Posts tagged ‘Merit pay’

March 5, 2014

Problem? Ask a CEO (That’s Chief Expert Officer to You, Buddy!)

By Erika Shaker | Published March 3 by The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Parents, take note! Your search for clarity in the education debates is finally over.  The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) commissioned a report a few weeks ago that set out a fairly bleak picture of general dissatisfaction with public schools and then concluded with a series of recommendations about how to “fix” the problem.

You know, by measuring teacher quality through student outcomes, in addition to having students and other “impartial” parties judge a teacher’s performance through more frequent (possibly surprise) evaluations…and then assigning bonuses to those educators deemed worthy. Because: incentives!

Not the “finally! Enough resources for field trips and extracurricular activities” kind of incentives—I’m talking cold, hard cash, people. After all, what teacher won’t be incentivized to find an hour or two out of their day in which to be extra fabulous—in addition to coaching, tutoring kids after class, and scrounging for change to buy lunch or find bus fare for another student—if it means a little sumpin’-sumpin’ on their paycheque?

Don’t get me wrong. Asking CEOs how to improve pedagogy and student engagement makes total sense. I mean, just look at the stellar, kid-and-community-friendly corporate track record: their commitment to health promotion (evidenced by a range of fluorescent-coloured, high quality after-school snacks); their recognition of the dangers of socioeconomic inequality (surely we’re only moments away from having workers and community members help set CEO bonuses and stock options in the interests of, you know, fairness); their demonstrated transparency, public accountability and adherence to public safety regulations (in rail transport, for example); their clear commitment to gender pay equality and a deliberate and systematic rejection of the “Old Boys’ Club” stereotype; their ongoing desire to give back to the community in tax rates that are indicative of the degree to which they too benefit from and are responsible for public infrastructure.

Read more: http://behindthenumbers.ca/2014/03/03/problem-ask-a-ceo-thats-chief-expert-officer-to-you-buddy/

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September 19, 2013

Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, “reformers” aim to destroy public schools

By Dianne Ravitch | Published Sep 15, 2013 by Salon.com

Excerpt:

If the American public understood that reformers want to privatize their public schools and divert their taxes to pay profits to investors, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If parents understood that the reformers want to close down their community schools and require them to go shopping for schools, some far from home, that may or may not accept their children, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public understood that the very concept of education was being disfigured into a mechanism to apply standardized testing and sort their children into data points on a normal curve, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform.

If the American public understood that their children’s teachers will be judged by the same test scores that label their children as worthy or unworthy, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public knew how inaccurate and unreliable these methods are, both for children and for teachers, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. And that is why the reform message must be rebranded to make it palatable to the public.

The leaders of the privatization movement call themselves reformers, but their premises are strikingly different from those of reformers in the past. In earlier eras, reformers wanted such things as a better curriculum, better-prepared teachers, better funding, more equitable funding, smaller classes, and desegregation, which they believed would lead to better public schools. By contrast, today’s reformers insist that public education is a failed enterprise and that all these strategies have been tried and failed.

They assert that the best way to save education is to hand it over to private management and let the market sort out the winners and the losers. They wish to substitute private choices for the public’s responsibility to provide good schools for all children. They lack any understanding of the crucial role of public schools in a democracy.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2013/09/15/diane_ravitch_school_privatization_is_a_hoax_reformers_aim_to_destroy_public_schools/

August 21, 2013

What we know about schools — but choose to ignore

By P.L. Thomas | Published August 19 2013 by The Answer Sheet

Excerpt:

This comprehensive analysis of research from Brunsma replicates the message in Flock of Dodos—political, public, and media messaging continues to trump evidence in the education reform debate. Making that reality more troubling is that a central element of No Child Left Behind was a call to usher in an era of scientifically based education research. As Sasha Zucker notes in a 2004 policy report for Pearson, “A significant aspect of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is the use of the phrase ‘scientifically based research’ well over 100 times throughout the text of the law.”

Brunsma’s conclusion about school uniform policies, I regret to note, is not an outlier in education reform but a typical representation of education reform policy. Let’s consider what we know now about the major education reform agendas currently impacting out schools:

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/19/what-we-know-about-schools-but-choose-to-ignore/

June 2, 2013

The debate over standardized testing in schools is as divisive as ever

By Rachel Giese and Caroline Alphonso | Published May 31 2013 by The Globe & Mail

Excerpt:

Others remain unconvinced. Large-scale tests “are asked to assess too many things,” argues Daniel Laitsch, an associate professor of education at Simon Fraser University. He feels that, no matter what the stated purpose, they are meant to measure, along with student achievement, that of teachers, schools, curriculum and entire jurisdictions as well, which stretches their validity in appraising any of them.

