Posts tagged ‘Performance indicators’

May 7, 2014

Students’ Dreams Must Now Be ‘Data-driven’

That’s premier’s message as BC higher ed becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.

By Crawford Kilian | Published 30 Apr 2014 by TheTyee.ca

Excerpt: 

We’re not talking about schools and universities any more; we’re talking about abstractions. It’s beyond me why a “data-driven system” should be a “major shift” from any school that keeps records. And schools have always been “outcome focused” — the whole point is to see the kids come out of school smarter and better informed than when they came in.

We’re not talking about changing; we’re re-engineering. And now we are spending taxpayers’ dollars not to meet taxpayers’ priorities, but those of the labour market. And that means jobs in demand; when demand slacks off, tough luck for anyone caught training in the wrong program.

North American education has struggled for years under an industrial metaphor: six-year-olds supposedly enter the assembly line as raw material and come out as usable young adults. But we are not cranking out Model Ts or toasters, and God help us if we turn our kids into such commodities.

However tempting it may be to worship the captains of industry, and to obey their every whim, we should remember that they live in the same moment we do, and they have no better idea than we do about what we should prepare for.

These are the same people who urged us to train more keypunch operators back in the 1980s. These are the guys like the Xerox executives who funded Xerox PARC’s invention of the modern computer, complete with mouse and graphic user interface. They were clueless about what they had, and sold it to an acid-dropping college dropout named Steve Jobs — who had really liked an artsy-fartsy course in calligraphy that helped the Mac conquer the world.

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/04/30/Student-Data-Driven-Dreams/

Advertisements
March 16, 2014

Alfie Kohn at Regina Teachers Convention 2014

Alfie Kohn speaks about the many dangers of data-driven education reform focused on standardized test results at the 2014 Regina Teachers Convention.

February 25, 2014

The Myth Behind Public School Failure

by Dean Paton | Published February 21, 2014 by Yes! Magazine

Until about 1980, America’s public schoolteachers were iconic everyday heroes painted with a kind of Norman Rockwell patina—generally respected because they helped most kids learn to read, write and successfully join society. Such teachers made possible at least the idea of a vibrant democracy.

Since then, what a turnaround: We’re now told, relentlessly, that bad-apple schoolteachers have wrecked K-12 education; that their unions keep legions of incompetent educators in classrooms; that part of the solution is more private charter schools; and that teachers as well as entire schools lack accountability, which can best be remedied by more and more standardized “bubble” tests.

What led to such an ignoble fall for teachers and schools? Did public education really become so irreversibly terrible in three decades? Is there so little that’s redeemable in today’s schoolhouses?

Read more: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/the-myth-behind-public-school-failure

November 6, 2013

Corporate school deform vs. education justice

By Dana Blanchard | Published November 6, 2013 by The Socialist Worker

FROM RESISTANCE to high-stakes testing to a more assertive voice from teachers’ unions, big-money corporate education “reformers” are encountering significant new resistance. Now is the time for teachers to step up our defense of public education, both by highlighting the destructive impact of the so-called reforms and by building on the emerging alliance between our unions and the communities we serve.

This article attempts to summarize some of these important shifts and highlight places where our side can organize and push back, starting right now. The prospects for teachers unions in the struggle ahead will be the subject of the second part of this article.

It’s difficult to exaggerate the damage done by the education reformers. I’ve been a public school teacher in California for 12 years–a time that coincides with implementation of the federal government’s misnamed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

NCLB unleashed the current wave of corporate school reform: the use of standardized testing to punish failing schools and evaluate every teacher’s effectiveness; the increase in privately run charter schools claiming to be an “option” for students in “failing” public schools; and a massive growth in for-profit textbook and testing enterprises that feast on funds from school district trying desperately to make yearly progress targets–goals that move further and further out of reach each year.

At the same time, I’ve seen a whole generation of new teachers who burned out early from the prospect of teaching under the gun of standardization and the lack of job security from perpetual cycles of budgets cuts in public education. Meanwhile, teacher farms like Teach for America place more and more young people in the front lines of education without adequate preparation, only for them to leave the profession for better jobs with less collateral damage.

But recent cracks in the corporate education reform monolith have given rise to new hope. New studies validate what teachers have known all along–top-down, punishment-based reforms don’t work. They don’t work for creating a profession that people want to dedicate their lives to, and they don’t work for the students who are most underserved by public education.

Read more: http://socialistworker.org/2013/11/06/corporate-reform-vs-education-justice

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 29, 2013

Why America’s Teachers Are Going Badass and Why Canada’s Need to Consider Doing the Same

By Robert Green

This article appears in the Fall 2013 edition of ‘Our Schools / Our Selves’ published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Following in the tradition of the Arab Spring and ‘Idle No More’, the latest political movement to come to life through the internet’s social networks features a growing number of America’s teachers. Calling itself the Badass Teachers Association (or BAT for Bad Ass Teachers) this Facebook group has shot up to over 17,000 members in a little over a week. It also organized its first mass action: a phone-in campaign calling for the removal of Arne Duncan as federal secretary of education.

