Category Archives: Education
Two years ago, Kenneth Goldsmith, the University of Pennsylvania poet and conceptual artist, taught a creative writing course he called “Wasting Time on the Internet.” Students would do just that, probing the tedium of the internet. But thanks to in-class use of social media, the class also became a creative ferment of improvised dance, trust experiments and inquiries into the modern nature of the self and the crowd.
The constant experimentation changed Mr. Goldsmith into a self-described “radical optimist” about the internet, too. While many of his peers worry about the effects that endless tweets and bad videos have on our minds and souls, he sees a positive new culture being built. The first poet laureate of the Museum of Modern Art, appointed in 2013, he believes we are headed into a creative renaissance, one with unprecedented speed and inclusion.
Meanwhile, the class has evolved into a seminar on collective “time wasting” that Mr. Goldsmith has held in several countries, and it returns to Penn this fall. His new book, named after the course, will be available this month.
Why write this book?
I had cognitive dissonance. Theorists say the internet is making us dumber, but something magical happened when my students wasted time together. They became more creative with each other. They say we’re less social; I think people on the web are being social all the time. They say we’re not reading; I think we’re reading all the time, just online.
I’m an artist, and artists feel things, we distrust these studies. As a poet I wanted to observe, I wanted to feel things.
You compare online experiences with 20th-century philosophies and artistic movements.
The DNA of the web is embedded in 20th-century movements like Surrealism, where artists sought to live in a state like dreaming, or Pop Art, where they leveraged popular culture to make bigger points about society. Postmodernism is about sampling things and remixing them, and that is made real in this digital world.
When I teach my students about the historical preconditions for what they are doing when they waste time together — things like Surrealism or Cubism — the theoretical framework helps them know that the web isn’t a break, it’s a continuity with earlier great thinking.
But if we’re just remixing, are we creating?
When a D.J. brings a laptop full of music samples to a club he doesn’t play an instrument, but we don’t argue that he isn’t doing something creative in mixing those sounds to create his own effect. In the online world the only thing you’re the master of is your collection, your archive, and how you use it, how you remix it. We become digital archivists, collecting and cataloging things. I find it exciting.
What will an educated person be in the future?
We still read great books, and there is a place for great universities. But an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.
If we change as a culture, do we change ourselves?
I’ve got a 10-year-old and 17-year-old. They’re thinking differently from me. They stay connected all the time, and they’re smart, they play baseball, they read, they spend time online. They’re not robots. Basic human qualities haven’t changed. I can find Plato in online life. When I read Samuel Pepys’s diary I see Facebook posts. We just find new ways to express things.
The Los Angeles Unified School District mailed applications earlier this month to 186,000 students, from 104 schools, who are eligible for the extra assistance.
The federal No Child Left Behind education law requires school districts to pay for supplemental tutoring for low-income students whose schools repeatedly fail to meet testing improvement targets. To qualify, students must attend one of the targeted campuses and receive free or reduced-priced lunches because of low family income. Applications must be postmarked by Friday, Sept. 26.
“We want youngsters who participate in this program to get something that will improve their reading, math or language test scores,” said John Liechty, associate superintendent in charge of extended-day programs for the school district.
L.A. Unified parents can choose from 26 public and private providers of tutoring services, including Sylvan Education Solutions, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Huntington Learning Centers. The school district also is providing free tutoring, on Saturdays, through its Beyond the Bell Learning Centers.
Students can get as much as 100 hours of free tutoring through next August, depending on the provider, officials said.
The school district has budgeted $47 million of federal Title I money for the initiative, enough to pay for about 47,000 students, at roughly $1,000 apiece, administrators said.
Last year, the first time the free service was offered, just 10,000 of 164,000 eligible students took advantage of it.
Families who miss Friday’s deadline can apply again. Applications for a second round of tutoring are due by Dec. 5. Students in that stage will get free tutoring from February through next August.
SUNY College at Old Westbury and Long Island University’s Post campus in Brookville, N.Y., may be in similarly affluent locales just five miles apart, but look at the chasm between their budgets for students living off-campus: The State University of New York computed that its students needed $11,300 last year, while L.I.U.’s needed $27,500.
