Archives for category: Darling-Hammond, Linda

President-Elect Joe Biden will soon announce his choice for Secretary of Education. He promised to choose a person with experience as a teacher. He said he wants a Secretary who is committed to public education. Here is my choice.

I can’t think of anyone better qualified to be Secretary of Education than Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick, other than Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, who is chair of the Biden education transition team and has taken herself out of the running.


Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick is Dean Emeritus of the School of Education at Howard University.


She has been a teacher, a teacher educator, a scholar, and a dean. She taught middle school science in Toledo, her hometown. 


She understands the most important needs of American education: adequate and equitable funding; experienced teachers; and a commitment to equity and inclusion.


I have watched her lectures online, and I was blown away by her wisdom, her articulateness, and her deep understanding of the needs of children, teachers, and schools.


Leslie Fenwick is steeped in knowledge of teaching and learning, and she knows the details of federal policy. 


She is the perfect person to clean up the mess that Betsy DeVos created, to reverse four years of an administration that sought to demolish civil rights protections, to defund public schools
, to fund private and religious schools, and to impose financial burdens on college students who are deep in debt or were defrauded by for-profit institutions.

After twenty years of failed federal policies of high-stakes testing and punishment for schools and teachers, American education needs bold and forceful leadership, not incremental change.


Leslie Fenwick knows that public schools are an essential element of American democracy. They are community institutions that belong to the public, not to entrepreneurs or corporate chains. 

She will support schools instead of closing them. She will support teachers instead of threatening them.

She is a strong and clear-thinking leader.


She respects educators.


She is an inspiring speaker.

She would be the ideal Secretary of Education for the Biden administration. 

If you want to show your support for Dr. Fenwick, please sign the NPE Action petition and tweet your support:

Here is the petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/dr-leslie-fenwick-for-us-secretary-of-education

For twitter: contact @joebiden @DrBiden @Transition46


The Biden campaign released the names of those who will serve on transition teams. Our reader, retired arts educator Laura Chapman, reviewed the members of the education transition team. According to the campaign (cited in Valerie Strauss’s article), the transition team will identify DeVos regulations that should be reversed, but the team will not set policy or staff. Chapman, like many readers of this blog, believes that President Obama’s Race to the Top was profoundly wrong because of its overemphasis on standardized testing (a fact acknowledged even by President Obama) and its advocacy for charter schools and evaluation of teachers by the test scores of their students. Biden promised a new vision and fresh policies for K-12 education, not more of the same failed policies.

Chapman writes:

Biden-Harris Transition teams are selected to review specific agencies. Volunteers are listed only by their “most recent employment.” Those serving in education are “volunteers” and not required to indicate “sources of funding.”

I have looked into the biographies of Biden’s 20 experts in education – entries from LinkedIn, their current organizations, and less often Wikipedia. 

Of these
15 have no documented Pre-k to12 teaching experience.
14 held positions in Obama’s administration with nine of these in the US Department of Education (USDE). Two worked at USDE before Obama.
10 are lawyers.
7 have supported charter schools, here indicated by*
Also lurking here are Billionaire supporters of failed educational reforms. 

LEADER: Linda Darling-Hammond.* CEO Learning Policy Institute. See Wikipedia. Of interest: She developed the EdTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) used in 40 states and 750 teacher education programs and the Smarter Balanced Assessment aligned with the Common Core, still used in some states, including California. Early in her career, she co-founded a preschool/day care center and Early College High charter school serving low-income students of color in East Palo Alto, California. The school had multiple connections with Stanford University where Linda Darling-Hammond taught. A version of this concept still exists in East Palo Alto Academy where some academic programs are connected with Stanford University. Linda Darling-Hammond is the subject of video interviews conducted in her home by Amrein-Beardsley. I recommend them. Be sure to scan down for the first video /inside-the-academy/linda-darling-hammond This archive also has video interviews with Diane Ravitch, Howard Gardner, Elliot Eisner and others.

