Coming Clean on Education Policy

In my last post I stated that I have so far avoided writing about education policy on this blog, which is true enough. I must, however, come clean. In 2012 I weighed-in very publicly on the controversial issue of test scores and teacher evaluations. Speaking on KQED Public Radio’s Perspectives program, I made the case that if we assume improvements on student test scores are normally distributed, then test scores ought to be statistically irrelevant as indicators of teaching success for the 95 percent or so of teachers not out on the tails of the bell curve.

On the other hand, I also made the case that student test score improvement (the word improvement is important here) seems like a perfectly valid means to identify both the very weakest and very strongest teachers. The very weakest teachers, I argued, ought to be weeded out of the system. Meanwhile the very strongest teachers deserve a large raise, on the scale of several tens of thousands of dollars a year, but only if but only if they are willing to work in those schools most affected by poverty.  Click on the link below for both the text and audio of this radio essay.

Perspectives – Stats that Matter

At the time I wrote the radio piece, perhaps because I was so busy with teaching myself, I was unaware of a federally funded program known as the Talent Transfer Initiative (TTI) that paid teachers in ten large districts $10,000 extra per year over two years to work in high poverty, low-performing schools. In a future blog post I want to look at the promising, but not slam dunk promising, results of the TTI.