Archive | July, 2012

Report: For-profit colleges more concerned with executive pay than student achievement

31 Jul

Moi has been following for-profit colleges for quite awhile. In Scary study about what happens to for-profit college graduates moi wrote:

We are in a periodic of extreme economic dislocation and people are retraining and starting businesses in an attempt to put themselves in a better economic position. Because of the economic uncertainty, may are willing to try almost anything to survive. Beware, some choices can leave people in a worse position.

The Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) has produced a truly scary study about what happens to the graduates of for-profit colleges. According to the press release for the study, For-Profit College Students Less Likely to Be Employed After Graduation and Have Lower Earnings, New Study Finds  See, Study: For-Profit Colleges Offer Weak Job Prospects, Pay

Here is the citation:

The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators? (A CAPSEE Working Paper)

By: David Deming, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz| February 2012

Download the paper: The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?

Press release:For-Profit College Students Less Likely to Be Employed After Graduation and Have Lower Earnings, New Study Finds

Journal article:This study also appears in the winter 2012 issue of Journal of Economic Perspectives.

CAPSEE project: Project 6: The Role of the For-Profit Sector in Higher Education

The conclusions of this report have been echoed in prior reports.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) produced a report which details just how far from bargains some for-profit schools are. According to the article, GAO: 15 For-profit Colleges Used Deceptive Recruiting Tactics written by Daniel de Vise and Paul Kane some for-profit schools used deceptive practices to recruit students. Tamar Lewin reported in the New York Times that Report Finds Low Graduation Rates at For-profit Colleges With any education opportunity, the prospective student and their family must do their homework and weigh the pros and cons of the institution with with the student’s goals and objectives. See, Report Faults For-profit Colleges As Providers of ‘Subprime Opportunity’

Victor Hugo said it best when dealing with many for-profit colleges:           

Caution is the eldest child of wisdom
~Victor Hugo

Senator Harkin of Iowa has spent the past couple of years investigating for-profit colleges.

Michael Stratford reports on the Harkin report in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Senate Report Paints a Damning Portrait of For-Profit Higher Education:

For-profit colleges can play an important role in educating nontraditional students, but the colleges often operate as aggressive recruiting machines focused on generating shareholder profits at the expense of a quality education for their students.

That’s the unflattering portrait of the for-profit higher-education industry detailed in a voluminous report officially released on Monday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The report, which also criticizes the accrediting agencies that evaluate the colleges, concludes a two-year investigation into the operations of 30 for-profit higher-education companies from 2006 to 2010….

Profits Over Students

The report says that more than half of the 1.1 million students who enrolled in the colleges under scrutiny in 2008-9 had withdrawn by mid-2010. Those retention rates varied between publicly traded and privately held for-profit colleges. At the 15 publicly traded companies 55 percent of students withdrew, compared with 46 percent at the 15 privately held companies, many of which are owned by private-equity firms.

“While community colleges and two-year for-profit programs have similarly low retention rates, the cost of the for-profit programs makes those programs more risky for students and federal taxpayers,” the report says. Nearly all students attending a for-profit college take out loans to attend, the report says, compared with just 13 percent of community-college students.

Internal company documents examined by the investigation reveal that decisions to increase tuition at for-profit colleges were driven by profit goals rather than increasing costs of instruction. The educational interests of students rarely, if at all, figured into that decision making, the report says.

One of the most significant themes of the report is the role of marketing and recruiting at for-profit colleges. The investigation found that most for-profit companies devote more resources to attracting students than they do to instructing them.

In 2009 the education companies that the investigation studied spent $4.2-billion, or nearly 23 percent of their revenue, on “marketing, advertising, recruiting, and admissions staffing,” compared with $3.2-billion, or more than 17 percent of revenue, on instruction. During the same period, the companies’ pretax profit amounted to slightly less than 20 percent of their revenue.

Of the five most profitable for-profit education companies in 2009, four spent more on marketing per student than they did on instruction per student.

By the Numbers:

  • More than half of the 1.1 million students who in 2008-9 were enrolled in colleges owned by the examined companies had withdrawn by mid-2010.
  • In 2010 the for-profit colleges examined employed 35,202 recruiters, compared with 3,512 career-services staff and 12,452 support-services staff, which amounts to more than two recruiters for every student-service employee and 10 recruiters for every career-services staff member.
  • Colleges owned by a company that is traded on a major stock exchange had 2008-9 withdrawal rates nine percentage points higher than the privately held companies examined. Among the 15 publicly traded companies, 55 percent of students departed without a degree, compared with 46 percent of students at the 15 privately held companies.
  • In the 2009 fiscal year, the colleges examined spent:
    $4.2-billion (22.7 percent of all revenue) on marketing, advertising, recruiting, and admissions staffing.
    $3.6-billion (19.4 percent of all revenue) on profit.
    $3.2-billion (17.2 percent of all revenue) on instruction.
  • 96 percent of students at for-profit colleges take out student loans, compared with 13 percent of community-college students, 48 percent of students at four-year public colleges, and 57 percent of students at four-year private nonprofit colleges.


Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

+ Congressional Hearings

- Congressional Committee Prints

- 112th Congress (2011 – 2012)

S. Prt. 112-37, Volume 1 – FOR PROFIT HIGHER EDUCATION: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student…
July 30, 2012

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S. Prt. 112-37, Volume 2 – FOR PROFIT HIGHER EDUCATION: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student…
July 30, 2012

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S. Prt. 112-37, Volume 4 – FOR PROFIT HIGHER EDUCATION: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student…
July 30, 2012

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S. Prt. 112-37, Volume 3 – FOR PROFIT HIGHER EDUCATION: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student…
July 30, 2012

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+ 111th Congress (2009 – 2010)

+ 110th Congress (2007 – 2008)

+ 109th Congress (2005 – 2006)

+ 107th Congress (2001 – 2002)

+ Legislative Publications


Why the Harkin Report on For-Profit Colleges Really Matters

For-Profit Colleges Pay Executives Based On Profit, Not Student Success, Report Finds                                         

Memorandum to Democrats House Oversight Committee

Before signing-up for any course of study, people must investigate the claims of the institution of higher learning regarding graduation rates and placement after completion of the degree. The U.S. Department of Education has an accreditation database and you can always check with the department of education for your state. Back to College has a good explanation of College Accreditation: Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Teacher credentials: ‘Teacher Performance Assessment’

31 Jul

Because teacher training programs will be evaluated by the National Council on Teaching Quality, there is interest in examining how teachers are prepared. See, Building Better Teachers Amy Hetzner and Becky Vevea of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have written the article, How Best to Educate Future Teachers which is part of a series

Alverno College, the small women’s college on Milwaukee’s south side, has been widely cited as a national model for training teachers, thanks to its combination of clinical and classroom experience and use of video and other tools to evaluate whether graduates are meeting the standards for what makes a good teacher….

Key elements of an excellent teacher education program:

  • Strong content knowledge, teaching skills. Future teachers gain a solid grounding in the content to be taught as well as how to teach it.

  • Flexible methods. Emphasis is placed on teaching diverse learners – knowing how to differentiate teaching to reach a broad range of students.

  • Fieldwork. Coursework clearly is connected to fieldwork. The clinical experience, like in medical school, consists of intensive student-teaching, preferably for a semester or entire year, under the supervision of an experienced mentor.

  • Professional mentors. Mentors observe future teachers in the classroom – sometimes videotaping for later analysis – and work with them on everything from lesson-planning and creating assignments to monitoring student progress and grading.

  • Designated “learning schools.” Mentors and school sites for student-teaching are well-chosen. There are close relationships and a sense of joint responsibility among the school sites at which future teachers train, the local district and the teacher-education program.

  • Escalating teaching responsibilities. Future teachers gradually take over a full classroom, first teaching short segments on a single topic with a small group of students, then co-teaching with the mentor before assuming full responsibility for a class.

  • Feedback. Feedback from multiple sources (mentors, professors, peers) is routine.

  • Selective admission standards. Admission to the program is selective; not everyone has the necessary skills or demeanor to be an effective teacher.

Sources: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; faculty at Columbia University Teachers College, Stanford and Harvard Universities. Compiled by Justin Snider of The Hechinger Report

These are the elements that have made the graduates of Alverno College successful.

According to Al Baker’s New York Times article, To Sign Off on New Teachers, States Will Eye Their Work:

New York and up to 25 other states are moving toward changing the way they grant licenses to teachers, de-emphasizing tests and written essays in favor of a more demanding approach that requires aspiring teachers to prove themselves through lesson plans, homework assignments and videotaped instruction sessions.

The change is an attempt to ensure that those who become teachers not only know education theories, but also can show the ability to lead classrooms and handle students of differing abilities and needs, often amid limited resources.

It is also a reaction to a criticism of some teachers’ colleges, which have been accused of minting diplomas but failing to prepare teachers for the kind of real-world experience where creativity and flexibility can be the keys to success.

The new licensing standards will be required next year in Washington State and have been committed to in Minnesota. New York will impose the new standards starting in 2014 with the estimated 62,000 students expected to graduate with teaching degrees.

Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee are also moving toward mandating the new assessment in the coming years, and about 20 other states are testing it through pilot programs to determine if they will ultimately use it.

We don’t want to know if you can pass multiple-choice tests,” said Stephanie Wood-Garnett, an assistant commissioner in the New York State Education Department’s office of higher education. “We want to know if you can drive.”

Stanford University researchers have developed the “Teacher Performance Assessment.”:

Here is what the site says about “Teacher Performance Assessment” from Stanford researchers:

About the TPA

Authored and developed by a team of Stanford University researchers, with substantive advice from teacher educators, the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) is designed to be used as a portfolio-based assessment for pre-service teacher candidates. Supported by an initiative involving more than 25 states and more than 180 teacher preparation programs, as well as the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the TPA will be available nationally for states, institutions of higher education, and teacher candidates.

As a nationally available teacher performance assessment, the TPA:

  • Creates a body of evidence of teacher performance
  • Contributes evidence for licensure decisions (in combination with other measures)
  • Measures a candidate’s readiness for licensure
  • Provides a consistent measure across teacher preparation programs
  • Supports candidate learning and development of high leverage teaching practices
  • Measures candidates’ ability to differentiate instruction for diverse learners, including English language learners and special education students
  • Improves the information base for accreditation of teacher preparation programs

Learn More


Every child has a right to a good basic education. In order to ensure that every child has a good basic education, there must be a quality teacher in every classroom.


Linda Darling-Hammond on teacher evaluation

Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills

30 Jul

In Cultural literacy: Is there necessary core knowledge to be academically successful? Moi said:

Back in the day there was this book entitled “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know.” It was published in 1988 and was written by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Moi liked the concept, some others, not so much. “Cultural Literacy” is defined by Education. Com:

Having sufficient common knowledge, i.e., educational background, experiences, basic skills, and training, to function competently in a given society (the greater the level of comprehension of the given society’s habits, attitudes, history, etc., the higher the level of cultural literacy).

Marci Kanstroom wrote E.D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy and American Democracy which was published in Education Next liked the concept. Others, like Patrick Scott criticized the concept in articles like Scott’s A Few Words More about E. D. Hirsch and Cultural Literacy. Scott takes issue with Hirsch’s criticism of education icons Dewey and the NEA.

Bernard Schweitzer wrote an interesting 2009 piece for the NEA, Cultural Literacy: Is It Time to Revisit the Debate?

Some will say, “What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures, most of them dead White males? Our students are equipped with vibrant local cultural knowledges of their own.” Others will caution me not to expect too much from freshmen, saying that it is my job to ensure that they leave the academy armed with a degree of common knowledge that they may not have when entering it. Yet others may be more concerned, agreeing that while a basic fund of knowledge should be expected of freshmen, my students are perhaps performing so poorly on general knowledge issues because most of them come from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., poor inner-city high schools) and diverse ethnic backgrounds (e.g., immigrants). But here’s the rub. If undergraduate students have never heard of Gandhi, Orwell, or Thoreau (or have no reason to remember them), they obviously have such a huge gap in general knowledge that four years of college education are not likely to make up for what has been missing since middle school. Although I may strive diligently to fill those gaps, I realize that we no longer live in a culture that encourages and reinforces a shared knowledge basis with regard to history, geography, literature, and the sciences. But that does not mean that this kind of cultural literacy has ceased to be relevant. Indeed, I believe it is still alive and well, but that it is now cultivated only in a narrow circle of the privileged classes. The reason I don’t see much evidence of this shared knowledge in my own classroom is that I do not, as a rule, encounter the products of the country’s elite preparatory school systems. What I’m saying, then, is that the issue of cultural literacy is socio-economically coded.

Some will say, ‘What’s so wrong with being unable to pick up references to a few historical figures,most of them dead White males?’

The problem with the argument that cultural literacy is irrelevant is that it does actually matter to some. It matters to the upper-middle and upper classes, who hold the reins of wealth and power. Those families who can afford to send their children to top schools can be sure that their offspring are inculcated with precisely the kind of cultural fluency that some are trying to persuade us holds no importance in today’s diversified world. The more we argue the unimportance of cultural literacy among the general populace, the more we relegate the possession of this knowledge to the province of a socio-economic elite, thereby contributing to a hardening of social stratification and a lessening of social mobility. In the upper echelons of society, cultural literacy indicates belonging, and it signals the circulation of knowledge within tightly knit coteries.

Whether one wants to argue that certain cultures are not included or do not have a prominent enough place in the definition of cultural literacy, the real question is what is the baseline knowledge necessary to be upwardly mobile?

Sarah D. Sparks has an interesting Education Week article, Duz Txting Hurt Yr Kidz Gramr? Absolutely, a New Study Says:

Middle school students who frequently use “tech-speak”—omitting letters to shorten words and using homophone symbols, such as @ for “at” or 2nite for “tonight”—performed worse on a test of basic grammar, according to a new study in New Media & Society.

Drew P. Cingel, a doctoral candidate in media, technology, and society at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., conducted the experiment when he was an undergraduate with the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State University in University Park, Pa. under director S. Shyam Sundar. The researchers surveyed 228 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in central Pennsylvania on their daily habits, including the number of texts they sent and received, their attitudes about texting, and their other activities during the day, such as watching television or reading for pleasure. The researchers then assessed the students using 22 questions adapted from a 9th-grade grammar test to include only topics taught by 6th grade, including verb/noun agreement, use of correct tense, homophones, possessives, apostrophes, comma usage, punctuation, and capitalization.

Mr. Cingel, who published the study while at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Mr. Sundar found that the more often students sent text messages using text-speak (shortened words and homophones), the worse their grammar—a concern as 13- to 17-year-olds send more than twice the number of text messages each month than any other age group.

Moreover, the more often a student received text messages using tech-speak, the more likely he or she was to send messages using that language. There was no gender difference after accounting for the amount of texting each student did, though teenage girls have been found in other studies to send and receive nearly twice as many messages per month as boys do: 4,050 texts on average, compared with 2,539….

“People get creative in terms of trying to express a lot. The economy of expression forces us to take shortcuts with our expression. We know people are texting in a hurry, they are on mobile devices, and so they are making these compromises,” Mr. Sundar said. “It’s not surprising that grammar is taking a back seat in that context. What is worrisome is it somehow seems to transfer over to their offline grammar skills. They are not code-switching offline.”

In that way, students who use tech-speak differ from those who speak multiple languages; multilingual children have been found to switch back and forth easily among their languages in different contexts and may actually be more flexible in other ways of thinking. Tech-speak is similar enough to standard English that researchers believe it may bleed over into different contexts more easily….

Likewise, teachers can help their text-happy students shore up their grammar skills, Mr. Sundar said, both by making them more aware of their grammar usage and by assigning writing tasks that differ significantly from their typical texting topics. So, for example, writing an essay debating a current issue or writing a letter to the president might be more likely to trigger students to switch into using more formal language, and thus cement their grammar skills. As students become more adept in grammar, they can be encouraged to think about their grammar choices in texting more consciously, he said.

The study found some evidence to back this approach: Students who texted the most did not have more trouble with capitalization and punctuation, although text messages also often contain less of either. Mr. Sundar theorized that capitalization and punctuation may be more resistant to the degradation of texting because they are taught in earlier grades than other grammar rules and thus have had more time to take root in students’ language.


Texting, techspeak, and tweens: The relationship between text messaging and English grammar skills

  1. Drew P. Cingel
    1. Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA
  2. S. Shyam Sundar
    1. Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA and Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea

The perpetual use of mobile devices by adolescents has fueled a culture of text messaging, with abbreviations and grammatical shortcuts, thus raising the following question in the minds of parents and teachers: Does increased use of text messaging engender greater reliance on such ‘textual adaptations’ to the point of altering one’s sense of written grammar? A survey (N = 228) was conducted to test the association between text message usage of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students and their scores on an offline, age-appropriate grammar assessment test. Results show broad support for a general negative relationship between the use of techspeak in text messages and scores on a grammar assessment, with implications for Social Cognitive Theory and Low-Road/High-Road Theory of Transfer of Learning. These results indicate that adolescents may learn through observation in communication technologies, and that these learned adaptations may be transferred to standard English through Low-Road transfer of learning. Further mediation analyses suggest that not all forms of textual adaptation are related to grammar assessment score in the same way. ‘Word adaptations’ were found to be negatively related to grammar scores, while ‘structural adaptations’ were found to be non-significant.

In Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person, moi said:

There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the state of education in America. A lot of that dissatisfaction comes from the belief that the education system fails to actually educate children and to teach them critical thinking skills. The University of Maine at Augusta defines an educated person:

An educated person exhibits knowledge and wisdom; recognizes and respects the diversity of nature and society; demonstrates problem solving skills; engages in planning and managing practices; navigates the on-line world; writes and speaks well; acts with integrity; and appreciates the traditions of art, culture, and ideas. Developing these abilities is a life-long process.

Essential to this definition is the development of critical thinking skills.

It is early and the analysis is just beginning, but the real question is whether some technologies adversely affect critical thinking skills.


Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’

More research about the importance of reading

What parents need to know about ‘texting’        

The slow reading movement                         

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum                                        

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Wallace Foundation study: Leadership matters in student achievement

29 Jul

In New research: School principal effectiveness, moi said:

The number one reason why teachers leave the profession has to do with working conditions. A key influencer of the environment of a school and the working conditions is the school principal.

Gregory Branch, Eric Hanushek, and Steven Rivkin are reporting in the National Centerfor Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Educational Research report, Estimating Principal Effectiveness:

VI. Conclusion

An important facet of many school policy discussions is the role of strong leadership, particularly of principals. Leadership is viewed as especially important in revitalizing failing schools. This discussion is, however, largely uninformed by systematic analysis of principals and their impact on student outcomes….

The initial results suggest that principal movements parallel teacher movements. Specifically, principals are affected by the racial and achievement distribution of students in schools, and this enters into mobility patterns. Yet the common view that the best leave the most needy schools is not supported.

An important element of the role of principals is how they interact with teachers. Our on-going analysis links principals to measures of teacher effectiveness to understand how principals affect teacher outcomes.

See, Principals Matter: School Leaders Can Drive Student Learning

In lay person speak, what they are saying is that a strong principal is a strong leader for his or her particular school. A strong principal is particularly important in schools which face challenges. Now, we get into the manner in which strong principals interact with their staff – is it an art or is it a science? What makes a good principal can be discussed and probably depends upon the perspective of those giving an opinion, but Gary Hopkins of Education World summarizes the thoughts of some educators:

Top Ten Traits of School Leaders

Last month, 43 of the Education World Principal Files principals participated in a survey. The result of that survey is this list of the top ten traits of school leaders, presented in order of importance.

1. Has a stated vision for the school and a plan to achieve that vision.

2. Clearly states goals and expectations for students, staff, and parents.

3. Is visible — gets out of the office; is seen all over the school.

4. Is trustworthy and straight with students and staff.

5. Helps develop leadership skills in others.

6. Develops strong teachers; cultivates good teaching practice.

7. Shows that he or she is not in charge alone; involves others.

8. Has a sense of humor.

9. Is a role model for students and staff.

10. Offers meaningful kindnesses and kudos to staff and students.

These traits can be summarized that a strong principal is a leader with a vision for his or her school and who has the drive and the people skills to take his or her teachers and students to that vision.

Also see, Are rules which limit choice hampering principal effectiveness?

The Wallace Foundation has several reports about principal effectiveness. Here is the press release from the Wallace Foundation about the report, The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training:

Research Points to Five Essential Steps to Get Better Trained Principals in All Schools

June 26, 2012


Jessica Schwartz
The Wallace Foundation

Angie Cannon
The Hatcher Group

New Wallace Foundation “Perspective” is Second in Series about School Leadership

NEW YORK (June 26, 2012) – Strengthening university-based principal-preparation programs and boosting on-the-job training for new principals could help school districts develop more effective principals, according to a report released today by The Wallace Foundation.

The Making of the Principal: Five Key Lessons in Leadership Training distills insights from school leadership projects and major research studies supported by the foundation since 2000. The report notes that although notable progress has been made in revamping how principals are prepared for their jobs, much more remains to be done to improve university-based principal training programs – long criticized as weak and unselective – and to ensure that novice principals receive effective professional development.

“If we want to meet our goals for improving our public schools, we must strengthen the training programs that prepare our principals to lead,” said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership at Wallace. “Research shows that effective principals are essential to turning around troubled schools, and among in-school factors are second only to teaching in their influence on student achievement. Investing in their preparation and support is a cost-effective school improvement strategy.”

The report notes that over the past decade, more school districts have begun providing better mentoring and professional development to new principals. Districts have also pushed to raise the quality of “pre-service” principal training, while many states have tightened accreditation rules and adopted new standards to push universities and other training providers to improve.

Yet, the report notes that training offered at most of the 500-plus, university-based programs, where the majority of principals are trained, has failed to keep pace with the evolving role of principals as instructional leaders, that is, managers who focus on improving teaching and learning, not just administrative matters. Critics cite flaws including: nonselective admissions, curricula that fail to take into account the needs of districts and diverse student bodies; weak connections between theory and practice; faculty members with little or no experience as school leaders; and poorly designed internships.

The publication is the latest in a series of Wallace Perspectives, occasional reports that mine foundation-supported projects and research for insights to help solve difficult problems in education. The Making of the Principal draws on lessons from Wallace-supported scholarship by leading researchers (at institutions including the RAND Corporation, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Washington, the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto), as well as Wallace-funded projects in 24 states and numerous districts. The new Perspective concludes that five lessons could guide many more school districts as they devise ways to put strong principals in every school:

  • A more selective process for choosing candidates for training is the essen¬tial first step. Exemplary programs rigorously review candidates’ skills, experience and leadership dispositions. The best programs actively involve school districts in identifying, recruiting and screening candidates with the potential and desire to lead schools.
  • Aspiring principals need pre-service training that prepares them to lead improved instruction and school change, not just manage buildings. Exemplary programs offer curricula focused on improving instruction, coursework that applies theory to practice and well-designed internships.
  • Districts can and should do more to exercise their consumer power to raise the quality of principal training so that graduates better meet their needs. Training programs have a powerful incentive to improve when a district says it will only hire graduates of programs that meet its standards and needs.
  • States could make better use of their power to influence the quality of leadership training through standard-setting, program accreditation, principal certification and financial support for highly qualified candidates. In 2010, at least 23 states enacted 42 laws to support school leader initiatives, but states need to do more to build a pipeline of qualified school leaders.
  • New principals need high-quality mentoring and professional development tailored to individual and district needs. Since 2000, more than half of the states have enacted mentoring requirements, but it’s often merely a “buddy system,” with inadequately trained mentors.

A Perspective released earlier this year examined the five practices of highly effective principals. Subsequent reports in the Wallace series will focus on:

  • The district role in building a corps of effective principals that is big enough to improve teaching and learning district-wide.
  • The state role in improving school leadership.

This report and other materials can be downloaded for free from The Wallace Foundation’s Knowledge Center at


The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for children. The foundation maintains an online library of lessons at about what it has learned, including knowledge from its current efforts aimed at: strengthening educational leadership to improve student achievement; helping disadvantaged students gain more time for learning through summer learning and an extended school day and year; enhancing out-of-school time opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts.


The Making of the Principal: Five Lessons in Leadership Training

Published :

June 2012, 33 pages

Author(s) :

Lee Mitgang

Publishing Organization :

The Wallace Foundation

Topics :

School Leadership, Effective Principal Leadership, Principal Training


Related Research and Resources

How Leadership Influences Student Learning ›

A landmark study reviews existing literature to demonstrate the powerful influence of education leadership on student achievement.

Learn more ›

Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs – Final Report ›

A groundbreaking report provides case studies and practical guidelines to help district and state policymakers reinvent how principals are prepared for their jobs.

Learn more ›

Districts Developing Leaders: Lessons on Consumer Actions and Program Approaches from Eight Urban Districts ›

What happens when urban school districts set out to improve principal training by flexing their consumer muscle? This report finds out.

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See, Study: The problem with principal training and how to fix it

Schools must be relentless about the basics for their population of kids.   

What does it Mean to Be Relentless About the Basics:      

  1. Students acquire strong subject matter skills in reading, writing, and math.
  2. Students are assessed often to gauge where they are in acquiring basic skills.
  3. If there are deficiencies in acquiring skills, schools intervene as soon as a deficiency assessment is made.
  4. Schools intervene early in life challenges faced by students which prevent them from attending school and performing in school.
  5. Appropriate corrective assistance is provided by the school to overcome both academic and life challenges.   


The Performance Indicators for Effective Principal Leadership in Improving Student Achievement

Effective Schools: Managing the Recruitment, Development, and Retention of High-quality Teachers

What makes a great principal?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Colleges beginning to address student mental health issues

29 Jul

When parents are packing their children off to college, some are sending children to school who have some severe mental health and emotional issues. Trip Gabriel has an article in the New York Times which outlines the issues some students face while they are at college. In Mental Health Needs Growing At Colleges Gabriel reports:

Stony Brook is typical of American colleges and universities these days, where national surveys show that nearly half of the students who visit counseling centers are coping with serious mental illness, more than double the rate a decade ago. More students take psychiatric medication, and there are more emergencies requiring immediate action.

It’s so different from how people might stereotype the concept of college counseling, or back in the ’70s students coming in with existential crises: who am I?” said Dr. Hwang, whose staff of 29 includes psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and social workers. “Now they’re bringing in life stories involving extensive trauma, a history of serious mental illness, eating disorders, self-injury, alcohol and other drug use.”

Experts say the trend is partly linked to effective psychotropic drugs (Wellbutrin for depression, Adderall for attention disorder, Abilify for bipolar disorder) that have allowed students to attend college who otherwise might not have functioned in a campus setting.

There is also greater awareness of traumas scarcely recognized a generation ago and a willingness to seek help for those problems, including bulimia, self-cutting and childhood sexual abuse.

