Three for the Week

Saturdays are my time to reflect on what I read, heard, and discussed throughout the week. It is my “exit ticket” for the last seven days. So here are three ideas that made me think this week. (They are not in any particular order.)

1 – The latest episode of the Freakonomics podcast is called Policymaking is Not a Science (Yet). The episode looks at why promising solutions “fail to scale up into great policy.” This failure to scale up has enormous implications in the education world where so many policy decisions are driven by research. There are a number of reasons why promising initiatives fail to scale up. One is called voltage drop. Think about an experiment testing the impact of a math intervention. During the research, 20 math teachers are needed to run the experiment. However, when the intervention is scaled up to a larger setting 20,000 teachers are needed. It is much easier to find 20 teachers who thoroughly understand the intervention. Finding 20,000 teachers who have that same understanding is much more difficult and often dooms initiatives. This is called “voltage drop.” It is one of the reasons why research which seems promising doesn’t scale up during implementation.

2 – An article in USA Today explored how Memphis schools are trying to increase the number of teachers of color. That article referenced some research that is incredibly important to students all across the country. That research looked at the impact a black teacher has especially on black male students. The researchers from Johns Hopkins University and American University found that, “Black students who’d had just one black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college – and those who’d had two were 32 percent more likely.”

1 – Staying with the lighthearted feel of my final thought of the week, I present to you this dog greeting her owner, Christina Koch. My dog greets me with similar enthusiasm when I come home from work each day. Koch, however, is an astronaut returning after 328-day mission.