More Effective Teachers

The New York Times reported on a rise in the number of teachers in the city rated effective or highly effective.  I’ve written elsewhere about the need to use rubrics and evaluation frameworks with care.  They mark the intersection of pedagogy, politics, and information systems.  Here’s how the Times began their coverage:

Nine out of 10 New York City teachers received one of the top two rankings in the first year of a new evaluation system that was hailed as a better way of assessing how they perform, according to figures released on Tuesday.

The system, enacted into state law in 2010, was created, in part, to make it easier to identify which teachers performed the best so their methods could be replicated, and which performed the worst, so they could be fired. Although very few teachers in the city were deemed not to be up to standards, state officials and education experts said the city appeared to be doing a better job of evaluating its teachers than the rest of New York State.


Race to the Top Loses Sponsorship

In the new federal budget, Race to the Top appears to have lost its funding.  In the original funding through the ARRA Act of 2009, the program received $4.35 billion.  Diane Ravitch writes about the program this morning.  I don’t always agree with her rhetoric, but do think that we should all be having introspective and critical conversations about what the program “achieved” and how it “performed.”

According to news reports, the new federal budget strips all funding from Race to the Top. Good riddance to one of the worst, most destructive federal programs in history. Historians will one day tell us who cooked up this assault on teachers and public schools. If states wanted to be eligible for part of Arne Duncan’s $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funding, they were required to adopt the “college and career ready standards,” aka Common Core, even though no one had ever field tested them. States had to agree to evaluate teachers to a significant degree by student scores, even though there was no evidence for doing so. States had to open more charters, transferring control from public to private management. States had to create massive data systems to track students.


LRA 2014: Click to Submit Presentation

I just finished sharing some theoretical and methodological tools from software studies with friends in literacy research at LRA 2014.  Below are some of the resources from the presentation.  Also, for a higher res version of my critical software studies map, click here.

1. The presentation slides.

2. The “technology” mashup trailer.

3. Screencast tutorials of the research methods shared.

  1. Pixel analysis (coming soon)
  2. Source viewing (coming soon)
  3. Data structure analysis (coming soon)
  4. Inferred algorithmic logic (coming soon)

How George Emerson Wins Lucy’s Heart

One of my favorite novels to teach as an English teacher was Forster’s A Room With a View.  Students especially enjoyed dissecting the love triangle between Lucy Honeychurch, George Emerson, and Cecil.  Here is a quantitative literary reading of the relationship.  According to the data, Cecil didn’t have much of a chance from the moment the story began.



The Fall of Septimus

A few months ago, I shared some quick visualizations of literary readings using Voyant Tools.  This past week, I refined the visualization for Mrs. Dalloway to create a more polished image.  Septimus’s trajectory is quantitatively heartbreaking.  See below and consider sharing with your English students.



What Happens When We Read THIS Fast?

There is a new speed reading product on the market that is getting a lot of attention.  It flashes individual words before the reader’s eyes under the theory that what slows readers down is the amount of time one takes to scan lines of a text.  Check out this over view from the company, called Spritz.

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I recommend pairing this with a healthy glass of Louise Rosenblatt‘s transaction theory.