Why Knowledge-Building Curricula Matter More Than School Choice, December 11, 2018

Many hot topics in education have cooled, but the debate on school choice can still send off sparks.  Unfortunately, they only divert attention from a hidden problem that afflicts virtually all schools….

Lawsuits Won’t Solve Our Civics Crisis, November 30, 2018

A lawsuit claiming there’s a constitutional right to civics instruction has gotten a lot of publicity, but it’s unlikely to succeed. It’s premised on a vast oversimplification of what schools need to do to produce responsible, productive citizens. …

Why Graduation Rates Are Rising But Student Achievement Is Not, November 29, 2018

The nation’s high school graduation rate has reached an all-time high, but new data suggest much of that “progress” has been achieved by funneling underprepared students into watered-down online courses. …

What To Do About Standardized Tests, November 15, 2018

Critics of standardized testing say scores merely reflect family income and other factors beyond schools’ control—while also narrowing the curriculum and warping instruction. Still, the tests have value, and there’s much more that schools could do to address the inequities they reveal. …

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Why American Students Haven’t Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years, April 13, 2018

Every two years, education-policy wonks gear up for what has become a time-honored ritual: the release of the Nation’s Report Card. Officially known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the data reflect the results of reading and math tests administered to a sample of students across the country. Experts generally consider the tests rigorous and highly reliable—and the scores basically stagnant. …



How Common Core Can Help in the Battle of Skills vs. Knowledge, August 28, 2015
Standardized tests are commonly blamed for narrowing the school curriculum to reading and math. That’s one reason Congress is considering changes in the law that could lead states to put less emphasis on test scores. But even if we abolished standardized tests tomorrow, a majority of elementary schools would continue to pay scant attention to subjects like history and science. …



The inappropriate focus on reading and math hurts students, February 26, 2018
The resignation of D.C. Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson in the wake of two embarrassing scandals at the high school level could provide D.C. schools with an opportunity to change course and regain its reputation as a national model of education reform. But that can only happen if officials recognize the true source of both scandals: elementary school, long considered the bright spot in the system. …

Why Americans can’t write, September 24, 2015
It’s no secret that many Americans are lousy writers. Just ask any college professor or employer, including those at prestigious institutions. With the advent of e-mail, writing ability has become more important than ever, and writing deficiencies have become increasingly apparent. …



One Sentence at a Time: The Need for Explicit Instruction in Teaching Students to Write Well, Summer 2017
When Monica entered high school, her writing skills were minimal. After repeating first grade and getting more than 100 hours of tutoring in elementary school, she’d managed to learn to read well enough to get by, and she was comfortable with math. But writing seemed beyond her reach. …



Many posts, extending from 2013-17.