This is not just a New York state of mind. Estimating expenses is a murky business across the country, made even more so when “miscellaneous expenses” — for anything from health insurance to laundry — are added to the equation.
In Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania and neighboring Drexel University calculated off-campus costs that vary by $3,000. And Johnson & Wales gives students at its campuses in North Miami, Denver, Providence, R.I., and Charlotte, N.C., the exact same allowance: $8,609, though these cities have disparate living costs.
Nearly 60 percent of colleges significantly underestimate or overestimate off-campus living costs, according to continuing research by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab (for Harvesting Opportunities for Postsecondary Education), which studies barriers to college access and completion.
Inaccurate statistics matter.
Consumer-friendly shopping tools like the government’s College Scorecard and net price calculators will churn out misleading information, making it difficult for applicants to compare colleges. While a low projection can be a boon for colleges looking to attract more applicants by seeming more affordable, it can spell disaster for students who enroll and then discover that their living costs are higher than they can afford.
Some run out of cash and are forced to drop out, said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a Temple University professor and founder of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.
Perhaps most critical, the total cost of attending a particular college or university, as estimated by the institution, sets the upper limit on how much a family can take out in both federal and private student loans, leading some students to borrow more than they need and some to borrow less and run out of money.
“This is how you get debt and no degree,” Dr. Goldrick-Rab said. “It’s not tuition that’s driving people out of school.”
Room, board and personal expenses make up about half of college costs. Most students live off-campus — 87 percent — but even prospective students who plan to live in dorms can be affected by shaky statistics. That’s because some college planning websites, including the College Scorecard, average schools’ on- and off-campus living expenses to reach their net price — the cost of attending less the average amount of grants and scholarships awarded.
Miscalculations can be traced to the thicket of regulations that govern college pricing. The Department of Education requires colleges to report the cost of attendance. It tells them what kinds of costs to include — tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and personal expenses — but gives lots of wiggle room in how they come up with the numbers. With no federal rules and few recommendations to guide them, colleges use a hodgepodge of methods to predict costs.
That might explain why room and board estimates for colleges within the same county can vary so much — on average, by $6,448, according to research by the New America foundation published in May.
Some estimates are so low that students could not live on them even with a crowd of roommates, according to the real estate website Trulia, which came out with its own study last September. For example, the University of California, Santa Barbara, posted its 2015-16 housing budget as $6,345, but Trulia calculated that students would need to spend $13,478 each to share a two-bedroom apartment within the university’s ZIP code. Even if five students shared a four-bedroom apartment, they would each have to pay $8,460. (Of course, students often move outside of pricey ZIP codes, trading higher rents for longer commutes from less desirable areas.)
Some colleges keep estimates low, they say, to prevent their students from going into too much debt. If students get more than they need, it’s easy to forget it’s a loan and spend it.
“Goucher College discourages unnecessary borrowing,” said Kathy Michel, a spokeswoman, pointing out that 2014 graduates with student loans left Goucher with lower average debt — $25,580 — than graduates of most area colleges.
Educators have gotten used to poring over spreadsheets filled with test scores to get a sense of their students’—and schools’—strengths and weaknesses.
What they don’t often see: feedback from other teachers, administrators, and students who can offer a fresh perspective on where a school stands when it comes to instruction, resources, climate, financial efficiency, and more.
A handful of states—including, recently, Vermont—have worked to change that, using a model borrowed from other countries and known in Great Britain as “school inspections,” in which a team of experts or educators visits a school and offers objective feedback on teaching, learning, management and more.
Several states have experimented with the model for their lowest-performing schools, including Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New York, said Craig Jerald, the president of Break the Curve Consulting, who has studied the strategy.
Vermont, by contrast, plans to eventually conduct inspections, which it calls “integrated field reviews,” in all its schools, whether low-performing or not. The state began piloting the program last school year in about 40 schools and is continuing to test it this year in about 50, with the ultimate goal of reviewing each school every three years.
Refining the Process
Vermont is still figuring out how the reviews could be used to support schools under the new Every Student Succeeds Act, said Josh Souliere, the state’s assistant director of education quality reviews. The reviews aren’t expected to be used for federal accountability, but they could be a component of state-level “technical assistance” for low-performing schools, he said.
