Archive for July, 2012

ZOMG: Text-speak and tweens: Notso gr8 4 riting skillz

A new study in New Media & Society suggests that texting — with its abbreviations and grammatical shortcuts — undermines students’ writing skills.

The “Texting, Techspeak, and Tweens” study by S. Shyam Sundar, founding director of Penn State’s Media Effects Research Laboratory, and Drew P. Cingel, a doctoral student at Northwestern University, examined “whether increased use of text messaging engender greater reliance on such ‘textual adaptations’ to the point of altering one’s sense of written grammar.”

The pair tested students in a Pennsylvania middle school. Their conclusion: “Results show broad support for a general negative relationship between the use of tech-speak in text messages and scores on a grammar assessment, with implications for Social Cognitive Theory and Low-Road/High-Road Theory of Transfer of Learning.”

According to Education Week:

Moreover, the more often a student received text messages using tech-speak, the more likely he or she was to send messages …

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The Irreplaceables: Study says schools losing top teachers

I listened to a panel a few weeks ago on whether schools were aware of and keeping their top teachers. I have not had a chance to write up the findings but will soon. In the meantime, here is a new report from The New Teacher Project that addresses the same issue: Whether schools are doing enough to keep their best teachers.

A new study finds that urban schools are systematically neglecting their best teachers, losing tens of thousands every year even as they keep many of their lowest-performing teachers indefinitely—with disastrous consequences for students, schools, and the teaching profession.

The study by TNTP, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that all students get excellent teachers, documents the real teacher retention crisis in America’s schools: not only a failure to retain enough teachers, but a failure to retain the right teachers.

“The Irreplaceables,” released at an event featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, NEA Secretary-Treasurer …

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Scathing report on for-profit colleges and their $32 billion in tax dollars

The for-profit colleges are taking billions in tax dollars with little to show for it, according to a report that will be issued today from a U.S. Senate committee.

Despite $32 billion in federal student aid to the colleges, most of the students never earn a degree, indicating that taxpayers are being saddled with a losing investment. However, the for-profits colleges don’t fail everyone, least of all their executives  — the CEOs of the colleges were paid an average of $7.3 million, according to the report.

The scathing report states that more than 80 percent of the for-profit college revenues comes from taxpayers. Because of its larger and larger claim on tax dollars, the for-profit college industry has come under greater scrutiny. Latest numbers show that the for-profits enroll 13 percent of the nation’s college students. Yet, those students represent nearly half of all the defaults on college loans.

And government loans are the oil that keeps the for-profit college …

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Plastic surgery to deflect bullying: What does it teach kids?

Georgia teen Nadia Isle underwent plastic surgery to pin back her ears counter bullying. (CNN)

Georgia teen Nadia Ilse underwent plastic surgery to pin back her ears to repel bullying. (CNN)

One of the most memorable books I ever read on parenting was “The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do” by Judith Rich Harris.

When the book came out in 1998, it created a stir because of Harris’ contention that parents matter little; peers and biology matter more. “Parenting matters zilch, ” said Harris.

Harris proposed that the most significant environmental influence comes from outside the home, in the playgrounds and the schoolrooms and the places where children teach each other how to live. Her work ties together phenomena that argue against parental influence — evidence that twins reared together are no more alike than those reared apart, for example, and that the children of immigrants speak the language of their peers, not their parents.

In fact, she suggested in her book that parents consider plastic surgery for their children if they had …

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American higher education must reinvent itself

Here is a guest column by Mohammad Bhuiyan, the 2011-12 ACE Fellow at the University System of Georgia and Endowed Professor of Entrepreneurship at Fayetteville State University

By Mohammad Bhuiyan

The American higher-education system is running on an unsustainable business model of raising tuition and fees to cover declining government and private funding. In addition, most of the academic community is in denial about the potential of technology and other emerging factors.

