This week, the EducationNext blog posted topics concerning accountability, pension, parent involvement, teacher retention, and textbooks.  The blog titled “Trick for Attracting Math, Science, and Special Ed Teachers” seemed interesting, especially for those interested in teacher retention.  The blogger underscored the need for differentiated pay based on specialized fields and skills.  The author thoroughly analyzed the topic as he also acknowledged the potential dangers or controversies that would surround differentiated pay.

The post titled “Never Judge a Book by Its Cover—Use Student Achievement Instead” was particularly interesting to me because it discussed the correlation between achievement and textbooks, which directly relates to my funding topic.  The blogger reported on the findings from a study that revealed the positive correlation between teacher effectiveness and textbooks, which in turn positively affected student achievement.  The blogger then discussed the need for a concerted effort in district-wide adoption of these effective textbooks.  It is unfortunate that studies reveal the benefits from resources that underfunded schools may never have the opportunity to experience.

Teachers at Puff Daddy’s Charter School Will Not Be Called Teachers

April 2nd, 2016

Blogpost 8

According to Diane Ravitch’s post, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs is planning on opening a charter school in Harlem, New York based on social justice. Students are expected to be able to give back to their communities after graduating from college. Teachers are called “illuminators” under Combs proposed school. Students are also expected to complete social justice projects in high school.

I feel mixed feelings on this issue because I can see that Sean “P.Diddy” Combs is really trying to give back to the community of Harlem, New York. Combs past transgressions make it hard to believe that his charter school venture will be successful. He has been involved in writing and performing explicit music. Has been ordered to testify in murder cases and involved in reality television shows such as “Making the Band 2.” Now he is creating a charter school, but Combs has a past of negative influences and transgressions.

Diane Ravitch also blogs about a critic of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, who believes that Combs does not stand for social justice. Megan Schneider believes Combs promotes violence, profanity, and misogyny. She believes students can become confused from his music with the message from the school.

This blog post goes along with the rapper opening up a charter school in Harlem, New York. There appears to be more dialogue about Dr. Steve Perry, who is famous for his charter schools in Connecticut that displayed zero tolerance and harsh discipline. Dr. Steve Perry was selected by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs to run the new charter school.

-Tremayne Wooten

How D.C.’s teacher hiring practices affect teacher performance

This week’s blog topics are about equity in education, John Kasich’s education record, and evaluating reading recovery programs. However, the topic of this particular post is teacher-hiring practices in Washington, D.C. Public Schools. Amber Northern wrote a March 23rd blog post on Brian Jacobs’ study between teacher hiring data and teacher performance. Information was gathered through TeachDC, which is the District’s application database. Data was gathered between 2011 and 2013 through this system. It collects an applicant’s employment and educational history. Additionally, TeachDC documents a potential employee’s subject assessments and interview process.

Four findings stemmed from Jacobs’ study. First, applicants with teaching experience are more likely to be hired by DCPS than those without experience. Second, a teacher’s academic history has no effect on potential hiring. Third, an applicant’s academic measures and interview performance also did not predict employment. Last, application scores did have a positive effect on teacher performance. On average, applicants hired by DCPS tend to have a higher teacher performance scores. The researchers also found that principals tend hire based on recommendations from the hiring pool, and they have a pattern of ignoring other information in the database. Principals should give more attention to other areas of the hiring database to ensure they are placing effective teachers into the classroom.

Erica Baker



Professor’s Corner

Three items of interest

Loudon County

In case you hadn’t heard, the Loudon County School Board did NOT vote for Plan 12, the plan that would have concentrated low income children into two schools near their homes.  Here’s the link to the Washington Post story.

And here’s a link to Valerie Strauss’s column on the decision, which she wrote before the vote was taken.


Declining School Suspensions in N. Y. City

The number of school suspensions has significantly declined in New York City after efforts have been made to reduce them.


New book + Video of Culturally Responsive Instruction

From the PBS Newshour –Read the interview and watch the video.

Black boys know too well what it feels like to be a problem

This week on the Hechinger Report there were some blogs focused on higher education.  Some of these articles discussed; investors fronting tuition for students, students negotiating their tuition, and Black male students being underrepresented in institutions.  I chose to read “Black boys know too well what it feels like to be a problem — let’s channel that knowledge into innovation.”

The history behind the post that triggered Andre Perry to write on this topic came from two reports that focused on the reasons why institutions struggle to educate black students, mainly black males.  Perry provided a brief background on both reports and concluded that “institutions are failing to catch up to the needs of students.”  Perry believes part of the reason has to do with institutions focusing on enrolling black students as athletes instead of regular student enrollment. Part of Perry’s central claim is focused on finding solutions for the issues Black males are facing in education.  He argues that there is no need for any more initiatives on closing the achievement gap.  He suggests that using that term implies that low-performing African Americans need to keep up with white standards, which he believes is a form of institutional racism that widens institutional injustices.

