Quotable Quotes: 2/10/2014

February 10th, 2014

** “Let me get this straight: School reformers, including Arne Duncan, are alienating millions of teachers and hurting countless students and their families over a teacher evaluation policy that–using their own prize methodology (ignorant that we may believe it to be)–affects 2 to 4 percent of the achievement gap? Of course, and unfortunately, Duncan’s ignoring his own department’s research is no surprise, considering he’s doing the same by pushing merit pay even though his department announced last September that out of three approved studies of a New York performance pay program, one showed across the board negative effects on student achievement; another showed negative effects in some areas and no effect in others; and a third one showed no effect at all. And that his department has previously concluded that 90% of the elements that affect student test scores are outside the control of teachers.” ~ Larry Ferlazzo, teacher and blogger

** “Testing experts have long warned that using test scores to evaluate teachers is a bad idea, and that these formulas are subject to error, but such evaluation has become a central part of modern school reform. In the District, the evaluation of adults in the school system by test scores included everybody in a school building; until this year, that even included custodians. In some places around the country, teachers received evaluations based on test scores of students they never had. (It sounds incredible, but it’s true.)” ~ Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

** No matter who has them the ‘best ideas’ take time, energy, and resources to become reality. And in a growing number of public school communities, increasing amounts of time are being spent preparing for and taking mind-numbing tests, struggling to keep professional teachers in classrooms, and fighting to protect our schools from hostile takeovers and closure. Even as they cut the people who make it possible for kids to learn (and even just to remain safe on school grounds), districts continue to spend money on pre-packaged curricula and tests, testing-related tech products, and an expanding array of for-profit education services, all in an effort to win a so-called ‘race to the top.'” ~ Sabrina Joy Stevens, teacher turned activist

** “These two federal programs¬†[Race to the Top and Common Core], which both rely heavily on standardized testing, have produced a massive demoralization of educators; an unprecedented exodus of experienced teachers, who were replaced in many districts by young, inexperienced, low-wage teachers; the closure of many public schools, especially in poor and minority districts; the opening of thousands of privately managed charters; an increase in low-quality for-profit charter schools and low-quality online charter schools; a widespread attack on teachers’ due process rights and collective bargaining rights; the near-collapse of public education in urban districts like Detroit and Philadelphia, as public schools are replaced by privately managed charter schools; a burgeoning educational-industrial complex of testing corporations, charter chains, and technology companies that view public education as an emerging market …” ~ Diane Ravitch, Education historian

** “The education world is scrambling to avoid its own version of a full-scale HealthCare.gov meltdown when millions of students pilot new digital Common Core tests this spring. Technological hiccups, much less large-scale meltdowns, won’t do: The results of the Common Core tests will influence teachers’ and principals’ evaluations and other decisions about their jobs. Schools will be rated on the results. Students’ promotion to the next grade or graduation from high school may hinge on their scores. And the already controversial Common Core standards, designed to be tested during a new generation of sophisticated exams that go beyond multiple-choice testing, may be further dragged through the mud if there are crises.” ~ Caitlin Emma, politico.com


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