UNION CONNECTIONS: American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association.
–Donna Harris-Aikens. Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Senior Director of Education Policy and Practice NEA (14 years). Prior work at NEA on ESEA. Former Policy Manager for Service Employees International Union.
–Beth Antunez, No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Deputy Director, Government Relations for AFT. Previously ATF Assistant Director for educational issues especially community school initiatives.
–Shital Shah, No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Manager of Philanthropic Engagement at AFT. Other AFT positions for 18 years, most of these in community engagement. Other youth and public heath work, including Peace Corps in Honduras.
–Marla Ucelli-Kashyap. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Assistant to the AFT President for Educational Issues. Former Director of District Redesign and Leadership at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and senior program officer at the Rockefeller Foundation. Member, Advisory Council for “Education Reimagined,” devoted to “Personalized learning that is competency-based and has a wide range of learning environments and adult roles.” https://education-reimagined.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Vision_Website.pdf

UNION and OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SERVICE
–Robert Kim. Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. John Jay College of Criminal Justice; writer and consultant on legal, policy, and civil rights issues in education. Senior Title IX EEO investigator. Former Obama Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach, USDE. Senior Policy Analyst, NEA. Co-author, “Education and the Law, 5th ed.” (West Academic Publishing, 2019) and “Legal Issues in Education: Rights and Responsibilities in U.S. Public Schools Today” (2017). Early legal service for ACLU, and Legal Aid.
–Ruthanne Buck. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. A Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretaries of Education John King and Arne Duncan for educator outreach and engagement. Previously Assistant to AFT President for Special Projects and National Field Director at AFT. Led major field and political operations on progressive issues, agencies and candidates.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION (* indicates some connection to charter schools)
–Ary Amerikaner, Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Vice President for P-12 Policy, Practice, and Research at the Education Trust. Obama’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education. The Education Trust operates four offices coast to coast and makes recommendations for federal and state policy. These recommendations have treated ESSA as a civil rights mandate to be followed, with no testing waivers. The Trust wants to expand Civil Rights Data Collection reports on school crime and discipline, also AP courses (for the College Board?). The Trust wants to see the present ban on a “student unit record system” lifted. That would please Bill Gates and allow federal data-collection on individual students in any post-secondary program–including their SS numbers, income tax records and more. See https://dianeravitch.net/2017/01/07/stop-our-government-wants-to-create-a-national-database-about-everyone-including-your-children/ and https://edtrust.org/press-release/opportunities-to-advance-educational-equity-during-the-next-administration/.
–James Kvaal,* Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. President, The Institute for College Access & Success, a non-profit treating issues of student debt. Obama’s White House Deputy Director of Domestic Policy and Deputy Under Secretary USDE. Prior work as consultant for Achieving the Dream (a network of community colleges), America Achieves (Common Core), Annie E. Casey Foundation (Read by Grade Three), College Board (David Coleman), the Harvard Government Performance Lab, Results for America and others. The Institute for College Access & Success has six senior fellows from the Obama administration and lists 220 “partners” devoted to evidence-based policies and “what works.” Partners include Teach for America, Teach Plus, The New Teacher Center, charter school franchises (KIPP, IDEA, Green Dot, and YesPrep). Billionaires fund the Institute: Arnold Ventures (John D. and Laura Arnold hedge funds), the Ballmer Group (a nonprofit co-founded by former CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer), the S.D. Bechtel, Jr Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (funded expansion of Green Dot charter schools), William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Schmidt Futures (former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s philanthropy)
–Emma Vadehra.Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Senior fellow, The Century Foundation, also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the charter-friendly Center For American Progress. Executive Director of Next100, a Century Foundation incubator for next generation policy leaders. Obama’s Deputy Assistant Secretary in USDE’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, Policy Development. Also Chief of Staff for Obama’s USDE serving John B. King Jr. and Arne Duncan. Former Chief of Staff at Uncommon Schools, a charter school management organization.
–Keia Cole. Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Head of Digital Experience at MassMutual, an insurance company. Obama’s Associate General Counsel and Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary of USDE. Responsible for providing strategic direction for USDE’s financial, technology, human capital, and risk management operations. First work at Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking Division, specialist in financial analysis of media and communications companies. For less than a year she was an Education Pioneers Fellow at KIPP San Jose Collegiate charter school, not as a teacher.
–Roberto Rodriguez.* No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. President and CEO of Teach Plus, operates in 11 states to supply charter school teachers. Obama’s Deputy Assistant to the President for Education. Claims credit for contributions to ESSA, STEM, higher education standards. Rodriguez claims credit for bipartisan work on No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, among other major bills. Advisor on education for Unidos US, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization. Serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Excellent Education, The Achievement Network (promoter of charter schools), the Bainum Family Foundation and Strive Together’s data-mongering Cradle to Career Network.
–Kristina Ishmael. In Nebraska, she taught ELL students for two years and Kindergarten and 2nd Grade for four years. Director of Primary and Secondary Education at Open Education Global (less than a year), in charge of adoptions of Open Educational Resources world-wide. Open Education fellow in Obama’s USDE Office of Educational Technology (2016-2017). Former manager of the Teaching, Learning, & Tech team at New America. Digital learning specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education for four years.
–Lindsay Dworkin. Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Director, Policy Development and State Government Relations at Alliance for Excellent Education. Obama’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Outreach USDE (2016-2017). Legal work in Delaware for the former Governor and State Treasurer of Delaware Jack Markell. The Alliance (All4Ed) advocates for evidence-based instructional practices, and college and career pathways in 40 states and specific federal educational policies. A major Alliance project, Future Ready Schools, is active in 30 states pushing for digital access to “anytime, anywhere, personalized learning.” Superintendents in over 3400 districts have signed the Bill Gates inspired “pledge” at https://dashboard.futurereadyschools.org/pledge/
–Paul Monteiro, Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Assistant Vice President of External Affairs, Howard University. Previously Chief of Staff for Howard University’s President. Former Acting Director of the Community Relations Service, Obama’s Department of Justice (one year, 4 months), National Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. Public Engagement Advisor to White House on Arab Americans, faith communities, anti-poverty groups, and gun safety organizations. Deputy Director of Religious Affairs for Presidential Inauguration Committee including the National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral. Two year appointee, Board of Education Prince George County Public Schools. Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland for three years.

