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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

Gov Cuomo Names Elana Sigall Deputy Secretary for Education

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

New hire: Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, Senior Research Associate, EPSA.

Congratulations and welcome to Amra Sabic-El_Rayess, Senior Research Associate at EPSA. Published: 11/7/2014 3:41:00 PM

New hire: Sam Abrams, Director of NCSPE.

Congratulations and welcome to Sam Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education. Published: 11/7/2014 1:34:00 PM

Aaron Pallas in the Wall Street Journal

Professor Aaron Pallas is "cautiously optimistic" about Mayor de Blasio's vision for failing NYC schools, including the plan to have superintendents spend more time inside school buildings. Published: 11/5/2014 12:38:00 PM

Basil Smikle, Ph.D. candidate in P&E, in The Hill, September 30, 2014.

The Hill (thehill.com) is a top US political website, read by the White House and more lawmakers than any other site -- vital for policy, politics and election campaigns. Published: 10/29/2014 2:35:00 PM

Isaac Solano, M.A. student in Education Policy, in The Washington Post, Oct. 28, 2014

How I got out of poverty: -'I don't like to think of myself as an outlier' The story of how one young man went from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Denver to graduate school at Columbia University. Read the article here. Published: 10/28/2014 2:27:00 PM

Tom Bailey in Inside Higher Ed on Tuition-Free Plans at Community Colleges

Professor Tom Bailey Says that Tuition-Free Plans Could Prompt "Steep Tuition Hikes" at Community Colleges Published: 10/16/2014 10:12:00 PM

Aaron Pallas on NPR

Professor Aaron Pallas on NPR: Optional SAT is "Sensible," Especially for Colleges Seeking Diversity Published: 10/12/2014 8:31:00 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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