News from EPSA
Basil Smikle, a Ph.D. candidate in the Politics & Education Program and a contributor to The Hill, a US political website, gives an overview of the recent history and also the current representation of women and minorities in STEM careers. Published: 3/6/2015 11:57:00 AM
Research by Economics and Education PhD alumna Di Xu and PhD student Xin Gong has found that household income in China is directly correlated to preschool attendance. Published: 3/3/2015 10:47:00 AM
Professor Pallas in NY Times on Annual Testing: Perhaps There's Another Way to Hold Schools Accountable Published: 2/26/2015 10:47:00 AM
The New York Times quoted Professor Pallas in an article on Chancellor Farina's new course for NYC schools. Published: 2/19/2015 10:27:00 AM
Professor Bailey was quoted in the New York Times article, "The Promise and Failure of Community College,"on the need for the federal government to invest more money in the success of community college students. Published: 2/17/2015 9:28:00 PM
In an Inside Higher Education article about performance-based funding formulas, which link support for public colleges to student completion rates, degree production numbers or other metrics, David Tandberg, an assistant professor of higher education at Florida State University, praises a new report by HCM Strategies for its use of portions of studies by Kevin J. Dougherty, an associate professor of higher education at Columbia University's Teachers College, a senior research associate with TC's Community College Research Center. Published: 2/12/2015 9:23:00 AM
On February 8th, Professor Jeffrey Henig was quoted in two articles: in the Los Angeles Times' piece, which discussed the Broad Foundation suspension of its $1-million prize for top-performing urban school districts, and in the Washington Post's piece, which discussed the ouster of Joshua Starr as superintendent in Montgomery County, MD. Published: 2/9/2015 11:41:00 AM
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
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.