No, algebra isn’t necessary — and yes, STEM is overrated - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

This response to the NYT "Is Algebra Necessary" piece focuses on the discredited belief that somehow algebra skills will transfer to other areas of life. I've read a little of the research about knowledge transfer, and my takeaway of it was that transfer doesn't really exist -- at least not in a way that fits neatly with our other theories of learning.

The Biggest Story Problem | Why America's Students are Failing at Math

I'm guessing there will be a lot of talk around this movie after the makers find ways to distribute it. There's a fairly lengthy article about the film at

The IBL Blog: Response to "Is Algebra Necessary?"

Here's another great response to Andrew Hacker's "Is Algebra Necessary" article in the NYT. This one really asks, "How did we get here?" and looks at reasons such a question might get asked in the first place.

Aspen schools play hardball with residency |

Aspen is having trouble with out-of-district students (or their parents, most likely) falsifying residency records in order to attend Aspen schools. I'm guessing these are mostly the children of people who work in Aspen but don't (and can't afford to) live there.

{Musing Mathematically}: Gummy Bear Revisited

It's good to see this task continue to be refined. It has a nice mix of proportional reasoning, data collection/evaluation, and how ratios of volumes vary differently than ratios of lengths or areas.

An Apology | Taking Note

Thank you, John Merrow, for being a stand-up guy and admitting a mistake. If only all journalism was this honest.

Please can I have tables for my students? « crazedmummy

Good point: If your school claims to value collaboration but gives you desks instead of tables, something's wrong.

Tuttle SVC: Should Teachers Consider TED a Reliable Source? Why, Exactly?

Good question. Some TED Talks are pretty awesome, but the whole TED phenomenon rubs me the wrong way. I think I realized that once I heard somebody describe CU-Boulder's Conference on World Affairs as "The democratic version of TED." Also, +1 to this article for the wordsmithing of "TED is an insatiable kingpin of international meme laundering."

The Pai Intersect: Understanding Fraction Division #1

All of us who teach mathematics are, at some point in our career, amazed at what we can learn about something we thought we already knew. High on that list of topics has to be fraction division, and I was happy to see that this blogger seems to know partitive (post #1) and quotative division (post #2).

Trust Me - I'm a Math Teacher: For the Interns and the First-Years

Earlier today I subscribed to a "New Math Blogger Bundle" ( and I've been finding some good stuff in the 500+ posts it dumped into Google Reader. This post by +Jeff Brenneman is full of good advice for 1st-year teachers who want ways to manage the grind of teaching.

Authentic Inquiry Maths: 5 Ways With Multiplication

I once knew a 7th grade math teacher who hated/didn't understand the lattice multiplication that many of her students liked to use. She hated it so much, in fact, that before she let the students move on to any other math, they all had to learn to multiply "her way." Ugh. This post shows five different ways to multiply. Not all are equally efficient, but each has a way of building good number sense for multiplication.

f(t): Moon Safari

Kate Nowak just posted an interesting idea for a lesson: given a month's worth of data about the fraction of the moon that is illuminated, could students model it with a function? How accurate are predictions made with that function?

If You Have to Cram, You Might as Well Not Study - Education - GOOD

This was certainly my belief as an undergrad. I hated not getting sleep before a test, and figured by that point I knew what I deserved to know.

Ask A Freshman English Class Going Around The Room And Saying A Little Bit About Themselves | The Onion - America's Finest News Source,29257/

I love the start of the school year, but I would happily do without (a) "How was your summer?" (repeated 100 times) and (b) the kind of introductions this Onion article makes fun of.

Organizing your personal research library and compiling bibliographies: I was an EndNote refusenik, but now I’m a Mendeley convert | Impact of Social Sciences

This is a great Mendeley testimonial from what sounds like a typical professor with an assortment of disorganized PDFs on their hard drive.

Instead of Stopping Teacher Layoffs, Congress Gave CEOs Tax Breaks - Education - GOOD

An alarming statistic: "The cumulative tax breaks for [26 CEOs that made more than their companies paid in taxes] could have paid the salaries of an estimated 211,732 elementary-school teachers."

More states requiring third-grade retention | EdNewsColorado

Colorado is moving ahead with its plans to retain 3rd graders who fall below a standard on a reading test, despite mixed evidence that retention will do those students much good.

