Guest post by John Thompson. If nothing else, the controversy over publicizing New York City teachers' value-added scores has revealed the essence of test-driven school "reform." The contemporary data-driven accountability experiment was begun by idealists, who sincerely sought a "civil rights movement of the 21st century," but who were clueless about the realities of urban education, and now it is in shambles. Some honest reformers, like the Washington Post''s Jay's Mathews, seem to ruefully acknowledge that the bubble-in mania produced "sand castles carefully constructed on the beach." Other accountability hawks, such as Stanford's Eric Hanushek, admit that New York's latest ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody In the mistaken belief that test scores are adequate reflections of learning, we have created vast systems to extract test score data, and now are requiring that this data be incorporated in teacher and principal evaluations across the country. Can we return to an authentic use of evidence and data in teacher evaluations? The publication of teacher ratings generated by Value Added Models (VAM) in New York has prompted some closer examination of their validity, as I discussed here yesterday. This has brought into the mainstream what was, up until recently, a discussion among ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Teachers in New York City have been slammed by the publication of VAM ratings for 18,000 of them. But something new is happening this time, and it was not what proponents of the use of these ratings for evaluative purposes intended or wanted. People are actually delving into the data to see what it shows. This week Teach For America founder CEO Wendy Kopp became the latest advocate of VAM to denounce the publication of scores in the press, and the associated public scorning of the "bad teachers" they supposedly revealed. In taking ...


Guest post by Vince Marsala. As election season nears, grandstanding Democratic and Republican politicians will discuss the importance of educators and not teaching to a test. Then, with their empty rhetoric still in the air, they will enact laws that base evaluations on test scores, weaken due process, and inject competition. Meanwhile, many news organizations, who have failed to report on why many educators are against these things, will hail their efforts. None of these efforts will work, and the thousands of teachers and principals who have criticized these ideas will then clean up the mess. In 1991, New York ...


Guest Post by Jack Hassard. In the last post we used science education research to show how accountability standards in science education today pose barriers to meaningful learning in science. Today, we extend this theme, and show that the theory of learning underlying the accountability standards movement is in conflict with contemporary theories used to explain how students learn. Ideas as Bricks. John Dewey believed that learning is embedded in experiences when the student interacts with the environment, which is when humans work to deal with the tensions between themselves and their surroundings. Dewey believed that learning is natural, not ...


Guest Post by Jack Hassard. Over the next two posts I am going to focus on standards- and test-based educational reform with an eye toward opening a conversation about how standards and high-stakes tests might actually impede science teaching and learning. We begin by examining the science standards, which have been an integral part of science education since the publication of the National Science Education Standards by National Research Council in 1995. Then in 2011, the National Research Council published A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas. The Framework is now being used by Achieve, ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody In our nation's public schools, March Madness has taken on a whole new meaning. It is test prep time in America. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fond of saying that we should not teach the test. At the same time, there are huge consequences for schools, teachers and principals that do not raise test scores. The NCLB waivers allow states to eliminate Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the majority of schools, but huge pressure will still be applied to the bottom tier of schools, those with high poverty and large numbers of English ...


Guest post by Bill Schechter. Clearly, I was a superb teacher. Probably one of the best. That's what the numbers show, and numbers don't lie. Before I retired after 35-years as a high school teacher, almost none of my school's students failed the state standardized tests mandated by the 1993 Education Reform Act in Massachusetts. How about a passing rate of 97%! True, I taught in an affluent district where most students were so enriched even before they entered my classroom that sometimes I thought their heads would explode. Mostly their parents were professionals. College? Not an issue. The real ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Last week I wrote about the fairy dust of multiple measures that the Department of Education has been sprinkling on worthless Value Added Models, under the mistaken belief that this somehow renders them golden. Dept of Ed press secretary Justin Hamilton quoted Arne Duncan, who said, "here in the US teacher evaluation is all too often tied only to test scores which makes no sense." I replied "WHO uses test scores only? Can you name one district that evaluates this way?" The answer came last week, as newspapers in New York published the value ...


Guest post by Arthur Camins. Slip slidin' away Slip slidin' away You know the nearer your destination The more you're slip slidin' away Paul Simon The current narrative for improving education in the United States is based on two undeniable charges and several simple and compelling solutions. The current charges: Despite decades of effort we have failed to substantially mediate the effects of race and class on educational outcomes. Compared to product innovations in the private sector, innovations in the education sector are infrequently dispersed or institutionalized... they don't stick. We've all been there. Just when we think we nearing ...


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