Perry goes on to address social privileges Black students are not exposed to in the way their affluent counterparts are.  As a suggestion, Perry claims that work needs to be put toward creating scholarships, programs, and other initiatives.  I appreciate Perry bringing attention to the issue on black males being underrepresented in schools and institutions.  However, Perry failed to state actual claims or examples that supported his arguing points.  Although he provided history behind what caused him to write the blog, he failed to explain further the reasoning behind some of the claims.

“The achievement gap is a process and product of privilege that excludes solutions that address root problems – institutional injustice.”  I think this was a strong claim to make, but Perry does not even back it up with any evidence or an example to validate this claim.  The only connection with institutional injustice that I have as a reader, is with the low number of black students enrolled as undergraduates. “Organizations need to catch up with justice,” is another claim Perry makes about institutional injustice but does not claim anyway in making organizations catch up with justice.  I was disappointed with the way Perry constructed this blog and the lack of substance needed to support such a strong and important topic.

Latino Ed. Beat

During the last week, the blog Latino Ed. Beat, by Natalie Gross, posted an entry titled Latino Students Join with Other Groups to Stop Chicago Trump Rally.  The post reports that Latino and other ethnically diverse student groups, at the University of Illinois, joined to organize a protest against Donald Trump, who was scheduled to appear at the Chicago Pavilion on the campus, on March 11.  Thousands of protesters gather outside the venue, and hundreds of them were present inside.  They were camouflaged as Trump’s supporters, and ready to perform a non-violent protest.  The students had planned to chant songs to overpower the sound of Trump’s speech.  However, according to the blog sources, some early disruptions sprouts among the audience may have alarmed Trump’s campaign team.  Allegedly, this situation derived on the sudden cancellation of Trump’s appearance.  The blog post and its sources corroborate that the cancellation was taken as a triumph for students, who were spread by ethnic or racial groups within the Pavillion, but acted as gears of the same engine: the student movement organization.
The post also states that faculty members participated as part of the students’ movement. However, after reviewing the cited sources, I think that faculty members, who had raised safety concerns about the event ― The University of Illinois is considered one of the most highly diverse campuses on the US, were neutral and did not cooperate actively with the students’ coordinated action.

Other entries from last week include: Does Expanding Access to Advanced Placement Courses Help Kids? posing the question of whether a large enrollment of low-income minority students in A.P. courses, negatively correlated to test score performance, could be considered as a quality educational policy for Long Beach Unified School District, in CA. Gross also posts an article titled D.C. Schools Expand their Dual-Language Programs  I wrote my critique based on this post, and it is related to three new dual-lingual immerse programs offered by DCPS in the wards 7 and 8 starting next fall. The article also touches upon issues of equity, opportunity, and achievement gaps, as well as research-based evidence of the potential of bilingual models of education to narrow all of them.

-Juliet Sanchez

The Difference Between Blended Learning and Personalized Learning

This week’s edition of the Hechinger Report covered topics on the best military child care system, immigration as an economic gain instead of a burden, and ways in supporting and keeping teachers.  I chose to focus on blended learning and ways it can improve student achievement.  The blog is titled “The Difference Between Blended Learning and Personalized Learning, and why it Matters.” The author, Phyllis Lockett is the co-founder of an educational company called, LEAP, that connects innovation and education to prepare teachers in shifting “one-sized fits all” education to personalized learning practices.  Lockett’s overarching claim is that there is a massive crisis with the U.S’s graduation rate and the percentage of high school seniors being prepared to succeed in college.  Lockett’s subordinate claim is that personalized education is the key to preparing students for successful futures in college and their careers.

Lockett supports her argument by explaining to readers that there is a large difference between blended learning and personalized learning.  Her reasons for discussing the difference is because she claims that education reform practices such as blended learning are not enough and are a band-aid solution to the U.S.’s education crisis.  She proposes that the education system is in need of innovation, not reform.  Her call for innovation is personalized learning for all students, so that every child has their educational interests, needs, and goals met.

Blended learning is an infusion of teaching and learning through technology, whereas personalized learning has two components.  The two components are tailored learning profiles/pathways and evidence of competency-based progression, which do not necessarily need technology integration. Lockett’s strongest argument is, “Simply adding technology to a classroom isn’t going to fix anything. Learning decisions centered on each student’s individual needs, influenced by the data gleaned through technology in combination with the expertise and human touch of a teacher are — together — what will drive true education transformation.”  Lockett explains that technology should be used for learning, but should go beyond students relying on technological applications as a the only pathway for personalized integration. She proposes that student learning can be based on interest-driven education opportunities and accelerated pathways that allow students to finish high school content by 10th grade so that they can have opportunities in other rigorous course work, such as IB or college credits. I enjoyed reading this blog because it gave me a wider perspective on personalized learning and influenced my thinking on my capstone project.


