Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Common Core and Young Children

The Alliance for Childhood is calling for the withdrawal of the portion of the Common Core Standards dealing with young children. Their statement includes a good explanation of what they object to and why.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Standards, Etc.

Just a reminder that you have until this Friday, April 2, to comment on the Common Core Standards.

And a couple of other items of interest:

Maybe you were aware that Larry Cuban has a blog, but it was news to me. Full of interesting observations about education reform, especially its historical antecedents.

Diane Ravitch comments on the recently passed law in Florida that will undermine teacher professionalism.

Monday, March 29, 2010

NCLB, the Sequel

Here are two thoughtful responses to the Obama administration's Blueprint for re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), from Renee Moore and Richard Rothstein. All of this can seem incredibly wonky but if there's one thing we should have learned from NCLB, it's that we ignore these issues at our peril.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coming to Your State Soon?

The Florida senate passed a bill yesterday that, if it's passed by the Florida house and signed into law, will pretty much guarantee that nobody who has any other options will choose to teach. Here are some of the key elements (from the Valerie's Strauss's "The Answer Sheet" blog in The Washington Post):

The bill would:

*Require that school systems evaluate and pay teachers primarily on the basis of student test scores. Testing experts say this is an invalid assessment tool.
*Require that experience, advanced degrees or professional certification not be considered when paying teachers.
*Require that new teachers be put on probation for five years and then work on one-year contracts, which would allow any principal to easily get rid of any teacher who bothered them in any way.
*Require the creation of new annual tests for every subject that is not measured already by state assessments or other tests, such as the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate end-of-course tests.

Due process? Valid and reliable research? Teachers as professionals? Apparently those are old-fashioned concepts. The whole column is worth reading. You can find it here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie, one of the most popular speakers to appear at the CEE luncheon in recent years, has won the Pen/Faulkner Award for his recent book War Dances.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More on Standards

I've been on the lookout for places where people are discussing the Common Core Standards draft. I'm surprised at how little seems to be going on (given the April 2 deadline for public comments), but maybe I'm not looking in the right places. Or maybe people think it's a done deal. Or that standards are standards and there isn't much to be said. In addition to the statement about media literacy posted here yesterday, I did find a couple of lively discussions over at Jim Burke's English Companion Ning (here and here). However, they tend to focus more on whether national standards are a good idea in general rather than on the particulars of the current draft. Is anything going on in your state organization or at your school or college?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Media Literacy and the Common Core

Rick Beach posted the following as a comment. It seemed worth re-posting here:

Time is running out. If you agree with our petition below, we ask you to go to the SUBMIT FEEDBACK section of the COMMON CORE STANDARDS documents (online) at this week.
Please share this message with your colleagues today.

Frank Baker (Media Literacy Clearinghouse), Richard Beach (University of Minnesota)

Whereas in 1996, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) passed a resolution urging language arts teachers to consider the importance of bringing visual texts into the classroom. The resolution said: "Viewing and visually representing (defined in the NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts) are a part of our growing consciousness of how people gather and share information. Teachers and students need to expand their appreciation of the power of print and nonprint texts. Teachers should guide students in constructing meaning through creating and viewing nonprint texts."

Whereas in 2000, the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) defined
media literacy as: (empowering) “people to be both critical thinkers and creative producers of an increasingly wide range of messages using image, language, and sound. It is the skillful application of literacy skills to media and technology messages. As communication technologies transform society, they impact our understanding of ourselves, our communities, and our diverse cultures, making media literacy an essential life skill for the 21st century.”

Whereas the 2009 K-12 Horizon Report (, declared the number one critical challenge for schools in the 21st century is: "a growing need for formal instruction in key new skills, including information literacy, visual literacy, and technological literacy."

Whereas the 2010 K-12 Horizon Report continues to include this critical challenge when it says:
“Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.;

Whereas media/digital literacy has become central to life and work in society;

Whereas, today’s educators recognize that the words “text” and “literacy” are not confined to the words on page;

Whereas the Common Core Standards only refer in general terms to media as “nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to research and to consume and produce media is embedded into every element of today’s curriculum;”

Whereas media/digital literacy are now well articulated in much more detail in most state standards, often under the category of “viewing” or “visually representing,” resulting in a strong media literacy curriculum focus;

Whereas if media/digital literacy is not explicitly articulated “in the standards,” many teachers many not focus on media/digital instruction;

We, the undersigned urge that more specific media/digital literacy standards related to critical analysis of media/digital consumption/use, production, representations, social/cultural analysis, ownership, and influence on society be explicitly stated in the Common Core Standards.

