Author

Andy Smarick

    Author Website: http://bellwethereducation.org/people/team/#smarick


    Author Bio:
    Andy Smarick is a Partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit organization working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. He works in Bellwether’s Thought Leadership practice. His book, The Urban School System of the Future, was released in 2012, and his work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, and National Affairs.


Articles

Innovation in Catholic Education

New approaches to instruction and governance may revitalize the sector

Diplomatic Mission

President Obama’s path to performance pay

Winter 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 1

Toothless Reform?

If the feds get tough, Race to the Top might work

Spring 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 2

Wave of the Future

Why charter schools should replace failing urban schools

Winter 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 1

The Turnaround Fallacy

Stop trying to fix failing schools. Close them and start fresh.

Winter 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 1

Blog Posts/Multimedia

Local Control Versus State Obligation

Even a careful observer of education policy could wonder, “Who’s actually in charge of public schooling?” That is, at which level of government does the buck stop?

04/06/2016

Could D.C. Give Its Schools the Same Autonomy as Charter Schools?

How Washington, D.C. could lay the foundation for the next decade of improvement for its schools.

03/14/2016

The Next Phase of D.C. Reform

The most valuable contribution of a new report by David Osborne on the last two decades of reform in Washington D.C. schools is the implicit question it raises about the future.

03/03/2016

Steering and Rowing in the Age of ESSA

ESSA returns to states the authority to create K–12 accountability systems. So what, exactly, should schools and districts should be held accountable for? What do we want them to actually accomplish?

02/21/2016

How Should States Measure School Success?

Most of today’s K–12 accountability systems are, themselves, persistently underperforming.

02/08/2016

Star Wars and Education Reform

In both the movie and the school reform world, advocates of modernity can be snootily proud of their creations and dismissive of the tools of older generations.

02/02/2016

Retreating to an Education System Without School Choice is Not an Option

Many of today’s most difficult education debates are the result of our transition from a highly legible, single-provider model to a decentralized, choice-based model.

01/27/2016

The Five Themes of ESSA Coverage

I re-read about fifty major articles, blog posts, and other missives about ESSA over the break, since this written record will serve as the foundation for years of commentary and analysis.

01/08/2016

My Favorite Writing of 2015

As 2015 was coming to a close, I compiled a list of my fifty favorite reads of the year.

01/07/2016

States v. Districts in the Every Student Succeeds Act

The dominant narrative about ESSA is that it shifts authority over schools back to state governments. But this belies a key feature of the legislation.

12/07/2015

Accountability and the Every Student Succeeds Act

If your primary interest is in getting Uncle Sam to back off of America’s schools, you can start to prepare the Mission Accomplished banner. If your primary interest is in great K-12 accountability systems, you can’t direct your attention to state superintendents and state boards of education fast enough.

12/02/2015

Competitive Grants and Federal Education Policy

Conventional formula-based programs can divvy up dollars evenly, but they don’t change behavior much. The right kind of competitive grant, however, allows the federal government to set a priority while enabling state and local direction and innovation.

11/24/2015

Six Headlines From 2015 NAEP TUDA

The results from 2015 NAEP TUDA data didn’t get much media coverage. That’s a shame because these are the best assessments for understanding student performance in America’s biggest urban districts.

11/12/2015

Charter Schools Are Much More Than R&D Labs for School Districts

When Hillary Clinton recently told an audience that the purpose of charter schooling is to “learn what works and then apply (it) in the public schools,” she made two mistakes.

11/11/2015

Is It Really Possible That Professional Development Doesn’t Work?

What TNTP’s report “The Mirage” gets wrong on teacher development

10/08/2015

New Orleans and the Remaking of American Urban Public Schooling

New Orleans is just one chapter in the much bigger story of a shift from a single government operator of schools to an array of nonprofit operators.

08/21/2015

What I Learned From Today’s Young Education Innovators

Earlier this year, Forbes released a celebration of edu-wunderkinds, its “30 under 30” in education.

08/11/2015

The Resurgence of Urban Catholic Education?

Religious and lay leaders are creating new schools, networks and governance models.

08/05/2015

Education Reformers Need To Look Beyond Ideas, Ideology, and Innovation and Learn About The Efforts That Preceded Them

Schools have been around forever. There are mountains of accumulated wisdom to study if we’re willing to look up from our Twitter feeds.

