Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Even Jaime Escalante wasn't a Jaime Escalante

A quick follow-up to Joseph's last post, particularly his use of the late Jaime Escalante as an example.

Perhaps the central assumption of the reform movement is the belief that the best way to fix education is by identifying and and retaining great teachers (generally defined as those who can dramatically raise students' test scores). Quite rightly, Escalante is the first name that comes to most people's mind when they hear about this, but his career suggests that being a great teacher is a necessary but not sufficient condition for getting great results.


  1. I was more thinking of Jaime Escalante as an example of a clearly competent teacher. His later performance was no longer super-star but still hit the level of competent or more so (75% pass rates on AP calculus isn't shabby). The issue I was focusing on was more that we did not need standardized test to discover this fact about him (that he was minimally competent) and that tests were unlikely to change our minds.

    1. True. My point was that even if we were talking about identifying Escalante-level teachers, we still probably wouldn't get the results the movement reformers promise.

    2. I am not sure any strategy will actually get those results, independent of things like increased teaching resources. Why is teaching the one area where people don't seem to grok the investment idea?