Created by Priscilla Sanstead, a parent activist in Oklahoma, Dr. Mark Naisson, an African American Studies professor at Fordham University in New York and Marla 1002816_4381114426306_418079495_nKilfoye, a teacher and parent activist from Long Island, BAT’s mission is:

To give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for real teaching and learning

On his blog, Dr Mark Naisson begins his description of what it means to be a badass teacher as follows:

Badass Teachers teach, love and nurture children everyone has given up on, in good times and bad, children with disabilities, children who have been kicked out of their families, children who can’t sit still, children who have seen unimaginable horrors, children who are homeless, children who are under constant stress, along with children who have happy lives, and happy families. They teach and love them all, and protect and defend them from physical threats and the threat of tests and assessments which humiliate them and destroy their love of learning.

While some may be surprised to see so many teachers speaking out in such a direct fashion, for those that have been following the horror show of corporate education reform that has transformed the US education system over the last decade, such action seems long overdue. This corporate education reform agenda was first introduced on a national scale by George Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ and has since been accelerated by Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ legislation. It has been promoted vigorously by various foundations financed by millionaires and billionaires like Bill Gates and through slick high budget documentaries like ‘Waiting for Superman’. Though its particular manifestations vary from state to state it tends to feature the following three elements:

  1. attacks on the collective bargaining rights of teachers
  2. use of standardized test results (‘performance indicators’) to determine school funding and/or teacher pay (‘merit pay’)
  3. promotion of semi-private charter schools with non-unionized teachers, usually via a discourse focused on the notion of ‘school choice’

    read more »

June 24, 2013

School Data Profiteering

by Dan Schneider | Published  June 21, 2013 by Dollars & Sense

When you were a kid and got in trouble at school, did they ever threaten to “put it in your permanent record?” That’s a scary prospect, knowing that the information could be seen forever by anyone with access to it. But what if that record had more in it than just grades and disciplinary problems? What if it included things like when your parents got divorced, or that you had been homeless for a while?

Starting at the end of last year, a nonprofit organization called inBloom began to test new cloud-based software to collect information from student records and use it to individualize the education a student receives. Much of this individualized instruction will come from third-party for-profit companies that will be granted access to students’ data, effectively giving corporations that deal with inBloom free rein to mine student data as they see fit.

A joint venture of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, inBloom has a long list of corporate partners, including Amazon, Dell, and Scholastic (maker of The Magic School Bus and The Magic Treehouse children’s book series). Originally, inBloom was known as the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC), a Gates Foundation- and NewsCorp-backed organization that had been quietly developing a “set of shared technology services” for several years, in order to “connect student data and instructional materials.”

Read more: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/21

May 29, 2013

Why America Needs An Education Spring

by Jeff Bryant | Published May 28, 2013 by Education Opportunity Network

Excerpt:

Disenchantment with education policies is not limited to Chicago. At the same time protestors filled the streets of that city, signs of discontent were evident in NewarkPhiladelphia, and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Neither is the discontent limited to communities of the urban poor and people of color. A recent news report filed by an outlet covering the towns and cities of Western New York state put a completely different face to the resistance – mostly white, middle-class parents.

The reporter, Rachel Kingston, spotlighted the growing movement among parents to boycott standardized tests. She wrote, “Hundreds in school districts across Western New York – from Williamsville to West Seneca to Frontier – refused to have their children take the exams this April, in what’s becoming known as the opt-out movement.” The parents “worry their children are being deprived of a well-rounded education, and suffering both academically and emotionally because of it.”

But similar to the school closings in Chicago and elsewhere, what’s also driving concerns is that education policies are risky experiments with little prospect for success.

“It’s almost like the system is setting teachers up to fail, and setting students up to fail,” one parent stated.

“The assessments include field test questions which are sometimes above-grade-level – material the students being tested haven’t even learned yet,” Kingston reported. “Students don’t get their tests back once they’ve been scored. Their teachers don’t get to grade the tests. And parents never see the test booklet with the actual questions – only a score sheet with a number ranging from 1 to 4.”

Read more: http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/why-america-needs-an-education-spring/

April 19, 2013

CJAD Teacher Panel Discusses Grade Inflation and Bill 88

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss the pressures to inflate grades that have resulted from Quebec’s Bill 88 with CJAD’s Tommy Shnurmacher:

Click here to listen

 

April 17, 2013

Lawsuit: Stop evaluating teachers on test scores of students they never taught

By Valerie Strauss | Published April 15 by The Answer Sheet Blog

A group of teachers and their unions are filing a lawsuit against Florida officials that challenges the state’s educator evaluation system, under which many teachers are evaluated on the standardized test scores of students they do not teach.

