Shaky Methods, Shaky Motives: A Recap of My Critique of the NCTQ’s Review of Teacher Preparation Programs

Assinine assessments of teachers

A "Fuller" Look at Education Issues


The following is based on my complete study published in the Journal of Teacher Education. This version leaves out some examples, technical points, and suggestions for an approach to evaluating preparation programs. Sage Journals has been kind enough to make the complete study available for free to the public for a one month period. The study can be found at:


After last year’s release of the NCTQ’s ratings of teacher preparation programs, headlines and leading remarks about US teacher preparation programs proclaimed: “Teacher prep programs get failing marks” (Sanchez, 2013); “University programs that train U.S. teachers get mediocre marks in first-ever ratings” (Layton, 2013); and, “The nation’s teacher-training programs do not adequately prepare would-be educators for the classroom, even as they produce almost triple the number of graduates needed” (Elliot, 2013).

Critics of traditional teacher preparation have used the report as evidence that US teacher preparation is…

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Peter Greene: What Is “Whole Brain Teaching?”

Brain-dead Blurting? Creepy Chorus? Test-Taking Tomfoolery?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Yesterday I posted a clip of students at Nashville Prep chanting the answers to questions. I should have mentioned that chanting the answers to questions was a common practice in mid-nineteenth century schools. Students would chant their geography lessons, for example, singing out the names of continents or mountains or oceans. They did not necessarily knew where to find them on a map, but they knew the words to the chant.

Peter Greene reports that this chanting is today called “whole brain teaching,” and is associated with someone named Chris Biffle.

Greene says that WBT has a website, and its goal is to put “organized fun” into the classroom.

But he takes a dim view of this chanting:

“Some of the groupiness aspects are recognizable to anyone who was ever in band, choir, or the armed forces. And I have to tell you– given the youtube and on-line testimonials…

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Refusing to Educate Other People’s Children: Woes Continue in Philadelphia

The school district—and the entire state—is engaged in an ongoing and severe violation of the right of Philadelphia students to a ‘thorough and efficient’ education under the Pennsylvania Constitution.”


What does it mean when, in June, the leaders of a school district that serves over 131,000 students are working with city and state governments to locate enough money to open school in August?  In the United States—where provision of K-12 education has for nearly two centuries been provided publicly, where it has been believed essential for the formation of an informed democracy, where all have taken for granted the provision of schooling that is free and universally available—what does Pennsylvania’s seeming incapacity to provide adequately staffed schools for Philadelphia’s children mean?

On June 18, the  Associated Press reported that school superintendent William Hite remained alarmed about a gaping hole in next year’s school budget.  Still needed was “at least an additional $96 million to offer students even a ‘wholly inadequate’ education next year.”

Pennsylvania lacks a working formula to distribute funds to local school districts.  At the same time the…

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Kanine Years

Gary Rubinstein's Blog

What is the definition of ‘month’?  Nowadays we think of it as the 31, 30, 28, or even 29 day period of which there are twelve of them in a year.  Long ago, a month was defined as the 29.5 day period it takes for the Moon (from which the word ‘month’ is derived) to make a complete revolution around The Earth.  The Hebrew calendar still has months that alternate between 29 and 30 days so the average month is 29.5 days.  In education research, the word ‘month’ also has an unconventional meaning.

I first learned about this when I had read that there was a study showing that TFA secondary math teachers teach 2.6 ‘months’ more than non-TFA secondary math teachers.  The seemed outrageous to me at the time, so I wrote to one of the paper’s authors and detailed my analysis in a post here.  In short:…

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Courts on high-stakes tests: They “eradicate” “insidious” “racism”

High stakes test continue to have the harshest effects on students of color and the economically disadvantaged.

Cloaking Inequity

It has been common knowledge for a long time that high-stakes tests have a disparate impact on students of color. What is interesting about high-stakes testing is that proponents recently reframed the gap in the NCLB-era from discriminatory to instead being about “Civil Rights.” I wrote in the post Segregation Nation: Recap and video from visit to @MSNBC @MHPshow:

Now we talk about tests not as purposeful discrimination and sorting of students, but that the “achievement gap” is a Civil Rights issue. The purposeful sorting and discriminatory design has been pushed to the side by “reformers.”


The disparate impact high-stakes tests were challenged in Florida in the US Supereme Court Case Debra P. v. Turlington. We wrote about Debra P. in a peer-reviewed article published in the Journal of School Leadership entitled High Stakes Decisions: The Legal Landscape of High School Exit Exams and the Implications for Schools and Leaders.

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Ohio’s “Dropout Recovery” Charters Increase State’s Dropout Rate, Swallow Tax Dollars

“In the 2012-2013 school year, more than 5,300 dropouts—a quarter of all Ohio dropouts that year—attended one of two online charter schools: the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow or Ohio Virtual Academy. Collectively, these two charter schools have a dropout rate 45 times higher than traditional public schools, and 10 times higher than the state’s eight largest city school districts

via Ohio's "Dropout Recovery" Charters Increase State's Dropout Rate, Swallow Tax Dollars.

Devil is in the Details: Teacher Tells Us What’s Up With Local Accountability

Great recommendations for school accountability.

Cloaking Inequity

The current form of Texas-style No Child Left Behind high-stakes testing and accountability has run its course. It is very clear that after 20 years in Texas and 10 years across the nation, the sanctions and rewards (the rewards disappeared a long time ago) system never produced an education miracle in Texas (as posited by President Bush and Secretary Paige) and did not result in all students across the US being proficient by 2014.

In 2012, I first proposed a new bottom-up form of accountability in the post Accountability: Are you ready for a new idea? I have written extensively about this new form of locally-controlled accountability that I have called Community-Based Accountability here. Or see the post A Refresher: What is Community-Based Accountability?

Here are Community-Based Accountability Executive Summary and Key Features. Please forward and circulate widely.

As discussed previously here on Cloaking Inequity, California has implemented Community-Based Accountability…

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