Friday, November 23, 2012

Grading or Degrading?

Michael Brick, writing in yesterday's N.Y. Times, ("When Grading is Degrading") offers a devastating appraisal of current reform policies which are based increasingly on fostering competition and on grading schools and teachers. Brick takes a look at the situation in Texas, which he calls "nobody’s model for educational excellence", where the state has long used complex algorithms to assign grades of Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable or Unacceptable to its schools.
So far, such competition has achieved little more than re-segregation, long charter school waiting lists and the same anemic international rankings in science, math and literacy we’ve had for years.
Actually Brick is wrong about the "nobody" part. Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, with coaching from Stand For Children's Jonah Edelmanheld up Houston as his model for his imposed longer schools day, making wild, unsubstantiated claims about Texas miracles.

Another brick (sorry!) in the testing wall fell to the ground in PA when federal education officials denied the state's request to evaluate charter school achievement using more lenient criteria, saying they must be assessed by the same standard as traditional schools.

Diane Ravitch finds it "interesting that the announcement was made on the day before the long holiday weekend, which meant that someone decided to bury it."


  1. How about if we agree that we should be using broader forms of assessment with all public schools, district, charter, alternative, magnet? The New York City coalition of schools with folks at Julia Richman in the lead has some great ideas. So do people from EdVisions (a project based, teacher run group of charters). This broader approach is what some of us are trying to promote. Does this make sense to you, Mike?

  2. Joe,
    Of course, broader forms of assessment are preferred over narrow use of standardized testing. But that is only part of the problem. Brick's article also identifies the promotion of high-stakes competition between schools and teachers as the heart of the matter. I agree. I don't think broader assessments or better tests by themselves are the answer to this problem. I'm sure that the educators at Julia Richman and EdVisions don't have such competition in mind. But nevertheless, that is where corporate-style reform takes us.

    As for charter groups in PA trying to find a way out just for themselves, I find this dishonest and repugnant.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.