07/29/2015

In God We Trust; All Others Bring Data

I promise that you’ll learn interesting stuff by just spending some time with “Conditions of Education.” And maybe if we all do that, our debates would be a bit more fruitful and a bit less contentious.

07/23/2015

Don’t End Accountability for Federal Education Dollars

We should scale back NCLB’s federal micromanagement , but not all accountability is micromanagement.

07/08/2015

Speak Up! Change The World! Ruin Your Career!

Bad ideas are preserved when current experts are afraid to fall out of favor with their colleagues and ambitious, budding experts are afraid to be rejected by the establishment so nobody speaks up.

07/02/2015

Real Autonomy, Real Accountability: Pacts Americana

Can the performance-contract approach of chartering be used to re-envision ESEA?

07/01/2015

Understanding Incentives in Charter Authorizing

Are charter school authorizers requiring too much paperwork from prospective school founders?

06/03/2015

What We Didn’t Know About School Choice in 2001

An opinion piece by Delaware Governor Jack Markell ignores all we’ve learned about private school choice.

05/27/2015

A Student of School Reform on the Maryland State Board of Education

I suspect one of the toughest parts of this job will be projecting a sense of urgency about necessary reforms while heralding the very good things taking place

05/18/2015

Baltimore and the Societal Factors Influencing Our Schools

I’ve spent a good bit of time looking into a wide range of issues associated with the tough conditions faced by millions of city kids and what we might do to offer these boys and girls better opportunities.

05/04/2015

School Closures, Student Learning, and the New System of Schools

There are ways to far better serve millions of low-income kids than the turnaround- and district-focused strategies of the last several generations.

04/29/2015

Education Reform’s Women — and the Credit and Opportunities They Deserve

When the history of this era’s urban-education reform movement is written, four big policy innovations are sure to get attention: the nation’s first voucher program, first charter law, first mayor-controlled charter authorizer, and first “extraordinary authority” unit (the RSD).

04/28/2015

A Test of Education Reform

I’m a strong supporter of assessments and accountability, and I wouldn’t opt out, but I think it’s unfair to discount the views of those who disagree.

04/22/2015

The Great Achievements of the Every Child Achieves Act

The bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill crafted by Senators Alexander and Murray represents a very smart compromise on the key issue of accountability

04/15/2015

Choice, Accountability, and Charter Performance

If you’re at all interested in school choice, you really should read a trio of recent reports.

04/06/2015

Time For a New Non-District Charter Authorizer in D.C.

Washington, D.C. could offer America’s cities an invaluable new example of an all-charter approach.

04/01/2015

The Complications of Educational Returns in Rural America

Idaho finds itself in a chicken-egg situation. Improve educational attainment without improved employment opportunities inside Idaho and the state might risk investing in a strategy that merely exports talented young Idahoans.

03/30/2015

New Systems of Schools and Common Enrollment

If cities simply add more choice schools in the absence of changes to the enrollment process, parents can struggle to find information on schools, be forced to fill out widely varying school applications, and then receive a staggered barrage of acceptance and rejection notices.

03/25/2015

Innovation, Technology, and Rural Schools

Rural superintendent don’t consider teacher recruitment and retention among their biggest challenges…and mixing rural schooling and technology is more complicated than you might think.

03/24/2015

The Limits of Equity

Some reforms may exacerbate inequality because they don’t help every last needy student. But pursuing equity above all else could jeopardize the gains of some very needy kids.

03/20/2015

School Choice Technocrats Wanted

As the traditional urban school district is slowly replaced by a system marked by an array of nongovernmental school providers, new policies (undergirded by a new understanding of the government’s role in public schooling) are needed.

03/06/2015

The State-Led ESEA Compromise

A compromise around the idea of accountability for results would require the right to agree to include explicit performance targets and the left to agree to give states greater flexibility in tackling challenges.

02/26/2015

ESEA Testing Proposals in One Picture

NCLB assessments appear safer than I would’ve guessed sixty days ago.

02/19/2015

Teacher Evaluations: Uncle Sam, Exit Stage Left

The work of teaching is so extraordinarily complex and teachers are so tightly woven into the fabric of school communities that any attempt by faraway federal officials to tinker with evaluation systems is a fool’s errand

02/11/2015

Obama’s Year-Seven Budget

Given today’s political conditions, President Obama’s education request is actually quite savvy. It retreats where necessary, digs in where possible, and has an eye on history.

