Guest post by Rog Lucido. Year after year, Mario takes district, state and national tests. Each year Mario's individual scores are combined with others in his class, school, district, and state. The scores are sent home to parents, analyzed by teachers, districts and departments of education. Decisions are made about Mario, his teachers and his school. Belief in the validity of the scores is so strong that most people uncritically accept their truth. All high-stakes testing is based on the paradigm that learning can be 'measured' by using a device that produces a number. Tests play the role of this ...


Last Friday, I posted this essay by Teach For America corps member Jameson Brewer: Hyperaccountablity, Burnout and Blame. One of the comments came from another TFA corps member, duke solaris. This comment and Jameson's response ran yesterday, Teach For America Corps Members in Dialogue: Can this Model Work? Today, in the third installment of this dialogue, I share the latest exchange between these Teach For America corps members. To begin, duke solaris writes: Thank you for the reply, and for being willing to engage in conversation! I completely agree that the achievement gap is reflective of deeper issues in society ...


Yesterday this blog featured a guest post from a current Teach For America corps member, Jameson Brewer. The following comment was posted by another TFA teacher. A response from Jameson Brewer follows. As can be expected from a Corps Member, this is a reasonably accurate depiction of TFA's Institute and AIM, with one caveat. In my experience as a CM, TFA pushed CMs to focus within their "locus of control" and work relentlessly to pursue academic achievement for our students. The way I saw it, TFA didn't tell us to ignore socioeconomic challenges (to do so would be terrible) or ...


Guest post by Jameson Brewer. The rhetoric of educational policy is an ever swaying pendulum from the conservative right to the progressive left. However, in reality, in the decades leading up to and the ten years following the passing of No Child Left Behind, it has been neoliberal policies and practices that have dramatically shaped the American education landscape. Perhaps this claim is best characterized by the onslaught of hyper accountability that traces its most recent roots to NCLB. The neoliberal practice of hyper accountability, specifically that of teacher accountability, has led to an increase of labeling (e.g., failing ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody As the Simpson family prepared to travel south of the equator to Brazil, Homer revealed some misconceptions. In opposite land, according to Bart's father, "warm snow falls up." Reading the latest press releases and speeches from the Department of Education, sometimes I feel as if this is where we have arrived. For the past two years, the Department of Education policies have been roundly criticized by teachers. The latest response from Arne Duncan is a big public relations push bearing the title RESPECT -- Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching. However, as ...


Guest post by Steven Sellers Lapham. Note: Steven Sellers Lapham and Jack Hassard worked together on this post. Public schools in America are under attack from many directions, and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) seems bent on delivering a lethal one-two-three punch. This decade will likely witness more neighborhood schools shutting down, crowded classrooms, excellent teachers fired, and children fobbed off to "online learning programs." Let's recall that Prince Edward County, Virginia, closed its schools 1959-64, creating a "lost generation" of children who were hobbled, as adults, by years of missed education. Today, a school district in Delaware ...


Guest post by Jack Hassard. You can read Part One here. Practicing teachers, clinical professors, and researchers who work in the field know that assessing teachers or students requires much more than simply looking at test scores. And indeed, researchers who have examined the value-added assessment system which purports to measure the "teacher effect" on student achievement test scores, question it's validity and more important reliability. The Data Used to Make High-Stakes Decisions on Teachers and Students Value Added Effect For example, Terry Hibpshman, of the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, did an in-depth review of value-added models and concludes ...


Guest post by Jack Hassard. Part 1 of 2. In my post of a week ago, I reported that Georgia's Cobb County School System rejected the superintendent's proposal to hire 50 Teacher for America teachers for schools located in South Cobb. Many of the South Cobb schools are underperforming schools. I suggested that this was a good decision, but also indicated that it was done by default. The default is, that the proposal never made it to agenda of the board and thus was withdrawn for the time being. Is this another avoidance tactic? Today, we expand our thinking to ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody This week I engaged in another online debate with one of Arne Duncan's press secretaries, Justin Hamilton, who readers may recall asked me to "correct" my commentary a year ago after President Obama inadvertently criticized our over-reliance on standardized tests. This time Mr. Hamilton took issue with a question I posed in advance of Duncan's latest Twitter Town Hall. I asked, "How can you say that we should not teach to test while NCLB waivers tie teacher & principal evaluations to test scores?" To this, Hamilton (@EDpressSec) replied: "False. Waiver states using multiple measure not ...


A few days ago, I ran a guest post authored by science educator Jack Hassard; Cobb County, Georgia, Rejects Teach For America. One cogent comment came from Stuart (EdOutsider), who wrote the following: Listen, all this slapping our own backs might be fun and good, but of all the states where TFA places its teachers, three (Tennessee, North Carolina, and Louisiana) conducted a study to determine which certification path produced the greatest collective student gains. What did it find? TFA teachers (teaching in the poorest 20% of schools) outperformed all other certification routes, including residency master's programs. Yes, on 5 ...


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