Should test scores be used AT ALL for teacher evaluation? By Valerie Strauss

Earlier this week a major report was released (pdf) saying that “value-added” formulas based on standardized test scores to evaluate teachers are unreliable and should not be used as a major factor in teacher assessment. “Value-added modeling” has become the new big phrase in the education world. Essentially, it means measures that use test scores… Read more »

Merit Pay or Team Accountability? By Kim Marshall

It’s time to admit that the idea of evaluating and paying individual teachers based on their students’ test scores is a loser. This logical-sounding strategy for improving teaching and learning sinks for multiple reasons: practical (standardized-test results arrive months after teachers are evaluated each spring); psychometric (these tests aren’t valid for one-shot assessments of individual… Read more »

Dear President Obama…Sincerely, Parents Across America

Dear President Obama: Several weeks ago, we wrote to you about our concern that your proposed “Blueprint for Reform” did not acknowledge the critical role parents must play in any meaningful school improvement process. We also expressed our serious reservations about some of the Blueprint’s strategies. Our goal is simple – to ensure that our… Read more »

How ed reformers push the wrong theory of learning. By Marion Brady

In alphabetical order: Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York City. Eli Broad, financier and philanthropist. Jeb Bush, ex-Florida governor and possible 2012 presidential contender. Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education. Bill Gates, business magnate and philanthropist. Joel Klein, chancellor of New York City schools. In education issues, mainstream media sometimes call these gentlemen, “The New… Read more »

Performance Is Not Necessarily Learning By Walt Gardner

Leave it to the British to teach Americans about their common language. A report by the Institute of Education on more than 100 international studies found that obsessing on performance on standardized tests is counterproductive to learning about the subjects evaluated by these tests (“Pupils do better at school if teachers are not fixated on… Read more »

Turning Children Into Data A Skeptic’s Guide to Assessment Programs By Alfie Kohn

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.—Albert Einstein Programs with generic-sounding names that offer techniques for measuring (and raising) student achievement have been sprouting like fungi in a rainforest: “Learning-Focused Schools,” “Curriculum-Based Measurements,” “Professional Learning Communities,” and many others whose names include “data,” “progress,” or “RTI.” Perhaps… Read more »

Checkbook Reform Creates Tough Choices for Teachers By Anthony Cody

Many teachers have long clamored for that precious “seat at the table” where decisions about education policy are made. Once there, we often find the experience less than satisfying, as Teacher of the Year Anthony Mullen related recently. But we have entered the era of checkbook reform, and the Department of Education is spending our… Read more »

This is How a Tipping Point Feels By Anthony Cody

We are accustomed here on this blog, and elsewhere in education policy-land, of discussing education issues as if they were a realm of their own, with Arne Duncan (and maybe Bill Gates) as the biggest players. We debate policies like merit pay and charter schools, and sometimes reference the influence of economic and social factors,… Read more »

Why Common Standards Won’t Work By P.L. Thomas

In 2010, with the blessing and encouragement of the nation’s president and secretary of education, we are establishing “common-core standards” to address the historical claim that our public schools are failures. In the 1890s, a similar lament was voiced by the group known as the Committee of Ten: “When college professors endeavor to teach chemistry,… Read more »

I’ve Worked at Schools on Both Sides Now: Rich and Poor. by Krista Calvin

The first twelve years of my career as a teacher were spent at Clear Creek Elementary School in Central Kitsap School District in Silverdale, Washington. Our school was right next to Bangor Submarine Base. Because most of our families were military, we had a very high mobility rate. Most of my students came from two-parent… Read more »