Included in this commentary is a discussion of five key problems that permeate racial identification of Indigenous students in America’s public schools.
While the prevalence of remediation has generated widespread concern about the college readiness of our nation’s high school graduates, comparatively little attention has been paid to how “readiness” is actually determined. At most community colleges and at many nonselective four-year colleges, readiness is determined by scores on short standardized math and English placement tests. This commentary describes research finding that assignment to remedial or college-level courses based on standardized placement exams results in large numbers of placement errors, and that incorporating high school transcript information would lead to fewer assignments to remediation while maintaining or increasing success rates in college-level Math and English.
Instead of blaming teachers for the systemic problems of American public schools, how about we consider a more promising reform? This commentary explains how and why school integration remains a potent strategy to equalize educational opportunities.
In a recent article the authors use data from Missouri to show that differences between traditional teacher preparation programs, measured in terms of the effects of their graduates on student achievement, are smaller than has been suggested by previous research in other states. Indeed, they find that most programs in Missouri are statistically indistinguishable from one another. The authors identify a technical error made in previous work to which they attribute their discrepant findings. In short, some previous studies have failed to properly account for teacher sampling, and in doing so, have overstated the extent to which graduates from different teacher preparation programs truly differ. This commentary considers the implications of this result in the context of the current policy push for more rigorous evaluations of teacher preparation programs.
For the past two years, Hawaii has been focused on establishing a statewide early learning system based on readying children for school. As part of the process, there has been a push for a so-called "public-private solution" where public funds will be routed to private programs in order to “ready” the children within the state. This commentary discusses the amendment, advocacy for the amendment, and the related consequences.
In this article, I review and provide comments on the six articles that comprise this special issue on research conducted using PISA data. The articles represent a variety of issues and methods related to contemporary educational assessments and education policies. They feature state-of-the-art statistical analyses and instructive exploration of complex issues related to international assessment of students’ math, reading, and science achievement. A common theme underlying the articles is improving the interpretations of the results of educational assessments. Some articles address this theme via post hoc analysis or discussion of results, while others conduct research that informs future test development efforts.
The controversy over the Common Core is the most recent diversion from addressing the basic problems that contribute to the achievement gap between low- and high-income students. In the past decade, the focus has been on charter schools and testing. An enormous amount of time has been spent on promoting, implementing, and debating these initiatives in the hope that they would somehow narrow the achievement gap, even while poverty persisted and income and wealth gaps increased. These policies, which began with high—perhaps, more accurately, unrealistic—expectations, turned out to be irrelevant to narrowing the gap and, in some cases, reduced rather than expanded opportunities for low-income students. This commentary describes the futility of continuing to rely on “solutions” that do not address the underlying problems, serve only to detract attention from the far more fundamental changes that are needed, and risk increasing current inequities.
“Rich classroom discourse” has long been valorized by education reformers who object to teacher domination of classroom discussions. Is the greater use of RCD key to intellectually inspiring and challenging classrooms? Perhaps instead of focusing on increased use it’s time to ask what specific role for RCD might be realistic and yield learning outcomes educators value? The best chance for progress is to link this question to another one: how to create rich learning opportunities for achieving more advanced competencies. Strategic deployment of RCD for well-defined instructional purposes seems a more realistic vision than advocating greater use without respect for why, when, and for whom. Finding RCD’ proper role requires at least three conditions. Sustained collaboration between teachers and researchers. An ongoing study of curriculum and practice to identify pivotal RLOs in each unit or project and which might benefit from RCD. Supporting teacher development of the professional judgment to skillfully manage complex decisions with each population and generation of students they teach, so they deploy the best instructional choices.
This introduction is a brief reflection on the import of the Gordon Commission’s work to future considerations of assessment and learning.
Since 1965, three precedents have had a powerful influence on the direction of public education—the promise to educate all children, the fluctuating nature of school funding, and mandated standardized tests. This commentary discusses the interplay of these three precedents for rich and poor.
In this commentary we suggest that reading comprehension strategy instruction does not actually improve general-purpose comprehension skills. Rather, this strategy represents a bag of tricks that are useful and worth teaching, but that that are quickly learned and require minimal practice.
An Illinois school board fired a tenured guidance counselor because he self-published a sexually explicit advice book on adult relationships. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the school board's decision on the grounds that the board reasonably believed that the book could undermine the integrity of the school counseling program.
