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Race to the Top
September 11, 2017
I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.
Reporter Grace Tatter shares six things about public education that she learned on the job at the Statehouse — and now takes with her to graduate school.
August 9, 2017
Tennessee teachers are warming to evaluations as a tool to improve their work, survey says
The state’s latest educator survey shows that 75 percent of teachers found evaluations helpful last year in improving their teaching, almost double from 2012.
Secretary v. secretary
August 1, 2017
Arne Duncan criticizes Betsy DeVos on civil rights, says she hasn’t asked for his advice
When Arne Duncan became Secretary of Education, he asked his predecessors for advice. That’s why he’s disappointed that he hasn’t gotten a similar call from Betsy DeVos.
on the ground
May 8, 2017
In Memphis neighborhood hit hardest by ASD cuts, residents worry changes could hurt their students
State officials promise the job cuts won’t hit classrooms at Achievement Schools in Frayser, but residents aren't sure.
April 19, 2017
Drop TNReady scores from teacher evaluations, urge Shelby County leaders
The county's Board of Commissioners votes unanimously to urge the state to use TNReady results as only a “diagnostic” tool.
April 12, 2017
Teacher merit pay has merit when it comes to student scores, analysis shows
After years of conflicting studies about whether teacher incentive pay improves student performance, a Vanderbilt University analysis offers a conclusion — and suggestions.
Father of TVAAS
March 20, 2017
William Sanders, pioneer of controversial value-added model for judging teachers, dies
The Tennessee statistician and researcher came up with the nation’s first system for evaluating teachers based on student growth, kicking off a contentious debate.
January 19, 2017
Will Betsy DeVos change education as you know it? Probably not — but your state lawmakers could
The most important upcoming decisions about schools won’t be made by DeVos. They’ll happen in the state legislatures.
August 1, 2016
U.S. education chief gives Colorado kudos for early childhood efforts
Colorado got a high-profile pat on the back Monday with a visit from U.S. Secretary of Education John King, who lauded the state’s efforts to raise child care quality.
cracking the code
June 28, 2016
How Hillary Clinton wants to make computer science courses available to every kid in America
The presumptive Democratic nominee it promoting increased investment in STEM initiatives, but the political prospects (as usual) are unclear.
June 22, 2016
Why some districts are putting new emphasis on easing the transition to kindergarten
With long-term consequences for kindergartners who have trouble adjusting to school, there's a growing emphasis in Colorado and nationally on smoothing the transition.
May 24, 2016
As new federal education law looms, McQueen seeks input for Tennessee plan
The State Department of Education invites Tennesseans to share their ideas about how Tennessee should use leeway granted to states under the new federal education law.
Gauging a game changer
March 16, 2016
How $90 million from Bill Gates spurred sweeping changes in one school district
As an unprecedented six-year investment begins to dry up in Memphis schools, leaders seek to sustain the teacher quality reforms that have just begun to take root.
March 1, 2016
Here’s how test scores could count in teacher evaluations for first year of TNReady
If the legislature approves the governor's proposal, student test scores still will make up to 50 percent of evaluation scores in one way or another.
February 22, 2016
Report: For Memphians, ASD’s sullied image rooted in city’s racial history
Researchers charged with providing an impartial assessment of the district’s work conclude that the city's divisive racial history is a barrier to the state-run district's work.
February 19, 2016
Federal judge dismisses TEA lawsuit challenging TVAAS in teacher bonuses
The formula that Tennessee uses to rate teachers might be unfair — but it still can be used to decide whether they should get bonuses, a federal court has ruled.
February 16, 2016
Her honeymoon over as Tennessee ed chief, McQueen enters second year under the cloud of TNReady and with a mission to combat illiteracy
Improving communication has been a hallmark of McQueen's first year; managing the TNReady testing fiasco and addressing stagnant reading scores may consume the next.
December 22, 2015
Top 10 stories defining Tennessee education in 2015
From Race to the Top to pre-kindergarten to teacher pay, education was a hot topic in Tennessee.
A Look at the Legacy
December 15, 2015
As Tennessee finishes its Race to the Top, teachers caught in the middle of competing changes
Teachers grapple with the competing threads in Race to the Top's legacy: higher-stakes tests and a push for richer instruction.
December 8, 2015
Vanderbilt study: iZone more effective than ASD in turning around struggling schools thus far
A new study shows that iZones have had sizable positive effects on student test scores in Tennessee, while effects of the Achievement School District have been marginal.
October 29, 2015
When Arne Duncan visits Memphis, he’ll see part of his legacy as U.S. ed chief
The outgoing education secretary will see firsthand one of America's battleground cities in the movement he spearheaded to transform public education.
Behind the numbers
October 27, 2015
2015 NAEP results: What you need to know
In 2013, many state leaders offered quick explanations behind Tennessee's NAEP gains. But experts warn that interpreting the results isn't that simple.
the arne archives
October 3, 2015
A retrospective of Arne Duncan’s complicated relationship with New York
Arne Duncan's highlights and lowlights during six-plus years of visiting and keeping tabs on New York.
