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Two stories about the urge to quantify student "progress" made headlines this week. Taken separately, they are a source of rich debate for anyone interested in education in general, and those who care about teachers, in particular. Taken together, they should be utterly terrifying for anyone who cares about either teachers or education.

Item #1—Michigan:

A committee of state lawmakers approved changes to two bills that would create Michigan’s first statewide teacher evaluation system, delaying a final vote until next week.

The House education committee met Wednesday to discuss substituted changes to HB 5223 and HB 5224, designed to implement a new teacher evaluation system that for the first time would include student growth in rating a teacher's performance.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

And how shall we measure student growth? Teachers in Michigan had better hope that said measurements don't include something along these lines:

“According to professor of theory of knowledge Leon Trotsky, privacy is the most fundamental report of humankind. Radiation on advocates to an orator transmits gamma rays of parsimony to implode.’’

Any native speaker over age 5 knows that the preceding sentences are incoherent babble. But a computer essay grader, like the one Massachusetts may use as part of its new public school tests, thinks it is exceptionally good prose.

(...)

Robo-graders do not score by understanding meaning but almost solely by use of gross measures, especially length and the presence of pretentious language.

(...)

Recently, three computer science students, Damien Jiang and Louis Sobel from MIT and Milo Beckman from Harvard, demonstrated that these machines are not measuring human communication. They have been able to develop a computer application that generates gibberish that one of the major robo-graders, IntelliMetric, has consistently scored above the 90th percentile overall. In fact, IntelliMetric scored most of the incoherent essays they generated as “advanced” in focus and meaning as well as in language use and style.

The notion of computer-assessed high-stakes exams is just the latest (and, arguably, most frightening) in a string of efforts to take something (education) that is very difficult to quantify well, and place a numerical value on it.

The concept of pushing untested (or under-tested) quantification efforts, all in the name of "accountability," are nothing new under the sun. In fact, my first foray into the subject here at Daily Kos was nearly four years ago.

What is particularly maddening about this particular episode is the fact that the research into these assessment "tools" is largely being kept under lock and key, despite the fact that many of our nation's students are being used as test subjects in "pilot programs."

As the recently retired director of MIT's writing program, Les Perelman, noted:

Unfortunately, the problem in evaluating these machines is the lack of transparency on the part of the private vendors and the researchers associated with them. None of the major testing companies allow easy access or open-ended demonstrations of their robo-graders. My requests to the testing companies to examine their products have largely gone unanswered. A Pearson vice president explained that I was denied access to test the product now being considered by PARCC because I wanted “to show why it doesn’t work."
(The researchers who worked on ways to "trick" another robo-grading program actually bought their own version of the assessment tool in order to test it, by the way.)

So, to review: (1) Assessment tools are being readied for use to judge our schools and their teachers that are not able to be independently tested for their accuracy. (2) There is a strong likelihood that not one, but many, states will include those assessments to "hold teachers accountable," perhaps impacting their pay and their very employment. (3) At least some evidence exists that the machines could be completely unreliable as a legitimate vehicle of assessment.

But, it's based in technology, and it is right in the wheelhouse of the "reform" movement. And it puts a number on the "value" of teachers, which has been the chief ambition, if not obsession, of the right (and far too many on the left and center) for years. So, despite the obvious red flags, expect this to become standard policy in state after state. After all, the mantra of "educational reform," for years, has been summed up in three simple words: Ready. Fire. Aim.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri May 02, 2014 at 08:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Horrific (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eru, allie4fairness

    This type of school policy is completely and totally out of line.

    Sadly the cadre of edu-trolls will be here sooner or later to promote it.

    •  the end is near (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musiclady, LI Mike, slowbutsure, jbsoul

      This of course will further the decline of American education system compared to the rest of the world.

      It will be another pay for performance based on individual performance using average as an indicator of success with little if any  understanding of the system creating the decline of educational achievement in America.

      Americans think they can buy their way out of everything including education.

      Anation that prefers guns and wars over education and  infrastructure is a nation on the fast track to third world status.

  •  In my 38 year career, I've noticed that (6+ / 0-)

    students do not communicate as well as they did years ago.  First of all, writing has become too formulaic.  Every paragraph has to have a certain number of sentences etc. We use rubrics to determine if a kid has met standard yet sometimes a student will produce an extraordinary piece of creative writing that doesn't fit the rubric.  As such, he cannot receive a grade indicating that he has met standard.  