USDE WORK prior to OBAMA
-Norma Cantu. University of Texas at Austin, Chair Department of Educational Administration, former US Assistant Secretary of Education 1993-2001. (Position misidentified on Biden’s list)

OTHER
–Jessica Cardichon. Lawyer. An upper elementary teacher in NYC for nearly seven years. Director of Learning Policy Institute’s DC office. Leads the Institute’s federal legislative and regulatory strategy. Co-leads LPI’s teams on state policy, member of LPI’s teams on Educator Quality, Deeper Learning, Equitable Resources and Access and Early Childhood Education. Authored reports on the Federal role in school discipline, and taking advantage of ESSA’s policies. Education Counsel to Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senior Director for Federal Policy and Advocacy, Alliance for Excellent Education.
–Jim Brown.* Lawyer. No evident Pre-k to12 teaching. Former Chief of Staff for Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey and Pennsylvania Secretary of General Services. At U.S. House of Representatives, served as Staff Director and General Counsel for the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs (now the Committee on Financial Services). Jim is co-founder of a company that manages over $800 million in venture capital. He is a trustee of Immaculata University, the Gesu Catholic School (K-12) and Young Scholars Charter School in Philadelphia. He is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Foundation.
–Margaret R (Peggy) McLeod. In her native Puerto Rico, she taught in two Montessori schools and owned a center that provided afterschool services to students with disabilities. Served as ESL teacher in DC. Currently Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development, National Council of La Raza. Previously Executive Director, Student services, Alexandria (VA) City Public Schools. Assistant Superintendent for Special Education, District of Columbia (DC), also in DC, the Title III director, Office of Bilingual Education, Title VII coordinator, and bilingual program developer. A member of the National Board of Education Sciences since 2010.
—Pedro A. Rivera. Extent of classroom experience not found. President of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, PA since August 2020. Former five-year Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania aiding the adoption of a funding formula for basic education; a performance measure for schools (Future Ready PA Index), and a school improvement strategy. Former Executive Director for the School District of Philadelphia, former Superintendent of the School District of Lancaster, PA, classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal.  
https://buildbackbetter.com/the-transition/agency-review-teams/ 