Ten years ago, online classes and degrees were considered low-quality, and most workplaces didn’t even recognize the diplomas. Today, online courses and programs are both important and ubiquitous. According to the Pew Research Center, about half of all college courses are now available online. The new generation of students is in many ways more interested in online classes than traditional classrooms.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that venture capitalists have poured about $500 million over …

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DOE update on new teacher evaluation system; 50,000 teachers in mix this year

A reader sent me this question:

You may be ahead of me on this, but the second half of the school year just ended and so did the pilot test of the new teacher and principal evaluation systems. The 26 participating Race to the Top districts were asked to pilot test them with 10 percent of their faculties. Results, data and feedback were to be returned to the DOE by the end of May.  I’d sure like to know what they learned. Wonder if Teresa MacCartney and company have the summary report yet?

I asked DOE to respond and ended up in a 40-minute phone conversation Friday afternoon with Teresa MacCartney, deputy superintendent for Race to the Top implementation, and Martha Ann Todd, director of teacher and leader effectiveness.

Here is a brief summary. (I also asked DOE to write an op-ed on the teacher evaluation process and will share if I get it.)

DOE is not done analyzing all the data that came back from the pilot; it is still working on the cumulative teacher and leader …

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State school chief explains his endorsement of voucher proponent

Regarding my post a few minutes ago, the state Department of Education has now sent me state School Superintendent John Barge’s explanation for his endorsement of state Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, a leading voucher proponent in the Georgia General Assembly.

Rogers is facing fellow Republican Brandon Beach next week in a primary for his north Fulton/Cherokee seat.

Here is a letter that Barge sent out explaining his decision to back Rogers in this GOP primary race:

Dear Superintendents:

I have been contacted today by several friends expressing some concern over my endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers in his current primary and some statements Senator Rogers attributed to me.

Please allow me to set the record straight.

Chip was one of the first Republican elected officials to endorse my candidacy for Superintendent.  We agree on many conservative issues. One issue we disagree on is vouchers for education.

Unfortunately, it appears that his website …

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State school chief endorses private school voucher proponent

School chief John Barge endorsed one of the state's leading voucher proponents, which will likely surprise a few folks.

School chief John Barge endorsed one of the state's leading voucher proponents, which will likely surprise a few folks.

“Politics,” as editor Charles Dudley Warner said, “makes strange bedfellows.” Here is proof.

This endorsement blurb from state School Superintendent John Barge can be found on the campaign website of state Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, a leader in the effort to expand private school voucher programs in Georgia.

I asked DOE if Barge had endorsed Rogers and received a single word reply: “Yes.” However, a few minutes later, DOE sent me this statement from Barge explaining his endorsement.

Here is what you will find on the Chip Rogers site:

“Senator Rogers is a true conservative leader, committed to education reform. Our paths to reform may sometimes differ, but our goal is the same; giving Georgia’s students a chance for a world-class education. I offer my full support for Senator Rogers and look forward to continuing our work together making Georgia the best …

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Not all math classes are the same even in the same school

math (Medium)Researcher William H. Schmidt believes education has become a game of chance in which the odds of success are predicated on factors outside the control of the students, including where they live, the schools they attend, the teachers they have and the textbooks they use.

An internationally recognized researcher on effective math education, Schmidt says that U.S. students lack equal opportunities to learn math, something he saw firsthand when he took sabbatical from Michigan State University to spend a year at the University of Virginia.

As an author of Michigan’s math standards, Schmidt knew his second grader would have been learning multiplication tables up to the number five back home in East Lansing. In Virginia, multiplication was not taught at all in second grade, reinforcing what Schmidt already realized from his international comparisons: All math classes are not equal and students do not have the same opportunities to learn math.

In his new book “Inequality for …

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Georgia students return to school and to new Common Core Standards

From the state Department of Education today:

Educators across Georgia will begin teaching the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) in mathematics, English language arts, as well as literacy in science, social studies, and technical subjects, when they return to school this year.

The CCGPS are part of the Common Core State Standards, a state-led initiative developed two years ago in conjunction with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The goal is to establish a uniform set of expectations for what students will learn no matter where they attend school and to ensure that students are ready for college and careers after high school graduation.

“These standards will better prepare our students for success beyond high school and allow us to see how we measure up against other states,” said state School Superintendent Dr. John Barge.  “Also, because we are such a transient society, these standards can …

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