Curtis Whatley is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Here’s what educators, advocates, wonks and policymakers are talking about today:

News & analysis

U.S. students make gains in math but stall in reading
Public school students across the United States posted record scores in math this year but their progress stalled in reading, according to results of nationwide testing released Tuesday. In math, 40 percent of fourth-graders and 35 percent of eighth-graders scored at a level that was proficient or advanced, higher than at any time since National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) testing began 20 years ago. In reading, 34 percent of fourth-graders and eighth-graders scored at a level that was proficient or advanced. That performance was unchanged for fourth-graders since the test was last given in 2009 but was slightly better for eighth-graders. (WaPo)

Study warns of limited savings from closing schools
Closing schools doesn’t save very much money in the context of an urban district’s budget, and selling or leasing surplus school buildings tends to be difficult because they’re often old and in struggling neighborhoods, a recent report from a Philadelphia research group says. On the positive side, however, the study finds that students appear to make it through a school closure with minimal effects on their academic progress. And it says school districts can help generate some acceptance for a downsizing plan by involving the community early and establishing clear reasons for why certain schools must close. (EdWeek)

Ohio: Unions, businesses spend on collective bargaining fight
One way to gauge the intensity of interest in an upcoming referendum on an Ohio law affecting collective bargaining is to look at the money flow. We Are Ohio, a group active in the fight against the law, spent more than $17 million during the most recent reporting period, from July to the present, and has more than $4 million on hand. Some of the biggest donors to that cause were teachers’ unions, including the Ohio Education Association, whose contributions included a $4.7 million donation in August, records show. And for the other side? Building a Better Ohio, an organization that supports the law, reported having spent about $6 million during that same period, with $1.6 million on hand. (State EdWatch)

Minnesota: Students’ reading scores stuck in place as ranking slips nationally
Test scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress show that Minnesota students made little progress over the last decade in reading. To address such results, Minnesota should focus on making sure that students can read by the timte they leave the third grade, state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. Although Minnesota students continue to beat the national average in reading, the scores of students in the fourth and eighth grades show no improvement and the state continues to slide in national rankings. (MPR)

Minnesota: State expects enough funds to cover student aid
For the first time in two years, the state expects to have enough money to cover its portion of aid for needy college students, said the head of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Last year the legislature appropriated $154 million to the Minnesota State Grant Program. Officials at the state Office of Higher Education expect to pay out $148 million this year, able to fully fund students’ grant awards because of smaller enrollment numbers at Minnesota colleges. (MPR)

Rhode Island: Students improve in national testing
For the first time, Rhode Island students scored at or above the national average in mathematics and reading on a tough national test. The fourth and eighth graders who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress also showed improvement over 2009, when the test was given last and when the state had showed gains over 2007. However, the results for Rhode Island students still lagged behind the other five New England states, and there continued to be large gaps in the performance of black, Hispanic and low-income students compared to white and middle-income students– between 25 and 30 points. (ProJo)

Maryland: Students make gains on national test
Maryland’s public school students made greater gains on a national standardized test than their peers in nearly every other state, although the achievement gap between white and minority students persists. Bucking the trend on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Maryland students scored significantly above the national average on reading in fourth and eighth grades. In addition, Maryland has made long-term gains in reading that are not common in other states despite a federal emphasis on accountability for every child. (Baltimore Sun)

New York: For first time, NYC DOE releases detailed school safety data
Principals and superintendents suspended a disproportionally high number of black and special needs students last year, according to data the Department of Education released today to comply with a new law. Of the 73,441 suspensions in the 2010-2011 school year, more than 50 percent were black and thirty percent had individualized education plans, according to the data. In contrast, black students make up 33 percent of city enrollment and students requiring special education services make up 17 percent. “These are outrageous numbers,” said Udi Ofer, Advocacy Director for New York Civil Liberties Union, a group that has closely followed suspension data for more than a decade. “It shows a policy and practice that has a grossly disproportionate impact on black and special needs children.” (Gotham Schools)

New York: 2,000 students at failing Bronx high school received suspensions
Nearly half the students at a large Bronx high school were suspended last school year, according to the Department of Education, which is now required to release crime and suspension data. Lehman High School in Westchester Square tops the list of schools with discipline problems, with 2,000 of the school’s approximately 4,100 students receiving suspensions. Of those incidents, DOE sources say 122 suspensions were for “horseplay,” 219 were for aggressive behavior and 456 were for insubordination. Lehman has been in trouble in recent months, as its former principal resigned amid a grade-fixing scandal. The school also received an “F” in two consecutive performance reports. (NY1)


The debate between Eric Hanushek and Diane Ravitch continues
Diane comes back to a simple prescription: We should pursue business as usual with a few extensions of current policy. Unfortunately that is not serving us well, because this is exactly what we have done for several decades. We have developed a system that pays little attention to students and their achievement but that supports any adult who has found a job in schools.  This policy does not look good by historical evidence on student outcomes. But it is common to defend this basic lack of management by throwing in red herrings whenever any policy change is suggested. (Eduwonk)

NAEP, the long view, and the crisis in reading
The longterm improvement in the early grades and stagnation in high school suggests that while our education system has gotten better at teaching basic skills to a diverse group of students, we haven’t put the same effort into developing higher-order reading comprehension. That’s why the curricular changes I outlined in my post yesterday on the Common Core are so important. In short, kids need to be reading more challenging, informational, non-fiction texts; fewer fictional stories; and should be writing more evidence-based analyses and fewer memoir-like personal essays. Raising our overall reading achievement is incredibly important, because literacy skills are the ones most closely correlated with success in college and the professional world. Third-graders who aren’t proficient in reading are four times less likely to graduate high school than proficient readers. (Dana Goldstein)


Recent Posts

More posts from Today in Education

See All Posts