Before sharing this month’s Lead the Change, we want to share that the Educational Change SIG has also recently begun a new series, the Doctoral Corner, featuring interviews with current doctoral students. This month’s issue features Alexandra Lamb. We will occasionally feature the Doctoral Corner here on International Ed News.

Scott McLeod


An Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Colorado
Denver, Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading
experts on P-12 school technology leadership issues. He is the Founding Director of the
UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE),
the only university center in the U.S. dedicated to the technology needs of school
administrators, and is the co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know?
(Shift Happens). He also is the co-creator of the 4 Shifts Protocol for lesson/unit redesign
and the founder of both the annual Iowa 1:1 Institute and EdCampIowa, one of the largest EdCamp events in the United States. Dr. McLeod has worked with hundreds of schools, districts, universities, and other organizations and has received numerous awards for his technology leadership work, including the 2016 Award for Outstanding Leadership from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). In 2015, he was one of three finalists to be the next Director of the Iowa Department of Education. In 2011, he was a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod was one of the pivotal figures in Iowa’s grass roots 1:1 computing movement, which has resulted in over 220 school districts providing their students with powerful learning devices. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and is a frequent keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at regional, state, national, and international conferences. He has written or edited 3 books and 170 articles and other publications, and is one of the most visible education professors in the United States.

In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Dr. McLeod talks about technology and educational leadership. As he puts it:

We also need more research about how these schools and their leaders create cultures of innovation. If you visit these communities, everyone at all levels of the system tends to discuss how it is focused on innovation rather than being captive to glacially-slow rates of change. These leaders create virtuous cycles of innovation that feed on themselves and instill pride in both their internal and external stakeholder groups. It’s awesome to visit a school community in which educators, students, and parents proudly proclaim, “Here, in this school, we are innovative. We try things and take risks and it’s very exciting.” Ultimately, of course, we need experts in educational change to not only analyze these new models of schooling but also figure out how to translate them and transport them into more traditional school contexts. How do we take the exciting work happening in these innovative schools and ‘infect’ others to do the same? That’s the ultimate question for us in this field because – in a technology-suffused, global world rife with rapid changes and new challenges – innovation work is equity work these days.

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Kristin Kew and Thomas Hatch.

Online Sources for Policies, News and Public Opinion on Chinese Education

In this our second post on educational issues in China, Shengyuan Lu, who just received the Master’s Degree at Teachers College in International Educational Development Program, provides an overview of a few of the most prominent sources of information that those in China turn to for information on and discussions of education policies and public opinion on education in China. These include official government and news sources as well more popular social media platforms (in Chinese unless otherwise noted). Links are also provided to some of the educational issues and topics in the news recently.


Xinhua Net – Education


Xinhua News Agency is the Chinese national news agency, and Xinhua Net is the official website. The education section of Xinhua Net English edition features reports about national educational policies and trials, as most subjects of the articles start with “China.”

Sample Article: China to review mobile apps for students


China Education Daily


China Education Daily is supervised by the Ministry of Education in China. It is the only national-level education newspaper and one of the most influential education media. Here, you will find first-hand announcements of official policies of Chinese education. It is a site for, among other readers, education administrative leaders, school principals and teachers both from public schools and private education organizations.

Sample Article:

Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference members offer suggestions to protect campus safety


Sixth Tone – Education


This is an English website featuring news about China. It is based in Shanghai, belongs to Shanghai United Media Group, and shares the office with The Paper, one of the most influential news websites in China. In the education section of the Sixth Tone, it covers a wide range of topics, including migrant children, college entrance, school safety, education quality, and more.

Sample Article: Why More Chinese Parents Are Timing Their Due Dates for the Fall




Jiemodui is a website focusing exclusively on education. It focuses on the development of the education industry and reports rising educational products and companies. It also offers analyses of the education policy and market. It is claimed to be the top education-focused website in China. Its readers consist of people in educational companies, investors dedicated to education, and other users including principals, teachers, NGOs, and education media.

Sample Article: Education tutoring companies escape Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou


Sogou WeChat Search


This is the only search engine that can search the personal blog posts published on WeChat. WeChat is the most used chat/social app in China. You may think it as Messenger where you can receive individual chatting messages and information feeds from different bloggers. Because most of the personal blogs are published within WeChat, it is only possible to search and read the articles within the app or specific search engine. Although this search engine is not built only for education articles, most websites, corporations, and individual bloggers have their own accounts on WeChat to publish articles. All the websites listed in this article have their own WeChat accounts. The handle for Chinese MOE Information Office is jybxwb.



