Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fact Checking School Reform

The March-April issue of NEA Today magazine has an excellent article on current school reform issues. I urge my readers to click on this link to access the article. It examines the actual results of 5 major components of today's education reform: (1) High Stakes Testing, (2) Value Added Measures, (3) Pay for Test Scores, (4) Charter Schools, (5) Teacher Tenure (removing or modifying it). This analysis is the most concise and enlightening discussion I've seen of these current fads in education. It makes you wonder why the president of the United States and many other influential people would throw their support behind such half-baked schemes and subject our children and so many dedicated educators to the unintended consequences of such policies.

More Half-baked Policies
Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, according to an Education Week article is warning the Congress that the Elementary Secondary Education Act should be revised and reauthorized to prevent up to 80% of US schools from being labeled as “failing schools”. This is the probable result according to Duncan of continuing the present federal policy that all American students must achieve proficiency in Reading and Math by the year 2014. My question about this is the following: “How could the Congress and the Bush administration have passed such a stupid, impractical law in the first place?” Every reputable expert in the field of tests and measurements could have informed president Bush and the Congress that such a mandate violated everything we know about student testing and performance. It was like the government decreeing that all children would somehow become average or above within a few years, (The Lake Wobegon effect), even though the schools are dealing with a constantly changing student body. The sad thing is that the Obama/Duncan plan for improving our schools is almost equally impractical as the one they want to replace. (see the above article in NEA Today)