downclimb + education   1264

Lessons on Common Core - Education Next : Education Next
Robert Pondiscio of the Fordham Institute takes a rational look at the hyperbole driving many arguments about the Common Core State Standards.
education  standards  CCSS  policy  2017  01-January 
november 2017 by downclimb
Common Core Fact of the Day: Standards v. Curriculum - ExcelinEd
A simple explanation of the difference between standards and curriculum.
education  standards  curriculum  policy  CCSS  2013  06-June 
november 2017 by downclimb
Understanding Teacher Shortages
There's a lot of information to dig through in this report on teacher shortages and "teaching attractiveness." Colorado doesn't fare particularly well in teaching attractiveness, bogged down by relatively low wages and poor working conditions, as well as a high percentage of inexperienced and uncertified teachers.
education  teaching  policy  2017  01-January 
january 2017 by downclimb
Reactions to my tip on how I use figshare
This is awesome advice: Publish your figures under a CC-BY license first using Figshare, then include them in your manuscripts under that license. Then, the figure isn't subject to a publisher's copyright upon publication and remains free.
education  research  open_access  publishing  copyright  2016  04-April 
october 2016 by downclimb
Students are not hard-wired to learn in different ways – we need to stop using unproven, harmful methods
There is little evidence to show that teaching students according to perceived 'learning styles' has any positive effect on their learning.
education  psychology  learning  research  09-September  2016 
october 2016 by downclimb
How an award-winning teacher uses an app and camera phone to reinforce good math skills
This Chalkbeat story is about Carrie Jordan, Colorado's newest elementary PAEMST awardee.
education  Colorado  math  2016  09-September  elementary  technology 
october 2016 by downclimb
How 37 States Are Handling Teacher Shortages
Dan Meyer does a nice bit of ed policy work here by surveying various initiatives being undertaken in states to address teacher recruitment and retention problems.
education  policy  teacher_quality  2016  08-August 
september 2016 by downclimb
Once considered too easy, is teacher certification now too hard?
For years we've had tests for teachers that miss the mark, often by focusing on content but not the specialized skills needed to teach it. Deborah Ball appears on this Michigan Public Radio story to discuss the current state of teacher preparation and testing and the directions we're heading.
education  teacher_quality  Michigan  2016  06-June  assessment  policy 
september 2016 by downclimb
Lawsuit revives an old debate: Should Florida's struggling readers be forced to repeat third grade?
A nice article in the Tampa Bay Times about grade retention, including some quotes from CU Boulder's Lorrie Shepard.
education  policy  literacy  2016  08-August  Florida  CU-Boulder 
september 2016 by downclimb
Learning styles: what does the research say?
Yet another reminder that learning styles don't exist. Well, not in the way most people think they do, anyway.
education  learning  learning_theory  research  2016  04-April 
may 2016 by downclimb
"Deeper learning" continues to show higher high school graduation rates - The Hechinger Report
I don't know exactly what "deeper learning" is, and it sounds like this author isn't sure how it's special, either. But some research by AIR suggests that maybe "deeper learning" schools are getting some better results. There's a possibility that the results they're seeing are caused by confounding variables, but I think one thing is likely: "deeper learning" is well-poised to be a new buzzword in education, even though most people using it won't know what makes it special.
education  research  learning  2016  03-March 
march 2016 by downclimb
Growth mindset doesn’t promise pupils the world
I really like that Carol Dweck is working to keep the "growth mindset" train on its rails. In many of the references I've heard to growth mindset, the message was simple: If kids can believe they can get better at something, then that goes a long way towards it happening. So make kids believe they can achieve anything, because that's how growth mindset works. Not so simple, says Dweck. We really need to be honest with students about the work involved in reaching goals, inform them about the pathways that might get them there, and avoid filling them with false hope.
education  learning  psychology  2016  03-March  research 
march 2016 by downclimb
TRU Math Suite
The "Teaching for Robust Understanding" (TRU) framework was designed by a Schoenfeld-led group at Berkley and Michigan State. Its purpose is to shape the ways in which classroom environments are structured, as outlined by 5 dimensions: (1) the content, (2) cognitive demand, (3) equitable access to content, (4) agency, authority, and identity, and (5) uses of assessment.
education  math  curriculum  teaching 
march 2016 by downclimb
CU-Boulder fellowship seeks to tackle public issues with research
It's great to see Ben Kirshner and others take this on. I wish it went one step further, though: Instead of supporting grad students to work beyond academic journals, I wish it also supported junior faculty. They're the ones with the most pressure to publish, and in the 6-7 years it takes them to earn tenure they can develop habits about publishing that are difficult to reverse.
education  publishing  Colorado  CU-Boulder  2016  03-March  2md 
march 2016 by downclimb
Why Education Research Has So Little Impact on Practice: The System Effect
There are more reasons for why education research seems to have little impact in the United States, but I believe Marc Tucker is right when he says there's a lack of system-level thinking in our research.
education  research  2016  03-March 
march 2016 by downclimb
Schools Need Introverted Teachers, But Avoiding Burnout a Challenge
I very much consider myself to be an introvert, but I was mostly okay during routine school activity. When I taught, as I do now, I kept my social calendar rather light, as I seem to enjoy time to myself for big chunks of each day.
education  teaching  2016  02-February 
march 2016 by downclimb
How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?