The need to help this troubled population has forced campus mental health centers — whose staffs, on average, have not grown in proportion to student enrollment in 15 years — to take extraordinary measures to make do. Some have hospital-style triage units to rank the acuity of students who cross their thresholds. Others have waiting lists for treatment — sometimes weeks long — and limit the number of therapy sessions.

Some centers have time only to “treat students for a crisis, bandaging them up and sending them out,” said Denise Hayes, the president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors and the director of counseling at the Claremont Colleges in California.

It’s very stressful for the counselors,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like why you got into college counseling.”

A recent survey by the American College Counseling Association found that a majority of students seek help for normal post-adolescent trouble like romantic heartbreak and identity crises. But 44 percent in counseling have severe psychological disorders, up from 16 percent in 2000, and 24 percent are on psychiatric medication, up from 17 percent a decade ago.

The most common disorders today: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, attention disorders, self-injury and eating disorders.

If a student has had prior problems, the student and family should have a plan for dealing with issues like depression or eating disorders while the student is at college. Often that might include therapy sessions with a counselor near the college. Often, students and families do not want to seek help because many feel there is a stigma to mental illness.

Stephen Cesar has written an informative Los Angeles Times article about a new program to reach students with problems. In UC reaching out to depressed students online, Cesar reports:

The anonymous online conversation began after the student revealed that he planned to kill himself.

“What should I do?” the sophomore asked a counselor at his Midwest college. “I figure you will probably tell me that killing myself is not a good idea, and I know that. But it does seem like a good option at the moment.”

The counselor hoped to persuade him to come in to see her, but first she had to build trust. They continued the discussion on the website, a tool used by the school to reach troubled students.

“It sounds as though you are very stressed and sometimes just having a safe ‘ear to bend’ is helpful?,” she wrote back.

It took more than a month, but eventually the student walked into the counseling center.

The online effort had worked.

In the fall, about 70 universities nationwide will have the service, including all 10 University of California undergraduate campuses. It is designed to bridge conversation between students who need help and those equipped to provide it.

Created by the New York City-based American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the program aims to identify troubled students anonymously through their responses to a voluntary survey they will receive a link to in an email that will be sent to everyone admitted to UC.

If survey answers raise red flags, a counselor will initiate contact and invite the student to continue communicating, still anonymously, via a dialogue on the website.

The goal is to have the student agree to a meeting. Studies suggest that about 80% of students who commit suicide had not sought services from counseling centers on their campuses, said Ann Haas, a project specialist for the foundation.,0,693193.story

The JED Foundation has some excellent resources for both parents and students dealing with mental health issues.

ULifeline has information about dealing with college mental health issues:

Complete a self-assessment to learn telling insights about your current state of mind…


Learn more about protecting your emotional health and what to do if you or a friend are struggling with mental health issues. Continue…

Check out the Half of Us campaign, a project with mtvU that includes videos of your favorite artists and other students sharing how they’ve coped with mental health issues. Continue…


Sign in or Find out more about joining ULifeline

Parents must recognize the signs of distress and get help for their child. If you are a student in distress, get help because there are many different therapies to get you back on track.


College Students Exhibiting More Severe Mental Illness, Study Finds

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain


Mental Health Issues In Student Advising

How to Handle Holiday Stress

Resources for Parents & Students

Trauma Resources

Evaluation Resources

Mental Health Screening Tools

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Are waivers to ‘No Child Left Behind’ providing accountability

28 Jul

All Politics is Local.

Thomas P. O’Neill

Moi would like to modify that quote a bit to all education is local and occurs at the neighborhood school. We really should not be imposing a straight jacket on education by using a one-size-fits-all approach. Every school, in fact, every classroom is its own little microclimate. We should be looking at strategies which work with a given population of children.

A Healthy Child In A Healthy Family Who Attends A Healthy School In A Healthy Neighborhood. ©

Motoko Rich writes in the New York Times article, States With Education Waivers Offer Varied Goals:

A report being issued on Friday by the liberal Center for American Progress shows that while some states have proposed reforms aimed at spurring schools and teachers to improve student performance, others may be introducing weaker measures of accountability.

The increased flexibility of the waivers means that some states will experiment and move ahead,” said Jeremy Ayers, associate director of federal education programs at the organization, “while others may backtrack.”

The No Child Left Behind law has been up for reauthorization since 2007, but so far Congress has failed to pass a new version. The Obama administration has granted waivers to 32 states and the District of Columbia, freeing them from some of the most burdensome provisions of the law, including the requirement that all students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

The waivers allow states to select from a menu of new goals. According to the center’s report, eight states have chosen to cut in half the percentage of students not testing at grade level in reading or math within six years, while one state, Arizona, said it would make all its students proficient by 2020. The majority of states chose to set their own goals.

In reviewing those states’ waiver applications, the report’s authors wrote that it was difficult to discern if those states “meet the high bar” of setting rigorous targets.

The report also found that many states had not outlined how they would hold schools responsible for actually meeting their goals…. 

In reviewing the state waiver applications, the center found that 14 states plan to use growth in student test scores for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

Teachers unions and state education officials have fought over how much weight to accord to student test scores. In New York, the two sides battled for more than two years before settling on a system earlier this year that would base 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on student achievement measures.

Given the controversy, education advocates fear that the new teacher evaluation systems could be pushed too quickly.

If there is too much sloppy implementation,” said Amy Wilkins, vice president of the Education Trust, a research and advocacy group that supports using test scores as part of a teacher’s rating, “it will lose credibility and it will be very hard to get back that credibility.”

The Center for American Progress also reviewed how often states would identify their lowest performing schools. Very few states committed to reviewing the lowest 5 percent of schools every year, and the vast majority of the states did not specify how frequently they would do so….

See, States Granted NCLB Waivers Offer Varying Goals For Helping Education Reform, According To Report

The Center for American Progress analyzed “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) waivers in the report, No Child Left Behind Waivers: Promising Ideas from Second Round Applications:

Ours is not an exhaustive or comprehensive analysis. The Department of Education has already reviewed applications in detail and made judgments on the merits of each. We took a qualitative look across all applications to see what states are doing and to bring attention to interesting or innovative ideas. A few findings
emerged from this review:
• Most states have changed and would change their policies and practices significantly from those under No Child Left Behind. Change has come as a result of various motivations and has led to some improvements and deliberate shifts in policy, several of which are captured by the waiver applications.
• The waiver process itself did not appear to stimulate new innovations aside from accountability, but was an opportunity to articulate a new vision for reform. A number of changes in each state are already underway and in various stages of implementation, but the application process prodded states to articulate a comprehensive plan for improving education.
• States have proposed interesting and promising ideas in each principle area. Some states are pushing new ideas, many of which are promising or innovative, by ensuring all students graduate college and career ready, developing differentiated accountability systems, and improving teacher and leader effectiveness.
• Very few states proposed detailed plans for reducing duplication and unnecessary administrative burden on districts and schools. The goal of the federal flexibility package is to offer needed relief to states; states could benefit from doing the same for their districts and schools.
• Very few states detailed how they would use their 21st Century Community Learning Center funding to increase learning time. About half the states rejected the opportunity for additional federal funding to lengthen the school day, week, or year and those that indicated that they would accept the funding offered little detail on how they would utilize the extra dollars.
• States are using various sources of funding to implement their plans. States do not receive new money under the waivers. As a result states demonstrated a willingness to pursue new reform without additional funding.
In the pages that follow, we outline themes across state applications in the major priorities laid out by the Department of Education—college- and career-ready standards, differentiated accountability systems, and supporting effective instruction and leadership. The fourth principle, reducing duplication and burden,
received scant attention in state applications, and as such is not covered in detail in this report. Our report concludes with recommendations for states and the Department of Education, summarized below.
1. States should be treated as laboratories of reform that set the stage for eventual reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Both successes and failures of waiver reforms can and should inform how the act is reauthorized.
2. The Department of Education should ask for, and states should offer, more detail on aspects of state plans. We call on states to provide better, clearer information on how they will ensure students have equitable access to effective teachers; how their school rating system is linked to their annual goals; how they will ensure districts and schools engage in comprehensive approaches to school turnaround; how they will increase learning time; and how they will reduce duplication and administrative burden on districts and schools.
3. The Department of Education should establish a clearinghouse to document and share tools, strategies, and lessons of implementation. In this way states and districts can learn from the successes and challenges faced and overcome by other states and districts.
4. States should learn from other states, either by joining consortia or replicating successful practices. States should consider forming partnerships or consortia with other states to build infrastructure as a group, as opposed to taking on an entire reform alone.
5. The Department of Education should increase its staffing and capacity to oversee and enforce implementation of waiver plans. The sheer variety and complexity of state plans, compared to No Child Left Behind, means the department will need to build capacity to ensure states turn their plans into reality.
6. States should implement their plans as part of a coherent strategy—with clear goals, mid-course corrections, and consequences for failure to make progress. Any of the innovations discussed in this report will fade quickly if they are not implemented with fidelity and persistence as part of a coherent approach to improving the K-12 education system.

