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The teacher quiz, and the ‘other one percent’

John Merrow opines on who “the one percent” really should be construed as — plus, a video quiz on how much you really know about the American teaching profession.

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Some thoughts on Education Nation

John Merrow offers his thoughts on NBC’s Education Nation 2011.

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A Paradox? Or a Genuine Contradiction?

Can something really be good and bad at the same time? How about that delicious but fattening dinner you had last week? It was great, until you added up the calories, right? Now what about a school? Can it be both good and bad at the same time? Is educational quality–like beauty–in the eye of the beholder or do test scores say it all?

More precisely, can a school with only 18% of its 4th graders at grade level in reading be considered a good school? Before you say, “Of course not,” please read on. Because we discovered that the FIRST graders at that school were reading confidently and competently. That’s right: the first graders were readers, but the fourth graders weren’t according to the results of the state test.

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ADD trash to the curriculum?

Mapping a neighborhood can make strong educational sense.

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In education, a lack of response to basic demand

On a flight from New York to California, John Merrow strikes up a dialogue with a man in the restaurant business who has two young sons. As they chat about methods of education, it becomes obvious that the many other systems — for example, the restaurant industry — are responding to basic demand models and truths far better than education. Plus: a report from Merrow’s first book party for The Influence of Teachers.

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Joel Klein’s Legacy

Much has been made of Joel Klein’s influence on New York City’s public schools over his 8 years as Chancellor. Most of the words have been kind, and deservedly so. After all, he took on a huge and hidebound system and began whacking away on day one, pausing only occasionally to catch a breath.

Combative by nature, Mr. Klein could bristle at the drop of an inference. Always well prepared, Mr. Klein dazzled with numbers, and, when the numbers didn’t support his case, he found other ways to attack.

His critics—and there are many—discount the academic achievements Mr. Klein boasted about, particularly after the flabby nature of the tests was exposed, leading to a re-grading of many public schools here. They say he was obsessed with test scores and didn’t pay enough attention to genuine learning. He maintains that he was the first to raise doubts about the tests.

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Thanksgiving Tricks & Treats: Klein, Tenure, NAEP and more

Somehow this Thanksgiving seems more like Halloween, full of tricks and treats.

#1. The big treat was, of course, Tom Friedman’s column in the New York Times, telling the world that, if he were starting out in journalism today, he would be an education reporter. He’s right. It’s a happening beat.

#2. This next one is either a trick or a treat, depending on where you are sitting: Bill Gates continues to speak out, leading some to label him ‘the shadow Secretary of Education. This time he chose the annual meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers in Louisville to call for huge changes in how teachers are paid. He said that the ‘bonus’ for having a Master’s degree was a waste of money (lots of money too, an estimated $8.6 billion in extra pay), because there’s little evidence that extra degrees add to positive student outcomes. There’s a mighty wind blowing on the issue of teacher pay.

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