02/04/2015

Optimistic Predictions Notwithstanding, Common Core Faces Brutal 2015

Common Core proponents need an updated advocacy playbook. The political terrain of 2010 and 2015 are very, very different.

01/16/2015

Ten Things To Know About Secretary Duncan’s ESEA Reauthorization Speech

It’s pretty clear that the coming reauthorization debate is going to focus on accountability. But in addition to early childhood and more funding, Duncan also talked about educator evaluation, teacher preparation and support, and more.

01/13/2015

State Chiefs Speak on ESEA

State education chiefs may have helped turn the tide against what appeared to be a mounting anti-assessment, anti-accountability wave.

01/12/2015

Homeostasis and the End of Today’s Era of Reform?

Three signs of homeostasis—a reversion to the old tried-and-true way of doing things.

12/15/2014

Implementing Teacher Evaluation in New Jersey

The New Jersey Department of Education has produced a report on the status of its new teacher evaluation efforts.

12/04/2014

Strong Charter Accountability in D.C.

In Washington, D.C., more kids are in high-performing charters, the number of high-performing charters is growing, and the number of struggling charters is shrinking. But why?

12/02/2014

D.C.’s Outstanding and Improving Charter School Sector

Test scores in D.C. offer reason to believe that chartering—if done smartly—can replace the district system for delivering public education in America’s cities.

11/24/2014

Ten Things To Know About The 2014 Elections

My admittedly late thoughts on last night’s results.

11/05/2014

The Shock of the New

The greatest friction between contemporary education reform and conservatism is the former’s obsession with “new” and the latter’s deep skepticism of it.

10/29/2014

Is Uncle Sam Ed Reform’s Biggest Liability?

Many of today’s most prominent reforms are quite popular, but it looks like folks are perturbed by a meddlesome Uncle Sam

10/22/2014

Ten Things To Know About The CCSSO-CGCS Testing Plan

The organization of state superintendents and the organization of big urban school districts will work together to audit the number and types of tests administered and develop new systems that are leaner and more integrated.

10/20/2014

A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come

Before we retreat to the pre-NCLB era of grade-span testing or revert to some other testing-light position, let’s at least recall some of the benefits of annual testing of all kids.

10/16/2014

Ed Reform’s Blind Spot: Catholic Schools and Social Capital

By ignoring the closure of urban Catholic schools, we have not only allowed high-quality seats to disappear, we’ve also allowed the further deterioration of the threadbare social fabric of fraying communities.

10/13/2014

District School Authorizers and Next-Generation Accountability

Two important events provide the outlines for a new approach to state-level accountability.

10/02/2014

A Lion in Winter and a Coming of Age

Over the last month or so, there’ve been a number of notable stories highlighting the passing of the torch from urban districts to urban chartering.

09/22/2014

Where Does Government Education Research Really Come From?

When Congress convenes in lame-duck status between November and January, taking up the future of NCES would be timely.

09/19/2014

Common Core and the Era of Good Behavior

The moderating of the debate over the Common Core seems to be mirroring the field’s increased focus on implementation.

09/12/2014

Smart Markets, Diverse Options, and Burke’s Caution

Mike McShane’s new book Education and Opportunity offers a sophisticated view of public school markets, how to understand them, use their strength, and appreciate their limitations.

09/11/2014

Ferguson, Reparations, and Institutional Roots

The most convincing argument against conservatism is that by defending longstanding institutions it ends up protecting longstanding injustices.

09/05/2014

Stuck in the Middle with State-Level Reform

There is a yawning gap between the stirring language in state constitutions promising great primary and secondary schools and the nitty-gritty work of actually living up to that responsibility.

08/22/2014

Energized Retrenchment: The Coming Conservative K-12 Approach?

The new conservative approach attempts to advance positive change, not through massive new federal programs or fanciful technical solutions but via traditional, experience-informed means.

08/13/2014

Change and Preservation in Education Reform

Education reform has never thoughtfully discussed, much less enumerated, what ought to be conserved.

08/08/2014

Is Education Reform Anti- Conservative?

How could I be disposed to preserve venerable institutions and yet favor dramatic K–12 change?

