Despite the overwhelming and research-based concerns regarding value-added models (VAMs), VAM advocates, policymakers, and supporters continue to hold strong to VAMs’ purported, yet still largely theoretical strengths and potentials. Those advancing VAMs have, more or less, adopted and promoted a set of agreed-upon, albeit “heroic” set of assumptions, without independent, peer-reviewed research in support. These “heroic” assumptions transcend promotional, policy, media, and research-based pieces, but they have never been fully investigated, explicated, or made explicit as a set or whole. These assumptions, though often violated, are often ignored in order to promote VAM adoption and use, and also to sell for-profits’ and sometimes non-profits’ VAM-based systems to states and districts. The purpose of this study was to make obvious the assumptions that have been made within the VAM narrative and that, accordingly, have often been accepted without challenge. Ultimately, sources for this study included 470 distinctly different written pieces, from both traditional and non-traditional sources. The results of this analysis suggest that the preponderance of sources propagating unfounded assertions are fostering a sort of VAM echo chamber that seems impenetrable by even the most rigorous and trustworthy empirical evidence.
This commentary describes the promises and pitfalls of writing institutional history.
Shakespeare was wrong when he posed the question “What is in a name”? A name means a lot. It tells us a lot about the person and his ancestors and culture. The author of this commentary argues that Global Understanding begins with understanding an unfamiliar name.
Currently, we focus on the technical and social appropriateness of educator evaluation systems; should we consider adding ethical notions of fairness to enrich evaluation and situate it within a task that has an essential ethical dimension? This commentary explores why ethics is a useful additive framework focusing on the professional act of teaching.
The Early Childhood Discipline Group at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia dissects the Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers report released by the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, questioning how the recommendations were developed and raising concern for the report's lack of focus on early childhood teacher education.
American high schools continue to show lackluster performance relative to high schools in comparably developed countries and to American elementary and middle schools. Laurence Steinberg argues that the problem isn't our schools, but the ways in which we raise our adolescents.
Last year marked the tenth anniversary of the film Mean Girls. This film has brought widespread attention to the difficulties of navigating high school peer relationships, including the pain of relational aggression (or relational bullying). As the name implies, relational aggression is defined as behavior aimed at harming another’s relationships, and includes spreading rumors and social exclusion. The longstanding popularity of Mean Girls makes it clear that the movie continues to strike a chord in popular culture. Despite popular interest and growing research, the majority of school-based intervention programs have focused solely on physical aggression to the exclusion of relational aggression. This commentary discusses recent empirical findings on relational aggression and offers suggestions for how educators can use this research to decrease mean behaviors on their campuses.
There is growing federal and state support for school climate improvement and pro-social education. The National School Climate Council has developed a consensus statement about the foundational importance of intentional pro-social instruction and school climate improvement efforts. In addition, this consensus statement outlines a core set of research-based systemic, instructional and relational goals as well as processes that underscore, characterize and shape both effective school climate improvement and pro-social instructional efforts. Research, policy, practice and teacher education implications are outlined.
Researchers, policy makers, and practitioners commonly assume that student absences matter. When students are not in school, we uphold that they miss out on learning opportunities and forgo valuable social/developmental activities; consequently, when absent students return to school, they are said to be behind and often feel alienated. Moreover, student absences may affect teachers and classmates by disrupting routines and causing teachers to spend time helping students to “catch up” following an absence spell. Given these concerns, recent discourse has emphasized the importance of school attendance.
This commentary reflects on the detrimental effects of excessive school security policies.
This commentary discusses why, if education policymakers and practitioners do not have a grounding in education history, they cannot adequately meet the needs of queer/of color students. Education history in indispensable to policymakers, administrators, and practitioners in adequately educating marginalized students.
This commentary compares Japanese and US approaches for integrating technology in K-12 classroom environments. While many American schools are consumed by a haphazard race to adopt the latest gadgets and new innovations, often these devices function as little more than expensive and colorful accessories with minimal influence on existing instructional methods. In other cases, devices sit unused, collect dust, and soon become obsolete, costing thousands of dollars in upgrades. Despite Japan’s much slower pace of technology adoption, one might argue that Japanese educators are well ahead of the US in effective technology integration. Using the chalkboard and bansho (board-writing) as an example, this article describes how Japan’s slow and steady integration approach enables educators to deliberately study and build knowledge about which technologies best facilitate particular learning opportunities. The US should take note and consider a more purposeful integration strategy that emphasizes efficacy over hasty implementation.
This commentary looks at the labels "vampire," "terrorist," and "little demon," that are used to annotate a first grade teacher's class list on the first day of school. The author, a teacher educator, questions the relationship between the use of such derogatory labels and the resulting stereotypes and statistics of black boys and crime in light of recent events.
This essay examines the impact of outsourcing teacher preparation and evaluation through high stakes teacher performance assessments like edTPA. In addition to undermining teacher preparation by marginalizing the local experts best situated to evaluate candidates’ performance, this has led to a growing industry of edTPA-related services. The authors use their own experiences with edTPA “coaching” and scoring to illustrate the inevitable consequences of shifting teacher preparation and evaluation to the private sector.
This commentary discusses the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in a self-contained special education classroom.
This commentary surveys the principal issues with student loan policy in the US.
Charter schools were originally proposed as vehicles to give teachers more leadership opportunities; however, the sector has evolved to focus on empowering management over teachers, and today just 7% of charter schools are unionized. This commentary piece explores what lessons can be drawn from the experiences of charter schools, both positive and negative, and how to run schools and structure the teaching profession to build and retain strong teachers. A subset of charter schools are pioneering new avenues for empowering teachers that could be adopted in other public school settings.
This commentary answers two questions: (1) Do the articles in this issue make the case that the democratic principles and practices the authors champion have been damaged by the standards-based, testing, and accountability regime of the past three decades? and (2) In light of the historical absence of these principles and practices in mainstream U.S. public schools, why raise these arguments now?
Over creditors' objections, a bankruptcy court in Ohio discharged the student-loan debt of a single mother of two who was living below the poverty level.
Given psychologists' inability to reach a consensus on the appropriate definition of intelligence and the modest correlations between intelligence test scores and professional success, the author advocates for the potential benefits that could occur when teachers and schools drop the words intelligent and smart from classroom and school discourses.
This commentary examines the failings of American high schools.
This commentary discusses the response from local schools to use private funds to close budget gaps in Philadelphia's public schools.
This commentary traces the transition of education policy from the Bloomberg-Klein years to the current administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina a year into their tenure.
A commentary on the hidden curriculum of animals in education.