James Black is 2199! I'm on the edge of my seat.
I'm enjoying a murder mystery set in North Korea (preparation for honeymoon to Burma and Laos!) called A Corpse in the Koryo by James Church, the pseudonym of a former East Asian CIA operative. From an Economist review: "Daily life, rather than a particular crime, is the mystery here. Much of the story involves the inspector trying, never entirely successfully, to join the dots between one inexplicable event and the next, and connect them all to the murder of a foreigner that may or may not have taken place in the Koryo Hotel."
An education article that caught my eye:
A New Measure for Classroom Quality
By R. BARKER BAUSELL
Published: April 30, 2011
OF all the goals of the education reform movement, none is more elusive than developing an objective method to assess teachers. Studies show that over time, test scores do not provide a consistent means of separating good from bad instructors.
Test scores are an inadequate proxy for quality because too many factors outside of the teachers’ control can influence student performance from year to year — or even from classroom to classroom during the same year. Often, more than half of those teachers identified as the poorest performers one year will be judged average or above average the next, and the results are almost as bad for teachers with multiple classes during the same year.
Fortunately, there’s a far more direct approach: measuring the amount of time a teacher spends delivering relevant instruction — in other words, how much teaching a teacher actually gets done in a school day.
This is hardly a new insight. Thirty years ago two studies measured the amount of time teachers spent presenting instruction that matched the prescribed curriculum, at a level students could understand based on previous instruction. The studies found that some teachers were able to deliver as much as 14 more weeks a year of relevant instruction than their less efficient peers.
There was no secret to their success: the efficient teachers hewed closely to the curriculum, maintained strict discipline and minimized non-instructional activities, like conducting unessential classroom business when they should have been focused on the curriculum.