    Machines grading can only make things worse.

    “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

    by musiclady on Fri May 02, 2014 at 05:02:28 PM PDT

    •  Best English teacher I ever had (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slowbutsure, david78209, dewtx, jbsoul

      ignored the rubrics and told me to just write - he said I had a voice and needed to listen to it.  That has served me well all my life.

    •  Jared Diamond's first book "Guns, Germs, and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      david78209, codairem

      Steel" was very interesting, but I was very aware he was 'telling us what he was going to tell us', 'laying out the details', then 'telling us what he told us'.  He (or his editor) had lost that by his book "Collapse" (also very interesting).

      ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

      by slowbutsure on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:45:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  With computers "Garbage in = Garbage out" (11+ / 0-)

    An algorithm to test creative writing, or even writing ability must assume that computers can think independently.  Computers can quickly examine many options to find one that meets criteria set by the programmers.  Computers are very fast but really, really stupid.  

    Humans have creativity.  Humans have interpersonal skills. Humans can have good taste.  Humans have cultural values and understanding.

    How would Einstein, Picasso, Dylan Thomas, Neil Armstrong, Margaret Mead, Emily Dickenson or Pavarotti score on one of these silly exams?  Were their teachers incompetent?  

  •  So (7+ / 0-)

    What we've learned here is that I need to start teaching my students gibberish.

    I think I can do that.

  •  Yikes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slowbutsure, Tronsix2, jbsoul

    This sounds like a recipe for disaster. By keeping the algorithms the program is using under lock and key, it means that you can't meaningfully prepare for the examination it administers, or the criteria it will use to measure "success." I suppose it is a happy coincidence, then, that the evaluation program is then beyond review, assigning teachers to the "naughty" or "nice" list in what might appear to be a random and haphazard nature.

    Are we looking to create a system where every teacher can excel and teach their students, or one where we weed out a certain number of teachers described as "bad," but that we don't have any notion of whether it is actually so?

    •  The basic assumption in the computer science (5+ / 0-)

      community (as well as the security community) is private algorithms are bad algorithms--they may have hidden requirements and hidden hooks, they can't be tested, they can't be optimized, and they are unlikely to evolve.

      •  That makes sense (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jbsoul

        But the maraschino cherry on this shit sundae is that the teachers being tested are being tested so that a certain number of them fail, regardless of whether they're actually the "worst" of their profession, or just got unlucky.

        That doesn't help the professionals succeed; it just presumes that a certain number need to wash out.

        •  The other key problem (0+ / 0-)

          Is also a common one: The assumption that the effects of an individual, a course, or an idea is short-range. If a teacher doesn't improve test scores by the end of the year, they aren't having a good effect.

          If I really wanted to do faculty evaluation at the university level, I would evaluate student performance in later courses as well as at the end of the term (and weight the former more heavily), and have students evaluate teachers a year after the course ended.

    •  Weeding out (0+ / 0-)

      Enron used evaluations to get rid of the "bottom" third of their workers based on evaluations. This was of course designed so that their workers lived in fear of being fired and worked outrageous hours and never complained. This is what the "business oriented" people want for teachers

  •  If you can't measure it, it doesn't exist. (3+ / 0-)

    I think Mr. Heisenberg would have a problem with that statement, but that is the assumption of the "educational leaders" who think they actually know something.

    They don't.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:10:28 PM PDT

  •  I'm curious ... (5+ / 0-)

    In all these proposals to grade teachers based upon student scores, the one common concern is that it will reflect badly on many teachers through no fault of their own.

    My question is, what are the proposals for replacing all these bad teachers when their "under-performance" causes the school districts to fire them?

    Where are they suggesting that newer, shinier teachers will come from?

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:25:17 PM PDT

  •  Yes, it is scary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, TayTay, NancyK

    It should indeed frighten parents who depend on public schools, and all of us who depend on an educated citizenry.  

    I think it should also frighten teachers.  

    Instead of trying to hold their ground, teachers could do themselves and the public a lot of good if they would get in front of this issue and establish methods to measure performance in their own ranks.

    Whenever I have read suggestions that teachers should measure performance and qualifications in their own ranks, defenders of the status quo argue that it is the administrations job to pick and keep good teachers.    

