We shouldn’t shirk accountability, but embrace it. Progress begins when we believe all children, not a select few, can excel. It means being honest with ourselves to know when we’re falling short and using resources available—meaningful testing and teacher evaluations—to improve.
Fear, more than disagreement, is what holds us back.
We’re highlighting the posts that served as clarion calls to set ambitious goals and rail against inertia. Their voices have been instrumental to starting the better conversation that has been sorely missing in education and to helping Education Post become a part of it. In 2015, we plan to continue talking—and listening, as well.
In Killing Me Softly with This Song: The Chorus Against Standardized Testing, Chris Stewart opines on how standardized testing advances racial justice:
If we want literate and numerate black citizens who are tooled enough to earn a place in the American mainstream economy then we want the information needed to hold ourselves and our institutions to account.
Holly Kragthorpe tries to diffuse the rancor surrounding teacher tenure by offering some common-sense reforms in A Teacher Asks: How Do You Like Them Apples?:
We have to stop treating teachers as interchangeable parts and start offering all teachers—whether they’re labeled “probationary” or “tenured”—much more differentiated support and opportunities. We have to stop laying off effective teachers just because they were the “last in.”
Denver high school teacher Tom Bergen explores his evolving views on the benefits of a more rigorous teacher evaluation system in Why This Educator’s Tough Evaluation Made Him a Better Teacher:
Now when an evaluator comes in, my first emotion is no longer dread, but is more neutral. I have become more open-minded, and hopeful for positive feedback. Undoing the Pavlovian conditioning is a very intentional process. Each observation is better than the one before it. That’s progress.
In Bursting the Standardized Testing Bubble, father of four Michael Vaughn explains why he wants to replace “bad bubble tests that measured mostly shallow learning” with the new Common Core-aligned tests.
As both a taxpayer and a school parent, I want annual standardized tests to tell me how the schools in my community are performing. Just as good tests give important information to parents that helps support and improve learning, they also provide communities with critical information that helps them learn from the schools that are working and intervene at the schools that need to improve.
Michilene Pegher argues that new evaluation systems work best when teachers help creating them, in Teacher Evaluation I Can Believe In, From a Pittsburgh Principal:
If teachers feel part of and invested in the entire process, they will value it and use it to improve practice. Building trust, and having teachers equipped and informed, is critical to dispelling the entrenched notion in schools that evaluations are often used as a “target tool” for principals to go after teachers.