Tom Loveless

Blog Posts


PISA's China Problem

PISA's China Problem

This December, the latest scores will be released from the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA), a widely followed international assessment. American press coverage—whether web-based, on television, or in old-fashioned print—will decry the mediocre showing of the U.S. and express astonishment at the performance of China. One problem. China does not take the PISA test. A dozen or so provinces in China take the PISA, along with two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macao). But journalists and pundits will focus on the results from one province, Shanghai, and those test scores will be depicted, in much of the public discussion that follows, as the results for China. That is wrong.

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Charter School Study: Much Ado About Tiny Differences

Charter School Study: Much Ado About Tiny Differences

The latest charter school study from the Center for Research on Education
Outcomes (CREDO) was released last week. It provided an update to a similar report published in 2009. The 2009 study had found that charter schools underperformed traditional public schools (TPS) by about .01 standard deviations on state achievement tests of reading and .03 standard deviations in math. The new study showed charters doing better, out-performing TPS by .01 standard deviations in reading and scoring about the same as TPS in math.

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The Banality of Deeper Learning

The Banality of Deeper Learning

Deeper Learning is the current term for an old idea. The notion is that schools spend too much time focused on the acquisition of knowledge, especially knowing facts. In the past century, several alternatives have arisen to dethrone the prominent role of knowledge in schools: project-based learning, inquiry and discovery learning, higher-level thinking, critical thinking, outcome based education, and 21st Century Skills. Now it is deeper learning.

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Ability Grouping, Tracking, and How Schools Work

Ability Grouping, Tracking, and How Schools Work

The 2013 Brown Center Report on American Education was released two weeks ago. One of the studies is on ability grouping. A key finding is that elementary teachers are using ability grouping again. Ability grouping is the practice of dividing classes into small instructional groups, especially for teaching reading. According to data collected by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the frequency of ability grouping’s use in fourth grade reading instruction rose about two and a half times, from 28 percent in 1998 to 71 percent in 2009.

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When Does a Policy Start?

When Does a Policy Start?

The question in the title should be easy to answer. Everyone knows that policies are debated and adopted by a legislative body (Congress, state legislature, or city council), signed by an executive leader (president, governor, or mayor), and then implemented by an administrative unit (federal, state, or city department). Once implemented, a policy starts.

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