08/01/2014

Two Charter School Debates: When Philosophical Opposition Masquerades as Policy Commentary

There’s lots of important work out there aimed at improving the way the charter sector works, but it often gets overshadowed by articles that are just thinly veiled attacks on the idea of charter schooling.

07/16/2014

Vergara, Harris, and the Fate of the Teacher Unions

We’re in a period of profound change in teacher-union leadership, with more combative leaders in ascendance, But what the unions really need are leaders able to craft winning platforms with a new orientation.

07/08/2014

The Three-Sector Approach and Decision-Defending

Why is it so hard to get education reformers to support initiatives that make high-quality private schools accessible to low-income families?

06/13/2014

10 Things to Know about the Vergara Decision

Yesterday, a California superior court overturned five state laws related to the employment of teachers. Here’s what you need to know.

06/11/2014

Beach Edu-Reads, Part 2

Common Core, MOOCs, teachers of the year, student surveys, rural education, and more

06/02/2014

Beach Edu-Reads, Part 1

Choice, teacher effectiveness, charter schools, and more

05/30/2014

NACSA’s Sixth Annual Survey and the Future of Authorizing

If charter schooling is to live up to its promise, charter school authorizing must get more attention.

05/28/2014

The ‘Public’ in the Urban Public Education System of the Future

When schools are not run by locally elected school boards, can there still be local control?

05/21/2014

The Resilience of Common Core

Given the news coverage, you’d think Common Core’s fate was daily hanging in the balance—that pro and con forces were trading massive victories, swapping gains with each successive battle. But that’s emphatically not happening.

05/09/2014

SEA Reform and Violent Agreement

Our report on reforming state departments of education has generated some very thoughtful responses.

05/08/2014

USED, Indiana’s ESEA Waiver, and an Unexpected Federalism Paradox

Now that Washington State has lost its waiver and Indiana could be on a path to nonrenewal, we shouldn’t be surprised if people start asking increasingly pointed questions about why other states, similarly noncompliant, haven’t been dinged.

05/07/2014

Job Well Done

Friday was Michele McNeil’s last day at Ed Week.

05/05/2014

Great Recent Reform Reads

Catholic schools, charter schools, college, unions and more

04/30/2014

The New SEA: At the Helm, Not the Oar

The state education agency was never intended to lead complex, contentious, large-scale reforms that require original thinking, nimble action and constant adaptability.

04/29/2014

Charter Paean Disguised as a Donors’ Guide

From Promising to Proven is a meditation on the history, status, and future of charter schooling

04/24/2014

The Bay State, British Blues, and Barber

A new report by Sir Michael Barber Barber’s is an exhaustive—if exhausting—assessment of Massachusetts’ standing and a thorough plan for generating improved results.

04/23/2014

Eye-Opening Snapshot of State-Level Reform Activity

Developments in South Carolina, Tennessee, Kansas, Indiana, and Louisiana

04/21/2014

The Testing Pendulum

If NCLB represented the farthest point of the testing pendulum’s swing to the right, many forces beyond gravity alone are now pulling it leftward.

04/18/2014

The Broad Prize and the Courage to Change

Is the best urban district good enough?

04/16/2014

Next for Neerav, NSNO, and NOLA

After eight years of helping make New Orleans the most exciting American city for K–12 education, Neerav Kingsland is going to focus on bringing NOLA-style reform to other cities.

04/11/2014

Friday Catchall: Job Opportunities and Quick Reads

CRPE, DFER, CEE-Trust and more

04/11/2014

The Challenges Facing Struggling Rural Schools

Struggling rural schools face different challenges than struggling urban schools, so different interventions may be called for.

04/09/2014

Recent Edu-Reads, For Your Perusing Pleasure

School boards, charter schools, and more

04/07/2014

Five Takeaways from Race to the Top Year-Three Reports

Today, the U.S Department of Education released Year-Three reports on the 12 states that won funding via Race to the Top’s first two competitions.

03/19/2014

IES on SIG: Troubling Foreshadowing

We probably spent billions of dollars to get the same outcomes as if this program had never existed. And yet, these dollars continue to flow.

03/19/2014

Top Recent Edu-Reads

Teacher pensions, school productivity, virtual school accountability, and more

03/17/2014

Chris Cerf: In Appreciation

Last week, Chris Cerf stepped down after three extraordinarily successful years as New Jersey’s commissioner of education.

