Thompson: Refocus On Classroom Instruction, Brookings Urges
The contemporary data-driven "reform" movement, fundamentally, is a theoretical bank shot, where in the name of "output-based" accountability non-educators' change the subject away from teaching and learning in order to somehow improve teaching and learning. "Choosing Blindly," by the Brookings Foundation's Grover Whitehurst and Matthew Chingos, is a reminder that the best way to improve classroom outcomes is to concentrate on the real interactions in the classroom and not some statistical models. The better approach, all along, would have been to target the interactions between flesh and blood students, teachers, and the learning materials that they actually use. Whitehurst and Chingos write, "students learn principally through interactions with people (teachers and peers) and instructional materials (textbooks, workbooks, instructional software, web-based content, homework, projects, quizzes, and tests). But education policymakers focus primarily on factors removed from those interactions, such as academic standards, teacher evaluation systems, and school accountability policies." They then nail the essence of the contemporary accountability movement, "It’s as if the medical profession worried about the administration of hospitals and patient insurance but paid no attention to the treatments that doctors give their patients." Even better, "Choosing Blindly" recommends data-informed research into the effectiveness of learning materials BEFORE imposing curricula based on non-teachers' hypotheses.-JT (@drjohnthompson) image via.