From Class Struggle: by Jay Mahews. Here's a dispatch from my colleague Nick Anderson on the national education beat:
The nation's largest teachers union sharply attacked President Obama's most significant school improvement initiative on Friday evening, saying that it puts too much emphasis on a "narrow agenda" centered on charter schools and echoes the Bush administration's "top-down approach" to reform.
The National Education Association's criticism of Obama's $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" initiative came nearly a month after the president unveiled the competitive grant program, meant to spur states to move toward teacher performance pay; lift caps on independently operated, publicly funded charter schools; and take other steps to shake up school systems.
Excerpts selected by James Crawford. ELL Advocates.
"Achievement is much more than a test score, but if test scores are still the primary means of assessing student learning, they will continue to get undue weight. ...
"[T]he most prominent research organizations in the United States have confirmed that test-based measures of teacher “effects” are too unstable and too dependent on a range of factors that cannot be adequately disentangled to be used for teacher evaluation, much less for teacher preparation program evaluation. ...
"The use of these measures can also create disincentives for teachers to work with the neediest students—such as special education students and English language learners—whose learning might not validly be assessed on traditional grade-level tests. ...
"We need to offer incentives so that our best teachers teach the students most in need of assistance, not necessarily teach the students most likely to score highest on a standardized test."
To download the 26-page document, go to: http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/NEA_documents_082109.doc