Posts Tagged ‘curriculum and instruction’

1st November
2008

First Published on the Public Advocate’s Corner October 29, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Shortly after I began writing a regular column for The New York Sun six-and-a-half years ago, the mayor was given control of the New York City public schools. During that period I have written around two hundred columns on the schools, most of which discuss various aspects of mayoral control.

I am by nature a skeptical fellow, and the story of the educational “reform” that has taken place since then has given me much to be skeptical about. Unfortunately, last month the Sun published its final issue, so now is as good a time as any to reflect on this remarkable story that I have followed since the beginning.

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11th April
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, April 11, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

In the midst of the state financial crisis, the governor and legislature still found funds in the budget to increase education spending across the state by a record $1.75 billion dollars. School spending has long been at the center of a key public policy debate, one that was “resolved” by a settlement of the long standing Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

That lawsuit began as an effort to create a uniform funding formula that would insure that New York City schoolchildren would get a “fair” share of total state spending. It morphed into debate as to just how much public spending it takes to provide a quality education.

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3rd March
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, March 3, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Immigrant children outperform some native-born children in New York schools, my colleague Sarah Garland reported the other day. Indeed, it seems the longer newly-arrived children attend our schools, the worse they do. These conclusions come from a new study, “Do Immigrants Differ From Migrants?”

“The foreign born are whizzing by the native born at every level,” one of the researchers, Amy Ellen Schwartz, said.

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29th January
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, January 29, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Quite a debate among advocates of school choice has been ignited by Sol Stern’s article on school choice in the current number of City Journal.

Mr. Stern is a longtime advocate of school choice, whose book “Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice” is a bible to many in the voucher movement.

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18th January
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, January 18, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Nothing will grab a headline faster than rating schools with a letter grade. We saw it here in New York City when the Department of Education recently assigned grades to all of its schools. Last week, the national trade newspaper, Education Week, released its “grades” for each of the 50 states. Astoundingly, on the top of the list with a composite total grade of “B” in this “Quality Counts” evaluation, is the State of New York.

A closer examination of these results clarified the situation. Education Week used a weighted average of six components to arrive at their final grade. Only one of these components has to do with academic results, the one labeled “K-12 Achievement.” The rest of the components basically fall into the category of evaluating state education policy for good intentions, measured by such things as how much money is spent on their schools, and whether it is spent in an “equitable” way.

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9th November
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, November 9, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The creation of school report cards with letter grades attached is an intriguing concept, which explains the enthusiasm by the editorial boards here in Gotham. At its center is a simple idea I advanced in this space more than five years ago, value added testing.

On October 4, 2002, I wrote, “The best schools are not necessarily those that score highest, but rather those that achieve the greatest improvement of their individual students. Only if we look at the schools by this measure can we evaluate the efficacy of the curriculum and teaching methods they employ.”

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28th September
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, September 28, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

There wasn’t much to celebrate when the National Assessment of Educational Progress test results disclosed earlier this week.

The news wasn’t particularly good nationally, with scores that were largely flat as compared with the results two years ago, deflating some of the president’s arguments as America reconsiders the No Child Left Behind law.

Nor was there much positive news here in the Empire State.

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30th April
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, April 30, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The No Child Left Behind law, dear to the heart of the president, is due for reauthorization. And unlike the good feelings that surrounded the initial passage, the debate surrounding reauthorization has already taken on an ugly tone.

The first time this came up, Washington was a different town. For one thing, the Republicans ruled the roost on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. It was early in the Bush administration, just after September 11, that short interlude when partisanship seemed somehow inappropriate. (more…)

9th February
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, February 9, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

W. Stephen Wilson teaches mathematics at Mayor Bloomberg ’s alma mater, Johns Hopkins University. Last fall he conducted an experiment on the students in his Calculus I course.

Professor Wilson administered the same final exam to last fall’s students that he used for the same course in the fall of 1989. He chose that year because he was able to obtain data for both his exam and the SAT math scores for both cohorts of students. (more…)

22nd December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 22, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

To much fanfare, recently a group that you probably never heard of, the National Center on Education and the Economy, issued a study titled “Tough Choices, Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce,” so named, presumably, so you don’t confuse it with the long-forgotten work of the “old” commission.

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, himself a member of this “new” commission, were set to fly down to Washington for the press conference until bad weather cancelled their flight. Yet just a week later, the report seems to have already faded into irrelevance, joining hundreds of other tomes gathering dust. Maybe we should stop issuing reports and start applying some common sense to fixing our schools. (more…)