State Standards: Not a Substitute for Curriculum

As auditors, we often spend hours poring over state standards and student work artifacts (the actual work students are asked to do in the classroom to show mastery of a standard) looking at how the latter aligns to the former.  Does the work of the classroom really measure mastery of the standard?  The problem is that […]

Public Schools, Race, and COVID-19

If you follow this space at all, you know that we are very big on equity at CMSi.  All students, no matter their background, income level, country of origin, skin color, or primary language, deserve the fullest and best opportunity to learn.  All students deserve the gift of the highest expectations for their performance and […]

The Downside of Hands-on Learning

Hands-on learning is almost always engaging — it involves a lot of activity that is generally different from the sit-‘n-get sorts of things students might normally be doing.  And engagement is good:  it means kids are immersed in the activity, paying full attention. But… It’s possible to have a hands-on, super engaging activity that doesn’t […]

Recruiting and Retaining Teachers: An Economist’s Approach

“We should be doing everything we can to try to have the best teachers in American classrooms….the systems we  currently  have in place, for various reasons, don’t really achieve that goal.”  Raj Chetty, William A. Ackman Professor of Economics, Harvard University Last time I wrote about some intriguing research being done by Raj Chetty measuring […]

The $300,000 Kindergarten Teacher

How important is a good Kindergarten teacher?  When measured in terms of lasting impact on test scores, the answer is “not very”; gains on standardized test scores actually fade over the subsequent elementary years.   By grade 8 or so, the impact fades to the point that those children look about like their peers who were […]

Neuroplasticity: Debunking the ‘Hardwired’ Myth

Hold on:  we’re going to get all scientific up in here. Sometimes, ideas in psychology filter into the general consciousness — usually via the media — and lodge there for long periods of time. Such ideas pass into the vernacular of popular culture and become a kind of shorthand way of classifying behaviors or situations.  […]

Glimmers of Hope in Teacher Prep Programs

Although there has been some improvement in teacher preparation programs over the last three decades, intensive practice in classrooms under expert supervision  — something that is central to the Finnish model — does not necessarily happen for all teacher candidates in the U.S..  Most have a requirement of at least observing in classrooms, but the […]

You and Me and the FAE

FAE stands for Fundamental Attribution Error. It’s a fallacious type of thinking in which we attribute other people’s actions or performance to their character but excuse our own actions or performance by attributing them to our situation.   It is entirely possible to commit FAEs within the same day,  even within the same hour:  cutting someone […]

Reform School for Teachers

“There’s a generalist approach to primary education that says subject expertise isn’t really important, that the general level of content knowledge that most adults have is enough to prepare them to be elementary school teachers, but no high achieving country would agree.” Ben Jensen, researcher at National Center on Education and the Economy I ran […]

Apples to Oranges: The Finnish System

After looking at the teacher shortage in the U.S. last time, I promised a deeper dive into Finland’s educational system.  It seemed to me that the U.S. and Finland had very different — almost diametrically opposed — approaches to education.  I did my research: particularly into what the naysayers might have to offer.  Certainly all […]