Saturday, February 02, 2013

Commissioner Buys Gates' Causal Argument

Good teaching causes learning.  Sure.  I'll buy that - even though it's not quite that simple. The problem comes when one starts reducing the complex relationship between teachers and students into a single mashed up number that is supposed to represent teacher effectiveness.

Has the MET Study really nailed this down?

It seems every bit as likely to me that Kentucky's education leaders are simply buying into a questionable approach because national folks like Gates and Duncan are the only ones funding school improvement efforts. Consider: If the commissioner had to wait for the General Assembly to fix the tax structure, make the retirement system solvent, and properly  fund the schools, he'd die of old age before he'd ever have a chance of making a difference. As it is, he can't even buy textbooks.

In the meantime, state control of public education, as promised by the Constitution's "reserve clause," is being given away to the federal government more and more every day.

This from Dr. H's blog:

Progress on a Professional Growth and Effectiveness System

This week, Kentucky made significant movement toward a statewide teacher and principal effectiveness system.
While Kentucky usually is one of the first states to implement education reform ideas, on teacher/principal effectiveness we have moved very deliberately. Why? The research in this field is developing, so there are many strategies but not many proven strategies to improve teacher/principal effectiveness systems. With the recent release of the Gates-funded Measuring Effective Teaching Project results, we are now seeing “causal” relationships between teaching and student learning. Kentucky is replicating the MET project on a state level and hopefully our work will inform the field.
Our significant progress with the teacher/principal effectiveness work has been led by a terrific team of Kentucky Department of Education educators led by Associate Commissioner Felicia Cummings Smith. They have had the honor of working with a stakeholder group that has teachers in the majority. This week, I shared the honor of working with the Teacher Effectiveness Steering Committee and have included my remarks to that group below.
By the end of the two-day meeting, the committee had made significant progress toward development of key recommendations to guide legislation and regulatory language. The Kentucky Board of Education will receive an update on this work at the February meeting. Also, we anticipate Rep. Carl Rollins filing legislation in February that reflects the work of the group; then the Kentucky Board of Education will implement the regulatory language process in April.


Anonymous said...

OK teachers where is your KEA on this one for you?

Like so much of this junk that is being sent down the pipe to us, the commish tries to justify everything with SB1 or Race to the top expectations, validate with any research that supports the initiative and authenticate with a small room of stakeholders. Driving to my district and spending a couple hours doesn't mean you have my support or know my school or community.

The entire approach is like a shell game whereby most folks couldn't even keep up with all the changes and alterations which keep coming down the pipe. The only ones who are going to be able to stand up against this are an informed,engaged, unified and organized educators. Parents and legislators don't have the experise or understanding of how misguided we are becoming.

Skip Kifer said...

With all due respect to the committee, I see no one there who would understand the statistics behind the MET findings. How is one to know whether the interpretations are appropriate without understanding from whence they come.
This is still another example of intimidating with statistics. It would be interesting to ask "what makes a model causal?"

Skip Kifer said...

My first comment got lost, I think.

I wondered aloud who on the committee would understand the statistics upon which the Gates stuff is based. Without some sense of how the results are gotten, how should one take the interpretations?

What makes "causal," causal?