Education Reform From the Teacher's Perspective

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Over the past several years, there has been a significant push by the so-called "edreformers" to tie student test scores on the highly flawed standardized "bubble" tests to teacher evaluations, including teacher pay. As the Common Core rolls out across the nation, teachers are understandably concerned that the results of the new Smarter Balanced or PARC tests will be tied to their evaluations.

Why is this an issue? For starters, the Common Core assessments are testing students in a different way (completely computer based) and testing an entirely new set of standards that are in may ways a paradigm shift away from what has been taught for the past 10-15 years.

I personally believe that test scores should only very lightly be part of a teacher's evaluation, mainly because teachers do not have the option to choose who is in their class and because one year of a bad test can ruin a teacher in such a system.

New York State just released the results of its first year of Common Core testing, and very unsurprisingly, their scores dipped. This dip is completely expected because it is similar to comparing apples to oranges - the two are not very comparable. How can you compare a series of bubble questions with questions that require close text reading and comprehensive analysis which includes constructed response type of questions? Fortunately, New York has stated the scores will not be reflected in teacher or school evaluations.

However, the fear-mongers in Louisiana are trying to spread the horror of the new standards while Education Secretary Duncan calls the standards a "necessary re-calibration." Who is right? Only time will tell, but I can comfortably state that I believe the new standards will more fully prepare students for college and career readiness, instead of always choosing C as the answer.

New 'core' standards meet resistance | The Advertiser |

Dr. James Norwood is a middle school teacher (English/Language Arts and Drama). He is very passionate about true education reform that reaches all students and all parents. Dr. Norwood possess a PhD in the area of curriculum and instruction and spends much of his time working with his school and district developing a more holistic approach to the curriculum. Contact me


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