12/4/2013 – Ensuring Quality Teachers

THIS WEEK:Low Head Start Participation Rates … Music Ed Helps Kids’ Brains … When More Money Moves Teachers … International Test Score Distortions … School Battles For Vets


Time To Change The Way We Ensure Quality Teachers

By Jeff Bryant

“The agenda [Arne] Duncan ‘began to advance in 2009 has now hit serious roadblocks’ … Particularly anger-inducing has been the way the Duncan/reform agenda has faltered on the need to expand access that poor and language-minority kids have to the best teachers … The idea of getting more successful teachers to work in schools that poor kids attend is not without merit … An important new document lays out a holistic view of how to address the many factors that influence “teaching quality” and more equitable distribution of high-quality teachers to schools that need them the most.”
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Only 42 Percent Of Eligible Children Participate In Head Start

Education Week

” Despite funding increases for Head Start over the past six years, only 42% of eligible children are now served, and just 4% of those eligible are served by Early Head Start … Although money for the programs got a $1.2 billion funding boost from 2006 to 2012, 33 states did not meet benchmarks for either class size or adult-to-child ratios … Only four states – Connecticut, North Dakota, Oregon, and Vermont – filled their classes … Despite increases in funding, the barrier to participation is still money.”
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Music Training Sharpens Brain Pathways, Studies Say

Education Week

“New research suggests that the complexity involved in practicing and performing music may help students’ cognitive development … Music training may increase the neural connections in regions of the brain associated with creativity, decisionmaking, and complex memory, and they may improve a student’s ability to process conflicting information from many senses at once … Starting music education early can be even more helpful … Not only does [playing music] require attention and coordination of multiple senses, but it often triggers emotions, involves cooperation with other people, and provides immediate feedback to the student on how well he or she is progressing.”
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What Happens When Great Teachers Get $20,000 to Work in Low-Income Schools?


Veteran education journalist Dana Goldstein writes, “The results of a new study … found merit pay can work … The good news is … a significant pay raise can move good veteran teachers to struggling schools and keep them there. The bad news is that less than a quarter of the 1,500 effective teachers asked to participate in this experiment chose to apply … Our school reform debate has focused almost obsessively on the individual teacher within the classroom. In reality, a school’s working climate – the complex interplay between a principal and teams of teachers – matters just as much … Efforts to recruit good teachers to low-income schools will probably be more successful if transfer teachers are guaranteed not to be overwhelmed by higher head counts … We should listen to what teachers are telling researchers about their preferences: Class sizes should be reasonable, and principals matter. But money matters too.”
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‘PISA Day – An Ideological And Hyperventilated Exercise

Economic Policy Institute

Economists Richard Rothstein and Martin Carnoy write, “National average scores of students on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) will be released Tuesday, and we urge commentators and education policymakers to avoid jumping to quick conclusions … The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are planning a highly orchestrated event, ‘PISA Day,’ to manipulate coverage of this release … Advocates participating in Tuesday’s staged PISA Day release include several who, a quarter century ago, warned that America’s inadequate education system and workforce skills imperiled our competitiveness and future. Their warnings were followed by a substantial acceleration of American productivity growth in the mid-1990s, and by an American economy whose growth rate surpassed the growth rates of countries that were alleged to have better prepared and more highly skilled workers.”
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For Returning Veterans, Back-To-School Brings New Battles – And Not Enough Help

The Hechinger Report

“The road to higher education will remain fraught with challenges for U.S. veterans, some two million men and women who have or will return from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere … It’s a sad state of affairs for a country that educated about 10 million returning veterans after World War II … Today’s veterans often have difficulty accessing their benefits … Some are finding themselves deep in debt due to predatory lenders; others scammed by for-profit colleges that lure them in – and don’t deliver what they’ve promised … They also often struggle to find answers for their unique range of issues – everything from transferring credits to studying full-time while supporting a family to post-traumatic stress and physical injuries.”
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