This is the Choice Media #EdReformMinute for Friday, September 28th.
The education establishment will often say they support concept of teacher evaluation, but the word they use for an actual evaluation that holds people accountable is "Unfair." So accountability in principle: Good PR. Accountability applied: Teacher bashing.
This week the state of California converted this whole concept to school ratings as well.
Dateline Sacramento California, where Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law Senate Bill 1458, which will change the way schools are graded in the Golden State, mostly by reducing the student learning component of the school rating, otherwise known as test scores. Instead, there will be an increase in subjective opinions from committees and non-learning-related metrics like graduation rates and the percentage of kids who get moved along to the next grade.
Lance Izumi is with the Pacific Research Institute.
"Up 'til now, test scores had to account for at least 60% of the academic performance index. So that was basically the floor: 60% or more. Now however, under this new law, it's going to be a ceiling. Test scores from the state achievement test and also the high school exit exam can only count up to 60% of the academic performance index."
In some places, social promotion is seen as a problem. But in California with this new law, moving students into the next grade who aren't ready could actually give a school get a higher score.
"One of the provisions says that the state superintendent can incorporate into this academic performance index the rates at which students simply promote from one grade to the next grade in middle and high schools. Simply being promoted from one grade to the next doesn't tell you anything about whether those students actually are performing at a proficient or advanced level which is what they should be performing in the basic subject matter."Lance Izumi, Pacific Research Institute
The biggest problem with the new California school assessments, however, may well be the committees who'll be empowered to make subjective assessments of how good they think a school is doing.
"We know from the subjective evaluation of teachers that goes on around the country that 99% of teachers end up passing these subjective evaluations. You're going to get the same thing here with these panels that are supposed to evaluate schools. You're going to just get a rubber stamp from the educational establishment that's going to staff these panels that these schools are doing just fine."
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