Not very many, it turns out. This is a pretty good example of "attending to precision," and why rules for rounding decimals should yield to the context of what's being measured or calculated.
education  math  geometry  2016  03-March  CCSS 
march 2016 by downclimb
Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset'
This article gets at one concern I've had about growth vs. fixed mindsets: We are socially biased to value growth mindsets, so we'll say we have one and are building them as teachers whether we really are or not. It's difficult to be honest with ourselves with these things, so I'm glad Dweck is pushing us to "legitimize" fixed mindsets and remember we all have varying degrees of them.
education  psychology  teaching  learning  2015  09-September 
february 2016 by downclimb
Fourth Grade Math: A Dad’s Journey From Frustration To Realization
After criticizing unfamiliar methods to learning mathematics, a father decides to learn more and discovers that he had been too quick to judge. Kudos to Kirk Englehardt for being willing to publicly change his mind on the internet, something seen all-too-rarely.
education  math  math_wars  CCSS  standards  2015  12-December 
december 2015 by downclimb
Missouri state senator aims to block student's dissertation on abortion
Hidden in all the other chaos at the University of Missouri earlier this month was this story, in which a Missouri state senator tried to prevent a student from completing a dissertation about abortion. As far as I can tell, the attempt was unsuccessful and the dissertation will be completed. However, it's not necessarily because academic freedom prevailed -- rather, the student and university showed that the dissertation work was not funded through scholarships and grants from the university or otherwise tied to state funding, which could be construed as against Missouri's law that prohibits using public funds to promote non-life-saving abortions.

Academic content standards like the Common Core are a hot-button topic. Not as hot as abortion, I'd say, but still hot enough that I would not be shocked to hear about anti-Common Core lawmakers attempting to muck around in the work of those of us who study academic standards like the CCSS. We're still seeing resistance from science committee members of the U.S. House of Representatives who think it should be up to them to decide what the National Science Foundation finds worthy of funding (, as they question climate science research and various kinds of work in the social sciences. As a grad student whose primary funding came from the NSF, I'd rather Lamar Smith not get to pick and choose what research he likes and dislikes. Similarly, I think we need research to better understand how abortion policies affect the lives of women, regardless of the source of funding.
education  Missouri  money  highered  research  health  2015  11-November 
november 2015 by downclimb
Racial Wealth Gap Persists Despite Degree, Study Says - The New York Times
Growing up I was told a college degree was the key to a better job, higher salaries, and a better life. That's still largely true, but more true if you're white than if you're Black or Latino/a. The differences are especially stark when you look not at income, but at wealth.
education  highered  equity_and_social_justice  jobs  money  2015  08-August 
november 2015 by downclimb
The Smartest Dumb Error in the Great State of Colorado | Math with Bad Drawings
The sign featured in this post by Ben Orlin is just up the hill from where I sit, and I think of it as an elaborate explanation of what I once heard from a veteran math teacher: "If you have 2 dogs and 3 houses, you don't have 5 dog houses."
education  math  2015  08-August  arithmetic  Colorado 
november 2015 by downclimb
Iowa's next exams? The smarter you are, the harder they get
This Des Moines Register story about standardized testing is a pretty good look at the shifting landscape of large-scale assessment in schools. In Iowa, the Iowa tests, such as the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, have been regularly administered for decades. But with new multi-state standards, accountability needs, and advances in technology, Iowa is one of many states demanding their tests do more and do it affordably.
education  Iowa  standardized_tests  standards  money  policy  technology  assessment  CCSS  2015  08-August 
november 2015 by downclimb
The President and The Yes Men
I was aware that the University of Iowa was searching for a new president and then quite suddenly in my Twitter stream I saw an announcement of a hire followed by a lot of discontent, frustration, and anger. Bruce Harreld was chosen for the job despite questionable qualifications, and as details of the search process become more clear it seems he may have been the only person seriously considered by the Iowa Board of Regents. Many have cried foul and some have protested, and in this blog post, one says Harreld and his selection for the job is so preposterous it could possibly be confused as performance art rather than reality.
