Thursday, February 27, 2014

Haven't Had a Juicy KPG Post On Common Core Watch in a While

Me, in comments:
Reading standard 9 is your example of progression across grade levels?  It seems to me that the standards are quite close and all are equally applicable at each of the grade levels.  You could certainly talk with third graders about how the Brothers Grimm's Rapunzel is adapted in Tangled, or ask 10th graders to compare and contrast the themes of Henry IV part 2 and Henry V.  The sequence is essentially arbitrary.

If the standards want students to learn about Classical mythology, they should say so.  It doesn't make sense to stuff it into a vocabulary standard, and there are probably only about a dozen words for which this actually makes sense anyhow, where you're not plunging into some obscure myth to find the vocab word (e.g.,Hygieia, Panacea), or explaining back story for words which are fairly common anyhow (cereal, atlas, panic).  And many of them seem completely irrelevant to 4th grade literary reading, which this standard supposedly addresses (plutocracy, chronology).

The example "how-to" writing assignment is terrible.  I'm tempted to call it "developmentally inappropriate," but it is really much worse than that.  It is just bad technical writing advice.  You can't write good instructions by just reading some other instructions, without doing the task yourself, or at least observing other people doing the task and talking to them.  That suggestion only makes sense if the authors are trying to pre-emptively validate a lousy form of assessment (and writing).  Any competent English teacher would cut it at the first opportunity.

Finally, are we really supposed to believe that the "heart" of the Common Core or any other body of standards is not the standards themselves, but actually the introduction and appendix?  Give me a break.

Also, she makes the (rather obvious to me) quid pro quo between Common Core and Core Knowledge a little more clear than most have:

In short, the heart of the Common Core literacy standards—the elements that earned the support of education leaders like Hirsch—have been gutted from the latest Indiana draft.

How the BIG Web Works Today

Dan Rayburn:

From a technical level, Netflix has their own servers that are sitting inside third-party colocation facilities in multiple locations. To connect Netflix’s servers to ISPs, Netflix buys transit from multiple providers, which then connect their networks to the ISPs. Netflix pays the transit providers for those connections and with that, gets a certain level of capacity from the transit provider. While Cogent is one of the companies Netflix is buying transit from, they are not the only one. Netflix buys transit from multiple companies, including Cogent, Level 3, Tata, XO, Telia, and NTT, with Cogent and Level 3 being the primary providers. Transit providers like Cogent then connect their networks to ISPs like Comcast in what’s called peering. This is where a lot of the confusion starts as many are under the impression that ISPs like Comcast are suppose to allow any transit provider to push an unlimited amount of traffic into their network without any compensation. This isn’t a Comcast specific policy, but rather one that is standard for all ISPs.

ISPs have something called a peering policy (, which are rules that govern how networks connect with one another and exchange traffic. ISPs like Comcast will allow transit providers like Cogent to connect to their network, for free, in what’s called settlement-free peering. However, once the transit provider sends more traffic to the ISP then they are allowed to, per the ISPs peering policy, the transit provider pays the ISP for more capacity to get additional traffic into their network. Remember, Netflix is the one paying Cogent and Cogent is selling Netflix on the principle that it can get all of Netflix’s traffic into an ISP like Comcast. As a result, Cogent has to take all the necessary business steps to make sure Cogent has enough capacity to pass Netflix’s traffic on from Cogent’s network to Comcast. But Cogent isn’t doing that.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Latest at RIFuture: CFHS Four Years On


Taking a longer perspective on the CFHS data, a few things seem clear:

  • The school’s academic performance prior to the transformation was not as bad as reformers thought or presented it.
  • Rushing the process did not “save” the students in the school. The test scores of the student cohorts in the school during the process clearly suffered. They were worse off in reading and writing achievement according to the NECAP scores.
  • In the four years since RIDE named CFHS “persistently low performing,” the gap between CFHS and RI state proficiency rates has increased on all four NECAP tests.

One thing that I noticed looking at the assembled charts is that the statewide and CFHS numbers generally bounce up and down in parallel, suggesting effects of scoring/scaling/etc.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Open In All the Wrong Places

Bob Braun:

The response from Anderson to CASA’s formal request under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) was, yes, such an algorithm exists—but, no, you can’t have it. Why? Well, because it wasn’t developed by the Newark public schools. Rather it somehow came from that private sector giant—secretly–determining so much of what is happening, and what will happen, to Newark’s children: the Foundation for Newark’s Future (FNF).

It is nice that inBloom is open source, and kind of Student Achievement Partners to offer you a curricular shit sandwich for free, but the benefit of that stuff doesn't come close to the disutility of keeping really essential processes secret.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

NECAP Quickies

See also:

  • The most important number is that for the second year in a row, Deborah Gist's RIDE met only one of her 33 "Performance Measures and Goals" for the state. This year the number "nearly" meeting the goal (within 2%) went from 1 to zero. Performance in 14 of the measures declined. These goals were always unrealistic, so it is sort of unfair to hold RIDE to them, but the confidence with which the goals were issued was an important rhetorical club for reformers, so they don't get a pass now.
  • The one goal they did meet comfortably both years, this year by 14.3%, was for graduates enrolled in college gaining a year of college credit within two years of graduation. Of kids getting into an "institution of higher learning," apparently 82.6% are "college and career ready" right now. This suggests that all the rhetoric about college readiness distorts the true situation -- kids getting all the way to college and flunking out is not the crux of our problems.
  • Providence's high schools seem to be recovering from the horrific Brady-era slump. Updating my personal benchmark of number of neighborhood high schools with over 50% in reading:

    • 2008: 3/8
    • 2009: 5/9
    • 2010: 4/8
    • 2011: 1/8
    • 2012: 1/8
    • 2013: 5/7

    Yeah, cutscores are bogus, but my sense is that getting more than half the kids roughly on grade level constitutes a palpable shift in a school.

    The Brady administration did great harm to Providence's high schools -- this confirms it.

  • The one high-performing neighborhood high school not destroyed by Tom Brady, Deborah Gist and their minions, E-Cubed, continues to demonstrate the potential staying power of the small schools model, with 73% proficiency in reading. Wouldn't it have been nice if we could have counted on four schools in that range every year for the past half-decade?
  • I wish RIDE could decide how many schools Blackstone Valley Prep is. They're still reporting it as one elementary and one middle school. That is, they don't seem to be releasing school level data consistently from BVP.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Why Isn't Sandra Fluke Running Against...

...Bill Shuster?

Time to turn Central PA BLUE!

Nobody Knows How to Raise NECAP Math Scores

I've got a new post over at RI Future.

One side note -- North Providence did see a 19% jump in students scoring higher than "1" on the 11th grade math NECAP, and we don't have the demographic breakdowns yet, but the interesting thing about their scores last year was that whites, males, and not economically disadvantaged students all underperformed in North Providence last year compared to their peers statewide, while low-income, female and minority students all outperformed their peers. I suspect that some complacent white guys were scared straight by the graduation requirements, but it took a weird demographic situation to cause that to result in a clear test score gain.

What Do the Providence Grays have to do with Black History Month?

Peter Morris and Stefan Fatsis:

So where does that leave William Edward White? Baseball pioneer or baseball footnote? When he trotted out to first base at Messer Street Grounds in Providence, White may have been the only person who knew that a black man was playing in the big leagues. And even that assumes White thought about the fact that he was black, or even partly black. In the racially bifurcated America of the times, “you were black or you were white,” Hobbs says. If no one else knew—if society couldn’t respond and react—it’s reasonable to question whether White should be recognized as the first African-American major-leaguer.