No Child Left Behind Waivers: Promising Ideas from Second Round Applications
Jeremy Ayers and Isabel Owen July 2012
with Glenda Partee and Theodora Chan

NCLB was an attempt to introduce accountability in education using a top down approach of federal mandate on what has traditionally been a local subject, management of schools.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line
Russian mystic & novelist (1828 – 1910)

So it is with schools. There are certain elements that successful schools share. The Wisconsin Department of Education has a good guide about successful schools.  Chapter One, Characteristics of Successful Schools , lists key elements:

Chapter 1 describes the seven characteristics that comprise a successful school. Briefly, they are:

Vision: having a common understanding of goals, principles and expectations for everyone in the learning-community

Leadership: having a group of individuals dedicated to helping the learning-community reach its vision

High Academic Standards: describing what students need to know and be able to do

Standards of the Heart: helping all within the learning community become caring, contributing, productive, and responsible citizens

Family School and Community Partnerships: “making room at the table” for a child’s first and most influential teachers

Professional Development: providing consistent, meaningful opportunities for adults in the school setting to engage in continuous learning

Evidence of Success: collecting and analyzing data about students, programs, and staff

Like, unhappy families, failing schools are probably failing in their own way. Waivers are really just returning local control back to schools. It seems everything old becomes new once again, although a relentless focus on the basics never went out of style. As the Center for American Progress argues in the conclusion to No Child Left Behind Waivers: Promising Ideas from Second Round Applications, it is incumbent to make sure that states granted waivers are monitored to ensure there is accountability to make sure children in failing schools do not fall through the cracks.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Study: Teacher merit pay works in some situations

27 Jul

Teacher compensation is a hot education topic. The role of evaluations in compensation, merit pay, pay based upon credentials and higher pay for specialty areas are all hot topics and hot button issues. The Center for American Progress has a report by Frank Adamson and Linda Darling Hammond. In the report, Speaking of Salaries: What It Will Take to Get Qualified, Effective Teachers In All Communities  Adamson and Darling- Hammond write:

As Education Trust President Kati Haycock has noted, the usual statistics about teacher credentials, as shocking as they are, actually understate the degree of the problem in the most impacted schools:

The fact that only 25% of the teachers in a school are uncertified doesn’t mean that the other 75% are fine. More often, they are either brand new, assigned to teach out of field, or low-performers on the licensure exam … there are, in other words, significant numbers of schools that are essentially dumping grounds for unqualified teachers – just as they are dumping grounds for the children they serve….

Download this report (pdf)

Download the executive summary (pdf)

Melanie Smollin has an excellent post at Take Part, Five Reasons Why Teacher Turnover Is On The Rise Marguerite Roza and Sarah Yatsko from the University of Washington’s Centeron Reinventing Education have an interesting February 2010 policy brief.

In Beyond Teacher Reassignments: Better Ways School Districts Can Remedy Salary Inequities Across Schools Districts Roza and Yatsko report:

This brief addresses this concern by demonstrating that districts would NOT need to mandatorily reassign teachers. It shows that there are other ways to restructure allocations that do not systematically shortchange the neediest schools. Discussed here are four options that districts could pursue to remedy school spending inequities created by uneven salaries:

  • Option 1: Apply teacher salary bonuses to some schools to balance salaries

  • Option 2: Vary class size across schools to level spending

  • Option 3: Concentrate specialist and support staff in schools with lower-salaried teachers

  • Option 4: Equalize per-pupil dollar allocations

Download Full Report (PDF: 736 K)

Of all the issues about teacher compensation, one of the hottest is “merit pay.”

Dylan Matthews writes in the Washington Post article, Does teacher merit pay work? A new study says yes:

There’s very good evidence that teacher quality matters a lot in terms of student performance in school and success later on in life. The economist Raj Chetty of Harvard, for example, has found that students randomly placed with more experienced kindergarten teachers not only perform better on tests but earn more and save more for retirement as adults, are likelier to go to college, and go to better colleges than their peers with less experienced teachers. Eric Hanushek of Stanford estimates that a good teacher – defined as at the 84th percentile, or one standard deviation above the mean for you stats nerds – provides students with test scores associated with an increase of between $22,000 and $46,000 in lifetime earnings.

Findings like these lead some to favor “merit pay” regimes that include student test scores as a determinant of teachers’ salaries. This has met opposition from teachers’ unions and testing skeptics, who argue that it would result in teaching-to-the-test at the expense of actual learning. For a long time, the data has been mixed on merit pay. Two studies from Mathematica Policy Research in 2010 that found little benefit, while a study in Nashville found mild benefits for fifth graders but none for other students.

That has changed with the publication of a new paper (pdf) by Harvard’s Roland Fryer, the University of Chicago’s Steven Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) and John List, and UC San Diego’s Sally Sadoff. The authors went into nine K-8 schools in Chicago Heights, a city 30 miles south of Chicago, and randomly selected teachers (who had to consent, which 93.75 percent did) to take part in a merit pay scheme. The students affected were overwhelmingly low-income, with 98 percent receiving free or subsidized lunches. Teachers in the experiment were offered $80 per percentile improvement in student test scores, for a maximum reward of $8,000, compared to a typical teacher salary of $50,000.

The authors split teachers in the study into a control group, who were not offered any rewards, a “gain” group, which was promised rewards of up to $8,000 at the end of the school year, and a “loss” group, which was given $4,000 upfront and asked to pay back any rewards they did not earn. The idea behind the latter group was that loss aversion should motivate teachers to perform better than they would if they only stood to gain more money. Additionally, the gain and loss groups were split, with a “team” group being rewarded on the basis of theirs and fellow teachers’ test scores, and the “individual” group being reward only on the basis of their own scores. The conclusion: it worked, and it worked almost twice as well when the money was given at the start and then taken away….

One might ask why “merit pay’ seemed to work in the situation studied?

Jordan Weissmann writes a provocative analysis of the study in the Atlantic article, A Very Mean (But Maybe Brilliant) Way to Pay Teachers:

But Levitt, Fryer and Co. argue that there’s a serious problem with merit pay. So far, they say, there’s been scant evidence that it actually works. Studies of teacher incentive programs in Tennessee and New York City failed to find any signs that they improved student learning. In the New York experiment, which Harvard’s Fryer conducted, the impact may have even been detrimental. 

Enter loss aversion. The authors theorized that instead of offering a lump-sum bonus to teachers come summertime, it might be more effective to give instructors money upfront, then warn them that they would have to pay it back if their students didn’t hit the proper benchmarks. Rather than tap into teachers’ ambition, they’d tap into their anxiety.

To test their idea, the authors designed an experiment for the 2010-2011 school year involving 150 K-8 teachers from Chicago Heights, a low-income community in Illinois. The instructors were randomly assigned to a control group or one of two main bunches, which I’ll shorthand as the “winners” and the “losers.” The winners agreed to work under a traditional year-end bonus structure, where they could make up to $8,000 extra based on their students’ standardized test scores. The losers were given $4,000 off the bat and informed that if their students’ turned in below-average results, they’d have to pay a portion of it back commensurate with just how poor their scores were. On the flip side, an above-average performance could earn them additional bonus money, up to the full $8,000. 

The authors then divided the winners and losers again so that some teachers would be rewarded based on their results as a group, and others would be rewarded based on their results as individuals. 

Come vacation time, the losers had won. In math, paying teachers a year-end bonus had no statistically significant effect. When teachers had money to lose, though, their students over performed. The impact was large — the equivalent of improving a teacher’s skills by one full standard deviation — and the pattern held whether teachers were compensated as a group or as individuals. The authors’ data on reading scores turned out to be shakier, since most students ultimately had more than one instructor working with them on language skills, but it indicated a similar trend. 

In short, they found that merit pay can work. You just have to be tricky, and a little bit mean, with how you implement it….


Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment*

Roland G. Fryer, Jr.

Harvard University

Steven D. Levitt

The University of Chicago

John List

The University of Chicago

Sally Sadoff

University of California San Diego


Domestic attempts to use financial incentives for teachers to increase student achievement have been ineffective. In this paper, we demonstrate that exploiting the power of loss aversion—teachers are paid in advance and asked to give back the money if their students do not improve sufficiently—increases math test scores between 0.201 (0.076) and 0.398 (0.129) standard deviations. This is equivalent to increasing teacher

quality by more than one standard deviation. A second treatment arm, identical to the loss aversion treatment but implemented in the standard fashion, yields smaller and statistically insignificant results. This suggests it is loss aversion, rather than other features of the design or population sampled, that leads to the stark differences between our findings and past research. 

What the various studies seem to point out is there is no one remedy which works in all situations and that there must be a menu of education options.


