Monday, April 1, 2013

Teach for America critics organizing ‘resistance’ at summit + Atlanta test cheating: Tip of the iceberg?

Atlanta test cheating: Tip of the iceberg?:

Atlanta test cheating: Tip of the iceberg?

Iceberg near Greenland (By Bob Strong/Reuters)
Iceberg near Greenland. (By Bob Strong/Reuters)
It would be easy to think that the Atlanta cheating scandal by adults on standardized tests is the worst we have seen, given last week’s startling indictment against former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 others under a law used against mobsters.
But you shouldn’t.
In the past four academic years, test cheating has been confirmed in 37 states and Washington D.C. (You can see details here, and, here, a list of more than 50 ways that schools can manipulate test scores.)  The true extent of these scandals remain unknown, and, as Michael Winerip of The New York Times shows here in this excellent article, it is very hard to get to the bottom of these scandals. In Atlanta, it took the will of two governors who allowed investigators to go in with a lot of time and subpoena power.
Atlanta, in fact, is the tip of a national test-score manipulation “iceberg,” according to Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the misuse of standardized tests. The cause? Pressure by politicians on educators to boost standardized exam results “by hook or by crook” to meet the requirements of laws that purport to promote student achievement but

Teach for America critics organizing ‘resistance’ at summit

teaA group of Teach for America alumni and students of TFA teachers who are critical of the organization are holding a summit this summer in an effort to organize against the organization that is popular with school reformers.
Teach for America recruits new college graduates, gives them five weeks of summer training and then places them in some of America’s neediest urban and rural schools as teachers, under the assumption that five weeks is enough to turn out an effective teacher. It asks that its recruits commit to two years in the classroom.
Critics says that high-needs students, who are the ones who get TFA teachers, are the children who most need veteran teachers. In fact, some veterans are now losing their jobs to TFA corps members, because TFAers are less expensive to hire, and some school teaching communities are becoming less cohesive because TFA members promise only to stay for two years and leave teaching at a greater rate than traditionally trained teachers. School reformers love the program, and the Obama administration has awarded it tens of millions of dollars, despite a lack of independent research showing that its teachers are largely effective.
Increasingly, former TFA corps members have been speaking up about problems with the program, such as in this post, in which one ex-TFAer argues that it is time for the