Links I liked


    • Civilising in Earnest: Schools and Schooling” – Chapter 18 of Weber’s “Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernisation of Rural France.” An incredibly insightful read about the role that education plays in unifying a country, standardising a language and promoting the dominant culture. A must read.
    • Currently I’m very interested in Catherine Snow‘s research on reading – the way she writes about reading and reading research is both accessible and sophisticated but also totally unpretentious. Start with this article: “Reading Comprehension: Reading for Learning.” I also found an online version of Adger, Snow & Christian’s (2003) “What teachers need to know about language” which looks great.
    • I recently gave a workshop/seminar at Herzlia High School in Cape Town on the topic “Assessment: Helping or Hurting the Academic Project?” where we spoke about new thinking in the assessment space, as well as expanding what we consider the academic project to be; including socio-emotional skills, grit, and 21st century skills (Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication). On this note, NPR published a nice post titled “Non-academic skills are key to success. But what should we call them.”
    • Evaluation of Washington DC’s IMPACT policy (controversial teacher-rating system and concomitant replacement of ineffective teachers) had a positive impact on student outcomes
    • Pasi Sahlberg writes that Harvard grad students (and all others) should be able to write op-eds and not just academic papers. Obviously I agree. Future students consider yourselves notified.
    • BrainPickings covers Krista Tippett’s new book “Becoming Wise: An inquiry into the mystery and art of living.” I thoroughly enjoyed Krista’s interview on Design Matters.
    • Cool  TED Talk by Paulo Blikstein from Stanford on his idea of the FabLab@School at Stanford.
  • The End of the Lecture?” by Peter Struck – “In contrast a good lecture should be designed to make a student work harder to prepare for the following one. It will motivate students to carry on the really hard, self-driven work of teaching themselves. It needs to transform data into knowledge by providing a synthesis and modelling for the students how to do it. It tailors the mass of information on a subject into a comprehensible narrative that picks and chooses, making judgments and subordinating some ideas to others. It animates the raw power of the fresh ideas it conveys. In other words, what makes a good lecture in these new formats is pretty much what makes a good lecture at all. Lectures have always been hard to do well, and we would benefit from more time spent working to improve them, something that will happen only by first resisting anti-lectureism, which, as a side effect, absolves us from the task.
  • Q&A with Angela Duckworth (of ‘grit’ fame) “One thing we’re doing to learn more about what teachers are doing, what works, and how we can scale it, is we are giving grants to teachers. Teachers probably have better ideas than we do about children and how to help them. What they don’t always have is training in the scientific method, measurement, study design, and statistics. What we’re hoping to do is help those teachers test those ideas in ways that might be more systematic than they might be able to do on their own.”


Minding the gap?’ A national foundation phase teacher supply and demand analysis: 2012-2020 – Green, Adendorf & Mathebula (2015)

Abstract: This paper explores the extent to which foundation phase teacher supply meets demand in South Africa, against a backdrop of considerable change in an education system endeavouring to fulfil the needs of a 21st century society while still battling with significant inequalities in the distribution of skills. The primary purpose of the paper is to use recently sourced teacher education data from a range of national databases to determine to what extent state-led interventions are assisting to meet the foundation phase teacher supply and demand challenge. The data, as well as the more qualitative aspects of their context, are analysed at the macro (national) level to present a more nuanced picture of foundation phase teacher supply and demand. The study attempts to move beyond simply basing an analysis of supply and demand on teacher attrition, and takes into account multiple variables that should be considered in supply and demand planning. It also goes beyond simply matching supply to demand in the most recent year for which data is available, to forecasting a future scenario which will need to be planned for. The paper concludes by suggesting steps that should be taken to ensure a better match between supply and demand.

Making Good Use of New Assessments: Interpreting and Using Scores From the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (2015) by Linda Darling-Hammond Edward Haertel James Pellegrino. Important thinking about around new assessments.

Quasi-experimental evidence on the effects of mother tongue-based education on reading skills and early labour market outcomes (Bethlehem A. Argaw∗ Leibniz University of Hanover February 23, 2016)

 Abstract: Prior to the introduction of mother tongue based education in 1994, the language of instruction for most subjects in Ethiopia’s primary schools was the official language (Amharic) – the mother tongue of only one third of the population. This paper uses the variation in individual’s exposure to the policy change across birth cohorts and mother tongues to estimate the effects of language of instruction on reading skills and early labour market outcomes. The results indicate that the reading skills of birth cohorts that gained access to mother tongue-based primary education after 1994 improved significantly by about 11 percentage points. The provision of primary education in mother tongue halved the reading skills gap between Amharic and non-Amharic mother tongue users. The improved reading skills seem to translate into gains in the labour market in terms of the skill contents of jobs held and the type of payment individuals receive for their work. An increase in school enrollment and enhanced parental educational investment at home are identified as potential channels linking mother tongue instruction and an improvement in reading skills.

Double for Nothing? Experimental Evidence on the Impact of an Unconditional Teacher Salary Increase on Student Performance in Indonesia” (Dee et al, 2016)

Abstract: How does a large unconditional increase in salary affect employee performance in the public sector? We present the first experimental evidence on this question to date in the context of a unique policy change in Indonesia that led to a permanent doubling of base teacher salaries. Using a large-scale randomized experiment across a representative sample of Indonesian schools that affected more than 3,000 teachers and 80,000 students, we find that the doubling of pay significantly improved teacher satisfaction with their income, reduced the incidence of teachers holding outside jobs, and reduced self-reported financial stress. Nevertheless, after two and three years, the doubling in pay led to no improvements in measures of teacher effort or student learning outcomes, suggesting that the salary increase was a transfer to teachers with no discernible impact on student outcomes. Thus, contrary to the predictions of various efficiency wage models of employee behavior (including gift-exchange, reciprocity, and reduced shirking), as well as those of a model where effort on pro-social tasks is a normal good with a positive income elasticity, we find that unconditional increases in salaries of incumbent teachers had no meaningful positive impact on student learning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s