Education Week - October 11, 2017 - 1
VOL. 37, NO. 8 * OCTOBER 11, 2017
AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2017 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 5
BRE AKING NEWS DAILY
Education Secretary Engages
In Fierce Messaging Battle
Tamika Moore for Education Week
By Alyson Klein
IsaBella Johnson, 5, makes the base of a pirate ship during her free choice activity time at Pleasant Grove Elementary School in Heflin, Ala. Entry
assessments for kindergartners helped the school adjust instruction, including the incorporation of more time for play and developing social skills.
Kindergarten Assessments Start to Bear Fruit
By Christina A. Samuels
In the not-too-distant past, the kindergarten
classrooms at Pleasant Grove Elementary in
Heflin, Ala., looked much the same as classrooms for older children.
Desks were arranged in rows. Children
worked on worksheets. "There wasn't a lot of
differentiation in your instruction," said Kristi
Moore, a kindergarten teacher at the school, located halfway between Birmingham, Ala., and
Atlanta. "Most of all your children were taught
the same way."
But in recent years, the school has tried
to shift instruction in a way that they say
works better for young children. And they
credit the use of a comprehensive method
of evaluating kindergarten students, called
kindergarten entry assessment, as one of
the tools that allowed them to do that.
Kindergarten entry assessments, which some
states call "kindergarten readiness assessments"
or "kindergarten entry inventories," are intended
to guide a teacher's instructional practice. They
may include direct assessment of children's
skills, teacher observations, or both. They're in-
tended to give teachers a well-rounded picture
of the whole child, including his or her academic,
social, and physical development.
While these assessments are becoming more
widespread-boosted by federal support during the Obama administration-they're offering
mixed results for teachers and for school districts.
Supporters say they're useful in supporting
all elements of a child's development during
their important early school days.
Others have criticized the assessments as
an additional burden that doesn't let teachers
Rachel Denny Clow/Caller-Times/AP
By Stephen Sawchuk
States Skip Out on
Measures for ESSA
By Evie Blad
Does The Cat in the Hat
Sustain Racist Stereotypes?
A recent spat over Dr. Seuss' place in the children's-literature canon has highlighted an uncomfortable truism about
the books that children experience in their earliest school
days: Some of the most classic and beloved titles, from The
Wizard of Oz on down, draw on racist tropes and images.
The Oompa-Loompas in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory, at least in its original version, were depicted as African pygmies who were happy to be working
for cocoa beans at said chocolate factory. The eponymous
Cat in the Hat, a new scholarly book argues, draws from
the antics and costumes of minstrel shows.
This topic entered the mainstream again late last
month, when first lady Melania Trump sent 10 Dr.
Seuss books to a school in each state. In a response
posted online, a librarian in Cambridge, Mass., Liz
Phipps Soeiro, said she would not keep them, calling
Late last month, U.S. Secretary of
Education Betsy DeVos gave a highprofile speech at Harvard University
on school choice-her number-one
policy priority. But afterward, all anyone could seem to talk about were the
protestors yelling, "This is what white
supremacy looks like!"
The problem for DeVos-arguably the
best-known and most controversial secretary in the department's 30-plus-year
history-is that her public appearances
also provide a platform for her harshest critics, even months after her rocky
confirmation process made her a socialmedia sensation.
And often, their message drowns out
hers. The turmoil that surrounds DeVos
challenges her ability to leverage her
position as the nation's top education
official and to push an already divisive agenda, including creating a new
voucher program and revamping Title IX
guidance as it relates to sexual assault.
The protests "don't bother me," DeVos
said in a recent interview with Education Week. She still sees the bully pulpit as one of her best bets for drawing
attention to the schools she thinks are
providing the kind of individualized in-
REFUGE: Teacher Toni Martinez welcomes Kinsey Friebele, 8, to Little Bay Primary in
Rockport, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey displaced Kinsey from her home school. PAGE 6
When the Every Student Succeeds
Act was enacted, speculation swirled
that states might use it as a launching pad to use measures of students'
social and emotional competencies to
determine whether their schools are
Nearly two years later, not a single
state's plan to comply with the federal
education law-and its broader vision
for judging school performance-calls
for inclusion of such measures in its
school accountability system.
That raises some new questions: Did
backers of social-emotional learning
miss a chance to encourage wider adoption of its strategies? Or did they avoid
the concerns and pitfalls that may have
come with attaching it to high-stakes
Schools that adopt social-emotional
learning seek to nurture students' dePAGE 9>