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Michael Petrilli: In support of testing and teaching

Michael PetrilliFrom Education Next:

By Michael Petrilli who spoke st SOE’s Shaping the Future forum in December.

The entire school reform movement is predicated on a hypothesis: Boosting student achievement, as measured by standardized tests, will enable greater prosperity, both for individuals and for the country as a whole. More specifically, improving students’ reading, math, and science knowledge and skills will help poor children climb out of poverty, and will help all children prepare for the rigors of college and the workplace. And by building the “human capital” of the American workforce, rising achievement will spur economic growth which will lift all boats.

Call this the test score hypothesis. It explains reformers’ enthusiasm for test-based accountability; for “college and career-ready standards”; for teacher evaluations based, in significant part, on student outcomes; for “data-based instruction”; and for much of the rest of the modern-day reform agenda. After all, if reading, math, and science knowledge and skills are so directly linked to the life chances of individual kids, and of the livelihood of the country as a whole, why not get the education system focused like a laser on them?

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LA Teacher rates her evaluation in op-ed for LA Times

Students at Cleveland High School in California listen to a lecture

Photo via LA Times

Much of the current debate in teaching surrounds the controversial attempts at quantifying teacher ‘quality’ with rating systems and by test scores, and tying those ratings to teacher compensation and advancement. Coleen Bondy teaches at Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda, CA, and recently wrote this op-ed piece published by the Los Angeles Times as her reaction to her evaluation.

For the first time this year, LAUSD has prepared reports for teachers that rate their effectiveness. When I received an email saying I could now view my own personal “Average Growth over Time” report, I opened it with a combination of trepidation, resignation and indignation. Continue Reading →

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Study: IQ isn’t fixed at birth, can increase with education

From the Los Angeles Times’ Booster Shots blog:

By Karen Kaplan

If your teenager could use a few more IQ points, Norwegian scientists have some good news: It may not be too late for junior to get them.

Many researchers now agree that mental stimulation in one’s early years helps IQ to develop, but there is no such consensus that education – or anything else – can boost IQ on older kids. Studies have seen correlations between a person’s total years of schooling and his or her IQ, but there’s no good way to tease out the cause and effect. It could be that extra school raises IQ, but it’s just as likely that those with higher IQs to start with are inclined to stay in school longer. It’s also possible that some other trait,  such as family income, influences both IQ and length of education at the same time. Continue Reading →

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