International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance

Harvard has recently published a “must read” report on International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance.  As we all know, there is catch-up to be done.  This report can be found in the Current News section of the Atlantic Research Partners website, and is in .pdf format when you get to the landing page.

Link is:


School Leaders-Ethics and Integrity Matter

Who would you classify as a school leader? The superintendent, the central office or network staff member, the school principal, board members?  Easy argument to cast each of these positions as leaders, eh?!

What about teachers?  When thinking about parents, guardians and students, they certainly see teachers as leaders. So, in essence we are all school leaders in a way.

Yesterday, Steve Davidoff ‘s article on big corporate CEOs running amuck with power and making seriously greedy and outright egregious plays for company stock, cash bonuses, and self-pay transactions to the point of instigating shareholder lawsuits.  One colleague taught me the term drunk with power.  It resonates.

I tried to talk myself out of linking that NY Times article to our work.  After all, these big corporate chiefs are in another financial world than ours it seems.  Not so!

They have followers they can lead with ethics and integrity, and we have followers we can lead with ethics and integrity (or not).  We can learn from the many examples of breaches in public trust when any one of us violates what is appropriate.  We do this from big acts of wrongdoing or passive acts, such as allowing a colleague (or even a supervisor) to go unchecked on something we know about.  From something as discreet as 1 answer being changed on a child’s state testing booklet to something as horrendous as that Maryland school superintendent found guilty years ago of manipulating a million dollar sale to his girlfriend’s company.  The truncation was paid for by the taxpayers he was entrusted to serve.  Big or small-there really is no difference.

Once when I had to confront ethics issues on the part of a school board member, I was reminded by some colleagues teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Education how often disconnected our ethics curricula in school leadership programs are from the realities of the day to day issues and decisions we face.

It is only those leaders who serve every day with a keen sight on what is right and what is wrong who can truly inspire and lead in this work we do for kids.

There are many big corporate executives we can learn from who are doing the right things for the right reasons.  There are far too many who frankly provide the wrong type of modeling for us.  Remember, they all started with us–in a school with teachers, principals, superintendents.  We must model positive behaviors for our future big corporate execs., not just teach them.

And for other adults associated with our work, and when it comes to ethics and integrity we must all see ourselves as leaders.  Otherwise, we fail to  get our parents, students, and other constituents to follow and to support the work we do for kids.

Is this over the top and it seems like I am preaching to the choir?  Or, is this pertinent material for us to be reminded of the enormity of ethics and integrity in our work?


Class Size! Do you think size matters?

Most well-informed education practitioners know the value of smaller class sizes.  Even without the research behind you, one can deduce how students in smaller groups can succeed with better chances than those in larger class sizes.  For decades the research has supported this logical thinking.

Now that technology, new ways of instructional delivery, and new venues  of schooling are abundant, perhaps it is time to refresh the professional literature around class size (and many other well-established notions of our Nation’s educational system).

Roland Fryer, Jr., and Will Dobbie have done just that.  Their robust findings in a deep study of 35 NYC-based charter schools has turned conventional thinking on its ear.  Read this excerpt from their study:

We show that input measures associated with a traditional resource-based model of education – class size, per pupil expenditure, the fraction of teachers with no teaching certification, and the fraction of teachers with an advanced degree – are not positively correlated with school effectiveness. In stark contrast, an index of five policies suggested by forty years of qualitative research – frequent teacher feedback, data driven instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and a relentless focus on academic achievement – explains almost half of the variation in school effectiveness. Moreover, we show that these variables continue to be statistically important after accounting for alternative models of schooling, and a host of other explanatory variables, and are predictive in a different sample of schools.

So as we navigate school scheduling for the coming school year, and as we continue to teach (preach) the old literature of our profession, we must also learn from new studies, especially those executed with great depth and acumen, such as the Dobbie, Fryer piece.

If you’d like to order a copy of the entire article it can be found on the Social Science Research Network ( or through the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Study is entitled:


Your thoughts?

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