    This is what comes of allowing others to judge your value based on group classifications rather than individual performance.

    The collection of years of service and extra credentials does not measure teacher quality any more than these ridiculous testing schemes.

    •  In some places, teachers have done just this. (6+ / 0-)

      I worked for two years as part of a committee that created the evaluation system in my state. It was fair, looked at multiple facets of the practice of teaching, and it even included student test data as a part of the evaluation. Then the state went to implement it and decided it would "take too much time" to implement it the way it should be done, the way it would mean something. They stripped out just about everything but the student test "data."

      We did help; they turned it into a weapon to bludgeon us with. Why would teachers want to help create the noose they hang us with? You have to know that's all the powers that be want to do. They don't care about teaching or learning.

      "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way" Juan Ramon Jimnez

      by Teiresias70 on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:46:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same here (0+ / 0-)

        Teachers worked for a few years in my district doing this, especially the special ed. (ESP) teachers whose students always fall in the 25th and lower percentile.  But the districts wants that Race to the Top money

    •  In some places, teachers have established such (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RadGal70, TayTay, happymisanthropy, jbsoul

      measures.  My large, suburban DC district had such an evaluation system which has been heavily researched and held up as an example of an effective system.  Sadly the requirements of Race to the Top have caused us to make substantial changes to our system.  Our union leader brought this point to Arne Duncan, who admitted that the program wasn't meant to be so inflexible.  Teachers want to be evaluated in ways that help them improve.  Evaluations shouldn't be about firing people. They should be about making them into effective teachers.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sat May 03, 2014 at 04:50:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  sounds like you are Montgomery County? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurel in CA, jbsoul

        it would be Maryland because Virginia did not buy into Race to the Top.

        In Maryland, the problem goes back to Nancy Grasmick and Martin O'Malley putting in for 50% of a teacher's evaluation being based on student assessment even though the General Assembly never agreed to that.  State Senator Paul Pinsky told me that the most the Senate agreed to was 35%.

        I was the secondary teacher on the panel that tried to design Prince George's system, which like PARS in Montgomery was rejected by the state.

        I will never support O'Malley for any office based on how bad he has been for education in Maryland.

        "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

        by teacherken on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:36:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbsoul

          38th year of teaching --32nd in Montgomery and 6 in Prince Georges before that.

          The state legislation you mentioned actually was vague.  Paul Pinsky (who works for MCEA) was able to get the wording to say that "a significant portion" of the evaluation would be based on student achievement and I believe it was not to exceed 35%.

          Montgomery and Frederick Counties refused to sign the state's RTTT application and as such, they are not held to the same requirements.  Our evaluation system will be using SOL's as our measure of student achievement in lieu of test scores.  We still use the PAR system.

          I believe O'Malley's biggest fault was that he was too willing to just go along with Nancy Grasmick on everything.  Our new State Supt. is no better.  Fortunately at the county level, we have a sensible supt. who believes that there is too much testing and that we need to put more focus on social/emotional learning.

          “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

          by musiclady on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:55:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not every employee can be improved. (0+ / 0-)

        A person who is content to coast through instead of working hard cannot be made effective by any external method.   Its got to come from inside the person.  Sometimes the motivation they need is to get fired.

        Any kind of review must result in some portion of people being judged as ineffective and terminated.   It is not a review if everyone gets A's and B's.

        •  It is not a review if.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NancyK, jbsoul

          ....you decide the outcome in advance. Which is exactly what you have done if you assume that someone should be fired before carrying out the review.

          If that's a sample of your thinking, then the one who absolutely should be fired is you.

          "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

          by sagesource on Sun May 04, 2014 at 01:10:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Misunderstanding or Misrepresentation? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slang729

            Did you misunderstand my point?  I did not say that you decide someone needs firing, then do the review.   I said the process of review cannot effectively solve the problem if no one can be terminated.

            Some people need to be fired, in every profession.

            If you are intentionally misrepresenting my point in order to make "zinger" of a counter argument, then you need some retraining.  

    •  Can't be done (4+ / 0-)

      It's not possible to measure most of what an elementary or high school teacher does in all or part of a school year. That's not how children grow intellectually. More specifically, just because the state puts children into educational boxes based on their dates of birth and changes those boxes each year, doesn't mean that children learn in annual increments.