August 26, 2015
Tennessee’s average ACT scores mostly stagnant
Despite efforts to increase student achievement, the average Tennessee ACT composite score is below the threshold for college readiness.
August 3, 2015
With its jackpot $28.5 million grant, Warren Township pushes career programs, online learning and teacher training
Warren Township was one of just 16 districts nationwide to win big dollars to improve its facilities, boost teaching and reinvent student learning.
mind the gap
June 8, 2015
Access to New York’s top teachers still unequal, state report shows
Seven percent of teachers were in their first year in schools with the poorest students, compared to less than 2 percent at schools with the most affluent students.
Turnover at the top
March 11, 2015
New Queens Regent reflects New York’s shifting ed policy landscape
A former teacher and administrator, Judith Chin is one of six Regents who are career educators and no fan of the state's implementation of the Common Core.
February 9, 2015
State of the State preview: Haslam will propose teacher pay increase
Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to make education, including teacher pay and classroom standards, a centerpiece of his State of the State address Monday evening.
January 22, 2015
Candice McQueen on her challenges and goals as Tennessee’s new education commissioner
The former classroom teacher talks about her admiration for teachers, as well the many complex issues awaiting her time and attention.
December 16, 2014
Report: STEM here to stay
The education question of 2015 might well be: Which reforms funded by Tennessee’s dwindling Race to the Top money are sustainable? A new report from the…
December 15, 2014
Regents want state to add $2 billion in education spending
The Board of Regents want the state to increase education spending by $2 billion next year, a spike that would include an extra $70 million for the city's pre-kindergarten expansion.
September 10, 2014
Memphis school improvement efforts in spotlight as Duncan finishes back-to-school tour
"I moved to Memphis thinking I’d change lots of lives every year. But really, my life has been drastically changed," said teacher Brittany Ordue.
August 22, 2014
Despite federal reprieve, Tenn. will continue using test scores to evaluate teachers
The U.S. Department of Education will consider states’ requests to forgo the use of test results in teacher evaluations for at least a year, secretary…
August 13, 2014
New kindergarten assessments voluntary this year, mandatory next year
Many Colorado school districts are piloting the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment in their kindergarten classrooms this year in anticipation of mandatory statewide implementation next year.
August 5, 2014
Some townships show ISTEP gains despite challenges of growing poverty
In a few Marion County school districts — especially Pike and Wayne townships — the percentage of students passing ISTEP is growing quickly, even as the families the schools serve have grown considerably poorer.
July 28, 2014
Shelby County Schools’ pathway to pre-K funds runs through foundation with suburban roots
Shelby County commissioners who voted last week to spend $3 million on expanding prekindergarten access are finding that they don’t control where the money will go. That’s because the commission earmarked the funds not directly to Shelby County Schools, but to a small foundation that has strong ties to the suburban districts that have left SCS and whose plans for the funds are unclear.
July 1, 2014
Five big takeaways from the latest treasure trove of NYC school data
Student mobility, Race to the Top spending, and the number of English language learners with special needs were among the data points highlighted in the Independent Budget Office's annual report.
goodbye paper and pencil
June 20, 2014
Improving care for the youngest by targeting the back office
Shared services is a relatively new approach in the early childhood arena, but one that is gaining momentum both in Colorado and nationally. Proponents believe the model will ultimately help early childhood providers—often small mom and pop shops—shed inefficient back-office practices so they can save time and money, and in turn offer better services to families.
June 18, 2014
Pre-K advocates pursue small strategies toward big goal
A coalition of pre-K advocates are moving forward with a collection of small strategies that they hope will, collectively, result in every child being prepared to start kindergarten.Although they’ve stopped short of calling it a full-on strategy, they are now pursuing several possible ways forward, including identify new funding, raising standards for daycare centers, and even returning to voters to ask for more funding.
June 13, 2014
State gets updated evaluation of its R2T efforts
Colorado continues to make progress on reaching its Race to the Top goals but has a few things to work on, according to an…
June 9, 2014
Launch delayed for new early childhood rating system
The state has backed away from its planned July start date for a new mandatory quality rating system for early childhood education…
stars in the making
March 10, 2014
New rating system on the way for preschools and child care
This summer the state is expected to launch a new mandatory five-level rating system for early childhood care providers, including preschools, child care centers and family child care homes. While there are many details left to work out, experts say the effort is a step in the right direction for improving the quality of care for Colorado's youngest children.
February 18, 2014
NYC gets $4.7M to improve teacher retention in high-need schools
New York City is getting some — but only some — of the federal funds that it asked for to improve teacher retention in…
December 20, 2013
State-run district’s per-pupil expenditure not included on state report card
When Tennessee’s department of education rolled out a sleek new "report card" last month to help parents compare school districts, it did not include how much money its own Achievement School District (ASD) spends on each child. It did include that information for every other district in the state.
