Earlier today, Eduflack examined the educational highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union address. The Cliff Notes version — strong on effective teachers, keep every kid in high school until age 18, college is expensive. But what is equally interesting is what was NOT included in the SOTU, particularly as a lead-up to the presidential campaign.
Last evening, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation. The speech focused on the four pillars the President and his team see as necessary for turning around the United States and strengthening our community and our economy. No surprise for those following the pre-game shows, education stood as one of those four pillars.
It is School Choice Week! Of course, that means yet another debate focused on whether schools of choice should play a role in our K-12 public education infrastructure. By now, you would think such a debate would be unnecessary, yet the beat goes on.
It is unfortunate that, in 2012, we must continue a debate about whether all students should have access to high-quality school options. It is unfortunate that too many children don’t have the opportunity to attend public schools that can change their destinies. And it is truly unfortunate that we continue to look for excuses and justifications for denying students access schools that are proven to be effective when it comes to addressing all students’ learning needs and preparing all kids – regardless of race, family income, or zip code – for college and career.
Choice can, should, and must help inform the entire education policy agenda. Ultimately, our goal must be to provide great public schools to all students, no excuses. Public school success, regardless of the wrapper it might wear, serves as the exemplar for driving change. We should be agnostic about where solutions come from, as long as they are real, effective solutions that work for our kids. The stakes are too high for us to accept anything less.
When we talk about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, we usually like to focus on the freedom of speech part. Some of us (including us former reporters) like the freedom of the press thing. The recent Occupy movement has given us new-found interest in the right of peaceable assembly. And come election time, we often hear about freedom of religion.
Students are put under pressure like never before to meet high expectations on Standardized Tests. Not only that, but teachers are held accountable for these tests scores, putting just as much pressure on teachers all over the United States. Ultimately, destroying the true purpose of school and education. Basically, it doesn’t matter how much a teacher helped a student go from a struggling reader to a student now never seen without a book in his hand. It doesn’t matter that the teacher inspired and motivated the student to want to graduate high school instead of dropping out on her 16th birthday just 2 months away.
The world has clearly changed for school districts. While we are hearing more about test scores and teacher contracts these days, we are just as likely to hear about social media, editorial board meetings, and a superintendent’s “message.”
“And I think as we look at how we talk about what’s happening in the schools, it really has to be a data driven discussion. We’re no longer just writing about spring break and how local sports teams are doing. This is now a very deep dive discussion into performance measures and data. And that requires a sophistication we’ve haven’t seen in education communications in the past.”
Over at Education Sector, there is a new report out focused on accountability efforts in England. The Report, On Her Majesty’s School Inspection Service, offers an interesting look at how expert “inspection teams” can evaluate the success of local schools and local teachers.
By now, we all realize that effective educator evaluation requires multiple measures. While many want to focus on just the inputs that go into teaching – what our educators are bringing to the classroom – it is equally, if not more, important for us to focus on student achievement. And England makes clear that student learning is the most important element to its evaluation system.
Most of us can point to that one educator who truly affected our lives — both in and out of the classroom. We remember the one teacher who really pushed us to achieve. Or the instructor who refused to let us take the easy way out. And while we may not remember much about that year in the seventh grade, say, we definitely remember that educator from that year.
What shone through the study was the variation among teachers. Great teachers not only raised test scores significantly — an effect that mostly faded within a few years — but also left their students with better life outcomes. A great teacher (defined as one better than 84 percent of peers) for a single year between fourth and eighth grades resulted in students earning almost 1 percent more at age 28.
Suppose that the bottom 5 percent of teachers could be replaced by teachers of average quality. The three economists found that each student in the classroom would have extra cumulative lifetime earnings of more than $52,000. That’s more than $1.4 million in gains for the classroom.