Topic: Testing

Legislators, Opinion Leaders Preview Agendas for 2011

At this week's meeting of the Texas Education Reform Foundation in Austin, the roster of legislators on hand to discuss the upcoming session reflected the strong partisan tilt in Texas politics confirmed by the November election. Every legislator heard from was a Republican. To varying degrees, all bowed in their remarks to the partisan conventional wisdom around the capitol, which...

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Senate Education Committee’s Interim Report: Accountability and More

The last couple of Hotlines have laid out many of the recommendations emanating from the Texas Senate Education Committee in an interim report to the 2011 legislature issued last week. You can see the full report at this site:  http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/commit/c530/c530.InterimReport81.pdf. More of the committee’s recommendations are worth noting here. Under the heading of “teacher quality” initiatives, for instance, the committee...

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Billionaire Bill Gates versus Education Historian Diane Ravitch

In a recent magazine article, billionaire Bill Gates, who has used grants from his philanthropic foundation to assume a key role in steering educational policy across the nation, reproaches education historian Diane Ravitch for saying his version of education reform is hurting America’s schools. Unfortunately for Gates, Ravitch has now responded to telling effect, in the online version of the...

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Evaluating “Value-Added” Measurement of Teacher Effectiveness: Not Just a Houston Problem

A public forum sponsored by the Houston Federation of Teachers last week shed some needed light on the frailty of the value-added methodology in use in Houston ISD. But many issues raised at the forum pertain to all value-added methodologies currently in use to measure teachers' effects on student learning, not just to the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) adopted...

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Another Independent Study Casts Doubt on Value-Added Models of Teacher Evaluation–Specifically Including the Houston ISD Version

Policy-makers may be drawn to the simplicity of reducing teacher evaluation to a "value-added" score based on achievement tests, but they are neglecting an expanding body of educational research that shows this seeming simplicity comes at the expense of accuracy. Educational historian Diane Ravitch, in her latest "Bridging Differences" blog entry (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2010/10/dear_deborah_you_asked_what.html), cites a new study from the Annenberg Institute...

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A Test for Legislators: Questions About Test-Driven School Accountability

In the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions, Texas lawmakers enacted significant future changes in the state's test-focused accountability system. The changes include use of end-of-course exams instead of an exit-level exam as a high-school graduation requirement, along with tougher tests at all levels that are supposedly calibrated to show progress toward "college readiness." The latter is defined as readiness for...

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“Black Box” Value-Added Teacher Appraisal Under Scrutiny in Houston

An October 7 forum sponsored by the Houston Federation of Teachers will try to shine some much-needed light on Houston ISD’s "black box" methodology for statistical modeling of teachers’ effect on student learning, called the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). The district is using this controversial methodology for high-stakes decisions about teacher evaluation, compensation, and termination, yet the precise workings...

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Budget, School Finance, Accountability Issues of 2011 Session Foreshadowed in Upcoming Hearings

Some noteworthy hearings in the next couple of weeks will preview issues sure to preoccupy lawmakers when the legislature meets for its next regular session in January. For example: September 14–The state’s budget for public education for 2012-2013 comes up for a public hearing next Tuesday in front of staffers of the Legislative Budget Board and Governor’s Budget Office. These...

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Testing Experts Say It’s a Serious Mistake to Make Standardized Test Scores a Dominant Factor in Teacher Evaluation

Even as the craze for judging teachers by their students’ standardized test scores reaches new heights, now comes a sharply worded report from a distinguished group of testing experts who all agree that test-driven teacher evaluation is a really bad idea. Their new study, published by the Economic Policy Institute, explains in detail what’s wrong with the seemingly simple and...

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