30 de novembro de 2010

High Quality Teachers

An Effective Teacher in Every


Education Next Issue Cover

A lofty goal, but how to do it?

By Kati Haycock and Eric A. Hanushek

Proposals to reauthorize No Child Left Behind seek to ensure “equitable” access to effective teachers. The U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top fund rewards state plans for “ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals” and for “ambitious yet achievable annual targets to increase the number and percentage of highly effective teachers…in high-poverty schools.” These objectives pose a number of challenging questions. How readily can we identify effective teachers? And, perhaps most crucially, what are promising strategies for seeking to increase the number of effective teachers in high-poverty schools and communities? Addressing these questions are two of the leading authorities on the topic: Education Trust chief Kati Haycock and Stanford University and Hoover Institution economist Eric Hanushek.
Education Next: What is the evidence that inner-city schools are shortchanged on high-quality teachers?
Eric Hanushek: Inner-city schools and especially those serving the most disadvantaged students routinely display unacceptable achievement levels, ones that seal their students off from further education and from good jobs. Coupled with the general finding that effective teachers are the key to a high-quality school, it is natural to infer that the children most in need are systematically getting the poorest teachers.
Unfortunately, direct evidence on the distribution of teacher quality and its impact for disadvantaged students is hard to come by. Researcher Marguerite Roza and others have produced considerable evidence that teachers in schools serving the most-disadvantaged students have lower average salaries, reflecting in large part the movement of more-experienced teachers away from schools with a higher proportion of minority students and with lower-achieving students. There is also evidence that these schools tend to have more teachers with emergency credentials and without regular certification, although this appears to be declining over time. The problem is that these readily measured attributes of teachers have virtually nothing to do with teacher effectiveness.
Extensive research on teacher quality by me and others suggests that the only attribute of teacher effectiveness that stands out is being a rookie teacher. Teachers in their first three years do a less satisfactory job than they will with more experience. And this has an impact on schools serving highly disadvantaged populations, because the more-experienced teachers who leave these schools are generally replaced with new teachers. The net impact of this on disadvantaged schools is unclear, because there is also some evidence that the experienced teachers who leave these schools are on average not their most effective teachers.
Kati Haycock: No matter what measure of “quality” you look at, poor and minority students—and not just those in inner-city schools—are much less likely to be assigned better-qualified and more-effective teachers. Core academic classes in high-poverty secondary schools are twice as likely as those in low-poverty schools to be taught by a teacher with neither a major nor certification in the subject. The percentage of first-year teachers at high-minority schools is almost twice as high as the percentage of such teachers at low-minority schools. The list of disgraceful statistics goes on and on.
Even if we dismiss traditional measures as imperfect gauges of true teaching quality, new studies employing more-sophisticated measures reveal the same inequitable patterns. When the Tennessee Department of Education analyzed the state’s Value-Added Assessment System—which measures the impact of individual teachers on their students’ tested academic growth—it found that “low-income and minority children have the least access to the state’s most effective teachers and more access to the state’s least effective teachers.” Recently, researchers at the University of Virginia studying teaching practices and learning climate in more than 800 1st-grade classrooms were dismayed to find that lower-income and nonwhite students are much more likely than their counterparts to be placed in “lower overall quality classrooms.”
We also have clear evidence of just how damaging those inequities are. An analysis of data from Los Angeles found that the impact of individual teachers is so great that providing top-quartile teachers rather than bottom-quartile teachers for four years in a row would be enough to completely close the achievement gap between white and African American students. In fact, attending to this problem is the most important step policymakers can take to address the nation’s long-standing achievement gaps.
EN: Can we get higher-quality teachers to inner-city schools? What strategies are most likely to work? Regulation or incentives?
EH: Historically, the first policy response has been to try writing regulations. When these don’t work, the next response is generally to fine-tune the regulations. Developing regulations that ensure that local districts take appropriate action to deal with the teacher quality problem is not likely to be very successful. First, regulations work best when it is possible to measure precisely the underlying attributes that are important to success. Extensive research shows that commonly measured attributes of teachers, such as more than three or four years of experience, master’s degrees, and even state certification, are not related to effectiveness. In fact, all of the regulations that go into defining what is needed to be a fully credentialed teacher neither screen out bad teachers nor ensure that credentialed teachers are any more effective then uncredentialed teachers. Second, many union contracts in effect in inner cities vest rights to fill any teaching vacancies with senior teachers. New or reworked regulations would have to deal with collectively bargained teacher agreements.
An incentive approach must be the centerpiece of improving teacher quality in urban schools and in the most disadvantaged schools. It is necessary to reward success rather than try to regulate it. Unfortunately, we have little experience with how to structure incentives. Attempts to devise universal incentives from Washington or from state capitols are likely to be quite inefficient if not harmful.
Providing strong incentives is increasingly possible, however, as we develop better information linking teachers to student achievement, but incentives linked to so-called value-added measures are likely to be a small part of the overall answer. We need to refine the evaluation of teacher effectiveness, and we need to introduce the serious use of evaluations into the schools, evaluations that guide tenure, retention, and pay decisions.
Research that Steve Rivkin and I have done indicates that the largest variations in teacher quality are found within the typical school, and that quality variation between schools is considerably smaller than that found in any given school, including high-poverty schools. The policy implication of this is quite clear. It is not a matter of trying to swap all of the teachers in high-poverty schools with those in suburban schools. It is very much a matter of focusing on student achievement gains and of keeping those teachers who do a good job while eliminating those who are inept. For this, it is more a matter of will, combined with eliminating the rigidities that have been built into teachers’ contracts.
KH: We know it is possible to bring high-quality teachers into urban schools from recent efforts in New York City and other districts. The question is whether we will do what is necessary to provide low-income and minority students with the kind of powerful teaching they need and deserve. To solve the problem on a large scale, policymakers will need to think beyond simplistic, false dichotomies like “regulation or incentives” and embrace a robust combination of broad reforms coupled with targeted interventions.
First, we should press forward with efforts to provide education leaders with more sophisticated information on teacher effectiveness, to both maximize the impact of strategies that address distribution and to ensure cost efficiency. Education leaders need to be able to identify the strongest teachers in order to recruit and retain them, and assign them to the students who need their expertise the most. Similarly, they need to be able to identify weaker teachers in order to get them the support they need to join the ranks of effective teachers or to move them out of classrooms if they cannot improve. That is why the Obama administration is using the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to insist that states tear down the “walls” that prevent them from linking teacher and student data and come clean on teacher evaluation systems that rate all teachers “satisfactory.”
But it will take time to develop richer and more sophisticated measures of true effectiveness. Until then, policymakers should use a combination of the best available measures to analyze teacher distribution, report on it, and act to increase equity. A study in North Carolina found that having teachers with a combination of characteristics and credentials can more than offset the gap in annual learning gains between African American students whose parents did not go to college and white students whose parents did. We need to act on the information we have available, even while we work to create more sophisticated measures.
Next, we need new policies that empower local superintendents and principals to use that information to better recruit and distribute highly effective teachers. Districts can move up timelines for teacher resignations and transfers and give principals in hard-to-staff schools first dibs on new entrants and transfers. States and districts can establish a policy of “mutual consent” that gives principals the right to choose their own teachers. States can take actions to pump up the supply of stronger teachers by using data on the effectiveness of graduates to improve teacher training programs, expanding those that produce strong teachers and shrinking or closing those that do not. States and districts can eliminate seniority-based layoffs, which should consider effectiveness instead, and make it easier to transfer or remove ineffective teachers who cannot improve.
Finally, policymakers need to make these schools much more attractive places to work, including but not limited to improving financial compensation. Effective teachers who choose to work in the most challenging schools often sacrifice pay and professional status. State leaders should reverse that relationship, offering such teachers higher pay, visible respect, strong and supportive principals who provide effective instructional leadership, and opportunities to collaborate in meaningful ways.
EN: How can we measure teacher quality on an ongoing basis?

