Reclaim Reform Review
22 Thursday May 2014
22 Thursday May 2014
22 Thursday May 2014
“David Greene has written an honest and courageous book that tells the truth about teaching today. Those who teach, those who want to teach, and those who appreciate good teachers will enjoy reading it.”
– Diane Ravitch.
“I need a book like this to keep me going. David Greene describes, explains and persuades us that it’s still possible to create great school experiences that matter. At long last, after a generation or two, we’re hearing again from classroom teachers about what it means to stick to it and thus learn the job over the many year it takes. David Greene writes wonderfully about his discoveries in a way that both teaches and entertains. It will enlighten parents, teachers, and would-be policy makers.”
– Deborah Meier-.
“Dave Greene, one of the best teachers I have ever met, has written the most useful book about teaching I have read in the last ten years. Dave, who taught and coached at the Bronx’s, Adlai Stevenson High School, before he moved to do the same at Woodlands and Scarsdale High Schools, has unparalleled experience as a program developer and teacher educator as well, having been involved in the WISE Program for high school seniors, and having mentored Teacher for America Corps members at Fordham University. When you add to this his role in founding the Save Our Schools movement, you can see what a depth of knowledge Dave can draw upon.
This book has incredible chapters on theories of pedagogy, what makes the best teachers effective, and how effective assessment is a logical outcome of the accumulated knowledge of our best teachers and administrators. Dave tears up the latest fashions in education reform, showing their unfortunate resemblance to Frederick Taylor’s models of factory administration and has a brilliant critique of Teach For America’s approach to teacher training and pedagogy based on his extensive experience working with TFA corps members in inner city schools.
You will come away from reading this book enraged at the powerful forces reshaping public education, but you will better understand what makes a better teacher. This my friends, is an unbeatable combination.”
– Mark D Naison
“Doing the Right Thing is quite a collection of nimble, poignant proposals and stories that will strike a chord with educators, students, and parents. Pulsing with brilliance, David Greene carefully comments on the issues that will define the battles over school reform in America.”
“Dave Greene unravels education reform with the sharp eye of a lifelong educator. And from the threads of his own experiences he weaves a guide for anyone who wants to understand what makes a classroom work. Greene has worked in tough schools and knows what works. His experiences as a mentor for Teach For America corps members are revealing. School reform would look very different if we listened to real experts like Dave Greene.”
– Anthony Cody
“David Greene has captured the most important aspects of the most important profession.”
– Harry Phillips, Regent, University of the State of New York
“David Greene is an experienced educator who cares deeply about our children and the schools in which they learn. A fresh, reasoned perspective on education. This book is worth reading! “
-Peg Tyre, author of the Good School
“Dave Greene’s book slams educational policy gone awry with boots-on-the-ground realism. He captures the reader from the onset with page-turning directness, gripping exemplars, clarity mixed with his unabashed writing style that holds nothing back, rich description and research, that blends data with his lifelong experiences in education. This book is a powerful read. Dave challenges the rhetoric on educational policy and debunks reform measures that tout testing, alternative pathways to the classroom, particularly, Teach For America, and a business model and comes off as a blend of investigative reporter, seasoned academic, and outraged citizen.”
-Dr. Barbara Torre Veltri, Assistant Professor,Northern Arizona University. Recipient of 2011 Research and Creative Activity Award: “Most Significant Scholarly Work” from Northern Arizona University For the book: Learning on Other People’s Kids: Becoming a Teach For America Teacher (Information Age Publishers, 2010).
“David Greene offers a brilliant and honest composite collection of the various issues emerging from corporate education reform’s encroachment upon the teaching profession and our public education system; a composite which diverges where and when necessary to honor the complexities of teaching and learning, while holding together a central theme grounded in what matters most, as the prophetic first sentence in his first chapter states, “Let’s start with kids.” Greene deftly blends together theory and practice, past and present, problems and alternatives, research and wisdom, statistics with personal narrative, and humor and pain. The power of this book lies with its unflinching challenge to the rhetoric posed by corporate models of reform such as Teach For America, and charts a vision for change which we all must heed so that we do not, as Greene writes in his final closing words, “kiss our future goodbye.”
– Morna McDermott McNulty. Associate Professor, College of Education Towson University
“The so-called education reformers should read this book and find out what a REAL education reformer knows. Dave Greene has laid out a prescription for reforming our education system using tried and true values of supporting and respecting teachers and the teaching profession. His passions for teaching and extensive classroom experience are in abundant display here. Teachers will find this book to be a breath of fresh air because here is someone who really understands them and knows how to make their classrooms exciting places for children to grown and learn.”
