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You are invited to add your unique voice and perspective to a vibrant, forward thinking conversation around some of the most timely topics in the education sector.   We welcome sophisticated commentary, similar to that found in the world’s leading publications, that covers a wide range of education related topics and draws fresh connections to contemporary issues.  As a contributor you will both be invited to discuss topics of our choosing and have the exciting opportunity to create content of your choice around subjects that interest you as both a scholar and practitioner.  Let’s work together to move the conversation around education further into the future while reframing and evaluating scholarship of the past.




Commentary
by Nicole Blalock — 2014
Included in this commentary is a discussion of five key problems that permeate racial identification of Indigenous students in America’s public schools.

by Judith Scott-Clayton — 2014
While the prevalence of remediation has generated widespread concern about the college readiness of our nation’s high school graduates, comparatively little attention has been paid to how “readiness” is actually determined. At most community colleges and at many nonselective four-year colleges, readiness is determined by scores on short standardized math and English placement tests. This commentary describes research finding that assignment to remedial or college-level courses based on standardized placement exams results in large numbers of placement errors, and that incorporating high school transcript information would lead to fewer assignments to remediation while maintaining or increasing success rates in college-level Math and English.

by Zoë Burkholder — 2014
Instead of blaming teachers for the systemic problems of American public schools, how about we consider a more promising reform? This commentary explains how and why school integration remains a potent strategy to equalize educational opportunities.

by Cory Koedel & Eric Parsons — 2014
In a recent article the authors use data from Missouri to show that differences between traditional teacher preparation programs, measured in terms of the effects of their graduates on student achievement, are smaller than has been suggested by previous research in other states. Indeed, they find that most programs in Missouri are statistically indistinguishable from one another. The authors identify a technical error made in previous work to which they attribute their discrepant findings. In short, some previous studies have failed to properly account for teacher sampling, and in doing so, have overstated the extent to which graduates from different teacher preparation programs truly differ. This commentary considers the implications of this result in the context of the current policy push for more rigorous evaluations of teacher preparation programs.

by Jeanne Marie Iorio & Clifton Tanabe — 2014
For the past two years, Hawaii has been focused on establishing a statewide early learning system based on readying children for school. As part of the process, there has been a push for a so-called "public-private solution" where public funds will be routed to private programs in order to “ready” the children within the state. This commentary discusses the amendment, advocacy for the amendment, and the related consequences.

by Stephen Sireci — 2015
In this article, I review and provide comments on the six articles that comprise this special issue on research conducted using PISA data. The articles represent a variety of issues and methods related to contemporary educational assessments and education policies. They feature state-of-the-art statistical analyses and instructive exploration of complex issues related to international assessment of students’ math, reading, and science achievement. A common theme underlying the articles is improving the interpretations of the results of educational assessments. Some articles address this theme via post hoc analysis or discussion of results, while others conduct research that informs future test development efforts.

by Iris Rotberg — 2014
The controversy over the Common Core is the most recent diversion from addressing the basic problems that contribute to the achievement gap between low- and high-income students. In the past decade, the focus has been on charter schools and testing. An enormous amount of time has been spent on promoting, implementing, and debating these initiatives in the hope that they would somehow narrow the achievement gap, even while poverty persisted and income and wealth gaps increased. These policies, which began with high—perhaps, more accurately, unrealistic—expectations, turned out to be irrelevant to narrowing the gap and, in some cases, reduced rather than expanded opportunities for low-income students. This commentary describes the futility of continuing to rely on “solutions” that do not address the underlying problems, serve only to detract attention from the far more fundamental changes that are needed, and risk increasing current inequities.

by Ronald Gallimore, James Hiebert & Bradley Ermeling — 2014
“Rich classroom discourse” has long been valorized by education reformers who object to teacher domination of classroom discussions. Is the greater use of RCD key to intellectually inspiring and challenging classrooms? Perhaps instead of focusing on increased use it’s time to ask what specific role for RCD might be realistic and yield learning outcomes educators value? The best chance for progress is to link this question to another one: how to create rich learning opportunities for achieving more advanced competencies. Strategic deployment of RCD for well-defined instructional purposes seems a more realistic vision than advocating greater use without respect for why, when, and for whom. Finding RCD’ proper role requires at least three conditions. Sustained collaboration between teachers and researchers. An ongoing study of curriculum and practice to identify pivotal RLOs in each unit or project and which might benefit from RCD. Supporting teacher development of the professional judgment to skillfully manage complex decisions with each population and generation of students they teach, so they deploy the best instructional choices.