KH: Measures of teacher quality should be based primarily on teachers’ effectiveness in promoting student learning, but should also consider evidence of classroom teaching practices known to contribute to greater student learning. All states now have at least the raw capacity to use value-added techniques to measure teachers’ contribution to their students’ academic progress. Where those data are available, they should be front and center in efforts to measure teacher quality. But since the data rely on annual standardized assessments, such analyses will not be available for all teachers. Moreover, since value-added data by themselves do not tell much about why a teacher is more or less effective or how exactly he or she can improve, such “outcome” measures can productively be coupled with new kinds of “inputs” measures, provided the two are strongly correlated.
For example, researchers at institutions such as the University of Virginia, Stanford, and Michigan State and at programs like the Teacher Advancement Program and Teach For America have developed protocols for observing classroom practices and analyzing teaching “artifacts” that produce ratings sufficiently correlated with outcomes. Typically, they use highly specific frameworks and rubrics that describe effective teaching practices, ensure that all evaluators are trained in their use, require multiple classroom observations per year, and employ quality controls to ensure reliability across evaluators. Such systems can help administrators and teachers understand why value-added scores look the way they do and how they can be improved.
Some districts are experimenting with systems that incorporate an even broader range of measures. For example, the evaluation system currently being implemented in Washington, D.C., incorporates a schoolwide value-added measure, a gauge of how much the teacher participates in and contributes to the larger school community, and measures of student growth on instruments other than standardized tests.
EH: We have devoted a lot of research to identifying the attributes of effective teachers, attributes that might be used for hiring or for policy purposes. This research has not succeeded, leading me to agree that the best way to identify a teacher’s effectiveness is to observe her classroom performance. Most other professions are assessed by performance, including that of doctors, lawyers, accountants, and so forth. Indeed, one definition of “profession” might be an occupation in which one is willing to be judged (and rewarded) according to performance.
Research suggests that we can identify effective teachers from the value added to student achievement, although there are limits to the accuracy of doing this. Moreover, Brian Jacob and Lars Lefgren, in the most recent of this research, show that principals reach many of the same conclusions about effectiveness in their evaluations; at least they seem able to distinguish effectiveness in the classroom within broad ranges, i.e., bottom, middle, or top.
The long-run hope would be that we develop both better quantitative measures of a teacher’s value added and better subjective evaluations by principals, supervisors, and peers. This approach is unlikely to satisfy a regulatory view of allocation of quality teachers, but if we are truly interested in improving student achievement, we cannot shy away from incorporating performance information of all sorts into our management decisions.
EN: All the evidence says that experience does not affect teacher quality much after the first three or four years, so should we be concerned that the more-experienced teachers leave for different locations?
EH: It is a concern if experienced teachers systematically leave the most-disadvantaged schools, because the first few years tend to be a little ragged. On the other hand, this fact by itself should not be overstated. Among all rookie teachers there is still a wide variation in skill. Take, for example, Teach For America teachers. On average, they start out looking like the typical experienced teacher from traditional training programs (even though TFA teachers will themselves improve with seasoning). More than that, the best and the worst TFA teachers or other rookies in the system are dramatically different from each other, and the difference is much larger than the performance growth typical for the first few years.
Policies that concentrate on single proxies for skill, like initial years of experience, miss the much larger differences. Yes, if we say we can do nothing about retention related to individual performance levels, it would be good to have more-experienced teachers in the disadvantaged schools. But such a focus overlooks the place where truly large changes are possible.
A policy that simply stabilized movement from these schools would not really accomplish much and might even be counterproductive if no attention were given to actual performance. On the other hand, if we made inner-city schools more attractive places to work and if we developed policies that actively reward high performance by teachers, we would probably get a bonus of lower teacher turnover in our most-disadvantaged schools.
KH: While experience in no way equals effectiveness, we still should be concerned about teacher attrition. Here’s why: high attrition rates in high-poverty schools create a “revolving door” environment with more job vacancies which, because such schools have a harder time recruiting teachers, tend to be disproportionately filled with first-year teachers. And experience does matter for inexperienced teachers. As a group, first-year teachers tend to be less effective than those with even a little more experience, and effectiveness tends to climb steeply for any given cohort of teachers until it begins to plateau after a few years. According to research by Eric Hanushek and others, disproportionate exposure to inexperienced teachers contributes to the achievement gap.
Therefore, policymakers should either seek to limit the number of rookie teachers hired to work in high-poverty and high-minority schools or ensure that beginning teachers come from programs or institutions with a proven track record of supplying teachers who are much more effective than average. Then they should track the effectiveness of beginning teachers in those schools over the first few years, offering substantial retention incentives to those who demonstrate high levels of effectiveness—not only salary incentives, but also career pathways that provide opportunities to exercise leadership while they continue to teach.
EN: If we force teachers to teach in particular schools, will they just leave for another district, or for an administrative position, or leave education altogether?

KH: We don’t know, since it’s never been tried on a large scale. More to the point, I would suggest that this is the wrong question to be asking, as nobody thinks forced reassignments are a good solution and nobody is seriously proposing it. Every once in a while, district leaders become frustrated and make noises about the possibility of forced reassignments. But no large district has done it because they know that it would be met with too much resistance and resentment.
Instead, as district leaders are discovering for themselves, a better solution lies in a creative combination of targeted incentives for teachers and policies that empower administrators and school leaders to recruit and retain effective educators.
EH: Coercion is generally costly, particularly when it violates the expectations of workers. The U.S. military found that the draft was not a good policy, even when it allowed them to get soldiers cheaply. With schools, the situation is more complicated. There are many jobs (including the all-volunteer military) where the employer can establish the right to make specific job assignments, but in general the employer must pay for that ability. Today’s urban teachers frequently have a contract that gives the more-experienced teacher certain transfer rights across schools, and changing that provision would generally require bargaining with compensation involving higher salaries or other benefits that the teachers value.
The current contractual arrangements are in many cases overly concerned with teachers’ rights and less concerned about student outcomes than is desirable. It would make sense to work toward more assignment flexibility by school districts. But, again, this may be lower priority than simply having more control over retention based on classroom effectiveness.
EN: If we pay teachers more to teach in inner-city schools, will that really attract the best teachers?

KH: Financial incentives can have a positive impact on teacher distribution, but how much of an impact depends on the size of the incentive and to whom it is being offered. Research from North Carolina suggests that smaller financial incentives can help retain teachers in hard-to-staff schools, but experience in places like Dallas and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system suggests that incentives need to be fairly large to convince highly effective veterans to transfer and remain there. That shouldn’t stop leaders from offering higher salaries for effective teachers who successfully take on more-challenging jobs. But the qualifiers in that sentence are important: Pay incentives should be offered only to teachers of proven effectiveness, and a portion should be in the form of bonuses contingent on continuing high performance.
Policymakers can free up resources by putting a stop to or limiting counterproductive incentives in current salary schedules. For example, they can set a ceiling on the percentage of teacher compensation districts can base on seniority, and they can stop the practice of paying teachers to earn master’s degrees, which study after study has shown to have no discernible impact on student achievement.
But higher pay alone might not be enough to solve the problem. Some districts have found that even large financial incentives, in the absence of better working conditions, fail to attract and retain strong teachers in high-need schools. The reason is simple: like any other professionals, great teachers place great value on a positive and supportive working environment characterized by strong leadership and opportunities to collaborate with colleagues.
Rather than being discouraged to know it takes more than money to attract stronger teachers to struggling schools, leaders can leverage that knowledge to devise creative solutions. For example, when recruitment bonuses failed to solve the teacher inequity problem in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, leaders came up with a comprehensive “Strategic Staffing Initiative.” The district transferred high-performing principals into targeted schools, allowed them to handpick a team of strong administrators, and gave them the opportunity to recruit up to five highly effective teachers from a roster of volunteers identified and recruited by the district. Everyone who transferred received substantial financial incentives, but, just as important, all were offered the opportunity to work with a team of teachers and administrators committed to achieving success.
EH: There is a simple economic axiom that bad teachers like more money as much as good teachers. Providing higher salaries will do little to improve the quality of urban teachers or teachers of disadvantaged students unless this is coupled with a clearer judgment about effectiveness. If the objective is raising achievement, there is no real substitute for observing achievement and taking actions based on it.
School accountability systems move in this direction when the rewards to principals and teachers are linked to the growth in student learning. At that point, higher salaries, if directed toward more effective teachers and administrators, can be effective. But if higher salaries are awarded by geography and not demonstrated effectiveness, there is little reason to expect improvement.
The central message of this discussion must be that improving student outcomes in the inner city cannot be done by proxy. We must use the direct and available information on teacher effectiveness that comes from objective achievement data and subjective evaluations for both administrators and teachers to guide rewards and management decisions. We may conclude that this is too difficult—because of union contracts, traditions, or other issues. In that case, we must be willing to live with disastrous results or, alternatively, be prepared to give parents the real opportunity to choose better schools. We have a long track record of regulating that schools should “do good”; of following the current ideas, including simply paying teachers more; and of holding out for the perfect, fully tested alternative. We are left with stagnant achievement results that are especially egregious for poor, inner-city kids. More of the same will not work.

