Giving Compass' Take:

• In this story from EdSurge, author Stephen Noonoo summarizes recent statements made by Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jeffrey C. Riley. He argues that, in the near future, we will view today's education similarly to how we currently view 19th-century medicine.

• Riley argues that the education sector is sorely missing data systems that could inform productive reform. What sorts of philanthropic organizations could partner with schools, districts, and states to create this data infrastructure?

• To learn about game-based learning and teaching, click here.


By most measures, Massachusetts is one of the nation’s highest-performing states when it comes to K-12 education. Yet to hear the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education tell it, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“Massachusetts has done very well,” said Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley [recently] ... “But I think in a few years, this will start to look like 19th century medicine: Get your solder out, because the best we can do is amputate”

On Professional Development

The big secret in public education is that the variation in teacher quality is astounding. We have to do a better job when you start teaching on day one. Teachers are leaving within their first five years of teaching, and what that says to me is that we need a better retention approach inside the first five years to make sure people feel successful.

On Data

One area where I think things have been slow to move is with data. In particular, getting data systems to talk to one another so that we could have longitudinal data beyond what happens just within the K-12 space. I’ve argued that there are golden needles in these haystacks of data that we don’t have access to right now, which could help us plot the way forward.

On Standardized Testing

In the ’90s the best test in America was in Maryland, the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program. It had kids working collaboratively on performance-based tasks, and they gave school-level results, rather than individual ones. With the advent of NCLB, every student had to have an individual score, and so Maryland completely scrapped this test ... That was a pivotal moment in education in America. We lost something in this deeper learning.

Read the full article about education reform by Stephen Noonoo at EdSurge