Recently The Cleveland Plain Dealer and StateImpact Ohio pulled a little PR stunt by publishing teachers names and “value-added” scores. They also made an amateurish attempt to mask this unethical report by also pointing out some of the flaws of using the data to evaluate teachers. Then, after saying it was wrong and inaccurate, they published anyway. I guess competent reporting takes a back seat to tabloid-like, website hit generating drama.
Listing teachers as effective or ineffective based on narrow tests not designed to be used for this purpose is a disservice to everyone. Trained educators can use a student’s value-added data, along with other student data, to improve student instruction. But you should never promote a simplistic and inaccurate view of value-added scores as a valid basis for high-stakes decisions on schools, teachers and students – even if Ohio legislators have gone down that misguided road.
ALEC, which stands for American Legislative Exchange Council, is the most influential corporate-funded political force operating in America today, one that has worked to dilute collective bargaining rights and privatize public education. Yet ALEC is more or less unknown in teacher circles. ALEC creates legislation for elected officials to introduce in their states as their own brainchildren. ALEC’s strategy: “spread the unions thin ‘by playing offense’ with decoy legislation.” Spreading the unions thin has resulted in radical changes to classroom teachers’ everyday lives.
Yesterday CNN’s blog, Schools of Thought, posted a story on teacher evaluations entitled, “Ohio links teacher pay to test scores.“ While not categorically untrue, this blog seriously misleads by simplification. The writer suggests that teacher evaluation legislation is sudden and …
Unfortunately my enjoyment of spring is not all that it should be. It’s not reduced by bad weather or a stuffy head. It’s not reduced by something that occurs naturally, like rag weed or pollen. There’s something unnatural that creeps into my life every spring, ruining my mood on perfectly good spring days. That something is standardized testing.
The resulting news story appears to be intended to be alarmist, implying that cheating is rampant in our schools. It is fortunate that the journalists in Ohio at least have restrained from reporting the names of the specific schools flagged, since suspicions would have been unfairly cast on hundreds of improperly flagged schools. The irregularities in such schools likely arose simply because there was a large change in the actual students taking the test from year to year.
“Why is Congress Redlining Our Schools?” is Linda Darling-Hammond’s incisive piece on No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and the marginalization of our poorest children in the Nation (www.thenation.com) magazine’s most recent issue. There are many things in the Darling-Hammond piece that surprised me, such as why the U.S. ranks so low in international education rankings – poverty! – and how the Reagan revolution dismantled reforms that really worked in the 1970s.
One of those countless Friday after-work discussions we have with our teaching colleagues has stuck in my mind for the past year. “We’re the only profession in the world,” stated a fellow teacher, “where we are judged not by how …