Wants scores in high exclusion states suppressed
Add Florida’s Commissioner of Education to the growing list of those crying foul (such as discussed here for learning disabled students and here for students still learning English) over high exclusion rates of students with learning disabilities from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Kentucky led the nation in 2011 for the percentage of students NAEP wanted to test here that ultimately were excluded due to learning disabilities in both fourth and eighth grade NAEP reading. That has been getting us some unfavorable highlighting in the press such as a recent Education Week article, “Often Excluded, More Special-Needs Students Taking NAEP” (subscription).
Though not specifically mentioned by the Florida education commissioner, without question Kentucky falls among those states that Florida believes should not have scores released by the NAEP for comparison to other states. On this issue, I have to agree with Florida.
By the way, it is ironic that this NAEP issue surfaced in Education Week’s Curriculum Matters Blog only days after the Quality Counts report for 2012 was released by the same publisher. I’ll have more to say about the NAEP and Quality Counts in a day or two.
On problems with education research, state education rankings and teacher preparation
An annual rite of passage occurred again on January 12, 2012 when Education Week released its annual report on education across the United States, known as Quality Counts (subscription). Kentucky’s education boosters wasted little time jumping on the new state rankings in the report, which showed that Kentucky moved up 20 places in the Quality Counts state rankings in just one year (Really???).
It’s hard to imagine that so much celebration would be warranted for a state that only earned an unimpressive “C+” in the Quality Counts scoring process, but the jump in the rankings does sound impressive (assuming you believe a state can change its education system that much so quickly), until you ask some very basic questions:
What qualities really count in education, and does Quality Counts do a good job of identifying and grading them? For that matter, do many involved with education really know the answers about what REALLY makes up a quality education system?
I am very happy to see Apple really pick up the ball in the aging textbook industry. As you may have heard in the news, Apple has released iBooks 2 & iBooks Author applications that will allow you to create text-books to be used on the iPad! I have already downloaded the app and plan to dive deep into learning how to publish. Over at Apple.com they have a great video showing the possibilities of this new-be-standard in education. Everything that was talked about from Apple about the current education system is spot on with our own report by Richard Innes “Digital Learning Now“. I think this is a big step in education, as one of the educators said in the video, “There’s no reason, today, to assume that kids have to use the same tools that they used in the 1950’s. In fact, to do so is to prepare them for a world that is already past”. Click below to see what it is all about!
Apple in Education video
The First International School Choice/Reform Conference brought together some of the leading researchers in school choice and reform issues along with a number of other individuals who are involved with the struggle to improve schools across the country.
I presented a paper about pitfalls to interpreting the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which was very well received, even by one researcher who had raised a number of challenges to other talks (while my paper is now in press for publication in the new Journal of Education Choice, you can get an idea of the problems I discussed here).
I was especially glad to learn that one of the co-panelists in my breakout session at the conference was Allison Powell. She is from iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. Allison presented a new report from iNACOL about “Online and Blended Learning: A Survey of Policy and Practice of K-12 Schools Around the World.”
This document is going to be a valuable reference for me and others working with ideas for improving on line learning options for our kids. There are summaries of digital learning efforts in many countries from all around the world plus an interesting overall analysis of common trends, issues and challenges found in many of the listed countries.
There is a heads up for us in the US buried behind the scenes in this new iNACOL report – we are not alone in pursuing digital learning. Many other countries are picking up this powerful tool, as well.
You can see some of my quick notes from the report about international trends by clicking the “Read more” link.
While Indiana debates important issues like school choice and right-to-work legislation, Kentucky’s risk-averse political leadership is content to argue over gambling and how to force kids to stay in school until they are 18 years old.
It’s not like the commonwealth doesn’t have much more pressing issues of its own.