Friday, January 11, 2013

Hopes for the New Year: Begone Ghosts of Reform Past! - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher

Hopes for the New Year: Begone Ghosts of Reform Past! - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher:


Hopes for the New Year: Begone Ghosts of Reform Past!

The first few weeks of 2013 have greeted us like a trip with old Marley revisiting school reforms of the past. In the very first weeks, we have Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst lobby announce letter grades for states based on their adherence to her favorite pillars of reform policies. John Merrow provided us with a reprise of her greatest hits as the head of DC schools, along with some news regarding the cheating that accompanied her regime.
And next the Gates Foundation has provided us with another example of the perils of mixing research with advocacy. Their multi-year, multi-million dollar Measures of Effective Teaching project has once again supported their belief that we can predict which teachers will get the best test scores next year by looking at who got the best test scores this year. The practice of actually observing a teacher to see how "effective" they are does not apparently add much accuracy to the prediction, but they keep it in there nonetheless, perhaps for sentimental reasons. Then we have tossed in a new element - student surveys. And the perfect evaluation is some balanced mixture of these three elements, which will turn VAM lead into gold.
One reformer, Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Foundation, has come right out and admitted what public school 

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