03/12/2014

The De Blasio Paradox: Private Money and Public Schools

One could infer from Mayor de Blasio’s comments about charter schools that private money and public schooling should not mix. So why is the mayor’s chancellor of schools, Carmen Fariña, the board chair of the Fund for Public Schools?

03/11/2014

The Invaluableness of ‘Obscure’ Words and the SAT

Ostensibly “obscure” words give us powers of description that can inform our surroundings, and they can bring clarity and insight to our understanding or the world.

03/06/2014

The Obama Administration’s 2015 K–12 Budget Request

The Obama administration has just released its 2015 budget proposal. Here are its most notable K-12 edu-features.

03/05/2014

School Improvement Grants: The Disaster Continues

The most persistently low-performing schools in America got several million dollars, on average, and yet a third of them got worse.

02/17/2014

Ten Map Meditations on Economic Mobility

The places in our nation with the highest percentages of African Americans offer the lowest-income kids the bleakest hopes of making it to the top.

02/14/2014

Stuff to Read While You’re Snowed In

Charter schools, vouchers, Louisiana, Ohio, and more

02/13/2014

Charter Lessons for School Choice, Including Accountability via Authorizers

Having state-approved authorizers oversee private schools that participate in voucher programs would expand the educational options available to disadvantaged kids, ensure that participating schools are high performing, and allow private schools to maintain their distinctive characteristics.

02/03/2014

Utilizing Charter Schooling Strengthens Rural Education

Better policy alone won’t expand the public-school options available to rural kids. Charter advocates need to better understand rural communities—their strengths, challenges, hopes, and fears.

01/29/2014

The Principled Opposition to Common Core

George Will’s column isn’t the real story here. It’s what the column represents: the quiet but growing and hardening principled opposition to Common Core.

01/21/2014

Systemic Reform in Kansas City

If the state board of education accepts this plan, things will never be the same. It will be a state-led initiative to replace the urban district as the delivery system for public schooling, thereby breaking with 100 years of history.

01/16/2014

Weekend Reading

There were many important releases and developments this week—invaluable new SIG information from IES, Race to the Top audits, new Brookings “choice index”—and I couldn’t keep up!

01/10/2014

The Horror and Hope of Camden

In a state with deeply troubled urban school districts—Newark, Paterson, Asbury Park—Camden’s stands apart for its calamitous results.

01/09/2014

Five Edu-Reads to Start the Year Off Right

Waivers, KIPP, and more

01/02/2014

Five Edu-Reads to Close Out the Year in Style

School closures, poverty, economic mobility, and more

12/31/2013

School Improvement Grants in Colorado

SIG is failing both because turnarounds seldom work and because state processes for doling out funds have been unsound.

12/23/2013

DCPS and TUDA

One of the biggest stories coming out of the 2013 NAEP TUDA data release, especially for those inside the beltway, were the results for District of Columbia Public Schools.

12/19/2013

The 10 Things to Know About NAEP TUDA 2013

The performance of students in urban districts is distressingly low.

12/18/2013

More Good Reads

Charter schools, principal recruiting, South Africa, and more

12/16/2013

Quick Hits for a Snow Day

Good reads on gifted kids, value-added analysis, urban school reform, and more

12/09/2013

America’s Rural Schools and Communities

Rural public schools enroll eleven million children, fully a quarter of students nationwide. Yet, sadly, the challenges faced by rural educators and their students have received scant attention from national education leaders.

12/06/2013

Nashville’s Schools, What It’s Like to be Poor, John White, Waivers, and More

What I’ve Been Reading

12/05/2013

Why and How Parents Choose Schools

I agree with the study’s authors that we ought to do all we can to make school information widely available so parents can make informed choices, but I’m still of a mind that some level of regulation is needed

12/04/2013

Worthwhile Reads for your Thanksgiving Journey

Tom Loveless on NAEP, Emily Richmond on class size, Rick Hess and Mike McShane on the Common Core, and more

11/27/2013

Recent Teacher Evaluation Reform Happenings

We’ve taken care of policy in lots of places but implementation is a major challenge

11/27/2013

Interesting SIG vs. Non-SIG Comparisons

It’s hard to make the case that this massive program had a transformative influence on the state’s most troubled schools.

