Sunday, February 24, 2013

School Teacher Warns College Profs

There is an interesting blog in The Washington Post entitled: "A Warning to College Profs from a High School Teacher." It is written by Kenneth Bernstein - a retired high school government teacher.

Among Bernstein's observations:

  1. Subjects that are not being tested under NCLB regulations and that are not tied to teacher evaluation are getting short shrift. 
  2. The required NCLB tests do not require higher level thinking and do not place an emphasis on high quality writing skills.
  3. The explosion of AP courses, where many teachers are teaching to the test, "can be as detrimental to learning as the kinds of tests imposed in NCLB."
  4. Education dollars are increasingly going to for-profit corporations that are hired by states to develop the tests required by NCLB. See:

According to the above article, Pearson, a national test publisher, has a $32 million contract with NY (and is making many millions from other states) to provide K-8 tests required under NCLB. While the company defends its tests, many critics have lambasted the reliability and validity of the tests.

Several years ago, NYS was one among a number of states that was given a waiver by the DOE from the NCLB education mandates but, in exchange, NYS had to "promise to implement 'common core standards' for students and 'Develop and adopt guidelines for local teacher and principal evaluation and support systems' that use student scores on standardized tests as a significant measure of teacher performance," according to blogger Alan Singer (in the Huffington Post). The WSJ reported that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute "estimates the national cost for compliance with common core will be between $1 billion and $8 billion and the profits will go almost directly to the publishers." (Pearson)

Are NYS's education dollars being properly spent to improve teacher/principal quality and to improve the quality of education students are receiving? There seems to be lots of corporate financial gain at a time when many NYS school districts are laying off teachers and facing insolvency.

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