In fact, Prof. Laitsch calls testing students “an atrocious way to evaluate teacher effectiveness, without any research to support the theory.”

Toronto resident Maxeen Paabo agrees and has decided that her son will not participate in this year’s Grade 3 tests. She researched the issue, and reached her conclusion even before the school year began.

“I think the way it is now and the way it’s being used politically is wrong, and it’s a misuse of resources,” she says.

“What the ministry [of education] said is that it is used on a student level, on a class level and on a school level to make improvements. But my understanding on the ground is that that isn’t really happening, that teachers’ regular classroom assessments are doing all that work.”

….

And does it really keep the system on track? In fact, the correlation between standardized testing and achievement appears to be fuzzy. With myriad factors affecting the education system – among them demographic and economic changes, fluctuation in education budgets, shifts in curriculum – it’s impossible to say unequivocally that where scores have gone up, it’s in any way because of standardized tests.

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/the-debate-over-standardized-testing-in-schools-is-as-divisive-as-ever/article12299369/?page=all

November 23, 2012

When ‘Grading’ Is Degrading

By | Published: November 22, 2012 by the New York Times

IN his speech on the night of his re-election, President Obama promised to find common ground with opposition leaders in Congress. Yet when it comes to education reform, it’s the common ground between Democrats and Republicans that has been the problem.

For the past three decades, one administration after another has sought to fix America’s troubled schools by making them compete with one another. Mr. Obama has put up billions of dollars for his Race to the Top program, a federal sweepstakes where state educational systems are judged head-to-head largely on the basis of test scores. Even here in Texas, nobody’s model for educational excellence, the state has long used complex algorithms to assign grades of Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable or Unacceptable to its schools.

So far, such competition has achieved little more than re-segregation, long charter school waiting lists and the same anemic international rankings in science, math and literacy we’ve had for years.

And yet now, policy makers in both parties propose ratcheting it up further — this time, by “grading” teachers as well.

It’s a mistake. In the year I spent reporting on John H. Reagan High School in Austin, I came to understand the dangers of judging teachers primarily on standardized test scores. Raw numbers don’t begin to capture what happens in the classroom. And when we reward and punish teachers based on such artificial measures, there is too often an unintended consequence for our kids.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/opinion/grading-schools-isnt-the-answer-its-the-problem.html?_r=0

November 15, 2012

Phony school “reform” agenda takes a beating

The media barely noticed, but voters in three states rejected the profit-driven fraud that is education “reform”

By | Published November 13, 2012 by Salon.com

If your only source of news about American education came from docu-propaganda like “Waiting for Superman,” Hollywood politi-schlock like “Won’t Back Down” and elite-focused national news outlets in Washington, D.C., and New York City, you might think that the so-called education “reform” (read: privatization) movement was a spontaneous grass-roots uprising of good-old-fashioned heartlanders generating ever more mass support throughout the country. You would have no reason to believe it was a top-down, corporate-driven coalition of conservative coastal elites trying to both generally undermine organized labor and specifically wring private profit out of public schools, and you would similarly have no reason to believe it was anything but wildly popular in an America clamoring for a better education system.

In other words, you would be utterly misinformed — especially after last week’s explosive election results in three key states.

In Colorado, the out-of-state, corporate-funded group Stand for Children, which previously made national headlines bragging about its corrupt legislative deal making, backed a campaign to hand the state Legislature to pro-privatization Republicans, specifically by trying to defeat Democratic legislators who have stood on the side of public education. Though the group and its affiliated anti-union, pro-privatization allies have become accustomed to getting their way in this state, 2012 saw them handily defeated, as the targeted Democrats won election, giving their party full control of the statehouse.

In Indiana, the results were even more explicit. There, as the Indianapolis Star reports, Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Bennett became “the darling of the reform movement” by “enthusiastically implement(ing) such major reforms as the nation’s most expansive private school voucher program; greater accountability measures for schools that led to the unprecedented state takeover of six schools last year; an expansion of charter schools; and an evaluation system for teachers that bases their raises, at least in part, on student test scores.” For waging such a scorched-earth campaign against teachers and public education, Bennett was rewarded with a whopping $1.3 million in campaign contributions, much of which came from out of state. According to Stateline, Bennett was underwritten by “some of the biggest supporters of education reform in the country, including Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, billionaire financier Eli Broad and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” and NPR reports that he also received big donations from private corporations that stood to profit off his school takeover policies.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2012/11/13/phony_school_reform_agenda_takes_a_beating/

October 14, 2012

Video: Letter to Arne Duncan – Two Teachers and a Microphone

August 25, 2012

Education and the 2012 Quebec Election: Part Seven – What do the Parties Have Planned for Teachers?