      More to the point, corporate education advocates insist on the standardized tests because they know that they make teachers look bad. If the students start doing well on those tests, the corporate education advocates will change the tests. If students do well on them, no one's interests are served.

      The best way to ensure teacher quality is peer review. I can think of no other way that will work.

      The history of music is mortal, but the idiocy of the guitar is eternal. ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

      by James Earl on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:14:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Peers and Parents (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        musiclady

        I agree that peer review would be good, but parents should be included also, in some fashion.   We know who the lousy teachers are when our kids are in school.

        •  Agree mostly (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musiclady, NancyK, jbsoul

          I agree that there should be ongoing feedback from parents, students, co-workers, and bosses, but I don't think it ought to be the whole thing.

          Many of those people are not qualified to evaluate a teacher's methods. There are always a few parents and students who are just contrary.

          While nearly everyone agrees that there is no single way to teach every student, far too many people believe there is a single way to evaluate the teaching.  As I said above, it cannot be done.

          The history of music is mortal, but the idiocy of the guitar is eternal. ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

          by James Earl on Sat May 03, 2014 at 07:06:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My district has parent and student surveys (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbsoul

            which are taken into consideration.

            “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

            by musiclady on Sat May 03, 2014 at 07:08:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Remember.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbsoul

            .... this is the guy who thinks a review is not a review if you don't fire someone, a half-witted approach if I ever saw one.

            "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

            by sagesource on Sun May 04, 2014 at 01:12:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Here's Why Parent Evals are an Issue.... (0+ / 0-)

          Some might be motivated to give honest feedback, but I know at least three parents I have currently who would absolutely lay me to waste, because I cost their kids a shot at valedictorian this year by giving them the first "B"s of their high school experience.

          Same problem with student evaluations—it puts pressure on the teacher to be a buddy (and thus "popular") rather than an authority figure and a mentor.

          "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
          Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

          by Steve Singiser on Sun May 04, 2014 at 08:03:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  i'm not sure (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul

      Though I appreciate where you're coming from here I don't see any reason that teacher-suggested performance mechanisms will be taken any more seriously by the Michelle Rhee crowd than the traditional administration-controlled performance evaluations have been.  The motive is not really to improve student performance for a lot of the people driving this, so there will always be some scapegoat school or district or state they can point at as underforming, as justification to say the teachers' ideas are not working.

      In a more objective sense, I don't think it's a good idea to have people judging their own (or their peers' performance).

      I dont' know what people think is wrong with the model of that being part of an administration's job.  In every other industry it is the supervisor's responsibility to judge worker performance, and who fits that role in a school besides the admin?  

  •  If I knew how to embed pictures in comments, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TayTay, jbsoul

    I'd post the Florida "value-added" formula which already turns teachers into a number.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:17:53 PM PDT

    •  The "value-added" system of evaluations (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul

      has been discredited by research.  Classes vary vastly from year to year.  More than half of the teachers who do an outstanding job of adding value one year (as measured by student progress on standardized tests) fail to achieve the same numbers the following year when they have a different class, even though they are presumably employing the same methods.

  •  See Hoover Inst. doc on ed tech breaking unions (5+ / 0-)

    I posted this elsewhere, but it's worth reposting:

    http://www.hoover.org/...

    That something is the worldwide revolution in information technology—an exogenous development, originating entirely outside the education system, that is among the most profoundly influential forces ever to sweep the planet. With its rooting in information and knowledge, it cannot help but transform the way students learn, teachers teach, and schools are organized. It is the future of American education—indeed, of world education.

    Already, online curricula can be customized to the learning styles and life situations of individual students: giving them instant feedback on how well they are doing, providing them with remedial work when they need it, allowing them to move at their own pace, and giving them access—wherever they live, whatever their race or background—to a vast range of courses their own schools don’t offer, and ultimately to the best the world can provide. By strategically substituting technology (which is cheap) for labor (which is expensive), moreover, schools can be far more cost-effective than they are now—which is crucial in a future of tight budgets.

    Because technology stands to have enormous impacts on jobs and money, the teachers unions find it threatening. And throughout the 2000s, they have used their political power—in state legislatures, in the courts—to try to slow and stifle its advance. But they won’t succeed forever. Education technology is a tsunami that is only now beginning to swell, and it will hit the American public school system with full force over the next decade and those to follow. Long term, the teachers unions can’t stop it. It is much bigger and more powerful than they are.

