Education Week - May 15, 2013 - (Page 22)

22 EDUCATION WEEK n MAY 15, 2013 LETTERS to the EDITOR Reader Questions ‘Progressive’ Commentary To the Editor: David Bernstein is correct that progressives need to offer a positive school improvement agenda (“It’s Time to Mainstream Progressive Education,” April 3, 2013). Unfortunately, he fails to recognize that many sound initiatives already exist. At the same time, his Commentary offers some questionable ideas. The harm to educational quality and equity caused by the No Child Left Behind Act and its progeny must be exposed by the progressive movement. That damage is what inspires growing numbers of teachers, parents, and students to resist high-stakes testing and school closings. To turn the tide, this burgeoning movement must critique destructive policy and propose educationally sound programs. There’s no lack of good proposals. The problem is that powerful forces don’t want to hear them. A perfect example is Mr. Bernstein’s description of The Washington Post attacking Joshua Starr’s opposition to testing overkill while simultaneously ignoring his n excellent ideas. Mr. Bernstein’s suggestion of working with business groups sounds reasonable. But why, after the evidence shows that nclb has failed by its own primary measuring stick, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, do the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and similar groups remain wedded to highstakes testing? If they remain impervious to evidence, what would it take for them to change? Mr. Bernstein is silent on that crucial point. The Forum on Educational Accountability, or fea, which I chair, has presented a positive agenda since its 2004 joint organizational statement on No Child Left Behind. Strong ideas have come from many sources, including unions, civil rights groups, religious organizations, researchers, and advocates. The fea has proposals for overhauling nclb accountability, testing, improvement, and turnarounds. We also make the case for adequate funding and equitable opportunity to learn. A “robust movement” is emerging as we speak. Its growth and success will require far stronger strategizing than Mr. Bernstein provides. Monty Neill Executive Director FairTest Boston, Mass. The author has chaired the Forum on Educational Accountability since its formation in 2003. Article Overstated Efficacy-Study Costs To the Editor: I read with great interest your coverage of producteffectiveness research, in “Big-Name Companies Feature Larger-Impact Research Efforts” (Industry and Innovation Special Report, April 24, 2013). It is clear that school buyers of educational innovations and funders of those efforts will increasingly demand evidence of efficacy. As with any other product or service, buyers want “proof” before buying. I do, however, take issue with the contention in the article that “serious efficacy studies can start as high as $150,000.” While some studies cost six figures, the vast majority of efficacy research conducted is well under $100,000. A technically sound efficacy study that can pass muster in the scientific community can be executed for far less than the article suggests. Scott Elliot President SEG Measurement New Hope, Pa. of A Nation at Risk, illustrates that the state of educational assessment is pretty much irrelevant drivel, as there seems to be no information indicating how many individual students made significant gains. Averages don’t tell us much because not everyone is included—for example, the large number of urban dropouts and those manipulated into not taking the test if they are low scorers. Until we learn that kids blossom at different rates and develop a system that does not punish them into oblivion if they aren’t the same at the same moment in time, we will always fail. Add to that the artificial nature of tests, both standardized and in the classroom, and we have a continuing pattern of failure. It’s not when kids learn that is important, it’s that they learn—be it faster, on the norm, or slower. They are not robots, and it is immoral to fail kids because they don’t learn fast enough to suit our elitist backsides. Teachers, the unions, administrators, and advocates of standardized nonsense are all missing the boat. When will we ever learn? It’s Not a Failure When Students Learn Differently To the Editor: The Commentary feature “Where Are We Now?” (April 24, 2013), with its compilation of data marking the 30th anniversary EMPOWER your organization with a group online subscription. Cap Lee Burnsville, N.C. The writer is a retired teacher and principal. Indiana High Court Missteps on