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

Friday, April 13, 2012

Duncan's ED: We Need to Double Down on Irrational and Unscientific Practices

An email from Monty Neill alerted me to the latest development by today's Corporate Stalinists at ED to judge teacher education programs on the basis value-added test scores of students who are taught by the graduates of these teacher ed programs.  Got that?  No, it's too late for April Fool's.

To the credit of some sanity remaining in DC education circles, the "negotiations" for the new rule making by ED have broken down. 
Especially contentious were proposals to evaluate teacher education programs based in part on their graduates’ job placement rates, employers’ satisfaction with graduates they hired, and students’ performance on standardized tests.

The Education Department representatives pushed strongly to include “value added scores,” which attempt to evaluate students’ academic progress by excluding other factors -- like demographics and poverty -- that are known to have an effect on test scores. Such scores have been controversial in school districts around the country, especially when released to the public with teachers’ names attached.

Opponents of using the scores to evaluate teacher preparation programs argued that they have little scientific basis. Proponents, including the Education Department representatives, countered that since teachers are increasingly evaluated based on such scores, the programs that prepare them should be, too.
 . . . .

So the Education Department does not disagree with the conclusion that the use of value-added scores for high stakes decisions has no scientific basis.  Deciding which teacher ed programs can continue based on value-added student test scores falls into the same category of high stakes uses that brought the red flag-waving by the Board of Testing and Assessment (BOTA) of the National Research Council in 2009. 

Remember when they warned Duncan that  “BOTA has significant concerns that the Department’s proposal places too much emphasis on measures of growth in student achievement (1) that have not yet been adequately studied for the purposes of evaluating teachers and principals and (2) that face substantial practical barriers to being successfully deployed in an operational personnel system that is fair, reliable, and valid.”

Now the best that the corporate foundation idiots at ED can do to counter the appeal to rationality is to claim that we should follow the lead from the states who accepted the federal bribes from RTTT slush funds that were based on policies that ignored the scientific evidence that ED was presented by BOTA?  Really?  Because states have chosen to become complicit in the total corruption of their own educational systems, then universities with teacher education programs should follow suit?

Where is this Corporate Stalinism headed, and how long can it be sustained before educators and other citizens say, No Mas--thus beginning the smashing of the Duncan Wall.  Unless teachers and academics and parents organize, the Billionaires running ed will issue the new rules right after the November election that do what sane people will not go along with.

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