Link Roundup: 1/11/17

285 days ago

  • The Supreme Court is revisiting the test for “appropriate” in the phrase “free and appropriate public education.” Oral arguments were heard today.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed to summarize the dilemma facing the court neatly, telling Gornstein that “I do think the” IDEA “provides enough to set a clear standard.” But the problem, she continued, is trying to come up with the right words, which will “be less confusing to everyone.” Roberts also pressed Gornstein on this point, telling him that “maybe you have a lot of different adjectives to describe the standard,” but “there’s really nothing concrete there” for courts to review.

But they seemed sufficiently unhappy with the “more than merely de minimis” standard that they are likely to strike it down. The standard proposed by the federal government – which would require the school district to offer a program “aimed at significant educational progress in light of the child’s circumstances” – seems to be the most likely replacement….

Amy Howe, Argument analysis: Justices grapple with proper standard for measuring educational benefits for children with disabilities, SCOTUSblog

see also, Amy Howe, Argument preview: What level of educational benefit is “appropriate” for children with disabilities?, SCOTUSblog

  • Keith Devlin revisited the frustratingly poor Numberphile video a few years ago that explained 1 + 2 + 3 + … = -1/12 without explaining analytic continuation. One of the challenges of teaching is getting into the mind of a student who doesn’t yet “get” something you mastered twenty years earlier. Here, the Stanford prof goes back fifty years to get into his own head as a student, and the result is a really wonderful essay that primes the mind for a damn good explanation of the Riemann zeta function by Grant Sanderson.

Now we are coming to that video. When I was a student, way, way back in the 1960s, my knowledge of analytic continuation followed the general path I just outlined. I was able to follow all the technical steps, and I convinced myself the results were true. But I never was able to visualize, in any remotely useful sense, what was going on.

Keith Devlin: So THAT’s what it means?

Grant Sanderson: Visualizing the Riemann zeta function and analytic continuation.

  • Carol Burris wrote some words about charter schools in Bethlehem, PA, where we find that, shockingly, there is a difference between per pupil spending and spending per marginal pupil.

If class size is reduced from 28 to 27, or even to 25, you still must retain the teacher and her salary remains the same. The school does not lose a principal, custodian, cafeteria server or school nurse, even when sizable numbers leave. You can’t lower the heat or turn off the lights because some students and their funding have left for charters.

Roy told me that the district budgeted $26 million (about 10 percent of its annual budget) this year to pay for tuition and associated costs to charter schools. According to Roy, “We estimate that if all of the students in charters returned, even with hiring the additional needed staff, we would save $20 million.”

Carol Burris, A Disturbing Look at How Charter Schools are Hurting a Traditional School District

  • Not entirely unrelated, Charles Marohn wrote recently about why your city has no money.

The median household income in Lafayette [LA] is $41,000. With the wealth that has been created by all this infrastructure investment, a median family living in the median house would need to have their city taxes go from $1,500 per year to $9,200 per year. To just take care of what they now have, one out of every five dollars this family makes would need to go to fixing roads, ditches and pipes. That will never happen.

This might strike some of you as surprising, yet it is important to understand that it is a consistent feature we see revealed in city after city after city all over North America. Poor neighborhoods subsidize the affluent; it is a ubiquitous condition of the American development pattern.

Part 1: Charles Marohn: The Real Reason Your City Has No Money

Part 2: Charles Marohn: Poor Neighborhoods Make the Best Investments

  • I have been messing about with Coq and was frustrated at first because of this mismatch between expectation and reality. John D. Cook wrote a very short, high-level note about this mismatch.

When I first heard of automated theorem proving, I imagined computers being programmed to search for mathematical theorems interesting to a wide audience. Maybe that’s what a few of the pioneers in the area had in mind too, but that’s not how things developed.

John D Cook: Automated Theorem Proving and Manufacturing




Link Roundup

551 days ago

Rick Perlstein examines the collapse of Chicago’s public schools

Commonwealth Auditor General calls Pennsylvania’s charter school law the worst in the US.

Jennifer J Holme & Kara S Finnegan on using ed policy to desegregate

Leo Casey on Friedrichs v California

Jeff Leek speaks for all researchers using data repositories.




Rubinstein on P-Tech's embarrassing Regents performance

558 days ago

In the most recent Regents administered last June, P-Tech decided to only allow the students who were most likely to pass the test, knowing that making too many unprepared students take the test would affect their passing percent. So last year only 41 students took the Algebra II Regents. Of those 41 students exactly one student passed and one other scored between 55 and 65.





There is no magic in the computer

690 days ago

New research in the Review of Educational Research this December is a reminder that the few things that we know work in face-to-face teaching are still the things that work when employing Computer Based Learning (CBL). There is no magic when a student sits in front of a glowing screen to practice problems. In Visible Learning, Hattie writes that immediate feedback from the teacher is one of the practical strategies that actually works, independent of the overall teaching strategies (DI, mastery learning, etc.).

Similarly, Van der Kleij et al looked at about a hundred studies, categorized on a couple variables and found that CBL without immediate elaborate feedback is essentially not worth doing. While there is opportunity for more research on the topic (standing out are: younger students, use of multimedia, eye tracking to measure student engagement), if feedback is delayed or limited to either the correctness of the student response or simply providing the correct answer, it is much less helpful a tool (probably worse than what you are already doing).

This is a reminder that when selecting any learning activity, you need to build in the formative assessment and feedback, whether you use “technology” or not. You cannot bolt on these mechanisms that separate teaching from passive consumption of “educational material.” If the tech you considering bringing into the classroom does not facilitate this (do-assess-feedback) loop, then it is not a learning tool, whatever it says on the label.




Public Service Announcement

702 days ago

  1. There are existential threats to human civilization.
  2. Terrorism is not one of them.



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