August 3

The New Teacher Project (TNTP) has a report out that tries to identify the characteristics of “irreplaceable” teachers.  Matthew di Carlo at the Shanker Blog takes exception to that term and questions some of the methodology used to identify who those teachers might be.   This post contains a link to the full TNTP report (52 pages) titled “The Irreplaceables: Understanding the Real Retention Crisis in America’s Urban Schools:”  http://shankerblog.org/?p=6372
   A group of California labor unions has raised almost $10 million to fight Proposition 32 on the November ballot.  You can read about what the proposition will do and why unions are opposed to it in this short piece from the L.A. Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/07/california-unions-raise-76-million-to-fight-prop-32.html
   The committee supporting Gov. Brown’s initiative (Prop. 30) to increase taxes to help schools has raised almost $8 million based on financial disclosure documents reported by the Capitol Weekly: http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?xid=10r4brudkt2h8jd  A competing initiative supported by civil rights lawyer Molly Munger (Prop. 38) has spent $8.2 million through the end of June according to The Sacramento Bee: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/07/molly-mungers-tax-campaign-spends-82-million-through-june.html#storylink=cpy
   Most experts agree that standardized tests are of questionable value when trying to rate teachers.  A new study has raised questions about the fairness and value of remedial placement tests used by community colleges, CSU and UC as explained in this article from EdSource.  It contains a link to the full report (38 pages) titled “Where to Begin?  The Evolving Role of Placement Exams for Students Starting College from the Achieving the Dream organization: http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/report-questions-efficacy-and-fairness-of-college-placement-tests/18640
   If you or anyone you know relies on child care administered by the California Dept. of Education those services are likely to disappear this year due to severe cuts to the state budget.  The details can be found in this story from the SI&A CABINET REPORT: http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2480
   Need a feel-good education story that’s even related to the Olympics?  Check out this short item from the L.A. Times.  A chorus of 17 bell-ringers (the article explains what this is) from Twain Middle School (LAUSD) left for London on Wednesday for 5 performances as part of Olympic festivities: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/twain-middle-school-bell-ringers-bound-for-olympics.html
   The “Ed News” does not promote commercial products but just couldn’t resist mentioning this item.  On Aug. 14th the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live is presenting “Teachers Rock 2012” a charity concert with Garth Brooks, Josh Groban and others sponsored by WalMart and the film “Won’t Back Down(!).”  One of the recipients of the ticket proceeds is Teacher for America!  For concert information go to http://nokiatheatrelalive.com/events/event-detail/3710/teachers-rock-presented-by-walmart-and-wont
   Most education reforms concentrate on curriculum and instruction and how schools are governed and managed.  The authors of this blog, reprinted by Anthony Cody in Education Week, make a convincing case for adding learning supports to that list if reforms are ever to be successful: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/
   Could the policy of algebra-for-all be harmful to some students, particularly high achievers?  A new study published online this week in the journal “Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis” used data from 1994 to 1999 collected from about 60 public schools in the Chicago area.  It sought to gauge the affect on high achieving 9th graders when all were required to take Algebra I.  The article, from Education Week, contains a link to the full report.  The article is free.  However, the report requires a paid subscription to get full access to it: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2012/08/the_push_for_algebra-for-all_p.html
   One elementary school in Kern County that serves a large percentage of poor and minority students has meet with a great deal of academic success by going way beyond the “parent conference” concept.  For 5 years it has held a mandatory “Parent Data Night” after the first trimester of the school year where parents are given detailed information on five visual charts about their child’s progress and specific suggestions for improving reading.  The program is described in this piece from New America Media: http://newamericamedia.org/2012/08/at-central-valley-school-a-recipe-for-success.php
   In a story the “Ed News” has been following for several months, administrators in the Long Beach Unfied School District have disciplined a 10th grade student who posted a picture of a standardized test item on a social media website reports the L.A. Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/long-beach-unified-identifies-student-who-posted-test-item-image.html
   And finally, the UCLA IDEA Friday “Themes in the News” looks at why so few students in California (home of Silicon Valley) take the AP Computer Science exam.  In particular, it looks at why so few minority students and females attempt it: http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=40770a674de4ce8427a9a621b&id=1b71bfef6c&e=f7d7cb8d5d
Hope to see everyone at the next ALOED book discussion Thursday!

  Dave Alpert (’71) Chief Commissar   
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