Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Students First -California Public Schools and the legislature

In the recent report Students First: Renewing Hope for California’s Future by the Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence ( Nov.2007) the committee notes that California’s students rank 48th. out of the states in 4th. grade reading, 47th. in 4th. grade math, and 43rd. in 4th. grade science. California ranks 48th. in 8th. grade reading, 45th. in 8th. grade math, and 42nd in 8th. grade science.
This is not a problem of our unique demographics. California White students rank 29th. in 4th. grade reading when compared to White students in other states, Black students rank 29th. when compared to Black students in other states, and California Latino students rank 43rd. when compared to other Latino students.
That is, our schools are in crisis, particularly our schools serving Black, Latino and economically disadvantaged students. And, after 20 years of “school reform,” there has been no real progress.
So, what does the Legislature, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and the state’s Schools of Education do about this crisis?
They create a new video based test for new teachers (TPA or PACT). This new test no relationship to the crisis in school achievement. It will cost over $10 million per year. It does, however, provide career advancement for test writers and professors at Stanford and elsewhere, and keep them from having to work with real teachers in real classrooms to deal with the problems of real schools.
The Commission on Teacher Preparation has advises, and the Legislature has bought the notion that the testing-accountability model which hasn’t worked for the last 20 years in the k-12 system should be applied to teacher preparation. ( Fuller, 2007)
Perhaps someone will start to make sense some day.

Duane Campbell
Professor of Education
Calif. State U-Sacramento
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