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Promoting District-Led Turnaround Near the end of January this year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced his intentions to target the next wave of Race to the Top funds to districts rather than states. Although he stated he was not ready for concrete details, he asserted that the next $550 million would flow to districts, allowing them to decide how to target funds.
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More Youth, More Ready: A Broader Approach to College Access and Success At a recent fundraiser for a community-based college access program, the sense of opportunity was palpable. Speaking about their experiences, students and parents made clear the incredible impact the program had had on their lives, and program leaders described impressive plans for expanding students' reach.
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Measuring Effective Teaching with a Team of Superheroes As the parent of a six-year-old, I'm often reminded that a team of superheroes should not share the same superpower. Rather than have three Supermen, it's much better to have one guy who is super strong, one who can run really fast, and one who can do something totally unexpected--like turn themselves invisible.
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Value-Added Measures: The Public’s “Right to Know”? I love newspapers. I really do. I subscribe to both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. But their recent decisions to publish teacher names along with their "value-added" ratings shows the newspapers at their very worst--focusing on what sells papers rather than the public good. In the process, they may single-handedly bring down what could be one of the more positive developments in K-12 education in recent decades.
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Slow, Erratic, and Underwhelming—Progress in Narrowing Achievement Gaps For more than a decade, states, districts, schools, and teachers have devoted enormous energy to closing achievement gaps between rich and poor students and between students from different racial and ethnic groups. But how much progress has been made in narrowing these gaps?
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The Power of Pivotal Moments How do minority students who are first in their family to attend college manage to make their way to higher education despite what seems like overwhelming odds? Most Americans believe that low-income minority students who excel in school do so because they are smarter, more motivated, and willing to work harder. Stories abound in mainstream media outlets about minority working-class students who are able to "beat the odds" to become highly successful students.
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Ordinary Teenagers, Extraordinary Results: Apprentices at Work In a small office lined with desks and computer stations, a dozen teenagers pored over paperwork and deliberated decisions, one young man zipping from table to table in a wheelchair. The young people, 15 to 18 years old, were reading, discussing, and evaluating job applications.
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Setting Off and Sustaining Sparks of Curiosity and Creativity In the summer of 2010, Newsweek pronounced--on its cover no less--that the United States was suffering from a "Creativity Crisis." The coauthors of the cover story, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, quite ably synthesized cutting-edge research about how to create the conditions for promoting creativity and offered specific ideas on how to address the crisis.
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Assessments That Measure What Matters My father-in-law was a classical pianist. He immigrated to the United States from Austria in the early forties. His first official act was to apply to the American Federation of Musicians for a union card, which he needed in order to work. To get this card he had to pass a simple test: the examiner pointed to a piano and asked him to play something.
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What Inspired Me to Study Parent and Community Engagement As is true for many teachers, I have fond and not-so-fond memories of my first year teaching. It was a year both of trial and error, of extreme joy and disappointment--that led to self-doubting about my effectiveness as a teacher. The first couple months were, at times, terrifying and discouraging.
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