Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ed News Roundup

Some irony in the story in the Times recently about teaching math in colleges/universities.  The story is about how a Central Washington professor, Dominic Klyve, has been given a grant (shared with six other higher ed institutions) to study using "primary sources" to help students grasp math concepts.

What primary sources?  People like Euclid and Archimedes.  The idea is that students understand not just how to solve an equation but how the method to solve the problem was developed.

I do like this "back to basics" idea (at least in trying to help students see math as a journey and not just a single endpoint of solving problems) but it's a bit of a clash with what K-12 students are learning via Common Core math.  My understanding of how Common Core math is taught does not match up with what this professor (and others) are trying to find out for how college students should be taught math.
A report from the Fordham Institute and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools criticizes states for not being "hospitable" in allowing charters to provide pre-k.  That raises an interesting question as to whether the City's pre-k program will look to charters for space (more on that in a new thread coming).

Charter schools are often barred from automatically enrolling pre-K students into their kindergarten programs without first subjecting them to a lottery. 

Well, first, I can only say to charters that rules are rules.  You get this great freedom but it comes at the cost of rules.  If you have too many kids applying for a charter, it goes to a lottery.   I note that many state charter laws do give currently enrolled students a bump in so it is indeed possible to create a system where you enroll in pre-k and that's it.

That statement is also fairly interesting as both staff and SEA head, Jonathan Knapp, seemed to support that notion of rolling pre-k kids into K-12 seamlessly in their assessment of the agreement the district signed with the City for pre-k.  It's not necessarily a bad idea but Knapp and staff said it might be better for the preschool teacher to ALSO be the kindergarten teacher.  Do that and the City will continue its march into our district's inner workings.

Good roundup of the journey of NCLB by Ed Week including parts that both sides like on the revamping of NCLB, amendments put forth and a timeline.

I absolutely want to get back to working on student data privacy but, in the meantime, if you have been wondering about data sources, here's a great rundown from Data Science Central of "big data" sources for your research needs from government to weather to music.


Lynn said...

The same big data techniques that are transforming other industries are seeping into the college and university admissions process to help predict whether students will succeed and graduate.

Anonymous said...

The pre-K teacher becoming the K teacher statement never made sense to me. Of course sure there's less transition, but do we loop teachers with kids their entire school career? No. Surely if it's just a somewhat different approach (and I'd argue that many if not most K teachers would strongly prefer to be teaching more play based/explorative so aren't really the problem) we could just give K teachers a round of professional development and call it good...

NE Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ah but NE Parent, if the City trains the pre-k teachers and they then become the K teachers, that's one more way for the City to worm itself into the district.

Anonymous said...

This 2015 school budget year, SPS decided to under-budget teaching staff. I believe the budget report said that the new projection method, netted 30 fewer teaching staff than the previous year's method would have created The stated goal of this change was to avoid the challenges associated with the cuts last October after school was well underway.

NOT surprisingly, this was way too aggressive and SPS has added a bunch of teachers to the budget either this week or last week. In many cases, these were teachers that school communities advocated loudly last year that it was just implausible that the schools would shrink when they have been growing every year.

The challenge. While you can place a last minute teacher, you can't place a last minute portable and therefore many of these schools will be both scrambling to hire new staff and create additional home room space.

I really hope the SEA is bringing this matter to the contract negotiations. Some schools had to lay off teachers that they wanted to keep and now need to hire another teacher.
- central mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The challenge. While you can place a last minute teacher, you can't place a last minute portable and therefore many of these schools will be both scrambling to hire new staff and create additional home room space."

Central Mom, I've been hearing this same story far and wide. West Woodland was promised a portable for their growing school but isn't getting one. They may be getting a ...trailer.

The district's method on trying to figure out staffing is not working (at least not for schools)