New Gaokao in Zhejiang China: Carrying on with Challenges

Here in the U.S., it can often be difficult be difficult to find information on educational changes in China. Helping offer insight and resources, we are welcoming two new corresponding editors for China to International Ed New. This week, we feature a post from Aidi Bian on changes in the National College Entrance exam in China. Aidi is a master’s student studying Learning Analytics at Teachers College, Columbia University.  In the future, we will occasionally feature posts from Aidi and others on educational issues in China.


China’s education system has had a well-known focus on tests and exams.  However, with Shanghai’s high performance in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, Chinese educators and policymakers have expressed concerns that the emphasis on standardized tests limits the development of the skills Chinese citizens will need to compete in a globalized world. As a result, over the past 5 years, policymakers in China have been making a series of changes in the National College Entrance Examination (referred as “gaokao” in Chinese), which guides elementary and secondary education.

The State Council published the official document for guiding the Gaokao reform in 2014 and required provinces to adapt the reform based on local context. According to the schedule, the first steps were to be taken by Zhejiang and Shanghai in 2014, with Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong and Hainan following in 2017. So far, the reform has become the most significant change in the Exam since 1977. Yet, these changes are not without challenges and problems. Among 18 originally scheduled provinces, only 8 had started the new policy by 2018.

Zhejiang was one of the first provinces carried out the reform. Major changes in Zhejiang gaokao include:

  • Student choice: Instead having to choose between two sets of exams – either arts or science – students now can choose 3 elective subjects (a choice among physics, chemistry, biology, geography, politics, history, and general technology).
  • Timing: Students now have more opportunities to take the exams. Previously, students took all the subject tests within two days in June. Now only the compulsory subject tests take place in June. Students can take the elective subject tests starting in the second year of high school (in October and March). They can also take each elective subject test and English twice and use the highest grade for their college. These changes were intended to reduce the pressure so that students will not be too nervous about the last “two days” setting the course for their lives.
  • Scoring: The scoring method has changed so that now absolute scores are translated into ranking scores. For example, if a student ranks the top 1% among all students taking a particular subject test, she will get a 100 for a grade no matter the actual score; if a student ranks in the top 2% among all students taking the same subject test, she will get a 97 for grade.

Gaokao 2

Although these changes were designed to give students more flexibility in selecting subjects that match their interests and to reduce pressure, schools have found the new changes have led to some unanticipated developments:

  • Before the reform, all students took the same courses during all three years of high school. Groups of students took the same courses together. Now, since students are choosing elective subjects, it is much harder for school leaders to anticipate how many students will take each subject, creating challenges for both scheduling and staffing. As a result, some schools found they have too many physics teachers while not enough geography teachers and some schools were not able to offer every elective subject.
  • Some students and parents are choosing subjects that top students are less likely to take. For example, in Zhejiang, fewer and fewer students chose to take physics in high school due to the difficulty of getting high rank. and university teachers complained that engineering students from Zhejiang did worse in basic college physics than their peers from other provinces.
  • Although top students may benefit from the chance to take some tests early, the prolonged gaokao schedule exerts more pressure on many others. Students have to be prepared for the elective subjects test earlier, and they face the stress of taking high-stakes tests throughout high school

In Zhejiang, the response to these concerns has already begun.  After the first 3-years of implementation,the Zhejiang government issued new guidelines revising key aspects of the original gaokao reform. For example, to encourage more students to take physics, the Zhejiang established a new policy giving students taking physics a better chance to get a high ranking score. Other provinces are also working on better preparing and implementing the reform based on experiences and problems learned from the pioneer cases, including organizing visits and trips to schools that are successfully responding to the reform.


Main Sources:


坚定方向 不断深化 浙江深化高考改革试点意见出台 http://jyt.zj.gov.cn/art/2017/11/29/art_1532992_21468594.html



高中生选课自由了,“避难就易”现象已露头 https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1648268

告别一考定终生,机会增多也让“战线”拉长 https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1648273







LEAD THE CHANGE SERIES Q & A with Michael T. O’Connor

Michael T. O’Connor is the director of the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT) program at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. In this role, Michael coordinates a Master’s secondary track, teaches Master’s level courses, provides supervision and instructional coaching to the program’s teachers, and offers support to the program’s partner Catholic schools in the New England region. A former middle school English Language Arts (ELA) teacher and instructional coach, Michael received his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the Lynch School of Education at Boston
College. At Boston College, he worked with Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley on the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (NW RISE) network project. This project, and specifically his work with ELA teachers participating in the network, informed his dissertation work on examining secondary students’ language choices in authentic, community-based writing activities and the ways in which teachers collaborated to support student writing across rural contexts. His work with NW RISE also served as a key case for his work on collaborative professionalism, resulting in the publication of his book with Andy Hargreaves: Collaborative Professionalism: When Teaching Together Means Learning for All (Corwin Press).