The Khan Academy: Distinguishing the App Store From the Apps - Rick Hess Straight Up - Education Week

Rick Hess says just because the idea of Khan Academy is good, we can't ignore important details, like the quality of the lessons themselves. He calls for more involvement from curriculum experts and teachers. I doubt I'll ever read anything by Rick Hess that I agree with more.

Education's digital divide more about bandwidth than computer hardware - The Denver Post

I think the maximum download speed I ever got at my last school was somewhere around 0.5 Mb/sec with packet loss around 5-10%. Rural schools are desperate for better bandwidth, but sadly few really know what they're missing because their home connections are no better than at school.

Standards-Based Grading: Every Thursday, A Love Note | ThinkThankThunk

A nice review of the basics of standard-based grading by Shawn Cornally.

Poll: Americans’ views on public education - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

I didn't see too many surprises in this poll, but instead of the first question being "Do you believe common core standards would improve education," I'd like to see a question like, "Did you notice an improvement in education the last time your state or district changed their educational standards?"

Why do we need academic journals in the first place? — Tech News and Analysis

Just because the system of alternatives isn't clear, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be asking this question.

Teachers on the Defensive -

Frank Bruni's article highlights the tenuous positions teacher unions now hold publicly and politically.

Truth about Policymakers? | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Larry Cuban takes a look at some comments made by Rick Hess addressing the perspective and goals of policymakers.

A breakdown of Google’s top advertisers |

A little shocking to see how much the University of Phoenix spent on Google ads in 2011 -- $46.9 million, more than eBay, and more than Microsoft and Apple combined.

Stephen Colbert Skewers Texas GOP's Attack on Critical Thinking - Education - GOOD

This is a month old, but Texas shouldn't be let off the hook so easily for trying to push out "critical thinking" as a liberal plot design to change kids' fixed beliefs.

Are Lazy Students the Real Problem in Public Education? - Education - GOOD

Are some students lazy? Sure. I think a lot of them in one way or another have an idea of what their future will be like and they're willing to coast there. But I don't really think that's the "real problem" in public education, if only because that presupposes one problem.

Harsh Patel - Blog - Why Don't Students Want to Watch Khan Videos?

This comes as no surprise -- some students might like watching Khan Academy videos, but many will prefer to learn some other way or find ways to collaborate with other students.

Using Video to Teach Washington Teachers -

Washington D.C. (with the help of Gates Foundation money) is building a library of videos documenting examples of excellent teaching (rated according to their Impact evaluation system). Somehow I doubt anyone would want a video of me -- I'm pretty sure my best teaching often looked like students working in small groups and me quietly moving group-to-group to provide just the right amount of feedback and guidance. I don't know what kind of recording setup they have in D.C., but a camera and microphone in the corner wouldn't be very helpful on a good day in my classroom.

NSF Promotes Climate-Change Ed. With $19 Million in Grants - Curriculum Matters - Education Week

I think this is a good thing, but I hope this doesn't become a huge target for Republicans or climate change deniers as arguments over this could taint other funding from NSF or the NSF itself.

College Textbooks | Read Free Online | Flat World Knowledge

Flat World Knowledge provides OER (open educational resources) textbooks.

Do the math: Too much calculus? - Class Struggle - The Washington Post

This is probably not news to any high school math teacher: We're probably rushing too many students into AP Calculus without really knowing if they're ready or if that's really what they need.

Has Teach for America betrayed its mission? - TODAY News -

NBC (with a Reuters story) takes a critical look at Teach for America.

Animation Teacher Faces Termination For Refusing To Sell His Students Unnecessary Books | Cartoon Brew

When for-profit schools meet for-profit publishers: "Make students buy this textbook or you're fired."

Mike Rose's Blog: Writing About Education

Mike Rose is known for his education writing, and it's good to know how he's helping other academics learn to write better for all audiences.

GOP lawmakers question standards for teaching evolution in Kentucky | Politics and Government |

Articles like this cause me to cross off Kentucky from the "Will I ever live there?" list. Kentucky lawmakers want to compete against other states by using national standards, but not if it means including something "Darwin made up" like evolution.

Voices: Do unions benefit education? | EdNewsColorado

This article by teacher Mark Sass takes the right step in the debate about teacher's unions, looking for ways to improve them instead of bashing and blaming them.

for the love of learning: Thank God for standardized test scores

Joe Bower has found the worst school in Edmonton. At least that's what you'd think if all you saw was their test scores.

