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Education Policy and Social Analysis
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Education Policy and Social Analysis

News from EPSA

NY Times Cites Peter Bergman's Study

The NY Times story, "Helping the Poor in Education: The Power of a Simple Nudge," cites Professor Bergman's work with a Los Angeles school sending personalized text messages to parents of middle and high school students. Published: 1/19/2015 1:30:00 PM

Thomas Bailey Widely Quoted in Major Media Outlets on President Obama's Proposed Community College Plan

Professor Bailey was quoted in multiple news stories about President Obama's proposed plan to offer students two years of free tuition at community colleges, including those in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Published: 1/11/2015 5:39:00 PM

USA Today Story on Diversity Quotes Amy Stuart Wells

Professor Wells states that consciously bringing together students of different races is useful and that putting kids in segregated schools "is not good preparation for the 21st century." Published: 1/11/2015 5:24:00 PM

Jeffrey Henig's lecture at the University of Virginia on The Politics of Educational Research. Dec. 5, 2014.

EPSA's Jeffrey Henig spoke on "The Politics of Educational Research" on Friday December 5th, 2014 as part of the Curry Research Lectureship Series at the University of Virginia. Drawing on the research he undertook in writing his book Spin Cycle, he explained the political dimensions of education research as they play out in controversial areas like market-based reform, high stakes testing and teacher assessment. Published: 12/19/2014 12:09:00 PM

EPSA leads a conference on the VERGARA, DAVIDS, AND WRIGHT case. Dec.3. 2014

On December 3rd, Teachers College, Columbia University hosted a national conference that focused on the Vergara, Davids, and Wright cases, which concern the impact of teacher tenure on low-'income and minority students. Panels included both supporters and critics of the Vergara/Wright approach. Published: 12/19/2014 11:39:00 AM

Luis Huerta in the New York Times, Dec. 11, 2014.

"Policy makers should resist being seduced by achievement scores and, instead, hold charter schools accountable and aligned with the long-standing purpose of public schools." Prof. Huerta's article High-Suspension Rates at Charter Schools Don't Help Students appeared in the Opinion Pages, Room for Debate of the NYT on Dec. 11, 2014. Published: 12/11/2014 3:29:00 PM

Aaron Pallas to President Obama: "Slow the Testing Train Down"

Aaron Pallas

Aaron Pallas

Following is the first installment of education advice from TC faculty for President Obama in his second term.

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.   

 


(11/15/2012)

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