog | How summer increases the achievement gap


I've seen graphs of the effect summer has on student performance and it's sobering, especially when data are disaggregated for high- and low-SES students. According to some measures, low-SES students learn at the same rate during the school year as high-SES students, and almost all of the achievement gap between the two accumulates during the summer months.

I Want to Teach Forever: Help Students Calculate The Grades They Need To Pass


Students have subtle ways of reminding you that you still have work to do if they are to grasp the math you've been teaching them. For me, this often came in the form of one of two questions. The first was, "If I get a good score on this test, will my grade go up?" That always made me wonder if a student really understood how averages work and the effect new values in a set can have on them. The second was, "What grade do I need to get on the final exam if I want a (desired grade here) for the course?" You'd think after a year of algebra students would be figuring out the equation to use to solve for that, but it's never that easy. It's a big step to get students to use mathematics for themselves and not just for math class.

Teaching Practices and Smaller Classes | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice


Shrinking class size, by itself, doesn't do much to change the quality of teaching and learning unless the teacher is prepared to take advantage of the advantages a smaller class size allows. When teachers don't change their practice, researchers have a tough time detecting differences in quality. Teacher happiness, however, is much more easily detected with smaller class sizes, and perhaps that shouldn't be overlooked.

The Campus Tsunami - NYTimes.com


All things considered, I'm pleased that established universities like Harvard and MIT are expanding their online course options. There's still a lot to work out, and I wonder if they key won't be some sort of independent credentialing organization (badges?), although that certainly doesn't come without its own set of difficulties. I do like this point by David Brooks: "The most important and paradoxical fact shaping the future of online learning is this: A brain is not a computer. We are not blank hard drives waiting to be filled with data. People learn from people they love and remember the things that arouse emotion." We have a long way to go before we replicate the classroom and campus experience online.

Online Schools Score Better on Wall Street Than in Classrooms - NYTimes.com


This is education privatization at work -- as the article says, "Kids mean money." Public education dollars are given to online charter schools, which run very efficiently (but typically not effectively) and excess funds find their way to Wall Street and investors. Kudos to the New York Times for addressing this issue in such depth.

Open Resources - Transforming the Way Knowledge Is Spread - NYTimes.com


As a rule, the more open something is, the more I like it. Right now we're seeing the beginnings of an open education movement that's going to totally disrupt traditional education, and it will be fascinating and frustrating to see how the world adapts.

Rules to Limit How Teachers and Students Interact Online - NYTimes.com


Teachers who carry on inappropriate relationships with students over social media get a lot of attention, and as a side-effect some schools are thinking that social media is the problem and they're banning their staff from using it. I think this is misguided and fails to recognize the positive uses of social media for both teachers and students.

Center Publications | Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education


This sounds like an interesting publication: "Black Male Student Success in Higher Education: A Report from the National Black Male College Achievement Study." This is a highly complex issue but worth studying, as what we learn from increased college participation from Black males is certain to apply to other disadvantaged students.

What We Aren’t Talking About When We Talk About ‘White Privilege’ | The Feminist Wire


Getting students to recognize their privilege is one thing, but affecting the way they feel about and react to it is another. It's easy to have misguided or unreasonable expectations, and this article helps expose some of those potential difficulties.

Education: The Single Most Important Job | Edutopia


George Lucas doesn't really say all that much in this post, but I agree with him. It's important for education to be engaging, a place for students to learn to work together, and teachers need to be enthusiastic about making that happen. I don't know if classroom "flipping" is the answer -- or if it's anything new at all -- but technology is allowing us to do more things more easily in and out of classrooms than ever before.

» The Title Says It All? » AoB Blog


I believe not only should the titles of articles be engaging, everything in the article should be engaging. Sometimes that might mean a "cute" title, but sometimes not. My favorite from education? Kevin Welner's "The Soft Bigotry of Low Expenditures." C'mon, who wouldn't want to cite that?

Response filed in Price Lab suit


I wish it didn't have to come down to a lawsuit, but state law says Iowa must have a "research and development" school for education, and the plaintiffs are saying that school is Price Lab. This might be the only way the school stays open, and I don't see how it would prevent the law from changing in the future.