Dougco lifts ban against ejected journalist | EdNewsColorado

The Douglas County school board has come to their senses, after a little help from the ACLU. The parent who was escorted out of a board meeting by four police officers for trying to film the meeting will be allowed back onto district property.

The Grandfather of Hip-Hop Is Teaching at Cornell - Education - GOOD

Sign me up! Believe it or not, one of my first CDs was from Afrika Bambaataa. I wonder if students who complete his course get to be honorary members of the Zulu Nation?

Ed schools vs. education - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This article makes me mean. It's upsetting that the writer makes such broad generalizations on such little evidence. Not all education degrees are created equal and I've never seen any studies that show having an education degree makes you an inferior teacher. At CU-Boulder, you can't major in education. This writer would say that's a good thing, but what ends up happening is that most of our elementary education candidates major in something like psychology and leave college with probably one math course and one math methods course. As a math educator, I wish they had more. At the University of Northern Iowa (my alma mater), however, you can major in elementary education. That degree program requires three math and math methods courses along with a minor in a subject area, one of which is mathematics. As a math educator, I have no reason to think UNI elementary teachers are less prepared to teach math than CU-Boulder elementary teachers. In fact, they should be more prepared, but that's what I'd expect from a school whose legacy is a teacher's college.

Before Dropping Algebra, Fix Math Education – SchoolBook

This response to the NYT "Is Algebra Necessary" article reminds me that too often education reform debates come down to "keep/discard" and too rarely are about making steady improvement. There's a lot we can improve about math education without thinking it simply isn't necessary.

dy/dan » Blog Archive » Khan Academy’s Introduction to Programming Modules Are Really Something Special

Because Khan Academy's new programming modules make students do as they listen, they're much better than the sit-and-listen videos associated with math, says Dan Meyer.

Filmmaker tossed from Douglas County school board meeting - The Denver Post

A local filmmaker had been filming Douglas County school board meetings. However, at the last meeting, the school board changed the rules about filming and when the filmmaker protested, they had him escorted out by four police officers.

My public school beat-down -

Another story of reform gone wrong, driving a teacher out of the classroom for what appears to be all the wrong reasons.

Voices: A call for transparency in Dougco | EdNewsColorado

Some of the figures in this article are startling. The Douglas County school board is moving more and more of their work into executive session where decisions can be discussed without public scrutiny. There are some particular reasons why any board might need some secrecy, but it's hard to imagine that DougCo's board needs as much as its using.

Common-Core Writers Issue Math 'Publishers' Criteria' - Curriculum Matters - Education Week

Some have suggested that we've done this in the wrong order. We should have had standards first, then curricula, then assessments. For many the last two items got switched, and now the authors of the Common Core State Standards are pushing publishers to follow a set of guidelines for authoring new curricula. Unfortunately, many publishers have already just taken their old texts, swapped a chapter or two, and labeled them CCSS-ready.

What is algebra? « profkeithdevlin

Keith Devlin tries to define algebra that goes well beyond simply "arithmetic with numbers."

The Khan Academy Finally Gets What it Desperately Needs: Criticism | Motherboard

This article gets it. Without going into a lot of details, their article-ending punchline makes its point: "But if millions of kids are going to be learning their lessons online, let's embark on an ongoing effort to make sure as hell that those lessons are as good as they can be."

We usually think of reading as a skill we learn in elementary school, but this article points out the need for literacy in high school-level career and technical education.

Thanks, Textbooks.

A blog devoted to all the weird and nonsensical things that make it past the editors and into our textbooks.

Algebra-for-All Policy Harmed High-Achievers, Study Finds - Curriculum Matters - Education Week

In some ways this article is about detracking and the concerns that high-achieving students might suffer when placed in classes with lower-achieving students. (I believe the research on this is mixed.) More importantly, this article stresses that teachers didn't receive any special training to teach algebra any differently to reflect the diversity of skill in their classrooms, and that may be the cause of the problems.

A not so modest proposal: My new fully research based school! « School Finance 101

A tongue-in-check post by Bruce Baker exposing some of the absurdity that can happen when you cherry-pick which research you use for informing a policy or decision.