Education in New York City

Moving Mountains in New York City

: Joel Klein's Legacy by the Numbers

Joel I. Klein’s legacy as New York City’s schools chancellor will ultimately be defined by results. Did he improve student outcomes across the board?
We believe the answer is an unequivocal yes. Comparing the academic achievement of the city’s 1.1 million children when Klein took over to current levels, the city moved mountains.
When Klein took over in July of 2002, fewer than half the city’s students were considered “proficient” on state 4th and 8th grade math and English exams. By 2009, more than 80 percent of 4th graders and more than 70 percent of 8th graders were proficient in math. In English, almost 70 percent of 4th graders and 57 percent of 8th graders were proficient. According to a new study funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Dell and Gates foundations, there is good reason to credit these gains to the policies of Chancellor Klein and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg because they could not have been predicted based on pre-existing trends and greatly outpaced the rest of New York state.
The gains made under Klein are even more impressive than this study suggests. Focusing on “proficiency”—a somewhat arbitrary label the federal No Child Left Behind Act uses to classify students based on a cut-point set by each state—obscures the fact that under Klein children improved across the entire achievement spectrum in each grade and subject.
Take 4th grade math. Between school years 2001-02 and 2009-10, New York City educators shifted the entire bell curve of state-test results decisively to the right, toward systematically greater skill in math.
When Klein was appointed, just over a third of city 4th graders scored above the statewide median in math. By 2009, almost half did. In 2002, city kids were less than half as likely as their peers elsewhere in the state to score in the top 10 percent, but four times more likely to score in the bottom 10 percent. In 2009, city kids and their state peers were equally likely to score at the top or bottom.
Change in Distribution of New York City 4th Grade Math Scores
Much the same is true for 8th grade math and 4th and 8th grade English. In each case, the mountain moved.
This year, New York state changed the proficiency game. (See related graph.) It set a higher score to be rated proficient, and fewer students met the mark statewide. From 2002 to 2010, the peak of the New York City curve marched well past the state’s initial proficiency line. For the 2009-10 school year, the state drew a new proficiency line, which fell just at the peak of the New York City curve.
The fact remains, however, that New York City children continued to make progress in 2010. The state just moved the goal posts even further. But if the pace of progress during the Klein years continues after the chancellor steps down at the end of 2010, the great majority of city kids will soon pass the new benchmark as well.
We believe that the state did the right thing by moving the benchmarks, because higher standards are usually better. But it’s important to distinguish a one-time change in how we label success from years of stable, across-the-board gains in student achievement.
Still, the change in proficiency standards has skeptics wondering whether the gains in New York City were real. We think they were.
First, if the city’s gains were the result of easier statewide tests, we ought to have seen kids improve as much in Buffalo, Yonkers, and the rest of the state. We didn’t.
Second, Daniel Koretz, the Harvard expert who advised the state on its recent changes, looked at the early Klein years to see if New York City students were systematically graduating at lower rates than their earlier test scores would predict—a red flag for score inflation. They weren’t.
Third, since Klein took over, New York City has shown big gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the widely respected federal test administered to 4th and 8th graders. Through 2009, 4th and 8th grade math scores improved dramatically in the city, but only inched forward elsewhere in the state. The same is true in 4th grade English. Although the scores of city 8th graders went up only slightly in English, those in the rest of the state fell.
The Tenure of Joel Klein

To put the NAEP numbers under Klein in perspective, English and math gains by city 4th graders—most of whom are poor, black, and Hispanic—are equivalent to a third of the achievement gap between minority and white students that has persisted for decades in this country.
Finally, real achievement gains should translate into higher graduation rates. They have. After holding steady at a wretched 50 percent across decades, the graduation rate rose steadily under Klein and stood at 63 percent in 2009. While the city still has a long way to go, the progress educators have made with younger children should pay off down the road.
Why did Klein succeed? Many factors are at work, but the best studies show that each of his three key policies—grading schools based on student outcomes, supporting high-quality charter schools, and replacing failing schools with new ones run by empowered principals and teachers—lifted student performance. Freedom for accountability, the bargain Klein made with city schools, truly put children first.
There is much more work to do. Klein empowered principals but only began to extend leadership to teachers and parents. He held principals accountable and gave them tools to diagnose and cure shortcomings, but the tools to encourage and enable teachers to do the same are still being developed. Failing schools remain, and parents are clamoring for new schools and more charters. Thousands of kids still don’t graduate.
The incoming New York City chancellor, Cathleen P. Black, has her work cut out for her. But after eight years of impressive gains and with an agenda of important initiatives to finish, the wind is at her back.

Ensino Medio

Baixo desempenho e idade têm impacto no ensino médio

Pesquisas revelam os principais fatores que prejudicam alunos no ensino médio do Brasil: o baixo desempenho no ensino fundamental e a idade maior do que a esperada para a série (defasagem idade-série). Os dados foram apresentados ontem, na capital paulista, pela Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) e pela Fundação para Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento da Administração, Contabilidade e Economia (Fundace) de Ribeirão Preto. Segundo o levantamento, 30% dos estudantes com as piores notas no nível fundamental sequer se matriculam no ensino médio. Entre os alunos com os melhores desempenhos, o índice de evasão cai para 3%. Hoje, os números serão analisados e comentados por especialistas em educação durante o seminário Como aumentar a audiência no ensino médio?, promovido pelo Instituto Unibanco.
A pesquisa, feita com jovens de escolas públicas e particulares de seis regiões metropolitanas do país, incluindo a Grande Belo Horizonte, mostra ainda que, chegar tarde ao ensino médio, tem um impacto extremamente negativo no futuro escolar dos estudantes.

De cada 100 alunos que se matriculam no nível médio acima da idade recomendada (14 ou 15 anos), 16 abandonam a escola antes de completar os estudos. Já entre os sem defasagem idade-série, apenas nove desistem. O levantamento ainda revela que os atrasados tendem a abandonar a escola no meio do ano letivo, deixando a sala de aula sem concluir a série que estão cursando. Isso faz com que o tempo necessário para que eles terminem os estudos seja ainda mais longo.

A belo-horizontina Nayara Peçanha, de 18 anos, é prova concreta do impacto do atraso escolar no ritmo de estudos. Depois de uma reprovação no 7º ano do ensino fundamental, ela conta que sua trajetória nunca mais foi a mesma. Fiquei desmotivada para repetir o ano. Para piorar, comecei a trabalhar e tive dificuldades de conciliar com os estudos. Num momento de desespero, joguei tudo para o alto , conta Nayara, cheia de arrependimento.

Hoje, matriculada no 1º ano do ensino médio na Escola Estadual Professor Francisco Brant, no Bairro Caiçara, ela tenta recuperar o tempo perdido. Sei que essa parada na escola me prejudicou muito, mas estou animada novamente com os estudos e vou lutar pelo meu sonho: cursar uma faculdade de medicina.

Os dados da pesquisa reacendem a polêmica sobre a reprovação escolar. Combater a repetência é uma estratégia necessária para evitar a evasão. Mas isso não significa aprovar um aluno a qualquer custo. Ele precisa aprender, ou seja, não pode deixar de adquirir as habilidades mínimas para a idade e a série em que está matriculado , explica o pesquisador da Fundace, Amaury Gremaud. A superintendente executiva do Instituto Unibanco, Wanda Engel, ainda reforça: O antídoto para a reprovação não é a progressão automática. Essa prática já se mostrou ineficaz e é culturamente rejeitada pelos professores , diz Wanda.

A doutora em educação defende que a distorção idade-série seja combatida no ensino fundamental, com investimentos na qualidade da educação básica.

Outra conclusão importante da pesquisa é que conseguir terminar o ensino médio nos três anos regulamentares não é tarefa fácil nem mesmo para os que ingressam nesse nível de ensino na idade correta. Apenas 45% dos alunos nessa situação completam os estudos no tempo previsto. Por último, o estudo ainda ajuda a derrubar mitos sobre a evasão na escola: o principal deles é o fato de os jovens abandonarem os estudos para trabalhar. Para o pesquisador da Fundação Getulio Vargas, André Portela Souza, a explicação para esse fenômeno é simples: Se o mercado de trabalho valoriza a educação e a formação do profissional, o jovem fica na escola. Nesse caso, ele vê nos estudos uma expectativa de melhoria de salário. Outra hipótese é que o aquecimento da economia melhore a renda familiar e o fato de os pais ganharem mais tem impacto positivo na frequência escolar dos filhos , conclui.

A repórter viajou a convite do Instituto Unibanco.

