News from EPSA
Professor Amy Stuart Wells writes in The Atlantic about Ferguson's lessons for the future of the suburbs. Published: 10/8/2014 12:17:00 PM
America's Suburban Schools Facing new Pressures. One of the problems with many school reforms being implemented in schools today is that they are being done in isolation -'" from one another and from other policies that are necessary to actually allow the education changes to work. In the following post, two professors explain how housing policy affects America's suburban schools in a profound way. Amy Stuart Wells is a professor of sociology at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Douglas Ready is an associate professor of education policy at Teachers College. Wells leads the Center for Understanding Race and Education at Teachers College, founded in 2008 for research and outreach activities related to issues of race in educational institutions. Published: 9/8/2014 3:47:00 PM
Accounting For Higher Education Accountability: Political Origins of State Performance Funding for Higher Education by Kevin J. Dougherty, Rebecca S. Natow, Rachel Hare Bork, Sosanya M. Jones & Blanca E. Vega. TC Record. Sept. 2014.
Examination of the political origins of state performance funding for higher education in six states (Florida, Illinois, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington) and the lack of its development in another two states (California and Nevada). Published: 9/4/2014 1:17:00 PM
Basil Smikle, a Ph.D. candidate in the Politics & Education program and a political strategist, participates in a panel discussing Gov. Jay Nixon's press conference in Ferguson, Missouri. MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki. August 17, 2014. Published: 8/19/2014 11:24:00 AM
Thomas Bailey, George and Abby O'Neill Professor of Economics and Education, Launches New TC Center on College Remediation at White House Published: 8/14/2014 1:58:00 PM
Rachel Langlais, an alumna of the Leadership, Policy and Politics program, 2012, currently works as a Senior Program Manager on the Partnerships and Research team at The New Teacher Project. Recently, Rachel, together with a co-writer, has published an entry on a TNTP blog titled "Embracing our own big data." Published: 7/28/2014 1:16:00 PM
Dr. Travis Bristol, a 2014 graduate of the Education Policy program at Teachers College, is a guest in Radio Boston podcast "How to Increase the Number of Black Male Teachers in Boston Public Schools." He discusses the subject with Hayden Frederick-Clarke, a public school teacher in Charlestown. Travis Bristol is also a former high school English teacher in New York City public schools and teacher educator for secondary English with the Boston Teacher Residency program. After graduating from TC, he has received a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. He tweets @TJacksonBristol. Published: 7/14/2014 2:36:00 PM
Michael Rebell, professor of law and educational practice at the EPSA department, reviews the decision of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu to struck down the state's teacher tenure and seniority-order layoff laws. Published: 7/9/2014 3:16:00 PM
Aaron Pallas to President Obama: "Slow the Testing Train Down"
The big news in the first Obama Administration was the Race to the Top (RttT) initiative, which set states up to compete against one another for a fixed pot of federal funds in a race to make education policy changes favored by the Administration. From the standpoint of the federal government, RttT was a great success. Many more states initiated reforms in school choice, teacher evaluation and information system policies than received funds in the competition. Although RttT has been costly, the perceived payoff in policy reforms, from the Administration’s viewpoint, has more than justified the federal outlay. Expect more of the same in the next four years.
Ironically, the Administration championed evidence-based decision-making while wielding powerful incentives for states to implement unproven policies. There is no consistent evidence to date that linking teacher evaluations to student test scores results in better student achievement in the long run. And there may be unintended consequences of such policies, as the volatility in evaluations based on student test scores may drive good teachers out of the classroom, and limit the ability of school districts to recruit talented individuals prepared to teach for the long haul.
To worsen matters, most states are now phasing in a new set of national learning standards, the Common Core State Standards, and new assessments aligned with these standards. The standards are more challenging than existing state standards, and will likely be implemented before most teachers can be prepared to teach to them.
My advice to President Obama and Secretary Duncan, then, is to slow this train down. Rather than dangling gold-plated carrots in front of cash-starved states to induce the implementation of untested policies, it would be better to invest in supporting a smaller number of states and districts in implementing carefully designed teacher evaluation systems, and monitoring both the implementation and its outcomes. That's a better strategy than Rush to the Test.