I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, October 1, 2011

All the Education Opinion That's Fit To Fail

The NY Times attempts education opining. Yeesh:
To qualify for waivers, states will have to install new tests — and teacher evaluation systems that take those test results into account — by the 2014-15 school year. The 12 states that received federal grants in the Race to the Top program last year have a head start. They agreed to put in data-driven teacher evaluation systems as part of that competition. But even reform-minded states like Delaware, which was one of the first to win a grant, have been unable to get their systems up and running and have asked the government for more time. [emphasis mine]
Yes, let's hold up "reform-minded" Delaware as a model:

If that's the model for "reform," you can keep it. The Times continues:
Part of the problem is that in most states, yearly math and reading tests are given only in grades three through eight and once in high school and cover less than half of the teachers. This means that the system must devise other rigorous rating measures for the remaining staff. Another is that the systems must be designed not just to show how much children have improved, but also to provide guidance so that ineffective teachers get better. [emphasis mine]
Bubble tests for PE. How else do you want me to read this?
It seems imprudent to rush the states into bringing these complex new evaluations systems and high-quality tests on line by 2014, given that they will also be expected to adopt new core curriculums.
Yes, it's much better to roll out these "complex new systems" - like this one...

...nice and slowly. Because I'm sure your local school board will be able to figure out what this equation means by staring at it another year or two.

Once again, the mainstream press worships at the alter of the standardized test without taking any time to consider whether it's an appropriate measure of a teacher's effectiveness. The fact that all the experts say it isn't doesn't deter them. The fact that the tests themselves are sloppy and the way they are graded is a joke doesn't deter them. The fact that even if they did work, there is no evidence that gobs of great new teachers are ready to enter the field when we fire all of these allegedly bad teachers doesn't deter them. The fact that they can't show you any evidence that there are significant numbers of bad teachers in the first place doesn't deter them.

Instead of worrying about the timetable for rolling out test-based teacher evaluations, why don't we worry first about whether they actually work? Guess what? They don't.

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