Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why other states are figuring out what Tweed cannot seem to grasp...

....that schools, teachers and students are more than just test scores.

Check out the recent stories about the research study being carried out by Tweed that will help them create a teacher evaluation program based solely on the test score gains of their students -- see NY Times article here; and the negative reaction of the UFT here and here.

For a video presentation from Jonah Rockoff of Columbia Univ. about this study, which has been posted online since late this summer, see here. (Why reporters are just catching on now, I have no idea.)

Meanwhile, just as North Carolina has begun to move away from an overemphasis on standardized test scores (see earlier blog entry here ) now it also seems that officials in Florida, “where a standardized test has been treated for nearly a decade as the only barometer of success” are also beginning to recognize the “need to look at a broader array of tools to measure school performance," according to an editorial in today’s St. Petersburg Times.

In North Carolina, this welcome development was prompted by the recognition that all this emphasis on testing and merit pay based on test scores had not improved schools and had instead led to a host of negative consequences – including making it more difficult to recruit and keep teachers at low-performing schools. (See for example, the paper by Charles T Clotfelter et. al. called "Do School Accountability Systems Make It More Difficult for Low-Performing Schools to Attract and Retain High-Quality Teachers?" from 2004, which showed increased teacher attrition rates at such schools after the new accountability systems had been imposed.)

In Florida, it appears that the new state Education Commissioner Eric Smith was reacting to the fact that teachers in most of the districts across the state had rejected a merit pay scheme based on test scores. Smith also was appointed by a relatively new Governor, Charlie Crist, who though a Republican is considerably less dogmatic than the previous guy in charge, Jeb Bush.

The St. Pete editorial, called "A welcome challenge to FCAT monopoly" ends this way:

When teachers turn down pay raises because they refuse to be judged by one standardized test, they are sending a powerful signal to the capital. Maybe now someone will listen.

Perhaps it is time for Jeb Bush's education buddies, Mike Bloomberg and Joel Klein, to take another look at this issue. One can only dream…

For an argument that the Rockoff/DOE study violates accepted ethical standards for academic research, by not obtaining the informed consent of the research subjects -- the teachers themselves --see
Eduwonkette.

Meanwhile, the Union Chief Leader reports that the the principal's union has negotiated a better agreement with DOE in which school test scores will only be a part of their evaluation, along with other factors.

1 comment:

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