Pledges announced at the meeting include a three-year, $50M committment from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation in support of efforts to close the achievement gap and connect underserved and unemployed individuals to workforce success. As part of the commitment, the foundation announced a total of $.45M in grants to five non-profit organizations including:
- $1 million to Citizen Schools to improve the academic performance and high-school readiness of low-income middle school students by expanding the learning day and providing academic support, leadership development, and hands-on learning projects;
- $1 million to Boston College's Lynch School of Education to support thirty Bank of America Leaders in Urban Education in the school's Masters of Ed Program;
- $1 million to City Year to fund middle school programs that support its Whole School, Whole Child strategy in high-need schools nationwide;
- $1 million to the GreenLight Fund to support high-impact education and youth development programs in Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area; and
- $500,000 to Achieving the Dream to help establish a learning community complete with asset-building tools and resources that can be disseminated nationally.
The latest results from NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) shows U.S. students not doing so well in geography. The stats are only 23% of 4th graders, 30% of 8th graders and 21% of seniors knew enough to be considered "proficient" or "advanced" on the national exam that was given in Jan-March 2010.
Fourth graders went up a bit from the last time (2001), eight graders scores remain unchanged and seniors have slipped since 1994. One good bit of news is that African-American and Latino students have shown improvement in since both the 1994 and 2001 tests in the 4th and 8th grades.
From the Wall Street Journal article:
Geography "is losing out to the zero-sum game that results from high-stakes testing," said Roger Downs, a geography professor at Pennsylvania State University who spoke during a news conference at which the results were announced. "As the economic and cultural forces of globalization and the impacts of global environmental change are felt by everybody everywhere, the case for geography seems both obvious and inescapable."
But Jack Buckley, the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the exam, said the time 12th-graders spent in social-studies class and studying the subject had increased over the past decade. "There's not a lot there to tell me why," he said of the results.
Shannon Garrison, who sits on the National Assessment Governing Board, which develops the exam, said geography was an "unclaimed subject" in middle and high school. "In many districts and schools, the responsibility for teaching geography is unclear," she said.
The exam was given to a representative sample of 7,000 fourth-graders, 9,500 eighth-graders and 10,000 12th-graders in public and private schools. It is scored on a scale of 0 to 500 points. The scores are then broken into "below basic," "basic," "proficient" and "advanced."
In the "Not in My Neighborhood Category", the charter school question has come to the affluent suburbs (who apparently thought it was just an urban issue). In New Jersey, a group of families had wanted foreign language immersion schools and another group feared the loss of money from their district if that happened. From the NY Times article:
Suburbs like Millburn, renowned for educational excellence, have become hotbeds in the nation’s charter school battles, raising fundamental questions about the goals of a movement that began 20 years ago in Minnesota.
Now, educators and entrepreneurs are trying to bring the same principles of choice to places where schools generally succeed, typically by creating programs, called “boutique charters” by detractors like Mr. Stewart, with intensive instruction in a particular area.
Advocates say many proposed suburban charters have struggled because of a double standard that suggests charters are fine for poor urban areas, but are not needed in well-off neighborhoods.
“I think it has to do with comfort level and assumptions based on real estate and not reality,” said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform in Washington, which studies and supports charter schools. “The houses are nice, people have money, and therefore the schools must be good.”
Ashley Del Sole, a founding member of one of the rejected charters in Montgomery County, said that regardless of how well a district performed, children benefited from choice because not everyone learned the same way. She added that competitive pressure would invigorate schools that had grown complacent.
“There’s sort of this notion that if it’s not broken, why fix it,” Ms. Del Sole said. “But there are people who are not being served.”
Millburn’s superintendent, James Crisfield, said he was caught off guard by the plan for charters because “most of us thought of it as another idea to help students in districts where achievement is not what it should be.” He said the district could lose $270,000 — or $13,500 for each of 20 charter students — and that would most likely increase as the schools added a grade each year.
“Public education is basically a social contract — we all pool our money, so I don’t think I should be able to custom-design it to my needs,” he said, noting that he pays $15,000 a year in property taxes. “With these charter schools, people are trying to say, ‘I want a custom-tailored education for my children, and I want you, as my neighbor, to pay for it.’ ”
Interesting, no? For these middle-class people, it's a question of trying to tailor the education they want for their child with charter schools while for urban parents, it tends to be about getting away from poor-quality schools.