In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Dr. O’Connor  talks about, among other things, the role of collaboration in educational change. As Bray O’Connor puts it:

As someone who greatly values collaboration in education, I (perhaps to no surprise) find collaboration and collaborative professionalism to be an important issue in educational change. This past year, I am working with all K-12 Catholic school principals in the state of Rhode Island in a professional development series. When I met with the superintendent to discuss this work, he said that, in many ways, collaboration is at the heart of all educational change. If we seek to make changes to our individual schools and broader systems, it requires the will of the many, not just the will of one. This sentiment has stayed with me when thinking about the field of educational change. At the same time, I recognize that there is much beyond collaboration that impacts meaningful and transformative educational change and am grateful to the many researchers and practitioners in the
field who are doing important research and leading our field forward. As I mentioned in my previous response, issues of identity, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are also
paramount. We must consider these issues for students, certainly, but also for teachers
and other educators. How are we considering teacher well-being, in addition to student well-being? How are we considering equity and diversity in school leadership opportunities? How do empirically-informed proposed educational change strategies impact schools and communities, especially those that have been historically or are currently marginalized? I have seen members of our field take up these issues in their work and I look forward to seeing how research evolves going forward. 

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Kristin Kew and Thomas Hatch.

Puerto Rico Charter Sector to Take Off

This week, we share a cross-post from Sam Abrams, director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, which initially appeared on the Center’s website. Abrams was in San Juan last week to give a lecture on charter schools and vouchers at a symposium on governance hosted by the University of Puerto Rico Law School. While there, he learned about hearings for charter school proposals. The hearings, in fact, took place the same day as the symposium.

Puerto Rico is currently home to one charter school but may soon be home to 30 more, according to hearings held by the island’s Department of Education on Friday, February 8.

The island’s Education Reform Act, approved in March 2018 in the wake of Hurricane María, which wrought havoc the previous September, introduced charter schools as well as vouchers, with the stipulation that no more than 10 percent of schools could be charter schools and no more than 3 percent of students could attend private or non-district public schools with the use of vouchers.

In the first year following the Education Reform Act, one charter school opened: Vimenti, an elementary school in San Juan operated by the Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico.

According to an article published by Noticel,Vimenti started in August 2018 with a kindergarten and first grade, enrolling 58 students in total–31 of whom come from the neighborhood, 27 of whom come from nearby, and 13 of whom are classified for special education. The plan is to add one grade per year as students progress through school.

Supplementary funding for Vimenti, reported Noticel, comes from the Colibri Foundation, which donated $1 million, and the singer Marc Anthony, who gave $500,000.

In the hearings last week, the Department of Education considered proposals for four more charter schools in San Juan, five in Humacao, one in Bayamón, three in Caguas, six in Ponce, two in Arecibo, and nine in Mayaguez.

In contrast to Vimenti, these schools would not be new schools built one grade at a time but, rather, conversions from traditional schools to charter schools.

According to a school administrator with direct knowledge of the hearing process, it is expected that at least 13 of the proposed conversions will be approved for the 2019-2020 year while the remaining 17 will be approved for the 2020-2021 year.

For charter schools, the baseline for determining the 10 percent was the number of schools as of August 15, 2018, which means that if additional public schools across the island are closed, the proportion of charter schools could in time  exceed 10 percent. The government of Puerto Rico closed nearly 25 percent of the island’s schools following Hurricane María. Before the storm, there were 1,110 schools. A year later, according to a report by Education Week, there were 847.

Whether 14 schools or 31 in 2019-2020, the number of charter schools in Puerto Rico would mark striking growth.  By comparison, Minnesota, the state that introduced charter schools with legislation in 1991, opened one charter school in 1992 and six more in 1993. By 2017, there were 164 charter schools across the state, enrolling 6.5 percent of the state’s public school students.

Growth in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, however, sets the standard for the rapid increase in charter schools. Following the devastating storm in August 2005, charter schools replaced traditional public schools at a fast clip. Of the city’s 87 schools today, all but one, McDonogh 35 Senior High, is a charter school. According to an article published in December 2018 by The Times-Picayune, McDonogh 35 will also soon be a charter school. The school is slated to assume charter status for the 2019-2020 year, making New Orleans the nation’s first all-charter district.

While the response of New Orleans to Hurricane Katrina established a precedent for the response of Puerto Rico to Hurricane María, the impact on schools of Katrina and María differed substantially. María left Puerto Rico hobbled, but it did not leave an entire school system in ruins, as was the case in New Orleans, allowing the state to take over and dismiss all teachers to clear the way for the imposition of a largely charter system.