O Ensino medio no Brasil

Nos dias 25 e 26 de outubro o Instituto Unibanco organizou um grande seminário, com quase mil participantes, sob o tema de “como aumentar a audiência no Ensino Médio?” O gráfico ao lado, com dados da PNAD 2009, resume a situação. Cerca de 60% dos jovens no Brasil entram hoje no ensino médio aos 16 anos, e outros entram mais tarde. Aos 18 anos, 30% ainda estão estudando neste nível, e 19% já concluíram. Até os 30 anos de idade, 45% terão concluído o ensino médio ou superior, e 55% nunca concluirão.
Para lidar com o problema, o Instituto Unibanco tem dois projetos, o “Jovem de Futuro”, que apóia com recursos financeiros e técnicos a gestão de escolas públicas que desenvolvam um plano de melhoria de qualidade definido por elas mesmas, e o “Entre Jovens”, que traz estudantes de licenciatura para atividades de tutoria com alunos da primeira série do ensino médio, também em escolas públicas. Em 2009, o “Jovem de Futuro” apoiou cerca de 60 mil alunos em 86 escolas, e o “Entre Jovens”, cerca de 20 mil jovens em 176 escolas
Com os dois projetos, o Instituto trata de melhorar o funcionamento das escolas e o atendimento aos estudantes, fazendo com que eles se interessem mais pelos cursos e não o abandonem, mas sem colocar em questão os objetivos e o conteúdo do ensino médio que é ensinado. No entanto, para alguns dos palestrantes do seminário – entre os quais Claudio de Moura Castro, Francisco Soares e eu – é essencial abrir alternativas e criar mais opções para os estudantes neste nível de educação, como ocorre em quase todo mundo menos no Brasil. Vanessa Guimarães, Secretária de Estado de Educação de Minas Gerais, também falou sobre a importância de fazer com que as escolas de ensino médio ofereçam uma educação condizente e adequada aos alunos que recebem, ao invés tentar forçá-los a absorver um currículo sobrecarregado de 14 ou mais matérias que é o que existe atualmente.
Na minha apresentação, que está disponível aqui, eu procuro mostrar que o engessamento do ensino médio brasileiro vem da própria Lei de Diretrizes e Bases da Educação de 1996, e é reforçado pelo ENEM que, no seu formato atual, não abre espaço para opções. Um efeito particularmente perverso desta legislação é o atrofiamento do ensino técnico no país, que, ao invés de ser uma alternativa, se transformou em um peso adicional aos alunos que querem este tipo de formação, já que ela não dispensa que eles façam também o currículo do ensino médio tradicional.
Simón Schwartzman

Social transformations and Mobile devices

 November 30, 2010

Seven Social Transformations Unleashed

by Mobile Devices

A ubiquitous technology redefines the way we engage with people, information, and companies