education  highered  Iowa  2015  11-November  politics  leadership 
november 2015 by downclimb
How (and Why) to Generate a Static Website Using Jekyll, Part 1 – ProfHacker - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education
I always seem to have a need to build one website or another, and I like the idea of static content, but I haven't yet invested the time in learning something like Jekyll. Maybe it's because GitHub is still a bit of a black box to me, or maybe it's because I don't know how easily others would be able to manage a site I create, but I'll return to posts like this if and when I get to creating new sites. I'll also revisit, Vincent Knight's post about using Jekyll as a teacher.
education  technology  internet  webdev  2015  08-August 
november 2015 by downclimb
Financial Woes Plague Common-Core Rollout - WSJ
I empathize with teachers and school leaders in places where academic standards have become such a political football (even more than usual) that policymakers have reversed course and either gone back to old standards or proposed new, better, but don't-exist-yet standards. Such is the case in Oklahoma, where a couple years of building capacity to support the Common Core State Standards came to a halt when lawmakers decided to take the state in a different direction. Some of what schools did for CCSS was probably just in the name of high-quality teaching and learning, and those investments were hopefully well-made. Books mentioning CCSS that now have to be hidden away represent dollars wasted.
education  Oklahoma  standards  CCSS  2015  11-November  policy  politics 
november 2015 by downclimb
Obama Administration Calls for Limits on Testing in Schools
This news about limiting testing in schools is a bit more mixed than some people seemed to think. First, 2% of time on standardized testing isn't that far off from what I've experienced here in Colorado: out of a 1080-hour school year, students might spend about 12 hours on state testing in the spring, 4 hours on another test in the fall, and maybe another 4 on a test like the ACT or a pre-ACT test. That's 20 hours, which is slightly less than 2% of 1080 hours. However, in some districts these tests are accompanied by all kinds of in-district tests which, while not required by the state or Department of Ed, still feel like an imposition on many teachers and students. So while the message that testing is important and necessary is still clearly being communicated by the Department of Education, proponents of less testing hope that there's a shift in tone away from the high-stakes use of testing we've had in the NCLB era.
education  standardized_tests  policy  2015  10-October  NCLB  assessment 
november 2015 by downclimb
Building A Worldwide Math Community
Using social media helps build connections with people before you've "met" them. Kristen Gray writes about how this is particularly helpful when you find yourself at an academic conference like NCTM, because what used to be strangers are now acquaintances.
education  math  NCTM  2015  10-October  social_media 
november 2015 by downclimb
The Other Autistic Muppet
Saying Fozzie Bear is autistic isn't exactly a clinical diagnosis, but I liked this article for the way it expands thinking about autism and what it might look like in people (or puppets?) who we don't immediately think of as autistic.
education  learning  psychology  2015  10-October  entertainment 
november 2015 by downclimb
Bringing it back home: Why state comparisons are more useful than international comparisons for improving U.S. education policy
A few years ago Gene Glass wrote ( that rather than using international test data to compare ourselves to other countries (which our policymakers love to do), we should better understand the great variability of educational outcomes within our own country and learn what students and schools in higher-scoring areas are doing that's different. In this new report from the Economic Policy Institute, they recommend the same thing and add their findings to a growing body of evidence that shows that while average test scores across the U.S. might not rank at the top of the world, students in certain states or students of higher socioeconomic status in the U.S. score similarly to students in Finland or Singapore. So rather than think there's some "exotic" solution to import from a country on the other side of the world, maybe some of the keys to our educational troubles are already here and staring us in the face if we just focus on the variability within our own country.
education  policy  PISA  TIMSS  standardized_tests  math  science  Finland  NAEP  2015  10-October 
november 2015 by downclimb
Common Core Math is Not the Enemy
This is a nice short post promoting flexibility in our thinking about how computation should be taught. The truth is, whether we teach for flexibility or not, this kind of flexibility is present in people who are numerically and computationally fluent, and that this is a skill that can be learned when it is part of a well-designed curriculum. Of course, not all are convinced that mathematics education should look this way, and it's easy to pit algorithm vs. discovery in a false dichotomy. But that's unnecessary, just as making Common Core the enemy is unnecessary.
education  math  math_wars  standards  CCSS  arithmetic  2015  10-October 
october 2015 by downclimb
Evidence at the Crossroads Pt. 1: What Works, Tiered Evidence, and the Future of Evidence-based Policy
This looks like the start of a nice series of blog posts about research evidence use in schools from the William T. Grant Foundation. I like the setup here: about 10 years ago we made a big push for using "what works" and set high standards for high-quality research, mostly in the form of randomized controlled trials. Now we're seeing that research use in schools is more complex than that, and local school leaders need more information not about the average effects of a treatment, but how that treatment can be expected to work under their local conditions and the resources needed for quality implementation.