The seven teachers filing the lawsuit include Kim Cook, who, as this post explains, was evaluated at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school where she works and was named Teacher of the Year last December. But 40 percent of that evaluation was based on test scores of students at Alachua Elementary, a school into which Irby feeds, whom she never taught. Really.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/15/lawsuit-stop-evaluating-teachers-on-test-scores-of-students-they-never-taught/

April 7, 2013

Teacher’s resignation letter: ‘My profession … no longer exists’

Letter by Gerald J. Conti, posted by Valerie Strauss | Published April 6, 2013 by The Answer Sheet

Excerpt:

I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation. With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that  “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.

A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian…

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/06/teachers-resignation-letter-my-profession-no-longer-exists/?wpisrc=nl_cuzheads

April 5, 2013

Why I won’t let my son take the PSSA

The opt-out movement is growing because high-stakes tests are wrecking our schools

By Kathy M. Newman | Published March 31, 2013 by The Pittsburgh Post

I am an English professor. So you can imagine how my pride was hurt when my 9-year-old son Jacob started bringing home low scores on his practice reading tests for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.

My husband and I have been helping Jacob with his test-prep reading homework every weeknight this year, and it has been a grim slog. At times I have found myself getting angry when Jacob has fidgeted, or when he has had trouble focusing. Sometimes I have gotten angry when he simply hasn’t been able to answer the questions.

Then one day this March it dawned on me. I am getting angry at my son about a test. A test that I do not like. A “high-stakes” test that will put so much pressure on Jacob that it probably will not reflect his true abilities. I also realized something else: Jacob does not love to read.

After doing some research and talking with other parents, my husband and I decided to “opt out” Jacob from the PSSA tests. We are opting him out because we do not like what high-stakes tests are doing to Jacob, to our family, to his teachers, to his school and, ultimately, to our entire education system.

High-stakes tests like the PSSAs are used to evaluate, close and punish public schools, including my son’s school, Pittsburgh Linden, a K-5 magnet school in Point Breeze. Linden’s Adequate Yearly Progress score is bound to Linden’s PSSA test results. According to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, every public school in the United States must be 100 percent proficient in reading and math (based on test scores) by 2014.

February 11, 2013

The Inconvenient Truth Of Education “Reform”

By | Published February 2, 2013 by Campaign for America’s Future Blog

Events in the past week showed how market-driven education policies, deceivingly labeled as “reform,” are revealing their truly destructive effects on the streets and in the corridors of government.

From the streets, we heard from civil rights and social justice activists from urban communities that school turnaround policies mandated by the Obama administration’s education agenda are having disastrous results in the communities they were originally intended to serve.

From the corridors of government, we were presented with irrefutable evidence that leaders driving the reform agenda are influencing public officials to write education laws in a way that benefits corporate interests rather than the interests of students, parents and schools.

These events, in tandem, reveal an inconvenient truth of education reform that should make anyone who promotes these policies question, “Whose interests are being served here?”

The Message From The Street

This week, over 200 activists, community organizers, parents, and students from 18 cities across the U.S. gathered in Washington, D.C., to confront Secretary of Education Arne Duncan over widespread public school closures prompted by the Obama administration’s policies.

As reported by Huffington Post’s education reporter Joy Resmovits, “Members of the group, a patchwork of community organizations called the Journey for Justice Movement, have filed several Title VI civil rights complaints with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights, claiming that school districts that shut schools are hurting minority students.”

Read more: http://blog.ourfuture.org/20130202/the-inconvenient-truth-of-education-reform

February 9, 2013

Research Calls Data-Driven Education Reforms Into Question

By | Published  by the Huffington Post

Two new reports on standards-based accountability and incentive systems should end the current thrust of U.S. education policy.

The first, by the National Academies’ National Research Council, investigated the impact of high stakes tests, the basis for current accountability measures. The second, by the National Center on Education and the Economy, studied U.S. reform strategies compared to schooling in higher performing countries. Both organizations are respected for their high quality, comprehensive, and non-ideological research. Together, they reach the undeniable conclusion that today’s array of testing and choice fails to meet the instructional needs of American students and the national goal of broadly-based high academic achievement.

The NRC study, “Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education,” was produced by its Committee on Incentives and Test-Based Accountability, representing scholars and activists from a broad swath of policy perspectives. Yet, broad as the committee’s background was in studying a comprehensive, decade-long research base, its first of two conclusions is stark:

Test-based incentive programs, as designed and implemented in the programs that have been carefully studied, have not increased student achievement enough to bring the United States close to the levels of the highest achieving countries.[bold in original, quoted in part]

Perhaps even more alarming is its second conclusion:

The evidence we have reviewed suggests that high school exit exam programs, as currently implemented in the United States, decrease the rate of high school graduation without increasing achievement.[bold in original, quoted in part]

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-bloomfield/education-reform-standardized-testing_b_882718.html