This essay provides a metaphorical reading of The LEGO Movie, suggesting that the movie itself can serve as an instruction manual, the kind for which LEGO is well known. In this reading, the movie offers step-by-step instructions about how Americans can win the fight against privatizing, corporatizing forces that are attacking our public education system. The author shares these instructions and urges readers to follow them – even though they are, ironically, from a kind of instruction manual – as a way to commit ourselves anew to building and continually re-creating schools that help American youth change the world, not serve corporations’ self-interest.
Recent debates about the demise of cursive instruction demonstrate the disconnect between the educational policy and the profession of teaching.
Recently, there have been signs that the bankruptcy courts are becoming more compassionate toward people who enter the bankruptcy process burdened by student loans. Perhaps the most dramatic of these recent cases is Myhre v. U.S. Department of Education, involving a quadriplegic man who filed for bankruptcy seeking to discharge $14,000 in student loans.
Recently Nicole Kersting wrote a commentary suggesting that teacher evaluation design could benefit from being modeled after engineering design principles. She indicated that a systematic approach to design, coupled with continuous improvements, could make systems stronger and less political. This response addresses several of her assumptions and argues that an engineering approach to improving teacher evaluation systems may not produce desired or expected results.
This essay expresses appreciation for the work of the Gordon Commission by a long-time friend and admirer of Professor Gordon. Professor Kaestle, who also served as a consultant to the commission, attempts to locate the work of the commission in the history of educational assessment and assess its potential for future policy reform.
Taken together, the Gordon Commission’s papers call for a radical rethinking of the ways educational assessment is used to support teaching and learning. Classroom assessment must be improved, but in addition, fundamental tensions between assessment for accountability and assessment for learning must be resolved.
This essay presents a dialogue between a new teacher and a former professor, generated when the teacher decided to leave the classroom after two years. Contextualized within the literature of teacher attrition and offering implications for teacher education, the essay explores what it means to be (a) a novice educator in the era of accountability and (b) a teacher educator tasked with preparing new teachers for this challenging climate. The authors share their perspectives in the hopes of starting a discussion about an important issue that remains relatively unexplored in the research literature: the stories of teachers who leave and their former professors who watch them go.
This commentary questions whether the implementation of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in American schools is a way of bridging or deepening the digital divide amongst students of differing socioeconomic backgrounds. It argues that that digital equity with mobile devices cannot be achieved without individual ownership of mobile technologies and concludes by posing a series of potential means of working toward the goal of ownership in schools.
Over the last decade, teacher evaluation based on value-added models (VAMs) has become central to the public debate over education policy. In this commentary, we critique and deconstruct the arguments proposed by the authors of a highly publicized study that linked teacher value-added models to students’ long-run outcomes, Chetty et al. (2014, forthcoming), in their response to the American Statistical Association statement on VAMs. We draw on recent academic literature to support our counter-arguments along main points of contention: causality of VAM estimates, transparency of VAMs, effect of non-random sorting of students on VAM estimates and sensitivity of VAMs to model specification.
In the stories of exorbitant costs and incompetence, teacher tenure laws have achieved mythic proportions. Judge Rolf Treu’s tentative decision in Vergara v. California may be the death knell for teacher tenure. But what will change as a result? A look to the past reveals that teacher tenure never really protected teachers and nor was it supposed to. Using history as a lens, this commentary explores the origination of tenure policies and the debates that surrounded them. This commentary argues that embedded in the tenure debates is a much larger problem that should concern us all.
In this brief reflection I seek to propose an alternative way of thinking about international rankings for universities, decoupling them from the logic of the market and instead linking them to the university’s mission as a space concerned with educating the public and producing knowledge for the common good. For this purpose, I draw from the example of the Universidad de Buenos Aires.
New teacher evaluation systems are being designed, implemented and piloted in many states. The goal of these new systems is to provide more accurate and objective information on teacher performance than current systems do. Ideally, these new systems provide information for accountability purposes but also for helping teachers improve their performance. Achieving these goals is not likely unless we change our approach to designing such systems from a political process and adopt an engineering perspective. Taking an engineering design approach can lead to solid designs for teacher evaluation systems, provide opportunities for improvement through monitoring and feedback, and create accountability for the design process because the information on teacher performance these systems do provide can be evaluated against the goals and intended uses that were specified.