News from EPSA
The Assistant Professor at the Community College Research Center proposes major structural changes to improve college student outcomes. Published: 10/31/2013
The Campaign, along with the Center for Children's Initiatives, released a comprehensive proposal to make quality preschool available in New York State. Published: 10/28/2013 3:14:00 PM
Teachers College faculty members Jeffrey Henig and Anna Neumann have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Education for their contributions to educational research and policy development. Published: 2/7/2013
Judith Scott-Clayton weighs in on the difficulty of ranking higher education institutions in an article in the New York Times. Published: 10/28/2013 12:07:00 PM
Professor Judy Scott-Clayton, a faculty member in the Economics and Education program at the EPSA department, shared her opinion on a nationwide outreach program by the College Board, the group that administers the SAT. The program tries to persuade more low-income high school seniors who scored high on standardized tests to apply to select colleges. Her voice was included in the New York Times' article by David Leonhardt, A Nudge to Poorer Students to Aim High on Colleges. Published: 9/26/2013 12:07:00 PM
Twenty-one years after the first charter schools opened in Minnesota, what do we know about charter school performance in the United States? TC's Priscilla Wohlstetter and co-authors bring new information to a longstanding debate. Published: 9/25/2013 4:13:00 PM
Basil Smikle, Politics & Education Ph.D. candidate, shares his voice on the NYC mayoral race in the New York Times. Published: 9/16/2013 3:58:00 PM
Travis Bristol, former high school English teacher in New York City public schools, who is currently a clinical teacher educator with the Boston Teacher Residency program, as well as a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University. Published: 9/4/2013 6:37:00 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.