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Simple Solutions

According to the op-ed page of this morning’s Post, Bill Gates recently dropped by to let us all know how to fix American education.

… Gates names two priorities: helping successful charter school organizations, such as KIPP, replicate as quickly as possible; and improving teacher effectiveness at every other school.

First of all, despite the endorsement of Post writer Jay Mathews, KIPP is not a solution that works for all kids. Indeed, there are many facets of their program that cannot (and should not) be replicated.

As for “teacher effectiveness”, that, of course, is almost exclusively measured by standardized test scores.

Which is not a bad thing since President Obama and his secretary of education both have expressed the need for better standardized tests, right?

And just for good measure, we need to throw in the teacher improvement proposals of Michelle Rhee, chancellor of DC public schools, also focused almost entirely on individual teacher performance based on test scores.

See, fixing schools is very simple: better tests and training to better teach to those tests.

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6 Comments

  1. Mike

    Hi,

    Are you being sarcastic that these two things are all that is necessary to fix schools, or do you believe that in general these two things will make a world of a difference?

    I personally feel that tests are a waste of everyone’s time in the long run, because we should be able to do assessment realtime, and constantly through a tool that will revolutionize the way schools will operate in the future. It is simply unacceptable that standardized test results arrive months after a teacher has stopped having a student. What is the purpose of the test? It certainly isn’t much of an aid to a teacher or student in the classroom, though it helps I suppose with accountability for teacher and school.

    Thoughts?

  2. Tim

    Very sarcastic, Mike. Very.

    I do think we need assess student learning on regular basis but the paper-and-pencil, largely machine scored tests most commonly used are among the worst tools for doing that. They are popular because they are easy and cheap to administer and score, plus they produce a nice number that’s simple to explain in press releases.

    And you’re right that the results are largely useless to help the teacher determine what kind of instruction a student requires.

  3. Mike

    Alright. good to know :D

  4. Tim I loved this post–you are so funny. Thanks for sharing such a view of KIPP and Jay Matthews. Very enlightening indeed. Why do so many believe people like Gates know what is best for education and reform. They are all part of the problem for sure.

  5. PS Where is the rss feed for the comments. I’d love to get this feed in my reader too. I enjoy reading your visitors’ comments as much as your posts. Does your blog offer a feed for comments?

  6. Tim

    Thanks, Cathy. It’s always nice (and not a little strange) to have people compliment my writing. :-)

    The link to subscribe to the comments feed is below the comments entry form on each single post page.

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