If Teacher effectiveness is the most important predictor of student achievement, then why are we spending time,money and personnel on creating evaluations and assessments of teacher practices instead of developing the teachers in the classroom?
This is a great question that Mike Webster, a former high school teacher as well as professional developer at a local education fund, asks. Mike argues that Given the prolonged push for reform to our educational system and little progress being made to change the system,maybe it is time we reevaluate the problems for what they are. “In order for this to happen, however, the following ten key conversations need to change in education”.
Prekindergarten: The conversation seems the most logical place to start given that it is where every child should start. As districts across the nation grapple with how much,if any,resource to allocate to full day prekindergarten programs,child advocates and basically anyone with sound logic has argued for the full and wide offerings of strong prekindergarten everywhere. States have already set learning standards for this age,yet school systems have been slow to allocate funds and facilities to this very essential learning time. The first way to move this conversation into something more productive is to erase the word prekindergarten for the more appropriate “early childhood education.” It is certainly time we begin to acknowledge this very necessary entry point of school in the lives of children so they can have the best possible chance at success that any current research has shown to exist.
High Stakes Tests:The mad frenzy in American education known as high stakes testing has grossly gotten out of control. Blame it on NCLB,on greedy publishers,or on politicians—it doesn’t really matter. The fact is as an educational reform,high stakes tests have failed to make a dent in student achievement. The measures themselves are faulty,overtly too objective and dismissive of real life situations such as language barriers,social and emotional well being,and relevancy to actual lifelong learning. We shouldn’t be talking about how students aren’t measuring up to passé standards developed and dependent on blasé assessments. Instead,the conversation around standardized assessment requires careful,reconsideration of how assessment should occur. Rick Stiggins,among others,has shown the need to move to a multiple approach of assessment based on the type of learning as opposed to simple paper and pencil or bubble sheet avenues. No one seems to be listening,however. Until we begin talking about more authentic assessments connected to the real lives of students and the dynamic world of work and society,we will be living in the past,not the future.
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