education  research  2015  10-October 
october 2015 by downclimb
Remember Your Old Graphing Calculator? It Still Costs a Fortune — Here's Why
As a math teacher, it was frustrating to tell high school students they needed to spend $100 or more on an outdated piece of technology that I knew was overpriced. That was more than 5 years ago, and math teachers are still telling their students this. Now, working on building digital curriculum, I have the frustration of knowing that the $100+ students spend on a calculator is probably better spent on a Chromebook or a cheap tablet, either of which is far more powerful than the calculator. However, these calculators fill a certain niche and their lack of power and connectivity makes them allowable during testing, a "feature" TI is happy to preserve as long as they can.
education  math  technology  money  2015  09-September 
october 2015 by downclimb
Easy reference guide to University of Queenslands' DENIAL101x videos
A student of the Denial101x MOOC on climate change denial made this handy index of all the videos in the course.
science  video  education  MOOC  2015  08-August  environment  weather_and_climate 
october 2015 by downclimb
The Logic of Stupid Poor People
This is a great essay by Tressie MC explaining why poor people (particularly those from marginalized communities) buy status symbols seemingly beyond their means. Some accuse the poor of being stupid and wasteful, but that's almost certainly not the case. Too often, status symbols are purchased by the poor because there are so few ways for them to gain status, and when other avenues are denied, spending money to make ones' self look or live nicer can bring respect that, although not necessarily earned, is needed to either get by or get ahead.
money  equity_and_social_justice  education  2013  10-October 
october 2015 by downclimb
The Heinemann Fellows: Michael Pershan on a Year of Feedback
This post is a great example of a teacher who is willing to be very reflective and self-critical in order to push his students to think more deeply about mathematics. Here, Michael Pershan carefully reviews the kinds of feedback he's given students and dissects the nuances and how they might have elicited different kinds of student thinking.
education  math  teaching  social_media  grading  2015  08-August 
october 2015 by downclimb
Colorado Springs mayor 'shocked' to learn that voter information pamphlet claims don't have to be true
I occasionally guest teach about Colorado school finance to some of our School and Society classes. While not essential for understanding how schools are funded, I tell students about Douglas Bruce, how he championed Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), and how when I say he doesn't like taxes, he really, really doesn't like taxes.
education  Colorado  money  politics  school_and_society 
october 2015 by downclimb
A Colorado Teacher Shortage Puts Rural Schools On The Brink Of Crisis
I really enjoyed teaching in rural Colorado schools, but even I wasn't looking for a job in the eastern part of the state, far from the mountains and the resources of the Front Range cities. They have it rough out there, and low salaries in small districts don't help. Recruiting teachers from out of state helps fill positions that need filled, but I don't know how many of those positions stay filled over time.
education  Colorado  2015  09-September  rural_education 
september 2015 by downclimb
Curious Minds, Serious Play | Jan de Lange | TEDxAmsterdamED
I really like this talk by Jan de Lange, former director of the Freudenthal Institute in the Netherlands. Curious Minds is a project that explores the creativity and reasoning of young children, and tries to support that creativity and reasoning as they get older and we too often see this kind of thinking decrease (or become hidden).
education  research  Netherlands  video  learning  2015  03-March 
september 2015 by downclimb
MAP Project Portfolio, Inverness Research Inc
The Mathematics Assessment Project ( is a popular site for tasks and lessons suitable for meeting the Common Core State Standards. Inverness Research has contributed to MAP by studying the use of the resources and documenting the challenges and benefits of using them.
education  math  research  curriculum 
august 2015 by downclimb
San Francisco Middle Schools No Longer Teaching ‘Algebra 1′
Yet another story about Algebra 1 where people have a false impression that (a) algebra is a thing you learn in just one year and (b) learning that thing in 8th grade makes you better than if you learn it in 9th grade. If you look at what the Common Core asks 8th graders to do -- not just in the algebra standards, but in the statistics standards -- I think most parents would see that the focus on linear equations and linear modeling is as much "Algebra 1" as the algebra course they probably took as 9th graders in their youth.
education  math  2015  07-July  California  CCSS  standards 
august 2015 by downclimb
Numbers mount for first-grade math whizzes
I hope these first graders make their goal of reaching 150,000 problems completed on IXL. It's good to have and reach goals. But then I hope they consider a different goal, something richer than the fill-in-the-blank e-worksheet that IXL tends to be.
