September 26, 2012 | Posted At: 04:02 PM | Author: john thompson | Category: (Who Cares What) Research Says , John Thompson: A Teacher's POV , Teachers, Teaching, Unions , Think Tank Mafia , Urban Ed
Thompson: Reforms Should Be Based On Evidence, Not Faith
Sara Mead's Education Week blog entitled "The Problem With Demanding Proof on Teacher Evaluation" went to the heart of the reason why not-ready-for-prime-time "reforms" provoked the Chicago teachers strike. Mead argues, "One of the weirder memes I've seen going around the last few days is the notion that 'the real problem here is that there's no evidence the teacher evaluations Rahm Emanuel wants to put in place work.'" She then acknowledges that it is "by and large true that there's no evidence that the evaluation system proposed in Chicago will improve student achievement." Like so many "reformers," Mead sees nothing wrong about conducting risky experiments on teachers and students. But in her next post, "Value-Added is Not a Magical Black Box," she takes their faith-based logic even further. She ridicules the idea that the architects of experimental statistical models should have consulted with teachers while designing them. Then, she argues that "experts," alone should engineer systems ranging from air conditioning to buildings' structure. However, would Mead feel comfortable in a building where its structural engineering calculations were not tested? Only in education would outsiders demand that theoretical systems should be imposed before research is conducted as to whether they make sense. We teachers are used to the "Fire, Aim, Ready" approach to school improvement. The so-called "teacher quality" movement, however, has taken the evidence-free school of reform to its illogical extreme.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.