Price Lab allocation removed from bill | The Des Moines Register | DesMoinesRegister.com


Iowa lawmakers removed $3 million in spending that would have kept Price Lab School open for another year, but left in $2.5 million in assistance for for-profit private colleges. Ugh.

Education bill includes literacy rules, but doesn't pay for them | The Des Moines Register | DesMoinesRegister.com


This seems like a reasonable provision: the literacy provisions in Iowa's new education bill say students behind in reading at 3rd grade must either repeat the grade or enter an intensive summer reading program, neither of which the state has allocated funding for. It's a good idea for a lawmaker to add a provision to the bill that states that districts must only comply with the law if the state funds the programs.

Education reform passes Iowa House and Senate | Des Moines Register Staff Blogs


Given all the research that shows the abundance of negative outcomes for students who are held back a grade, it's disappointing to see Iowa make this law. I admit it's a tough situation, as policies that don't go beyond either just holding students back or promoting them with their peers are likely to get the job done.

Shanker Blog » The Weighting Game


This article points out a critical element of new teacher evaluation systems. Here in Colorado, new teacher evaluation policy says 50% of a teacher's evaluation should come from test scores, while the rest should come from more traditional forms of evaluation. Here's the problem: those traditional forms of evaluation usually have far less variability than test scores, meaning the effective variability will consist almost entirely of test scores.

Mullets: The Only Lesson They’ll Remember | Mr. V's Class


My colleague Kim Bunning says (only somewhat jokingly) you could teach all of middle school mathematics focusing only on ratio and proportion. You'd need to mix up the contexts, for sure, and thanks to Matt Vaudrey, we now have lesson plan outlines for the ratio and proportion of mullets.

10 Commandments of Twitter for Academics - Do Your Job Better - The Chronicle of Higher Education


Academics on social media are a good thing, particularly in education. The more we can do to bring down artificial barriers between teachers and education researchers, the more both sides with benefit.

2012 vs. 1984: Young adults really do have it harder today - The Globe and Mail


Even while we live in times and cultures of abundance, unfortunately some very important big-ticket items -- such as housing, transportation, and education -- have increased in cost outpacing inflation. This article from Canada's Globe and Mail compares the cost of these items in 1984 to what they cost today and conclude that for young adults getting started, things have gotten harder in the past 30 years.

Is Psychology About to Come Undone? - Percolator - The Chronicle of Higher Education


I really like this idea and would love to see it in math ed. It would serve our science well to try to replicate every study published in JRME in 2008 and see if the results match. I'm sure many wouldn't, and we'd learn a lot in the meantime figuring out why.

Biking Kenowa Hills seniors punished | WOOD TV8


I never much liked senior pranks, as most quickly evolve into various forms of vandalism and inconvenience, and not cleverness or humor. These Michigan seniors seemed to have the right idea, though -- instead of driving or taking the bus to school, they arrived to school as a bicycle parade, complete with police escort and the town mayor. Unfortunately, the principal didn't appreciate the stunt and threatened students with keeping students from walking at graduation. Thankfully, it sounds like things settled down and some national media attention hopefully brought some sanity to the punishments threatened.

How Green Valley High was mistakenly named one of the nation's best - Friday, May 11, 2012 | 2 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun


As accountability increases, our tolerance for data mistakes must decrease. Fortunately for this Nevada school, a mistake landed them on the "carrot" list, and not the "stick" list.

Entertainment Properties Trust and Imagine Schools: the St. Louis Situation - ken m libby » ken m libby


I've never asked my colleague +Ken Libby exactly what he did before coming to study at CU-Boulder, but in my mind it involved meeting Hal Holbrook in a parking garage in the middle of the night and getting the advice, "Follow the money."

Ken's post is lengthy but worth reading. My summary of it goes something like this:

Charter School Operator: "Business is good."
Investor: "But didn't a few of your schools get shut down?"
Charter School Operator: "Don't worry about that. We're going to make plenty of money even if some schools close."
Investor: "Yeah, but why would schools close?"
Charter School Operator: "Did I mention we're making money? A few schools closed due to poor academic performance, but the balance sheet looks fine."
State: "Uh, not really. The schools had academic and financial issues. Most schools spend around 8% of their budget on administration. These charters were spending almost 30% and running deficit budgets."

