From FairTest's Monty Neill
I have an idea - let's spend $70,000 each on unprepared new college grads, put them in classrooms with low income children, let them incessantly churn (half leave in 2 years, 80% in 3 years) -- all without any meaningful improvement, or no improvement at all, even as measured by the dumb standardized tests. Better idea, let's write it in to federal law and ensure its proponents have powerful policy positions. Then we can model a new principal program on it.
What I really want to know is just how much evidence about the damage caused by testing, the inability of most charters and EMOs and coerced 'turnarounds' to improve education (or even boost test scores), and the inability of TFA-type programs to make a real difference, before policymakers start waking up and changing their minds? Or is it that evidence just does not matter when the ideology is 'right'?
See A New Look at Teach For America here.
From Marty Brooks
Much of this insanity has grown out of the misguided quest to identify high and low (mostly low) performing schools based on a single criterion - test scores. Even worse, scores from state tests that measure very little of importance. The Tri-State Consortium (which I represent) is comprised of 44 "high performing" school districts. However, most of us in the group recognize that there is a difference between a high performing district and a district that serves high performing students. Similarly, there is a difference between a low performing school and a school that serves lower performing (on tests) students. There are many wonderful schools that add great value to the education of their students each and every day, but are classified as low performing schools because of their students' scores on tests. It's grossly unfair to the reputation of the schools, the morale of the people who work in them, the students who are educated in them, and the communities in which they are located.
As much as NCLB helped to create this lunacy, Race to the Top is worsening the situation. Creating a competition for already scarce resources, and basing that competition on a state's level of compliance with a federal agenda that includes actions inherently at odds with meaningful improvement (increased numbers of charter schools, tying evaluation to test scores and then tying pay to evaluation, etc.) will only serve to widen the very gaps the approach purports to reduce. Worse yet, students in "winning" states will receive additional funds for additional services while students in "losing" states will suffer reductions in federal allocations that support needed programs. Since when did it become permissible (or ethical) to use students as pawns in order to force compliance with a federal agenda? And yet states are seeking to climb over each other in order to win the next round of funding.