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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

Priscilla Wohlstetter: Helping Educators Implement the Common Core. Jan. 8, 2014

What is helping the Common Core succeed in NYC? Is New York City on track to ensure that the new Common Core standards will address academic achievement gaps and build skills like problem solving and persistence that also are crucial to college and career readiness? What steps should the next administration take to ensure this happens? Published: 1/10/2014 9:31:00 AM

Michael Rebell in the Daily News: Cuomo's Obligation to your Kids. Jan. 6, 2014

TC's Michael Rebell to Gov. Cuomo "Fund Schools, not Tax Cuts." The Executive Director of the Campaign for Educational Equity writes in The New York Daily News that if Cuomo's estimated $2 billion surplus is real, the state should start paying down its $4 billion debt to schools. Published: 1/10/2014

Aaron Pallas Offers Mayor de Blasio Some School Advice

On WNYC's SchoolBook blog, Aaron Pallas offers five cost-conscious tips for improving NYC schools. Published: 1/6/2014 5:36:00 PM

Priscilla Wohlstetter in WNYC's School Book blog. Dec. 9, 2013

Love 'em or hate 'em, charter schools are going to be with us for the foreseeable future, argues TC's Priscilla Wohlstetter Published: 12/11/2013 3:37:00 PM

Winners of the 2013-2014 Education Policy Dissertation Research Fellowship

The Education Policy Dissertation Research Fellowship is open to TC students, regardless of their department or program, whose dissertation research has the potential to inform societal efforts to improve educational opportunity, achievement, or equity. This research should be focused on an important policy issue at any level of government, reflect potential for policy utility, and show a strong likelihood of being accepted in the most well-respected journals. Our view of policy relevance is a broad one, encompassing research that affects policy indirectly by shifting public understanding of societal challenges and opportunities for effective intervention. Published: 11/20/2013 11:16:00 AM

Scott-Clayton Testifies Before Senate HELP Committee

Professor Scott-Clayton testified before the Senate HELP Committee about gaps in college enrollment and the effects of financial aid, and made suggestions for reform. Published: 11/14/2013 1:16:00 PM

Thomas Bailey in the NYT Room for Debate. Oct. 29, 2013

Prof. Bailey, Director of TC's Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment, writes in the New York Times Room for Debate, that having high schools, colleges, and institutions collaborate can increase high school graduation and college success. graduation and college success. Published: 11/4/2013 11:24:00 AM

Scott-Clayton Proposes Changes to Pell Grant System

Scott-Clayton Proposes Changes to Pell Grant System

The Assistant Professor at the Community College Research Center proposes major structural changes to improve college student outcomes. Published: 10/31/2013

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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