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An Education Reform Article Worth Reading

Everywhere I turn these days, I seem to be faced with another article about education reform.  From Time Magazine to The New York Times, it seems everyone is covering education a lot more than they used to… or perhaps it’s just that I’m paying more attention than I used to because I’m shocked about the “reforms” being suggested since they don’t seem to sound like true reform to fix what is broken in our nation’s public schools.

Alfie Kohn‘s latest article in The Huffington Post, “What Passes for School Reform: ‘Value-Added’ Teacher Evaluation and Other Absurdities,” is worth reading and sharing with your social network.  The article’s hyperlinks lead readers to more information on a variety of topics (e.g., “merit pay” to “teacher tenure” to “turnaround models”) that people are buzzing about.  The hyperlinks are well-worth reading since they provide more information for you to have conversations, with people who are in and out of the field of education, about education reform that makes sense.

I’ll leave you with the section of Kohn’s piece that resonated with me most with regard to value-added teacher evaluations:

To fight back, an awful lot of teachers who have been celebrated for their students’ high scores — those teachers who can’t be accused of sour grapes — will have to stand up and say, “Thanks, but let’s be honest. All of us who work in schools know that you can’t tell how good a teacher is on the basis of his or her kids’ test results. In fact, by being forced to think about those results, my colleagues and I are held back from being as good as we can be. By singling me out for commendation — and holding other teachers up to ridicule — you’ve lowered the quality of schooling for all kids.”

Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alfie-kohn/what-passes-for-school-re_b_710696.html on 9/12/10.

On a related note, if you want to take action in your community, with regard to the pressures we’re putting on our students with regard to standardized testing, then learn more about the “Race to Nowhere” Documentary. Click here to find a screening near you.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

2 thoughts on “An Education Reform Article Worth Reading Leave a comment

  1. @Christy: Thank you for sharing your school board experience in this forum. I wish I could tell you that this is the only time I’ve heard of something like this, but it isn’t. Too many friends and former colleagues tell me of similar situations. It’s disheartening to hear. Again, *we* must remember that we are there to educate the whole child. Keep teaching according to best practices and everything will work out.

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  2. I have felt weighed down ever since I attended a school board meeting, intending to celebrate the appointment of our new assistant principal, only to spend two hours listening to school members holler (yes, complete with red face, arms flailing, and spit flying) at our assistant superintendent about low test scores. Every time she attempted to address plans to improve instruction, the school board members refused to listen, berated her about trying to make excuses, accused her of trying to manipulate test data to make it look better than it is, and ultimately celebrated that if she says she can improve instruction, then that means they have caught her admitting we have been doing things wrong. The end result of that meeting was the decision that administrators in our district who fail to show a sufficient increase in test scores will be fired. Let me tell you, we are feeling the weight of that decision in our classrooms. Thank you for lifting the weight. By reminding me that Alfie is out there speaking rationally about education reform you reminded me of why I got into education in the first place. I heard Alfie speak during my undergrad studies and have been a fan ever since. I learned to keep my unpopular Alfie Kohn fan club membership so quiet that I forgot it was there! Your site continues to provide the supportive network I need to stay inspired, keep my chin up, and face the world of public education each day! Thank you!

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