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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pedagogical McCarthyism: Do You Now or Have You Ever Had Students With Low Test Scores?

Arne is at it again.  Not only does he think Katrina was the best thing that ever happened to New Orleans Schools, and not only did he applaud the mass firing of teachers in Rhode Island, but now he is full support of publishing 6000 teachers' names ranked by their students test scores. 

Mr. Duncan, Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
August 18, 2010
LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Times will publish a database of more than 6000 primary school teachers ranked by their ability to improve students' scores on standardised tests, the first time such information will be public.

Teachers unions and policy experts have called the disclosure ''dangerous'' and ''irresponsible'', but the US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has endorsed the release of information about how teachers fare at raising their students' test scores.

''What's there to hide?'' Mr Duncan said a day after the Los Angeles Times published an analysis of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

School districts around the country have moved to adopt ''value added'' measures, a statistical approach that relies on standardised test scores to measure learning. Critics say the method is based on flawed tests that do not measure the more intangible benefits of good teaching, and lead to a narrow curriculum.

Mr Duncan said public disclosure of the results would allow school systems to identify teachers who are doing things right.

The California Secretary of Education, Bonnie Reiss, said the state would encourage districts to release teachers' scores.

''[This] is not about demonising teachers,'' she said. ''It's going to create a more market-driven approach to results.''

The article and announcement of the database sparked emotional and divided reaction.

''I thought it was disgraceful,'' said Diane Ravitch, a former federal education official and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

In New York, parents heckled one of the initiators of standardised schools testing, the city education chancellor, Joel Klein. Parents were protesting over a drop in test scores at a meeting of a citywide education panel.

In recent results more than half of New York's public school students failed English exams, and only 54 per cent passed maths. Mr Klein toured Australia in 2008 at the invitation of the then education minister, Julia Gillard.

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