Progress: 3 EdReform Stories, 3 Blended Learning Stories

Saturday is a good time to step back and think about the arc of change underway across this country. Adoption of  Common Core State Standards is arguable the most important reform underway because it will result in real college-career ready expectations in the majority of states where expectations are simply too low.  The issue getting all the attention is teacher evaluation–an early influence of the education sector’s adoption of measurement and attention to productivity.  On the innovation front, The Rise of Blended Learning is the most important trend.  The promise of customized and competency-based learning will begin to be realized in this decade, but not without a lot of struggle.   Following are three marker stories about reform and three about blended learning from this week.
Reform trio
Wurman & Wilson wailed on the Common Core Math Standards in EdNext.  Yes, they were “written by committee” but they are “not just a little bit better, but vastly supe- rior—to the standards in more than 30 states.”  (If you’re worried about Tom Loveless’ Core complaint, read Kathleen Porter-Magee’s response.)
DFER’s Joe Williams said Gov. Cuomo delivered on his promises “using the weight of his office to break through the logjam blocking a common-sense mechanism for evaluating teachers based on whether children are learning.
New Haven signed a pretty good contract with teacher.  Nic Kristof argues it has “arguably become ground zero for school reform in America because it is transforming the system with the full cooperation of the union.
Blended Trio
“Ted Mitchell, president of the NewSchools Venture Fund and a Khan Academy board member,” said in an EdNext interview, “that Khan developers “were blown away by how important” the games and badges seem to be in giving kids a sense of accomplishment and progress.”
Catherine Gewertz, EdWk, outlined the challenges of shifting to competency-based education at New Hampshire’s Newfound High school. “It means figuring out multifaceted ways for students to show what they know, and, ideally, it means letting them progress toward mastery at their own pace.
The KIPP Empower classroom rotation model is featured in this video.  Results from the first year of operation are amazing.


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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