A few weeks ago, I asked three questions about how confident we should be that the results of the new, quasi-national, computer-assisted Common Core tests will be valid and reliable enough to support stuff like teacher evaluation and school accountability. Today I'll be publishing a response from PARCC's Jeff Nellhaus.
On Thursday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yanked Washington State's NCLB waiver, forcing the state to again operate under provisions of a law that Duncan has declared "broken."
Showing the taste for power that has led Sen. Lamar Alexander to accuse him of thinking he runs a national school board, yesterday Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yanked Washington state's "waiver" from the No Child Left Behind Act. In his letter, Duncan expressed his disappointment in the failure of Washington state's legislature to heed his instruction "to put in place teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that take into account information on student learning growth based on high-quality college- and career-ready (CCR) State assessments as a significant factor in determining teacher and principal performance levels."
Blogger John Thompson and Gates research honcho Steve Cantrell ultimately had an extended, robust exchange of views. They didn't "solve" anything but I think this kind of honest, civil disagreement makes it a helluva lot easier to think about finding workable ways forward. So, when they offered to share their takes on the whole deal, I was game. Here's what they had to say.
Many in education will bewail the Supreme Court's Schuette decision. I think that's misguided. For what it's worth, here's my take.
A couple years ago I observed, "I see great potential value in states choosing to embrace common, high-caliber reading and math standards... That said, seems to me there's a huge chance that the whole exercise will go south, with many states implementing the Common Core half-heartedly, while screwing with existing reforms and standards. Such an outcome would ultimately do more harm than good." Last Friday, two columns reminded me why I fear the entire Common Core enterprise is likely to have disquieting results.
Common Core critics in each state need to devise their own version of "repeal and replace."
Regular readers are familiar with Neerav Kingsland, who's penned some of the more popular RHSU guest posts. Two years ago, I did a Straight Up conversation with Neerav when he took the reins from Sarah Usdin at New Schools for New Orleans. We've now come full circle, with Neerav recently announcing the he is stepping down at NSNO to aid other cities and districts seeking to pursue New Orleans-style education reform. It seemed an opportune time to catch up with Neerav, take stock of where things are in New Orleans, and hear his thoughts on what's ahead.
Today, in a highly personal guest post, Katherine Bassett, a gentle 26-year middle school librarian, former New Jersey Teacher of the Year, and CEO of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, offers a classic cage-busting take. She points out how the innocuous, admirable proclivity to be "hopeful" can leave teachers trapped in cages of their own design. All I have to say is, "Amen!"
Reform critics dismiss efforts to rethink leadership practice, recruitment, and training as an effort to import "business" thinking into K-12. Meanwhile, it's easy for reformers to sound as if they're just saying we need "better" school and system leaders. In reality, today's leaders struggle with professional norms, training, and circumstances that aren't of their making--and which offer precious little calculated to help forge great schools and systems.