A Lively Debate Over Teacher Salaries               

Are Teachers Overpaid?                                      

Some Teachers Skeptical of Merit Pay         


Washington D.C. rolls out merit pay        

Report from The Compensation Technical Working Group: Teacher compensation in Washington         

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Portfolio school districts

25 Jul

The Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice has a great introduction piece to “portfolio districts.” In the 2010 Executive Summary of Urban School Decentralization and the Growth of “Portfolio Districts” Kenneth J. Saltman of DePaul University writes:

The premise of the portfolio strategy is that if superintendents build portfolios of schools that encompass a variety of educational approaches offered by different vendors, then over time school districts will weed out under-performing approaches and vendors; as a result, more children will have more opportunities for academic success. This brief examines the available evidence for the viability of this premise and the proposals that flow from it.

The portfolio district approach merges four strategies:

1) decentralization; 2) charter school expansion; 3) reconstituting/closing “failing” schools; and 4) test-based accountability. Additionally, portfolio district restructuring often involves firing an underperforming school’s staff in its entirety, whether or not the school is reconstituted as a charter school. In this model, the portfolio district is conceptualized as a circuit of “continuous improvement.” Schools are assessed based on test scores; if their scores are low, they are subject to being closed and reopened as charters. The replacement charters are subsequently subject to test-based assessment and, if scores remain disappointing, to possible closure and replacement by still other contractors…. This perspective considers public schools to be comparable to private enterprise, with competition a key element to success. Just as businesses that cannot turn sufficient profit, schools that cannot produce test scores higher than competitors’ must be “allowed” to “go out of business.” The appeal of the portfolio district strategy is that it appears to offer an approach sufficiently radical to address longstanding and intractable problems in public schools Although the strategy is being advocated by some policy centers, implemented by some large urban districts, and promoted by the education reforms proposed as part of the Obama administrations Race to the Top initiative, no peer-reviewed studies of portfolio districts exist, meaning that no reliable empirical evidence about portfolio effects is available that supports either the implementation or rejection of the portfolio district reform model. Nor is such evidence likely to be forthcoming. Even advocates acknowledge the enormous difficulty of designing credible empirical studies to determine how the portfolio approach affects student achievement and other outcomes…. Moreover, even when the constituent elements are considered as a way to predict the likely success of the model, no evidence is found to suggest that it will produce gains in either achievement or fiscal efficiency.

Finally, the policy writing of supporters of the portfolio model suggests that the approach is expensive to implement and may have negative effects on student achievement. In light of these considerations, it is recommended that policymakers and administrators use caution in considering the portfolio district approach. It is also highly recommended that before adopting such a strategy, decision makers ask the following questions.

 What credible evidence do we have, or can we obtain, that suggests the portfolio model offers advantages compared to other reform models?

What would those advantages be, when might they be expected to materialize, and how might they be documented?

 If constituent elements of the model (such as charter schools and test-based accountability) have not produced advantages outside of portfolio systems, what is the rationale for expecting improved outcomes as part of a portfolio system?

 What funding will be needed for startup, and where will it come from?

 What funding will be necessary for maintenance of the model?

Where will continuation funds come from if startup funds expire and are not renewed?

 How will the cost/benefit ratio of the model be determined?

 What potential political and social conflicts seem possible? How will concerns of dissenting constituents be addressed?

Answering the questions posed by the report are particularly important in the analysis.

Christina A. Samuels  has written an interesting Education Week article, Job Roles Shifting for Districts’ Central Offices:

The Center for Reinventing Public Education, based at the University of Washington Bothell, has long tracked the progress of portfolio districts. It counts 26 school systems as members of its “portfolio district network,” including New York City, Los Angeles, the District of Columbia, Baltimore, and the Recovery School District in Louisiana.

Among the many central-office positions that need to change in a portfolio district is that of the chief academic officer, said Paul T. Hill, the center’s founder. Central-office administrators generally offer “a standardized approach, coaching, and professional development. But as much as possible, that needs to be put into the schools” in a portfolio-model district, he said. “At the extreme end, the chief academic officer can become a broker or a tender of the supply of options for schools. The district is not the default provider of anything.”

From Mr. Hill’s point of view, school administrators need flexibility not just in their schools, but freedom from mandates from the top in order to design programs, hire teachers, buy materials and technology, choose vendors, and own or lease their own property. Central offices can keep longitudinal data on students, assess schools based on student performance, distribute money to schools, recruit teachers to the district, and manage an enrollment process for the schools that do not use neighborhood boundaries, he said.

But this change, though easy to describe, is not always easy to implement, he added—in part because of concerns from central-office administrators about loosening the reins of power.

Feather O’Connor Houstoun writes in the Governingarticle, A Portfolio of Schools:

Portfolio management turns conventional school-district administration inside out by drawing all publicly funded schools into similar position relative to the governing administration. In its theoretical form, a portfolio school district no longer focuses primarily on management of district-run schools, with charters as a sideline operated largely outside of district oversight. Good schools—charters or district-run—are encouraged to expand; poorly-performing schools—charters or district-run—are closed or reconstituted under new management.

The unit of performance is the individual school, whether chartered or district-run. The evaluation is transparent and equivalent in standards. District-run schools operate with increasing autonomy, similar to charters. Parents are helped to make school choices for their children using a menu that lays out facts about their choices.

There are formidable challenges to putting this approach into operation. As Paul Hill comments in his recent report on four portfolio school districts, “Rebuilding a school district on the portfolio model involves challenges of many kinds: technical, organizational and political.”

Long-simmering resentment among public-school advocates toward charters that have drawn funding and students from both public and parochial schools may make collaboration difficult, particularly if the shrinking districts have had little opportunity to shed the costs of underutilized schools.

Meanwhile, charters, which believe they are offering safe havens and choices for parents, bridle at the suggestion that their expansion should be constrained to accommodate broader school-district concerns about funding, underutilized buildings and the complexity of change in big bureaucracies. They often have political and family support that challenges the validity of evidence of poor performance.

The Gates Foundation has begun to provide financial incentives for urban districts and their charter counterparts to sign “district-charter collaboration compacts.” These agreements are aimed at providing a framework for decision-making that can overcome what Vicki Phillips, a former Pennsylvania secretary of education and now Gates Foundation director of education, describes as “contentious and persistent tensions.” Greater levels of support from the foundation appear to be on the horizon, and in some communities other philanthropic efforts are aligning around these partnerships.

Both charter operators and public officials and administrators accustomed to working within the boundaries of those things they directly control may find the portfolio approach unsettling. Charter operators, for example, are agreeing to be judged by uniform standards and to relinquish some of the control they have over the destiny of their individual schools.

Houstoun agrees with Saltman that the strategy is difficult to implement.


Portfolio Strategy

A growing number of urban districts are pursuing the portfolio strategy and profoundly changing the role of the school district and its relationship to schools.

The portfolio strategy aims to dramatically increase student achievement by continuous improvement. The strategy, built around 7 key components, creates diverse options for families in disadvantaged neighborhoods by opening new high-performing, autonomous schools; giving all schools control of budgeting and hiring; and holding schools accountable to common performance standards.

New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver, Hartford, and Baltimore are among more than 25 districts pursuing a portfolio strategy of continuous improvement.

CRPE’s portfolio work includes:

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

CDC report: Contraceptive use among teens

24 Jul

In No one is perfect: People sometimes fail, moi said:

There are no perfect people, no one has a perfect life and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction manuals, which give specific instructions about how to relate to that particular child. Further, for many situations there is no one and only way to resolve a problem. What people can do is learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Craig Playstead has assembled a top ten list of mistakes made by parents and they should be used as a starting point in thinking about your parenting style and your family’s dynamic. Still, parents must talk to their children about life risks.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)has published a study about the sexual activity of children.

Here is the press release for the CDC report, Sexual Experience and Contraceptive Use Among Female Teens — United States, 1995, 2002, and 2006–2010:

Sexual Experience and Contraceptive Use Among Female Teens — United States, 1995, 2002, and 2006–2010


May 4, 2012 / 61(17);297-301

The 2010 U.S. teen birth rate of 34.3 births per 1,000 females reflected a 44% decline from 1990 (1). Despite this trend, U.S. teen birth rates remain higher than rates in other developed countries; approximately 368,000 births occurred among teens aged 15–19 years in 2010, and marked racial/ethnic disparities persist (1,2). To describe trends in sexual experience and use of contraceptive methods among females aged 15–19 years, CDC analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth collected for 1995, 2002, and 2006–2010 (3). During 2006–2010, 57% of females aged 15–19 years had never had sex (defined as vaginal intercourse), an increase from 49% in 1995. Younger teens (aged 15–17 years) were more likely not to have had sex (73%) than older teens (36%); the proportion of teens who had never had sex did not differ by race/ethnicity. Approximately 60% of sexually experienced teens reported current use of highly effective contraceptive methods (e.g., intrauterine device [IUD] or hormonal methods), an increase from 47% in 1995. However, use of highly effective methods varied by race/ethnicity, with higher rates observed for non-Hispanic whites (66%) than non-Hispanic black (46%) and Hispanic teens (54%). Addressing the complex issue of teen childbearing requires a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health that includes continued promotion of delayed sexual debut and increased use of highly effective contraception among sexually experienced teens.

