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High-stakes collapse

New York Teacher

Another education “reform” bites the dust: High-stakes teacher evaluations, which leaned heavily on student test scores, had no discernible impact on improving student achievement or student test scores.

That was the finding of a report issued in November by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. More than 10 years and billions of dollars later, changes to teacher evaluation “didn’t have the positive effects reformers were hoping for,” one of the report’s authors told Education Week.

Anyone who has spent time in a classroom could have predicted that outcome. This failed policy is a legacy of the years when bashing teachers was in vogue and corporate leaders were hailed as education reformers even though they had never taught in public schools.

The failure was bipartisan. The Race to the Top program, a misguided effort by the Obama administration, was no better than the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act. Both initiatives treated teachers as if they were simply managing an assembly line of widgets, not children.

We don’t need education policies that ignore the hard-earned wisdom of teachers and try to blame educators for issues and challenges not of their making. The current teacher shortage underscores how our focus needs to be on how to make teaching a more sustainable profession and how we can better support classroom educators.

It would be nice to think the report will be widely read and put the kibosh on similar reforms cooked up by noneducators. And it would be great to think that teacher-bashing is a thing of the past. 

But as long as there are billionaires running for public office and willing to use their fortunes to influence policy, you can be sure we will see more “reforms” that bear no relationship to the reality of teaching and learning. And you can be sure we’ll be there, ready to fight back again.

Related Topics: Teacher Evaluation