Education Week - January 9, 2013 - (Page 30)

30 EDUCATION WEEK n JANUARY 9, 2013 n LETTERS to the EDITOR Businesses Can Help Schools and Principals To the Editor: A recent article, “Training Programs Connect Principals to District Realities” (Dec. 5, 2012), outlines the ways that university education schools and districts are working together to provide principals with on-thejob training. This collaboration is one way to ensure that principals receive ongoing professional development throughout their careers. Yet there are still more resources that we can use, and we must pursue them all to ensure that we’re doing everything that we can for our students. A growing and robust field of research confirms that school leadership is absolutely critical to schools’ and students’ success. Despite its importance, we know that many principals still lack the training and skills necessary to effectively lead. Principals have proved themselves as impassioned educators, but they haven’t necessarily acquired the knowledge to effectively navigate multimilliondollar budgets, motivate their staffs, and coordinate other management and operational issues—all while directing student learning. In addition to the valuable on-the-job principal training being provided by university education schools and school districts, business can play a meaningful role in principal training by applying core leadership experience in our schools and equipping principals with knowledge and skills to plan strategically, organize professional development for teachers and administrators, and build strong school communities that ultimately produce better student outcomes. We see this every day at the organization I work for, PENCIL, where we have paired hundreds of school and business leaders in customized, yearlong partnerships to address school needs. We’ve seen data that show that principals are more comfortable implementing effective new policies and procedures and in their role as leaders. In fact, we have seen that after principals receive this kind of training, teachers are more likely to rate them as better managers. School leadership is too critical to ignore, and we should find more ways to provide the resources that principals need to become effective managers. Business has an abundance of human resources and intellectual capital that can benefit our schools. And there is no end to the number of passionate and talented leaders from the business community who are happy to share their knowledge and experience with their counterparts in public education. Michael Haberman President PENCIL New York, N.Y. despite the $1.7 billion annual price tag, the cost is really quite low because it is about “a quarter of 1 percent” of the total K-12 education spending, and the dollar cost per pupil is on average $65. These figures imply that nclb testing is a relatively inexpensive assessment. But highstakes testing is not an assessment. It is an intervention. The first two sections of nclb state that the purpose of annual testing is not to inform teachers about student progress, but to raise test scores, and to reduce the majorityminority gap in achievement-test scores. High-stakes testing is an intervention. We should measure costs across all the years it has been in use and see whether it has achieved its aims. States have been obligated to test in 3rd through 8th grade every year since 2006. If we assume constant annual costs, then the high-stakes intervention so far has cost $11.9 billion (7 x $1.7b), certainly not a trivial amount. Moreover, scores on “the nation’s report card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress, are essentially flat over that period, showing little gain over time in either 4th grade or 8th grade reading or mathematics. In addition, the majority-minority gap in achievement-test scores remains at about 88 percent of what it was at the outset of the intervention. In other words, we have had a great dollar cost ($11.9 billion), to say nothing about other costs (curriculum narrowing, cheating, etc.), and practically zero benefit from the intervention. When do we hold accountability accountable? Murray Levine Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus (Psychology) State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, N.Y. Teacher preparation, when done right, is the most important aspect of our children’s education and learning. Sue Sava Director Teacher Preparation Program Stanley British Primary School Denver, Colo. Lack of Resources Hampers Rural Grant Applications To the Editor: Save the Children, through its work in poor, rural communities, knows the obstacles small, rural school districts face. Through a process dubbed the Rural Empowerment Model, we connect rural districts with national partners and provide intensive support to “empower” them to win competitive grants and run quality programs. We worked with the Roane County, W.Va., school system, a district of 2,300 students in rural Appalachia, to submit an application for a federal Race to the Top-District grant. Through the Rural Empowerment Model, Roane has a strategic plan to reform its educational practices and the internal capacity to write other grant proposals. Unfortunately, very few small, rural school districts made the cut—and Roane was not among them (“Race to the Top District Winners Announced,” District Dossier,, Dec. 11, 2012). The rtt-d competition has brought the challenges preventing small, rural districts from competing for and winning these grants into sharp relief. First, rtt-d finalists pointed to an evidence base that supports their program models. Applicants like Roane County that have not had the opportunity to pilot their models need seed money to build evidence in order to compete with applicants that are already scaling proven models. Second, Roane County does not have a pool of highly skilled candidates ready to assume the specialized jobs needed for innovative reform. Applicants in proximity to university graduates and other qualified talent would have a clear edge. Finally, small, rural school districts are isolated by their nature, so even if they achieve change, the ability to export and scale up that change to other districts is less certain. It is reasonable that a reviewer would favor an application with a clear path for scalability, something present with a consortia or largedistrict application. To level the playing field, rural districts should participate against their peers in separate competitions for funding. Children deserve an equal chance to receive innovative approaches to their education regardless of their zip codes. Andrew Hysell Associate Vice President Policy and Advocacy Save the Children Washington, D.C. the bill was tied to insulating the schools from racially charged controversies over community control. The results have been devastating. Today, black and Latino students attend Stuyvesant High School and others requiring shsat scores at levels far below those of other racial groups. In 2010-11, out of a total enrollment of 3,288 students, Stuyvesant had only 40 black students (1 percent) and 94 Latino students (3 percent; none with limited English proficiency). While more than 12,000 black and Latino students took the shsat last year, only 5 percent of black test-takers and 6.7 percent of Latino test-takers were offered admission to any of the eight specialized high schools. Nationally, no other elite high schools are known to use a single test for admission. Neither do any selective colleges or universities assess merit in this way. Use of the shsat perpetuates a political moment long since past. It creates an artificial barrier to thorough decisionmaking, has a discriminatory impact on admissions, promotes racial isolation, and flies in the face of everything we know and otherwise practice about measuring academic merit. Who would rely on this outmoded system, with this result, today, if it weren’t for this 1971 law? David Bloomfield Professor of Educational Leadership, Law, and Policy City University of New York Brooklyn, N.Y. The writer is an unpaid adviser to the naacp Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which filed a complaint with the ocr related to New York City’s specialized high school admissions test. Interning Helps Improve Teacher-Retention Rates To the Editor: We couldn’t agree more with the article “Student-Teacher Mentoring Targeted” (Dec. 5, 2012). The Stanley Teacher Preparation Program—which was one of the first alternative-licensing programs in Colorado— has been pairing novice “intern” teachers with mentor teachers since 1991. Interns teach full time alongside carefully selected, skilled mentors for a full school year. Mentors gradually release responsibility to their interns, recognizing that the same process applies to adult learners as applies to children: modeling, guided and shared practice, and the eventual goal of independence. The long-term outcome for these teachers is impressive. Whereas the widely reported national norm suggests that 50 percent of new teachers have left the profession after five years, a recent survey conducted on our interns who graduated five years ago shows that approximately 80 percent are still pursuing careers in education. Teachers who are prepared with a careful, gradual release of responsibility have efficacy and are more likely to persevere in the face of challenges in the early years of their careers. As a result of their high-quality training, teacher interns leave the Stanley Teacher Prep Program with a powerful mindset that generates stamina, optimism, and resilience. We believe the success that our graduates have experienced in the classroom is due in large part to the mentoring they receive through our residency and apprenticeship model. Selecting highly qualified teachers to mentor novice teachers entering the profession allows us to create inquiry-based reflection on instruction, developing professional learning communities that stimulate and enrich both the interns and mentor teachers. Our children are direct and obvious benefactors of this reflective approach to teaching and learning. More, Diverse Teachers Needed For Special Education To the Editor: Across the country, every state is facing special educator shortages. This job is a critical-need area. Not only does this career offer flexibility and a good salary, it also provides opportunities for committed and talented educators to profoundly impact the lives of students with disabilities and their families. Men and individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse groups are in particular demand as teachers in the field of special education. Changing demographics now require teachers to be prepared to work with students and families who are culturally and linguistically diverse. The demographics are expected to continue to change, with schools serving increasing numbers of diverse students over the next decade. The diversity of special educators needs to reflect the diversity of their students. Applicants to teacher-preparation programs should consider those programs that recognize the importance of addressing cultural and linguistic diversity, both in the field and in the preparation program. Programs should expose students to campuswide diversity initiatives, provide attention and sensitivity to cultural and linguistic diversity, and ensure that a focus on diversity is woven throughout the coursework, assignments, and class projects. Candidates should have student-teaching opportunities and clinical experiences in a variety of settings, both rural and urban, to allow them to master culturally responsive instructional strategies before being assigned to their own classrooms. Special education is a challenging and rewarding career that makes a difference in the lives of students with disabilities. Lisa Ownby Recruiter, School of Education The College of William and Mary Williamsburg, Va. N.Y.C. School Admissions Test Seen as Discriminatory To the Editor: Regarding the short news item “Bias Complaint Targets N.Y.C. Admission Exam” (Oct. 3, 2012), the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights has now initiated an investigation into the discriminatory impact of the Specialized High School Admissions Test, or shsat, stemming from a 1971 state law requiring that rigidly rank-ordered scores from a single test determine admission to the city’s most elite schools. According to New York University professor Floyd Hammack, contemporary support for No Child Left Behind Testing Is An Expensive Intervention To the Editor: The article “Standardized Testing Costs States $1.7 Billion a Year, Study Says” (, Nov. 29, 2012) summarizes Matthew M. Chingos’ report, issued by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, on the state costs of the No Child Left Behind Act-required achievement testing. Chingos’ report uses the term “assessments.” He emphasizes that

