Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
Here’s a good question for the dawn of a new city administration: Did the CSDs, the ROCs, the SSOs, the ISCs and CFNs — all these successive Bloomberg-era school management structures — actually improve school management?
If the acronyms are a puzzle, don’t worry. Most of them don’t exist anymore.
The Boston-based Parthenon Group, the management consultants that gave the DOE lots of high-priced advice on how to help struggling schools (which the DOE ignored), has gingerly taken up this question.
In “An Assessment of the New York City Department of Education School Support Structure” [PDF], conducted at the request of the DOE, the Parthenon Group reviews the many iterations of management science that eventually became the CFNs, the Children First Networks. These make up the uneven, rather slippery, mechanism through which the DOE now manages the schools. And in cautious, exquisitely balanced language, the Parthenon Group raises deep concerns about the shortcomings of these “reforms.”
The networks are groupings of about 30 schools each that sign on to get “support” from one of 57 nonprofits, universities or former DOE administrators. CFNs were construed as a way to deliver educational and administrative services to principals without actually supervising the schools. They were a tool of principal “empowerment” under Chancellor Joel Klein’s fractured management vision. Principals, whether they are neophytes or veterans, get to hire and fire their “supervisor,” the CFN network, though they have to choose one and pay for it.
So, what does Parthenon find?
First, it finds that while there are some strong and innovative networks, there are others “whose leaders and teams cannot effectively manage the complexity of the job.”
Talent across the 57 network teams is stretched fairly thin. “There are fewer people but the jobs have become more challenging,” in the words of the report, and it has been hard for many networks “to earn authority and trust based on merit.” Maybe some functions should be re-centralized, the report suggests. Maybe the DOE should offer higher pay to network team members to attract more talent. Or maybe networks should themselves get together and hire some outside expertise. In blunter language, many are floundering.
Second, the network structure doesn’t differentiate between schools that are struggling and those that are doing well.
There is limited oversight of struggling schools, the report finds, “offering too much latitude to principals who will not be able to figure out how to improve on their own” and too much interference in high-performing schools. “It is clear that the [network] strategy cannot represent the DOE’s only mechanism for school improvement,” Parthenon concludes.
It suggests putting the weakest 15 percent of schools under superintendents with renewed powers, who will direct curriculum and instruction. That old superintendent structure in the community school districts was famously ripe for abuse, but Parthenon finds the nebulous supervision-by-consent of the network structure unequal to the task, at least in some situations.
Third, the current CFNs isolate school support from the input of local communities, especially in the case of struggling schools.
“(P)arents in the current system sometimes feel that they are left without a clear channel to seek resolution of issues,” the report says. (Sometimes is putting it mildly.) Especially in struggling schools, the report finds, parents have tried repeatedly to warn administrators but have not gotten a hearing. Nor do networks readily tap into the knowledge that families and communities have. The Parthenon Group finds it “hard to assess how frequently this kind of breakdown actually occurs.” But parents would tell them: it happens a lot.
Fourth, the Parthenon Group finds that “perhaps the most powerful support the DOE could provide for schools would be to relieve the numerous demands on a principal’s time.”
Bureaucracy and “layers of federal and state regulations” eat up school time. The DOE should improve business processes, streamline regulations and change the culture, the report says, but leaders who can do this are hard to find. The ones who can are stretched too thin.
What are the implications of these findings?
The Parthenon Group finds that principals like their newfound autonomy in hiring, budgeting and curriculum. But we know many principals are drowning in paperwork imposed by the new accountability and cannot provide instructional leadership.
Management does not get better simply by withdrawing. The DOE cut its school support budget by 32 percent from 2005 to 2011. “If anything the emphasis on efficiency within school support went almost too far,” the report hedges.
There’s little question that it did. While expectations were piled on students and teachers, a lean, voluntary and too-often inept management was put in place — but not exactly in charge — of the schools. This allowed the DOE to say that it wasn’t responsible for class size reduction, for example, or for supporting struggling schools. Principals were. The networks were. The report finds many of these networks were not up to the task. What’s worse, the DOE abdicated responsibility.
What do we need from the next administration? We certainly need a new management system. More support for struggling schools is essential. More expert, seasoned leadership would be welcome. But what exactly should this look like? It must be one of the many things keeping Bill de Blasio up at night.
[This editorial originally appeared in the November 14 issue of the New York Teacher.]