But the true purpose of the reviews is to help educators and district leaders get a sense of how a range of factors—including curriculum coordination, instruction, personalized learning, and the social and emotional health of students—affect the overall success of a school and its “supervisory union” (Vermont’s term for local education agencies).
“These reviews are intended to measure the things that we can’t measure quantitatively, making sure students are experiencing an equitable education, both across the district and within a school,” said Lori Dolezal, an education quality manager at the Vermont education department, who took part in some of the reviews conducted last school year. “It’s not punitive, it’s exploratory. It’s OK to find problems of practice. That’s the whole point.”
Under Vermont’s pilot, a team of 15 to 20 reviewers—among them teachers, specialists, central-office staff, officials from the state education agency, and even students—visit a particular supervisory union. Then they break up into teams of about three or four people and head out to individual schools.
Those teams will spend about half a day at a school collecting “evidence.” That can mean conducting interviews with teachers, students, and parents, and observing classes. Teams also consider supporting documents that get at how well the school is implementing the state’s education quality standards, including local tests, curriculum materials, budgets, and policies and procedures. A second team will visit the school for the second half of the day and perform a similar review.
A school can rebut anything in the formal report that leaders think is unfair or inaccurate.
At least for now, it’s up to local administrators and educators to decide what to do with the information.
School officials who took part in last year’s process generally say the feedback was illuminating and felt supportive—even if the prospect of reviewers coming in and judging a school made some educators nervous at first.
“It felt very personalized,” said Emilie Knisley, the superintendent of the 450-student Blue Mountain district in northeast Vermont. “It felt like you could take the recommendations and take action on them in a way that you can’t when you’re just getting a set of test scores.”
Knisley also served as a reviewer herself, visiting schools in other parts of the state. That was eye-opening, too.
“It ended up resulting in a lot of people being able to share experiences across schools” and get ideas they could take back to their own systems, she said. “It’s rare that you get to talk to people in other districts.”
Already, in some cases, the reports have helped nudge school boards, which often oversee supervisory-union budgets, to provide funding for resources reviewers felt were lacking.
For instance, the team visiting Knisley’s district noted that some students didn’t have access to the same classroom technology as others in the same school. That gave local leaders ammunition to ask the school board for money to install new interactive white boards in elementary classrooms.
A child totes his backpack around all year long, so finding the right satchel, knapsack, or carryall can be the difference between daily ease and constant discomfort. Find the very best backpack for your child by keeping three simple factors in mind.
Consider Your Child’s Life
How your child uses his backpack will determine the type of bag needed. Older kids who carry heavy books back and forth to school may need more supportive backpacks with ergonomic shoulder straps as well as belts that go across the waist and chest. Young children who typically only need to tote a few papers and a sack lunch can opt for lighter-weight backpacks. Remember to think about activities your child uses his bag for outside of school. If he takes his backpack camping or to swim practice, for example, you may want to select a bag with weatherproof fabric.
Make Sure It’ll Last
Kids go through a lot in a year, and it really takes a toll on their backpacks. Because of the rough-and-tumble student lifestyle, kids’ backpacks should be sturdy so that they last through the school year and beyond. Look for bags with water and tear resistant fabric, as well as reinforced shoulder straps.
It Has to be Cool
Lastly, it’s important for your child to have a say in the style and color of his backpack. A child will wear his backpack almost everyday of the school year, so finding a design that makes him smile is essential. Look for interesting patterns or colors that your child will like. And don’t forget that you can always make a backpack a little more special with a monogram of your child’s initials or a few pins and patches.
Focusing on these three backpack factors will help you find the perfect satchel for your child at the end of summer. Enjoy searching for the perfect backpack with your child, and have a great back-to-school season!
From San Francisco to Austin, Texas, to New York, new forms of schooling termed micro-schools are popping up.
As of yet, there is no common definition that covers all these schools, which vary not only by size and cost but also in their education philosophies and operating models. Think one-room schoolhouse meets blended learning and home schooling meets private schooling.