– Gary Axelbank. Host of BronxTalk, the Bronx’ flagship TV talk show
“Just got your book based on Diane Ravitch’s recommendation. Loved it. The chapter on TFA is perfect. I’ve been teaching in LA for 30 years. I got my first Masters during my third year of teaching. My thesis was written about how and why TFA was wrong. Wrong on so many levels. I saw it with my own eyes. 1990, South Central LA. Our school received a large group of TFA teachers. I experienced much of what you describe in chapter 2 of your book. I had always wanted to be a teacher, majored in Education at Boston University (where I got an outstanding preparation for life in the classroom), then moved to LA where I began teaching at 22. 30 years later, my MD always remarks that she doesn’t have a patient who has consistently loved their job as much as I do. I have a Masters in Administration, but find that I am happiest in the classroom.
Your book resonated with me. I just bought three more copies to give to friends/colleagues.”
22 Thursday May 2014
This past week’s ( 5/15/14) NYT magazine had a fascinating article on college dropouts by Paul Tough. However I raise the question, if it works in college… why wait?
“There are thousands of students like Vanessa at the University of Texas, and millions like her throughout the country — high-achieving students from low-income families who want desperately to earn a four-year degree but who run into trouble along the way. Many are derailed before they ever set foot on a campus, tripped up by complicated financial-aid forms or held back by the powerful tug of family obligations. Some don’t know how to choose the right college, so they drift into a mediocre school that produces more dropouts than graduates. Many are overwhelmed by expenses or take on too many loans. And some do what Vanessa was on the verge of doing: They get to a good college and encounter what should be a minor obstacle, and they freak out. They don’t want to ask for help, or they don’t know how. Things spiral, and before they know it, they’re back at home, resentful, demoralized and in debt.
When you look at the national statistics on college graduation rates, there are two big trends that stand out right away. The first is that there are a whole lot of students who make it to college — who show up on campus and enroll in classes — but never get their degrees. More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years. If you include community-college students in the tabulation, the dropout rate is more than half, worse than any other country except Hungary.
The second trend is that whether a student graduates or not seems to depend today almost entirely on just one factor — how much money his or her parents make. To put it in blunt terms: Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t. Or to put it more statistically: About a quarter of college freshmen born into the bottom half of the income distribution will manage to collect a bachelor’s degree by age 24, while almost 90 percent of freshmen born into families in the top income quartile will go on to finish their degree.”
How do we solve this?
David Laude, at the University of Texas, Austin has found a way. It isn’t rocket science.
“If you want to help low-income students succeed, it’s not enough to deal with their academic and financial obstacles. You also need to address their doubts and misconceptions and fears. To solve the problem of college completion, you first need to get inside the mind of a college student.”
“[Laude] was a lousy college student. As a freshman at the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tenn., Laude felt bewildered and out of place, the son of a working-class, Italian-American family from Modesto, Calif., trying to find his way at a college steeped in Southern tradition, where students joined secret societies and wore academic gowns to class. “It was a massive culture shock,” Laude told me. “I was completely at a loss on how to fit in socially. And I was tremendously bad at studying. Everything was just overwhelming.” He spent most of his freshman year on the brink of dropping out.
But he didn’t drop out. He figured out college, then he figured out chemistry, then he got really good at both, until he wound up, 20 years later, a tenured professor at U.T. teaching Chemistry 301, the same introductory course in which he got a C as a freshman in Sewanee. Perhaps because of his own precarious college experience, Laude paid special attention as a professor to how students were doing in his class.”
Often, it takes one to know one. Those who came from similar backgrounds, regardless of race, who found the “secrets” to success in college and will go out of their way to share them with students, can make a huge difference. Add research and wrap around services and the results can be very impressive. Then it becomes time for those new successful students to pay forward from their experiences. They need to go back and become teachers in public schools.
“Rather than dumb down the curriculum for them, Laude insisted that they master exactly the same challenging material” as other students. “He supplemented his lectures with a variety of strategies: He offered [these] students two hours each week of extra instruction; he assigned them advisers who kept in close contact with them and intervened if the students ran into trouble or fell behind; he found upperclassmen to work with them one on one, as peer mentors. And he did everything he could, both in his lectures and outside the classroom, to convey to [them] a new sense of identity: They weren’t subpar students who needed help; they were part of a community of high-achieving scholars.”