You would think that if Success Academy Charter Schools can pay Eva Moskowitz a salary of $475,244, they could also afford to pay rent for their space in public school buildings.
And, if Village Academies charter network can pay $499,146 to its CEO, Deborah Kenny, shouldn’t it also be able to afford rent for its use of public school space?
Moskowitz and Kenny are just two of the 16 charter school honchos in New York City whose pay exceeds that of Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the Daily News reported recently.
Kenny’s network has two schools. Walcott oversees 1,600. But Kenny earns more than twice the $212,614 paid to the chancellor.
Does that make sense?
It makes even less sense that Moskowitz is among the charter school operators leading a campaign to maintain their rent-free spaces in our public schools.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has rightly called for charging rent to those charter schools that can afford it.
That is only fair. Charter schools have been getting a free ride under Mayor Bloomberg’s reign. And public schools have suffered the consequences.
When charter schools co-locate in public school buildings, they are often able to afford spiffy new furniture, brand-new technology and a refurbishment of their classrooms. That can clash sharply with the unrenovated areas of the buildings used by traditional district schools.
Having charter schools pay rent would create a more level playing field. And it would increase the resources available for traditional public schools.
We have public schools operating classrooms out of trailers for years on end. Other schools are bursting at the seams from overcrowding. Many need repair and renovation.
So, to charter school operators who have been using public school space rent-free, we have two words: Pay up.
[This editorial originally appeared in the November 14 issue of the New York Teacher.]
Pat yourselves on the back, UFT members.
There is reason for pride and celebration. On Nov. 5, the people were heard. We have a new mayor, comptroller, public advocate and many new City Council members who support our schools and respect UFT members.
Their election came in large part from your work, your votes, your voice.
The UFT made the crucial difference in a number of key races, including Scott Stringer’s victory in the primary for comptroller.
That was a critical election for us because the comptroller serves as custodian and investment adviser to our pension funds. Your money is in those retirement funds. We need a comptroller whose judgment we trust.
In the City Council races, too, UFT members’ votes and work helped bring victory to a number of excellent candidates, including Mark Treyger, a civics teacher and UFT delegate from New Utrecht HS.
The most important election you helped win, of course, was for mayor.
When Bill de Blasio takes office on Jan. 1, our city will for the first time in its history have a sitting mayor with a child in the public schools.
As de Blasio said at Teacher Union Day, he respects educators. He wants to work on improving morale in the schools so that the teachers and staff who are there now stay.
The UFT will hold him to that.
We have much work ahead. After 12 years of Mayor Bloomberg’s destructive rule over our schools, we have to rebuild our school system.
But UFT members have always shown they are up to whatever challenge they face.
For now, we need to grit our teeth and get through the final two months of our lame-duck mayor.
Take a moment, though, to savor your victory.
In this post, guest blogger Norm Fruchter, co-author of the new Annenberg Institute for School Reform report, “Over the Counter, Under the Radar,” argues that the Department of Education should change its current method for assigning students to high schools. A “controlled choice” model would be more equitable and help all schools succeed, he says.
Some 36,000 late-enrolling, high-need students, traditionally labeled as “over-the-counter” or OTC students, are annually assigned to NYC Department of Education high schools. Most of those over-the-counter students are disproportionally placed in struggling schools, essentially setting up the students and schools for failure, according to a new study [PDF] from Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform.
To improve the placement process for over-the-counter students, the Annenberg Institute study made the following recommendations:
- The DOE should identify high schools in which over-the-counter students achieve significantly higher academic performance than systemwide averages, and then identify the exemplary practices of these “beat-the-odds” schools.
- Schools targeted for closure or already undergoing the closure process, as well as persistently low-achieving high schools, should not be assigned any over-the-counter students.
- The DOE should assign over-the-counter students to all other high schools at an annual rate of between 12 and 20 percent of their respective student populations. (These recommendations appear in the report’s Executive Summary.)
Implementing these recommendations, particularly by reserving an annual percentage of high school seats for over-the-counter students, would adapt the current merit-based high school choice and selection process by introducing an element of controlled choice. If all high schools were assigned a guaranteed percentage (and specific number) of over-the-counter students every year, both the students and their assigned schools would benefit significantly. Schools could develop a variety of methods to assess their over-the-counter students’ academic capacity, and then reconfigure class assignments, scheduling, and instruction to best meet those students’ needs.
