Leo Casey of Shanker Blog, “America’s Union Suppression Movement (And Its Apologists), Part Two”:

Similarly, in discussing teacher evaluations the Fordham/ERN report focuses entirely on matters of seniority layoffs, tenure and dismissal. There is no discussion of whether evaluations provide meaningful feedback and professional supports to teachers, thus improving the quality of teaching and learning across the board. The notion that tenure and due process could provide good teachers with the necessary protections to speak out when students are not being properly educated or are being unfairly treated is not even contemplated.

Shanker Blog does some great work, and this is a great criticism of a report put out by the Fordham Institute that basically started with a premise and wrapped the info around it.  Good takedown.

Grant Wiggins , “20 years later: the immorality of test security, revisited”:

As I have long written, I have no problem with the state doing a once-per-year audit of performance. But what far too many policy-makers and measurement wonks fail to understand is that if the core purpose of the test is to improve performance, not just audit it, then most test security undercuts the purpose. Look, I get the point of security: you can get at understanding far more easily and efficiently (hence, cheaply) if the student does not know the specific question that is coming; I’m ok with that. But complete test security after the fact serves only the test-makers: they get to re-use items (and do so with little oversight), and they make the entire test more of a superficial dipstick, using proxies for real work, than a genuine test of transparent and worthy performance.

This is really kind of a basic thing: tests are being used as audits, doling out rewards and punishments, rather than as a tool or method for helping teachers and schools improve.

Larry Cuban, “Are There Lessons from the History of School Reform?”:

The current crop of school reformers have a full agenda of Common Core standards, test-driven accountability, expanding parental choice through charters and vouchers, spreading virtual teaching and learning, and ridding classrooms of ineffective teachers based upon students’ test scores. These reformers have their eyes fixed on the future not the horrid present where schools, in their charitable view, are dinosaurs. These reformers are allergic to the history of school reform; they are ahistorical activists that carry the whiff of arrogance associated with the uninformed.

Interesting to note that edreformers suffer from the same lack of historical perspective as the Silicon Valley hype machine.

Alfie Kohn, “Poor Teaching for Poor Children… in the Name of Reform”:

Deborah Meier, the educator and author who has founded extraordinary schools in New York and Boston, points out that the very idea of “school” has radically different meanings for middle-class kids, who are “expected to have opinions,” and poor kids, who are expected to do what they’re told. Schools for the well-off are about inquiry and choices; schools for the poor are about drills and compliance. The two types of institutions “barely have any connection to each other,” she says.

Alfie points out one of testing’s insidious impacts: it shapes the curriculum taught much more in schools where they’re struggling to meet standards, resulting in limiting the curriculum to solely to what’s on the test and cutting out class time for test prep, and those schools tend to be impoverished and minority schools.  High stakes testing is a civil rights issue.

This post is part of the thread: Testing & Standards in Education - an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

Dean Shareski, “Overcoming Digital Dualism”:

This is still someone abstract until you begin to understand, value and appreciate what these connections look and feel like. Most educators and students don’t know what it’s like to forge connections with people youve never met. For me, face to face interactions for many of my professional colleagues supplement my online interactions. The notion of digital dualism is largely the crux of what holds education back from valuing these connections. This doesn’t suggest we can’t discuss manners and norms but it also can’t be shrouded with superiority or nostaligia. Those two perspectives will always remain so long as folks only see their connections as supplement or a second choice.

The idea that the ‘offline’ is more authentic than online is a major barrier for the use of technology and social media in the classroom.  For those of us who use those technologies to connect with people every day, those connections feel just as ‘real’ as offline connections.  They’re not less meaningful unless you fail to cultivate meaning from them.

Yochai Benkler: After Selfishness – Wikipedia 1, Hobbes 0 at Half Time

When people think they’re treated fairly, they’re more motivated to act… the core idea of separating fairness and justice from productivity and incentives misses the reality of what people care about.

This video is pretty much brilliant. I personally have a strong aversion to making moral arguments from an economic perspective, but this lecture lends credence to my increasing suspicion that the arguments can go hand in hand – that a just society is in fact a more productive one.

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, “Proving a Conservative Caricature of Boston Bombing Coverage Wrong”:

Generally speaking, “mainstream” outlets have been diligently reporting out the story and gathering that evidence. The conservative press has done very little reporting. Its been busy cherry-picking liberal dissents from the jihadist theory of the Boston bombing, treating those dissents as if they’re representative of “the liberal media” generally, and needlessly worrying about a supposed unwillingness to confront radical Islam. “The chances are that we will learn nothing important from Boston about the enduring terrorist threat against our country,” Rich Lowry writes. “When the next attack comes, and it will, we will again scratch our heads and wonder who could do such a thing, and why?” I think he’s been reading too much Steyn, and that when the next attack comes, the mainstream media will thoroughly report on the people behind it too.

Surprise, surprise – conservatives live in a bubble.

Politico Accidentally Points Out Sexism At The New York Times

Late last night, Politico published an expose on Jill Abramson’s “turbulent leadership” at the New York Times. Unfortunately, it appears the piece can be summed up like this: New York Times reporters don’t like working for a woman.

The piece twists itself into knots, trying to figure out how to best criticize her work; Abramson, the woman who led the Times to win four Pulitzer’s this year, established a paywall that has helped shore up the Times’ digital revenue, embraced the web’s technology with innovative pieces like “Snow Fall,” and helped maintain this struggling newspaper as the “paper of record,” is alternately “impossible” to work with but isn’t around enough or “approachable;” alternately “very unpopular right now” and leaving the Times “leaderless” but still “very respected there.”

Read more at IBTimes’ new blog Fighting Words.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, “Blanket ‘Don’t Go To Graduate School!’ Advice Ignores Race and Reality?”:

That’s not changed overly much. That’s why Obama’s reduction of the public sector as the private sector picked up hiring over the past three years has been devastating for black workers. We work in the public sector because equal opportunity hiring laws counteract biases in hiring that make a white felon more likely to be hired than a black applicant with no criminal history. We stay in bureaucracies because those same equal opportunity laws require that promotion criteria be explicit, published and uniformly applied regardless of sex, race, gender, etc. which counteracts the documented bias that transmutable, opaque “discretion” produces.

It’s interesting to note that people forget, when dealing with an institution, how it fits in the larger social structure, and graduate school may actually be a great idea for groups that are not the ones giving the advice.

John Merrow on Taking Note, “Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error”:

Michelle Rhee had to decide whether to investigate aggressively or not. She had publicly promised to make all decisions “in the best interests of children,” and a full-scale investigation would seem to keep that pledge. If cheating were proved, she could fire the offenders and see that students with false scores received the remedial attention they needed. Failing to investigate might be interpreted as a betrayal of children’s interests–if it ever became public knowledge.

This is really important information – Michelle Rhee ran on a platform of improving the test schools of her district. Basically, her entire career rests on that achievement, and the fact that the achievement may not be real significantly undermines her platform.

This post is part of the thread: Testing & Standards in Education - an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.