We have all been guessing about what President-Elect Joe Biden will do in education. Will he keep his campaign promises and set federal policy on a new direction, away from No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, ESSA, high-stakes testing, and school choice, or will he stick with the stale and destructive status quo?

No one knows for sure but many have tried to divine his intentions by the composition of his transition team for education. At first glance, it is worrisome that so many of its members come from the Race to the Top era. But Valerie Strauss offers a different perspective on the transition team’s purpose and significance.

She writes:

Now that President-elect Joe Biden has named a 20-person education transition team, the education world is trying to glean insight from its makeup as to what the next president will do to try to improve America’s public schools.


Some progressives are worried that the list of members is heavy with former members of the Obama administration, whose controversial education policies ultimately alienated teachers’ unions, parents and members of Congress from both major political parties. Some conservatives are concerned that four of the team’s members come from national teachers’ unions. And others wonder what it means that Biden chose Linda Darling-Hammond — the first Black woman to serve as president of the California Board of Education and an expert on educational equity and teacher quality — to lead the team.


When it comes to policy, such concerns are probably misplaced. This transition team is not charged with writing big policy papers or selecting a new education secretary. The campaign set Biden’s education agenda, and there is a separate, smaller committee working on domestic policy.


The transition team’s charge is largely about reimagining the Education Department, which has been run for nearly four years by Betsy DeVos, whose top priority was pushing alternatives to public school districts and encouraging states to use public money to fund private and religious school education. She also focused on reversing a number of Obama administration initiatives in civil rights and other areas.


Biden has promised to focus on the public schools that educate the vast majority of America’s schoolchildren and to take steps to address the inequity that has long existed in the education system — and his proposals speak to a divergence from the Obama agenda.


Subgroups on the transition team are tackling different areas, including K-12, higher education and a covid-19 response that would allow schools to safely reopen — an urgent priority for Biden. Step No. 1, according to one person familiar with the process (who spoke on the condition of anonymity) is to “figure out what damage she [DeVos] did and then stand up a department.”


The selection of the transition team does speak to some basic Biden priorities. He picked people who have expertise in their field; most of the 20 on the transition team were involved in the Education Department in either the Obama or Clinton administration. He won’t, for example, hire a neurosurgeon to run a department that deals with housing, like Trump did with Ben Carson. Biden promised to hire a teacher as education secretary, not someone who never went to a public school, like DeVos.


As Kevin Welner, the director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said, the “obvious reason” there are so many former Obama administration education officials on the Biden team is that they are working “on crafting remedies for the Trump-DeVos reversals — to restore guidances and executive orders that the current administration changed or eliminated.”
The inclusion of four union leaders — three from the American Federation of Teachers and one from the National Education Association — underscores Biden’s long connections with the labor movement and shows he is not expecting to break those ties.


In fact, two of the names reported to be under consideration for Biden’s education secretary are Lily Eskelsen García, former president of the National Education Association, which is the largest union in the country; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. (The appointment of one of these women raises some questions: Would a Republican-led Senate confirm a labor leader? Would Biden appoint one as acting if it won’t?)