Today's mobile device is the new personal computer. The average smart phone is as powerful as a high-end Mac or PC of less than a decade ago. And as billions of people worldwide rely on these ultra-compact machines for more and more tasks, the mobile device might qualify as humankind's primary tool.
We are only just beginning to fathom what this reality implies for business, culture, and society. Our phones can now track our movements though the physical world. They can record our social interactions, store our personal histories, keep tabs on our likes and dislikes, and track our Internet content consumption, app usage, and purchasing behavior. As we outsource ever more of our decisions and memory functions to smart devices, our tools are gaining a powerful advantage over us. They live in our pockets; they know who we are. They're learning more and more about us all the time. That's why smart phones and tablets are uniquely positioned to predict what businesses should do to serve us best. Our devices are both comforting and a little frightening at the same time.
With over five billion individuals currently armed with mobile phones, we're talking about unprecedented levels of access and insight into the psyches of over two-thirds of the world's population. From any perspective—commercial or Orwellian—this is no small matter.
In the late 1990s, dot-commers were fascinated by a chart showing how long it took for each of the major media—daily newspapers, radio, and television—to reach 50 percent of U.S. households. Each of those technologies required decades to cross that threshold, but the Web took only a few years. Yet Web penetration pales by comparison with mobile today, in several important respects: Mobile usage is about individuals—both adults and kids—not just households. Mobile devices are bringing sweeping change to developing and poor nations, not just the industrial world. In other words, mobility has democratized computing and global Net access.
Part of this story goes beyond expansion of mobile subscribers. The transition to new devices is taking place with lightning speed, too. Clamshell and candy-bar phones designed primarily for voice communications (known as "feature phones") are giving way to smart phones, and growth in access to high-speed 3G (and now 4G) networks continues to accelerate around the world.
The number of global 3G mobile Internet subscribers should approach a billion within a year or so, with the highest penetration rates in Japan (98 percent), Korea (80 percent), the U.S. (48 percent), and the U.K. (38 percent). And where 3G penetration has been low, year-over-year growth is blazingly fast—81 percent growth in Russia, 148 percent in Brazil, and 941 percent in China.
From a business perspective, no one can ignore the implications of mobility. Although the changes may be too numerous to track, it is possible to group them into seven fundamental transformations.
Instant Discovery
From time immemorial, humans as a species have relied for their survival on an ability to discover relevant information, whether that was knowing where the wildebeest drank water at night to ensure a meal the next day or finding the nearest ER during a medical emergency to save a life. Google's "PageRank" algorithm, which helps find answers to 70 percent of the world's online search queries, has changed how we as a species find the information we want or need. Now Google Instant provides search results before we've even finished typing the query. Sure, this matters on a PC, but it matters even more on a mobile. Mobile search has made discovery ubiquitous in the physical world of daily life.
Geo-tagging and location-aware services, in combination with search, have made discovery a two-way street. Apps such as Foursquare give users a means to "check in" at physical locations, giving friends, businesses, and brands a way to discover them. Startups such as Locately go even further, tracking car routes and foot paths on shopping trips.
Two-way discovery has broad implications for business. Shoppers can use their phone's camera and apps such as Red Laser or ShopSavvy to scan the bar code of any product, enabling instant price comparison among dozens of retailers. If they've signed up for Amazon Prime (which provides unlimited two-day shipping for a flat annual fee), they can lock in two-day delivery from Amazon before they've left the store. Sure, Amazon, like other online retailers, is a free rider in this scenario, at the retailer's expense. But consumers win on price, access, and convenience in ways that were inconceivable before mobile devices. This alone will force changes in the way all retailers do business.
Compressed Expression
Forging connections with others is at the core of what makes us human. When e-mail largely replaced letter writing, our connections became more immediate, informal, and abbreviated. Texting has made it even more so. One recent study showed that a third of U.S. teenagers send more than 100 text messages per day. In parts of the world where feature phones predominate, texting is the de facto e-mail and a low-cost substitute for voice communications. It can even be used to shop.
Social networking may represent an even more significant change, compacting our missives into blurbs that are sometimes directed to everyone and no one at the same time. Consider that the world's major social networks (Facebook and MySpace based in the United States; Orkut in Brazil; CyWorld in Korea; Bebo in the UK, Mixi in Japan; Tencent in China; and others) collectively have nearly two billion users—nearly a third of the world's population.
Mobile makes social networking even more compelling, as it enables us to share what we see and do in our daily lives in real time. Twitter's meteoric rise has been inextricably linked to users' ability to "tweet" from mobile devices, and it imposes an especially draconian compression of social expression, with posts limited to 140 characters. Meanwhile, the world's largest social platform, Facebook, has introduced a "one-click" form of expression: the thumbs-up icon, otherwise known as the "Like" button. Yes, it's compelling on the Web, but it's more powerful still on the small screens of mobile devices. What better way for a brand to find a willing consumer than by linking back to someone who "likes" you? Companies are already creating new products and marketing them in a way that maximizes the value of their "likes" in social media.
Outsourced Memory
The ability to record memory has played a crucial role in human existence since the dawn of our species. Long before the invention of the written word, humans used cave paintings and pictographs to store information that would benefit future generations. Writing—first on stone, then on papyrus, and, after Gutenberg, in print—became the ultimate storage medium. Now most of us can no longer remember our friends' phone numbers, let alone any sequence more complex than 911.
Our mobiles remember more than just numbers for us. We're outsourcing memory to our devices. Google Maps will "bookmark" places we've visited or intend to visit, remembering not only locations but also their context—like work, shopping, or friends' houses. Combined with cloud-based storage on remote servers, mobility places in our pockets an infinite reach and infinite capacity for remembering. Some large corporations are stepping into radical new territory by relying on cloud-based servers to store all of their mobile applications and databases.
The outsourcing of memory also extends to the images we see, as we use camera phones to capture special moments and even to record our daily lives. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, 76 percent of Americans now take pictures with camera phones, up from 67 percent a year ago. About a third of Americans record video from their mobiles, up from less than 20 percent a year ago. Users are uploading video to YouTube at an average rate of 35 hours of footage a minute.
One pundit has called our era "The End of Forgetting." We're perhaps more accurately living through an era when we're exploring radically new ways of remembering. While we offload details (meaningful and mundane) to our mobile devices, we may also be freeing up our brains for new kinds of information, such as complex social linkages and social sharing. If so, psychologists and sociologists as well as leaders and managers will be dealing with these ramifications for years to come.
Automated Decisions
As empowered consumers, we like to think we make all the choices. As business people, we in theory are paid to make intelligent decisions. But the reality is that mobile computing provides countless ways for smart devices to decide for us. True, some automated decision making is a byproduct of our own initiatives. Yapta, an iPhone app that tracks airline flight availability and pricing, gives frequent travelers a means to buy airline seats only when their decision criteria are met.
But smart phones can also make their own decisions, without our having to think about them at all. Start with the basics: Give a phone appropriate authorizations and it will "decide" what service to use when connecting with local WiFi networks. Use Foursquare or Venmo to check in at various real-world venues and your mobile will "decide" what local retail offers you get. Because privacy considerations are increasingly mandating opt-in services, the future is likely to bring us a hybrid of conscious and unconscious decision automation.
An instructive example is Pandora's iPhone app. It pleasingly streams the music it decides a given user will like based on information the person gives when opting into the service. Users continue "educating" it about their preferences—by clicking on a thumbs-up or thumbs-down button as Pandora serves up selections across dozens of genres from its seemingly infinite play lists. Yes, the user picked the genre; yes, the user expressed the preferences. But now, the question becomes: can Pandora's decision engine remain pure of any commercial considerations?
For marketers seeking the holy grail of brand "lock in"—especially brand loyalty sustained over time—a smart mobile phone could become the key, the gatekeeper, and even the purchasing agent for the consumer.
Peer Power
Decision making normally takes place in a social context. When humans connect, they influence and persuade. That's why marketers often say that word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful medium that money can't buy. Of course, the rise of online social networks is turbocharging all of that. Some marketers would argue that money can buy positive word-of-mouth endorsements for their brands. That may explain why Facebook hosts more display ads than any other site on the Web. (According to the marketing research company comScore, Facebook's share is now one of every four display ads online.)
Mobile social networking means that peer influence is more important than ever. Apps like Fashism provide style-conscious young women with something far more effective than a bunch of anonymous third-party clicks on a "Like" button. Let's say someone is in a dressing room with a new outfit on, wondering whether to buy it. So she snaps a photo with her iPhone and uploads it using Fashism (or a similar app from GoTryItOn or ModCloth), and community members will tell her how she looks. That changes everything for marketers trying to manage perceptions of their brands.
In analogous ways, mobiles can create social movements based on peer influence. Facebook teamed up with Starbucks to raise money for Conservation International. Every time a mobile user checks in with the Facebook Places app from a Starbucks café, the coffee retailer will donate a dollar to the charity, up to a maximum of $75,000. Another service, GiveGiFi, uses Venmo and Foursquare to let people leave gifts for purchases at places such as restaurants, hotels, bars, stores. Mobile payment systems, too, are going social, enabling consumers to broadcast when and where they bought, say, a movie ticket—a new way of influencing friends to join them. With all these social apps at their disposal, businesses are bringing the tools of direct-response marketing to physical places.
Personalized Branding
While we humans think we mostly talk to each other, marketers would like to think that brands can talk to us, too. In fact, that's the essence of modern marketing—giving brands a "personality." This is rapidly turning into the challenge of how to give brands a social (and socially appropriate) "voice." Well before Apple had sold, by current count,120 million iPod, iPhone, and iTouch devices, marketing and agency types were grappling with the question of how to "enter the conversation" taking place online about their brands and offerings.
Now mobility has introduced a new, more personal dimension. Billions of dollars in advertising are rapidly shifting to mobile media. Once there, brands must face the thorny question of how to enter that conversation—already a complex array of interactions and communications among millions of consumers—as it unfolds. One possibility is to use mobiles to make things speak. A Swedish dairy, Skånemejeriet, thinks it's important for its natural products to be able to tell their own stories. It has fielded an iPhone app that enables grocery consumers to enter a code from a milk carton's date stamp and learn about the local farmer who produced the milk. Natural-food maker HarvestMark has partnered with Kroger, the U.S. grocery retailer, to field a similar app than lets consumers connect with any brand and learn its brand story.
Wireless Economic Development
In the last several years, poor countries and developing nations have acquired mobile handsets at a rate that's four times that of the developed world. These are not smart phones (yet), so the role they've played is "limited" to texting or SMS.
When it comes, however, to aggregating large quantities of information relevant to human populations - whether markets and pricing, crops and weather, health and epidemics, pollution and the environment - collective data from millions of users don't require 3G networks or smart phones.Thus Nokia continues to ship more mobile handsets than any other consumer electronics maker. Its feature phones remain highly affordable. In the hands of enterprising individuals in the developing world, such devices connect not only people to people but also people to the world's information resources.
The opportunities are abundant, starting with mobile payment systems and banking services for the "unbanked" in parts of the world where many more people have mobiles than bank accounts. To build small businesses, entrepreneurs need cashless ways to pay for goods and services. That's why Mony (a "mobile wallet" service from YellowPepper in Ecuador) and M-Pesa (a similar service that began in Kenya), are starting to have a big impact on economic development. Phones that accept and store cash are also being used as crowdsourcing devices that enable some of the planet's poorest people to earn money for performing microtasks.
In short, mobility is transforming humanity. Without question, it's a double-edged sword. On one hand, mobile technology is making us more connected as a species; it is putting nearly unfathomable resources of data, information, and content at our finger-tips; it's making such resources ubiquitous and easily accessible; and it's rendering such content ever more compelling and immersive to find and experience. On the other hand, our mobile devices are eavesdropping on us and trespassing on our privacy as never before, changing what and how we remember our lives, short-circuiting our decision-making authority, and compressing our communications into smaller and smaller bites. The future of mobility is, in some ways, profoundly sobering, even as it augurs infinite possibilities for business. Never has computing been so personal, and never has information technology been so pervasive. So, pay attention to what's in your pocket. Watch it as it watches you. And stay tuned. Our mobiles are collectively and dramatically shaping the future of business.
Copyright Technology Review 2010.

Education in New York City


The Public School Bargain

Mayor Michael Bloomberg avoided a dispute that would have paralyzed New York City’s school system when he agreed to appoint a career educator to serve as second in command to his pick for schools chancellor, Cathleen Black. Her lack of education experience had made it almost certain that the state education commissioner would veto her appointment. Ms. Black’s chief academic officer will be Shael Polakow-Suransky, a respected, hard-driving educator who has worked his way from middle school math teacher, to high school principal, to his most recent post as the school system’s accountability officer.
He seems a good fit for the new post. But the big question is whether his relationship with Ms. Black will be the real partnership that the commissioner agreed to and that New Yorkers expect and need. The administration needs to reassure suspicious parents, legislators and state education officials that Mr. Polakow-Suransky will have real authority and will not be a figurehead.
The change of leadership could not have come at a more sensitive time for the nation’s largest public school system. New policies promulgated by the State Board of Regents earlier this year will require schools all over the state to retool in several different areas at once.
Most crucially, they will need to redesign curriculum to conform to rigorous standards developed by the National Governors Association along with state superintendents and embraced by the regents as part of New York State’s application for the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competitive grant program.
Adapted from high-performing school systems abroad, the new standards lay out specific skills that children will need to learn in order to succeed at college. The point of this writing-intensive approach is to develop reasoning skills far earlier than is customary.
By fourth grade, for example, children will be required to write well-organized essays in which they introduce and defend opinions, using facts and details. By the senior year of high school, they will be expected to solve complex problems through research and to display skills that we now associate with the first year of college.
To support the new standards, the city and state will need new programs to train math and science teachers and a more effective testing system that would allow everyone to judge students’ preparedness for college.
To get the city’s schools to the next level, school leaders will need to work tirelessly and hand in hand with policy makers at the state level. That job will fall largely to Mr. Polakow-Suransky, or at least it should.
The New York Times