When he received the opportunity to do this University wide, he made sure his cadre received: “small classes, peer mentoring, extra tutoring help, engaged faculty advisers and community-building exercises.”
Laude teamed with another UT instructor, David Yeager, to create a successful program.
“Leading researchers like Carol Dweck, Claude Steele and Hazel Markus were using experimental methods to delve into the experience of students from early childhood all the way through college. To the extent that the Stanford researchers shared a unifying vision, it was the belief that students were often blocked from living up to their potential by the presence of certain fears and anxieties and doubts about their ability. These feelings were especially virulent at moments of educational transition — like the freshman year of high school or the freshman year of college. And they seemed to be particularly debilitating among members of groups that felt themselves to be under some special threat or scrutiny: women in engineering programs, first-generation college students, African-Americans in the Ivy League.”
“Many students…when they experienced cues that might suggest that they weren’t smart or academically able — a bad grade on a test, for instance — they would often interpret those as a sign that they could never succeed. Doubts about belonging and doubts about ability often fed on each other, and together they created a sense of helplessness. That helplessness dissuaded students from taking any steps to change things. Why study if I can’t get smarter?”
“Before long, the nagging doubts became self-fulfilling prophecies.”
HELLO? IN HOW MANY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS HAVE WE SEEN THIS EXACT SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY?
Some ideas that have worked:
“Messages were also more effective if they were delivered in a way that allowed the recipients a sense of autonomy.”
As in EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING.
“[S]elf-persuasion”: if students watch a video or read an essay with a particular message and then write their own essay or make their own video to persuade future students, they internalize the message more deeply.”
As in JOURNAL WRITING.
“[F]irst-year students read brief essays by upperclassmen recalling their own experiences as freshmen. The upperclassmen conveyed in their own words a simple message about belonging: “When I got here, I thought I was the only one who felt left out. But then I found out that everyone feels that way at first, and everyone gets over it. I got over it, too.” After reading the essays, the students in the experiment then wrote their own essays and made videos for future students, echoing the same message. The whole intervention took no more than an hour. It had no apparent effect on the white students who took part in the experiment. But it had a transformative effect on the college careers of the African-American students in the study: Compared with a control group, the experiment tripled the percentage of black students who earned G.P.A.s in the top quarter of their class, and it cut in half the black-white achievement gap in G.P.A. It even had an impact on the students’ health — the black students who received the belonging message had significantly fewer doctor visits three years after the intervention.”
Proof that you don’t have to and shouldn’t wait until college. This was done in 9th grade:
“Students read scientific articles and testimonials from older students with another simple message: People change. If someone is being mean to you or excluding you, the essays explained, it was most likely a temporary thing; it wasn’t because of any permanent trait in him or you. Yeager chose ninth grade because it is well known as a particularly bad time for the onset of depression — generally, depression rates double over the transition to high school. Among the group who had received the message that people change, though, there was no significant increase in depressive symptoms. The intervention didn’t cure anyone’s depression, in other words, but it did stop the appearance of depressive symptoms during a traditionally depressive period.”
Imagine if this was done in conjunction with MENTOR.
During the past two decades, a trend “emerged: American higher education became more stratified; most well-off students now do very well in college, and most middle- and low-income students struggle to complete a degree.”
To reverse this “will take some sustained work, on a national level, on a number of fronts. But a big part of the solution lies at colleges like the University of Texas at Austin, selective but not super elite, that are able to perform, on a large scale, what used to be a central mission — arguably the central mission — of American universities: to take large numbers of highly motivated working-class teenagers and give them the tools they need to become successful professionals. The U.T. experiment reminds us that that process isn’t easy; it never has been. But it also reminds us that it is possible.”
So why wait for college?
What if we did these exact things in public schools?
What if high schools all across the nation allowed all of their students to learn experientially with a mentor at their side to gain the confidence necessary to succeed in college?
What if the new wave of successful poor and minority college graduates went back to their communities and used these same tactics as permanent (not transient TFA) K-12 teachers?
Perhaps if those happened, universities like UT Austin wouldn’t have the problem anymore and people like David Laude can go back to teaching.
15 Thursday May 2014
This is not surprising. The numbers, however, are shocking. Is it any wonder that they have so much power that they own everything lock, stock, and barrel and as a result can buy the American Education System?
“The American dream is not just a yearning for affluence…but also for the chance to overcome barriers and social class, to become the best that we can be.”
