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For now, they are overrated, but in the future they could do a lot of good (December 10, 2012)

Are Video Games the Learning Tools They’re Cracked Up To Be? Three facts about educational video games—and educational technology more generally—are important to consider as we look at their current use and impact. First, video games, educational and otherwise, show that clever technologies can attract and hold the attention of users and can teach them a variety of sophisticated thinking patterns. Second, educational games have made little dent in education. And, third, advanced technologies will be an important part of education in the future.

Evaluating Teachers AND Administrators (November 26, 2012)

Recent school reform talk has focused importantly on teacher evaluations and on using evaluations for personnel decisions – both positive and negative. But this discussion is almost always too narrow. We should never focus exclusively on teacher evaluations without also including administrator evaluations.

The California Student Lockout (July 23, 2012)

When asked to propose ways to deal with budget cuts, the National Park Service famously proposed closing the Washington Monument, and this tactic of choosing the most egregious conceivable action as a way of forestalling budget cuts is enshrined in budgeting lore.

Human Capital and the Latin American Growth Puzzle (July 18, 2012)

Long run growth is very closely linked to the human capital of the population as measured by international mathematics and science scores. On this count, the nations of Latin America have done very poorly compared to those in all other regions except Sub-Saharan Africa.

International Benchmarking of Student Achievement (June 05, 2012)

There has been considerable discussion about the advantages of benchmarking the performance of American students in various states and localities to international tests. In simplest terms, this is something we should support because it would provide new and important information to both states and localities. This new information would also provide added impetus to the imperative to improve our schools.

Is the Common Core just a distraction? (May 06, 2012)

All of the intense pushing and shoving about the “common core” leaves one simple question, “should we care?” The existing evidence suggests that there is no relationship between learning standards of the states and student performance.

Paying Attention to Classroom Reality (March 06, 2012)

The recent release of teachers' value-added scores in New York City (NYC) has kicked up a lot of dust. Regardless of the merits of publishing such data for public consumption, we shouldn't let the dust obscure the larger issue that our previous attempts to improve teacher quality were so ineffectual.

The Teacher Effectiveness Gap (March 01, 2012)

Even if average teacher quality is the same across middle-class and poor schools, the poor kids in general will score lower because they come with less average inputs from family and neighborhoods—and we have to deal with that as a nation.

Weighted Student Funding: Liberals and conservatives are equally naïve (January 30, 2012)

Weighted student funding has become a core idea of both liberals and conservatives. Liberals like the idea because, by their vision, it would push funding to schools that served more disadvantaged populations. These schools have traditionally engaged in less actual spending than more advantaged schools because they employ more rookie teachers, who come with lower salaries. Conservatives like the idea because, by their vision, it will push funding to charter schools that traditionally have received less than equal shares of the local funding for schools.

Jerry Brown’s fresh start: Local control tied to accountability (January 19, 2012)

Gov. Jerry Brown made two important statements about K-12 education in his State of the State speech on Wednesday. First, it is very important to have a strong accountability system that makes student achievement the focal point of our schools. Second, within that accountability system, local districts should have discretion to decide how to provide a quality education. Both represent an encouraging move toward improving the embarrassing state of California schools.