by Louis M. Gomez — 2014
This introduction is a brief reflection on the import of the Gordon Commission’s work to future considerations of assessment and learning.

by Lawrence Baines — 2014
Since 1965, three precedents have had a powerful influence on the direction of public education—the promise to educate all children, the fluctuating nature of school funding, and mandated standardized tests. This commentary discusses the interplay of these three precedents for rich and poor.

by Daniel Willingham & Gail Lovette — 2014
In this commentary we suggest that reading comprehension strategy instruction does not actually improve general-purpose comprehension skills. Rather, this strategy represents a bag of tricks that are useful and worth teaching, but that that are quickly learned and require minimal practice.

by Richard Fossey, Suzanne Eckes & Todd DeMitchell — 2014
An Illinois school board fired a tenured guidance counselor because he self-published a sexually explicit advice book on adult relationships. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the school board's decision on the grounds that the board reasonably believed that the book could undermine the integrity of the school counseling program.

by Deborah Bieler — 2014
This essay provides a metaphorical reading of The LEGO Movie, suggesting that the movie itself can serve as an instruction manual, the kind for which LEGO is well known. In this reading, the movie offers step-by-step instructions about how Americans can win the fight against privatizing, corporatizing forces that are attacking our public education system. The author shares these instructions and urges readers to follow them – even though they are, ironically, from a kind of instruction manual – as a way to commit ourselves anew to building and continually re-creating schools that help American youth change the world, not serve corporations’ self-interest.

by Ted Purinton — 2014
Recent debates about the demise of cursive instruction demonstrate the disconnect between the educational policy and the profession of teaching.

by Richard Fossey & Robert Cloud — 2014
Recently, there have been signs that the bankruptcy courts are becoming more compassionate toward people who enter the bankruptcy process burdened by student loans. Perhaps the most dramatic of these recent cases is Myhre v. U.S. Department of Education, involving a quadriplegic man who filed for bankruptcy seeking to discharge $14,000 in student loans.

by Amanda Bozack & Amy Thompson — 2014
Recently Nicole Kersting wrote a commentary suggesting that teacher evaluation design could benefit from being modeled after engineering design principles. She indicated that a systematic approach to design, coupled with continuous improvements, could make systems stronger and less political. This response addresses several of her assumptions and argues that an engineering approach to improving teacher evaluation systems may not produce desired or expected results.

by Carl Kaestle — 2014
This essay expresses appreciation for the work of the Gordon Commission by a long-time friend and admirer of Professor Gordon. Professor Kaestle, who also served as a consultant to the commission, attempts to locate the work of the commission in the history of educational assessment and assess its potential for future policy reform.

by Edward Haertel — 2014
Taken together, the Gordon Commission’s papers call for a radical rethinking of the ways educational assessment is used to support teaching and learning. Classroom assessment must be improved, but in addition, fundamental tensions between assessment for accountability and assessment for learning must be resolved.

by Alyssa Dunn & Samantha Durrance — 2014
This essay presents a dialogue between a new teacher and a former professor, generated when the teacher decided to leave the classroom after two years. Contextualized within the literature of teacher attrition and offering implications for teacher education, the essay explores what it means to be (a) a novice educator in the era of accountability and (b) a teacher educator tasked with preparing new teachers for this challenging climate. The authors share their perspectives in the hopes of starting a discussion about an important issue that remains relatively unexplored in the research literature: the stories of teachers who leave and their former professors who watch them go.

by Rae Mancilla — 2014
This commentary questions whether the implementation of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in American schools is a way of bridging or deepening the digital divide amongst students of differing socioeconomic backgrounds. It argues that that digital equity with mobile devices cannot be achieved without individual ownership of mobile technologies and concludes by posing a series of potential means of working toward the goal of ownership in schools.

