I have long questioned why a policy likeÂ Race To The Top that is supposed to be about promoting innovation in education, has had such a narrow focus on charter schools, relying on standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, as well as assuming that teachers are 95% of the problem in our schools (health, poverty, language, parental involvement and other issues somehow get a pass). Of course we should be rooting out poor teachers, but just doing that won’t “fix” our schools, and using test scores to decide that is fraught with peril. And certainly RttT has some good pieces too.
I have had several conversations with folks in the US Education Department about how they are promoting the “innovation” that RttT would promote, when clearly it stifles innovation unless you plan to “innovate” within the KIPP (or similar) model of charter school approach that narrows the curriculum. They have claimed that they just haven’t gotten much negative feedback about any of this. Well it appears that has started to change.
Recently the Washington DC schools’ test scores have been brought into question. Michelle Rhee, who is the poster child for “accountability” and using test scores to evaluate teachers, and is the chancellor of DC’s schools and the current scores are not all good news for her. See this column: Rhee’s Problem With D.C.’s New Test Scores.
Jay Matthews, who writes “Class Struggle” and has long been a proponent of test scores, charter schools and RttT, has had at least a small change of heart. He starts out a recent column saying:
“I have to question my own judgment and fairmindedness when I ignore–for three years!– a report that raises important questions about the way we have been using test scores to rate schools.”
There are more chinks appearing recently as well.Â The NAACP has released a scathing rebuttal to some of RttT’s policies.
The upshot is how could this effect support for the pedagogical changes we have discussed? If RttT broadens to accept and fund many approaches so we can find the strengths and weaknesses of each to really improve education and learning, how might that change how you/we “do school”? What are the “could be’s”?
Learning is messy