Jon Kitna's greatest play: NFL QB to high-school math teacher | Seahawks | The Seattle Times


So what does a recently-retired NFL quarterback do after a 16-year football career? If you're Jon Kitna, you remember that the NFL was Plan B, and you go back to Plan A: teaching math and coaching high school football.

Teaching Ph.D.'s How to Reach Out - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education


I agree wholeheartedly with this message - Ph.D's need to find ways to communicate their work to the rest of society if they want that work to be valued (and funded). It's amazing to me how wide the separation is in education, and if my work does anything at all, I hope it narrows that gap.

Wikipedia + Journal articles | Information Culture, Scientific American Blog Network


If there's an "encyclopedia" of math education, it's NCTM's "Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning," a 1200+ page book that will cost you at least $200. The first handbook was published in 1992 and the second in 2007. Will we have to wait 15 years for a third edition? If I had my way, the handbook would turn into a wiki, with pages maintained by experts and revisions suggested by researchers as new knowledge enters the field.

Today’s math vocabulary exposes generational divide - The Washington Post


Instead of "exposes generational divide," I wish the article title said something like, "Today's math vocabulary exposes progress in teaching methods." It's a simple thing, really: don't use vocabulary that might carry confusing meanings, such as "reducing" fractions (which don't get smaller, as "reduce" implies). Of course, there are a couple comments claiming that using different math vocabulary must be an attempt to dumb down math and avoid standard algorithms, despite most of the article attending to the vocabulary details that support understanding of the "standard" algorithms.

A Sociological Eye on Education | The worst eighth-grade math teacher in New York City


An obvious case of value-added modeling (VAM) not working: A math teacher of gifted 7th and 8th graders gets ranked as the worst 8th grade teacher in New York City, despite the fact her students are already excelling on the high school-level Regents exams (100% of her students who tried them in January passed, with more than a third achieving perfect scores).

Colleges Begin to Confront Higher Costs and Students’ Debt - NYTimes.com


When it comes to colleges confronting their costs, I can't help but read an article like this and pause every time I see a title like "Vice President for Finance and Administration" or "Vice President for Enrollment Management." I'm sure there are some fine people in those positions, but what do they do?

School board rejects first in line of teacher appeals | VailDaily.com


Three foreign language teachers, including a 21-year teaching veteran who taught French, German, Chinese, and English, and a 30-year veteran who taught Latin, French, German, and Spanish, were fired last week because the Eagle County School District has opted to use Aventa (web software from KC Distance Learning, a K12 company) instead of classroom instruction. The school board unanimously cited the decision as a cost-cutting measure. In addition, students wishing to take foreign language courses in the future must pay $150 per course. I don't think this will be the last story we see like this. Not even close.

Jeff Flake’s plan to politicize the National Science Foundation - The Washington Post


It's almost as if Jeff Flake is saying, "As a politician, I want to make there that there is not -- and never will be -- any attempt to apply evaluation of evidence, sound reasoning and logic, or other scientific principles, to the job I do. When topics are purely political -- like the study of our climate -- science should play no part." I don't know if Representative Flake needs a speechwriter, but let's just say I'm available.

Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: Houston, You Have a Problem!


When someone like Diane Ravitch says using tests to evaluate teachers is "junk science" (as she did recently during her keynote at the NCTM conference), I disagree. While Ravitch might be willing to toss out tests and measurement all together, I'm not. I think the science of measurement is very useful, and I separate the science from the too-often harmful application of that science to judging teacher performance. For matters like this, I'd rather listen to someone like Gene Glass -- who better than a veteran psychometrician to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the science and to judge how to apply the results appropriately?

Science and Truth - We’re All in It Together - NYTimes.com


I think this article was worth reading just for this paragraph: "Any article, journalistic or scientific, that sparks a debate typically winds up looking more like a good manuscript 700 years ago than a magazine piece only 10 years ago. The truth is that every decent article now aspires to become the wiki of its own headline."

A Note to Readers - Brainstorm - The Chronicle of Higher Education


Naomi Schaefer Riley will no longer be writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed’s Naomi Schaefer Riley: Tyranny of White Privilege :: racismreview.com


A post making the connections between Naomi Schaefer Riley's controversial comments about black studies in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the privilege she employed to do so. Also, a look back at Peggy McIntosh's "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" essay, which my School and Society class read this past semester.

