News from EPSA
A commentary "Rage Against the Regime: The Reform of Education Policy in New York City." by Prof. Priscilla Wohlstetter and David Houston (Ph.D. in Politics and Education) was published in TC Record on January 30, 2015 This commentary traces the transition of education policy from the Bloomberg-Klein years to the current administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina a year into their tenure. Published: 2/6/2015 11:57:00 AM
EPSA course, Federal Policy Institute EDPA 4899, offered during fall semesters and led by Professor Sharon Lynn Kagan, has had another successful run. It continued into January 2015, when students had a rare week-long opportunity to work with education policy experts in Washington D.C. The course will finish in February with students presentations. Published: 2/3/2015 2:45:00 PM
The NY Times story, "Helping the Poor in Education: The Power of a Simple Nudge," cites Professor Bergman's work with a Los Angeles school sending personalized text messages to parents of middle and high school students. Published: 1/19/2015 1:30:00 PM
Published: 1/13/2015 12:46:00 PM
Published: 1/13/2015 12:25:00 PM
Thomas Bailey Widely Quoted in Major Media Outlets on President Obama's Proposed Community College Plan
Professor Bailey was quoted in multiple news stories about President Obama's proposed plan to offer students two years of free tuition at community colleges, including those in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Published: 1/11/2015 5:39:00 PM
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
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.