11/25/2013

School Improvement Grants and the Lessons of History

The data are so discouraging that even the Department’s press statement found it difficult to conceal disappointment.

11/22/2013

Tough Advice for Faith-Based Schools from a Critical Friend

Families are becoming smarter and pickier customers. Why has the faith-based schools community barely reacted or adapted to this new environment?

11/21/2013

If You Like Your Federal Education Policy, You Can Keep It!

The administration wanted us to believe it had a smart, coherent vision and clear implementation plan for its federal education policy…until we realized it didn’t.

11/15/2013

Alternative Charters and Alternative Accountability Systems

It makes sense for states to develop accountability systems that make space for alternative schools.

11/13/2013

Worth the Read

Articles you may have missed.

11/11/2013

The Evolving Geography of Reform

As statewide teacher-evaluation laws, Common Core implementation, tougher assessments, and other reforms really begin influencing suburbia, the ed-reform debate is going to seriously evolve.

11/06/2013

Louisiana and the Promise and Pitfalls of Accountability Systems

Early indications are that Louisiana’s strong accountability system is contributing to improved student results.

11/04/2013

America And Its High-Potential Kids

People believe major efforts aimed at high-performing students aren’t all that important because these kids will do fine without any additional “favors” from the rest of us.

10/25/2013

Hold Me Accountable on SIG

I’ve predicted that SIG was not going to produce anything remotely close to the results the Department and others were promising. If I got it wrong, I’ll say so.

10/22/2013

The Impact of IMPACT

IMPACT is an educator-evaluation system that provides the necessary tools for teachers to improve

10/17/2013

By the Company It Keeps: J.B. Schramm

Andy Smarick interviews J.B. Schramm, the founder of College Summit

10/14/2013

Systems vs. Classrooms: And, Not Or

Everyone I know who works on systemic reform cares deeply about what happens in the classroom. But everyone specializes in one way or another.

10/04/2013

End. The Broad Prize. Now.

If we want to help disadvantaged urban kids, we must stop propping up the failed urban district.

10/02/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Scott Morgan

Andy Smarick interviews Scott Morgan, founder and CEO of Education Pioneers

09/24/2013

Arne Duncan’s Muddled Line on Testing

The transition to new assessments was always going to be rough, but this was not the right way to handle it.

09/23/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Preston Smith

Andy Smarick interviews Preston Smith, CEO and co-founder of Rocketship Education

09/17/2013

Some Late Summer Reads

If you’re itching for some edu-reading over the long weekend (what else would you do while grilling?), here are some suggestions.

08/31/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Joanne Weiss

Andy Smarick interviews Joanne Weiss, who recently left her position as Chief of Staff to Arne Duncan

08/29/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Jean-Claude Brizard

Andy Smarick interviews Jean-Claude Brizard, the former superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, who now works for the College Board

08/23/2013

By the Company it Keeps: Emily Barton

Andy Smarick interviews Emily Barton, Assistant Commissioner for Curriculum and Instruction at the Tennessee Department of Education.

08/15/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Neerav Kingsland

I met Neerav Kingsland in 2009. I was on my tenth trip to New Orleans post-Katrina, meeting with a foundation newly interested in supporting the local reform effort, and I wanted to spend a little time with New Schools for New Orleans.

08/08/2013

The Tony Bennett Flap: First, Think About the Kids

The reforms Tony Bennett advanced in the Hoosier State were invaluable. The Christel House situation puts Indiana at a fork in the road. Do they use this as a reason to roll back the last era’s reforms?

08/02/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Derrell Bradford

Derrell Bradford is a fighter for low-income kids, and he has the compelling personal story to back it up. He’s a prized possession of the ed-reform community.

07/31/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Howard Fuller

Andy Smarick interviews Howard Fuller, former superintendent of Milwaukee and founder of BAEO

07/26/2013

That’s How the Consortia Crumble

On Monday, PARCC released the cost of its tests—and right on cue, another state, Georgia, dropped out of the testing consortia. This is a disaster.

07/24/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Ethan Gray

Andy Smarick interviews Ethan Gray, executive director of CEE-Trust

07/18/2013

The Enduring Saga of SIG Shenanigans

I’ve been yearning for real data showing how the program is doing. I’m not the only one.

