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May 06, 2013

Will a Year's Delay Save the Common Core? A Response to Weingarten's Proposal

Teachers - and union leaders -- may feel as if they should get on board, to try to steer this process. However, I think this is a ship of doom for our schools. I think its effect will be twofold. It will create a smoother, wider, more easily standardized market for curriculum and technology. This will, in turn, promote the standardization of curriculum and instruction, and further de-professionalize teaching. The assessments will reinforce this, by tying teachers closer to more frequent timelines and benchmark assessments, which will be, in many places, tied to teacher evaluations. And the widespread failures of public schools will be used to further "disrupt the public school monopoly," spurring further expansion of vouchers and charters and private schools.

April 05, 2013

Accountability for Mr. Gates: The Billionaire Philanthropist Evaluation

But let's imagine we could turn the tables on Mr. Gates and evaluate his performance as a philanthropist. Might we establish some goals to which we could hold our billionaires accountable? We do not have any measurable indicators such as test scores to use, but since I do not find these to be of great value in any case, I will offer a more qualitative metric, based on my knowledge of the subject's work. Since he has spoken glowingly of the salutary effect of feedback on teachers, surely he will welcome this feedback, even though it is unsolicited.

April 04, 2013

Bill Gates Dances Around the Teacher Evaluation Disaster He Sponsored

This amounts to an attempt to distance the Gates Foundation from the asinine consequences of the policies they have sponsored, while accepting no responsibility for them whatsoever. This is a non-starter, as far as I am concerned. When Bill Gates states he is all for accountability, perhaps he might start with himself. Until then, I really do not value his views on what good accountability systems for others ought to consist of.

March 26, 2013

Association with Gates Foundation Subtracts Value from Weingarten

The Gates Foundation has absolutely zero credibility on the subject of teacher evaluation due to the pervasive role they have played in promoting the terrible policies now sweeping the nation. I entered my dialogue with them last year hoping they were prepared to shift their views in meaningful ways. When it ended, they gave little reason to believe they had done so. To co-author anything with their representative means you are lending credibility and standing to them.

January 23, 2013

John Thompson: The Gates Foundation Leapt, Now MET Looks

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 14, 2012

Ann Schulte: Teacher Performance Assessment Isn't the Answer

Guest post by Ann Schulte. The edTPA is spreading across the country like wild fire, and I'm feeling burned out. My experience with standardized performance assessment over the past 10 years has given me multiple opportunities both to learn from it as well as critique it, and to that end, I've enga...

November 25, 2012

John Thompson: Are Conservative "Reformers" Bailing Out?

Guest post by John Thompson. Perhaps because they demonstrably lost the 2012 election, conservative school "reformers" are being much more candid about why bubble-in accountability has failed. A month ago, conservatives were united in their support of Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett, Idaho's "...

November 21, 2012

Teachers and Parents: Natural Allies in Defending Our Schools

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 15, 2012

John Thompson: Baseball Analogies Prone to Errors

Guest post by John Thompson. Chad Alderman's "If the Yankees Used 'First-In, Last-Out'..." is much too typical of the contemporary school "reform" movement. Like so many accountability hawks, Alderman loves to expound on topics that he knows well, but he reveals very little understanding of real l...

November 05, 2012

John Thompson: New Research Uncovers Fresh Trouble for VAM Evaluations

Guest post by John Thompson. As more and more schools implement various forms of Value-Added method (VAM) evaluation systems, we are learning some disturbing things about how reliable these methods are. Education Week's Stephan Sawchuk, in "'Value-Added' Measures at Secondary Level Questioned," e...

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