The drive towards Common Core State Standards and standardized assessments to enforce them has been described as an unstoppable train, and teachers are warned that we had better get on board with the process, or risk being run over. But opposition to this juggernaut is emerging from some surprising places, which creates the possibility of some unusual alliances.
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February 04, 2013
January 31, 2013
I have become increasingly concerned that public education in the United States is seen as a private commodity rather than a public good. Too often, value is defined as something that I have and you don't, if we both have it, it can't possibly be valuable, regardless of what the "product" actually is. The current achievement disparity between different groups of students is not only a moral imperative, it's an economic one. If we don't better serve children that are poor, African-American, differently-abled, Latino, immigrant or English Language Learners, our economy will greatly suffer because the tax base will decline substantially. I believe that communities have to define what they want from their public schools, organize systems around their vision, and then make sure that all schools within the community have the capacity to achieve it. If we continue to think of excellence as a zero-sum game we will continue to allow too many schools to fail rather than build their capacities to improve.
January 24, 2013
In today's State of the State speech, California Governor Jerry Brown continued to blaze a path in a new direction on education reform. He explicitly rejected the dominant reform paradigm which closely manages schools through test scores, and embraced local control, which he argued for using a concept called "subsidiarity." He also called for funding that recognizes the burdens poverty imposes on schools. Here is what he said:
January 23, 2013
What would have happened if the Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) research had been conducted before the "Billionaires Boys Club's" preferences were codified into law in Race to the Top and the Department of Education's NCLB waiver requirements? How would their final report, "Ensuring Fair and Reliable Measures of Effective Teaching," read if its findings were reported before value-added evaluations were imposed on the nation's schools? Even if the same researchers had used the same methodology and made identical findings, how would that evidence have been presented?
December 08, 2012
The bottom line is that our schools are being forced to compete for ever more scarce resources, and with heavy pressure to do the wrong thing, which is focus on test preparation. Project-based learning with authentic products is a recipe for relevancy, and this school shows how well it works with students who have struggled in a more traditional setting. If ACE Leadership High School can show us better ways to assess and demonstrate student learning, they ought to be available to other schools as well.
December 05, 2012
I think you do not realize what the weight of these tests is doing to our education system. It's not just the time with the students. Staff meetings and Staff Development Days have become centered around the results of these tests. We analyze data, try to find the root cause for what went wrong with certain questions, and then bend over backward to find a better way to teach this concept. Students must take benchmark tests, practice tests, so we can analyze more data, discover if there is growth or if we are still in danger of getting the answer wrong on the following year's test. Of course, the questions change from year to year, and inevitably it becomes impossible to compare separate tests. Teachers will be evaluated on the ratings, nonetheless. Teachers no longer have the time to communicate and collaborate with each other.
November 24, 2012
Guest post by John Chase. Teachers who may be looking for a complex informational text for their students to practice with in preparation for the new assessments might consider using the following excerpts from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which was amended 12/2/11. (select...
November 21, 2012
Wherever the "reformers" are working to divide us, we need counter campaigns aimed at strengthening our unity. We need to make sure less experienced teachers understand the value of due process, and the reasons we object to "data-driven" evaluations and pay systems. We need to develop social and educational activities that bring generations of teachers together, so they recognize how much they have to learn from one another, and how much better they can be when they support one another and work together. We need serious outreach efforts to communicate with parents, both urban and suburban. Our public schools are community treasures, and they must be guarded by all of us working together.
November 10, 2012
Yesterday I received a message from a reader. She wrote: I am convinced that educators in this country have lost their senses. At least, they seem to have lost their consciences. I sent your blog - What Hurricane Sandy is Teaching Us About Students Under Stress - to my fellow teachers this week. No...
November 06, 2012
Last week I got some disturbing news from a science educator in Kansas. John Richard Schrock is a biologist who works at Emporia State University in Kansas, preparing science teachers. In September he wrote about a visit from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and shared this graph, with the fo...