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 9, 2013

Education Week - January 9, 2013
State Lawmakers Gear for Action On Broad K-12 Issues Menu
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Teachers Seek Specialized Peer Networks
Shootings Revive Debates on Security
Student-Press Ruling Resonates From 1988
News in Brief
Report Roundup
FOCUS ON: INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE: IB Supporters Tout Program’s Links With Common Core
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Federal Effort Aims to Bridge Ed. Tech., Learning Sciences
U.S. Students Exceed International Average, But Lag Some Asian Nations in Math, Science
New Global Results Spark Questions On Finland’s Standing
Head Start Gains Found to Fade By 3rd Grade in Latest Study
Testing Group Selects Exam to Gauge ‘College Readiness’
State Chiefs Pledge Teacher Prep, Licensing Upgrades
Blogs of the Week
Post-Tragedy, Difficult Choices Loom
At Sandy Hook, Grim Day Unfolds
Legal, Logistical Concerns Seen In Call to Arm Adults
Tragedy Sets Off Fresh Debate Over Federal Gun-Policy Role
Advocates Worry Shootings Will Deepen Autism’s Stigma
K-12 Aid Outlook Murky, Despite ‘Cliff’ Deal
District Race to Top Winners Split $400 Million Pot
Policy Brief
Top State Ed. Positions Turn Over as Year Ends
CAROLYN LUNSFORD MEARS: After the Tragedy, What Next?
DAVID YOUNG & J.B. BUXTON: Language Education We Can Use
W. JAMES POPHAM: Formative Assessment’s ‘Advocatable Moment’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JEFFREY R. HENIG: Reading the Future of Education Policy

Education Week - January 9, 2013