Making an A+ Teacher

Boston’s NPR station, WBUR, has launched a week-long series, “Making an A+ Teacher,” which aims to examine the factors that make a good teacher great. The first story aired today (“What Makes a Good Teacher?“) and focused on how successful teachers embody three distinct roles: social worker, instructor, and manager.

The online component of the series includes an interactive map of Massachusetts, which overlays teacher salaries and per-pupil spending with MCAS (state standardized test) scores. Check it out here.

For more information:

  • Follow WBUR on Twitter @WBUR

ReadBoston & Farragut Elementary Celebrate African-American Heroes

Our last blog post described Sacha Pfeiffer’s interview on WBUR with Rick Weissbourd, the founder of ReadBoston. This literacy initiative has offered exciting opportunities to students at one City Connects school, Farragut Elementary, located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.

Today, students at the Farragut will take part in a “Celebration of African-American Heroes.” Guest speakers from Boston hospitals will read stories to students, who are encouraged to come to school dressed as a famous African-American leader. As part of the event, students will choose a book to keep and to read at home over the school vacation.

In another event earlier this year, author Irene Smalls came to the school to read to students. Students also got to hear Boston Celtics players read at a third event through the NBA Read to Achieve program, partly sponsored by ReadBoston. The Farragut school applied to ReadBoston for a grant to help fund these activities.

“This has been a great opportunity for kids to take part in fun events that generate excitement about reading,” said Georgia Butler, the City Connects School Site Coordinator at the Farragut. “We’re glad to have this excellent partnership.”

For more information:

Mass. Standards Versus Common Core

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a new study, The State of State Standards–and the Common Core–in 2010, which offers a state-by-state comparison of Common Core vs. states’ existing academic standards. The study’s central findings are:

  • Based on our criteria, the Common Core standards are clearly superior to those currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English. For 33 states, the Common Core is superior in both math and reading.
  • Three jurisdictions boast ELA standards that are clearly superior to the Common Core: California, the District of Columbia, and Indiana. Another 11 states have ELA standards that are in the same league as the Common Core (or “too close to call”).
  • Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have math standards in the “too close to call” category, meaning that, overall, they are at least as clear and rigorous as the Common Core standards.

How did Massachusetts fare? The study deemed both ELA and math standards “too close to call.” A full analysis of Massachusetts is available here.

Fordham’s president Chester Finn described the study’s results on WBUR’s Morning Edition today; listen to the story here. The Massachusetts Board of Education is expected to vote on adopting the Common Core standards today.

On Twitter: Follow WBUR @WBUR; follow the Fordham Institute @EducationGadfly; follow the Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Paul Reville, @MassEducation