Tuesday, May 15, 2012

South Dakota Department Of Education And Other Ed. Reformers Ready To Ignore Voters And Facts?

In this excellent post, Grant Wiggins observes,
Why it makes me mad. All this makes me deeply angry.  These policies will drive good people out of education and undercut the accountability movement. But this kind of policy-making is more than stupid and Kafkaesque; it is immoral. It is immoral to demand of others what we are unwilling to do to ourselves, whether we cite Kant’s Categorical Imperative or the Golden Rule. And no one, absolutely no one, promulgating this policy is willing to havethemselves be held similarly accountable. Who would? Who would willingly hold themselves accountable for measures that involve arcane math, no formative feedback en route, unreliable data, and admit no counter-evidence? Shame on the hypocrites proposing this; shame on the policy wonks who cheerfully overlook the flaws in order to grind their political axes; shame on all of us for not rising up in protest.  [Emphasis in original]
Bob Mercer reminds South Dakotans that they have another reason to be angry.  The South Dakota Department of Education (SDDOE) apparently plans to move ahead even if HB 1234, the legislation that will link teachers' evaluations to students' test results, is referred.
The petition drive to refer House Bill 1234 to a statewide vote is steaming along, with a June 18 deadeline for submitting the signatures. If Secretary of State Jason Gant determines there are sufficient valid signatures of registered South Dakota voters – at least 15,855 are necessary — the legislation would be on hold until after the results ae known from the Nov. 6 general election. The legislation wouldn’t become law until July 1 at the earliest if the petition drive falls short. All of which calls for the question to be asked: Why did the state Department of Education proceed already in naming the members of three of the panels created in the legislation? Those are the teacher evaluation work group, the principal evaluation work group and the local teacher reward plan advisory council. Do the voters not matter?
Ignoring voters may be a new twist, but education bureaucrats seem to frequently ignore inconvenient facts.  Wiggins writes,
. . .the ugly truth is that current and proposed uses for the approach are not ready for prime time on psychometric grounds. Worse, policy-makers (and, yes, some enemies of public education) are foisting these flawed approaches on us with seeming disregard for margin of error and the invalidity of shifting the purpose of the test – an old story in education.
Wiggins offers a solution that might also solve some of the burnout sources I mention here.
The solution requires us to learn from athletics: utterly transparent and valid measures, timely and frequent results, the ability to challenge judgments made, many diverse measurements over time, teacher-coach ‘ownership’ of the rules and systems, and tiered leagues (e.g. Division I, II, III) in which we have reasonable expectations and good incentives to make genuine improvement over time.

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