Such a controlled choice model could be extended. Students with disabilities and English Language Learners are too often disproportionately assigned to struggling high schools, a policy that fails to benefit both those students and their assigned schools. Because there is considerable overlap across the categories of over-the-counter students, students with disabilities and English Language Learners, their total may well exceed 30 percent of the system’s high school population. A controlled choice process could reserve 30 percent of the seats in all high schools for these students, who would be assigned outside the school choice process. This policy would allow each high school to re-configure its curriculum, programing and instruction to more effectively meet the needs of a predictable annual percentage of challenged, and challenging, students, and would undoubtedly achieve dramatic gains in equitable treatment for almost a third of the system’s high school students.
With shows like American Idol and The Voice suggesting that anyone can become a pop star, it was only a matter of time before we had a reality show suggesting that anyone can be a teacher.
In 2010, A&E brought us Teach, which featured actor Tony Danza teaching English at a Philadelphia high school. Danza went on to write a book, aptly titled I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High.
Now we have Dream School, which premiered last week on cable TV. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and rapper 50 Cent produce this show that follows celebrity attempts to teach 15 teenagers who have either dropped out or been expelled from school.
The celebrity teachers’ mission is “to excite these young minds, reignite their passions, and get them to graduate from a real, accredited high school,” according to the show’s publicists.
The show’s real-life dropouts have all faced challenges familiar to anyone in urban education: teen pregnancy, bullying, drug addiction, a dying family member. They have come to Dream School for what the show’s publicists call a “last chance” to graduate high school.
What groundbreaking tactics do the intrepid celebrity teachers bring to the classroom? Well, for starters, 50 Cent kicks off the first day of homeroom by, brace yourselves, asking the students to suggest classroom rules.
“In a traditional school, these students would just be expected to follow the rules,” says Dream School’s principal (who off-screen is the superintendent of a suburban school system in California). “But here, we want to empower and motivate each and every kid to be part of the process.”
Did you hear that, you teachers in “traditional” schools? Is it possible that you somehow missed that you’re supposed to empower and motivate your students?
Oliver Stone is the history teacher, and if you think of every approach you would not use for reaching your most disengaged students, you’ll get a sense of Stone’s instructional strategies. He drones on while the camera zooms in on the clock ticking and students falling asleep at their desks. “This is a great example for folks coming in: Teaching is hard,” observes the principal.
Teaching is hard – but this show seems to us at Edwize like a shameful gimmick that’s disrespectful to both teachers and high-risk students. Can you imagine the outcry if we had a show, Dream Courtroom, where non-credentialed celebrities represented defendants in their “last chance” to avoid prison? Or Dream Hospital, where celebrities acting as doctors became their patients’ “last chance”…literally?
What do you think? Does Dream School reinforce the public’s misunderstanding of what makes a good teacher? Or, could the show have a positive impact by showing that teaching is not as easy as some may think?
Are high-needs students disproportionately assigned to struggling schools? A study released Thursday by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform reveals that low-performing high schools are unfairly overburdened by late-enrolling students (also known as “over the counter” students), who tend to be new immigrants, special-needs students, previously incarcerated teens, transient or homeless youth, over-age students and those with histories of behavioral incidents in previous high schools.
The study also reports that late-enrolling students are disproportionately assigned to schools that have already been targeted for closure. At Christopher Columbus High School, for instance, which the DOE began phasing out in 2011, late-enrolling students accounted for 37 percent of the population; the city average was 14 percent.
Annenberg Institute Principal Associate Norm Fruchter, one of the study’s authors, concludes that “compelling evidence suggests that the DOE’s inequitable assignment of late-enrolling students to struggling high schools reduces the opportunities for success for both the students and their schools.”
The report doesn’t come as a surprise to teachers in schools with large percentages of late-enrolling students. Christine Rowland, who taught at Columbus, recalls that the stream of late-enrolling students “put incredible pressure on the school.”
Late entry students provide incredible challenges for programming. Classes fill up, leading to challenges in giving students the courses and programs they need to succeed. Then courses fill up, leading to a need to open up additional sections of a course. This may mean someone needing to take on a sixth class, someone teaching out of license, or even hiring an additional teacher. [But] schools are only budgeted based on estimated register (not including over-the-counter students), and funding for the additional students [does] not arrive until November. This meant that additional teachers could not be taken on, since there was no budget to support their hire. Sometimes it means changing a huge percentage of teacher and student programs in order to cope with the fluxing student body.