With the summary dismissal of all teachers in New Orleans, the teachers’ union had little if any countervailing power. Teachers in Puerto Rico retained their jobs after María, and the presence of their union remained strong, constituting a significant obstacle to plans for a transformation of the island’s school system akin to the overhaul in New Orleans.

Although charter schools and vouchers are new to Puerto Rico, the concept of alternative forms of public school management is not new. The island’s Instituto Nueva Escuela (INE), in fact, sets the international standard for running neighborhood public Montessori schools.

INE, celebrated in a recent story published by El Nuevo Dia, comprises 44 schools across the island enrolling 14,600 students. Like conventional neighborhood public schools, schools in the INE network require no application. Unlike conventional neighborhood public schools, the schools in this network all employ the Montessori child-centered curriculum and get significant supplementary funding from foundations.

According to Ana María García, the founder and director of INE, the network spends 10 percent more per pupil–or $6,600 compared to $6,000.

García was pressured by the Department of Education, she said in an interview in San Juan last week, to transform INE into a charter network, but she refused, contending that fundamental to INE was the idea that the network’s schools be open to all students in the neighborhood, without any application process. García prevailed.

In recognition of García’s work, as El Nuevo Dia reported in a separate story, the American Montessori Society will be presenting García with its highest honor, its Living Legacy Award, at its annual meeting in March.

– Samuel E. Abrams, Director, NCSPE, February 13, 2019

Can the “School Improvement Industry” support system-wide improvements in K-3 Reading Outcomes in New York City?

This week’s post features a podcast with IEN founder Thomas Hatch.  The podcast discusses a recently released report and research brief drawn from a study designed to identify all the external support providers working with New York City public schools to improve K-3 reading outcomes. 

In the latest podcast from CPRE’s Research Minutes, CPRE Senior Researcher Ryan Fink talks with Thomas Hatch about his latest study “Mapping the reading improvement sector in New York City.”  Among other issues Hatch discusses the nature of the school improvement industry in general, as well as some of the challenges that “external support providers” have faced in trying to work with schools in the US most productively.  He also highlights the longstanding nature of the problem – citing his own experiences while working at the ATLAS Communities Project and described in a 2002 article “When improvement programs collide.” Hatch goes on to discuss how difficult it is get any sense of the size, scope, growth, or effectiveness of this external support even in one area (reading), at one level (K-3), in one region (New York City).  As he put it, when the research started:

how many programs are trying to help New York City elementary schools improve reading outcomes? Nobody had any idea…So this work has been designed to get a sense of not just how many organizations and people are out there doing this work, but exactly what kind of work they’re doing, and then to figure out what we can do to try and make sure that all of this work adds up to more than the sum of its parts, and really has a much more powerful and catalytic effect on reading in New York City.”

When Fink asks Hatch about the implications, he responds that “we need to come to the realization that there’s not going to be an adequate supply of proven programs, and they’re still going to be demands” from schools for help. He concludes by outlining some of the key steps that he thinks can help to build coordination, coherence, and collective responsibility in the reading improvement sector.



Mark Bray is Distinguished Chair Professor in Education at East China Normal University, Shanghai, and is also an Emeritus Professor at the University of Hong Kong. He began his career as a secondary school teacher in Kenya and Nigeria, and later joined universities in the United Kingdom and Papua New Guinea. He has long links with UNESCO, first as a consultant and then as Director of its International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP). His decades of work at the University of Hong Kong commenced in 1986 (with four years of absence for the IIEP role), and in 2011 he was designated UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education. Mark Bray has been President of the Comparative Education Society of Hong Kong (CESHK), the US-based Comparative & International Education Society (CIES), and the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES). He has also played a major leadership role in the Board of Directors of the Comparative Education Society of Asia (CESA). He can be reached at mbray@hku.hk.

In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Dr. Bray talks about his work in international education with organizations such as UNESCO. As Bray puts it:

I have been privileged to work in and between multiple contexts and countries. Although born and educated in England, my first teaching jobs were in secondary schools in Kenya and Nigeria. They were culturally eye-opening, and provided additional exposure to neighboring Anglophone and Francophone Africa. I subsequently taught at the Universities of Edinburgh, Papua New Guinea and London, before moving in 1986 to the University of Hong Kong. From these bases, I undertook many consultancy assignments and research projects for such bodies as UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank as well as for various non-governmental organizations and national governments. These arrangements have allowed me to operate “on both sides of the street”, crossing between the domains of academia and of practice in schools and policymaking. They have introduced me to cultures in rich, middle-income and lowincome countries, particularly in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and the South Pacific, and to some extent, also in the Arab states and in Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus consultancies have been in
countries as diverse as Dubai, Malta, Myanmar, Sudan, and Solomon Islands.

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Kristin Kew and Thomas Hatch.