-C. Crowder


This week in the EducationNext blog, topics posted included textbooks and achievement, linking accountability systems to increased reading abilities, and charter schools. The post titled “Could D.C. Give its Schools the Same Autonomy as Charter Schools?” was interesting because it centers around the highly debated charter versus public school issue.  The author calls for four steps that may create a comprehensive system to serve both charter schools and DCPS.  The author first calls for complete autonomy for DCPS.  He then calls for DCPS to be run independently, yet held accountable by a third party.  This third party will determine the school’s contract renewal status.  The third step includes a new formula for student enrollment and per pupil funding.  The fourth step includes the demand for a central entity to control certain aspects of the system, preventing an excess amount of power to rest in any one party (Smarick, 2016).  This topic may be of interest within our issues investigation project.  If a system overhaul of this magnitude were to occur, it would have an impact on issues such as teacher retention and funding.

I wrote my blog critique on a blog post from two weeks ago titled “The Case for a Broader Approach.”  The post opens with results from a survey.  According to the survey, the majority of people polled agreed that the arts is beneficial and should be part of a well-rounded education.  This, unfortunately, does not align with many of the recent initiatives that are narrowing the curriculum to make room for classes that will be tested on standardized tests, such as math and reading.  The blogger then goes on to cite evidence to support his claims.  Although this post is not part of the topics discussed this week, I included it because it may interest those studying narrowed curriculum and early childhood.

Jeannette Cruz

Building a better (community) college student through remediation

Topics on this week’s edition of The Thomas B. Fordham Institute blog are teacher evaluation reforms, classroom observation scores, and developing sustainable gifted services. Much of the content from this week featured posts about teacher evaluations. This blog review will discuss community college programs. The title of the post in review is “Building a better (community) college student through remediation” by Jeff Murray. Many high school graduates are not ready for college-level work. In fact, 68 percent of college students require some form of remedial coursework. Therefore, two studies have been conducted to uncover the efforts in community college remediation programs.

The Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) conducted the first study. They surveyed 70,000 students from over 150 higher learning institutions. Eighty-six percent of the students surveyed believed they did not need remedial courses. However, 68 percent of the same students were placed in a remedial course. The CCCSE has recommended that colleges partner with high schools to provide dual enrollment, curriculum alignment, and mentoring as a way to combat unpreparedness.

The second study was completed by the Journal of Higher Education to examine remedial programs in Texas colleges. The research specifically examined the Developmental Summer Bridge Program (DSBP). The DSBP is a 4-5 week program that helps recent high school graduates with support and a first look at remedial coursework. The group that participated in DSBP showed positive growth in their fall remedial coursework.

However, these measures of success are still new. Therefore, CCCSE has three strategies to lower enrollment in remedial college courses. First, multiple measures should be used to determine a student’s academic placement. Second, institutions should eliminate “cold” testing, and provide sessions for students taking placement tests. Lastly, students should be enrolled in a remedial course and a credit-bearing course at the same time.

Erica Baker

Study Finds Many Charter Schools Give Disparate Discipline to Black Students and Students with Disabilities

March 18th, 2016

Blog Report 7

Ravitch blogs about the disparities in student discipline that exist in charter schools amongst Black students and students with disabilities.  The study conducted by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, faulted many charter schools for harsh disciplinary policies (Losen, Keith II, Hodson & Martinez, 2016, pp. 1).  Suspension rates are considerably high for charter schools in the study.  Charter schools’ serve students in impoverished areas who are in search of a better alternative to the public school, but at times charter schools do not improve the education of students in this population.  Many charter schools continue to use zero tolerance policies to address school behavior.  As our guest speaker on March 15 stated, these zero tolerance policies continue to lead students down the wrong path or increase the school to prison pipeline that exists in the United States.

Link to the study :

This blog entry by Diane Ravitch addresses the charter school issue in California.  Thomas Ultican writes how he thinks it is time to get rid of the charter schools in California completely.  He wants to return to public schools because charter schools have not improved education in the state.  Ultican lists some of the reasons for eliminating charter schools and going back to public schools.  His reasons are real and understandable as to why there is a need to return to just public schools in California.

Ravitch blogs about what many educators already know about charter schools.  Students that attend charter schools do not have the same rights as students who attend public schools.  Charter schools claim that they are a better public school and use public funds but they do not provide the same rights for students.  Ravitch is simply pointing out the hypocrisy of charter schools.

Tremayne Wooten