As Matt Candler, founder of 4.0 Schools, writes, “What makes a modern micro-school different from a 19th century, one-room schoolhouse is that old school schools only had a few ways to teach — certainly no software, no tutors, and probably less structure around student to student learning. In a modern micro-school, there are ways to get good data from each of these venues. And the great micro-school of the future will lean on well-designed software to help adults evaluate where each kid is learning.”
Several factors are driving their emergence. Micro-schools are gaining traction among families who are dissatisfied with the quality of public schooling options and cannot afford or do not want to pay for a traditional private-school education. These families want an option other than home schooling that will personalize instruction for their child’s needs. A school in which students attend a couple days a week or a small school with like-minded parents can fit the bill.
Some trace the micro-school’s origins to the United Kingdom, where over the past decade people began applying the term micro-schools to small independent and privately funded schools that met at most two days a week. As in the United States, the impetus for their formation was dissatisfaction with local schooling options. Although home-schooling families have for some time created cooperatives to gain some flexibility for the adults and socialization for the children, the micro-schooling phenomenon is more formal.
One of the early U.S. micro-schools, QuantumCamp was founded in the winter of 2009 in Berkeley, California, out of a dare that one couldn’t teach quantum physics in a simple way. The result was the development of a course that would be accessible to children as young as 12. The school now offers a complete hands-on math and science curriculum for students in 1st through 8th grade, and serves about 150 home schoolers during the school year; double that number attend the summer program. Tuition ranges from $600 to $2,400 depending on the program and enrollment period. In 2013 QuantumCamp introduced language arts courses. Each academic class meets once a week for an activity-based exploration of big ideas and then offers out-of-class content that includes videos, readings, problem sets, podcasts, and other activities to enable students to continue exploring concepts at their own pace.
At roughly the same time as QuantumCamp’s founding, in Austin, Texas, Jeff Sandefer, founder of the nationally acclaimed Acton School of Business, and his wife Laura, who has a master’s degree in education, launched Acton Academy. In creating the five-day-a-week, all-day school, the couple sought to ensure that their own children wouldn’t be “talked at all day long” in a traditional classroom. The Acton Academy’s mission is “to inspire each child and parent who enters [its] doors to find a calling that will change the world.” The school promises that students will embark on a “hero’s journey” to discover the unique contributions that they can make toward living a life of meaning and purpose.
With tuition of $9,515 per year, Acton Academy initially enrolled 12 students and has since 2009 grown to serve 75 students in grades 1 to 9. The school has learning guides—they aren’t called teachers—whose role is to push students to own their learning. The model enables the academy to have far fewer on-site adults per student than a traditional independent school and to operate at a cost of roughly $4,000 per student per year.
Acton compresses students’ core learning into a two-and-a-half-hour personalized-learning period each day during which students learn mostly online. This affords time for three two-hour project-based learning blocks each week, a Socratic seminar each day, game play on Fridays, ample art and physical education offerings, and many social experiences. The Socratic discussions teach students to talk, listen, and challenge ideas in a face-to-face circle of peers and guides. The projects require the students to work in teams to apply the knowledge they have learned. They also foster a ‘‘need to know’’ mind-set to motivate the online learning and provide a public, portfolio-based means for students to demonstrate achievement.
Early results appear impressive, as the first group of students gained 2.5 grade levels of learning in their first 10 months. Now the school is spreading. There are currently eight Acton Academies operating—seven of them in the United States. Twenty-five are slated to be open by 2015. The Sandefers are not operating them, however; they provide communities that want to open an Acton clone a do-it-yourself kit plus limited consulting and access to wiki discussion groups. They are developing a game-based learning tool to help prepare Acton Academy owners and the learning guides in the schools. Tuition at the academies ranges from $4,000 per year to $9,900.
High school and adult level education programs differ significantly. As a result, different types of skills and qualities are required to succeed as an adult student.
The primary difference between high school and adult education programs aren’t the programs themselves, it’s the students. High school students don’t typically have full-time jobs or families to support–adults do. Adult students must juggle the responsibilities of working, attending to family and other duties, while trying to complete their degree, certificate or diploma.
