At this point in time, only the truly cockeyed optimist believes that ESEA reauthorization will be moving any time soon. After missed deadlines, political roadblocks, budget showdowns, and the enacting of executive authority, it seems a safe bet that honest to goodness, comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act won’t be a reality until 2013.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot focus on some of the key issues embodied in the reauthorization fight. Chairman John Kline (MN) and the House Education and the Workforce Committee are trying to pick off specific policy topics, one by one, with the most recent action coming on charter schools.
And then you have the Education Trust, which yesterday released Getting it Right: Crafting Federal Accountability for Higher Student Performance and a Stronger America.
In Getting it Right, Ed Trust reiterates the need for true accountability in K-12 education, whether such efforts are established through congressional reauthorization, administration waivers, telethon or local bake sales. In refocusing our attentions on accountability at a time when so many states are struggling with meeting AYP, Ed Trust reminds us that good intentions are not enough in public education. We need to get it right, close the gaps, and do what it takes to have every child succeed (or get out of the way).
Among the reccs coming from Ed Trust:
* Fix what the current law got wrong, including a better balance of federal, state, and local responsibilities.
* Preserve what current law got right, especially its laser-like focus on raising student achievement and closing gaps.
* Build on the real-world lessons of high-improving schools to establish challenging, yet realistic, goals for states.
In her letter releasing Getting it Right, Ed Trust President Kati Haycock noted:
In preparing for our second reauthorization in 2001, Ed
Trust looked hard at lessons learned from leading states and our work in
schools and districts. We also probed the limited data on student achievement
patterns that were available at that time. This research and preparation
suggested that the law’s provisions in two particular areas needed improvement:
accountability, on the one hand, and teacher quality and assignment patterns,
on the other. In the former category, which is the subject of this paper, we
sought to end the widespread practice of sweeping the underperformance of
certain groups of children under the rug of school-wide averages, ensuring to
the extent possible that the law held schools accountable for improving the
performance of all their students.
These are important words from an organization, and an executive, that were instrumental in moving the current ESEA into practice, particularly in historically disadvantaged communities that ESEA had long ignored. Despite all of the chatter in recent years on the problems with accountability, the call to roll back current accountability provisions and the like, Ed Trust is clear that the debate is not more or less accountability. The real issue, if we are concerned with our kids and the achievement gaps that separate them, is the quality of our accountability.
Whether the future of ESEA is one governed by congressional reauth or executive edict, accountability must remain front and center. Federal and state, local and school, classroom and parent, all must be held accountable for the quality and outcomes of our public education system.
2 thoughts on ““Trust”-ing Ed Accountability”
Clearly we must develop a system and philosophy of education that serves all. Without that, public ed will perish and will deserveto do so.
Accountability under the current system is flawed b/c the system is flawed. The current system was designed in the late 18th century, by Thomas Jefferson who called it’s purpose “Raking a few geniuses from the rubbish”. And that was during slavery. We must replace this antiquated system by one hat takes kids from where they are. A system that truly respects the intelligence and abiliies of all kids.
There are many issues but basic to the success of education is not only to recognize, butacknowledge that 1. Kids learn in different ways 2. Kids demonstrate learning in different ways And, most important, 3. kids blossom at different times.
Currently to be “proficient”, kids must not only proficient but must be proficient at the same time, in the same place, at the same age, in the same grade, on the same page of the same book,in the same seattaking the sametest, reading the same, writing the same, talking the same, testing the same with the ame questions nd the same answers following the lead of the Aryan race concept. The stepford kids!
If kids blossom slower, we must be the kind of a system that waits for them as they may very well be smarter than the book learned kids who do well on the test but are deprived of an ounce of common sense.
Once we take kids from where they are, then and only then can we develop an accountability that is fair, honest and in the best interest of all.
Sorry to say, federal accountability does not meet the standards of accounting for their programs, especially Title 1 reading and writing. They need people to check on the auditors who audit the various federal programs. What are they holding teachers accountable for if they really don’t have a definition of accountability? What makes a good teacher, and in turn, what makes Johnny learn? What is the communication connection that links adults with kids? How do adults communicate with kids? How do you determine effective communication or communicators?
Ed Trust reminds us that good intentions are not enough and that we have to get all kids to succeed, but let me tell you a little story: When I, we, started teaching in the 60s, ours was an idealistic generation of educators who were going to change the education world in the inner-cities of NYC, and when I hear the Ed Trust make these statements, I wonder where these people have been for over forty years.
As a veteran educator and education writer, who intends to return to the classroom at age sixty-six, I’m still wondering what has changed since I began teaching? What do they know about reading now that they didn’t know many years ago? What have they learned about the reading process which includes the psychological, emotional, and meta-cognitive issues involved it?
Schools of education are still off target when it comes to the course work used to prepare new teachers. Definite changes need to come from the source where teachers are trained. As I had mentioned once before: What kind of teachers are we if we can’t train our teachers? That’s a scary thought to me…
Here are a few examples of hypothetical college courses I believe students should take to become, not only master teachers, but master communicators, which is really the bottom line for any so-called great teacher: What good is it if you’re a genius in your field and you can’t get your point across?
Sample course titles:
(1) Creativity, Creative-Thinking, Creative Writing, and Problem Solving
(2) Group Dynamics and the Art of Classroom Communication
(3) Emotional Intelligence
(4)Visualization, Observation, and Listening Skills
(5) The Socratic Dialogue: Educators as Discussion Leaders
I will stop here, but there are others that would create a good 21st century teacher.
The idea of using high-improving schools as a model for low-performing schools, in my opinion, is not a solution for the latter. Does a classroom teacher use the same approach with their students? What works for Johhny, will the same work for Maria? Using models covers too much ground and makes too many assumptions about individual schools and their diverse populations.
There is still the question of student accountability and parent accountability? Why are they being left out of the equation of public education? How much power are you fiving teachers in the U.S. Are we all waiting for superwomen and supermen?