For popular Khan Academy, a critical voice amid the adulation -

The #mtt2k contest continues to spawn some media attention and the realization that Khan Academy might not be the panacea some have made it out to be.

Deja Vu for This Miracle Charter School « Diane Ravitch's blog

Diane Ravitch shares some rather disturbing news about an Oakland charter school that apparently misrepresented its student demographics, funneled money to its founder to cover non-school expenses, and uses some extreme discipline measures (like shaving a kid's hair at an assembly as punishment for theft). However, because their test scores are okay, the school's charter has been renewed and it continues to operate.

More than 300 teachers leave Douglas County schools - The Denver Post

Politically, Douglas County schools are a mess, and it's driving some teachers away.

My view of the Common Core State Standards isn't quite as harsh as this, but most of these points reflect genuine concerns.

Whither Science Publishing? | The Scientist

This is a great article about the state of scholarly publishing, with a Q&A with numerous stakeholders in the publishing industry or academia.

Predatory Publishing | The Scientist

This article by Jeffrey Beall from UC-Denver takes a very critical look at open access publishing. He goes so far to call open access publishers "predatory" and claims they "threaten to erase the line that divides science from nonscience."

The Register editorial: Parents a key piece in school reform | The Des Moines Register |

The Register asks a great question: If Governor Branstad wants Iowans to take responsibility for their health and make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation, why doesn't he talk about education the same way. When it's health, it's never about the doctors. When it's education, it's all about the teachers.

State casts its lot with testing group | EdNewsColorado

Colorado had three choices for its standardized assessment future: PARCC, Smarter Balanced, or keep making their own. While some state leaders wished to keep the tests in-state to avoid any possible national conspiracy to have a federal takeover of education, it looks like we've finally settled on PARCC.

Two quotes on 'value-added' measures of teacher quality | Dangerously Irrelevant

Scott McLeod fishes out two pretty good quotes collected by Diane Ravitch in her blog regarding value added modeling for teacher evaluation.

Approaching Infinity: DIY Standards-Based Report Cards

Since most electronic grade books have a limited amount of flexibility, finding ways to tabulate standards-based grades and report them to students and parents might take some spreadsheet mastery, such as described here.

14 Wacky "Facts" Kids Will Learn in Louisiana's Voucher Schools | Mother Jones

Yes, there are some dots to connect here between voucher-passing and curriculum-choosing, but this kind of religiously-based curriculum becomes possible with Louisiana's voucher program.

The teacher quality conundrum: If they are the problem, why are kids gaining in math?  - NY Daily News

If we believe that teacher quality is poor (or at least not any better than, say, 20 years ago), then what explains the long-term NAEP gains in math? Maybe our curriculum is better, suggests Dan Willingham.

Black at Stuyvesant High — One Girl’s Experience -

Stuyvesant High, one of NYC's top public high schools, has seen a dramatic increase in the enrollment of Asian students and corresponding decreases in the enrollment of Black and Latino students.

Khan Academy ponders what it can teach the higher education establishment | Inside Higher Ed

This article about Khan Academy focuses little on the videos and mostly on the data-collection system that tracks all the problems students attempt. It could very well be a treasure-trove of data, although it's yet to be seen if improving this technology really drives the improvement of education.

Racial Lens Used to Cull Curriculum in Arizona -

Supporters of Arizona's ban on ethnic studies claim they're promoting racial harmony and unity, but when you start banning books that's typically not the case.

Rhode Island City Enraged Over School Prayer Lawsuit -

A teenage girl in Rhode Island defends her atheism and wins a lawsuit forcing the school to remove a prayer from the gymnasium wall. In return, she is harassed and threatened by her mostly-religious community.

One-Room Montana School Is Also a One-Student School -

I love small rural schools, but a school of one would present a ton of challenges for both teacher and student.

Study on Teacher Value Uses Data From Before Teach-to-Test Era -

This article cautions reading too much into the Chetty study, partially because some of the data relies on a pre-NCLB use of standardized testing, when accountability measures didn't put so much pressure on teachers and students.

Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain -

The "Chetty" study used some really large data sets to try to calculate the long-term benefits of having good teachers. Yes, having good teachers is a good thing, but it wouldn't be wise to get hung up on the specific gains this study estimates.

From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model -

Finland is a very different place with different expectations and working conditions for teachers, but parts of their system are worth emulating.

