Frederick M. Hess
Frederick M. Hess
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Small Schools, Stone Soup, and School Improvement

October 23, 2014 at 9:56 am

Last week, MDRC released the latest in a series of careful evaluations that suggest New York City's "small high schools" delivered some promising results. The new findings suggest that students at small high schools are more likely to enroll in college and that small schools boast a lower cost per graduate. This is smart, informative research. But I found some of the commentary on the results to be more than a little disconcerting in its suggestion that we now know that small schools "work" and that practitioners, policymakers, and funders should proceed accordingly. It all brought to mind the old fable of "stone soup." If you don't recall the tale, here's Wikipedia's (particularly dull) telling:

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Testing Mania and Uncle Sam's Clumsy Reach

October 20, 2014 at 10:43 am

Last week, a lot of good people insisted that they are shocked--shocked!--to see that more than a decade of federal pressure to test has led ... to too much testing. The kerfuffle was triggered when the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) issued a sensible joint statement on testing. The actual CCSSO-CGCS statement was pretty straightforward, declaring that assessments should be "high quality," "part of a coherent system," and "meaningful" for teachers and parents. (Not a lot to argue with there. I mean, I meet hardly anybody who insists, "I'm in favor of lousy, incoherent, meaningless tests!") The document got a fair bit of attention, though, because it acknowledged that testing has gotten out of control and called for states and districts to evaluate the tests they're giving, streamline them, and make sure they're useful.

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Jay Greene Is an Army of One for Arts Education…and He's Winning

October 16, 2014 at 10:20 am

The University of Arkansas's Jay Greene has just released a second pioneering study in his laudable push to confound the banal battle lines of the education debate. In this new study, "Learning From Live Theater," he and his coauthors find (using a randomized control trial) that taking students to the theater actually has serious, measurable benefits. The study follows upon Greene's acclaimed 2013 study (which also used an RCT design) that found that field trips to art museums have serious, measurable benefits for participating students.

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What the 2014 Senate Elections Might Mean for Education

October 14, 2014 at 8:34 am

We're three weeks from the midterms. There are a slew of major statehouse races that I may get around to discussing. But, to keep things simple, today I'll offer a few thoughts on what the midterms mean for Washington. The Republicans are widely expected to keep their House majority, meaning the big question is whether they'll be able to pick up the six seats they need to capture the U.S. Senate.

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Sattin-Bajaj's Incisive Look at How School Choice Works for Immigrant Kids

October 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm

One of my frustrations with the education debate is how the "with us or against us" framing can make it hard to raise thorny issues without being labeled an "opponent" of a given idea. I experienced this in spades back in the early 2000s, when I wrote in Revolution at the Margins that careful scrutiny of Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Edgewood, Texas, suggested that grand claims for the "competitive effects" of vouchers and charter schooling were overstated--at least in the near term and until larger changes were made to school systems. My stance was regarded by many choice proponents as "anti-choice," rather than as an opportunity to see the challenges more clearly and a tool to help shape a more robust improvement agenda.

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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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