IV drips for cramming high school students in China - Boing Boing


I admire students and the work they do. They inspire me. But I worry that some put a harmful amount of pressure on themselves, and I've long lost track of the number of students I've known being treated/medicated for depression, eating disorders, anger issues, and drug addictions. These students in China are taking IV drips to help sustain them while studying for exams, which I find strangely admirable yet mostly worrisome at the same time. I'd much rather live in a world where learning was enjoyable and without undue stress.

Common Core Map | Khan Academy


I think this warrants some careful investigation, even if it only took me about 5 seconds to find something really wrong. (Three lessons on ANOVA for 7th graders? Really?)

Christian Coalition Against Charter Schools Legislation | CBS 8 News | Top Stories


A Christian group in Alabama is opposing charter schools out of worries that liberals might end up running the schools.

When Washington focuses on schools


I really like this post by Checker Finn. He takes a balanced view of the history of federal involvement in education and lays out the conditions necessary for federal influence to influence education. This would be a good short read for School and Society.

What You (Really) Need to Know - NYTimes.com


For reasons I'm unsure of, I was half prepared to disagree with this. But I can't. I especially like Summers' assertion that students today would be better off learning statistics than trigonometry.

California's fourth year of teacher layoffs spurs concern – USATODAY.com


"RIFing season," or that time of the spring when teachers receive notice that they may lose their jobs due to budget struggles, is an unfortunate (but improvable, surely) consequence of budget problems, state policies, and efforts by teacher unions to protect teachers in case of layoffs. It creates a lot of uncertainty and worry, and with California's budget problems some teachers are seeing layoff notices every year.

What Do Teachers Want? - Bridging Differences - Education Week


Diane Ravitch writes about recent survey results that report what reforms are seen as important by teachers. Not surprisingly, most of the reforms pushed by policymakers (testing and accountability, merit pay) were seen as minimally important. My question: How much does the success of education reforms depend on the support and buy-in from teachers? I think merit pay is perhaps the best example -- while teachers are certainly happy to make more money, few teachers do what they do because they want to compete for that money. As strange as it might seem in a capitalistic society, where Wall Street is king and performance bonuses are the norm, the vast majority of teachers don't think merit pay will make them a better or more motivated teacher. In fact, some teachers I've worked with were downright insulted at the suggestion.

Bloomin' Apps - Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything


I'm sure Benjamin Bloom didn't foresee this when he designed his first taxonomy, but this does get us to think about what's possible with the tools we have.

Hamtramck High Holds All-Girl Prom - NYTimes.com


Cool story from the NYT about Muslim girls in Hamtramck, Michigan, who held an all-girls prom.

A week of a student's electrodermal activity - Joi Ito's Web


The paper was really about developing a device and methods to measure electrodermal activity, so there isn't much information about the kinds of activities the student was exposed to throughout the week. Still, the flatlining during class does not look good.

Career or Deep Learning? Pondering the Purpose of College - NYTimes.com


It used to be a college degree was a ticket to a career, but choice of major is increasingly making a difference. I still (perhaps a bit too romantically) think of college as an opportunity to pursue interests while experiencing personal growth, but in tough economic times college's role in job training becomes more important.

Despite Protest, Tucson School Board Fires Ethnic Studies Director | Common Dreams


Things in Tuscon don't look like they'll be getting any better any time soon, as the schooling board voted to fire the director of ethnic studies.

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85% « ACEs Too High


I had the pleasure this afternoon attending a poster session by Ken Libby's students and several presented on the issue of zero tolerance policies and other discipline issues. They felt, as I do, that while such policies are well-reasoned in theory, the outcomes just don't match. The story below is about a school going the other direction -- by stressing care and understanding, they've greatly reduced their number of discipline problems. Nel Noddings would be most pleased.

The Inferiority of Blackness as a Subject « tressiemc


A blogger for the Chronicle of Higher Education attacked black studies students for being irrelevant (perhaps that's an oversimplification, but still accurate). This is a response to that piece and a link to a petition to have the blogger fired from the CHE.