education  math  Colorado  elementary  2015  05-May 
june 2015 by downclimb
Asimov - The Relativity of Wrong
This essay by Isaac Asimov illustrates how rather than just being wrong, theories get better over time as our evidence and experiences lead us to improve upon existing ideas. Parts of this remind me of Andy diSessa's "Knowledge in Pieces" theory of learning and how when someone's construction of knowledge doesn't match your own, it's helpful to think about the experiences they have had to logically get to where they are.
education  learning_theory  science 
june 2015 by downclimb
Lorrie Shepard to retire as CU-Boulder School of Education dean
This hasn't been a secret, but it was nice to see CU-Boulder announce Lorrie Shepard's upcoming retirement as dean of the School of Education. She's served CU for 41 years, first as a graduate student, then as a professor, and later as our dean. She'll continue in the School of Education as a Distinguished Professor, and I'm sure I'm not the only one grateful to know her energy and wisdom is staying in the building.
education  Colorado  CU-Boulder  highered 
june 2015 by downclimb
Augusta Schurrer (1925-2015)
I came across this by chance, but my Calculus II professor, Augusta Schurrer, died this past January 1 at the age of 89. I was her student in her 47th -- and last -- year at the University of Northern Iowa, where she joined the faculty in 1950. Some has been written about her life in a book called "Women Succeeding in the Sciences," which explains how she entered Hunter College in 1941 at the age of 15 and then went to Wisconsin-Madison for a PhD in 1945. During World War II college mathematics departments were more open to taking female students ("When I went, there weren't enough men. There weren't enough *anything*."), and Schurrer figured that had she arrived in Madison a few years later she wouldn't have gotten the assistantships and financial support she received and needed to finish her PhD.
education  math  highered  Iowa  UNI  2015  01-January  history 
june 2015 by downclimb
Math Wars North
Nat Banting summarizes a recent flare-up in the math wars, which are going as strong in parts of Canada in recent years as anywhere in the United States. If there's one thing we've learned on Google+, one must be careful when framing this as mathematicians versus math teachers, because not all mathematicians think alike on this topic.
education  math  math_wars  Canada  2015  06-June 
june 2015 by downclimb
Longmont valedictorian silenced over speech disclosing he was gay
As a class valedictorian, Evan Young was supposed to give a speech at his graduation ceremony. He had themed it around respect for people's differences, and had planned his own coming out as gay as part of the speech. The principal of the school told him to remove that part of the speech but Young refused, leading the school to cancel his speech and _not even recognize Young as a valedictorian_. The school's board of directors said in a statement that graduation was "not a time for a student to use his commencement speech to push his personal agenda on a captive audience, and school officials are well within their rights to prevent that from happening."

As if this story couldn't get worse, Young hadn't even yet come out to his own parents. So instead of getting to do that on his own terms, the principal outed him on a phone call to his parents. Thankfully, they seem to have taken the news well and have turned their attention to the unfairness of their son not being able to speak or be recognized as valedictorian. A local LGBT advocacy group, Out Boulder, is organizing an event where Evan Young will give his speech as part of a fundraiser.
education  Colorado  equity_and_social_justice  graduation 
may 2015 by downclimb
New study takes hard look at National Council on Teacher Quality’s ratings of teacher prep programs
There's an organization called the National Council on Teacher Quality that creates a lot of attention for itself by promoting a ranking system it's developed for teacher preparation programs. The NCTQ rankings have irked many people in teacher education, generally because the methods and criteria used in the rankings appear flawed, such as judging a university's program by content found in course syllabi. These feelings now appear validated, as Gary Henry and folks at Vanderbilt have done some research of their own and found that NCTQ rankings more or less have no correlation with the average effectiveness of graduates of teacher education programs.
education  policy  teacher_quality  Tennessee  research 
may 2015 by downclimb
Ashley Elementary School in Denver reinvents itself in Common Core era
I've sadly grown accustomed to poor education reporting on the Common Core State Standards. Sometimes there's no distinction between the standards and curriculum, or a misunderstanding about the adoption and implementation process, or decontextualized simplifications (or fabrications) of the standards that make them look silly. So hats off to Eric Gorski of The Denver Post for this great 3-part series looking at Common Core implementation in Denver area schools. Gorski manages to capture the complexity and the challenge without mucking up the finer points about what the standards are and aren't, and all three parts are worth a read.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
education  Colorado  standards  CCSS  PARCC  reform  policy  math  curriculum 
may 2015 by downclimb
A senior year mostly lost for a Normandy honor student
This story is sad for three reasons: (1) Kids at this school aren't getting the opportunities they deserve, (2) It illustrates the persistence of the inequalities in the St. Louis area that Jonathan Kozol wrote about 25+ years ago, and (c) in a system of school choice, this kind of thing is expected, and (according to market theories) the blame for this situation is partly on the kids for not transferring to another school. This last one particularly bothers me, as I think every student has a right to a high-quality neighborhood school, and shouldn't have any reason to shop for a better one.
