A Quick Guide to Better Surveys

Surveys are common currency in data-driven improvement. The allure of surveys is easy to understand. Thanks to mobile technology, surveys are more easily designed and deployed now than ever before. They offer the veneer of scientific objectivity. Results can be auto-generated in colorful graphs and pie charts. However, the apparent ease of survey design does not necessarily mean that surveys are always the best option for gathering data nor does it guarantee that surveys will be well designed to elicit the information...

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Testimony Before the Boston School Committee

My name is James Noonan, assistant professor of education at Salem State University and Associate Director of Research for the MA Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment. But I’m speaking tonight as the father of two BPS children and someone who strongly supports the new exam school admissions proposal. 

In 1971, before court-ordered desegregation introduced a 35 percent “set aside” for students from under-represented subgroups,...

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Parent Activism in the Age of Foundation Budget Formulas

My daughter is losing her computer teacher to a budget cut. Well, maybe. The principal tells us that the teacher is okay with it. The district tells us that in fact there is no cut. But explanations ring hollow when you’re upset and looking for someone to blame, and so the question became: in a funding fight, in a system as complex as education, who is to blame?


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The Rhetoric of Resegregation

The issue of school segregation – particularly, the trend toward re-segregation – is once again in the news in Boston, with a Boston Globe analysis finding that 60 percent of schools were “intensely segregated” (defined as at least 90 percent students of color). This was up from 42 percent of schools two decades ago....

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Wanted: An MI Theory for School Quality

For 35 years, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI Theory) has reassured us that people are more than the sum of any intelligence test. MI Theory has found special resonance among educators, who every day see tremendous variation in what students do well and where they struggle.

In addition to helping us understand individuals, MI Theory may also be instructive for how we understand schools. After all, schools...

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Race-Conscious Questions and The Story of Us

Recently, I was reminded just how important it is that we live our values out loud, especially when it comes to what we decide to say (or not say) about race.

On the mornings when I take my kids to school on the train, I’ve taken to telling them stories about when I was growing up. My four-year-old has really come to relish these stories and asks for them. “Tell a story about when you and Uncle John were growing up,” she says from her perch on the back of the stroller.

Telling “my story” to my kids has also become more than just a way to fill time and mark our walk...

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The Right Questions for the Right School

It is school preview season. Among fellow parents with kindergarten-aged children, the information overload has prompted no small amount of anxiety. Online parenting forums are overflowing with questions, second guesses, and uncertainty. This flurry of emotion is understandable. After all, choosing a school is not a trivial decision. In a real sense, choosing a school is also choosing the place and the people who will play a critical role in shaping the adults our children become. I get the anxiety -- I even share it sometimes -- but I have decided that I am going to do my best to...

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