Columbus “bravely attempted to address our high needs students by establishing a number of specially designed support programs to meet the needs of these students,” says Rowland. Unfortunately, “the over-the-counter numbers played a very significant role in our report card grade, which played a major role in our being targeted” for closure.
“This new research confirms what we have known all along: that the Department of Education set these schools up to fail,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “It is failure by design.”
Read the Annenberg Institute’s press release, or check out the full report.
When scores for the first round of Common Core-aligned state tests were released this summer, it wasn’t surprising that the results were lower than in years past. What did come as a surprise, however, was how well students at Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy schools had fared: At one SA charter in the Bronx, 97 percent of students scored proficient in English and 77 percent were proficient in math.
What’s their secret? (If there can be a “secret” to high scores on standardized tests, that is.) A new blog post by education writer Diane Ravitch, in which she quotes an anonymous Success Academy teacher, suggests that the disappointing truth may be old-fashioned test prep, and lots of it, otherwise known as “drill and kill.”
ELA test prep starts in November for two periods a week, the teacher wrote to Ravitch. After winter break, we have daily hourlong ELA test prep. Then we add math. By late February, we spend several hours a day on it. The last few weeks are almost all-day test prep.
So much for the Success Academy mission statement that proclaims, “Our schools are fueled by wonder.”
The same teacher notes that “we have people whose job it is to put together custom test prep packets based on state guidance. Much more aligned to Common Core and closer to the test than the published books I’ve seen. The teacher adds, “Thousands of dollars [is] spent on prizes to incentivize the kids to work hard.”
Custom test prep packets and bribery — is this the way to close the achievement gap?
The anonymous teacher, who says a typical Success Academy work day lasts 11 hours, describes “literally pour[ing] 100 percent of yourself into [test prep] day in and day out.” And just in case teachers are not feeling enough pressure, they receive “daily inspirational emails from principals with a countdown, anecdotes about the importance of state tests, and ever-multiplying plans for ‘getting kids over the finish line’.”
And while Success Academy’s test scores were high, so was another statistic: its teacher turnover rate, which at one point approached 40 percent. Could experiences like the one above be the cause?
Read Ravitch’s entire entry here.
“The new [teacher evaluation] systems will succeed or fail depending on how well they accommodate basic feelings like anxiety and whether they inspire confidence in the teachers they are meant to help,” writes the New York Times editorial board in a piece about how principals and teachers in Chicago are handling their new teacher evaluation program.
The study also suggests that principals desperately need better training in how to help teachers improve. One administrator said of struggling teachers: “There’s 15 things they need to get better at, and so all 15 of them are important, where do I begin?” Another spoke of struggling to find the right ways to reach teachers with markedly different sensibilities. Some do well with the direct approach, he said, but the phrase “this is what you should do” turns others right off.
“The study includes important lessons for the 40 states that are constructing new evaluation systems and especially for large cities that plan to introduce systems similar to Chicago’s” — like New York City.
Read the entire article here.
Shaun Harper, director of the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, released research findings about about the black and Latino male students who succeed in New York City high schools.
Generally, the descriptions of the high school students left cause for optimism. A combination of the right encouragement from parents and teachers makes a difference, the interviews suggest.
Read more at Inside Higher Ed.
For every 100 high school freshmen who enrolled in New York City high school in 2007, 66 graduated on time and only 21 graduated ready to do college-level work. For those unprepared grads who then enrolled in CUNY community colleges, where most non-college-ready students go, just 16 percent got an associate’s degree within three years.
This is the bitter context in which Common Core Learning Standards were launched.
These are also the opening stats in the Center for New York City Affairs’ insightful new report, “Creating College Ready Communities,” which lays out the obstacles high school students must overcome on their way to a life after graduation.
Center researchers spent four years in 14 city schools, and came out with a detailed picture of why college-readiness is such an elusive goal.
Among its findings:
- Most students enter 9th grade reading below standards. In the schools the researchers studied in depth, “struggling readers were the norm.”
- Students appreciated how supportive their teachers were, but a curriculum focused on Regents prep was “boring” for students and teachers. One teacher wrote, “Too much energy is spent on short-term passing — and not enough energy on long-term college planning.”