The Biden team has been floating a number of names for education secretary, a job that many thought would go to Darling-Hammond before she said recently that she didn’t want it.


She is as highly regarded in the education world as just about anyone; among other things, she is the founder of the Stanford University Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, founder of the California-based Learning Policy Institute think tank, founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, and a former president of the American Educational Research Association.


Darling-Hammond was also Obama’s education transition chief after his 2008 presidential win. It was a time when serious flaws with the K-12 No Child Left Behind law had emerged, including an unhealthy emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing and mandates that were unachievable.


Obama had said during the 2008 campaign he thought kids took too many standardized tests, telling the American Federation of Teachers, “Creativity has been drained from classrooms as too many teachers are forced to teach fill-in-the-bubble tests.” And many public school advocates believed he would support their agenda of de-emphasizing the tests that had become routine under No Child Left Behind.


But Obama had quietly embraced a group called Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) — started by some New York hedge-fund managers — who wanted to reform schools along business principles and who were antagonistic toward the teachers’ unions. Columns began appearing in numerous publications accusing Darling-Hammond of being too close to the unions.


Obama wound up tapping Arne Duncan, a reformer in the DFER mold, as education secretary. Duncan, the former chief of Chicago schools, pushed the evaluation of teachers by student standardized test scores, the adoption by states of Common Core State Standards and the expansion of charter schools. The result was that students took many more standardized tests and some states created cockamamie evaluation systems that saw teachers evaluated by the test scores of students they didn’t have. The Common Core, which started with bipartisan support, saw a rushed implementation that helped lead to opposition to it.


By 2014, the National Education Association called for Duncan’s resignation and the AFT said he should change policy or resign. Congress eventually rewrote the No Child Left Behind law, taking away some of the federal power that Duncan had exercised in education policy and giving it to the states.


The 2008 education transition team that Darling-Hammond headed included some progressive thinkers in education who wrote deep policy papers that focused on educational equity and other transformative issues. Duncan ignored them, going his own way. In 2008, the makeup of the presidential transition team had no effect on policy.


Through his tenure as vice president, though, Biden did not publicly discuss the Obama-Duncan education changes. It appears that he was not a big supporter; his wife, Jill Biden, a community college educator, is a longtime member of the NEA, and the AFT’s Weingarten has said when the AFT was not getting along with the Obama administration, Biden was “our north star” and our “go-to guy who always listened to us.”


Biden sought out Darling-Hammond to run his transition team because of her expertise in education and in part as a signal about what he hopes to prioritize in education, according to people familiar with the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity.


Biden and his team made a number of promises about education during the campaign, including increasing federal funds for the poorest students as well as for students with special needs, raising the salaries of teachers, making community college free and implementing college debt forgiveness. His proposals would cost hundreds of billions of dollars to implement; meeting his promise to “fully fund” the federal law protecting students with special needs alone could cost $40 billion or more.


It is more than highly unlikely that there will be federal funding available to do everything he promised, but public education advocates say they are hopeful that he will stick to his promise to concentrate on publicly funded school districts and not school choice, like DeVos, or standardized testing, like Duncan.


All the signs at the moment indicate that Biden’s education agenda will be significantly different from Duncan’s (and certainly DeVos’s) and start to address the issue of educational equity in ways that Darling-Hammond has always thought were important, including how public schools are funded. Stay tuned.

A group of educators asked me to post this petition. You may recall that Linda Darling-Hammond was President Obama’s education spokesman when he ran for office in 2008.

Dear Concerned Educators,
The Coalition for Justice in Education (CJE) has started the petition “President Barack Obama: Replace Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, with Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond” and needs your help to get it off the ground. CJE believes it’s time that we let President Obama know how we feel about the education policies he and Mr. Duncan are enacting.
Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here’s the link:
http://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-replace-secretary-of-education-arne-duncan-with-dr-linda-darling-hammond?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created
Here’s why it’s important:
The Obama/Duncan education policies have been totally unsuccessful in terms of creating significant, positive changes to help students become proficient citizens and scholars.
You can sign CJE’s petition by clicking here.
Thanks!

