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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Is it about fixing schools or about hurting teachers

From the Diane Ravitch blog,

The U.S. Department of Education is doing something to the nation’s schools that has never been done before.

Through the leverage of its Race to the Top program, it has persuaded, pushed, and prodded at least 36 states to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students.

There is no evidence that this will improve education or teaching. There is reason to believe it will incentivize narrowing the curriculum, cheating, and teaching to the test.

There is plenty of evidence from sources like the National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association that the ratings will reflect who is in the class, not teacher quality.

John Thompson, guest-blogging for Anthony Cody, asks why the Gates Foundation went full-steam ahead with value-added assessment and the MET Project, encouraging rapid implementation of value-added assessment without waiting to get the results of its experimentation.

Wouldn’t it have been wiser to learn how to do it right rather than imposing this untried, unproven methodology on millions of students and teachers?

Never before has the U.S. Department of Education imposed its views on the nation–even when there was ample evidence to support its policies.

No one knows how to make VAA work without incentivizing all the wrong consequences.

It would have been a good idea to do this right, not fast.

Unfortunately both Gates and Duncan agreed that the basic problem of U.S. education is “bad” teachers.

They are wrong, and they won’t admit it.

The basic problem of American education is poverty.

The kids in affluent districts are doing very well indeed.

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