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Portents of Success – by Frederick Hess

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I wouldn’t have expected it, but events of the last 24 hours have got me in a surprisingly chipper mood.

First off, it was terrific to see some well-deserved recognition for the Success Academy. In the face of bureaucratic hostility, endless second-guessing about discipline and various school policies, and a bizarre amount of vitriol, the Success Academy earned the Broad Prize for Pubic Charter Schools (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the Broad Prize review board). Success has accomplished some truly remarkable things: There’s the extraordinary performance on state reading and math tests. There’s the rapid growth, from one school to more than 40 (serving 14,000 students) in the course of a decade. There’s the commitment to a rich curriculum, an admirable enthusiasm for chess, and an unapologetic commitment to excellence.

Success isn’t to everyone’s taste—observers can reasonably think the school’s discipline policies are too strict for their taste or founder Eva Moskowitz’s expectations for teachers and students too high. Okay. That’s fine. Over the years, people have voiced similar concerns about Steve Jobs and Apple or Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. That’s good company to be in. I kind of wish we had more of those single-minded visionaries in schooling. And the nice thing about charter schooling is that no one has to attend a Success Academy school. If it’s not for you, so be it. But it turns out that there are thousands of families who think their children will benefit from what Success has to offer, and thousands more on waitlists hoping to get their children that same opportunity.

One of the striking things about Success’s story, at least to me, is how Success has posted such impressive results and growth while simultaneously conducting an ongoing struggle with New York City over everything from facilities access to preschool regulations. This also has the unfortunate consequence of shifting the conversation away from the more important issues. As I see it, discussion of Success should revolve around one big question: Why do Success’s academic results seem so outsized, even compared to some of the nation’s other, most-accomplished charter schools? Instead, when Success comes up, the question is frequently: Why do opponents and New York bureaucrats seem so interested in throwing obstacles up in Success’s way?

Anyway, like I said, I was pleased to see Success Academy reap some well-earned plaudits to set alongside all the brickbats and second-guessing. And, surprisingly, it’s not the only news that’s got me a little upbeat.

On Monday, the White House held a confab for school-choice supporters to talk about what’s ahead for its federal school push. Last week, I’d been told that this was going to be the White House scolding everyone, “The train’s leaving the station, time to shut up, get on board, and do as you’re told.” As you can surmise, I would’ve had a big problem with that (in part, it prompted me to pen last week’s imagined presidential address). Instead, though, I was gladdened …read more    

18/09/2019 |

EdNext Podcast: The Lessons of the Louisiana Scholarship Program – by Education Next

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Patrick J. Wolf, professor at the University of Arkansas, joins EdNext Editor-in-Chief Marty West to discuss the effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program, the statewide school-voucher initiative, including its impact on student test scores and which schools participated in the program.

Read “What Happened in the Bayou? Examining the Effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program.”

The EdNext Podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, Stitcher and here every Wednesday.

— Education Next

Source: EducationNext

The post EdNext Podcast: The Lessons of the Louisiana Scholarship Program – by Education Next appeared first on GMM Kindergarten | Learn. Grow. Become.

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18/09/2019 |

Straight Up Conversation: The Woman Who’s Trying to Reimagine Testing – by Frederick Hess

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Rebecca Kantar is the founder and CEO of Imbellus, which builds simulation-based assessments of cognitive skills. The company currently deploys these assessments in over 20 countries and has raised $24 million in venture funding. Rebecca founded Imbellus after dropping out of Harvard and becoming disenchanted with content-based standardized tests. In 2019, Forbes named her one of 30 Under 30 rising entrepreneurs in education. I recently talked with her about how to build simulation-based assessments and what they can tell us, and here’s what she said.

Rick Hess: So Rebecca, what does Imbellus do?

Rebecca Kantar: I started Imbellus to offer assessments that measure “21st-century” cognitive skills that we talk about often but have thus far been unsuccessful in quantifying at scale across the education system. Rather than assessing what people know, Imbellus is assessing how they think. Our assessments are designed to measure skills like problem solving, systems thinking, critical thinking, adaptability, and metacognition. Most tests we take at school test our domain-specific knowledge. There is value to testing content mastery, and even thinking skills in specific contexts; we just already have a plethora of assessments that do just that. Imbellus assessments use abstract environments, ones that don’t mirror curricular content exactly, to understand how students process information, make decisions, solve problems, and generate new ideas. All the information students need to know is right there in the scenarios we present.

Rick: What’s the big idea behind all this?

Rebecca: Imbellus is an attempt to reorient the education system around a new North Star: adulthood readiness instead of just college readiness. In the case of college-admissions testing, what we test dictates what high schools teach. But those 7000-plus colleges vary in their quality, and far too many deliver degrees that bear debt and unemployment instead of mobility. In this landscape where college readiness no longer equates to adulthood readiness, the tests that hold our schools accountable and dictate their students’ futures must set the bar for what K-12 education should deliver. I think our K-12 schools are ultimately responsible for giving all students a shot at a good life.

Rick: Why do you think we need these kinds of tests? How will they help?

Rebecca: We see a major blind spot in assessing only content knowledge. If we can introduce assessments that instead focus on the thinking students exhibit when all the information they need to know is provided, we can at least complement assessment of knowledge with an understanding of students’ transferrable deep-thinking skills. Both employers and students themselves consistently identify shortcomings in preparation for the workforce that are not related to reading and math skills, but rather to the ability to manage ambiguity and think critically about a task at hand.

Rick: Can you describe what one of these tests would look like?

Rebecca: Our computer-based assessments feature scenarios that evaluate one or several complex thinking skills, like problem solving, in a game-like environment. As an example, a scenario may present a test-taker with an impending natural disaster. …read more    

18/09/2019 |
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