U.S. Education Department Finds Salary Gap in Poor Schools -

There's a lot of evidence that we need a system that rewards teachers for taking jobs in poorer, hard-to-serve areas. Unfortunately, that's not the system we have, where the wealthiest districts pay teachers the most.

Shanker Blog » What Value-Added Research Does And Does Not Show

Growth models aren't really the problem -- it's how we're trying to use them.

Dr. Tae 닥터태 » Blog Archive » Am I A World-Class Pool Player Or What? (#mtt2k)

This #mtt2k critique of Khan Academy targets the perception by some that Sal Khan is an "expert" at whatever he demonstrates in his videos, and that kind of popular opinion has to be right...right?

What if Khan Academy was made in Japan? - YouTube

I like this video because it offers some good advice for how Khan Academy could be made better, using guidance from TIMSS videos form successful countries like Japan.

Michael Serra at CMC-North Ignite - YouTube

If we follow Michael Serra's advice, I think math anxiety will be safe for years to come.

Texas Studies Suggest Test Design Flaw in TAKS -

This is probably a case where research didn't get translated well for those of us who have a familiarity with the subject. A measurement researcher, Walter Stroup, says the TAKS test in Texas is flawed because the IRT model it employs "is more sensitive to how it ranks students than to measuring what they have learned." Okay, but that's nothing new -- we've known that about IRT for a long time. So what details are hiding between the lines of this article that support Stroup's research?

F1000 Research

I love seeing a journal designed for open peer review, but this one is targeted at biology and medicine. Can we get one of these for education, please?

Bedtime Math | A new math problem every night.

A simple idea and a simple site: Each day the blogger posts a new math problem with suggestions for questions for "wee ones," "little kids," and "big kids."

Critiquing Khan #MTT2K (with images, tweets) · audreywatters · Storify

Audrey Watters's Storify of the #mtt2k Khan Academy critiques.

Drew's Day: Invitation to the Khan Academy

I feel like I've found these a bit late, but Andrew Morrison has a set of two blog posts (the other at that I find to be level- (and cool-) headed, well reasoned, and a needed view of Khan Academy and its criticisms.

The end of algebra - ComPost - The Washington Post

Alexandra Petri takes a satirical stab at the NYT "Is Algebra Necessary?" opinion piece.

Delta Scape: MTT2K

Mystery Teacher Theater 2000 (#mtt2k)-related posts (critiquing Khan Academy) from David Coffey and John Golden.

Khan Academy: Readers weigh in - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

A host of readers of The Answer Sheet weighed in about teaching slope and the Khan Academy. At the top is the response Fred Peck and I wrote and posted to

A Math Teacher and Dad Comments on Khan Academy (Jerry Brodkey) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Jerry Brodkey adds to the debate over Khan Academy and asks some important questions: "There are bigger questions. Under what circumstances, and with which students, can the KA be most effective? What are its limitations? Is it most effective for the transmission of new material, or is it best suited for review? What skills must a teacher have to use it effectively? Will this approach work for those students who are not traditional learners and who struggle with this type of approach?"

Cut Sal Khan and the Khan Academy Some Slack | Teach For America Blog

A Teach for America blogger says we should cut the Khan Academy some slack.

What’s Really Wrong with Teacher Quality and Teacher Education? | National Education Policy Center

I think this is a great post by Paul Thomas about some of the many ways our efforts towards improving teacher quality are misdirected. It's not as simple as being anti-union and putting teachers on a scoreboard. According to Thomas, we need more focus on the *real* problems with teacher quality: we have an inequitable distribution of teacher quality and we need to invest more in training teachers to work with the least advantaged children.

Why Should Techies Care About Education Theory?

I'm glad that Audrey Watters chose to write this, although I wish the comments focused more on why we should care about theory, not just, "Hey, you forgot this famous theorist!"

Five principles of the evil teaching guru « Maxwell's Demon

It's good to have a teaching philosophy, and I wouldn't shy away from this one. Philosophies are better when you understand the person's character and personality.

David H. Bailey: Algebra Is Essential in a 21st Century Economy

I think these authors make a strong case for algebra, but they got sloppy in the last paragraph when they seem to blame Realistic Mathematics Education for some sort of Dutch "pedagogical disaster," then link to a paper in support of RME.