Thursday, March 20, 2014

Problems with modern reform paradigm

If this is correct then I see a potential problem with school (charter or not) use of standardized tests:
Parents don’t want their children’s teachers evaluated on the basis of student standardized test scores because they know it is unfair.
– Encouraged by the Obama administration, states now have teacher and principal evaluation systems that include test scores. Unfortunately, many teachers wind up being evaluated on the scores of students they don’t have or subjects they don’t teach.
Parents want to see their child’s standardized tests after completion.
– They can’t. The tests are proprietary.
Now remember that no instrument is perfect. But under what conditions does it make sense for the tests used to evaluate teachers not be made public?  What if there was an error? 

If evaluation is really the goal and we want to make data driven decisions, then are not the testing instruments themselves an important part of the environment?  Nobody would trust me to publish data from a Epidemiological study where there were not publically available instruments and public access data sets. 

Just look at the value that making NHANES public has generated.  Why should we not foster the same openness in education that has been so successful in public health? 


  1. It's worth noting that lots of proprietary tests such as the SAT are routinely made public after they've run their cycle.

  2. But this is different than with, for example, a math test where the parent could go over the test with the child and try to figure out what the challenges are. A single end of school test (that is widely vetted) seems different than the core measures of student performance.

    But the real issue is that parental concerns are only considered important when they are in the direction of privatization. is it really best to evaluate a policy by only considering benefits?