U.S. School Graduation Rate Is Rising

The nation’s high school graduation rate, which declined in the latter part of the 20th century, may have hit bottom and begun to rise, according to a report to be issued Tuesday by a nonprofit group founded by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
“The United States is turning a corner in meeting the high school dropout epidemic,” General Powell and his wife, Alma J. Powell, wrote in a letter introducing the report.
The report cites two statistics. The national graduation rate increased to 75 percent in 2008, from 72 percent in 2001. And the number of high schools that researchers call dropout factories — based on a formula that compares a school’s 12th-grade enrollment with its 9th-grade enrollment three years earlier — declined to about 1,750 in 2008, from about 2,000 such schools in 2002.
But the report notes that progress in some states and school districts had not been matched in others. Tennessee and New York made “breakthrough gains,” sharply raising their graduation rates from 2002 to 2008, the report says. In Arizona, Utah and Nevada, graduation rates dropped significantly.
The 88-page report, “Building a Grad Nation,” was published by America’s Promise Alliance, along with two other groups. “I like this report because it shows that progress is possible against all odds,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, the alliance’s president.
Daniel Losen, a former Harvard lecturer who researches graduation issues, said the report “might be a bit on the rosy side.” He added, “We might be beginning to turn a corner, but we’re not coming out of it yet.”
The report cites school districts that have made progress, as well as some where the crisis has worsened.
In 2005, researchers at Johns Hopkins University identified Richmond High School in Indiana as a dropout factory. But from 2006 to 2009, teachers, community leaders and professors joined in an effort to help students stay in school, raising the graduation rate to 80 percent from 53 percent, the report says.
In Las Vegas, however, dropouts soared during the building boom of the last decade because many young people quit high school for jobs in construction and landscaping. Today, many dropouts there are unemployed.

Embrapas para todos

O Brasil não pode mais se comparar ao Brasil do passado, mas aos outros titãs emergertentes e aos ricos.

SE VOCÊ NÃO estiver trabalhando todo dia para tornar a sua própria empresa obsoleta, saiba que seus concorrentes o farão. Inovar não é fácil, mas é fundamental. Se, em vez de você, for o seu concorrente a descobrir a próxima grande coisa, você será a próxima grande vítima.
No Grupo ABC, inovamos no acesso ao mercado de capitais, na valorização sem compromisso do talento e na busca da excelência na gestão, o que nos transformou no 20º grupo de serviços de propaganda e marketing do mundo -o maior de capital brasileiro.
Apesar da burocracia e da alta carga de impostos, o DNA brasileiro pode ser motor da inovação.
O tamanho cada vez maior do nosso mercado interno é uma grande alavanca. No ranking da competitividade global do Fórum Econômico Mundial, ficamos em 58º lugar entre 139 países, muito graças ao tamanho do mercado doméstico (estamos em nono nesse quesito).
Esse gigantismo pela própria natureza nos dá ganhos de escala em tudo, inclusive para inovar. E a inovação no Brasil está dada por suposto. Somos um país novo e específico. Misturamos e processamos elementos reunidos apenas aqui -nenhum outro lugar contém nossos atributos.
Nosso descontraído mix étnico, nossa capacidade de adaptação, nossa comunicabilidade são parte de um "soft power" original e bom para os negócios. Estamos inventando a nossa civilização, com confiança e com alegria.
Esse progresso que celebramos depois de 16 anos de estabilidade econômica é só o começo. Estabelecemos bases simples e seguras para realizarmos nosso potencial: o respeito às regras básicas da economia de mercado e a eficiência do processo político-eleitoral.
Agora precisamos -empreendedores, pesquisadores, investidores, governos- fazer a nossa parte para o próximo salto de desenvolvimento, o da economia inovadora.
Economistas dizem que apenas a inovação garante a elevação do padrão de vida no longo prazo. O Brasil não pode mais se comparar ao Brasil do passado -ele já foi superado e não voltará-, mas aos outros titãs emergentes e aos países ricos.
Foi a inovação que fez a Coreia do Sul se distanciar tanto de nós em poucas décadas. É ela que hoje alimenta o milagre chinês e que foi o caminho que deu aos Estados Unidos, à Europa e ao Japão seu alto grau de desenvolvimento humano.
E, antes da inovação, veio a educação. A educação, para inovar, precisa estar mais perto das empresas. O Brasil tem uma produção científica importante, de expressão mundial, mas um registro minúsculo de patentes. A academia está longe da economia.
Mesmo nas empresas, a cultura da inovação precisa ser mais enfatizada e enraizada. Responda rápido: quem está cuidando de inovação na sua empresa? Se você não sabe a resposta, fique preocupado.
A inovação já está presente na agenda de negócios do Brasil. Incentivos fiscais e de crédito, principalmente via BNDES, estão disponíveis, embora pouco acessados. Isso precisa melhorar.
O agronegócio brasileiro é o exemplo de onde podemos chegar aliando inovação ao potencial Brasil, que é o antídoto ao custo Brasil.
A criação da Embrapa (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária), ainda em 1973, foi indispensável para transformar nossa abundante e abençoada mistura de terra, sol e água em celeiro do planeta.
Lideramos na produção de grãos, de frutas e de carnes porque os pesquisadores da Embrapa criaram, e seguem criando, tecnologias inovadoras na cadeia agropecuária -de sementes ao manejo do solo.
É preciso que os diversos setores da economia brasileira criem e desenvolvam suas próprias Embrapas, centros de excelência de pesquisa aplicada.
Vivemos a infância de uma revolução tecnológica que avança como um raio diante de nossos olhos.
Sistemas inteligentes estão fazendo convergir o mundo real e o mundo digital, dando acesso fácil a uma imensidão de dados.
A inteligência logo será commodity. O uso original que faremos dela chama-se inovação. Se já transformamos tristeza em samba, não há limite para nossa capacidade inovadora. Pense novo. De novo. Sempre.

NIZAN GUANAES, publicitário e presidente do Grupo ABC, escreve às terças, a cada 15 dias, nesta coluna.
Folha de Sao Paulo

29 de novembro de 2010

Missing school

ALBANY, N.Y. — A report commissioned by the state's Office of Children and Family Services says hauling parents into family court is not the best way to combat a rising tide of kids who chronically miss school.
In New York City, "chronic absenteeism" — when a student misses at least 20 of the 180 days in a school year — afflicts 40 percent of high school students and educators currently refer cases to social services for neglect.
"I've talked to a lot of principals on this," said Kim Nauer, who researched the city's statistics. "Schools call in these child protective services reports because they're frustrated with the families and their inability to get these kids to school."
Under New York law, chronic school absence is a trigger for complaints to the Office of Children and Family Services. Referrals can lead to family court, foster care or probation-like PINS supervision.
Professor Robert Balfanz, at Johns Hopkins University, said his research has shown that about half the students just decide to skip school, a quarter are avoiding something negative such as a bully or uncomfortable class, and another quarter stay out for life issues like work or baby sitting.
Now, a new study by the Vera Institute of Justice — commissioned by the state office of Children and Family Services — backs up the agency's belief that going after parents for educational neglect isn't effective. The report says chronic absenteeism seldom means teens are abused or neglected at home but instead suggests they stay out for other reasons and schools need to find ways to re-engage them.
Caseworkers reported that the stigma and adversarial nature of investigations can make parents more resistant to help, analyst Jessica Gunderson wrote.
The Vera Institute, a nonprofit that studies juvenile justice and began looking at truancy a decade ago, was contracted by OCFS to produce the new report, as well as one last year that said charges of educational neglect increased 34 percent statewide from 2004 to 2008.
OCFS and county officials questioned whether, for teenagers, this is an efficient use of limited social services resources.
"Our thinking is probably not," said Laura Velez, OCFS deputy commissioner for child welfare and community services.
Last year, the agency received 290,000 calls for educational neglect and referred 180,000 to counties for investigation, said William Gettman, OCFS executive deputy commissioner.
New York City's high school rate of chronic absenteeism, like the high rate Balfanz also found in Baltimore and believes is common for urban schools nationwide, is roughly double the rate in the city's elementary schools.
Not everybody is quick to want courts out of the equation. New York law would have to change to take OCFS out of the process.
"While New York State's educational neglect system needs improvement, the solution is not to take parents off the hook for their children's behavior," said Jason Post, spokesman for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The mayor's office believes that reports of educational neglect in children over 12 years of age can lead to underlying issues of abuse and neglect for both the student in question and for his or her younger siblings."
Bloomberg this year announced a test initiative at 25 schools using adult volunteer mentors with 1,500 students. Post said they are also using attendance incentives like free backpacks for showing up on the first day and an Old Navy coat and gift card for perfect attendance.
"Chronic absenteeism is sort of the first sign of student disengagement," Balfanz said. With every school recording attendance daily, they could all identify those students tomorrow, he said. Federal law doesn't require schools to report chronic absenteeism.
"My simple thing is every absence needs a response," Balfanz said. Some suburban schools do it, calling homes after only a few absences and immediately lining up the student's missed school work.
Nauer's studies, based on the New York City Department of Education's tracking system, found 124,000 chronically absent teenagers in 2008-09 and 140,000 the year before, about 40 percent both times. She also found 24 percent missed at least 40 days in one year, designated as severe cases.
"It's a shocking number," said Nauer, education project director for the Center for New York City Affairs, a think tank at the New School in Manhattan. "When you think about the volume of kids that are missing a month or more of school you realize how hard a job it is getting them to graduate and through their Regents exams."
The Vera Institute urged better data collection and trying methods that have had some success. Those include the state financially rewarding schools that succeed at re-engaging chronically absent students, connecting students to specific caring adults, regularly communicating with parents, and getting students involved in school-based activities that focus on their strengths.
The state doesn't currently track chronic absenteeism. State Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman said that should change in the next few years in an expanded data program for K-12 tracking and early warning system to help identify at-risk students.
School districts often report absence rates as averages, which masks the real problem, according to the Vera analysis.
"Our attendance rate is 90 percent, which is good," said Post. "But that 10 percent hides big pockets."

