How we position assessment is not a primarily a technical issue, or a political concern. It's a moral issue.
Separating content and emotional security in the classroom is a false dichotomy. You don't have to love the kids you're teaching, but you do have to care about relationships--across the spectrum--to be an effective teacher.
While I certainly want all children to have rich experiences with music, including cello lessons and singing in the Glee Club, it's not because music may have a salutary effect on their algebra grade, or raise their SAT scores. Music is its own worthy self.
The real issue is not tracking down the precise percentage of schools that cheat. It's determining why administrators and teachers feel compelled to cheat--and figuring out what to do about the impact of high-stakes testing on both student learning and instruction.
Without a knowledgeable human to think about why we got those results-- and develop a plan for moving forward using the information it provides--data is just a statistical beauty contest.
Would teachers be motivated to work harder by iPods, gift cards or even large cash awards? Doubtful. What would teachers like, as awards for exemplary work?
Authentic school reform--the kind that yields long-lasting, productive alterations in daily practice--never happens until a critical mass of key players shift their thinking.
Assessment informs instruction. At least, that's the way it should work.
Thirty years of teaching school have given me a hard crust of cynicism about many things related to education and America. But I never lost my enthusiasm for the Memorial Day parade.
Who speaks for teachers in the national conversation about fixing struggling schools? Can they network to organize their own voices? Power to the teachers, right on.