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 […]

Three Strikes, You’re Out: Teacher Shortages and High-Poverty Schools

Here’s a disturbing article from EPI examining the trends in teacher training, experience and turnover between low-poverty schools and their high-poverty counterparts.  The article both cites the current shortfall of teachers in American Classrooms and looks at which schools are most affected. Strike One:  Teachers are less prepared to teach High-poverty schools have more non-credentialed […]

College Degrees, Return on Investment, and Rigor

This recent opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal should spark some conversation. The author asserts that English degrees, while often coming at a high cost, don’t provide enough return on investment because they don’t have the earning potential of, say, an engineering degree.  He also asserts that most who major in English come to […]

When Bubbles Collide

Not too long ago, I wrote a journal post entitled “Thoughts from Inside the Bubble.”  An article from the September issue of Kappan magazine perfectly and memorably  captured the essence of the bubble concept. In it, Gerald Fowler (now a professor at Shippensburg University) writes of his decision to get a class pet for his […]

When the Gatekeeper Becomes the Key Master: The SAT and the Overhauling of High School Math

Well, it’s October, so you’ll have to excuse the Ghostbusters reference. Freakonomics Radio’s most recent podcast, “America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t Add Up“, should be required listening for all auditors, all educators, and all parents of kids currently slogging through high school math. There’s a lot to unpack here, all of it relevant and timely in […]