07/07/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Independence Day

What better way to head into this long weekend than with a dose of inspiration drawn from two of the most famous Fourth of July speeches in our nation’s history.

07/03/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Marc Porter Magee

An interview with Marc Porter Magee, founder and president of 50CAN

06/26/2013

Big Takeaways from CREDO’s 2013 Charter Study

There are lots of articles out today about the study. But many miss some of the most important findings—both in terms of the sector’s basic descriptive statistics and the quality of its schools.

06/25/2013

By The Company It Keeps: Kaya Henderson

An interview with Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools

06/20/2013

Some Early-Summer Reads, Part 2

Here’s the second half of my compilation of recent publications you might want to read.

06/14/2013

Some Early-Summer Reads, Part I

A bunch of very good publications have been released over the last few weeks.

06/14/2013

By The Company It Keeps: Mashea Ashton

An interview with the CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund

06/13/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Robin Lake

An interview with Robin Lake, the director of the Center for Reinventing Public Education

06/06/2013

Authorizer Of, Not In, the District

D.C. has recently undertaken two invaluable reforms that, when combined with the city’s other systemic features, place D.C. on the brink of becoming the urban school system of the future.

06/04/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Nelson Smith

An interview with the former president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

06/03/2013

Top Ten Takeaways: Common Assessments (Part 2)

The U.S. Department of Education seems to be retreating from its earlier stance that common assessments are crucial, but it has signaled that it will still fight for rigor and alignment.

05/30/2013

Top Ten Takeaways: Common Assessments (Part 1 of 2)

What I’ve learned from talking with the two consortia developing tests linked to the Common Core standards.

05/30/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Tim Daly

An interview with Tim Daly, President of TNTP

05/23/2013

By the Company It Keeps: The U.S. Department of Education

This revealing back-and-forth with the United States Department of Education is the third and final installment in our testing-consortia series.

05/17/2013

By the Company It Keeps: Smarter Balanced

The second installment of my testing-consortia series is a conversation with Smarter Balanced.

05/16/2013

By the Company It Keeps: PARCC

An interview with PARCC, one of two consortia of states funded by the federal government to develop “next-generation” assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

05/13/2013

District Replacers, Drama Standards, and Cranky Composing

Big happenings on the urban-schools front. In recent weeks, numerous cities have announced they’re looking for new district leaders.

05/07/2013

The State of Charter Authorizing

It is troubling that many authorizers still don’t have high-quality practices in place.

05/02/2013

One Giant Leap for Teacher Development

I’m all but certain a number of states will take this report’s lessons to heart, and once again it will be said that TNTP influenced for the better our educator policies and practices.

04/30/2013

The Recovery School District

The Recovery School District is infinitely superior to the failed urban district and, though the Achievement School District is still the understudy, we may soon see its name in lights.

04/26/2013

The End of the Testing Consortia As We Know It?

Alabama’s decision to drop out of both consortia and choose a battery of ACT exams is enormous. This is the “Plan B” that many states have been looking for.

04/16/2013

What’s Your “Summer 2015 Plan”?

When scores from the first Common Core-aligned assessments are publicly released in the summer of 2015, lots of parents are going to be looking for solutions. The reform community should have a response.

04/16/2013

Mr. Secretary, Please Don’t Do It

Unless Secretary Duncan can be prevailed upon to reconsider, decades of education policy will be overturned and a federal agency will have assumed authority that should remain squarely in the hands of Congress.

04/10/2013

Camden and Big Data in the Big Apple

According to news reports, New Jersey governor Chris Christie is on the verge of announcing that the state will take over the deeply troubled Camden school district.

03/27/2013

Catherine the Great, Frederick Douglass, and Education Reform

The stories of these historical giants have three associations particularly relevant to our work.

03/24/2013

SIG, Tests, and State Legislative Proposals

The U.S. Department of Education just announced more SIG money going out the door.

03/22/2013

Setting the State Stage for Improved Teacher Preparation

If I could go back in time and begin my stint at an SEA all over again, I’d dedicate more energy to educator-preparation policy for three reasons.

03/18/2013

A Conflicted Conservative and Online Learning

Online and blended learning alter some of the most basic characteristics of traditional schooling. They change the relationship between student and teacher, student and student, student and device, family and school.