Nationally representative data on females aged 15–19 years were obtained from three survey cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG): 1995, 2002, and 2006–2010. NSFG is an in-person, household survey conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics using a stratified, multistage probability sample of females and males aged 15–44 years. The response rate for females was 76%. Survey topics included self-reported sexual activity and contraceptive use (4). Respondents who answered “yes” to ever having vaginal intercourse were considered sexually experienced.

Respondents who were pregnant, postpartum, seeking pregnancy, or who had not had sex during the interview month were excluded from analyses on contraceptives used during the interview month. The remaining respondents were classified as currently using contraception (specifying up to four methods) or not currently using contraception. Current contraceptive users were classified further by their most effective method used (according to typical use effectiveness estimates for pregnancy prevention) (3), based on the following hierarchy: 1) users of highly effective methods, including respondents who used long-acting reversible contraception (i.e., intrauterine device [IUD] or implant), pill, patch, ring, or injectable contraception (with or without dual use of condoms), or who were sterilized or had a partner who was sterilized (both were rare for teens); 2) users of moderately effective methods, including respondents who used condoms alone; and 3) users of less effective methods, including respondents who used withdrawal, periodic abstinence, rhythm method, emergency contraception, diaphragm, female condom, foam, jelly, cervical cap, sponge, suppository, or insert.

Weighted least squares regression was used to assess the significance of trends in abstinence and contraceptive use over time. Differences in bivariate proportions between racial/ethnic and age subgroups were assessed using a standard two-tailed t-test without adjustment for multiple comparisons. Comparisons are statistically significant at p<0.05. All analyses were conducted using data management and statistical software to account for the complex sample design of the NSFG.

During 2006–2010, more than half (56.7%) of female teens had never had sex (Table), reflecting a 16% increase relative to the 1995 estimate of 48.9%. The proportion of teens who had never had sex did not differ significantly across racial/ethnic groups* (whites = 57.6%, blacks = 53.6%, Hispanics = 56.2%) (Table). Although the proportion of teens who had never had sex increased for all racial/ethnic groups from 1995 to 2006–2010, this increase was greatest for blacks (34% increase) and Hispanics (29% increase) compared with whites (15% increase). During 2006–2010, 72.9% of females aged 15–17 years had never had sex, compared with 36.5% of females aged 18–19 years.

During 2006–2010, among female teens who had sex during the interview month, but who were not pregnant, postpartum, or seeking pregnancy, 59.8% used a highly effective contraceptive method during the interview month (12.0% used a highly effective method with a condom and 47.8% used a highly effective method without a condom), 16.3% used a moderately effective method (i.e., condoms alone), 6.1% used a less effective method, and 17.9% did not use any contraception (Figure). A trend toward increasing use of highly effective methods was noted from 1995 to 2006–2010. Estimates for 2006–2010 reflect a relative 26% increase in use of highly effective methods, 43% decrease for moderately effective methods, 27% increase for less effective methods, and 7% decrease for no method use compared with 1995.

During 2006–2010, white teens (65.7%) reported a higher prevalence of highly effective method use than black teens (46.5%) and Hispanic teens (53.7%) (Figure). Nonuse of any contraceptive method was significantly higher among blacks (25.6%) and Hispanics (23.7%) compared with whites (14.6%). Among whites, the use of highly effective methods increased from 48.9% in 1995 to 65.7% in 2006–2010 (34% relative increase). Smaller increases were observed for Hispanics (19% relative increase) and blacks (4% relative increase). Method nonuse among whites decreased from 18.1% in 1995 to 14.6% in 2006–2010 (19% decline); however, rates increased among blacks from 21.4% in 1995 to 25.6% in 2006–2010 (20% increase). For females aged 15–17 years, the use of highly effective methods increased from 46.0% during 1995 to 56.5% during 2006–2010 (23% increase). For females aged 18–19 years, the use of highly effective methods increased from 48.4% during 1995 to 61.8% during 2006–2010 (28% increase). Rates of nonuse among younger teens declined from 23.9% to 19.5% (19% decline) but remained relatively stable for older teens at 16.3% in 1995 and 16.9% during 2006–2010.

Reported by

Crystal Pirtle Tyler, PhD, Lee Warner, PhD, Joan Marie Kraft, PhD, Alison Spitz, MPH, Lorrie Gavin, PhD, Violanda Grigorescu, MD, Carla White, MPH, Wanda Barfield, MD, Div of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. Corresponding contributor:Crystal Pirtle Tyler,, 770-488-5200.

Editorial Note

In 2010, the U.S. teen birth rate declined to the lowest level in seven decades of reporting and reached record lows for teens of all racial/ethnic and age groups (1). Declines since 1995 likely reflect significant increases in the proportion of female teens who were abstinent, and among sexually experienced female teens, increases in the proportion using highly effective contraception (5).

The proportion of female teens who never have had sex is now comparable across racial/ethnic groups, largely because of proportionately larger increases in delayed sexual debut observed since 1995 among black teens and Hispanic teens compared with white teens. Disparities persist, however, in the use of highly effective methods of contraception. Use of these methods remains highest among white teens, and increases over time have occurred at a greater rate among whites compared with blacks and Hispanics.

Achieving the HealthyPeople 2020 objective† of reducing teen pregnancy by 10% will require a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health that includes continued promotion of delayed sexual debut and increased use of highly effective contraception among sexually experienced teens. Condoms, the method used by many teens, can provide effective protection against unintended pregnancy when used consistently and correctly; however, during 2006–2010, only about half (49%) of female teens who used a condom for contraception reported consistent use in the past month (6). Dual use of condoms with a highly effective method of contraception can provide pregnancy protection with the added benefit of preventing sexually transmitted infections, including infection with human immunodeficiency virus, which affects teens disproportionately. Given that hormonal contraception and IUDs can be obtained only from a health-care provider, yearly reproductive health visits for teens who are sexually experienced or contemplating sexual activity can facilitate discussions about the advantages of delaying sexual debut, access to contraception, and the subsequent reduction of teen pregnancy (7,8).

An analysis of data from CDC’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System on female teens who had delivered a live infant within 2–6 months and reported that their pregnancy was unintended found that half were not using contraception when they got pregnant (9). Ways to reduce barriers to decrease teen pregnancy include encouraging teens to delay sexual debut, offering teens convenient practice hours, culturally competent and confidential counseling and services, and low-cost or free services and methods.

The findings in this report are subject to at least three limitations. First, estimates of contraceptive use are self-reported; however, NSFG was designed specifically to minimize potential sources of response error (4). Second, current use of a contraceptive method during the interview month does not necessarily reflect sustained use over time. Finally, data were not available to examine current sexual activity or contraceptive use among female teens aged <15 years, who accounted for 4,500 births in 2010 (1).

Several actions can be taken to reduce teen pregnancy further. Schools and community- based organizations can 1) provide evidence-based sexual and reproductive health education,§ 2) support parents’ efforts to speak with their children about advantages of delaying sexual debut and of delaying pregnancy, and 3) connect teens to health-care providers for reproductive health services. Health-care providers should be informed that no contraceptive method is contraindicated for teens solely on the basis of age (10) and encouraged to promote highly effective contraception, preferably with the dual use of condoms. Teen pregnancy might be reduced further if health-care professionals provide culturally competent, evidence-based sexual and reproductive health counseling on the importance of correct and consistent use of contraception, and offer an array of contraceptive methods to teens who have had sex or are about to initiate sexual activity.


Gladys M. Martinez, PhD, Stephanie J. Ventura, MA, Joyce C. Abma, PhD, Div of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics; John M. Douglas, Jr, MD, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC.


  1. Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. Births: preliminary data for 2010. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2011;60(2).
  2. United Nations. Demographic yearbook 2009. New York, NY: United Nations; 2010. Available at Web Site Icon. Accessed February 28, 2012.
  3. Trussell J. Contraceptive failure in the United States. Contraception 2011;83:397–404.
  4. Groves RM, Mosher WD, Lepkowski J, Kirgis NG. Planning and development of he continuous National Survey of Family Growth. Vital Health Stat 2009;1(48).
  5. Santelli JS, Lindberg LD, Finer LB, Singh S. Explaining recent declines in adolescent pregnancy in the United States: the contribution of abstinence and improved contraceptive use. Am J Public Health 2007;97:150–6.
  6. Martinez G, Copen CE, Abma JC. Teenagers in the United States: sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital Health Stat 2011;23(31).
  7. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Committee on Adolescent Health. The initial reproductive health visit. Committee opinion no. 460. Obstet Gynecol 2010;116:240–3.
  8. Hagan JF, Shaw JS, Duncan PM. Bright futures: guidelines for health supervision of infants, children and adolescents. 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2008.
  9. CDC. Prepregnancy contraceptive use among teens with unintended pregnancies resulting in live births—Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), 2004–2008. MMWR 2012;61:25–9.
  10. CDC. U.S. medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use, 2010. MMWR 2010;59(No. RR-4).

* Persons identified as Hispanic might be of any race; persons in all other racial/ethnic categories are non-Hispanic.

Objective FP-8, available at Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon.