Dan Drmacich, Chairman
Coalition for Justice in Education

ps: Please help with this effort by sending it to friends & organizations who might sign it as well. Thanks for your help!

Yesterday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had a story in the Huffington Post extolling his work in building respect for the teaching profession.

He has accomplished this, he says, by insisting that teachers be evaluated based on the test scores of their students.

Exhibit A of his success, he says, is Tennessee. Mr. Duncan relies on a report by Kevin Huffman, the state commissioner of education (former PR director for TFA, now employed by one of the nation’s most conservative governors).

The report says that since Tennessee won Race to the Top funding in 2010, it has seen remarkable results because it is now using test scores as 50% of teachers’ evaluations.

Leave aside for the moment the fact that leading researchers (like Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University and the National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association) say that these value-added measures are inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable.

It is simply bizarre to boast about a one-year change in state test scores. It has long been obvious that state test scores are less reliable than NAEP and that any real change requires more than one year of data as evidence of anything.

According to NAEP, the scores for Tennessee in both reading and math were flat from 2009-2011. Perhaps Secretary Duncan should wait for the release of the 2013 NAEP  before boasting about the dramatic gains in Tennessee.

In the meanwhile, I urge Secretary Duncan and his staff, and Commissioner Huffman, to read the joint statement of the National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association on value-added testing and its misuse in evaluating teachers. It is called “Getting Teacher Evaluation Right.” I am sure that the Secretary agrees that policy should be informed by research.

Here is the executive summary:

Consensus that current teacher evaluation systems often do little to help teachers improve or to support personnel decision making has led to a range of new approaches to teacher evaluation. This brief looks at the available research about teacher evaluation strategies and their impacts on teaching and learning.

Prominent among these new approaches are value-added models (VAM) for examining changes in student test scores over time. These models control for prior scores and some student characteristics known to be related to achievement when looking at score gains. When linked to individual teachers, they are sometimes promoted as measuring teacher ―effectiveness.‖

Drawing this conclusion, however, assumes that student learning is measured well by a given test, is influenced by the teacher alone, and is independent of other aspects of the classroom context. Because these assumptions are problematic, researchers have documented problems with value-added models as measures of teachers‘ effectiveness. These include the facts that:

1. Value-Added Models of Teacher Effectiveness Are Highly Unstable: Teachers‘ ratings differ substantially from class to class and from year to year, as well as from one test to the next.

2. Teachers’ Value-Added Ratings Are Significantly Affected by Differences in the Students Who Are Assigned to Them: Even when models try to control for prior achievement and student demographic variables, teachers are advantaged or disadvantaged based on the students they teach. In particular, teachers with large numbers of new English learners and others with special needs have been found to show lower gains than the same teachers when they are teaching other students.

3. Value-Added Ratings Cannot Disentangle the Many Influences on Student Progress: Many other home, school, and student factors influence student learning gains, and these matter more than the individual teacher in explaining changes in scores.

Other tools have been found to be more stable. Some have been found both to predict teacher effectiveness and to help improve teachers’ practice. These include:

  • Performance assessments for licensure and advanced certification that are based on professional teaching standards, such as National Board Certification and beginning teacher performance assessments in states like California and Connecticut.
  • On-the-job evaluation tools that include structured observations, classroom artifacts, analysis of student learning, and frequent feedback based on professional standards.

    In addition to the use of well-grounded instruments, research has found benefits of systems that recognize teacher collaboration, which supports greater student learning.

    Finally, systems are found to be more effective when they ensure that evaluators are well-trained, evaluation and feedback are frequent, mentoring and coaching are available, and processes, such as Peer Assistance and Review systems, are in place to support due process and timely decision making by an appropriate body. 

    And here is a short summary of the report by Linda Darling-Hammond.

