News from EPSA
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
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
"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
In the recent months, a lot of media and public attention has been devoted to the events in Ferguson, Missouri. More recently, Eric Garner's death and the Grand Jury's failure to indict Officer Pantaleo has sparked media and public activity here in New York City, and across the nation. EPSA students and alumni have their reaction to the situation. Published: 12/8/2014 11:28:00 AM
Professor Judith Scott-Clayton joined President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden at the White House College Opportunity Summit. Published: 12/5/2014 7:57:00 AM
Terrenda White, a 2014 graduate of the Sociology & Education PhD program, was featured in an NPR story on Teach for America. Published: 12/2/2014 4:49:00 PM
Governor Andrew Cuomo has appointed Professor Elana Sigall as New York State's Deputy Secretary for Education Published: 11/18/2014 5:34:00 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.