For this weekend edition of First Bell, I thought I'd round up some education-related articles I've noticed this week. If you have any reading suggestions, as always, feel free to send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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• I've shared a fair amount of articles from Education Week lately, I know, but here's one more that caught my eye: Posted Friday, it's an assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress' writing assessment. That's a lot of assessing. The main headline of the writing assessment, performed last year, is that only 27 percent of eighth- and 12th-graders performed at the proficient level or higher. About 80 percent of students tested scored in the "basic" level for their grade.
The NAEP site has a good explainer-graph on another interesting finding of the test — a 20-point gender gap, particularly evident in the eighth-grade scores. In short, girls out-performed boys. Additionally, the higher-percentile-scoring girls scored higher than their equivalent-percentile boys. (So, for example, a girl who scored higher than 90 percent of other girls would have scored higher than significantly more than 90 percent of the boys.)
This is a national point-in-time survey of about 52,000 students, and there's lots of data to look through. The EdWeek post pointed out that last year was the first time the test was administered on a computer. (The last time the NAEP tested with paper was in 2007.)
Students were given a video to watch and then write about. Their keystrokes were assessed and points given for using spell-check. You can see a sample question, along with the rubric, here.
• From stats to snark. Gawker editor John Cook responded to the Chicago teacher's strike on Thursday with this idea: Save public schools by closing private ones.
(As of Friday afternoon, the strike was said to be just about over.)
Cook's argument was that rich policy- and/or influence-makers would devote more to "saving" the education system if they didn't have the option to take their own kids out of it. It's intentionally controversial, I think, but maybe it does provoke some serious thought about privatization. It's certainly provoked a lot of comment.
• Finally in weekend links, the Kansas Athletics PR team posted this video Friday of football players Toben Opurum and Dayne Crist reading to preschoolers at Hilltop Childhood Development Center. What do you think — do they have a knack for pre-K?
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