How to Escape Education’s Death Valley

You can be engaged in the activity of something, but not really be achieving it, like dieting. It’s a very good example. There he is. He’s dieting. Is he losing any weight? Not really. Teaching is a word like that. You can say, “There’s Deborah, she’s in room 34, she’s teaching.”But if nobody is learning anything, she may be engaged in the task of teaching but not actually fulfilling it. The role of a teacher is to facilitate learning. That’s it. And part of the problem, I think, that the dominant culture of education has come to focus on not teaching and learning, but testing. Now testing is important. Standardized tests have a place. But they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic. They should help.

Deeper Learning: An Essential Component of Equity

By Dr. Pedro A. Noguera

Often, when people think about equity, they think about allocation of resources. Why is access to deeper learning also a critical equity issue?


Webinar: Increasing Opportunities for Deeper Learning

We’ve known for a long time, thanks to Jeannie Oakes and her work on the tracking of students, that kids who are seen as less able or “not college material” are often in classes that don’t challenge them. Because we assume that kids who are in need of remediation are not smart, these students are left doing low-level work that doesn’t tap into their higher order thinking skills.

In classrooms and schools focused on deeper learning, teachers are constantly looking for the evidence that students are learning, and students are constantly looking for their own evidence of learning.

This is a false assumption that exacerbates the equity issue because what it often means is that these students aren’t being challenged and encouraged to think deeply, and they are not developing the skills they are going to need for college and for work. This is the primary equity issue. It is as important as whether or not they are in a school with adequate resources, because if they are in a classroom where they are not really learning much, it is going to impact their education and their long-term outcomes.

How do we support schools and districts to build their capacity to support deeper learning?


In part, we have to provide very clear models. We also have to challenge beliefs, which can be a huge obstacle. It is often helpful to give examples of places where deeper learning is happening, so you can show educators that it’s not just a theory that has been hatched in the university, but it actually is working in many places. And then you have to give guidance to the educators—the teachers and the people who lead the teachers—on what kinds of learning activities elicit deeper learning. It can’t be an abstract conversation. It has to be connected to the work that schools do. In many districts, professional development is ineffective because it isn’t connected to practice.


LINK: Learning Policy Institute



After Two Years of Research …

by Education Trust – Midwest

Michigan is at a critical moment in time — a historic moment where our citizens and leaders must choose whether we will take advantage of new opportunities to become a top ten education state — or face a continued and dramatic educational decline. Today, national data reveal that Michigan’s public education system is among the poorest performing in the country, a problem we can ill afford to ignore.

After almost two years of research, including conversations with educators working at the classroom, school, district, intermediate school district and state level, our team found a profound need for far more robust implementation and improvement systems, guided by sustained and visionary leadership. Indeed, the lack of coherent systems and accountability for consistent improvement are holding back third-grade literacy efforts and squandering millions of dollars. As it stands, the only real accountability for Michigan’s third-grade reading investment exists for the state’s students: under the state’s 2016 policy, students are at-risk for retention in third grade if they are unable to meet grade-level reading expectations.

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In this report we dig deeply into the experience of leading education states with a focus on the “how”: how did these states dramatically raise their third-grade reading levels in relatively short periods of time? Over the last two years, our team of researchers visited and talked with more than 50 leaders in these states, mined national and state data, and examined the approaches they use

Michigan third-graders are the lowest performing students in the U.S. among peers, based on the state’s assessment. Michigan is one of only a few states in the country that has actually lost ground in third-grade reading in recent years.

It’s a devastating decline – yet it can and must be turned around.

That is why we launched the Michigan Achieves campaign to make Michigan a top ten education state. And it’s why our most recent report digs deeper in the “how” of Michigan’s early literacy imitative, an important case study for the state’s larger K-12 improvement challenges.

We also celebrate some of Michigan’s highest-improving, high-poverty schools that are showing dramatic improvement can happen with the right systems, leadership and strategies.

LINK: Read the Report