American girls have swept Google's first science fair. Let's look at the winner (from the NY Times article):
As a budding inventor and scientist, Shree Bose, in second grade, tried to make blue spinach. In fourth grade she built a remote-controlled garbage can. In eighth grade she invented a railroad tie made out of recycled plastic and granite dust, an achievement that got her to the top 30 in a national science competition for middle school students.
In 11th grade Ms. Bose, a 17-year-old in Fort Worth, tackled ovarian cancer, and that research won her the grand prize and $50,000 in the Google Science Fair last week.
What a girl! She won $50k for college, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and a trip to a science lab in Switzerland.
There were more than 10,000 students from 91 countries in the competition which got down to 60 semi-finalists and then 15 finalists. Nine of the 15 finalists were boys.
Perhaps belying a bit the notion that American students are falling behind in science, the United States dominated the top slots. All three of the winners were American, as were nearly three-quarters of the finalists. About 60 percent of the entries came from Americans.
Dr. Cerf said that a common thread among the finalists was that they had explored science enthusiastically for years with the encouragement of their parents.
Also from the Times, an article about a report about science curriculum for K-12.
A new framework for improving American science education calls for paring the curriculum to focus on core ideas and teaching students more about how to approach and solve problems rather than just memorizing factual nuggets.
“That is the failing of U.S. education today, that kids are expected to learn a lot of things but not expected to be able to use them,” said Helen Quinn, a retired physicist from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, Calif., who led an 18-member committee that spent more than a year devising the framework.
One of the big goals, the committee said in a 282-page report, is “to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science.”
The report, released Tuesday by the National Research Council, also pushes for incorporating engineering into what is taught to students in elementary school through high school.
Lastly, forgive me a little schadenfreude but I always thought Tom Vander Ark was woefully unaccomplished for being the first head of the Gates Foundation's Education wing and this article seems to bear that out. He started out being the superintendent in Federal Way schools (he was another business type who veered off towards education).
Mr. Vander Ark, the foundation’s former executive director of education and a national leader in the online learning movement, was granted charters in 2010 to open a high school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and two others in Newark. The New York school, Brooklyn City Prep, also got space in a public school building — a precious and controversial commodity — hired a principal, and welcomed applications from 150 eighth graders this spring.
But after spending more than $1.5 million of investors’ money on consultants and lawyers, Mr. Vander Ark, 52, has walked away from the project, and the schools will not open as planned this fall, leaving others involved stunned and frustrated.
“He’s flying 30,000 feet on the air, but can’t do it on the ground,” said Joshua Morales, a former official with the New York City Education Department who was hired by Mr. Vander Ark to develop the schools.
While many new charter schools are asked to take a year for planning, it is relatively rare to require two, and unusual for a founder — in this case, a well-known figure in education reform — to walk away.
Mr. Vander Ark seems to bounce from place to place, full of ideas but none that seem to come to fruition and yet, he still keeps getting hired. He also is a managing partner at a venture fund, Learn Capital. One thing the group claims to have done made me laugh out loud:
- Introduced 3D stealth learning to mainstream audiences
In 1989, Clay Christensen joined the faculty of the Harvard Business School and began studying why successful organizations fail. He found the factors that had promoted success were often cause of the demise. These organizations would add sustaining innovations—think computers and cars—that made models a little better and a little more expensive every year. This cycle of product improvement leaves room for new competitors to fulfill similar needs for substantially less.
These “disruptive innovations” often replace non-consumption for under served consumers. In education non-consumption includes credit recovery, dropout recovery, and home education.
The Disrupting Class authors prediction that more than 50% of high school education would be online by 2019 seemed aggressive four years ago, but it’s now clear that that the majority of all K-12 students will learn online or in schools that blend online and onsite learning by the end of the decade.
The real promise is to transform the monolithic system to one that customizes learning. Michael is quick to point out that BL is not 1:1, not digital textbook, not white boards. According to Horn, blended learning is “anytime a student learns in part in a supervised brick and mortar place away from home and at least in part through online delivery, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and place.” He is sympathetic to my friendly amendment of a productivity seeking shift (learning and operating).
Michael closed by pointing out that online learning is disruptive because it is not beholden to old metrics, models, budgets, and boundaries.