December 2, 2013
With an eye on de Blasio, UFT finally signs onto teacher grants
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio with UFT President Michael Mulgrew at the union's endorsement announcement earlier this year. With Mayor Bloomberg on his way out, there's been a small crack in the icy relationship between the city education department and the teachers union. The thaw is taking place over a $12 million grant that the city is eligible for to fund new ways to develop, retain and compensate top teachers. The purpose is to improve teacher retention in high-poverty schools, where turnover is most acute. After holding out for months, the United Federation of Teachers signed off on a grant application that the Department of Education submitted just ahead of a 5 p.m. deadline today. Signatures from the teachers and principals unions were required, but the UFT had declined to offer one for months. Over the summer, Chancellor Dennis Walcott blamed the UFT's unwillingness to support the grant bid on union intransigence. Education officials accused the union of trying to negotiate work benefits that were unrelated to the grant. But a lot has changed since then, most notably the election of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who takes over next month after campaigning as an anti-Bloomberg candidate.
November 8, 2013
Here’s a roundup of what educators and politicians are saying about NAEP
There was interesting discussion Thursday about how Tennessee did on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP),also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” As…
November 7, 2013
Tennessee students lead the nation in growth on NAEP
Tennessee students made some of the largest gains in the country in this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the so-called "nation's report card." Tennessee is "one of the few bright spots" in the NAEP data this year, said Erik Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Most states' scores increased by just one point in 4th and 8th grade math and 4th grade reading and by three points on 8th grade reading between 2011 and 2013. But scores for both 4th and 8th grade students in Tennessee jumped between 4 and 7 points in each of the tested subjects. “It's hard to move the needle on all four grades and subjects unless you're really doing something,” said Jack Buckley, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers NAEP. In Tennessee, as elected officials planned press conferences today celebrating the increased scores that were released this morning, educators debated what, exactly, may have caused the growth. Both the District of Columbia and Tennessee schools have been home to dramatic reforms in teacher compensation and evaluation in recent years, and were among the early adopters of policies that tie teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores. But similar policies are in place around the country now. National Assessment A national representative sample of 342,000 8th graders and 377,000 4th graders took the reading and math tests early this year. More data from the 2013 tests, including national scores for 12th graders in reading and math, will be released in the coming months. Individual schools' and students' scores on NAEP are not publicized. While each state has its own standardized test, each of which has changed over time, the NAEP remains relatively constant and is designed to allow for comparisons to be made between states and over time. State and education leaders use the data to compare where states fall academically and how different groups of students fare within their states. The data are also frequently used to make claims about national education progress compared to other countries, with some experts saying, for instance, that low NAEP scores are a threat to national security. On the 2013 test, Tennessee students made the largest gains in the country in 4th and 8th grade reading. Tennessee 4th and 8th graders' math test score gains outpaced every state except for the District of Columbia. Tennessee, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools were the only jurisdictions that saw increases in both tested subjects in both tested grades. (See chart below for more detail.) Tennessee leads the nation in growth, but big disparities remain | Infographics Referendum on Reforms?
October 12, 2013
Colorado districts pitching for latest R2T grants
Nine Colorado schools districts have applied for the second round of funding from the federal Race to the Top-District program. The competition awards funds…
July 24, 2013
Colorado gets $15 million R2T bonus
The federal government has awarded Colorado a $15 million grant to supplement the $29.9 million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge award the…
December 12, 2012
Facing own teacher eval deadline, charter schools just say no
wallyg via flickr At the same time as the State Education Department is publicly pressuring school districts to adopt new teacher evaluations by next month, it's also quietly demanding that charter schools turn in their teachers’ ratings from last year. Charter school advocates are urging most school leaders to ignore the demand, even though state officials have said it's needed in order to fulfill its Race to the Top plan. The advocates say the demand would be hard to fulfill and impinges on charter schools’ autonomy. The standoff has its roots in the state’s 2010 application for federal Race to the Top funds. In its application to the U.S. Department of Education for funding, New York State said it would require schools to rate teachers according to specific guidelines and would collect ratings for all teachers, even in charter schools. Some charter schools committed to sharing their teacher ratings at the time in order to receive some of the state’s $700 million in winnings. But two thirds did not — and the state wants their teacher ratings too, according to a series of updated guidance memos that officials have issued over the last 18 months. City and state charter school advocates have pushed back against the demands throughout that time. “Both the New York City Charter School Center and the New York Charter Schools Association believe that this reporting requirement does not properly apply to non-Race to the Top charter schools,” Charter Center CEO James Merriman and NYCSA President Bill Phillips wrote in a strongly worded email to school leaders last month. They added, “Ultimately, it is up to you whether you choose to report this data.” So far, few school leaders have made that choice. By the original submission deadline Nov. 30, just 30 of 184 charter schools in the state had handed over teacher ratings from last year.
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