One of the wisest and sanest voices in the nation on the subject of teacher quality, teaching quality and teacher evaluation is Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University. Linda has been involved for many years in studying these issues and working directly with teachers to improve practice. During the presidential campaign of 2008, she was Barack Obama’s spokesman and chief adviser on education, but was elbowed aside by supporters of Arne Duncan when the campaign ended. The Wall Street hedge fund managers who call themselves Democrats for Education Reform (they use the term “Democrats” to disguise the reactionary quality of their goals) recommended Duncan to the newly elected president, and you know who emerged on top.

Linda, being the diligent scholar that she is, continued her work and continued to write thoughtful studies about how to improve teaching.

After the 2008 election, the issue that predominated all public discussion was how to evaluate teachers. This was no accident. Consider that in the fall of 2008, the Gates Foundation revealed its decision to drop its program of breaking up large high schools. Recall that the foundation had invested $2 billion in breaking up big schools into small schools, had persuaded some 2,500 high schools to do so, and then its researchers told the foundation that the students in the small high schools were not getting any better test scores than those in the large high schools.

Gates needed another big idea. He decided that teacher quality was the big idea. So he invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a tiny number of districts to learn how to evaluate teachers, including thousands of hours of videotapes. Where Gates went, Arne Duncan followed. The new Obama administration put teacher quality at the center of the $5 billion Race to the Top. If states wanted to be eligible for the money, they had to agree to judge teachers–to some considerable degree–by the test scores of their students. That is, they had to use value-added assessment, a still unformed methodology, in evaluating teachers.

In response to Race to the Top and Arne (“What’s there to hide?”) Duncan’s advocacy, many states have now passed laws–some extreme and punitive–directly tying teachers’ tenure, pay, and longevity to test scores.

No other nation in the world is doing this, at least none that I know of.

The unions have negotiated to reduce the impact of value-added systems but have not directly confronted their legitimacy.

After much study and deliberation, Linda Darling-Hammond decided that value-added did not work and would not work, and would ultimately say more about who was being taught than about the quality of the teacher.

The briefest summary of her work appears in an article in Education Week here.

She recently published a full research report. Here is a capsule summary of her team’s findings about the limitations of value-added assessment:

“Measuring Student Learning

There is agreement that new teacher evaluation systems should look at teaching in light of student learning. One currently popular approach is to incorporate teacher ratings from value-added models (VAM) that use statistical methods to examine changes in student test scores over time. Unfortunately, researchers have found that:

1. Value-Added Models of Teacher Effectiveness Are Highly Unstable:

Teachers’ ratings differ substantially from class to class and from year to year, as well as from one test to the next.

2. Teachers’ Value-Added Ratings Are Significantly Affected by Differences in the Students Assigned to Them: Even when models try to control for prior achievement and student demographic variables, teachers are ad- vantaged or disadvantaged based on the students they teach. In particular, teachers with large numbers of new English learners and students with special needs have been found to show lower gains than the same teachers when they are teaching other students. Students who teach low-income stu- dents are disadvantaged by the summer learning loss their children experi- ence between spring-to-spring tests.

3. Value-Added Ratings Cannot Disentangle the Many Influences on Student Progress: –––Many other home, school, and student factors influence student learning gains, and these matter more than the individual teacher in explaining changes in scores.”

The application of misleading, inaccurate and unstable measures serves mainly to demoralize teachers. Many excellent teachers will leave the profession in frustration. There will be churn, as teachers come and go, some mislabeled, some just disgusted by the utter lack of professionalism of these methods.

The tabloids will yelp and howl as they seek the raw data to publish and humiliate teachers. Even those rated at the top (knowing that next year they might be at the bottom) will feel humiliated to see their scores in the paper and online.

This is no way to improve education.

Diane

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/03/01/kappan_hammond.html

 http://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/creating-comprehensive-system-evaluating-and-supporting-effective-teaching_1.pdf