There is also a different set of expectations for adolescents and adults. Since adolescents are still maturing, teachers are more willing to accept excuses and poor effort, but teachers in adult education programs are less likely to accept excuses and will expect a higher level dedication and performance from their students. They will work with students needs, but will not tolerate laziness or apathy.
Adults enrolling in adult education programs should always maintain a positive attitude and be willing to put in the work necessary to succeed. Since adults usually have work, family and other responsibilities, teachers in adult education programs will assume their students are mature, hard workers and up to the task. Notwithstanding, even for mature dedicated adults, school can be challenging.
The following are a few proven strategies that will help you succeed as an adult students enrolled in an adult education program:
Goal setting typically isn’t high up on the list of priorities for most high school age students, but for adult students, who want to be successful–while maintaining some sense of sanity–it’s an imperative. Adults students have to juggle so many different responsibilities that compete for their time and attention outside of school that setting goals becomes a very important aspect of academic success. Even for responsible adults, it’s easy to get behind or arrive at the end of the semester unprepared if they don’t set realistic, achievable goals at the beginning of the semester and review their goals on a regular basis. Teachers and professors can help their students brainstorm goals, but ultimately it’s the students’ responsibility to develop goals and follow through with them. It’s very difficult to complete a demanding adult education or college program without setting and following through with goals. We recommend setting daily, weekly and monthly goals. Daily goals should be oriented toward accomplishing weekly goals, weekly goals should be oriented toward accomplishing monthly goals, and monthly goals to longer-term goals.
Most adults returning to college or enrolling for the first time will likely take classes much more difficult than those they’ve taken in the past or during high school. They’ll be tested in tough courses and will frequently be overwhelmed with what they’re required to learn–and quickly they must learn it. Moreover, students must deal with a myriad challenges outside the classroom, such as relationship, family or work problems. Often, school and non-school related stress can make quitting seem very appealing to adult students. However, you must work through challenges and persevere until you reach your education goals. If you have clearly defined goals and self-confidence, you can find the drive to work through challenging times and complete your degree or diploma.
The American public is displaying its independent streak. Critics of testing will take no comfort from the findings of the 2015 Education Next poll—but neither will supporters of the Common Core State Standards, school choice, merit pay, or tenure reform. The unions will not like the public’s view on their demands that nonmembers contribute financially to their activities. Teachers will be unhappy to hear that public enthusiasm for increasing teacher pay falls through the floor when people are told current salary levels and asked if they are willing to pay additional taxes for that purpose. The Obama administration will be equally unhappy to hear what both teachers and the public think about its proposals to require similar student suspension and expulsion rates across racial and ethnic groups.
These are among the many findings to emerge from the ninth annual Education Next survey, administered in May and June 2015 to a nationally representative sample of some 4,000 respondents, including oversamples of roughly 700 teachers, 700 African Americans, and 700 Hispanics (see methodology sidebar). The large number of survey respondents enabled us to ask alternative questions on the same topic in order to determine the sensitivity of opinion to new information and particular wording. We also posed many new questions in 2015, allowing us to explore opinion on curricular and other issues that have never before been examined in a nationally representative survey of the American public.
Testing and Accountability
In early 2015, as Congress began rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), no issue loomed larger than the use of student testing to measure the performance of schools and teachers. Media reports featured teachers decrying a scourge of overtesting. By spring, hundreds of thousands of parents had chosen to have their children “opt out” of state tests, garnering the rousing approval of the teachers unions. Out on the hustings, Republican presidential candidates escalated their critique of the Common Core. The movement to put “the standardized testing machine in reverse,” in the words of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, seemed to have legs.
It is perhaps surprising, then, that in July a bipartisan Senate supermajority of 81–17 passed a revision of NCLB that keeps the federal requirement that all students be tested in math and reading in grades 3 to 8 and again in high school. Has the upper chamber ignored the people’s will? Or, is the public’s appetite for the information provided by regular student testing broader and more robust than the media coverage would indicate?
Our polling suggests the latter (see Figure 1). A solid 67% of members of the public say they support continuing the federal requirement for annual testing, while just 21% oppose the idea, with the remainder taking a neutral position. Parental support for testing (66%) is about as high as that of the public as a whole. Teachers are divided down the middle, with 47% saying yes and 46% saying no to continuing the policy.