If you agree with our petition below, you need to go to the SUBMIT FEEDBACK section of the COMMON CORE STANDARDS documents (online) at this week.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Changing Charters

Two interesting pieces about charter schools: SUNY is closing one and questions are being asked about what's being taught in two others in California. Given Secretary Duncan's emphasis on charters, these stories are getting more important. Are you placing student teachers in charters? Is your institution operating a charter? What influence are charters having on your work?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Clinical Prep

AACTE has a new policy brief out titled "The Clinical Preparation of Teachers." The main recommendations are below. Given the times we live in, I predict some policy maker will endorse these recommendations and, in the same breath, endorse alternative paths that include little or no clinical experience.

Specifically, the federal government should:

  • Revise the "Highly Qualified Teacher" definition within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to require that teachers must establish not only their content expertise, but their ability to teach it effectively, as measured by their actual performance in classrooms, following extended clinical experience;
  • Invest in the development of a National Teacher Performance Assessment that would parallel the development and adoption of Common Core Standards;
  • Maintain the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants, with a specific clinical preparation focus, in the Higher Education Opportunity Act while increasing funding for the program;

Specifically, state governments should:

  • Require a minimum of 450 hours, or one semester, of clinical experience during pre-service teacher preparation;
  • Ensure that all teacher preparation routes, regardless of pathway, include the same clinical preparation requirements;
  • Require a high-quality teacher performance assessment of all teacher candidates;
  • Collaborate to agree upon common clinical experience requirements;
  • Offer incentives to schools that act as clinical settings for teacher candidates; and
  • Support the expansion or replication of successful teacher residency programs.

Providers of teacher preparation should:

  • Ensure school districts and universities work jointly to design and supervise strong clinical practice collaborations;
  • Provide all teacher candidates substantial and appropriate clinical preparation prior to becoming "teacher of record" in their own classrooms;
  • Train clinical teachers and other teacher mentors to help and support novice teachers;
  • Require all clinical teachers to have at least three years of teaching experience; and
  • Assist our nation's public schools and teacher preparation programs to jointly adopt standards for newly redesigned clinically based teacher preparation programs.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Ravitch

In the Education Week blog she writes with Deborah Meier, Diane Ravitch responds to the recent Newsweek hatchet job on teaching and the teaching profession: "The article is a flamboyant example of outright hostility to teachers, to the organizations that represent them, and to public education itself." Read the rest here.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Diane Ravitch has been everywhere the last couple of weeks. Here's a new interview with her.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back in Business

Greetings to English educators and the CEE community. This blog has been silent for a while, but I recently spoke with CEE chair Janet Alsup and she agreed it might be useful to restart it, so expect regular postings again. Please comment, subscribe, and share the address with others.

Most of you have heard by now that the Common Core Standards project has released a draft for public comment. The window for public comments is open only until April 2. You can find the three responses to previous drafts from review panels appointed by NCTE here. In my opinion the April 2 deadline will make it difficult for many teachers and teacher educators to respond. If you do have time to read the standards, please feel free to share your thoughts. Are there particular parts that comments should be directed towards?

You may not have heard that NCATE head Jim Cibulka has made a statement "applauding" the Core Standards. Here's the key piece:
NCATE will ensure that educator preparation standards and assessments reflect the knowledge and skills educators need to help P-12 students meet the new common core standards. NCATE will examine the new standards through the lens of expectations for teachers’ content mastery, pedagogical content skills, ability to affect student learning, clinical preparation, professional development and other dimensions of teaching effectiveness, both for novice and experienced teachers, and related skills for other professional P-12 personnel.
This seems to be suggesting an accreditation process that's closely tied to national K-12 content standards. Thoughts? (Thanks to Lil Brannon for the heads-up about the NCATE stance.)