Quality Counts Tidbits

I’ve been carrying EdWeek’s Quality Counts issue around with me for a month and finally used a two hour plane ride to read it cover to cover.
I was reminded of the great work that David Driscoll (with lots of help from folks like Tom Payzant) did in Massachusetts—the highest ranked ‘Chance for Success’ state (a constructed index including NAEP, preschool participation, poverty and employment, college attendance, etc).
I was a little surprised to find Nevada at the bottom of the list and noted that top states had double the percentage of NAEP proficient 4th and 8th grade students, double the number of young adults in college, and nearly double the grad rate.
You can see Bob Wise’s hand on the A winning WV standards but a C- in Chance for Success and the lowest adult degree completion rate suggests there’s a lot more to improvement than high standards.
The report suggests that 32 states sanction low-performing schools and that’s only true if showing up on a report counts.  It also says that 31 states reward high performing schools, really?
Get this, South Carolina gets the only straight A for teaching.  Oregon was dead last pulling zeros in every category except salary.   B students: AR, LA, FL, MD, NC.
The School Finance table is really interesting (but probably raises more questions than it answers). On a cost adjusted basis, Utah spends $6,228 and Wyoming next door spends $16,386; Utah gets a B- in Chance for Success and Wyoming gets a C+, go figure.   Eight states do a pretty good job of equalizing funding in low wealth districts.  I used to think Illinois had the least equitable funding but they have a lot of competition (measures several different ways).
I disagree with almost everything Diane Ravitch puts to paper these days, but I enjoyed her reminder that “We’ve Always Had National Standards.”  ED Hirsh made me think about language fluency and the role that content knowledge plays in drawing inference.
Alfie Kohn is off the deep end; a teacher free-for-all is no path to equity—been there, tried that.  And to Noddings, we can differentiate/personalize with standards.
Virginia Edwards is doing a great job at EdWeek. She has a great stable of writers/bloggers that populate many of our iGoogles.  Great contributions in QC from NcNeil, Gewertz, Robelen, Cavenaugh, Sawchuk.  Cudos to Chris Swanson for another great data crunch and contribution.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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