Vouchers To the Editor: Regarding “Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Voucher Law” (News in Brief, April 3, 2013): In upholding the Republicansponsored school voucher plan, the Indiana Supreme Court sanctioned the state’s doing indirectly what Article I, Section 6 of the state constitution says may not be done directly—divert funds from the treasury to benefit “any religious or theological institution.” Had the legislature had the decency to propose an appropriate amendment to the state constitution, to allow voters to say yea or nay, the voucher plan would not have survived a popular vote, just as state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, a voucher supporter, failed to survive UNLIMITED ONLINE ACCESS TO THE PULSE OF K-12 EDUCATION The Group Effect 24/7 access to breaking news and analysis Digital editions of every issue in print 30+ years of searchable archives Annual reports for benchmarking school quality and graduation rates BENEFITS ORGANIZATION-WIDE IP or User Access Plans Anywhere Mobile Access Easy User Administration Reduced Cost Per User - Up to 90% savings BEGIN WITH A FREE 14 DAY, NO-RISK TRIAL! Visit or contact Jen Bagley at his bid for re-election last November. The ruling was hardly a good lesson in ethics for Hoosier children. Edd Doerr President Americans for Religious Liberty Silver Spring, Md. The writer previously taught in public schools in Indiana. Parents Should Trade Gaming for Reading Time To the Editor: Almost every household in America has a video-game system. Middle school children who can’t read are allowed to play unlimited sessions on their game systems. Even our high achievers are losing ground. The problem isn’t the games; it’s the way we parent. We let kids play as long as they like, and then we nag them about it. The game system causes tension and fights, and all the while kids aren’t reading. I say let children decide how much or how long they want to play the video games. Make a deal with them. For every half-hour they read, they get to play the games for an hour. If they want to bank the hours and they read for two hours, then they have four hours of gaming time earned. You have just turned your $300 game system into an investment, and there will be no more bickering because it is entirely up to the child. I would consider myself an expert on middle school boys, as I have worked with this population for 25 years, and I am the father of two boys. Throughout my career, I noticed less and less reading at home, and as an educator it concerned me. It wasn’t until I became a father that I identified an issue. I implement this video-gameto-reading investment program with all the boys I educate, and I usually see 20-point growth on our state’s reading tests, when typical growth for the year is 3 to 5 points. Michael Sibert Cross-Categorical Teacher Community Consolidated School District 62 Des Plaines, Ill. n Rick Hess returns from COMMENTARY ONLINE n In Education a blogging sabbatical with strong words on a range of topics that have been bothering him. Week Teacher, Laura Thomas n Follow Commentary on says educators Facebook. have less to fear from the common- edweekcomm core standards than they think; readers respond in force. n Follow Commentary on Twitter. @EdweekComm

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 15, 2013

Education Week - May 15, 2013
Standards Supporters Firing Back
FOCUS ON: SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS: Wanted: Schools Chiefs for Big-Name Districts
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: E-Rate Programs Seen as Too Lean for a Digital Era
SCIENCE IN PRACTICE: Capacity Issues Confront Implementation Of Standards
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Bar for Teacher Exams Set Low In All States, Federal Data Show
Mobile Apps Aim to Deepen Lessons From Field Trips
Studies Link Early Spatial Skills To Math Achievement
Blogs of the Week
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: MOOCs Provider Targets Teacher Education
SCIENCE IN PRACTICE: Informal Sector Seen as Ally in Science Initiative
Head Start Centers Feel Sequestration Pain
Arizona ELL Battle Carries On, Despite Ruling
Policy Brief
Impact Mulled on Waivers, Grants
LISA MADIGAN & JOHN SUTHERS: Moving Beyond Punishment: Treatment Is Key to Keeping Schools Safe
SARA MARTINEZ TUCKER: We Must Create Opportunities for STEM Learning
JENNIFER JENNINGS: An Apology To Secretary Duncan
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
RONALD J. BONNSTETTER & BILL J. BONNSTETTER: We Need a New Approach to Principal Selection

Education Week - May 15, 2013