Frederick M. Hess
Frederick M. Hess
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Latest Blog Posts

Cage-Busting the Way to the Social Justice Humanitas Academy

March 26, 2015 at 8:00 am

The Cage-Busting Teacher will officially launch in a few weeks, and I'm starting to get out and talk about what it means for teachers to help forge schools and systems where they can do their best work. Naturally enough, people want examples of what I have in mind and what this looks like. Well, the book is filled with lots of 'em, but today let me point to one that offers a clean, capsulized illustration of what it means for teachers to break out of stifling routines in order to create the schools that they aspire to teach in.

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What Cage-Busters Believe

March 23, 2015 at 8:00 am

We're just a few weeks away now from the April 15 launch of The Cage-Busting Teacher. The launch event will feature an intense discussion into the what, why, and how of cage-busting between the likes of former national teacher of the year and DCPS talent impresario Jason Kamras, teacher ambassador Maddie Fennell, Educators for Excellence co-founder Evan Stone, Gates Foundation teacher honcho Irvin Scott, and NEA prez Lily Eskelsen Garcia. Hope you'll join us, in person or via the livestream. For more information, check out the invite here. Also, if you're interested, here is a great one-stop resource for cage-busting articles, videos, resources, and more.

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Elephant Hunting and the Question of "Scale"

March 19, 2015 at 8:40 am

Readers may recall that last Friday I penned a column titled "Thinking About 'What Works.'" The response was gratifying, with some really interesting and thoughtful responses. One particular exchange was especially useful and I think it's worth sharing, because it helps sharpen our thinking about one of the central challenges in education: the question of how to "scale" promising stuff.

The reader embraced the notion that many ideas may "work," but that the most promising path is to worry less about replication than about how "to create the conditions for excellence and trust that solutions will eventually flourish." He then went on to make the point more strongly, observing:

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Releasing Virginia's Teacher Evaluation Data Would Be a Bad Idea

March 17, 2015 at 8:00 am

Yesterday, in a page one story in the Washington Post, Emma Brown and Moriah Balingit reported on the Virginia lawsuit that's seeking to force the state to release the individual evaluation data for thousands of teachers across Virginia. The suit prevailed in a Richmond courtroom in January and is currently being challenged by state education officials and the Virginia Education Association. While I'd rather be siding with crusading parents than with bureaucrats, I think the effort to release data on the students of individual teachers is hugely problematic. Why? My reasoning hasn't changed since the L.A. Times famously first reported individual teacher value-added scores back in August 2010. Since the issue hasn't changed, let's just go to the tape. Here's a lightly trimmed version of what I wrote the day after the Times story ran:

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Thinking About "What Works"

March 13, 2015 at 9:40 am

This is one of those weeks when I've spent way too much time yakking at people. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I had the chance to speak at a Philanthropy Roundtable gathering, yesterday I interviewed NYU's Jonathan Zimmerman on his new book on sex education, and today I'll be talking about The Cage-Busting Teacher at Teaching & Learning 2015. In all of these settings, there's a natural inclination to want to know "what works."

People want to know: "what works" in philanthropy? What works when it comes to advocacy? What's the right way to evaluate teachers? What works in sex ed? And so forth. Here's the thing: I think that asking the question in that way, while totally understandable, reflects an unhelpful bias.

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Books by Frederick M. Hess

Cover of No Child Left Behind Cover of Tough Love for Schools Cover of Common Sense School Reform Cover of Revolution at the Margins Cover of Bringing the Social Sciences Alive Cover of Spinning Wheels

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