- Many students don’t focus on college until 11th grade — far too late. There are not enough guidance counselors and college planning programs in the middle schools and early years of high school.
- Courses that lead to college-level work were lacking. Only 28 of the 342 schools reviewed offered Algebra 2, Chemistry and Physics. In 46 schools none of these subjects were offered.
“The next mayor will have to do more. He or she will bear responsibility for a deeper transformation of the system, one that succeeds at providing students at an earlier age with much stronger reading, writing and analytic skills,” the report concludes. “Just as important schools will need to become much more effective at college guidance and life skills training.”
The report offers several recommendations, among them a portfolio assessment process that will reward students beyond a Regents-passing level; a systemwide post-secondary counseling curriculum; and more comprehensive involvement by CUNY.
In this weekend’s New York Times, columnist Joe Nocera explores how teacher preparation programs leave many teachers unprepared for the realities of urban classrooms:
Both [teachers] have undergraduate degrees in elementary education, yet they both recalled how lost they felt when they first stood in front of a classroom. They hadn’t done nearly enough student teaching, they felt, and, in any case, the student teaching they had done hadn’t prepared them to deal with issues, as Edel put it, “like poverty, drugs, crime, and hunger” that she was seeing on a daily basis. Melinda recalls thinking that even the most basic elements of her job — classroom management, organization, lesson planning — were things she had to figure out on her own, after she had begun teaching. When I asked them what they had learned in college, they shouted in unison: theory!
“Shouldn’t teacher education be precisely what the reform movement should be focused on?” asks Nocera.
by Ms. P, special education teacher
On the day I was first hired as a teacher, my principal told me that teaching was a magical profession filled with endless possibilities. I assumed she meant that children were magical little creatures and their minds were sponges ready to be filled up by teachers. While that may be true, she meant something totally different. Her excitement every year was fueled by the “do-over,” or, to be more eloquent, a new beginning. This concept would not make sense to me until I began my second year of teaching. Then it hit me!
Every September since that day, I experience a “New Year’s Eve” type of feeling, where I reflect and resolve. For me it starts with the plan book, blank and full of possibilities. I sit quietly with my book, and compare it to my last year’s book. My mind wanders to the lessons that were small victories for me, and to the bitter defeats that I wished had never happened. It is here, in the stillness of my plan book, that I reflect and forgive myself for the areas of my teaching that may have shortchanged my students. I balance that with the moments where I know I made a positive impact, even if slight.
The plan book presents me with the opportunity to make a new year resolution. What are my intentions for this year? How can I reach more students? Where will these kids allow me to take them? How can I balance academics with character education? Well, this is where I, and many of you are at this moment. If you think about it, it’s the “do-over” that keeps us coming back. No other profession allows for this restart that wipes the slate clean from the past and allows us to learn and move on.
I have incorporated this aspect of my teaching into the classroom as well. In the days ahead, I will ask my students to reflect on the last year they had, and note some areas that were positive, and perhaps some areas where they could have made better choices. From there, we set goals for the current year. It is the awareness of where you have been that allows you access to where you want to go. This gift of reflection and forgiveness is a life skill that is easily transferrable to any aspect of life.
So, to my colleagues, I wish you a “happy new year”! May the magic of the “do-over” empower you to reflect and resolve. Forgive, learn, do better, because our students deserve the endless possibilities you have to offer them!
Ms. P is the pseudonym of a special education teacher in Queens. If you’d like to write for the New Teacher Diaries, email email@example.com.
As I reflect on my career and make my way into my 10th year of teaching, I realize that despite the grueling system that controls the teachers and children of New York City public schools, I will continue to do all I can to build good character and set a strong foundation for our future generation. I am very happy with my classroom and am ready for the challenges this year will provide. I realize that teaching several years and having significant experience never makes it easier to do what I do. Every year brings new children, new circumstances, and an increasingly impossible system to adhere to.
I have compiled a list of all the job titles I hold. I know teachers will definitely agree with this list. Here they are in no particular order: Mom, Dad, interior decorator, nurse, financial planner, psychologist, mediator, babysitter, author, voice-over actress, theatre actress, custodian, construction worker, electrician, magician, singer, artist, college and career planner (yes, in kindergarten and even pre-K, the DOE says we are getting the children college and career ready), analyst, curriculum writer, motivational coach, event planner, pilot (because I take children places they never knew existed and have only dreamed of) and oh yeah, I TEACH.