§ The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends comprehensive risk reduction interventions. Additional information is available at Web Site Icon

For a good summary of the report, More teens using condoms over past two decades

In Talking to kids about sex, early and often, moi said: 

The blog discussed the impact of careless, uninformed, and/or reckless sex in the post, A baby changes everything: Helping parents finish school Let’s continue the discussion. Some folks may be great friends, homies, girlfriends, and dudes, but they make lousy parents. Could be they are at a point in their life where they are too selfish to think of anyone other than themselves, they could be busy with school, work, or whatever. No matter the reason, they are not ready and should not be parents. Birth control methods are not 100% effective, but the available options are 100% ineffective in people who are sexually active and not using birth control. So, if you are sexually active and you have not paid a visit to Planned Parenthood or some other agency, then you are not only irresponsible, you are Eeeevil. Why do I say that? You are playing “Russian Roulette” with the life of another human being, the child. You should not ever put yourself in the position of bringing a child into the world that you are unprepared to parent, emotionally, financially, and with a commitment of time. So, if you find yourself in a what do I do moment and are pregnant, you should consider adoption. Before reaching that fork in the road of what to do about an unplanned pregnancy, parents must talk to their children about sex and they must explain their values to their children. They must explain why they have those values as well.


Study: Girls as young as six think of themselves as sex objects

Study: Low-income populations and marriage

Title IX also mandates access to education for pregnant students

Teaching kids that babies are not delivered by UPS             

Talking to your teen about risky behaviors      

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Important Harvard report about U.S. student achievement ranking

23 Jul

More and more, individuals with gravitas are opining about the American education system for reasons ranging from national security to economic competitiveness. In Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein report about American Education, moi wrote:

The Council on Foreign Relations has issued the report, U.S. Education Reform and National Security. The chairs for the report are Joel I. Klein, News Corporation and Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University. Moi opined about the state of education in U.S. education failure: Running out of excuses Education tends to be populated by idealists and dreamers who are true believers and who think of what is possible. Otherwise, why would one look at children in second grade and think one of those children could win the Nobel Prize or be president? Maybe, that is why education as a discipline is so prone to fads and the constant quest for the “Holy Grail” or the next, next magic bullet. There is no one answer, there is what works for a particular population of kids.


U.S. Education Reform and National Security

Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date March 2012

Price $15.00

108 pages
ISBN 978-0-87609-520-1
Task Force Report No. 68


Joy Resmovits of Huffington Post,Schools Report: Failing To Prepare Students Hurts National Security, Prosperity Now, there is another report, “Is the United States Catching Up? International and state trends in student achievement,” will be released by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG).  Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann conducted the study, which is available at  An article based on the report will appear in the Fall issue of Education Next and is available online at

Here is the press release for Achievement Growth: International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance:


Paul E. Peterson (617) 495-8312 Harvard University
Eric A. Hanushek Stanford University
Ludger Woessmann University of Munich
Janice B. Riddell  (203) 912-8675 External Relations, Education Next

Student Achievement Gains in U.S. Fail to Close International Achievement Gap

U.S. ranks 25th out of 49 countries in student test-score gains over 14-year period, report 3 scholars at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Munich

CAMBRIDGE, MA – A new study of international and U.S. state trends in student achievement growth shows that the United States is squarely in the middle of a group of 49 nations in 4th and 8th grade test score gains in math, reading, and science over the period 1995-2009.

Students in three countries – Latvia, Chile, and Brazil – are improving at a rate of 4 percent of a standard deviation annually, roughly two years’ worth of learning or nearly three times that of the United States.  Students in another eight countries – Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia, and Lithuania – are making gains at twice the rate of U.S. students.

The report, “Is the United States Catching Up? International and state trends in student achievement,” will be released by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG).  Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann conducted the study, which is available at  An article based on the report will appear in the Fall issue of Education Next and is available online at

Compared to gains made by students in other countries, “progress within the United States is middling, not stellar,” notes Peterson, Harvard professor and PEPG director, with 24 countries trailing the U.S. rate of improvement and another 24 that appear to be improving at a faster rate.  While U.S. students’ performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests improved in absolute terms between 1995 and 2011, U.S. progress was not sufficiently rapid to allow it to catch up with the leaders of the industrialized world.

Rates of improvement varied among states.  Maryland had the steepest achievement growth trend, followed by Florida, Delaware, and Massachusetts.  Between 1992 and 2011, these states posted growth rates of 3.1 to 3.3 percent of a standard deviation annually, well over a full year’s worth of learning during the time period. The U.S. average of 1.6 standard deviations was about half that of the top states.

The other six states among the top ten improvers were Louisiana, South Carolina, New Jersey, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Virginia.  States with the largest gains are improving at two to three times the rate of states with the smallest gains – such as Iowa, Maine, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

The study raises questions about education goal setting in the United States, which “has often been utopian rather than realistic,” according to Eric Hanushek, who cites the 1990 Governors’ goal calling for the U.S. to be “first in the world in math and science by 2000” as an example.  More realistic expectations would call for states to move closer to annual growth rates of the most-improving states.  These gains would, over a 15-20 year period, “bring the United States within the range of the world’s leaders.”

Other findings include:

  • States in which students improved the most overall were also the states that had the largest percent reduction in students with very low achievement.
  • Southern states, which began to adopt education reform measures in the 1990s, outpaced Midwestern states, where school reform made little headway until very recently.  Five of the top 10 states were in the South and no southern states were in the bottom 18.
  • No significant correlation was found between increased spending on education and test score gains.  For example, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey posted large gains in student performance after boosting spending, but New York, Wyoming, and West Virginia had only marginal test-score gains to show from increased expenditures.

International results are based on 28 administrations of comparable math, science, and reading tests over the period 1995-2009.  The authors adjusted both the mean and the standard deviation of each international test, allowing them to estimate trends on the international tests on a common scale normed to the 2000 NAEP tests.  Student performance on 36 administrations of math, reading, and science tests in 41 U.S. states was examined over a 19-year period (1992-2011), allowing for a comparison of these states with each other.  For more information on the study and its methodology, please see an unabridged version of the report, which are available at and at

About the Authors

Eric A. Hanushek is senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Paul E. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard and director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance.  Ludger Woessmann is head of the Department of Human Capital and Innovation at the Ifo Institute at the University of Munich.  The authors are available for interviews.

About Education Next

Education Next is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution that is committed to looking at hard facts about school reform.  Other sponsoring institutions are the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, part of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.

For more information on the Program on Education Policy and Governance contact Antonio Wendland at 617-495-7976,, or visit


Achievement Growth:

International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance

by Eric A. HanushekPaul E. Peterson Ludger Woessmann

See, U.S. Students Still Lag Behind Foreign Peers, Schools Make Little Progress In Improving Achievement

Here is a portion of the concluding remarks from page 21:

The failure of the United States to close the international test-score gap, despite assiduous public assertions that every effort would be undertaken to produce that objective, raises questions about the nation’s overall reform strategy. Education goal setting in the United States has often been utopian rather than realistic. In 1990, the president and the nation’s governors announced the goal that all American students should graduate from high school, but two decades later only 75 percent of 9th-graders received their diploma within four years after entering high school. In 2002, Congress passed a law that declared that all students in all grades shall be proficient in math, reading, and science by 2014, but in 2012 most observers found that goal utterly beyond reach. Currently, the U.S. Department of Education has committed itself to ensuring that all students shall be college or career ready as they cross the stage on their high-school graduation day, another overly ambitious goal.

Perhaps the most unrealistic goal was that of the governors in 1990 when they called for the United States to achieve number-one ranking in the world in math and science by 2000. As this study shows, the United States is neither first nor is it catching up.

Consider a more realistic set of objectives for education policymakers, one that comes from our experience. If all U.S. states could increase their performance at the same rate as the highest-growth states—Maryland, Florida, Delaware, and Massachusetts—the U.S. improvement rate would be lifted by 1.5 percentage points of a std. dev. annually above the current trend line. Since student performance can improve at that rate in some countries and in some states, then, in principle, such gains can be made more generally. Those gains might seem small, but when viewed over two decades they accumulate to 30 percent of a std. dev., enough to bring the United States within the range of the world’s leaders—unless, of course, they, too, continue to improve.

Such progress need not come at the expense of either the lowest-performing or the highest-performing students. In most states, a rising tide lifted all boats. Only in a few instances did the tide rise while leaving a disproportionate number stuck at the bottom, and most, if not all of the time, the high flyers moved ahead as well.

The increased rate of poverty has profound implications if this society believes that ALL children have the right to a good basic education. Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Because children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. There is a lot of economic stress in the country now because of unemployment and underemployment. Children feel the stress of their parents and they worry about how stable their family and living situation is.

Teachers and schools have been made TOTALLY responsible for the education outcome of the children, many of whom come to school not ready to learn and who reside in families that for a variety of reasons cannot support their education. All children are capable of learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not serve all children well. Different populations of children will require different strategies and some children will require remedial help, early intervention, and family support to achieve their education goals.


Report from Center for American Progress report: Kids say school is too easy                                    

Complete College America report: The failure of remediation

Book: Inequality in America affects education outcome

What exactly are the education practices of top-performing nations?                             

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©