Educación en Chile

Noviembre 29, 2010

Y sin embargo se mueve... A propósito del Informe McKinsey sobre el progreso educacional en el mundo

El día de hoy la consultora McKinsey & Company dio a conocer el Informe: How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better, que busca identificar el estadio de desarrollo en que se encuentran los sistemas escolares que están progresando --Chile entre ellos-- y las razones de ese progreso, tanto como los desafíos para pasar al estadio superior.
Bajar el Informe aquípdfIcon_24.png 4,8 MB
Los países o sistemas o subsistemas "en progreso" estudiados son: Armenia, Aspire (a U.S. charter school system), Boston (Massachusetts), Chile, Inglaterra, Ghana, Hong Kong, Jordania, Letonia, Lituania, Long Beach (California), Madhya Pradesh (India), Minas Gerais (Brasil), Ontario (Canadá), Polonia, Sajonia (Alemania), Singapur, Eslovenia, República de Corea, y Western Cape (South Africa).
Los estadios de desempeño en el camino del progreso que distingue el estudio son:
Desempeño pobre o malo o elemental
Desempeño aceptable, razonable o prometedor
Desempeño bueno
Desempeñpo muy bueno, estupendo o destacado
Desempeño excelento, óptimo o más alto
Chile aparece pasado del estadio 1º al 2º; es decir, de un desempeño bajo, pobre, elemental o malo a uno aceptable, razonable o prometedor.
Es una muy positiva noticia que confirma lo que viene mostrando nuestro SIMCE desde hace algunos años y lo que evidenció el progreso de Chile entre las pruebas PISA del 2000 y 2006.
Deja en vilo y pronto a caer por su propio peso, el reiterado, majadero incluso, juicio de quienes --a uno y otro lado de la divisoria de las aguas ideológicas-- alegan que Chile está educacionalmente estancado o, peor, decayendo.
Tales juicios negativos hace rato han dejado de prestar atención a la evidencia y se alimentan únicamente de prejucios o de un a apenas oculta "mala fe" política.
El Gobierno Piñera, y el Ministro Lavín en particular, harían bien en tomar nota y, de una manera más razonada y seria, asumir de aquí en adelante un diagnóstico realista respecto del estado de avance de nuestro sistema escolar, de los muchos cambios y progresos realizados durante los últimos años y ajustar en consecuencia su discurso y políticas.
De los países que han avanzado del estado elemental al aceptable, Chile es el que hace progresos más considerables TOMANDO EN CUENTA el hecho de que su sociedad es la más desigual, por lejos, entre los países que se hallan en el mismo estadio de progreso y tiene uno de los sistemas socialmente más segmentados.
Esta doble característica impone a nuestro país especiales dificultades para avanzar por el camino del progreso escolar. Y nos obliga a gastar por alumno sumas significativamente superiores a las que hoy día invierte el Estado, condición sine qua non, asimismo, para reducir las brechas de inequidad y resultados y para integrar los diversos circuiotos escolares que hoy separan y estratifican a los alumno según su cuna.
Nos falta avanzar más, es cierto. Necesitamos, y podemos, llegar a un rendimiento escolar semejante al de Portugal en 10 años más, tal como esperamos alcanzar su ingreso per capital actual.
Para esto hay que implementar una serie de políticas: aumentar el valor de la SEP y apoyar a las escuelas para que la manejen eficazmente; fortalecer capacidades docentes y directivas; dar mayor autonomía de gestión a las escuelas municipales; establecer con urgencia la Agencia de Calidad y la Superintentednencia de Educación; promover redes de apoyo para las colegios de peor desempeño; mejorar el funcionamiento del Mineduc; intensificar los programas de atención temprana para niños de los primeros tres quintikes.
En suma: hay que seguir avanzando con base en acuerdos sólidos. Mientras tanto podemos decir: E pur si muove, según muestra el Informe Mc Kinsey.
Publicado por: jjbrunner

The Science of Teacher Development

—Ian Kim
Premium article access courtesy of Edweek.org
The ongoing focus on school reform has led to broad consensus on at least one point: Improving training and support for teachers is key to improving student learning. Indeed, many districts are investing heavily in professional development and emphasizing collaboration among educators. But do these strategies provide enough of the right kind of support for new teachers, especially in high-demand areas such as science, technology, and math?
Lost in the encouraging news about increased investment in professional development is a sobering fact: The opportunities for teachers to engage in sustained professional learning and collaboration have actually declined in the last decade. A recent nationwide study on professional learning opportunities for teachers confirms what we’ve known all along—that professional development takes time, focus, and commitment to be effective. The study, “Professional Development in the United States: Trends and Challenges,” Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader released in August of this year by the National Staff Development Council, or NSDC (now Learning Forward), and the Stanford Center on Opportunity Policy in Education, or SCOPE, notes that teachers continue to rate increasing professional development in the content of their subject matter as their top priority for further training. It also found that teachers receive less than eight hours of training a year on any given topic. However, for professional development to have an impact on student learning, an analysis of a broad range of studies suggests that between 49 and 100 hours of intensive training in key areas is needed. “States and districts need to introduce more effective and systematic approaches to supporting, developing, and mobilizing educators,” says Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond, the study’s principal investigator.
Improving teaching requires the kind of deep focus on content knowledge and innovations in delivery to all students that can only come when teachers are given opportunities to learn from experts and one another, and to pursue teaching as a scientific process in which new approaches are shared, tested, and continually refined across a far-flung professional community. This should be true not just for science and math teachers, but for all teachers.
We need to move away from the current system of professional development of teachers, which is focused more on triage than on helping improve the overall clinical practice of teaching within a school. We need to make sure that teachers are masters of content, and that they’re supported as they continually expand their instructional skills through a methodical sequence of professional learning activities designed to help them connect students to rigorous content. Teachers need a supportive framework and culture that values peer review and intellectual renewal where new thinking, risk taking, and professional growth are encouraged.
The challenge is not to create intense and in-depth educator learning for its own sake, but to create thriving classrooms for learners. Too often, lackluster mathematics and science teaching is the biggest factor in keeping young people from pursuing further study in these fields.
Professional Development: Sorting Through the Jumble to Achieve Success
Providing extensive support to incoming teachers—and continued support well into their careers—is nothing less than an investment in improving high school science and math education for all students. The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation offers such intensive professional development. Admittedly, our fellowship program is not inexpensive—all told, each fellow receives tuition help and support valued at $150,000 over five years. A program like ours is not scalable across all content areas, but given our success in retaining highly skilled science and mathematics teachers—88 percent of the teachers who have been awarded fellowships since the program’s inception in 2002 are still teaching—we believe there are fundamental elements of our experience that policymakers and districts can leverage to better hire and support incoming teachers during their critical first years. Here’s our advice:
Hire well. Districts need to be more intentional about the teachers they hire. While subject-area knowledge is critical, our experience suggests that leadership qualities, as well as the commitment and ability to teach, are also crucially important criteria in evaluating prospective teachers.
Assign STEM teachers based on their knowledge of the science, technology, engineering, and math subject areas. In an era of specialization, it’s critical to avoid diluting talent. Research has shown that good teachers with a strong understanding of specific subjects can have a transformative effect on individual students, while teachers who do not have such understanding turn students away from math and science. The depth, breadth, and organization of knowledge required to teach STEM subjects effectively makes it especially critical to staff those classes with teachers who have a strong knowledge of specific disciplines—in other words, a teacher with a master’s degree in physics should not be assigned to teach earth sciences. Given our nation’s vital interest in encouraging a much larger proportion of students to pursue advanced study and careers in STEM fields, we need teachers who know and love their subjects and are excited about sharing them.
Invest in intensive professional development for new teachers. The NSDC-Stanford study suggests that more incoming teachers have access to induction programs, experienced mentors, or other supports than ever before. But those supports have become less intensive and collaborative over time, according to the study. We believe that teachers must learn to apply the same intensive inquiry to their own practice that they expect in their students’ work. For example, over the five years of the fellowship, our fellows engage in a collaborative lesson-study process with their peers that closely mirrors the scientific methods they teach—beginning with an extended study of what it means to really understand an idea, developing and teaching a lesson, gathering evidence of its impact through student work samples or video of lessons, and then assessing and redesigning the lesson as needed.
Encourage many forms of collaboration. Professional learning communities are proliferating in districts across the country, but collaboration shouldn’t be exclusively by subject area or grade level—or even by school. Our fellows tell us that the most powerful collaboration they’re involved in is the opportunity to collaborate with peers across the country. Katherine Shirey, a physics teacher at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va., meets regularly with fellows from Baltimore to Fredericksburg, Va., and partners remotely with a fellow in Seattle on her lesson study. “My community extends from here to Alaska,” she says. “They are more important than my professors in grad school and my teacher-mentor program, which were significant, but now past. They’ve developed with me over time.”
Improving teaching requires the kind of deep focus on content knowledge and innovations in delivery to all students that can only come when teachers are given opportunities to learn from experts and one another.
Emphasize leadership growth in professional development. Teacher-leaders aren’t born—they are nurtured. The fifth year of our fellowship training focuses exclusively on leadership skills, which we see as building on the previous four years of professional development. “I want to be an educator who is a leader in my school and community,” says Shirey. “When teachers not only want to stay in the classroom but become leaders, that’s inspirational to me.” In fact, three of Shirey’s peers in the Washington, D.C., area are now department chairs.

