August 18, 2014

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How to Read Education Data Without Jumping to Conclusions

theatlantic.com | Article Link | by Jessica Lahey and Tim Lahey

Education has entered the era of Big Data. The Internet is teeming with stories touting the latest groundbreaking studies on the science of learning and pedagogy. Education journalists are in a race to report these findings as they search for the magic formula that will save America's schools. But while most of this research is methodologically solid, not all of it is ready for immediate deployment in the classroom.

Jessica was reminded of this last week, after she tweeted out an interesting study on math education. Or, rather, she tweeted out what looked like an interesting study on math education, based on an abstract that someone else had tweeted out. Within minutes, dozens of critical response tweets poured in from math educators. She spent the next hour debating the merits of the study with an elementary math specialist, a fourth grade math teacher, and a university professor of math education.

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August 12, 2014

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Inequality Begins at Birth

nybooks.com | Article Link | by Jeff Madrick

Over the past year, the lack of universal pre-kindergarten for American four-year-olds has become a national issue. In 2013, President Obama proposed to fund an ambitious new nationwide pre-kindergarten program through a new cigarette tax. That plan failed to gain support, but Bill de Blasio gave new urgency to the issue when he swept into the New York mayor’s office promising universal pre-K for all city children—which will begin in the fall. Even as these efforts are being made, however, new research is making it increasingly clear that educational disparities start much earlier.

The value of universal access to early education has long been recognized: it improves the life chances of disadvantaged children and is crucial to keeping a level playing field for all. The United States has fallen well short of this goal. In most of Europe there is universal, good-quality preschool for three- and four-year-olds. In America, recent data show that fewer than half of all three- and four-year olds are enrolled in some form of preschool. Head Start, the main federal program, provides preschool funding for only about two fifths of poor children in this group.

Moreover, America has the second highest child poverty rate out of the thirty-five nations measured by the United Nation Children’s Fund (only Romania is worse).

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August 11, 2014

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New Journal Issues Now Available from The Learner Collection

Bookstore | The Collection | The Learner

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following issues.

These issues are now available through our online bookstore. Participants of the 2014 conference and 2014--2015 Community Members may download full-text articles for free by logging in to CGPublisher. (return) These issues feature the following articles...

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July 1, 2014

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Fair Play

lrb.co.uk  | Article Link | by Alan Bennett

Preaching is a hazard when writing plays. One isn’t supposed to preach and gets told off if one does. Poets are allowed to, but not playwrights, who if they have naked opinions, do better to clothe them in the decent ambiguities of their characters or conceal them in the sometimes all too thin thicket of the plot. Just don’t speak to the audience.

I have always found this prohibition difficult. John Gielgud, who was in my first play, thought talking to the audience was vulgar. Then he was prevailed upon to try it and thereafter would seldom talk to anybody else. I understand this and even in my most naturalistic plays have contrived and relished the moments when a character unexpectedly turns and addresses the house and, in a word, preaches.

This may be because as a boy and a regular worshipper at St Michael’s, Headingley I heard a lot of sermons. I also used to go to Saturday matinees at the Grand Theatre in Leeds, though on occasion the sermons were more dramatic than the plays. This was particularly so when they were preached, as they quite often were, by visiting fathers from the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield who were almost revivalist in their fervour and the spell they cast over the congregation.

So when as a young man I first had thoughts about what nowadays is called stand-up it’s not surprising it took the form of a sermon. Like all parodies it was born out of affection and familiarity and the Anglican services that were in my bones, and there is symmetry here as the first sermon I preached on a professional stage was in Cambridge fifty odd years ago across the road at the Arts Theatre in the revue Beyond the Fringe. It was on the text, ‘My brother Esau is an hairy man but I am a smooth man.’ That sermon apart I have never formally preached since until this morning and here I am again in Cambridge.

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June 18, 2014

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Schooled

newyorker.com | Article Link | by Dale Russakoff

Late one night in December, 2009, a black Chevy Tahoe in a caravan of cops and residents moved slowly through some of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Newark. In the back sat the Democratic mayor, Cory Booker, and the Republican governor-elect of New Jersey, Chris Christie. They had become friendly almost a decade earlier, during Christie’s years as United States Attorney in Newark, and Booker had invited him to join one of his periodic patrols of the city’s busiest drug corridors.

