Saturday, January 28, 2017

Famed researcher Linda Darling-Hammond on the future of New York education — and what she makes of Betsy DeVos | Chalkbeat

Famed researcher Linda Darling-Hammond on the future of New York education — and what she makes of Betsy DeVos | Chalkbeat:

Famed researcher Linda Darling-Hammond on the future of New York education — and what she makes of Betsy DeVos

New York could be on the cusp of “serious changes” to education policy — if the state takes the plunge, according to Linda Darling-Hammond, one of nation’s most influential education researchers.
Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor emeritus, served as director of President Obama’s education policy transition team and was rumored as a choice for U.S. education secretary under Obama and New York City schools chancellor under Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Now she runs the Learning Policy Institute, an education think tank that is helping a number of states, including New York, implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, passed in 2015.
Darling-Hammond has argued that it’s not just students who should be held to rigorous standards. So should teachers, schools, districts and states. The education system must provide students the “opportunity to learn,” she says, and ensure families that schools have enough support.
“They need for you to be able to improve things, not just to measure them,” she told Chalkbeat in an interview this week.
ESSA could allow states to do that in a new way, she said. While No Child Left Behind focused tightly on outcomes such as test scores, ESSA gives states more flexibility to consider “inputs,” such as how much money is spent on each student, as they evaluate schools and figure out how to help them.
New York officials have not yet committed to a plan, but they’ve hinted that equity — in terms of resources, curriculum, and learning outcomes — could be a central focus.
So what exactly would that look like? We talked to Darling-Hammond, one of several experts working with the state, to figure out how New York could use the federal law to measure and promote equity.
Below is a transcript of the interview, which has been condensed and edited for clarity.
What is your take on Trump’s education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos and how she could shift the direction of federal education policy?
The way ESSA was written, it outlines an important federal role, it outlines a state role. It actually prohibits the secretary of education from making a whole set of decisions that are outlined, so regardless of what administration is in Washington, the law really limits the extent of federal involvement.
My suspicion is that states will be able to continue to implement the policies that they were aiming at before. The way the law was drafted, states have a lot of room, within certain parameters, to make their decisions. It’s hard to imagine that changing very much.
Some argue that her nomination changes the political landscape in education. Do you think the battle lines have been redrawn?
I just haven’t really studied what her views are, so I don’t know enough to know whether she falls in a particular camp or what her views on all those issues are … We know that she’s involved in [vouchers and school choice], but I don’t know her views about testing or her views about teachers. So it will be interesting, in a way, because she isn’t someone who’s been involved in the education profession. Probably there are many things that we don’t know her views about, and maybe she has not even yet formulated views on everything.
How much change does ESSA enable? When the dust settles here in New York — even if officials want to make radical change — will we end up with a system that looks similar to No Child Left Behind?
I think ESSA really does enable some serious changes. If a state really wants to develop a plan that looks a lot like No Child Left Behind, they could do that, but if they wanted to think more broadly about accountability measures that include both outcomes for students and learning opportunities that schools provide, they can do that. If a state wants to really evolve the kind of assessments that it uses, they can do that … And if a state wants to really make investments — and more equitable investments — in schools, there are several parts of the law that encourage and allow that to happen as well.
New York officials brought up the idea of creating “equity indicators” at the last Board of Regents meeting. What does that mean?
It could mean being very explicit and attentive to the requirements of the law that require publicizing the spending of different schools, which would highlight where there are adequate resources and where there may be inadequate resources.
The state could use indicators that are equity-oriented that illustrate, for example, Famed researcher Linda Darling-Hammond on the future of New York education — and what she makes of Betsy DeVos | Chalkbeat:

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