education  Missouri  equity_and_social_justice  teacher_quality 
may 2015 by downclimb
Translating STEM: From Curriculum to Career
My Google+ friend Antonia Malchik wrote an article about STEM education last year that included some of my comments. When I hear someone say "STEM," or "our school has a STEM curriculum," I always wonder what they mean by that. For some, it's some kind of innovative new hybrid curriculum combining elements of science, tech, engineering, and math. That's probably what it's *supposed* to be, or what people aspire for it to be. But in reality, I think it just signifies extra attention to math and science, which itself is not a bad thing.
education  STEM  math  science  curriculum 
april 2015 by downclimb
#1062; The Terrible Sea Lion
There have been many moments in the debate over Common Core where I have seen someone make a claim that is either untrue or unfounded. On occasion, I have been tempted to press people -- politely -- for explanations, in the hopes that they will admit the error in their claim, thinking, or belief. As most of us know, that's not usually how debates on the internet play out, and to that other person I'm little more than a typical internet troll. Well, maybe a little more: I'm a *sea lion*. The term comes from this Wondermark comic and it's become a meme all its own, with the verb "sea-lioning": I'm not exactly sure how to resolve differences on the internet, but I do not plan on making sea-lioning my primary tactic.
education  CCSS  internet  social_media  policy  2014  09-September  funny 
march 2015 by downclimb
How to Introduce a Young Scholar to Twitter
Some pretty good tips for academics learning to use Twitter. I still find it curious when academics, who build their careers by publishing publicly, either don't see the relevance or are nervous about using a public social network.
education  highered  social_media  internet  technology  2015  03-March 
march 2015 by downclimb
Lessons And Directions From The CREDO Urban Charter School Study
The latest big charter school study looked at urban charters and found, on average, that charter schools in 42 urban areas are having a positive impact on test scores when compared to traditional public schools in those areas. Depending on how you interpret effect size, "positive" can look rather big (a charter student shows an additional 40 days of learning in math) or rather small (a charter student is at the 52nd percentile in math instead of the 50th). Perhaps more importantly, there's a lot to tease apart in the phrase "on average." There is still a wide range of performance seen in charters, as there is in public schools, and these large-scale studies don't tell us much of the story. For that, writes, Matt Di Carlo, we should really be looking more closely at *why* some schools perform better than others, and avoid the typical charter vs. public debate that often fails to actually look at what's happening inside the schools.
education  research  charter_schools  policy  2015  03-March 
march 2015 by downclimb
Standardized Testing & Special Needs
Derek Briggs of the presents here on standardized testing and special needs students. Parts of this talk are very helpful for informing yourself on the purpose and construction of standardized tests like PARCC and his points at the end about "opting out" of testing are worth thinking about.
education  video  assessment  standardized_tests  special_education  2015  03-March  PARCC  CCSS  Colorado  CU-Boulder  Boulder 
march 2015 by downclimb
10 Arguments Against Common Core that Presidential Hopefuls Should Avoid
I like this list of arguments to avoid regarding the Common Core State Standards. I particularly like the analogy made in #4 regarding the CCSS not being "research based." Standards are goals, and Shanahan's comparison to goals for unemployment rates is useful. #9 is good, too. Implying you support a federal mandate that tells states what they can't do (like adopt common standards) is a funny way to say you support local control.
education  standards  CCSS  policy  politics  2015  03-March 
march 2015 by downclimb
Iowa Lost Schools
Rural school district consolidation is a huge issue in my home state of Iowa. What used to be thousands of school districts are now down to a few hundred, some stretching across multiple counties to boost enrollment and raise revenues in the face of tough funding futures. In the process, buildings go empty and people struggle with what it means to be a community. The Des Moines Register's coverage looks to be excellent, although I don't see it changing what is inevitable for many small Iowa communities.
