Perhaps there are people who know from early life what they want to do for their life’s work, but I suspect they are rather rare. The actual process of getting to the right place, at least from my experience, involves a series of iterations that require learning one’s own skills, matching skills with life plans and objectives, and probably something that looks a lot like luck. This essay represents my attempt to extract the separate facets of arriving at my current position as an economist who tries to match evidence about education with policy.
This fall Teach for America welcomes its “most diverse” corps in its history, according to a recent press release, with 50 percent of its teachers identifying as people of color.
“We’re proud that our incoming corps is more diverse than it’s ever been,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, the group’s co-CEO. “We know that teachers from all backgrounds can have a meaningful impact on their students’ trajectories.”
Really? How meaningful?
A Stanford University study of a 60,000-student district in California, which is unnamed as part of an agreement between researchers and the district, looked at 12 years of English learner data. Researchers found that many students enrolled in English immersion classes, which focus on teaching English and offer no instruction in students’ primary language, were reclassified as fluent in English before finishing elementary school, said Ilana Umansky, now an education professor at the University of Oregon and co-author of the study. That jump start didn’t help them in middle school, though, when their peers who had been enrolled in bilingual or dual immersion classes began getting reclassified and performed better on tests that measure academic proficiency.
Doubling up on math classes for a year may help middle school students in the short term, but the benefits of doing so depreciate over time—and are likely not worth the price of missing out on instruction in other subjects, according to a new study published by Stanford University's Center for Education Policy Analysis.
Eric Taylor, a PhD student who studies the economics of education at Stanford's Center for Education Policy Analysis, found that increasing the amount of time struggling students spend in math class improved math test scores, but the gains did not last in the long run. Spending more of the school day in math class also may have had unforeseen costs.
The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) labeled two-thirds of U.S. students aged 14 to 15 as "not proficient" in math. They would, for instance, have had trouble solving a problem with unit conversions, such as converting fluid ounces to quarts, or identifying lines of symmetry in shapes.
When the teacher and poet Taylor Mali declares, “I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face,” he testifies to the powerful ways teachers can use emotions to help students learn and grow. Students -- and their parents -- put a great deal of trust in college educators to use these powers wisely and cautiously. This is why the unfolding debacle of the Facebook emotional contagion experiment should give educators great pause.
This year's battle over the introduction of Common Core standards in public schools has diverted attention from a more important but quieter battle led by teachers unions to eliminate school accountability and teacher evaluations. These two measures are the real engines that will drive educational improvement, and it's critical that attempts to do away with them be blocked.
The Common Core was designed to replace the hodge-podge of standards in place in the individual states with a national proclamation of what all students should know in each subject and grade. The standards were developed under the auspices of the National Governors Association and strongly backed by the U.S. Department of Education. Over the past five years, 44 states adopted them, although ordinary citizens and even many people in the schools didn't know much about them. The new standards also have led to a related movement to develop new tests of student performance planned for the 2015-16 school year. The Common Core standards were designed to move American students, who generally score below the developed-country average in math and science, up to world-class achievement.
A strong majority of California voters oppose the state’s tenure and layoff policies for public school teachers, according to a new poll released just days after the landmark Vergara court case invalidated both statutes as unconstitutional.
By Andrew Myers
A study of Miami-Dade's transfer policy suggests that moving poor-performing teachers into better schools improves equity.
The ability to move teachers, against their wishes, to a different school is a necessary tool, argue school and district leaders, to improve teacher performance and get the right mix of teachers across a district.
But forced transfers remain hotly contested, and critics say the policies only shuffle ineffective teachers to new schools or place them in situations where their skills are underused.
Michael Kirst, Professor Emeritus of Stanford Graduate School of Education and President of California State Board of Education, gives update and progress on the politics and policy of Common Core implementation.
Daphna Bassok talks about her research on The changing nature of early childhood learning in the age of accountability.