In 2012, the last time we asked this question, 63% of the public said they supported annual testing, and only 12% opposed. In other words, the shares of supporters and opponents are both slightly higher in 2015 than they were three years ago, with the share taking a neutral position declining from 25% to 13%. This shift could suggest that public opinion has crystallized in the intervening years (but it may also reflect the fact that our survey presented the neutral response option more prominently in 2012). Either way, the backlash against standardized testing appears less potent than opponents claim.
Opting out. The House of Representatives also passed a reauthorization bill requiring that states maintain annual testing regimes, but its version differs from the Senate’s in one key respect: it allows parents to “opt out” of state tests, despite the fact that the federal government does not require that the tests be used to evaluate the performance of individual students. The difference between the two bills looms large, because one cannot assess school performance accurately unless nearly all students participate in the testing process.
What happened to the New Orleans public schools following the tragic levee breeches after Hurricane Katrina is truly unprecedented. Within the span of one year, all public-school employees were fired, the teacher contract expired and was not replaced, and most attendance zones were eliminated. The state took control of almost all public schools and began holding them to relatively strict standards of academic achievement. Over time, the state turned all the schools under its authority over to charter management organizations (CMOs) that, in turn, dramatically reshaped the teacher workforce.
A few states and districts nationally have experimented with one or two of these reforms; many states have increased the number of charter schools, for example. But no city had gone as far on any one of these dimensions or considered trying all of them at once. New Orleans essentially erased its traditional school district and started over. In the process, the city has provided the first direct test of an alternative to the system that has dominated American public education for more than a century.
Dozens of districts around the country are citing the New Orleans experience to justify their own reforms. In addition to being hailed by Democratic president Barack Obama and Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, parliamentary delegations from at least two countries have visited the city to learn about its schools.
The unprecedented nature of the reforms and level of national and international attention by themselves make the New Orleans experience a worthy topic of analysis and debate. But also consider that the underlying principles are what many reformers have dreamed about for decades—that schools would be freed from most district and union contract rules and allowed to innovate. They would be held accountable not for compliance but for results.
There is clearly a lot of hype. The question is, are the reforms living up to it? Specifically, how did the reforms affect school practices and student learning? My colleagues and I at the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans (ERA-New Orleans) at Tulane University have carried out a series of studies to answer these and other questions. Our work is motivated by the sheer scale of the Katrina tragedy and the goal of supporting students, educators, and city leaders in their efforts to make the city’s schools part of the city’s revitalization effort. The rest of the country wants to know how well the New Orleans school reforms have worked. But the residents of New Orleans deserve to know. Here’s what we can tell them so far.
Before the Storm
Assessing the effects of this policy experiment involves comparing the effectiveness of New Orleans schools before and after the reforms. As in most districts, before Hurricane Katrina, an elected board set New Orleans district policies and selected superintendents, who hired principals to run schools. Principals hired teachers, who worked under a union contract. Students were assigned to schools based mainly on attendance zones.
The New Orleans public school district was highly dysfunctional. In 2003, a private investigator found that the district system, which had about 8,000 employees, inappropriately provided checks to nearly 4,000 people and health insurance to 2,000 people. In 2004, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued indictments against 11 people for criminal offenses against the district related to financial mismanagement. Eight superintendents served between 1998 and 2005, lasting on average just 11 months.
This dysfunction, combined with the socioeconomic background of city residents—83 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—contributed to poor academic results. In the 2004‒05 school year, Orleans Parish public schools ranked 67th out of 68 Louisiana districts in math and reading test scores. The graduation rate was 56 percent, at least 10 percentage points below the state average.
As a result, some reforms were already under way when Katrina hit in August 2005. The state-run Recovery School District (RSD) had already been created to take over low-performing New Orleans schools. The state had appointed an emergency financial manager to handle the district’s finances. There were some signs of improvement in student outcomes just before the storm, but, as we will see, these were relatively modest compared with what came next.
