Sunday, August 21, 2016

Will Tom Toch Ever Find a Reform Bad Enough to Abandon? - Living in Dialogue

Will Tom Toch Ever Find a Reform Bad Enough to Abandon? - Living in Dialogue:

Will Tom Toch Ever Find a Reform Bad Enough to Abandon? 

By John Thompson.
In 2008, Tom Toch’s “Rush to Judgment” reviewed science-based alternatives to value-added teacher evaluations. Toch explained that the District of Columbia’s test-heavy IMPACT teacher evaluation system cost $1000 per teacher. For that price, we could have invested in proven, win-win alternatives such as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification, the Toledo peer review plan, or Robert Pianta’s holistic approach to professional development. The United States spent $500 billion dollars a year on education, and a $3 billion investment in better teacher evaluations should have been seen in the context of the $14 billion dollars of annual spending on professional development, which was often ineffective. Toch observed that some would like to use standardized test results in evaluations, but that those scores “aren’t great measures.” Then, in a sentence that seemed inexplicable after such an overview, he called for test scores to count for as much as 50% in teacher evaluations.
This was the time when corporate reformers took the opportunity to push their entire competition-driven model on the nation, and when Toch was involved in an even more confusing case of wordsmithing. Educational consultant Marc Dean Millot wrote in This Week in Education about Toch’s “Sweating the Big Stuff: A Progress Report on the Movement to Scale Up the Nation’s Best Charter Schools.”
Based on interviews with CMO insiders, publicly available data, and his own analysis, Toch presents a compelling indictment of the “new philanthropy’s” primary investment strategy for education reform. His arguments should be available to all and addressed on the merits. Instead, someone at EdSector hacked away at Toch’s evidence until it fit the rhetoric of CMO advocates.
My take on the paper’s confusing conclusion on the scaling up of charter schools was to emphasize the contradictions inherent in Toch’s paper:
But Toch then writes “the research for a report on CMOs that I’ve produced for the think tank Education Sector reveals that many of these organizations are going to be hard-pressed to deliver the many schools that Duncan wants from them.” … Toch describes “four dozen charter networks’ opening about 350 schools with some 100,000 seats over the past decade. This is a long ways fromthe 5,000 failing public schools. …” (emphasis mine)
Toch further wrote,
CMOs increasingly face the challenge of either paying their teachers more as they gain seniority, or churning through teachers and making it tougher to sustain their schools’ powerful cultures.
student attrition is high in CMO schools, fueled by higher standards, long hours, and transient families. A study of four San Francisco Bay Area KIPP middle schools found that 60 percent of entering students departed before graduating. The loss of revenue from so many departing students is devastating, but the price of bringing in replacement students is also high.
In retrospect, reading these two papers in tandem provides an insight into why the Duncan administration Will Tom Toch Ever Find a Reform Bad Enough to Abandon? - Living in Dialogue: