Sunday, April 14, 2013

Needing better balance . . .

If you are one of those like me that has been struggling with the influence that large foundations and business have had with education policy makers you will appreciate the link in this Alexander Russo, This Week In Education post.  The link goes to a Los Angeles Times editorial sharing some of Bill Gates latest thinking on the use of student achievement scores in teacher evaluation.  It appears that he has moved from being a staunch advocate to now recommending caution in the overuse of standardized test scores in teacher evaluation.

It is the Gates Foundation that can take a great deal of the credit for this teacher evaluation movement across the country that has influenced the model in our state and that has also led to states basing up to 50% of the evaluation on student test scores.  Much of what we read today about public education is the result of studies done by foundations and the resultant influence on policy makers.  Much of the commentary is negative and much of what is driven by the new accountability movement is questionable.  I like this recommendation from the Times editorial that calls for better balance between studies and policy.
When philanthropists have potentially useful ideas about education, they should by all means try them out, establish pilot programs, put their money where their mouths are. But before government officials incorporate those ideas into policy, they must study them carefully and make sure that what sounds reasonable in theory works in practice.

Though Gates is moving away from his earlier advocacy for test scores, he is not backing away from finding answers to what ails public education.  From this recent study and his comments, student perception surveys have replaced test scores in providing leverage in teacher evaluations.  I don't know that teachers will like this any more than using test scores as measures of their worth in the classroom..

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I would like to see the Gates foundation offer money to school that promote a sense of community. Teach the parents how to parent, have relationships, and create a sense of self worth without the entitlement that often harbors our youth.
I would like to see the Gates foundation to study how inner city communities have railed the parents and families in these areas.
Families unfailing support with reading, homework, teaching values, is what is missing from the basics of education.
I would be happy to see a study in that. I would be happy to participate in a study like that. :)