Calculator ban proposed for Virginia tests | Mobile Washington Examiner

Ugh. I, like many 9th grade math teachers, had students who still hadn't mastered their facts. Generally, I didn't worry - for many, it was just a matter of weeks until the summer rust shook off and I saw improvement. A teacher in Virginia has seen this same problem and concluded (a) students don't know their facts because they're allowed to use calculators and (b) the state should fix this by banning calculator use on state tests, which would force middle school teachers to take kids' calculators away and focus on fact mastery. Maybe to help kids learn to spell we should take away spell-checkers, and to keep them fit we could take away their chairs and make them jog in place instead.

My visit to KIPP | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

Gary Rubinstein visits a KIPP charter school and finds that while it wasn't quite the stereotype he thought it would be, there were noticeable differences in the student population from what he'd expect at a public school.

Gene V Glass: Education in Two Worlds: “Judge us by our results”

Gene Glass takes a look at an Arizona charter school that is producing some fine graduates, but seemingly at the expense of shedding many of its students along the way -- especially those with any kind of disability or need to learn English.

Voices: The rocky rollout of SB191 in Dougco | EdNewsColorado

This article from a teacher in Douglas County describes some of the chaos when accountability reforms are rushed into place before the system of accountability measures is ready. When the stakes for teachers are this high, "trust me" is not very reassuring.

Carnegie, the Founder of the Credit-Hour, Seeks Its Makeover - Curriculum - The Chronicle of Higher Education

While there are certainly reforms that I question, I do agree that the inertia of some outdated ideas in education are a serious drag on progress. The Carnegie Unit is one of those ideas. Unfortunately, so much is built around credit hours - school day schedules, credit hours, transcripts, graduation requirements, etc., that it's not a trivial thing to discard.

Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum - Telegraph

This kind of (horrible) reporting and rhetoric feels like a translation of the math wars for English language arts. I'm not very knowledgeable about the Common Core State Standards for ELA, but I know there is an increased emphasis on reading informational texts in history, social studies, science, and technical subjects. (Which sounds great to me, as I'm not a fan of reading fiction.) A quick glance at shows that the standards themselves don't specify many specific readings beyond things like "at least one work of Shakespeare" and using Federalist No. 10 as an example of a historical text.

How this is being reported, of course, is that students will no longer read fiction (and, of course, they specifically mention a great work like Catcher in the Rye) because they instead are forced to read instructional manuals like Recommended Levels of Insulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection agency. This is every bit as exaggerated as the "Traditional math is endless drill of facts!" versus "Reform teaches nothing but calculator use!" accusations of the math wars.

I imagine the authors of the article used the "exemplar" texts mentioned in Appendix B for the ELA standards and conveniently ignored these other great options for high school students under the "Informational Texts: Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects" category:

  • Keith Devlin's Life by the Numbers
  • Joy Hakim's The Story of Science: Newton at the Center
  • John Allen Paulos's Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
  • Malcom Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson's Gravity in Reverse: The Tale of Albert Einstein's 'Greatest Blunder'
  • Calishain and Dornfest's Google Hacks: Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching, 2nd Edition
  • Ray Kurzweil's The Coming Merger of Mind and Machine

And while I didn't see Salinger in the list, I imagine he'd fit right in with many of the authors that are on the exemplar list: Homer, Kafka, Steinbeck, Bradbury, Harper Lee, Chaucer, Austen, Poe, Hawthorne, Dostoevsky, Melville, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway Toni Morrison, Wilde, and Wilder. Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird is on the list, even though the Telegraph specifically says it will be replaced. Horrible journalism, indeed.

(For the record, I've never read Catcher in the Rye and, given the choice, I might prefer to read about building insulation. I'm weird, I know.)

New Test Shows Severe Shortcomings in Nation's Press Corps | Mother Jones

Vocabulary scores from the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) were released today, a prime time to see which news outlets bother to understand what the scores mean and interpret them correctly. Sorry, Wall Street Journal, it looks like you'll be needing some remediation.