EDGAR and the Two-Point Conversion

Once upon a time, there was a football player named EDGAR. His team was in the state championship. It was the fourth quarter, and they were down by seven points. But just as time ran out, EDGAR ran around the opposing line and scored a touchdown. EDGAR’s coach now had a dilemma. Should he try … Continue reading EDGAR and the Two-Point Conversion

Taking a Charter Network to Scale: IDEA Public Schools

The process of moving an educational innovation from a good idea to widespread effective implementation is far from straightforward, and no one has a magic formula for doing it. The W. T. Grant and Spencer Foundations, with help from the Forum for Youth Investment, have created a community composed of grantees in the federal Investing in … Continue reading Taking a Charter Network to Scale: IDEA Public Schools

Leveraging What Works

In my blog from two weeks ago, I discussed several exciting proposals in President Obama’s recent budget relating to increasing the role of evidence in education policy and practice. Today, I want to say more about one of these proposals, Leveraging What Works (LWW). Leveraging What Works is deceptively simple. It offers grants totaling $100 million … Continue reading Leveraging What Works

Six Low-Cost or Free Ways to Make American Education the Best in the World

It does not take a political genius to know that for the foreseeable future, American education is not going to be rescued by a grand influx of new money. Certainly in the near term, the slow economic recovery, gridlock in Washington, and other factors mean that the path to substantial improvement in outcomes is going … Continue reading Six Low-Cost or Free Ways to Make American Education the Best in the World

Evidence and Policy: If You Want to Make a Silk Purse, Why Not Start With…Silk?

Everyone knows that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. This proverb goes back to the 1500s. Yet in education policy, we are constantly trying to achieve stellar results using school and classroom programs of unknown effectiveness, or even those known to be ineffective, even though proven effective programs are readily … Continue reading Evidence and Policy: If You Want to Make a Silk Purse, Why Not Start With…Silk?

What Kinds of Teacher Knowledge Matter Most?

James Herriott was a veterinarian who wrote very popular books about his experiences in a small town in Yorkshire, England. In his first book he described his veterinary education at the University of Edinburgh, in the 1930s. One day, he came out of class and saw an old, sway-backed horse hitched to a cart. Proud … Continue reading What Kinds of Teacher Knowledge Matter Most?

The Gap

Recently, Maryland released its 2019 state PARCC scores.  I read an article about the scores in the Baltimore Sun.  The pattern of scores was the same as usual, some up, some down. Baltimore City was in last place, as usual.  The Sun helpfully noted that this was probably due to high levels of poverty in … Continue reading The Gap

Hummingbirds and Horses: On Research Reviews

Once upon a time, there was a very famous restaurant, called The Hummingbird.   It was known the world over for its unique specialty: Hummingbird Stew.  It was expensive, but customers were amazed that it wasn’t more expensive. How much meat could be on a tiny hummingbird?  You’d have to catch dozens of them just for … Continue reading Hummingbirds and Horses: On Research Reviews

Charter Schools? Smarter Schools? Why Not Both?

I recently saw an editorial in the May 29 Washington Post, entitled “Denying Poor Children a Chance,” a pro-charter school opinion piece that makes dire predictions about the damage to poor and minority students that would follow if charter expansion were to be limited.  In education, it is common to see evidence-free opinions for and … Continue reading Charter Schools? Smarter Schools? Why Not Both?

Succeeding Faster in Education

“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” So said Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM. What he meant, of course, is that people and organizations thrive when they try many experiments, even though most experiments fail. Failing twice as often means trying twice as many experiments, leading to twice as … Continue reading Succeeding Faster in Education