03/11/2013

Ending the SEA As We Know It

While working for the New Jersey Department of Education, I consistently struggled with a basic problem. My organization wasn’t designed to do the things that our leadership team prioritized.

02/26/2013

Can Bad Schools Be Good For Neighborhoods?

Might there be compelling civic or social reasons for keeping open persistently failing or unsafe inner-city schools?

02/22/2013

The Common Core Implementation Gap

A new report on state-level implementation of Common Core merits some attention—but less for its top-line findings and more for how it confirms what I’m now calling the “Common Core Implementation Gap.”

02/21/2013

Nixon, His Staff, and the Art of Government Reports

Some recent reading has me adjusting my jaundiced view of Mr. Nixon and his team.

02/17/2013

The Unheralded Virtues of Grown-Up Policymaking, New Jersey-style

How New Jersey has tried to bridge the gap between policy and practice on teacher evaluations.

02/12/2013

The Alternative

In the simplest terms, chartering should replace the urban district.

02/07/2013

We Can Change

Public education is a set of guiding principles—a combination of beliefs about something that ought to be provided. How we bring them to life is up to us.

02/07/2013

Republicans Questioning School Reform Agenda

In education reform, we have a myopic view of our work, we’re failing to appreciate the complex ecosystem of which we’re a part, and we’re focusing on short-term matters and tactics instead of looking far ahead.

01/24/2013

The Complicated Economics of Testing in the Era of Common Core Standards

Assessments, beyond being technically complicated to produce and administer, may very well determine the future of Common Core.

01/23/2013

MET: Now What?

The Gates Foundation’s MET study was a grand success in K–12 research. But what happens next is what matters.

01/21/2013

The MET Study: Implications, Winners, and Losers

The final report from the Gates-funded “Measures of Effective Teaching” project may prove to be the most important K–12 research study of this generation.

01/15/2013

Happy Birthday, NCLB!

The next four years are probably going to be mostly about implementation of the last four years’ worth of policy changes. I hope that we dedicate equal bandwidth to monitoring the impact of NCLB waivers and making course corrections.

01/14/2013

Were RTT Applications Graded on a Curve?

I’m very disappointed with the Department’s decision to name 16 states RTT finalists. A number of these states have glaring deficiencies that would make them unable to get over a medium bar much less the “very, very high bar” that Secretary Duncan said he would set.

03/04/2010

Last Word on School Turnarounds?

In its Winter 2010 issue, Ed Next published my article, “The Turnaround Fallacy.” I appreciate the careful reading of and thoughtful responses to the article by those who have written. It’s encouraging that so many talented and energetic people are working to improve the opportunities available to kids assigned to troubled public schools. But I’m as convinced as ever that closing schools in a persistent state of failure is necessary.

02/11/2010

Keeping the Race to the Top on Track

Today, at close of business, state applications are due for the first round of Race to the Top funds. Coinciding with today’s deadline and the important work about to begin, Education Next is releasing my new article “Toothless Reform?” which makes the case that previous ARRA education funding hasn’t been used for reform and that the department needs to go to great lengths to ensure that the RTT generates the changes needed. As I write in the article, “when state proposals hit Arne Duncan’s desk, the secretary must become the toughest schoolmarm in America.”

01/19/2010

Race to the Top Forecast

Podcast: Andy Smarick and Joe Williams (Democrats for Education Reform) discuss efforts to ensure that Race to the Top funds are used to promote reform.

01/19/2010

Will Education Stimulus Spending Promote School Reform?

Video: Andy Smarick talks with Education Next about how $75 billion in stimulus funds have been spent to sustain the status quo in education and whether Race to the Top funds will be spent differently.

01/19/2010

Should Failing Schools Be Fixed or Closed?

Video: Andy Smarick talks with Education Next about why the Obama administration needs to rethink its embrace of turnarounds and adopt a new strategy for the nation’s persistently failing schools.

11/16/2009

Putting the Brakes on Turnarounds

Though the inclination to fix our worst schools is understandable and is often the result of the best intentions, it is misguided. Turnarounds have not only consistently failed in education; they fail in the vast majority of instances in other industries and sectors. Moreover, and most importantly, continuing to pursue turnarounds actually inhibits our ability to build healthy urban school systems.

10/27/2009
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