Does class size matter? I have to admit that I’m on the unpopular side of this discussion but I’m slowly changing my mind. There have been plenty of studies that show small class size does not have a measurable effect on student achievement. A teacher that is ineffective will be ineffective with a large group or a small group of students. A teacher that is effective will be effective with a large group or a small group of students. This seems counter intuitive to many because people often look for smaller class size is seen as a measure of quality. However, there has been some recent research that seems to be countering the established research. For example, UCLA’s Dr. Ouchi has research supporting the positive effects of a lower Total Student Load (TSL). Education experts disagree on importance of school class size – The Denver Post highlights the disagreement. I’m willing to consider that class size has an impact but I think that the most important thing is having educators using effective pedagogy. Absent effective instruction, nothing else matters. Thoughts?
U.S. School Districts Can Enter ‘Race to Top’ Competition – NYTimes.com. I’m interested to see how this turns out. In my opinion, Duncan is not a friend to California. My understanding is that LAUSD is planning on applying for this. Will we get it? If history is an indicator probably not. This will make the third time California will apply for RTT. If you count the lead that LAUSD took in the last application you could say that this will be the second time that LAUSD is applying. Friendly reminder to Duncan: you asked us to apply last time because California had decided to pass. What did we get? Zero.
Manage “Human Capital” Strategically published by PDK describes the importance and steps for providing the best educators for students. The article is helpful in highlighting some specific strategies that are needed to help recruit and keep the best educators. One of the critical issues raised is maintaining high expectations for all students.
The dual accountability measures in California have always been a confusing idea since NCLB. As a broad overview, CA schools currently are measured by the state using one set of criteria “API” and by the Feds “AYP”. API, generally, measures growth while AYP compares school scores to benchmarks set by the state in response to NCLB. Confusing? Yes. So, it’s good that the state recognizes that it needs to streamline the dual accountability measures into one. However, as long as Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education, I don’t hold out much hope that California will get any leeway. Duncan has shown time and again his willingness to through Race to the Top to pretend that he’s interested in working with California only to deny it in the end. I think of him as Lucy holding the football while Charlie Brown (CA) runs to kick it.
California may seek a waiver from No Child Left Behind law — on its own terms. Why would we even try? Time and again Duncan has excluded California from almost every major initiative like Race to the Top? What would make Brown or anyone else think Duncan would grant us an exemption from existing rules? Until Duncan leaves, I don’t thing California will get any serious consideration. For that matter, until Duncan leaves I don’t think we’ll get truly significant reform in education, like the re authorization of ESEA. Sorry for the rant but I’m rally frustrated with the DoE…
As some of you may know, LA Unified School District has undertaken to align its graduation requirements with entrance requirement to the University of California system. I have found it interesting that opinion on this issue seems solidly split. It seems that half of the newspaper describe it as raising the requirements and the other half describes the change as lowering the bar. Perhaps “the bar” is the wrong analogy; perhaps they “moved the cheese” is a better analogy. I do have to state a preference to the idea that students who graduate should be able to go to college so in that sense I like the idea. The level of some classes will be very challenging for some student to achieve. However, many students will complete the requirements and, I worry, be left with a less that complete educational experience. It seems that built into the implementation plan is time for students to re-take classes they fail but what about the majority, IMO, of students who will not fail classes? I think a better approach would be make the A-G requirements the floor not the cieling for graduation. For more info go here, www.lausd.net/lausd/offices/Office_of_Communications/BoardBusiness2012_April17_FINAL.pdf.