September 2011 Archives

I pay a lot of attention to teacher evaluation in this country, and it seems that the issue grows in urgency every day. Yet I have to stop and ask: How much can we expect teacher evaluation to accomplish? There's no one I respect more as an authority on the teaching profession than Linda Darling-Hammond, so it was with great interest that I saw this brief for policymakers on WaPo's Answer Sheet blog. The brief, titled "Getting Teacher Evaluation Right," was created in collaboration with Jesse Rothstein and other experts. It's a great take on value-added and other salient issues—I...


Right now, teacher education varies tremendously within the US. Nearly all teacher training and certification programs are housed in colleges and universities, where they are widely regarded as "cash cows"—easy to get into, and profitable for their institutions. Some of these programs are excellent, many are fair to middling, and some are very poor. We have the kind of variation you'd expect in a country this big, with as decentralized an education system as we have. It is our way. We are also a fairly entrepreneurial country, which contributes to our resistance to a top-down nationalized education system. We like...


It will be very difficult to raise the status of the education profession if our goal isn't to have an education system that's on par with the best in the world. At present, our school districts merely have to compete with each other for talent, so the profession isn't very competitive compared with other career options for the bright and driven. Many still choose it, but not in the numbers we see in Finland and Singapore, which have national "top-third" teacher recruitment strategies. If teacher salaries and status are going to increase, it's going to be due to a large-scale ...


In a Sunday WaPo op-ed, Jay Mathews suggests that the Common Core State Standards Initiative is doomed to failure, and isn't a good idea anyway: Such specific standards stifle creativity and conflict with a two-century American preference for local decision-making about schools. The decentralized nature of our education system is the least of our problems. We should focus on better teaching methods and better training of teachers, as well as school structures that help educators work more as teams. Those teachers could then employ whatever methods and standards make sense. Wait, so Mathews is saying that multi-state standards stifle creativity, ...


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