Selections that we’ve highlighted over the years.
The Education Consumers Foundation has highlighted the following items on its home page:
Is Teaching to the Test a Problem? It Depends…
Richard Phelps, author of the classic Kill the Messenger: The War on Standardized Testing, has written an article featured in the Autumn 2011 issue of the Wilson Quarterly. Among other things, he notes that “most of the problems with testing have one surprising source: cheating by school administrators and teachers.” Click here for more.
Test, Testing, and Genuine School Reform
In this 2011 book, one of America’s foremost scholars on what works in education discusses the proper role of testing in educational improvement, covering well-established principles of testing, current problems, and promising evidence-based solutions. Click here for more on the book or to order a copy.
A Teachable Moment: A New U.S. News Project Promises to Hold Colleges of Education Accountable, and the Colleges Don’t Like It
In this new commentary from the Pope Center, Duke Cheston highlights a new project from US News and World Report and the National Center on Teacher Quality to rate teacher preparation programs, and the efforts of education schools to criticize or boycott such an effort. Includes comments from Dr. Stone of ECF.
Crazy U Highlights the Travails of the College Admissions Process
Author Andrew Ferguson chronicles his attempts to get his son into a top-flight college, all while questioning the value of the question he’ll ultimately receive. This is an insightful and thorough look at the frustrations of parents and the shortcomings of the admissions process. Order it here.
Brookings Institution Releases New Report on Using Value-Added Data to Evaluate Teachers
Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added , a new report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, addresses key issues in the use of value-added data and concludes that it has an important role to play in teacher evaluation. Go here for the complete report.
Confessions of a Misspent Youth
New York’s New American Academy is thought to be the cutting edge of experiments in educational improvement. The New York Times says it was founded with the strong backing of former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. In fact, it is one more variant of type of schooling that has been tried repeatedly and with disastrous results. England’s Summerhill School is a residential version that was founded in the nineteen twenties. Click here to read a Newsweek essay by Mara Wolynkski, a writer and television personality who attended such a school as a child.
ECF Recommended Reading: Standing and Delivering – What the Movie Didn’t Tell
In this book, Dr. Henry Gradillas, Jaime Escalante’s principal at Garfield High School, shares both his upbeat philosophy of education and the practical school management techniques that helped translate that philosophy into success for thousands of students over three decades. The book focuses on three areas that are key to the operation of an effective school: School climate, instruction, and curriculum. It includes many references to the Garfield experience, as well as to other schools where Gradillas was at the helm. See more, and buy the book, here.
“I read it on the plane coming back from Thanksgiving in California. I disturbed my wife and son with my frantic underlining and frequent exclamations of wonder and surprise.” – Jay Matthews , reviewing the book here
The Cartel Now Available for Home Purchase
The Cartel, acclaimed for its work in exposing the corruption in American public education, is now available for purchase, either for home use or for screenings in public settings. Go here to learn more about the film or to order, or visit the main project website here.
“Waiting for Superman” Documentary Engages the Public in Improving K-12 Public Education
“Waiting for Superman,” a new documentary film from Davis Guggenheim (an Oscar Winner for “An Inconvenient Truth”), is proving to be an excellent tool for education and engaging the public in school improvement. View the film’s website here; read a review of the film in the National Catholic Reporter here.
Independent filmmaker releases new documentary on public education
Independent filmmaker Bob Bowdon has released The Cartel, billed as “a feature documentary on how American public education primarily serves its employees, not its children. Screenings are being held in New Jersey and elsewhere; DVD copies will be available in the fall.
Pacific Research Institute releases “Not as Good as You Think”
Not as Good as You Think: The Myth of the Middle Class School is a documentary that shatters the myth that “good” schools located in “nice” neighborhoods are shielded from the education crisis that pervades schools in poor, urban areas. ECF president Dr. John Stone is featured in the film, which is currently available on DVD. See a trailer here, or purchase here.
Tennessee SCORE releases interim report on K-12 education
The Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), a statewide reform initiative led by Senator Bill Frist, has published an interim report on the state of education in Tennessee. Go here to download the executive summary and complete report; see comments on the report from Dr. J.E. Stone, president of ECF, here.
LA Times features extensive report on value-added assessment
When Terry Grier joined San Diego USD as superintendent, he brought with him a desire to use value-added assessment in his school improvement efforts. Resistance by the education establishment to this and other initiatives led to his departure, and the conflict led the fourth largest newspaper in the US to report on the importance of value-added assessment in its print and online editions. The feature article can be found here, with supplemental resources as follows:
- Method challenges some education myths
- Judging teachers: Much of what you thought you knew is wrong
- Times research: Value-added sources
- Graphic: The teacher effect
- Graphic: A growing trend?
If standardized testing is such a valuable tool for school improvement, why do so many educators oppose it?
The key difference is one of perspective. Parents, policymakers, and the consuming public view public education as a human development resource. Their top priority is literacy, numeracy, and the other educational outcomes that prepare youth to be productive members of adult society. Educators want these same outcomes but consider a broad range of other objectives to be of equal or greater importance.
This conflict mostly stays below the public’s radar, but it occasionally bubbles up as a political battle between educators and elected officials about accountability. Tennessee and other states now implementing their Race to the Top Reforms are now experiencing the full blown problem.
Author Richard Phelps’ classic Kill the Messenger: The War on Standardized Testing describes the issue and analyzes the arguments that non-educators must understand in order to defend and advance the public’s educational goals.
J. E. Stone’s preface to the 2005 edition frames the issue and outlines the chapters.
ECF Recommends: Annual Growth, Catch-Up Growth
This book, referenced by Dr. Stone at the Value-Added Achievement Awards ceremony, details easy to replicate and proven methods used by one school district to assure student achievement in reading and math. Go here to learn more and to order this book.
Education Sector Publishes “The Benwood Plan,” a Report on the Use of Value-Added Data in Tennessee
Education Sector, an independent education think tank, has published a report on the Benwood Initiative in Hamilton County, Tennessee. This initiative, sponsored by the Benwood Foundation, leverages information made available by the state’s value-added system to promote effective instruction.
Garrison Keillor Speaks Out
The host of A Prairie Home Companion, and author of numerous books, makes the case for the No Child Left Behind Act and Reading First in this article on Salon.com.
Movie Trailer: Two Million Minutes
Regardless of nationality, as soon as a student completes the 8th grade, the clock starts ticking. From that very moment the child has approximately two million minutes until high school graduation. How do they spend their time in the US, as compared with India and China? Click here to see a trailer for this new movie.
See Direct Instruction in Action
Despite its proven effectiveness, Direct Instruction has not been universally accepted in education. Those familiar with the controversy, but unfamiliar with the method itself, may be surprised by how well-liked it is by parents and students. Go here to see DI in action in Gering, NE, and here to see how it works in the Fairfield-Suisun (CA) Unified School District. And go here to read an article on Project Follow Through, a decade-long research project that conclusively proved the effectiveness of direct instruction.