Finding common ground in the American education debate

Daily Circuit Friday Roundtable
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This week, our panelists discuss the achievement gap, the battle between teachers and education reformers, and the things that everyone involved in education can agree on.


How Harvest Prep beats the achievement gap in Minneapolis
Some things I observed on a recent visit to Harvest Prep and Best Academy:

Data is on everyone's minds, including the kids. Lesson plans for the year are structured around Minnesota standards. That means a lot of drilling and a lot of testing. An early release day on Friday gives teachers time to review students' scores on weekly tests similar in structure to the MCAs. Those test results guide teachers' plans for the next week's lessons and for individual student interventions. (Twin Cities Daily Planet)

Pam Costain says we need to stop the teacher wars
Let's start with the facts. Teachers are the single most important factor in a child's success in school. Great teaching matters, and without it our children cannot learn. Teaching is both an art and a science, and all truly great teachers change lives. The teaching profession does not get the respect it deserves, nor do K-12 educators receive wages commensurate with the value they provide. The current conversation leaves teachers feeling undervalued, underpaid and without a voice. It is time to honor teachers and recognize that no fundamental change is possible without both their input and commitment to improving their craft. (Minnpost)

Solutions for meeting the achievement gap in education
Mahmoud already runs two elementary charter schools in Minneapolis. If Mastery is a success, he has an agreement with MPS to open three more within the next ten years. The student-to-teacher ratio in Mahmoud's schools is about 1:14; most of Minneapolis' public elementary schools have an average student-to-teacher ratio of 1:26. His highly structured methodology emphasizes repetition, drills, more classroom time, as well as academic and behavioral discipline. His schools administer tests every six weeks to monitor student progress. (CNN)

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