I was pleased recently to make another appearance on the WKYU-PBS "Outlook" program to discuss teacher evaluation, the pushback against standardized testing, and school choice. Host Barbara Deeb interviewed me and my WKU colleague and department chair Dr. Marguerita DeSander. Our segment begins around the 10:40 mark.
For background on our discussion on Kentucky's new teacher evaluation model, the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES), see my recent posts here and here. The inflated results of our statewide pilot suggest that Kentucky educators need to do some serious soul-searching. PGES can be improved, but unless we support principals in making the time and building the emotional courage and communication skills to deliver meaningful feedback to teachers, we may have good reason to question the worth of the system.
For more on Kentucky's academic progress, but especially our disappointing and persistent achievement gaps and lackluster performance relative to other states, I strongly recommend the work of Richard Innes, education analyst for the Bluegrass Institute (I serve on the Bluegrass Institute Board of Scholars). In particular, see Dick's discussion of Kentucky's high school graduation rates, the way "college and career readiness" doesn't mean exactly what it sounds like, our persistent achievement gaps, and how Kentucky's ACT results stack up against other states.
My key take-away from all this is not to throw cold water on the progress Kentucky's educators have made, but to emphasize the enormous amount of work still to be done, and to challenge educators, policy-makers, and the public alike to consider whether we don't need a much deeper rethinking of the structures and assumptions of schooling itself.
In this vein, I was also pleased to share information in this segment about last year's House Bill 384, which will be introduced again in the upcoming session of the Kentucky General Assembly (read more about that proposal here). This bill would create a tax credit that would encourage private donations to scholarship programs that enable low-income families to have a broader array of school choices. This year's version of the bill, like last year's, will likely include elements that would benefit public school students also, so I'm hopeful the proposal will get a thoughtful hearing in front of lawmakers and the general public.
The bottom line is that we will not reach acceptable levels of student achievement as long as we continue to think about education in the same ways we did 100 years ago. And that means considering big changes in classroom teaching practice, educator evaluation, public policy, and more.
- The push-back against high-stakes testing, and some alternatives
- "Cage busting" the Common Core Standards