Education News from Washington Post
America’s Most Challenging High Schools ranks schools through an index invented by Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews. The index formula is a simple ratio: The number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school in 2013, divided by the number of graduates that year. Noted in our national and local tables is the percentage of students eligible for government meal subsidies — a common benchmark for poverty — and each schools’s average SAT score, a common college entrance exam with a national average of 1498 out of 2400. This year, the list also notes whether each school has an 11-person football team as an indicator of changing school cultures, the subject of Mathews’ analysis of the 2014 results. The list includes some private schools — noted with a (P) — for comparison. Certain public schools with highly selective admissions are omitted from the list, but information about them can be found online, along with full local and national lists, at www.washingtonpost.com/highschoolchallenge.Read full article >>
During her career in newspapers and television, my wife, Linda, was a master at finding the hidden heart of what was going on. While editing stories and managing projects, she had a knack for seeing what was most surprising and interesting in the mass of facts before her. When she had a thought recently about my annual rankings of the nation’s high schools, I listened carefully.Read full article >>
Travis Durfee is a teacher at Watkins Glen Middle School in Watkins Glen, New York who is administering Common Core-aligned standardized tests to students that were designed by Pearson, the education company. In the following piece, which he calls “Driving Lessons,” he looks from within the schoolhouse gates at the disconnect between the mandated exams and the Common Core State Standards that the tests are supposed to be designed to evaluate. He describes his piece this way: ”The essay contrasts my father’s driving lessons with what drives my lessons in the classroom today--the mad dash toward accountability under a new educational paradigm where the Common Core trumps common sense.”Read full article >>
If you doubt the power of the charter school movement, consider this: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, just slapped down New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, over the issue. Or, as education historian Diane Ravitch put it in this piece for the New York Review of Books blog:Read full article >>
Michelle Rhee still doesn’t get it.
The former D.C. schools chancellor and now leader of a national organization that pushes corporate school and attacks teachers unions, just wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that uses bad analogies and a number of straw men to argue against the growing “opt out” movement in which parents are refusing to allow their children to take high-stakes standardized tests. A small but growing number of educators are refusing to administer the tests, too.Read full article >>
D.C. officials released a proposal for new elementary school boundaries Saturday, the first comprehensive overhaul of the politically sensitive partitions in four decades.
The proposed new lines — redrawn to adjust for schools that are overcrowded or underused and to address travel or safety issues — could affect thousands of families. But even more far-reaching than the reconfigured map is a set of three policy proposals the city also unveiled at a public meeting, parts of which could fundamentally change how students are assigned to traditional public schools.Read full article >>
Virginia’s elementary and middle school students will have fewer Standards of Learning tests starting next school year, since Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Friday signed into law a bill that eliminates five tests.Read full article >>
Spring is a busy time for third-grade teacher Marlon Mohammed, who is preparing his students to take the Virginia Standards of Learning tests for the first time.
In addition to reviewing four years of material in reading, math, social studies and science for the cumulative state tests, he also has to teach them how to take the exams. That means familiarizing 8-year-olds and 9-year-olds at Discovery Elementary School in Ashburn with multiple-choice questions and conditioning them to sit through the hour-long tests.Read full article >>
What attribute do Americans find most compelling in the teacher they have identified as having the greatest impact on their lives?
I learned the answer recently when I was listening to a speech by Brandon H. Busteed, the executive director of Gallup Education, about public education and what polls show about how Americans view their teachers.Read full article >>
D.C. officials have put forth a proposal to redraw elementary-school boundaries, but they are also floating three broader policy proposals, pieces of which have the potential to radically change the way in which students are assigned to schools.Read full article >>
When it comes to school and neighborhood inequality, the federal government has a short attention span, discussed here by Elaine Weiss and Patrick Sharkey. Weiss is the national coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education, a project of the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute that recognizes the impact of social and economic disadvantage on many schools and students, and works to better the conditions that limit many children’s readiness to learn. Sharkey is an associate professor of Sociology at New York University and the author of Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality. He will discuss key findings at an Economic Policy Institute event on Thursday, April 10.Read full article >>
He’s a sports-crazed senior on a sports-crazed campus, a place that advises those unfamiliar with the Terrapins to “fear the turtle.” Joshua Gilstein, 22, is a regular at men’s basketball and football games at the University of Maryland and went to Philadelphia last fall to root for the men’s soccer team in the NCAA tournament.Read full article >>
Maryland lawmakers approved legislation Friday that would require state health officials to conduct a study on the sleep needs of students and the experiences of school systems that have shifted the hours of their school days.Read full article >>
1. How does America’s Most Challenging High Schools work?
We take the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year and divide by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June. I call this formula the Challenge Index. With a few exceptions, public schools that achieved a ratio of at least 1.00, meaning they had as many tests in 2013 as they had graduates, were put on the national list at washingtonpost.com/highschoolchallenge. We rank the schools in order of ratio, with the highest (21.91) this year achieved by the American Indian Public Charter in Oakland, Calif., which repeats as the top-ranked school.Read full article >>
The Washington Post’s America’s Most Challenging High Schools list is designed to recognize schools that challenge average students. These top-performing schools, listed in alphabetical order, were excluded from the list because, despite their exceptional quality, their admission rules and standardized test scores indicate they have few or no average students. Non-neighborhood schools with SAT or ACT averages above the highest averages for neighborhood schools nationally are placed on this list. Our sampling of private schools is exempt from this rule so that readers can see how they compare to schools on the main list.Read full article >>
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed a school prayer bill on Friday, saying it could lead to “coercive prayer” or “religious messaging” at school events.
The bill attempted to codify students’ right to pray in school; organize prayer groups, or religious clubs or events; wear clothing or accessories with religious messages; and express religious views at school events.Read full article >>
The Washington Post’s Challenge Index, which began in 1998, is not the only way to rank high schools. Here is a quick survey of some others:
In 2007, U.S. News & World Report launched a high school list as part of its expanded rankings of several American institutions, inspired by its popular college rankings that began in 1983.Read full article >>
Three teachers from P.S. 364 Earth School in New York have informed their administration and Chancellor Carmen Fari a that they will not proctor Common Core state standardized tests this year -- or ever -- saying in a letter (see below) that they “can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children.” They join a small but growing number of educators who are taking a strong stand against high-stakes testing, in Seattle last year, Chicago this year and in other places.Read full article >>
In a win for student privacy activists, New York state is ending its relationship with a controversial $100 million student data collection project funded by the Gates Foundation and operated by a nonprofit called inBloom. It appears that from the nine original state partners, none are now committed to going forward.Read full article >>
As Northwestern University’s football players attempt to unionize, their leaders came to Capitol Hill this week to lobby for the effort and to protect their interests in advance of potential legislative battles.Read full article >>