Some of the News Fit to Print
WHY CONFUSION CAN BE A GOOD THING
We all know that confusion doesn’t feel good. Because it seems like an obstacle to learning, we try to arrange educational experiences and training sessions so that learners will encounter as little confusion as possible. But as is so often the case when it comes to learning, our intuitions here are exactly wrong. Scientists have been building a body of evidence over the past few years demonstrating that confusion can lead us to learn more efficiently, more deeply, more lastingly—as long as it’s properly managed. How can this be? The human brain is a pattern-recognition machine. It evolved to identify related events or artifacts and connect them into a meaningful whole. This capacity serves us well in many endeavors, from recognizing the underlying themes in literature, to understanding the deep structure of a scientific or mathematical problem, to anticipating hidden complications and seeing their solutions in our work. Over time, exposure to these problem-solving situations gives us a subconscious familiarity with their essential nature that we can hardly articulate in words, but which we can easily put into action. The article is in the MindShift blog.
DEASY WANTS 30% OF TEACHER EVALUATIONS BASED ON TEST SCORES
L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy announced Friday that as much as 30% of a teacher's evaluation will be based on student test scores, setting off more contention in the nation's second-largest school system in the weeks before a critical Board of Education election. Leaders of the teachers union have insisted that there should be no fixed percentage or expectation for how much standardized tests should count — and that test results should serve almost entirely as just one measure to improve instruction. Deasy, in contrast, has insisted that test scores should play a significant role in a teacher's evaluation and that poor scores could contribute directly to dismissal. In a Friday memo explaining the evaluation process, Deasy set 30% as the goal and the maximum for how much test scores and other data should count. The article is in the Los Angeles Times.
HOW OHIO’S NEW TEACHER EVALUATIONS WILL CHANGE STUDENT TEACHING
Ohio’s educators have been nervously watching the development of a new way to evaluate teachers. They’re nervous because half of their evaluations will be based on student test scores. Officials hope the higher stakes will improve teaching performance. But there could be ripple effects, like big changes in the way student teachers get classroom experience. The new teacher evaluations kick in next fall. “When that goes into place I will not give up my classroom for a student teacher,” says Barb Sole, an eighth grade language arts teacher at Utica Jr High School in rural central Ohio. Sole has a student teacher now. It’s the third she’s worked with, and she says probably her last. The piece is from StateImpact Ohio.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
The growing crisis of students arriving at college unprepared to do college-level work has led to plenty of finger-pointing between high school and college educators. But two community colleges have learned that better collaboration with local high schools may be the best way to dramatically reduce the number of students who fall into the quagmire of remedial coursework. Long Beach City College has worked closely with the Long Beach Unified School District so it can experiment with using high school grades to help determine whether incoming students have remedial needs -- a shift from instead relying heavily on standardized placement tests. And according to newly available data from the college, an initial group of 1,000 students from Long Beach high schools who were placed with this new method were far more likely to take and pass credit-bearing, transfer-level courses at the college than their peers the previous year. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.
TEACHER PREP REVIEW DEBATE BREWS BEFORE FINDINGS EVEN COMPLETE
Of all the efforts to show which teacher preparation programs are the most effective and which ones are the least, the one that could potentially have the biggest influence on the public is the Teacher Prep Review being produced by the National Council on Teacher Quality. A $5 million project in the works since early 2011, the review is set for release this April as one of the latest additions to the college rankings published by U.S. News & World Report. Creators of the Teacher Prep Review say the syllabi and other materials they are examining to produce the review are sufficient to determine if teacher prep programs are meeting a series of standards that NCTQ describes as the “nuts and bolts of building better teachers.” The article is in Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.