Site Loader

Why Collaboration Can Be Harder Than Herding Cats

Researchers at CRPE use “Herding Cats” as a metaphor to describe the complications of district-charter school collaboration. I think they describe the challenges well, but they are also being polite. Really bad charter schools and the chance of changes in district attitudes toward them can make collaborating even harder than cat herding. As CRPE explains, collaboration should accommodate different interests and perspectives among all the actors. Collaboration is even more likely to succeed if it is designed around districts’ interests in closing the worst charter schools, and around the unfortunate potential of districts to backslide into ideological opposition to charters and collaboration.

Taking a Lesson from The Boys in the Boat and Aiming for “Swing”

To be of championship caliber, a crew must have total confidence in each other, able to drive with abandon, confident that no man will get the full weight of the pull…. When you get the full rhythm in an eight, it’s pure pleasure to be in it. It’s not hard work when the rhythm comes—that “swing” as they call it. I’ve heard men shriek out in delight when the swing came into an eight; it’s a thing they’ll never forget as long as they live.

Can High Standards and Accountability Co-Exist? Lessons From the Common Core Assessment Consortia

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was designed to solve a problem that has plagued past standard-setting efforts. Many states responded to earlier efforts by watering down their standards for learning and lowering expectations for students in an attempt to artificially boost the number of students that reached proficiency. By creating a set of common expectations across states, the designers of the Common Core sought to protect the initiative from the inevitable political pressures that might lead policymakers to weaken the standards or the aligned assessments.

Linking State and Local School Improvement

The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives heavy deference to “local control.” School districts, charter schools, and communities are meant to be in the driver’s seat. And they are. States don’t improve student outcomes—schools and families do. State agencies have limited authority to intervene in low-performing schools, for example, and have limited staff, funding, and expertise to support serious improvement efforts in every school that needs it. State school chiefs and state boards have more power to stop bad things from happening through regulations than to promote solutions. Yet states are the entities through which the vast majority of public education funds flow. They are responsible for fulfilling constitutional responsibilities for effective and equitable public education, and for stepping in when localities fail to deliver results. 

Wells Fargo and the Atlanta Schools Testing Scandal

To people in education, the Wells Fargo scandal sounds eerily familiar.This all sounds a lot like the Atlanta public schools test-cheating scandal of 2013. The superintendent relied on cash incentives for raising test scores and believed the hyped numbers she (and the public) were shown. Teachers and administrators in all schools tried hard to raise test scores, and some improved. But in many schools, fear and cynicism took hold so that test prep replaced other instruction and faculty and administrators falsified test scores. Real harm was done when parents were deceived about levels of student performance, and children were denied catch-up opportunities. The superintendent and some others ended up as defendants in the criminal justice system, and the once-celebrated Atlanta school system was back to square one.