It Might Not Be the Money

Recently, I ran across this headline on the Education Trust/Midwest website: Michigan spent $80 million to improve early reading. Scores went down.  Ouch. The article, which was from 2018, went on to detail the crisis in early reading in Michigan, where scores for proficiency in 3rd grade reading fell from 50% proficient in 2015 to […]

The Trouble With Grit

I’ve written about grit in this space before, and I continue to be intrigued with the way grit — the ability to stick with something even when it’s hard — has lasting effects on the so-called “soft skills” necessary for life after formal education.  But here’s the caveat to the grittiness mindset: some issues surrounding […]

The Intersectionality of Structural Racism: Connecting the Dots

Intersectionality is an important principle in understanding structural racism.  Intersectionality is when oppressive systems are interconnected to the point that they cannot be examined separately. In practical terms, this means two things: There’s a cluster of practices and situations that impact each other like so many dominoes, and People of color experience racism from multiple […]

The Pitfalls of Virtual Learning

In recent weeks, thousands of tweets and memes have confirmed how valuable (and underpaid) teachers are in the U.S.  as millions of parents have tried to take over the education of their children amid the coronavirus shutdown.  We have all watched in real time as school districts scrambled to move some or all of their […]

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 […]

Landmark Detroit Case Finds Students have a Constitutional Right to Basic Literacy

On April 23, 2020, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the U.S. Constitution includes a right to “a basic minimum education,” which lawyers claim the state of Michigan denied to a group of Detroit Public School students. Suit was filed in 2016 on behalf of students from some of the lowest performing schools […]

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 […]