Thompson: Classroom-Level Reform (There's Still Time)
Kathleen Porter-Magee’s words of wisdom to fellow “reformers” provide a “teachable moment.” Her “Opening the Black Box: Common Core as a Classroom Level Reform” draws the distinction between systemic and classroom reforms.
Systemic reformers seek to reimagine school systems. They advocate for charter schools, vouchers, portfolio districts, and teacher-evaluation policies. Classroom-level reformers, however, try to actually change what happens in the classroom.
Porter-Magee writes "the classroom is a black box to systemic reformers. While many leaders have made it their business to understand inputs and student achievement outputs, too few have focused their attention of what it takes to drive achievement within the four walls of an American classroom." She then explains why the failure to understand classroom dynamics has prompted systemic reformers to be in too much of a hurry to shake things up. Paying proper attention to the classroom, however, would force reformers to prioritize. It would force policy-makers to establish feedbacks loops that use data for instruction, as opposed to systemic accountability.
Porter-Magee supports Common Core, which she says is pushing reformers to take classroom-level change more seriously, "but realizing this potential means accepting that, so far, our efforts may be falling short of what the moment requires."
She is correct. Real world, reformers must decide whether they only care about the exciting challenge of creating new governance systems or whether they want to improve schools. Had they looked into the black box which is classroom instruction, "reformers" would have known that schools never had a chance of implementing all of their contradictory agendas. Consequently, as districts focused on complying with systemic reformers' demands, the opportunity to improve instruction was put on hold.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.