Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kovacs: Teach For America Research Fails the Test

This from Phillip Kovacs at Living in Dialogue

In the lengthy piece that follows this introduction Kovacs is reacting to a decision by the Huntsville, Alabama Board of Education to spend $1.7 million to bring Teach For America interns to district classrooms. He debunks TFA claims using only their own research.

On the web page where Teach For America shares research, they boldly state: "A large and growing body of independent research shows that Teach For America corps members make as much of an impact on student achievement as veteran teachers." I will show this is an absurd claim simply by analyzing the reports made public on their "research" page. I will not look at or include other research which shows that TFA has negative effects on student test scores in some places, as others have already done so.

However, it pains me to engage in this analysis because it forces me to enter a conversation that I don't believe we should be having, a conversation that is undergirded by the belief that the best way to evaluate teachers is to look at student scores on tests that have been shown to be invalid, unreliable and flat out ridiculous.

When we reduce children to numbers and teachers to spreadsheet-managers we undermine education by dehumanizing the process. In our test-driven world, teachers have become bureaucrats; we've reduced "learning" to scoring, and, shamefully, we've reduced schooling to sorting, equating a slight change in a test score with "achievement." ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well put. Can't imagine teacher ed programs like hearing statements which attempt to authenticate that TFA folks with only a "crash course" in teaching are making an equal impact on student learning as those which go through formal pre-service training in colleges much less seasoned teachers. Heck why even bother with licensure or PRAXIS either, just pull folks off the unemployment line and stick them in classrooms - that sounds like an equally sound option according to some.