OECD Study Says that Markets Fail to Increase Innovation in Education

A new study published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that markets in education do not lead to innovation in teaching and curriculum. It finds that it is government intervention which is more likely to create improvements. Continue reading “OECD Study Says that Markets Fail to Increase Innovation in Education”

Obama’s Plan To Link Teacher Evaluation to Student Achievement Draws Strong Criticism from all Sides

At the end of July, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced that grants worth $4.35 billion would be made available to states to further education change. Called the Race to the Top Fund, it is the largest-ever single federal investment in school reform.

As a condition of funding, the states are required to address four core reforms to increase student achievement and narrow achievement gaps. They are: common, internationally benchmarked standards and assessments; effective teachers and principals; data to inform decisions; and turnarounds of the lowest-performing schools.

The most controversial aspect is using student test results to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers and principals and to determine compensation and promotions, tenure and removal. Duncan stated that linking teacher and student test data is “absolutely fundamental—it’s a building block”.

The proposal has generated widespread criticism from a wide range of academics and former education officials. They provide a very compelling case that the proposal is unsupported by research and will likely have significant unintended consequences for student learning. Continue reading “Obama’s Plan To Link Teacher Evaluation to Student Achievement Draws Strong Criticism from all Sides”

Gillard Renews Threat of Sanctions Against Lowly Ranked Schools

Julia Gillard has yet again raised the spectre of using school results to punish low performing schools. She said on the SBS Insight program that principals deserve to be sacked if they repeatedly fail to lift their school’s performance. Continue reading “Gillard Renews Threat of Sanctions Against Lowly Ranked Schools”

Cheating on Tests Corrupts School Comparisons

In the last few weeks, several incidents of teachers cheating on tests used to compare schools were revealed in Lancashire in England, in Washington DC and the US state of Georgia.

They add to the stream of similar incidents in both countries since school performance comparisons were introduced. They demonstrate the extreme pressure placed on teachers and principals where test results are used to compare school performance. Cheating also further reduces the reliability of school results as a measure of school and teacher quality. Continue reading “Cheating on Tests Corrupts School Comparisons”

Reporting School Results and League Tables

The following is a speech to the Branch Council of the ACT Branch of the Australian Education Union by Trevor Cobbold, National Convenor of Save Our Schools, on 15 April. It shows how Federal and State/Territory have duped the Australian public about school league tables, summarises the case against reporting school results and league tables and calls for them to be resisted by parents and teachers.

Continue reading “Reporting School Results and League Tables”

More Evidence that School Comparisons Narrow the Curriculum

A new analysis of test data in New York State provides some interesting evidence that public comparisons of school results narrow the curriculum.

It suggests that schools in New York City are paying more attention to English and maths than science and social studies because these results are used to compare and grade schools. Continue reading “More Evidence that School Comparisons Narrow the Curriculum”

School Closure Savings Figures are Outdated, Misleading and Not Believable

The estimates of government savings from school closures during 2006-2008 presented to the Estimates Committee of the ACT Legislative Assembly recently are outdated, misleading and not believable.

The Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, has treated the Estimates process with contempt by providing savings estimates made in 2006 before any school closures occurred and by failing to take account of ongoing costs of the closures. Continue reading “School Closure Savings Figures are Outdated, Misleading and Not Believable”

The Fudging of School Results Begins

School performance reporting and league tables create pressures and incentives for schools to fudge their results.

Competition for higher rankings forces schools to “play the system” to show improvement even where there is none. Playing the system is the quick route to better results. It is a feature of school performance reporting wherever it has been adopted. Continue reading “The Fudging of School Results Begins”

Performance Pay Schemes Are Unreliable and Misleading

It seems that performance pay based on gains in student achievement may not be so good at identifying good teachers as its advocates claim.

It has been delivered a body blow by a major new study published in the United States. The study shows that “value-added” methods for determining the effectiveness of classroom teachers are built on very shaky assumptions and may be highly unreliable and misleading. Continue reading “Performance Pay Schemes Are Unreliable and Misleading”

League Tables Will Damage Education

Australian education ministers are being duplicitous on school league tables. They claim to be opposed to ‘simplistic’ league tables but are providing the information to enable their publication.

League tables are inevitable because school results are to be published on a centralized national website, as well as on several state and territory websites. It will be a simple matter for anyone to construct school rankings from them. Continue reading “League Tables Will Damage Education”