Most Likely to Succeed – The Innovation Race

As mentioned in a previous post,  I m currently reading Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner’s  book “Most Likely to Succeed.” I’ll be posting meaningful quotes from the book. Dintersmith and Wagner emphasize that our education system focuses too much on trying to increase our international standardized test placement. But, and I agree, standardized testing, which really tests students ability to memorize words and other material they’ll never use again, is not what we should be worried about.


Reblog: Diane Ravitch on LI Superintendent

Diane Ravitch: “Superintendent Steven Cohen addresses parents on Long Island and explains what a great education is. It is the kind of education available to the children of Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama, Merryl Tisch (the chancellor of the New York State Regents), and other leaders of the “reform” movement. Cohen reads what children do at the University of Chicago Lab School, at the Dalton School in New York, and other excellent private schools, and contrasts them with the punitive mandates imposed on public schools. He denounces the Common Core standards and high-stakes testing. In the elite private schools, children have the opportunity to study subjects in depth, to explore ideas, and to have full programs in the arts and other non-tested subjects. The “reformers” know what is best for their children, but they treat the public’s children as “losers.” They don’t want the public’s children to have what they demand for their own children. In short, he lacerates the “reformers.”


Dr. Cohen is one of a group of superintendents in Long Island who are traveling to school districts to explain why Long Island parents should reject the current “reforms” of high-stakes testing and Common Core standards. The others are David Gamberg of Southold-Greenport, Joe Rella of Comsewogue, and Michael Hynes of Patchogue-Medford. They have inspired parents and educators across the Island.


He faults Bill Gates for foisting the Common Core standards on the nation with Arne Duncan’s help, without ever having testing the standards anywhere to see what effects they have. “Just trust me,” the salesmen of Common Core say. Would you buy a used car without evidence that it actually runs?


He explains how the Common Core was intended to drive the curriculum and testing, for the benefit of vendors and profit-seekers. The claim that it is “just standards, not curriculum,” is nonsense.


He describes the excellent results of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, which does not use high-stakes testing, and wonders why the state refuses to allow other high schools to join it. It works, but admission is closed. Why?


This is an excellent presentation and well worth your time to watch it. Be sure to hear him reading from the MIT catalogue about what MIT considers “college-readiness.”


Dr. Cohen is part of a group of thoughtful and courageous superintendents in Long Island who have been traveling school districts across the Island to explain what good education is–and what it is not.


Dr. Steven Cohen is a hero of public education and of students. He richly deserves to be on the honor roll of the blog.”

Teacher Shortage, More Subs

There’s a teacher shortage in America, according to the Washington Post.

The Washington Post interviewed a Pittsburgh student, who comments on how the teacher shortage effects her: “You’re looking at test scores,” she said of the school’s low performance on state standardized tests in math, science and reading. “But we didn’t have a stable teacher.”

The article delved into some noteworthy details on the severity of the shortage:

“Detroit needs 135 teachers — more than 5 percent of its teaching positions — and the city has just 90 subs, so principals or other school staffers must cover most of the remaining classes, according to a Detroit schools representative.”

This fall, she had a group of incoming freshmen who had not had a permanent math teacher in eighth grade. Eighty percent of them were not proficient in math, according to state tests, she said — because “they didn’t get instruction last year.”

All of this begs the question: Why?

The article gives an answer I hope Rheeformers can comprehend:


“They tend to employ teachers who are more inexperienced than the hires at affluent schools, and they often are not adequately trained for the intense environments they will face, making them more likely to leave, said Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor emerita at Stanford who heads the Learning Policy Institute, an education think tank. Inexperienced teachers also are often the first to be laid off in tough budget times, which means layoffs can disproportionately affect high-poverty schools.”

Teachers are leaving the profession because they are not equipped to deal with the realities of children living in poverty. The education system is not equipped for students living in poverty. Now teachers are leaving the system because they know it’s broken and the poor children are still poor. The education/equity gap widens. We need to face poverty in schools rather than ignore it.

News to Dallas School District: Students Need Recess

The Dallas Independent School District will implement at least a 20 minute recess for students in grades pre-k through 5th grade. Part of the reason for the policy change, according to ISD trustee, Dan Micciche, is that studies (surprisingly) show that recess is healthy for children.

It’s surprising that Dallas ISD didn’t think it was, well, sad for children to not have any playtime. Micchiche points out that recess throughout the disrctit varied: some schools had recess for their students, while others didn’t. Some schools used recess as part of a punishment-reward system and other schools had recess for some grades and not for others.

It’s almost 2016 and I’m not sure why some children are forced to sit in a classroom the entire day and are not given room for natural and carefree moments with the friends they’re learning with.




Penn Charter Network Systematically Cheated

After years of accusations and multiple investigations, Chester Community Charter Schools officially received confirmation that it systematically cheated on state exams. The sad part about the following expert is that the cheating coincided with the year the charter network was endanger of facing penalties for three consistent years of not meeting Race to the Top’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirement on state exams. The other sad issue is that Chester received more funding than its traditional counterparts, but Chester students performed just as poorly.

The Notebook, a Philadelphia newspaper, reports:

“PDE [Pennsylvania Department of Education] then spelled out strict testing protocols that the school said it would follow, including 24-hour security cameras where the tests are stored and in all classrooms in which students take them. In addition, PDE sent outside monitors to supervise all test administrations.

Through its history, CCCS [Chester Community Charter Schools] struggled to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the test score and performance targets under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The school made AYP in 2004 but then fell short for four years in a row from 2005 through 2008.

A fifth year of failing to meet targets would have triggered sanctions under NCLB, including a potential change in management.

The scores climbed in 2009, and for three years in a row, through 2011, they were high enough for the school to earn Adequate Yearly Progress status, an indicator that enhanced the school’s credibility in the Chester community. The school’s enrollment saw continued growth.

After the strict test protocols were put in place in 2012, proficiency rates at CCCS plummeted by an average of 30 percentage points in every grade and subject. In letters to parents and the media, the school blamed the drop on budget cuts.

Since then, scores have remained low – similar to scores of some Chester-Upland district schools.

That district has been in dire financial straits for decades, most recently exacerbated by its huge payments to CCCS and two other charters.”

Rhee’s DC Leaves Students Failing Miserably

Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson’s work in DC’s schools have left students failing miserably, according to citywide tests results. Rhee’s tactics of mass firings, school closures, salary increases based on state exams and charter school openings have proven to be exceptionally unhelpful. Rhee is a huge proponent on accountability. Who will hold her accountable for all of her failed goals?

I think it’s quite Michelle’s attitude while in D.C. was disgusting. She was pompous and narrow minded in her approach. If she said, “I don’t know if what I’m doing is right, but I think we need to make some different and radical changes, in order to see a positive change in a decades-long defunct school system,” than maybe I would feel like she actually tried to genuinely make the right decision for the students of D.C.