A Des Moines Register's yearlong project documenting the changes that Iowa communities face as they lose their school districts to declining enrollment and financial strains. Readers can follow the story online and participate in an interactive documentary project of Iowa's closed schools at or on social media using the hashtag #LostSchools. Read the coverage at
education  Iowa  rural_education  2015  history 
march 2015 by downclimb
An Open Letter to My Students: I Am Sorry For What I Am About To Do To You
It's standardized testing season, and while I try to understand the position taken in this post, I could never see myself writing it. I've interacted with many other teachers and students who didn't like standardized testing, but down deep I always enjoyed the experience -- the challenge of the test, the navigation of multiple-choice answers, and the rewards for doing well. Testing for me was cathartic, a way to perform and express myself in a way I was good at. Some people can relax with a crossword puzzle. I can relax with the ACT. I know it's not like that for most people, but the more I realize and understand my biases the better I'll be at understanding what strikes me as odd when I read posts like this.
education  standardized_tests  2015  03-March  assessment 
march 2015 by downclimb
Recent Study Shows Our Teachers Make an Impact
If you only read this post, you'd think the study Teach for America is referencing showed TFA teachers were heads-and-shoulders above the rest. But dig just a little further -- really, just a little -- and read the brief of the Mathematica report ( and you'll find that in almost all the cases, TFA teachers performed about the same as other teachers in the study. Only in lower elementary reading did the study find students of TFA ahead of those of other teachers. TFA might brag that this study used "gold standard" research methods, but they sure didn't do a "gold standard" job of honestly interpreting the results.
education  research  teacher_quality  Teach_for_America  2015  03-March 
march 2015 by downclimb
Put to the test: Derek Briggs of CU on PARCC
Derek Briggs is on the technical advisory committees of both PARCC and Smarter Balanced, the two testing consortia attempting to create a new generation of assessments to measure student understanding in English language arts and mathematics. (Derek is also my boss this year and taught a few of my classes.) Here Derek talks openly about PARCC, the test now being administered in Colorado. I've seen Derek in action long enough to know that he's not afraid to take a stand when he knows the evidence is on his side. But when it comes to PARCC, however, Derek knows that most of the evidence is yet to be collected. I found his thoughts here hopeful and realistic without being overconfident, and I hope people appreciate the challenge of creating tests that are noticeably better than ones used in the past.
education  standardized_tests  assessment  PARCC  CU-Boulder  Colorado  2015  03-March 
march 2015 by downclimb
Half Century
I only taught full-time for six years, well short of my 50th birthday. Here Shireen Dadmehr reflects on teaching after 18 years, having learned a lot of lessons along the way. A lot of these are familiar to me. Some I got. Some I was getting. Some I was looking forward to.
education  math  teaching  2015  03-March 
march 2015 by downclimb
State Board blows up science, social studies test scores
Colorado policymakers can't decide where to set cut scores for science and social studies tests given last fall, and they won't release the scores until they come to some agreement. I'd love to see other kinds of score representations, like histograms showing the distribution of scores, but I'm pretty sure cut scores are baked into NCLB reporting requirements. Stories like this are a reminder that it's not the *test* that's potentially invalid, it's the *inferences* we make about the test that we have to worry about. There may not be right and wrong places to put cut scores, but some choices would be more sensible than others, and those choices do influence how people interpret scores. Here's the state's news release on the rejection of the proposed cut scores:
education  Colorado  assessment  standardized_tests  2015  03-March  policy 
march 2015 by downclimb
$10 million rural aid bill advances one step
104 of Colorado's 178 districts have fewer than 1000 students, and 38 have only one administrator. If passed, a new bill would allow those districts to partner with boards of cooperative educational services and share services.
education  Colorado  money  rural_education  2015  03-March  policy 
march 2015 by downclimb
New Teachers' Academic Ability on the Rise, N.Y. Study Shows
The average combined math and verbal SAT scores of new teachers in New York state schools rose over the last decade, a new study finds.
education  teacher_quality  SAT  Teach_for_America  teaching  New_York  2015  03-March 
march 2015 by downclimb
Faculty in Focus No. 4: The science educator
If there are any CU-Boulder School of Education faculty that embody our new "Be Boulder" slogan, it's Valerie Otero.
As a physics education researcher, Valerie Otero mentors university faculty and community K-12 teachers who teach in a variety of science disciplines to help them build learning environments that are empowering for students. She is driven to continue to improve the way science is taught, at all levels, and believes in progressive learning environments that enable students to use and develop the critical and creative intelligence they already have.
education  Colorado  CU-Boulder  highered  2014  10-October 
november 2014 by downclimb
Essay on the mismatch between graduate programs at research universities and hiring needs at most colleges
Maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm always amazed at how many of my graduate school colleagues had college-educated parents and grew up in a culture of education prestige, either by attending private schools, travelling extensively for academic reasons, or even just had family and friends in higher ed. It just sounds nothing like the world I grew up in. This article expresses the concern that such people aren't well-prepared to work in community colleges or public regional 4-year schools because the cultures are so different.
education  highered  jobs  society  2014  10-October 
october 2014 by downclimb
Children's Mathematics: Why Every Math Teacher Should Know About Cognitively Guided Instruction
Here's Christopher Danielson's brief guide to what he wishes all secondary teachers knew about Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI).
education  math  arithmetic  elementary  2014  09-September 
october 2014 by downclimb
What's a rekenrek? At Fernandez, it's building to learn
This week, Fernandez Center students are putting their talents to work to help their school district, completing an order of 500 math-number racks for Stevens Point students in kindergarten through third grade. The number racks are based on the rekenrek, a math tool developed in Holland that looks similar to an abacus and helps with addition and subtraction.

