News from EPSA
In TC People section of TC News, Joe Levine introduces M.A. degree student in Education Policy, Amanda Washington, where she talks about her interests, her family, her inspirations, her work, and her road to Teachers College. Published: 2/28/2014 10:27:00 AM
"...political observers say that the common core, because of its intimate connection to the classroom, is likely to fail without strong teacher-'"and union-'"buy-in." Read the full article "Common-Core Tensions Cause Union Heartburn" in the Feb. 18 issue of Education Week. Published: 2/25/2014 2:23:00 PM
In the NYT article "Magnet Schools Find a Renewed Embrance in Cities" Prof. Jeff Henig joins a discussion on how US urban districts, such as Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington, are reconsidering magnet schools as traditional public schools come under increasing pressure from charter schools and vouchers for private schools. Published: 2/25/2014 2:10:00 PM
Mayor Bill de Blasio says when it comes to universal pre-kindergarten, time is of essence. Prof. Michael Rebell joins the discussion on NY1 TV news. Published: 1/31/2014 12:06:00 PM
Amy Stuart Wells, Professor of Sociology and Education, who earned her Ph.D. from TC in 1991, is a leading authority on educational policy, race and education, charter schools, school desegregation, and school choice policy. Published: 1/23/2014 10:24:00 AM
Basil Smikle is a political strategist and adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Published: 1/17/2014 12:27:00 PM
Former TC Sachs lecturer David Kirp cites a study co-authored by Henry Levin, William H. Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, which found that an academic and financial support program for one community college student costing $4,000 per year reaps "whopping" $200,000 in taxpayer benefits. Published: 1/14/2014 11:05:00 AM
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
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.