I am a constant in a child’s life. I am a motivator. I help children reach for the stars. I help parents help their children reach for the stars.
I am a spender. I buy for my classroom and students the same way I buy for my house and relatives. I give my entire being to the children under my care and I am wiped out at the end of each day.
I TEACH. It’s a short word with a hefty responsibility and long definition.
Michelle Glorioso is a pre-kindergarten teacher at PS 216 in Brooklyn.
With this year’s introduction of Common Core-aligned tests, flawed as they were, the city schools enter a new era. The transition will be a game changer that will bring angry reactions by teachers and students, and wider class and racial performance gaps. Student achievement measurement may become discredited for awhile, as an exasperated public throws up its hands in confusion.
Those could be the best things to happen to standardized testing in 10 years.
Achievement plummeted on this first try at new tests. City students scored 20 points lower in ELA and 30 points lower in math, with less than 30 percent of Grade 3-8 students meeting proficiency standards. But the tests set an extremely high bar — probably too high — in what amounted to a premature effort to test students against the new Common Core. Curriculum didn’t start to be available until late in the year and the Dept. of Education didn’t have the leadership required to manage such a dramatic transition.
But there is no going back. The New Common Core tests, which will continue phasing in over the next few years, may get better, especially if current state test-maker Pearson PLC moves out the way. But they will remain harder: they will ask students to do more explaining, analyzing and creating.
And here’s the thing: these are the very skills educators want to teach and have had to forego in favor of test prep. Right now, teachers are out of practice, and so are their students. But these are the skills they want to teach. So they will demand more autonomy, an end to the culture of test prep, more time and resources. As long as the state and city don’t slap ridiculous consequences onto the new scores, students and teachers alike will become less bored and hopefully more engaged.
Harder tests are going to result in widening gaps between better- and less-prepared students. Typically that means racial and wealth gaps, as well as gaps between English proficient and ELL students and between general and special education kids.
These were the gaps that No Child Left Behind set out to eliminate back in 2002. To the extent this succeeded, and it didn’t much, the cost was relentless test prep and/or dumbing down of tests. Now, as the gaps widen on the Common Core tests, parents will be outraged and politicians will distance themselves from the schools. So they should. Bringing poorly prepared students up to standards is the work of brilliant and passionate teaching, which has been forced underground in the NCLB era. Its reemergence can come only if good educators are free to work. They cannot be commandeered by mayors running numbers. A next generation teacher force can only be brought into being by experienced educators who are not ruthlessly tracked by narrow performance monitors.
Accountability and Legacy
The education mayor, the education president. These monikers turned out to be albatrosses around the necks of Michael Bloomberg, George Bush and many others. Their legacy is a culture of measurement, not of learning. Testing has become laden with consequences that the tests themselves were never meant to support, including judgments about schools, teachers, and even “where we are heading as a society.”
One of the best things these new tests could do is force accountability to grow up. The city has overwhelmed us with data that, on close examination, is really the same data points parsed a hundred different ways. What’s more, the numbers appear to lie, or at least, they zing up and down without apparent reason.
Common Core tests could do two things about accountability. The first is to force us to adopt a more rounded assessment of students and schools. The second is to put standardized tests back their rightful, and less overblown, place.
So less than a third of students meet standards. Well, what else do we know? How do students perform on social studies projects, lab work, art and music, sports, leadership activities, group tasks, or community service? What 21st century skills do they have; what ones need to be developed? What are the best models for teaching those skills? What can students tell us about what they do and don’t understand and what helps them learn? And how do we measure those?
There needs to be some opening up — more quantitative data that uses non-numerical measures. We have agreed that more than half of teacher evaluations will be based on observations of classroom performance. Why can’t we assess our students that way?
It would be a relief if tests become more the province of educators. Politicians don’t find scales, cut scores, p values and item analysis inherently sexy. But good measurement requires expert interpretation. If the heat gets turned down under testing, and we all agree it’s complicated, then public attention may return to subjects, to projects, to school activities and to learning.
Of course, there’s another scenario, in which the new tests are simply misused as the old ones were, to pass judgment based on partial evidence, to bash and shame and to claim undeserved legacies. But after a decade of this, teachers and parents, not to mention students, are pretty fed up. Their voices lend hope for a turnaround.