"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, February 06, 2009

Evaluating State Superintendents Based on Test Scores in Previous Jobs?

If Arne Duncan and the Business Roundtable have their way, every principal, er, CEO who interviews a prospective teacher will have all of her test scores and all of her students' test score totals in front of him on his monitor during the interview. Can you hear it now: "Now Mrs. Battleweary, I see that during your previous tenure--if I may use that outmoded term--during your tenure at Alpha Elementary, your 4th graders had a big dip in their math scores in 2007. What was that all about?"

Well, test scores are not just for hiring and firing and berating teachers anymore. In North Carolina, the right-wingers of the Civitas Institute have an op-ed in the News & Observer attacking newly-appointed State Superintendent, Bill Harrison, for the mediocre test results at Cumberland County, an economically-depressed and, therefore, educationally depressed county from which Harrison was hired.

So now it becomes not only dangerous to your future career chances to teach among the people who need the most help, but it may obviously be used as a strike against you for any future leadership positions as well.

From the Civitas braintrust (isn't civitas a disease of the political conscience?):
While Harrison can be proud of his contributions to the Cumberland schools, his tenure lacks a record of progress and accomplishment in critical areas. For much of the last seven years, the system has been average or worse on state testing results, a little better than average on dropout rates and average or a little below on graduation rates. For a statewide public education system in need of significant improvement, average results simply aren't good enough.

Thirty-four years of service in public education, while laudable, doesn't necessarily qualify one to assume the state's top education position. If the new chief operating officer position is the "most important job in North Carolina," Perdue may want to explain why Harrison is the right person for the job.

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