By Robert Green

Thus far this series has looked at where Quebec’s political parties stand on education funding, curriculum reform, school autonomy ,the abolition of school boards , reducing the dropout rate and private school subsidies. This article will examine what the parties have in store for the province’s teachers.

Right now across North America there is a well financed war being waged against teachers and their unions. The proponents of this war argue that the source of poor student achievement is too many lazy or incompetent teachers with too much job security. The solution they propose is usually a combination of taking away the job security and collective bargaining rights of teachers along with some form of merit pay scheme. In the US this is being achieved through the closing of public schools and the opening of semi-private charter schools (staffed by non-unionized teachers) in their place. This is the vision of school reform promoted by those referred to as “corporate education reformers” through slickly produced propaganda films such as “Waiting for Superman” and the soon to be released “Won’t Back Down”.

The first problem with this narrative is that it is extremely insulting to the vast majority of teachers who are neither lazy nor incompetent and who in fact donate untold hours of unpaid work on their evenings and weekends to help their students succeed.

The more serious problem with this narrative from a policy perspective, is that it is directly contradicted by the available evidence. Other than class size, the amount of experience possessed by teachers is one of the few factors that have been shown by a wide body of evidence to be correlated positively with increased student success. Not surprisingly then, since unions protect the job security and working conditions of teachers, improved student success is also correlated with rates of unionization. The fact that a teacher’s working conditions happen also to be the student’s learning conditions goes a long way in explaining this. While it is true that correlation is not necessarily an indication of causation, those advocating to improve schools by attacking teachers unions need to explain why it is that students in regions without teachers unions do consistently worse in terms of achievement than students in regions where teachers are unionized.

read more »

August 10, 2012

When Public Schools Answer to Markets

Citizens shouldn’t be seen as consumers choosing between education options, but active participants

By , published Jul 29, 2012 by Salon.com

“There are several problems with this model from the perspective of both efficacy and, more importantly, democracy. First, despite the grand intentions behind marketized programs, they do not get better results on average than traditional public schools. A study conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, 46 percent showed no difference from public schools, and 37 percent were significantly worse. Additionally, introducing supposedly tough-minded material incentives to improve teacher performance, such as giving higher “merit” pay to more successful teachers and threatening to fire less successful ones, has yielded no measurable benefits for children and, instead, tends to divide and demoralize teachers.

Other studies have found that the competitive incentives designed to drive innovation in the classroom are not operating as intended. Instead of improving teaching and learning practices, market incentives have driven an increase in schools’ marketing and promotional activities – that is, advertisements that better sell their products. And as marketing is most effective when aimed at specified groups, schools usually beef up their academic achievement statistics by targeting families of higher-achieving students, thereby contributing to increased student selectivity, sorting, and segregation.

Efficiency considerations aside, the real problem with championing marketized models in education and other areas is the damage it does to democracy. We should not be upholding a model based on turning citizens into consumers. Democratic citizenship does not simply involve an individual’s choice from a platter of options. Rather, it requires active participation in collective decisionmaking.”

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2012/07/29/the_school_market_salpart/

June 28, 2012

NY Civil Liberties Union: High Stakes Tests Harm Students and Teachers, Undermine Equity in New York’s Schools

Published July 27 by The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)

“Students of color, English language learners (ELLs) and children with special education needs are unduly punished by high-stakes assessments that are mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and are increasingly used as instruments to close public schools and denigrate teachers, hurting the city’s most vulnerable youth.

The harmful consequences of the heavy emphasis on high-stakes testing include narrowed curricula, as teachers and schools are pressured to prepare students for make-or-break standardized exams – and an academic culture that values test scores over open-ended inquiry and innovative instruction.

“Alternative assessments are not a retreat from accountability – to the contrary, they promote greater equity in the public schools and more accurately assess student growth and learning,” Fine said. “There are many rigorous strategies for documenting student strengths and needs that do not risk the adverse impact of high-stakes testing on struggling students, educators, and schools.”

The New York City Department of Education has closed more than 140 schools since 2003, largely based on student testing data. In 2012, the DOE publicly released “value-added” teacher-evaluation ratings, based on student test scores, which the DOE originally asserted should never be made public, or used to make employment decisions. Formalizing test-based teacher ratings was integral to New York’s successful application for federal Race to the Top education funding.”