We must fight against income equality and allow the American Dream to stand as an achievable goal for many.
We have come along way since the phrase was first coined by historian James Truslow Adams in 1931, but even with the diminished power of the 1% we still must work towards enfranchising those in our nation who have had little opportunity in the past.
13 Tuesday May 2014
I love to read the NY Times in the morning. Do not think of that simple sentence as a total endorsement. It can sometimes be like loving the smell of Napalm in the morning. BOOM! This morning was such an occasion, although it did not smell like victory.
Anyway back to why I spit up my coffee this time. (What a waste of good coffee.) Tuesday is a sort of science day for the Times when, from time to time, someone writes about wellness. The Headline on the article cut out of the paper by my wife, (a practicing psychologist for decades) read “Exercise The Mind To Treat Attention Deficits”. A good source for her, thought I, and I started to read. As I often work with schools that have a larger than understood percentage of students (by far male) who have been diagnosed, I felt it a good read for me as well. I also have to work with many many adults who seem to have undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder (the adult version of ADHD…Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) so I thought I’d get some useful tips.
Here is the enticing lede:
“Which will it be — the berries or the chocolate dessert? Homework or the Xbox? Finish that memo, or roam Facebook?
Such quotidian decisions test a mental ability called cognitive control, the capacity to maintain focus on an important choice while ignoring other impulses. Poor planning, wandering attention and trouble inhibiting impulses all signify lapses in cognitive control. Now a growing stream of research suggests that strengthening this mental muscle, usually with exercises in so-called mindfulness, may help children and adults cope with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and its adult equivalent, attention deficit disorder.
The studies come amid growing disenchantment with the first-line treatment for these conditions: drugs.”
This is something I have read a lot on and have have believed for quite a while after witnessing so many over diagnosed and over drugged students over the last 18 years of my 38 year career in teaching, so I read on.
“In 2007, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, published a study finding that the incidence of A.D.H.D. among teenagers in Finland, along with difficulties in cognitive functioning and related emotional disorders like depression, were virtually identical to rates among teenagers in the United States. The real difference? Most adolescents with A.D.H.D. in the United States were taking medication; most in Finland were not.
‘It raises questions about using medication as a first line of treatment,’ said Susan Smalley, a behavior geneticist at U.C.L.A. and the lead author.”
Most in Finland were not! I have read a few things about Finnish education, notably Pasi Sahlberg’s “Finnish Lesson” so I knew that there is a systematic approach in their education system that lowers the diagnoses and drug treatment for ADHD among their adolescent population. Each student starts formal school at the age of 7 and receives what we in the U.S. would call an I.E.P. – – Individualized Education Program (not a drug or a treatment called Intravenous Exorcistic Pemoline). however, in the U.S. an I.E.P. is only used for those students already diagnosed with some kind of learning disability. Every Finnish student at receives his or her own I.E.P. after initial diagnostics to see how they learn best and therefore what areas with which they would need more assistance. In some cases, that would be what this article calls:
“mindfulness: teaching people to monitor their thoughts and feelings without judgments or other reactivity. Rather than simply being carried away from a chosen focus, they notice that their attention has wandered, and renew their concentration.”
For the most part the article discusses the benefit of this technique plus Cognitive Therapy over the use of drugs that in adolescents and adults seem to lose effectiveness after three years, especially since many students “outgrow” the hyperactivity part of ADHD by age 20.
The problem as I see it is that it doesn’t address the issue that the reference to Finland would lead one to address, that is that there is a much lower rate of ADHD among adolescents period. Why, one would ask? Could it be the system? Could it be the IEPs all students get with the wrap around assistance to develop coping mechanisms like the use of “Mental Muscle”?
Excuse me while I wipe up the coffee. I must have gotten… oh look a squirrel…distracted!
For the full NYT story: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/12/exercising-the-mind-to-treat-attention-deficits/?_php=true&_type=blogs&action=click&module=Search®ion=searchResults&mabReward=relbias%3Ar&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry959%23%2Fmental+muscle&_r=0
12 Monday May 2014
Excerpts from http://www.lohud.com/story/news/education/2014/05/10/common-core-derailed-ny-standards/8918925/
“Our standards were carefully and thoughtfully created, with educators involved, and should have survived,” said Susan Polos, librarian at Mount Kisco Elementary School in the Bedford district, who served on the ELA committee. “People should know what we did.”