The ostensible purpose of the tour was to show Christie one of Booker’s methods of combatting crime. But Booker had another agenda that night. Christie, during his campaign, had made an issue of urban schools. “We’re paying caviar prices for failure,” he’d said, referring to the billion-dollar annual budget of the Newark public schools, three-quarters of which came from the state. “We have to grab this system by the roots and yank it out and start over. It’s outrageous.”

Booker had been a champion of vouchers and charter schools for Newark since he was elected to the city council, in 1998, and now he wanted to overhaul the school district. He would need Christie’s help. The Newark schools had been run by the state since 1995, when a judge ended local control, citing corruption and neglect. A state investigation had concluded, “Evidence shows that the longer children remain in the Newark public schools, the less likely they are to succeed academically.” Fifteen years later, the state had its own record of mismanagement, and student achievement had barely budged.

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June 17, 2014

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Advisory Board Member in Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL)

From the Community

On Diversity Advisory Board member Vivienne Bozalek (University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa) contributed the opening editorial to the inaugural issue of Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL), a new publication featuring work from both South African and international authors. The journal deals with a range of pressing issues in higher education and is especially resonant for South African authors.

CriSTaL is now accepting submissions for its December 2014 issue from researchers and practitioners in higher education studies.

For further information on the journal, submission process, or to read the most recent issue, please visit their website.

May 30, 2014

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There is no scale

redasadki.me | Article Link | by Reda Sadki

So, you are unhappy with a five percent completion rate. Hire tutors (lots of them, if it is massive). Try to get machines to tutor. Use learners as tutors (never mind the pedagogical affordances, you only care about scale and completion). Set up automated phone calls to remind people to turn in their homework. Ring the (behaviorist) bell.

Or not.

Google’s Coursebuilder team has an interesting take on completion rates. Let’s start by asking learners what they want to achieve. Then examine their behavior against their own expectations, rather than against fixed criteria. Surprise, surprise: take learner agency into consideration, and it turns out that most folks finish… what they wanted to.

Bill Cope has an interesting take on scale. He says: there is no scale. It is not only that face-to-face/online is a false dichotomy. The intimacy of learning can be recreated, irregardless of how many people are learning. Public schools break down an entire population of children into classes of twenty-five.

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May 21, 2014

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New Journal Issues Now Available from The Learner Collection

Bookstore | The Collection | The Learner

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following issues.

These issues are now available through our online bookstore. Participants of the 2013 conference and 2013-2014 Community Members may download full-text articles for free by logging in to CGPublisher.

These issues feature the following articles...

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May 2, 2014

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Parental Involvement Is Overrated

nytimes.com | Article Link | by Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris

Most people, asked whether parental involvement benefits children academically, would say, “of course it does.” But evidence from our research suggests otherwise. In fact, most forms of parental involvement, like observing a child’s class, contacting a school about a child’s behavior, helping to decide a child’s high school courses, or helping a child with homework, do not improve student achievement. In some cases, they actually hinder it.

Over the past few years, we conducted an extensive study of whether the depth of parental engagement in children’s academic lives improved their test scores and grades. We pursued this question because we noticed that while policy makers were convinced that parental involvement positively affected children’s schooling outcomes, academic studies were much more inconclusive.

Despite this, increasing parental involvement has been one of the focal points of both President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and President Obama’s Race to the Top. Both programs promote parental engagement as one remedy for persistent socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps.

We analyzed longitudinal surveys of American families that spanned three decades (from the 1980s to the 2000s) and obtained demographic information on race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, the academic outcomes of children in elementary, middle and high school, as well as information about the level of parental engagement in 63 different forms.

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April 10, 2014

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Community Member Serves as Editor of Recent Book on Adult Learning

From the Community

Aging & Society Knowledge Community member Professor Barry Golding has recently served as Co-Editor of Men Learning through Life, now published by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) in the UK. Dr. Golding has submitted to present his research at Aging and Society: the Fourth Interdisciplinary Conference, to be held this November in Manchester, UK.

The book, "seeks to identify and summarise what can be said about policy, practice and research into men’s learning in the international context. It also identifies examples of good policies or practices in men’s learning that can be shared in the international arena."

For more information, please visit this website.

To learn more about the Aging & Society Community, also a Common Ground Publishing knowledge community, please visit its website.

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