Defending the Ohio Reading Guarantee

October 31, 2012

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Tracy Craft from BAEO, Terry Ryan from Fordham and yours truly from the Foundation for Excellence in Education have teamed up to push back on attacks on Ohio’s reading guarantee policy. Just as a quick reminder of just how radically successful this effort has been in Florida, the chart below shows the trend of students reading at the lowest level of reading achievement (FCAT 1) at the 3rd grade level:

Edited for Clarity

CCSS = Cargo Cult State Standards

April 30, 2012

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Over the transom this weekend came the latest “research” from Common Core advocates:

New Research Links Common Core Math Standards to Higher Achievement

Pretty amazing since CC hasn’t even been implemented yet! I’ve seen some impressive research design accomplishments in my time, but this is a whole new level. This is “pre-search!”

So how’d they manage to pull off this amazing feat?

Schmidt’s work focuses on the strong resemblance of the CCSS for mathematics to the standards of the highest-achieving nations; the improvement in focus, coherence and rigor of the CCSS for mathematics beyond the state standards they replaced; and the link between higher National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) mathematics scores and states with standards closely aligned to the CCSS for mathematics.


And now, on a totally unrelated topic:

The term “cargo cult” has been used metaphorically to describe an attempt to recreate successful outcomes by replicating circumstances associated with those outcomes, although those circumstances are either unrelated to the causes of outcomes or insufficient to produce them by themselves.

But wait – it gets better!

The metaphorical use of “cargo cult” was popularized by physicist Richard Feynman…[who] coined the phrase “cargo cult science” to describe science that had some of the trappings of real science (such as publication in scientific journals) but lacked a basis in honest experimentation.

Or as Jay put it just the other day:

There is a cynical habit in the education policy world to fund and promote analyses that people know or should know to be faulty as long as those analyses advance their cause.  Shaming those who engage in this cynical practice by revealing the obvious flaws in Tucker’s work was the purpose of my review.

Image HT Roy Spencer

Speaking of Moynihan…

May 26, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

I get another assist from DPM in responding to an editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Here’s the punchline:

Minnesota lies in the heart of Big Ten country, where people have long taken justifiable pride in their K-12 scores and the academic prowess of their universities.

The favorable demographics alluded to by Sen. Moynihan, however, have masked a growing problem: Minnesota suffers from the largest racial achievement gaps in the nation.

A system of schooling that gives the least to those starting with less is unworthy of the traditions and ideals of Minnesota.

Liberals and conservatives should work together with educators to fiercely pursue radical improvement in literacy skills. The students with the least have the most to gain.

While I am on a Moynihan kick, I may as well note that I love the DPM quote that RedefinED keeps as a permanent feature on their blog:

Diversity. Pluralism. Variety…We treasure these values, and I do not believe it excessive to ask that they be embodied in our national policies for education.

…and hopefully in our state policies as well!

NYT on Governor Bush

April 26, 2011

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

New York Times on Governor Bush’s visit to Minnesota.  Someone needs to write some new material for the “skeptics” these newspapers put in for “balance” in their stories. It’s the same stuff every time and it is still weak.

Nice cocktail reference Jay!

Also- Oklahoma passed their tax credit bill, and Wisconsin lawmakers have introduced a special needs scholarship.

Transition to the Foundation for Excellence in Education

March 4, 2011

 (Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

I will be making a transition from full-time staff to a Senior Fellow with the Goldwater Institute after today, and joining the staff of the Foundation for Excellence in Education on Monday.  I am thrilled about joining Team Jeb, and plan to help GI find a great replacement to carry on our vital work. I will continue to be based in Arizona.

I am especially proud of the work that we did with our allies to improve the transparency in Arizona schools.  A large bipartisan majority of the Arizona legislature took action to replace an obviously inflated version of a national norm referenced exam.  Two years later, a large majority decided to replace fuzzy labels for public school achievement like “performing plus” and “excelling” with letter grades A-F based on the Florida formula.

Much work remains to be done, but I honestly think that we are on the right track for some significant improvement in Arizona public schools.

Arizona’s parental choice coalition has been busy as well. In the past few years, our coalition has taken action to improve the transparency, financial accountability and size of the scholarship tax credit program.  We lost our special needs voucher program in the Arizona Supreme Court, but have worked this session to replace the program with what we hope will be the nation’s first system of public contributions to Education Savings Accounts.

Since 1994, school choice programs in Arizona have mostly taken the edge off of an enormous amount of public school enrollment growth. The enrollment growth has stopped, and may prove absent for some time. Interesting and challenging days lie ahead for parental choice in Arizona.

Major elements of the Florida model are advancing this year. Here in my neighborhood out west, lawmakers have introduced reforms based upon the Florida experience in Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The PISA exam reveals just how vast our K-12 problems have become but progress is not only necessary but possible.

I want to thank Darcy, the Goldwater Institute board of directors, staff, donors and allies for what has been one hellacious run. The best is yet to come for GI.  While it is sad for me to leave today, it is very exciting for me to join Team Jeb.

Ed Week on Jeb’s K-12 Influence

December 30, 2010

 (Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Education Week on Jeb Bush’s growing K-12 influence. Over on the Gradebook blog, Jeff Solochek previews the year ahead in Florida K-12 reform.

Foundation for Excellence in Education Video

September 15, 2010