Monday, January 23, 2012

Things That Have Me Thinking This Week...January 23, 2012

Evaluate Teachers With A Single Or Multiple Measures? - Jim Stergios

This blog post from Jim Stergios' Rock the Schoolhouse column, focuses on the "new" teacher evaluation model being implemented in our state and in many states across the country.  It amazes me that we continue to focus on standardized test scores to measure teacher effectiveness, especially when considering that these standardized tests do such a poor job of measuring higher levels of critical thinking on the part of students.  So let's take the results of these crappy tests and use them as an important part of evaluating teachers? Who exactly does this trend satisfy?  Test-makers? Bureaucrats looking for low-level data that everyone can understand?

Honestly, what if we saved our money spent on the testing of students? How much money are we spending on this stuff?

One projection is in excess of $5 billion dollars nationally.  Another source cites spending on state testing from the implementation of NCLB has grown from $400 million annually to over $1 billion.

It's time to blow up this model and misguided focus and start over.  Can't we find a better use for a billion dollars a year?

Report: We still don’t know much about charter schools - Valerie Strauss

This article from The Washington Post's The Answer Sheet Column discusses what we know about charter schools after over a decade of pouring money into these settings which have been touted as a vehicle to save our failing model for public education.  The bottom line is that we still don't know much about what has worked and what has not due to the nature of the research that has been done.

Here are a few excerpts highlighted by Strauss from a new study just out in Science Magazine:
“Which charter schools, or even types of charter schools, are more effective than others? We don’t really know.”
“Most studies simply take a snapshot of student performance at a single point in time,” the new report says. “Such studies cannot disentangle school quality from the preexisting achievement level and trajectory of students who decide to attend a given school. The potential for student self-selection into charter schools is great, which makes na├»ve comparison of student outcomes at charter schools and traditional public schools misleading.” 
Why SOPA is (was) a Bad Idea - Clay Shirky 

NYU Professor Clay Shirky explains why SOPA was such a terrible idea.  It is imperative that all of us understand the huge implications of laws that limit our access to the internet.  As Shirky states, “The real threat to the enactment of PIPA and SOPA is our ability to share things with one another."

I encourage you to check out the entire video. 

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