June 3rd, 2011

WATCH: Good School, Bad School

( Click here to download the podcast )

How do you judge if a school is good or bad? A strong leader, great teachers, a diverse curriculum and happy children can all be indicators that a school is good — but when state and federal policymakers evaluate schools, they typically consider just one piece of evidence: test scores.

But are test scores a reliable measure of success? We went to the South Bronx to find out.

Download transcript (PDF)

This program is made possible by the following funders:
Grade Level Reading Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


BlogJohn Merrow’s Blog

John Merrow goes into deeper detail about how this piece was produced, including asking whether the situation described here is a paradox — or a genuine contradiction. READ

Blog“The Math Blackout” Newscast

One of the 11 after-school clubs at P.S. 1 helps students create their own broadcasts. Here, Olga Rojas and classmates report on an imagined school-wide “math blackout.” WATCH

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Thanks for bringing up a central issue that gets almost NO attention in school reform debates: our goals for public schools and how to smartly collect data to track performance. Interesting links on this issue:

A recent RAND study on multiple measure’s of school performance: http://bit.ly/knilS7

A summary of my work on site-visitation as a model for school accountability:

Rhode Island’s SALT Program: http://www.ride.ri.gov/psi/salt/default.aspx

Catalpa, Ltd. http://www.catalpa.org

Better link:
A summary of my work on site-visitation as a model for school accountability:

I am thankful to be part of this important conversation about how we evaluate schools, leaders, teachers and student academic growth!

It’s time to look at the test models. If children in 3rd grade can extract context from the written page, perhaps it’s not the student (or the school); perhaps it’s the test itself. Also learning standards; perhaps they’ve exceeded developmental capabilities of children — when I was in kindergarten I certainly wasn’t required to read. I think the discussion of what public education is all about needs to be re-examined. The DOE isn’t doing the discussion any good whatsoever by condemning teachers as the evil doers and charter schools as the be-all-end-all solution of educational outcomes. When we look at the whole child, we can have a rational discussion about delivery of education and student achievement in the public school system.

this nice video pseudo-naively failed to problematize the core reality. what do you do when a school with caring professionals and good practices fails to help high-needs students demonstrate proficiency on basic skills tests?

the laughable little, “gee, i guess the low-skilled kids can answer the questions all right when on camera with a strange old guy asking, but the little dears get too nervous when facing a bubble test” lacks persuasiveness to those of us who work in the schools and see the important skills deficits every day.

the problem of lack of basic skills is real. the tests are often badly made, and that’s a real issue, but pretending like the test is the whole problem is missing the point.

“they take the joy out of [reading], and it’s hard to infuse it back.” Well said!

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