    The advance of technology—much like the advance of globalization—will then have dire consequences for established power. There will be a growing substitution of technology for labor, and thus a steep decline in the number of teachers (and union members) per student; a dispersion of the teaching labor force, which will no longer be so geographically concentrated in districts (because online teachers can be anywhere); and a proliferation of new online providers and choice options, attracting away students, money, and jobs. All of these developments will dramatically undermine the membership and financial resources of the teachers unions, and thus their political power. Increasingly, they will be unable to block, and the political gates will swing open—to yield a new era in American education.

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sat May 03, 2014 at 05:33:47 PM PDT

  •  Unbelievable. Thanks, Steve. My post tomorrow (5+ / 0-)

    on a related topic is called: "Test prep kills learning. But standardized testing is big money. Guess how this one turns out."

    Enjoy.

    •  standardized standardized standardized (4+ / 0-)

      I was there at Teaching & Learning 2014 when Bill Gates advocated for Common Core standards by comparing them to standardized electric plugs.

      The point on standards is that it maximizes profits for content providers, be they of textbooks, texts, or test prep.  One set of standards means one set of everything.

      Further, moving everything to computers means you sell a lot of hardware, most of which is obsolete in a few years.

      Publishers prefer electronic copies of textbooks because the overhead to produce them is relatively cheap compared to the number of copies sold if the books are to a national standard.

      This is all about money.

      It is NOT about learning, or benefiting the students.

      "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

      by teacherken on Sat May 03, 2014 at 06:40:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  MN-Gov Dayton gave his state of the state speech (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyK, jbsoul, sujigu

    recently (it was delayed somewhat because he had had surgery). I listened to the whole speech, because I'm a bit of a politics geek. Here's link to the speech if you want to read it: Governor Dayton's 2014 State of the State Remarks.

    I found it interesting that on the one hand, he was saying we have very high scores in tests...

    ...in the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress testing, Minnesota’s 4th graders tested #1 in the nation in math.  They ranked 10th best in reading, which was a big improvement from 22nd the year before. Very important was that the state’s reading gap for African-American and Latino 4th graders closed by 10 points from 2009 to 2013.

    Our 8th graders ranked 11th best in the nation in reading and 5th best in math.

    We have had the highest ACT scores among seniors for 8 years running, and our graduation rate, nearly 80%, is the highest in a decade.

    So, you'd think he's in favor of testing, right? And bragging about the quality of Minnesota schools?

    Later in the speech he says this about tests:

    The excessive amounts of time and rote learning required by today’s excessive school testing are counter-productive. They stifle teachers’ abilities to not only impart information, but also to show kids how to use it.  How to apply their knowledge to solve new problems in new areas.  And to enjoy doing so.

    This approach does not require abandoning testing, as a measure of each student’s progress.  It does require more efficient, more effective testing.  A growing number of elementary schools in Minnesota are applying “one-minute, read-out-loud” tests, which can determine reading levels in just that one minute.  Such tests can be repeated throughout the school year, as often as necessary, to measure students’ progress and adjust learning strategies accordingly.

    Compare that approach to the high-stakes, anxiety-provoking testing, which is now imposed on children in third grade – or even younger.  Many children come to school terrified on test days; then go home demoralized.  What purpose does it serve to send a third-grader home believing she has failed life, because she may have performed poorly on a test?

    Last year, I’m very sorry to say, our state went backwards.  More tests were mandated in the upper grade levels.  I’m told some tests are required by state statute.  Others are necessary to satisfy federal requirements.  Still others are added by local school districts.  They may make sense individually; but added all together, they do not.

    I am asking our Department of Education to prepare for the 2015 legislative session an analysis all of the tests now required at each grade level.  And to recommend which ones could be streamlined, combined, or eliminated. I urge next year’s legislators to work with state and national experts to reduce the amount of school testing and allow dedicated teachers to spend their time teaching students what they will need for their future success.

    I found that to be an interesting contrast. On the one hand, our kids score pretty well on tests. But on the other hand, maybe we should cut back on the tests and let teachers teach the kids to think instead of teaching to the test.

    --

    One more thing, which is a slap at the Republican legislature from a couple years ago. The penny-pinching Republicans decided to lower taxes (in a recession), which lowered state revenues, which meant there wasn't enough money for schools, so payments to school districts were "delayed," which meant local school districts had to borrow money just to keep schools running and then pay it back with interest when the state finally paid them.

    Soon thereafter, the voters elected a Democratic-majority Senate and House and they fixed the problem caused by the tax-cutting Republicans. Here's what Governor Dayton said in his state of the state speech:

    The legislature also passed one of my consistent priorities; and state-funded, all-day kindergarten will begin this fall.  Studies show that both early childhood and all-day kindergarten can make crucial differences in boosting students’ performances and closing achievement gaps.  So do nutritious hot school lunches.  No child should be shamed because parents can’t afford lunch.  Hopefully, that funding will soon be enacted.

    And, very significantly, during the past two-and-a-half years, we have repaid ALL of the $2.8 Billion previously borrowed from our schools.  Now, school districts can put their money into classrooms, not bank loans.  Let us vow that no more will we balance state budgets by creating deficits in school budgets.

    Just weeks ago, the legislature passed strong anti-bullying legislation.  That is also important education reform.  Children don’t learn at school, if they are scared.  Or made to feel bad about themselves.

    --

    I feel very much better when Democrats are running the state. We also legalized marriage equality and raised the minimum wage. So I'm feeling good and proud of being a Minnesotan.

    (Note: All bolding is mine and mine alone. I wanted to point out the important parts to read.)

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Sat May 03, 2014 at 08:14:56 PM PDT

    •  If only all Democrats were reliably pro-education! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul

      Unfortunately, I think Teddy Kennedy deserves a fair share of the blame for the current situation in education, and now we have Andrew Cuomo and Rahm Emanuel and a few others who are basically indistinguishable from Republicans when it comes to education.

  •  Improving schools (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe I missed it, but what is the alternative federal plan to improve public education? I mean, besides the status quo. The rabid opposition to seemingly any effort to introduce any sort of standard metric by which to measure school or teacher performance reminds me a lot of the opposition to the ACA. It's easy to sit back and take pot shots at any plan anyone else comes up with. It's not so easy to come up with your own plan.

    •  For starters, they might want to look at (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      codairem, jbsoul, sujigu

      actual research done by actual educators.  Hedge fund managers and CEO's should not be creating education policy.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sat May 03, 2014 at 08:48:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe some kind of external observation/auditing? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbsoul

      Something akin to how student teachers are evaluated?

      Anything human.  And nothing based on student outcomes, at all.  Teachers have so very little to do with that.

      Although honestly I'm not convinced that there is anything chronically wrong with teaching as a whole, right now, aside from the distortions produced by all this useless testing.  50 years ago teachers were highly valued and the conventional wisdom was that the education system was the best in the world, but objectively has anything really changed?  Socioeconomic conditions, human nature, anything to explain why now suddenly it's a problem solvable only by blaming teachers for everything?

      •  Tried that (0+ / 0-)

        I remember something like you describe being attempted many years ago in my home state, but, again, a very vocal group of people (mostly teachers) complained bitterly, and it was scrapped. I really don't see how you can leave out student outcomes when student outcomes are sorta the whole point of education. We can debate what the most accurate, effective measure of those outcomes are, but how do we judge success without some objective metric of student outcomes? Also, I think this debate (and all debates) would be better served without all of the hyperbole, such as the "blaming teachers for everything" comment.

  •  In states that mandate standardized student tests (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyK, jbsoul

    Every member of the state legislature, the governor, and all top state government officials should have to take the same tests.  Perhaps they shouldn't have to pass to stay in office, but their scores should all be published.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:07:39 PM PDT

  •  Quantifying Education (0+ / 0-)

    This nonsense is the byproduct of the neocon wet dream to privatize education. It began in earnest during the Reagan Admin in an attempt to change our school system from education based to job training based. The testing going on now is not intended to measure student knowledge; it is product testing. Combined with tracking students from an early age, not based on potential, but rather on race or socioeconomic factors, this system is designed to "weed" out the service sector future employees, military inductees, et al. from the middle management track. Of course, upper management potential students will never go to public schools. And if Republicans have their way, the taxpayers will pay for their school vouchers. This "tinkering" around the edges is not going to fix a flawed system. The entire system needs to be scraped and a rededication to education in America as the "great equalizer" needs to be placed front and center of our educational philosophy. Without these changes, American students will continue to fall behind the rest of the world. We, as a society, will feel the effects of such negligence for generations to come.

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