ITALICS AND BOLD ARE MINE. SOME SHUFFLING OF PARAGRAPHS TOO… BUT THE ARTICLE STANDS AS PROOF OF WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN!
See how the Common Core compares to New York’s Lost Standards
In early 2008, before education policy became a blood sport in New York, Vice Chancellor Merryl Tisch called a lunch at the Harvard Club with Saul Cohen, a fellow member of the state Board of Regents. Saul is a very progressive educator.
New York needed to write new educational standards, and Cohen, had agreed to lead the project. He brought the man he had chosen to direct the work, veteran educator Walter Sullivan.
“We left excited,” Sullivan said. “We were going to try to do something special.”
Over two years, with little fanfare, Cohen and Sullivan led a team of New York educators who created what may have been the country’s best standards for English/language arts and English as a second language. They were set to do the same for other subjects.
Then the project was killed.
The Board of Regents decided in 2010 to put its money instead on the Common Core, national standards that 45 states adopted in a flash. The Great Recession had punctured state budgets, and the Obama administration was dangling Race to the Top grants to states that committed to Common Core and other reforms.
It worked: New York was awarded $700 million in federal cash to pay for shiny, new fake reform.
“The board grabbed the money from ‘race to the bottom’ and tossed out all the work we had done,” said Cohen, a former president of Queens College who served as an at-large regent from 1993 until 2010. “I was very upset, because the national standards weren’t as good. Now we have this mess.”
This is the untold story of New York’s “lost standards.”
It’s a revealing corner of state history because Cohen’s project, officially the Regents Standards Review and Revision Initiative, anticipated many of the Common Core’s primary goals. The educators involved also hashed out issues that have inspired raucous debate across New York as the state has rolled out Common Core.
The lost ELA standards, unlike Common Core, emphasized literature, changing technologies and prekindergarten. One priority was to make the standards useful to teachers, while another was to help schools meet the needs of students with limited English proficiency and learning challenges.
Cohen’s people wanted to avoid dependence on standardized tests and even discussed making their standards optional for top-performing districts. Neither issue was resolved before the plug got pulled.
“It was a healthy, democratic approach to a mega-project,” said Estée Lopez, then director of bilingual education for the New Rochelle schools, who led efforts to address English proficiency in the new standards. “We did not only create standards. We wanted to create the conditions for new standards to work.”
A fresh start
Cohen and Sullivan put together teams of teachers, administrators and professors to get to work. They also signed up the nation’s top experts on standards . Funding for the project was $300,000 — a relative pittance.
Sullivan, director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Leadership at the College of New Rochelle, wanted teachers and parent advocates to support his team’s work, so he sought opinions and feedback. His steering committee held six public forums around the state and collected the views of 1,000 people.
“The Common Core was developed behind closed doors, but our New York standards were the work of extraordinary teachers and educators from the local level,” said Bonne August, provost of New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn, who co-chaired a committee that worked on the ELA/ESL standards. “We did things the right way, so teachers would buy in. Teachers are frustrated by the Common Core because they don’t see themselves in it.”
The project settled on several priorities that would become linchpins of Common Core: connecting K-12 studies to preparation for college and work; stressing “real life” applications of subject matter; focusing on informational, nonfiction reading; and emphasizing the need to promote reading and writing in all classes, not just English. New York’s initiative covered other prescient bases, from creating standards for prekindergarten to highlighting the need for students to be able to adapt to changing technologies.
But the New York effort also took several paths that the creators of Common Core would not follow. The project, for instance, created new standards to define the central role of literature. Many Common Core critics lament its emphasis on nonfiction.
“We know that in real world situations, when people have great joy or great sorrow, they don’t read informational texts. They read literature, whether it’s the Bible or poetry,” said John Harmon, retired humanities coordinator for the Skaneateles schools outside Syracuse, who co-chaired the ELA/ESL committee. “We did not ignore informational texts, but took a more balanced approach.”
Because of New York’s diversity, the standards project also prioritized the needs of English-language learners. Teachers devised step-by-step strategies to assist students with various levels of English proficiency. By contrast, school districts that have many students with limited English ability say they do not have the support or materials to contend with Common Core.
Focus on teachers:
A prime concern of the educators was that teachers be comfortable using the standards.
Cohen also pushed the radical notion that perhaps the top 15 percent of school districts be given a choice whether to adopt the standards. And he hoped the lowest-performing 10 percent to 15 percent of students would be given extra support to reach the standards.
“Strong standards make sense, but you can’t just drop them on everyone the same way,” he said.