A Massive Experiment
After Katrina, state leaders quickly moved almost all public schools under the umbrella of the RSD, leaving the higher-performing ones under the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). Gradually, the RSD turned schools over to charter operators, and the teacher workforce shifted toward alternatively prepared teachers from Teach for America and other programs. So new was the system that a new name was required—longtime education reformer Paul Hill called it the “portfolio” model.
Researchers often refer to such sudden changes as “natural experiments” and study them using a technique called “difference-in-differences.” The idea is to first take the difference between outcomes before and after the policy, in the place where it was implemented—the treatment group. This first difference is insufficient, however, because other factors may have affected the treatment group at the same time. This calls for making the same before-and-after comparison in a group that is identical, except for being unaffected by the treatment. Subtracting these two—taking the difference of the two differences between the treatment and comparison groups—yields a credible estimate of the policy effect.
We have carried out two difference-in-differences strategies:
1) Returnees only. We study only those students who returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The advantage of this approach is that it compares the same students over time. One disadvantage is that it omits nonreturnees. Also, we can only study returnees over a short period of time—after 2009, they no longer have measurable outcomes to study.
2) Different cohorts. We consider the achievement growth of different cohorts of students before and after the reforms—for example, students in 3rd grade in 2005 and students in 3rd grade in 2012. The advantages here are that we can include both returnees and nonreturnees, and we can use this strategy to study longer-term effects. But the students are no longer the same.
In both strategies, the New Orleans data set includes all publicly funded schools in the city, including those governed by the district (OPSB), since all public schools were influenced by the reforms. The main comparison group includes other districts in Louisiana that were affected by Hurricane Katrina, and by Hurricane Rita, which came soon afterward. This helps account for at least some of the trauma and disruption caused by the storms, the quality of schools students attended in other regions while their local schools were closed, and any changes in the state tests and state education policies that affected both groups.
Most prospective teachers want to begin teaching immediately after graduating. Most college graduates have large quantities of student loan debt and are eager to begin their careers as quickly as they can. Although teachers are needed throughout the United States, state and local budget cuts have stifled demand for teachers. To add to the difficulties of finding teaching jobs after graduating, many school districts are filling open teaching positions with experienced educators. If you’re still looking for a teaching job, the following tips will assist you during the interview process:
Improve and enhance your resume prior to your job search. Even if you lack applicable work experience, you can emphasize extra-curricular activities you participated in during college, volunteer work, or experience acquired during an internship. A good resume can help you obtain interviews. It’s essential you develop an effective resume since it can familiarize a potential employer with you. To present your resume professionally, print it on high-grade paper and check it multi-times for spelling and grammatical errors. Mistakes on your resume can reflect poorly on you.
There are a variety of strategies you can utilize to locate available teaching jobs. A great place to find information about open jobs is at the human resource departments of school districts. Another way to locate teaching opportunities is to attend job fairs, whether they be online fairs or fairs where you can interact one-one-one with recruiters. Since many states have laws requiring local school districts to post open positions in newspapers, it’s recommended to frequently review the classified ad sections of major newspapers. Likewise, take time to frequently review online sites featuring job listings, and visit the local office of your state’s employment assistance service. Prospective teachers willing to work in another state or region can expand the number of available teaching opportunities.
After finding jobs you would like to pursue, it’s advisable to prepare yourself for the interviewing process. Even if a school district you are interested working for does not schedule an interview with you immediately, do not get discouraged since it takes districts a long time to review the resumes of all applicants. Likewise, many school districts have positions become available just prior to the beginning of new school years. It’s also a good idea to indicate on your resume if you’re interested in working as a substitute teacher. Be prepared with answers to the following interview questions:
- What is your teaching philosophy?
- What will you do in a classroom to motivate students?
- How will you manage your classroom?
- Describe how you will communicate and provide feedback for parents?
- How will you discipline students with behavioral problems?
It’s also not uncommon to be asked just prior to the conclusion of an interview whether you have questions for the interviewer. Many candidates make the mistake of not asking the interviewer any questions. The interviewer may get the impression that you have little interest in the job when you are not prepared with questions. If you do not have any specific questions, it’s good to inquire about common classroom sizes, availability of technology teaching resources and anything else you would like more information about. It’s also advisable to ask for a tour of the school to demonstrate your interest in the position.