First big thanks to the team at Bellwether for their great blogging at the top of the month and to the Obama and Romney campaigns for debating ed policy here last week. You can read all that below. Going forward you can find Bellwether’s Andy Smarick over at Fordham’s Flypaper blog and BW’s Chad Aldeman at Ed Sector’s Q & E blog.
Apropos of nothing, education isn’t a big issue in the presidential race this year but there are a host of interesting state and local races and ballot initiatives around the country with big eduimplications.
Mike Antonucci with the best take I’ve seen about the struggles of the UFT’s charter school in New York City and some takeaways. Point #2 is especially worth reading. Any pleasure about this school’s struggles is the mirror image of the zest with which too many anti-reform types greet stumbles by reformers.
Harlem Village Academy’s Deborah Kenny writes about teacher evaluation in The Times. Some of the same themes as this recent paper from Bellwether about teacher evaluation. And if you want to know what states have and haven’t done on evaluation check this analysis out. But, politically this whole debate is stuck to some point because today’s emphasis on the mechanics of evaluation is a response to the lack of autonomy school leaders generally have. If you don’t want “objective” measures and you don’t want supervisory discretion then you’re basically left with Ouija boards. Mokoto Rich looks at some of that in The Times today.
In that story Linda Darling-Hammond argues that classroom observations are more reliable than value-added. Here’s the politically incorrect dirty secret no one seems to want to say: Based on data from the Gates MET project and elsewhere they’re not unless you employ an army of evaluators – and they’re a lot more expensive regardless. People say value-added bounces around but observations really do…What’s more pertinent is that value-add by itself doesn’t do anything to help teachers improve practice while observations can. And because most teachers do not teach in subjects and/or grades that are assessed by standardized tests it’s sort of a moot point anyway and other approaches are necessary. Best piece that I’ve seen on the tradeoffs is by Tom Kane in Ed Next.
David Skinner’s new book ain’t bad at all – and has an educonnection. I’ll send a new Harvard Education Press book to the first person to post or contact me and correctly say what that connection is.