Perhaps the biggest issue left unresolved was testing. The New York group wanted to use multiple methods, not just standardized testing, to measure student progress.
“We wanted to leave a lot of decisions to school districts,” Cohen said.
Michael Kamil, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, headed a team of researchers who informed and reviewed the standards project. He was later on the writing team for Common Core, but he said the New York effort was better.
“We were on the road to a far superior, more complete set of standards,” he said. “A lot of things went beyond the Common Core — the focus on technology, deciding what to do for English language learners. Separating standards for literature was a major breakthrough.”
Kamil, though, thinks New York ultimately would have used standardized tests, since alternative methods of assessment are too inefficient. And he thinks Common Core correctly increased academic rigor — a key point of national debate today. He has obviously been turned.
Sullivan, though, is among those who think Common Core went too far, producing standards for young children that are developmentally inappropriate.
“Little kids have to internalize too much, too fast,” he said.
On Dec. 15, 2009, Cohen’s team presented its ELA work to the full Board of Regents and received nothing but kudos.
“I remember Merryl Tisch seeing us and saying, ‘Brilliant, it’s brilliant,’ ” August said.
But the ground had shifted beneath them.
Tisch had just become chancellor, head of the Regents. Longtime Education Commissioner Richard Mills, who was uninvolved in the standards work, had retired months before. He was replaced by David Steiner and Deputy Commissioner John King, advocates for a new series of education reforms, including the nascent Common Core.
The state also was looking at a $3 billion post-recession deficit. Many agreed that New York should aggressively seek federal Race to the Top money. State officials thought they had no shot without signing up for Common Core.
Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said at a recent forum that when New York did not win a grant during the first round of competition, “We were lambasted every single day.” At a recent parent forum, she admitted the NYS Legislature blew this and went for the $$$.
At the same meeting in which Cohen’s team presented its work, the Regents created a timeline for adopting Common Core. Cohen’s initiative was quietly put “on pause.” Tisch, who is still chancellor, said the work of Cohen’s team was “fantastic” and laid the groundwork for New York’s adoption of Common Core.
New York was awarded its Race to the Top grant in 2010 and started quickly rolling out a series of reforms — including Common Core, new tests and a new teacher-evaluation system — that are now hotly debated. New York’s homegrown standards, meanwhile, were shelved without most parents and teachers knowing they had been created.
WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE? BURIED!!!
05 Monday May 2014
It has been a while since I posted as I am working hard on coordinating the Taking Back OUR Schools NY METRO Rally in NYC on May 17. But with that in mind I thought it would be good to follow those posts up with a segment from my book regarding BAD EDUCATION POLICY.
“Both No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have made standardized testing not only the single most important assessment of student ability, but also of teacher ability:
‘What supporters of this measure and even most of its critics miss, however, is the debilitating effect of standardized testing on teachers. In the same way that teaching to the test requires less critical thinking by students, teachers need not engage in critical thinking in order to teach this material. In fact, teachers are actually being discouraged from thinking for themselves. As curricula standardize around high-stakes exams, teachers become, in essence, educational delivery systems rather than skilled professionals.’ [Is Jonathan Rees of the University of Southern Colorado calling teachers the new conveyor belt?]
Consider the example of Edison Schools, Inc., [a decade and a half ago] the largest private company running public schools in the United States. Edison likes to measure its performance through state-standardized test scores. For this reason, their curricula are highly standardized (75 percent is determined by the company and 25 percent by local authorities). One Edison teacher told a reporter for Teacher Magazine that ‘independent-minded’ teachers might not be cut out to work for Edison. ‘The program is too rigid,’ she says. This is one reason that a ‘very high percentage’ of Edison teachers are at ‘the beginning stages of their careers.’ (Cookson, 2000)
I wholeheartedly agree with Professor Rees’ conclusion.
“If teachers cannot choose methods and topics that engage both them and their students, education will suffer. The reason for this is that contrary to the assumptions of standardized test advocates, education is not an ordinary commodity. It cannot accurately be measured in discreet units. Thus, it defies numerical measurement. Furthermore, there is no one best way to teach anything. Different content and different methods will work for different teachers in different settings. Destroying teacher prerogatives by introducing evaluation methods akin to scientific management will inevitably hurt production rather than help it along.” (Rees 2001)
05 Monday May 2014
Come and bring your families, your friends, and your colleagues to NYC on May 17th to show the world how we are “TAKING BACK OUR SCHOOLS” from corporate “reformers”.
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