Read more: http://www.nyclu.org/news/high-stakes-tests-harm-students-and-teachers-undermine-equity-new-yorks-schools

June 20, 2012

Change.org Drops Michelle Rhee Group Under Pressure From Progressives

By Ryan Grim, Posted: 06/19/2012 by Huffington Post

“WASHINGTON — In a surprising reversal, Change.org, the progressive online powerhouse that channels grassroots energy into petition-based activism, has dropped two anti-union clients, including Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, according to multiple sources familiar with the decision.

The move comes after intense pressure from the labor movement and other progressive allies, who accused the for-profit company of betraying its liberal roots by partnering with Rhee, the former head of Washington, D.C., public schools, and the similarly aligned group Stand for Children headed by education advocate Jonah Edelman. The ouster of StudentsFirst and Stand for Children was confirmed by a Change.org spokesman.

Leaders of Rhee’s group were outraged. “We’re surprised at their decision,” Nancy Zuckerbrod, spokeswoman for StudentsFirst, told HuffPost. “When we spoke to them this afternoon, they couldn’t point to a single one of our petitions on their site that violated either the terms of use or spirit of their organization. Not a single one. In fact, they said they agreed that much of the work of our members were in line with the progressive values of the organization. And it’s clear that the Change.org community does as well, as tens of thousands of them signed our petitions fighting for the civil rights of all children to receive a high-quality education. For instance, more than 47,000 people signed our petition in support of the Dream Act, compared to fewer than 4,000 who signed the heavily organized protest petition on a different site against Stand for Children.””

Read More:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/changeorg-michelle-rhee_n_1610760.html?fb_action_ids=10100546607266466&fb_action_types=news.reads&fb_source=other_multiline

May 17, 2012

Studies Suggest Economic Inequity Is Built Into, and Worsened by, School Systems

By Paul Thomas, Truthout. Posted Tuesday, 15 May 2012

“‘These studies demonstrate a simple, essential reality which corporate reformers ignore: that socioeconomics don’t somehow magically stop at classroom door,’ explained educator and scholar Adam Bessie. He added, “School reform and social reform are inseparable projects and that schools in economically and racially segregated communities are not crippled by ‘bad teachers’ nor ‘evil unions,’ but rather, by that very segregation itself.”

Bessie also suggested that these studies help challenge the call for “miracle” reform that presents schools as the singular institution to create social change, even though the dynamics of those schools tends to perpetuate the same inequity found in society. Social reform addressing over 20 percent of children living in poverty must accompany reforming school inequity, he maintained.”

Read More: http://truth-out.org/news/item/8993-studies-suggest-economic-inequity-is-built-into-and-worsened-by-school-systems

April 23, 2012

Teachers, parents push back against high stakes testing

Posted April 23, 2012 at The Real News Network

March 28, 2012

Challenging Corporate Ed Reform

And 10 hopeful signs of resistance

By Stan Karp

Published in the Spring 2012 edition of Rethinking Schools

“Corporate school reformers like to call themselves just ‘reformers’ and counterpose themselves to the ‘status quo.’ And there’s no doubt that the corporate/foundation crowd has successfully captured the media label as ‘education reformers.’ If you support testing, charters, merit pay, the elimination of tenure and seniority, and control of school policy by corporate managers, you’re a ‘reformer.’ If you support increased school funding, collective bargaining, less standardized testing, and control of school policy by educators, you’re a ‘defender of the status quo.’ ”

“Standardized tests, which have been disguising class and race privilege as merit for decades, have become the ‘credit default swaps’ of the education world. Few people understand how either really works. Both encourage a focus on short-term gains over long-term goals. And both drive bad behavior on the part of those in charge. These deeply flawed tests have become the primary policy instruments used to shrink public space, impose sanctions on teachers, and close or punish schools. If the corporate reformers have their way, their schemes to evaluate teachers and the schools of education they came from with another generation of tests based on the ‘common core’ standards will dramatically expand the testing plague unleashed by NCLB.

Beyond changing the way schools and classrooms function daily, the larger goals of corporate reform are reflected in the attacks on collective bargaining and teachers’ unions, and in the permanent crisis of school funding across the country. These policies undermine public education and facilitate its replacement by a market-based system that would do for schooling what the market has done for health care, housing, and employment: produce fabulous profits and opportunities for a few and unequal outcomes and access for the many.”

Read more: http://rethinkingschools.org/archive/26_03/26_03_karp.shtml

March 3, 2012

4 Minute Video Explaining Why Merit Pay is Unfair

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