States must let student test scores be used to evaluate teachers and principals, writes Michele McNeil in Education Week. That would force California and New York to change state law to qualify for funds.
This is Education Reform’s Moon Shot, writes Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a Washington Post op-ed. The department’s never had this much money to hand out before. There are 19 points, but four basic ideas are critical:
— To reverse the pervasive dumbing-down of academic standards and assessments by states, Race to the Top winners need to work toward adopting common, internationally benchmarked K-12 standards that prepare students for success in college and careers.
— To close the data gap — which now handcuffs districts from tracking growth in student learning and improving classroom instruction — states will need to monitor advances in student achievement and identify effective instructional practices.
— To boost the quality of teachers and principals, especially in high-poverty schools and hard-to-staff subjects, states and districts should be able to identify effective teachers and principals — and have strategies for rewarding and retaining more top-notch teachers and improving or replacing ones who aren’t up to the job.
— Finally, to turn around the lowest-performing schools, states and districts must be ready to institute far-reaching reforms, from replacing staff and leadership to changing the school culture.
It’s fair to evaluate teachers based on students’ progress, says President Obama in a Washington Post interview.
So what we can say is that if a kid comes in and they gain two grade levels during the course of that single year, even if they’re still a little behind the national average, that tells us that school is doing a good job.
Linking teacher pay to test scores is a big mistake, argues Robert Pondiscio. Teachers already focus too much on scores and too little on the big picture.
It’s The Carrot That Feels Like a Stick, writes Mike Petrilli on Flypaper. He likes the reform ideas but dislikes the Washington Knows Best tone. If the states are forced to go along, they’ll implement reforms half-heartedly.
This is a draft, not the final proposal, so it’s possible the administration will bend on some of its 19 points.
Eduwonk hopes the department will hold the line, denying grants to states that aren’t serious about change. He notes NEA president Dennis Van Roekel claims to be “absolutely in sync with where they’re going,” except for performance pay, charter schools and linking student and teacher data. Eduwonk writes:
It’s akin to saying they’re on board with Duncan’s ”moon shot” except for the parts about rockets, rocket fuel, astronauts, engineers, and mission control.
Michael Umphrey wants students and parents to change — or else.
(Obama) could send the school money directly to the parents in the form of vouchers, threatening to cut it off if the kids grades don’t improve. He could turn off cell phone service for kids whose GPA drops below C. He could give each honor student one of those unsold General Motors cars while revoking drivers licenses for any student who gets an F.
Hmmm. Would a GM car be a sufficient motivator?
It’s difficult to figure out how much a teacher or a principal has contributed to students’ learning. I think we’re in the early stages of figuring this out, not in the so-obvious-everyone-should-do-it stage.