You don't see the word "rekenrek" in news headlines, but this story from Wisconsin talks about how older kids in a school district make these math learning tools for younger students.
education  math  RME  Wisconsin  2014  10-October 
october 2014 by downclimb
Teacher preparation enrollments plummet
Enrollments in teacher preparation programs in California are continuing to decline at a precipitous rate, according to new figures from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Between the 2001-02 and 2012-13 school years, enrollments in teacher preparation programs dropped 74 percent.

No surprise: It may be getting difficult to recruit new teachers and increase pressure/blame on the teaching profession at the same time.
education  jobs  California  2014  10-October  teaching  highered 
october 2014 by downclimb
Real World Math
I haven't used it, but I like the idea of a curriculum site that integrates mathematics with data from Google Earth.
education  math  geography  curriculum  repository  maps 
september 2014 by downclimb
Napster, Udacity, and the Academy
I don't know if Clay Shirky is right about MOOCs, but I value this essay for his recognition that people will generally accept *good enough* if they can get it for little or no cost.
education  technology  music  MOOC  publishing  highered  2012  11-November 
september 2014 by downclimb
Discover the world's best K-12 curriculum
THere are a lot of curriculum repositories on the web and new ones crop up all the time. This is one of them. One way this site seems to have tried to differentiate itself is by enlisting the help of some prominent math teacher-bloggers for curating some of their content. Now they list a high school student as their content expert -- let's just say that's not ideal, but as a nonprofit in an increasingly crowded space that lacks good revenue models, maybe that's just making the most out of who you have available.
education  math  curriculum  internet  repository 
september 2014 by downclimb
The Case for Slow Reform in Education
In response to Elizabeth Green's article in the NY Times titled "Why Do Americans Stink at Math?" Ilana Horn took to Twitter to rant a bit about the lack of high-quality professional development, a need for better frameworks for teacher development, and other ways we could be better at helping math teachers than we are now.
education  math  teacher_quality  social_media  professional_development  2014  07-July 
september 2014 by downclimb
The product design sprint: a five-day recipe for startups
In my work with and for teachers I've needed to expand my conception of design. Sometimes it's a physical object, sometimes it's software, but frequently we're designing a process or routine and thinking about whatever templates or facilitation guide that might make that process or routine replicable and effective. Given that designers like to design things, Google Ventures has designed a five-day sprint for startups that we're considering applying to some of our work. It's a design for design, and a new process might give us perspectives we haven't yet had.
education  design  technology  research 
september 2014 by downclimb
Design for a Thriving UX Ecosystem
One of the research projects I work on involves a customizable curriculum repository that houses the district curriculum, supplementary tasks and materials, along with tools for sharing and planning. The design of that tool includes a lot of teacher input, but increasingly we see the need to think about the user experience ecosystem, not just our site. It's just natural to think now that people want their social media streams and cloud storage to work in concert with other content on the web, which gives us a lot of interesting potential use cases to think about.
education  curriculum  design  technology  2012  08-August 
september 2014 by downclimb
CGI Assessment Teacher’s Guide An assessment tool based on the work of Cognitively Guided Instruction
I've read quite a few of the published studies on CGI, but I'm really not that familiar with CGI from a teachers' point of view. Now that I'm working with teachers in lower elementary, I might find resources like this site useful.
education  math  learning  teaching  elementary  assessment 
september 2014 by downclimb
These Test Questions Show How Math Has Totally Changed Since You Were In School
I made the mistake of trying to add an intelligent comment to an article that didn't seem to have enough of them. It didn't help. The one reply I got to my comment kinda got under my skin a little, which is exactly what I'm sure the troll who left it was looking for.
education  math  CCSS  standards 
september 2014 by downclimb
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
I must admit that I occasionally find myself in meetings that start to head this direction, although rather than technicalities later it's been trips to the deep weeds of potential design choices.
education  funny 
september 2014 by downclimb
A Lesson In How Teachers Became 'Resented And Idealized'
Dana Goldstein's book "The Teacher Wars" is out and she got an opportunity to discuss teaching's past and present on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
education  teaching  history  teacher_quality  teachers_unions  2014  09-September 
september 2014 by downclimb
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