The Transparency Trap

It takes more than data to change outcomes and that has implications for the stimulus money.   That’s the topic of my most recent US News column.

2 Replies to “The Transparency Trap”

  1. Andrew,

    You argued that transparency is not enough, but your article said nothing about alternatives. Its one thing to fight a rear-guard battle to defend NCLB-type accountability, but it much more difficult to articulate a functional system of data-driven accountability.

    Of course, transparency is not “enough,” but it is a constructive tool. Combine enough tools that produce incremental improvements (charters could be one such tool) and then the remaining problem – the toughest NEIGHBORHOOD schools – might not seem so impossible. In fact, if we could stop this circular firing squad, who doesn’t believe that Americans – if united – can’t turnaround the toughest 900 schools?

  2. I agree that transparency is “not enough;” however, I think the problem goes even deeper than that. I think an educational reform model based on transparency can create more problems. From what I have seen in my area, many schools, in an effort to become less “opaque,” are learning how to become more manipulative. That is to say, schools that lay in the middle of the educational road so to speak are learning new ways to manipulate required educational data and student performance information to their advantage. I am not saying they are lying, what I am saying is that school districts are becoming adept at “teaching to the test” and improving student scores to comply with state and federal accountability benchmarks. Unfortunately, this usually happens in the schools that are succeeding or only failing by a narrow margin. For whatever reason, these schools are better equipped to “comply” with state and federal requirements; so, these schools that would not necessarily necessitate assistance at their current level are able to make assurances, whereas legitimately failing schools are not. Thus, the educational divide widens even further. It is a vicious cycle in my opinion where, much of the time, the rich get richer. Sometimes I think that may be what the “power elite” intended all along.

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