by Margarita Pivovarova, Jennifer Broatch & Audrey Amrein-Beardsley — 2014
Over the last decade, teacher evaluation based on value-added models (VAMs) has become central to the public debate over education policy. In this commentary, we critique and deconstruct the arguments proposed by the authors of a highly publicized study that linked teacher value-added models to students’ long-run outcomes, Chetty et al. (2014, forthcoming), in their response to the American Statistical Association statement on VAMs. We draw on recent academic literature to support our counter-arguments along main points of contention: causality of VAM estimates, transparency of VAMs, effect of non-random sorting of students on VAM estimates and sensitivity of VAMs to model specification.

by Kurt Landgraf — 2014

by Diana D'Amico — 2014
In the stories of exorbitant costs and incompetence, teacher tenure laws have achieved mythic proportions. Judge Rolf Treu’s tentative decision in Vergara v. California may be the death knell for teacher tenure. But what will change as a result? A look to the past reveals that teacher tenure never really protected teachers and nor was it supposed to. Using history as a lens, this commentary explores the origination of tenure policies and the debates that surrounded them. This commentary argues that embedded in the tenure debates is a much larger problem that should concern us all.

by Daniel Friedrich — 2014
In this brief reflection I seek to propose an alternative way of thinking about international rankings for universities, decoupling them from the logic of the market and instead linking them to the university’s mission as a space concerned with educating the public and producing knowledge for the common good. For this purpose, I draw from the example of the Universidad de Buenos Aires.

by Nicole Kersting — 2014
New teacher evaluation systems are being designed, implemented and piloted in many states. The goal of these new systems is to provide more accurate and objective information on teacher performance than current systems do. Ideally, these new systems provide information for accountability purposes but also for helping teachers improve their performance. Achieving these goals is not likely unless we change our approach to designing such systems from a political process and adopt an engineering perspective. Taking an engineering design approach can lead to solid designs for teacher evaluation systems, provide opportunities for improvement through monitoring and feedback, and create accountability for the design process because the information on teacher performance these systems do provide can be evaluated against the goals and intended uses that were specified.

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Teachers’ commentaries provide an important perspective on current educational issues. If you are a K-12 educator, we welcome you to submit a 1,000-1,500 word commentary in which you draw on your experience to address problems and opportunities confronting students and educators.



Recently-Suggested Topics
  • Dear Editorial Department, I hope you are doing well! My name is Syed S. Ahmed. I was interested in the opportunity to submit a piece on "Teaching The Diversity of Islam-A Non Arab Approach." I would be delighted if given the opportunity to contribute in any way. With regards, Professor Ahmed
  • To Whom It May Concern: I'm writing to see if Teachers College Record would be interested in an article on a very specific event. If so, I'll happily write the submission with any writing preferences or directions Teachers College Record desires. Positive psychology, happiness, and character education has been a very hot topic recently. David Levin, the founder of KIPP, is leading an online free class off coursera.org entitled, "Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms." I think this is a very significant event, because so much of the research and science on character development has: (1) remained mostly in academic journals and books away from lay audiences, and (2) has not really been able to offer suggestions for incorporation in the classroom with the science to back it up. I also think this is a very significant event because so much of this research is extremely controversial. Is developing Grit in-itself, without attention to context, anything but obedience? Can you track for character without having students become more dependent on praise? I plan to take this online course. Would TCR be interested in a submission that offers a reflective but possibly highly critical review of this course from someone who is both a student of psychology and a teacher? I'd detail some important research studies but also tie it into the narrative of my classroom as someone who became a teacher (like so many) to inspire and build character. If you think this would be an appropriate submission for TCR, I'd happily write it to be a specific length, with a particular writing style, or accommodate any other preferences the publication might have. The online course will last until the beginning of March, and I could have the article submission to you by the end of March. Thanks for your consideration. Dan Daniel.J.LaSalle@gmail.com
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  • I am historian of education and am currently working on a history of Germantown High School, a comprehensive high school in Philadelphia. On December 13, 2012, the School District of Philadelphia announced that Germantown was on the list of potential school closures. In my ethnographic work at the school and others like it in Philadelphia, high school youth have commented about their concerns about these school closures and the possibility of gang violence when they transfered to new schools. I would like to write a short commentary piece on this for TCR. I look forward to your response. Sincerely, Erika Kitzmiller
  • The rise of grit as an aspect of character and a trait to teach to students. This has been elaborated recently in Paul Tough's book: How children succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. Thank you.
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