These strategies can have a clear impact on teacher quality. But together, they also have an even stronger impact on a beginning teacher. With this intensive support, the opportunity to collaborate, and the ability to share their own practice, these novice teachers feel like professionals, and are more likely to stay in the classroom.
Our nation needs a generation of graduates who are prepared for advanced study and careers in science-based fields, but we can’t expect our students to be passionate and knowledgeable about science unless their teachers are.

Students learning

A’s for Good Behavior

A few years ago, teachers at Ellis Middle School in Austin, Minn., might have said that their top students were easy to identify: they completed their homework and handed it in on time; were rarely tardy; sat in the front of the class; wrote legibly; and jumped at the chance to do extra-credit assignments.
Roderick Mills

But after poring over four years of data comparing semester grades with end-of-the-year test scores on state subject exams, the teachers at Ellis began to question whether they really knew who the smartest students were.
About 10 percent of the students who earned A’s and B’s in school stumbled during end-of-the-year exams. By contrast, about 10 percent of students who scraped along with C’s, D’s and even F’s — students who turned in homework late, never raised their hands and generally seemed turned off by school — did better than their eager-to-please B+ classmates.
Some of the discrepancy between grades and test scores could be explained by test anxiety — that some students have trouble showing what they know in a standardized, timed environment. And some teachers simply may have done a poor job teaching what the standardized exam tested. But Austin’s school superintendent, David Krenz, and the principal at Ellis, Katie Berglund, said the disconnect between semester grades and end-of-the-year exams was too large and persistent to be the result of such factors.
“Over time, we began to realize that many teachers had been grading kids for compliance — not for mastering the course material,” Ms. Berglund said. “A portion of our A and B students were not the ones who were gaining the most knowledge but the ones who had learned to do school the best.”
Last fall, over protests from parents of some of the above-average students, the eighth-grade math teachers at Ellis tried a new, standards-based grading system, and this fall the new system is being used by the entire middle school and in high school for ninth graders.
As test scores fast become the single and most powerful measurement by which educational outcomes are being judged, more schools might find themselves engaged in what has become a pivotal debate: Should students be rewarded for being friendly, prepared, compliant, a good school citizen, well organized and hard-working? Or should good grades represent exclusively a student’s mastery of the material?
For Sandra Doebert, a superintendent who oversees a high school with 1,500 school students in Lemont, Ill., a middle-class suburb southwest of Chicago, the answer is clear. “In this age of data and with so much information available to us we can no longer confuse how students act with what they know.” She, too, is revamping the grading policy so that grades reflect subject mastery, not compliance.
At the urging of President Obama, more high schools are making “college readiness” a goal. The percentage of students who attend college is rising; 67 percent of high school graduates now enroll in some sort of post-secondary school after graduation (up from 43 percent in 1973). But the reality is that many don’t succeed, in large part because they are not academically prepared. Federal data shows that fewer than 60 percent of students graduate from four-year colleges in six years. Among students at a community college, only one in three earns a degree. Recently released data from ACT shows that only 24 percent of high school seniors knew enough in four subjects — math, reading, science and English — to do college-level work.
There are no national statistics about the number of schools shifting to standards-based grading. But the idea has been around for a while, and Ken O’Connor, a former Canadian high school teacher turned grading consultant, said that more schools have been adopting the approach. It’s an inevitable extension, he says, of standards-based learning.
“Schools are finally realizing if you don’t have standards-based grading you really do not have a standards-based education,” said Mr. O’Connor, author of “A Repair Kit for Grading: Fifteen Fixes for Broken Grades.” “We are focused not on exposure to content and activities for their own sake but on outputs” — what students can show they’ve learned.
When parents of students at Ellis Middle School look over their children’s report cards, they will find a so-called “knowledge grade,” which will be calculated by averaging the scores on end-of-unit tests. (Those tests can be retaken any time during the semester so long as a student has completed all homework; remedial classes that re-teach skills will be offered all year.) Homework is now considered practice for tests. Assignments that are half done, handed in late or missing all together will be noted, but will not hurt a student’s grade. Nor will showing up late for class, forgetting to bring your pencil, failing to raise your hand before shouting out an answer or forgetting to bring in a permission slip for the class trip — infractions that had previously caused Ellis students’ grades to suffer.
(In addition to an academic grade, the 950 students at the school will get a separate “life skills” grade for each class that reflects their work habits and other, more subjective, measures like attitude, effort and citizenship. )
Some parents welcome the change. Nitaya Jandragholica says her son Clyde, an eighth grader at Ellis, finds the new grading plan more equitable. “He saw that teachers had favorites. Kids — even ones that were not that smart — could get good grades if the teacher likes them,” Ms. Jandragholica says. The principal, Ms. Berglund, says that some students’ grades have gone up and some have gone down but that she’s confident — and has the data to prove it — that their grades are more accurately reflecting their knowledge, “not whether or not they brought in a box of Kleenex for the classroom,” a factor that had influenced grades at Ellis in the past.
After a high-performing public school district in Potsdam, N.Y., began changing its grading formula, 175 parents and community members — many of them professors from local universities — signed a petition in protest. Carolyn Stone, an adjunct professor of literacy at SUNY Potsdam and a mother of a Potsdam high school freshman, was one of the protesters. She says the new policy, which makes daily homework, even when it is handed in late, account for only 10 percent of the grade, encourages laziness. “Does the old system reward compliance? Yes,” she said. “Do those who fit in the box of school do better? Yes. But to revamp the policy in a way that could be of detriment to the kids who do well is not the answer.” In the real world, she points out, attitude counts.
But Mr. Krenz, the superintendent in Austin, Minn., said that parents — as well as kids — would be the winners. Conversations between parents and teachers can now focus on what students need to learn, rather than classroom attitude or missing homework. “Before we started this, a teacher could complain to a parent that their child slumps in the back of the classroom and doesn’t bring a pencil,” he said. “Now the conversation is about the fact that the child doesn’t know how to calculate slope, and we can put our heads together — parents and teachers and administrator — to figure out how to help that child obtain that skill.”
The superintendent in Potsdam, Patrick Brady, who has been rolling out a revamped grading system this fall in his 1,450-student district, said it would allow teachers to recognize academic strengths where they often are not discovered — among minority students, or students from poorer families, or boys — subgroups whose members may be unable or unwilling to fit in easily to the culture of school.
“We are getting rid of grade fog,” Mr. Brady said. “We need to stop overlooking kids who can do the work and falsely inflate grades of kids who can’t but who look good. We think this will be good for everyone.”
The New York Times