Guest post by Jack Hassard. Originally posted here. Note: This is the third in a series of articles on the consequences of the authoritarian standards & high-stakes testing In the next month every American girl and boy in grades 3- 8 will participate in the testing games, an annual competition to determine which schools are good or bad, whether they have a good teacher or a bad one, and what factoids they put to memory or guesswork. The "testing games" have been part of human culture for a long time, but they have taken on greater significance since policy makers have ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As our public schools are systematically re-engineered for dubious reasons, with questionable results, by people of uncertain motives, there is a disturbing lack of skepticism on the part of our watchdogs for the public good, journalists. One of the basic principles of reporting is to ask "cui bono" - who benefits? In the Watergate scandal, the key informant whispered to reporters Woodward and Bernstein, "Follow the money." But very few reporters today seem to be "following the money" in the field of education. Veteran education reporter John Merrow recently delved into cheating scandals on ...


Guest post by Mark Simon. After over a decade of "corporate reform" strategies in many places, we have a chance to compare the results of two drastically different approaches to improving public schools. In some places, such as Washington, DC, we have seen teacher turnover skyrocket, in line with the belief that lagging student performance is due to inferior teachers. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the teachers' union and District have been following a different path for the last fifteen years, and are seeing dramatic results. "Corporate reform" is the moniker earned by the dominant paradigm in school turnarounds, the one ...


Guest post by Rog Lucido. When I came home yesterday my wife told me she received a phone call from one of my former students whom I had in my physics class in 1998-99. My wife said he was excited to connect with me as he has just finished his student teaching and would begin his first full time position in the fall. He will be teaching at-risk students. I called him and set up a time we could meet the next day. Going to my computer to check my e-mail I found this e-mail he had sent me prior ...


Guest post by Educators for Shared Accountability. A new group, Educators for Shared Accountability (ESA), has issued the first-ever Value-Added Measurement (VAM) evaluation of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Secretary Duncan was rated "ineffective," based on four indicators. The United States Department of Education had a discretionary budget of $68.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. This amount was up from $64.1 billion the year before, and up from $29.4 billion in 2000. When the Department of Education was established in 1979, Congress appropriated an annual budget of $14.2 billion. In the past 33 years, the budget ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody A week ago I posted an interview with Teach For America's head of research, Heather Harding. Ms. Harding answered some tough questions that have been raised in recent months here on this blog. Today, I am sharing some responses to her answers. By way of context, I have come to believe that addressing teacher turnover is one of the linchpins of real reform in our struggling schools. Turnover is a key indicator of unhealthy working conditions for teachers -- and that tells us conditions for learning are poor as well. Programs such as Teach ...


Guest post by Jack Hassard. Achieve, Inc. stands to make a lot of money for its work creating new science standards. It might not surprise us, therefore, that a survey they commissioned favors the adoption of these standards. But we need to look at these results with skepticism. Does US competitiveness depend on our rankings on test scores? And will new standards make us better? This year, Achieve, Inc. commissioned a survey of attitudes toward science education with Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The pollsters sampled 800 voters using a stratified sampling technique so that they could ...


Guest post by Stephen Krashen Phillip K. Howard tells us that "To fix America's bureaucracy, we need to destroy it." The part most in need of destruction is not yet fully grown: The new national standards and their spawn, the new national tests. Howard points out that NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and its emphasis on standardized test scores has made it very hard for teachers to be creative and deal with children as individuals. Teaching has been reduced to "teaching to the test." It's going to get a lot worse. The US Department of Education is developing a massive ...


Guest post by John Thompson. The cover story in the American Educator "Putting Students on the Path to Learning," by Richard Clark, Paul Kirschner, and John Swelter should prompt a dialogue between teachers as well as with school "reformers." So, I want to preface my opinions with a request for the professional judgments of fellow teachers. Twenty years ago, I was a true believer in progressive, experiential, "student-centric" instruction when it was done well enough to bring focus to the learning objective. I embraced the conventional wisdom that a teacher should be "a guide on the side, but not a ...


Some Comments on Paul Farhi's "Flunking the Test" Guest post by Stephen Krashen. In "Flunking the Test," Paul Farhi concludes that the media has seriously under-reported the successes of American education and have taken the pronouncements of self-proclaimed "reformers" at face-value. Farhi backs up his argument with real data: American students' performance on international tests is much better than critics say it is, and college attendance has increased enormously. Farhi cites Pedro Noguera, who in turn mentions a Dan Rather program that "explored the link between school performance and poverty, a subject often ignored or noted only in passing in ...


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