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Testing and Accountability

On public schools, Catholic schools and educating the whole child

Our perceptions of inadequacy of public schools has led politically to our infatuation with standardized testing, and that has upended the mission to educate the whole child, writes Philip V. Robey, an executive with the National Catholic Educational Association and a former principal and teacher in public schools and Catholic schools. In his Education Week commentary, Robey says the larger field of education could learn some things from the administration of Catholic schools: When Catholic schools say they teach the whole child, they mean it. By nature and mission, these schools operate in such a way that moral choices and character...

From the archives: The FEA on lost influence

Now that a document highlighting lobbying machinations at an AFT affliate in Connecticut has stoked another conversation about teacher unionism and parent empowerment, redefinED wanted to reach into its archives and pull out a memo from the public policy director at the Florida Education Association that also reflects on a singular concern among teachers unions: lost membership. RedefinED host Doug Tuthill reported on the memo last fall after FEA policy director Jeff Wright urged members to head to the polls and keep Rick Scott out of Florida's governor's mansion. Why? Wright said that Scott would enhance merit-pay practices and expand school choice,...

Quote of the day

From a must-read David Brooks column in the New York Times: If your school teaches to the test, it’s not the test’s fault. It’s the leaders of your school.

Two approaches to ed reform, but one may do little to reform

Two divergent approaches to education reform are operating in public education today. Both are focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of human capital, but while one seeks greater centralization of power the other seeks greater decentralization. Recent tenure, evaluation, seniority and merit pay reforms are examples of state government trying to improve education by giving school boards more power and mandating that they use this power to increase teacher productivity. Teacher unions, which were created to curb the power of school boards, oppose this power transfer since it’s their power that is being redistributed to school boards. School board members...

Friends and foes of Jeb Bush overlook the real reason for Florida’s gains

Initiatives such as eliminating social promotion, grading schools and bringing more professional development into high-poverty schools reinforced Bush’s commitment to increasing the achievement of low-performing students, but it was the governor’s drive and forceful personality that convinced schools and school districts to reorder their priorities.

The cameras focused on Rhee and Scott, but the school was really the star attraction

The school reaches out to an impoverished community, where all students are children of color and nearly all qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and it delivers on results. In 2002, the state of Florida gave the school a failing grade, based on its dismal core performance in reading and writing. Today, that school has an A – with a nearly identical demographic and the majority of its students are now meeting high standards in those subjects.

Private schools with public students need oversight

Fordham reasoned that the more a private school begins through its percentage of voucher or tax credit scholarship students to look like a public school, the more it needs to be regulated like one. That seems fair enough as a working guideline. In Florida, where we have 33,000 tax credit scholarship students who make up on average only 17 percent of the total enrollment in their private schools, the sliding scale approach seems entirely reasonable.