Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top Education Reform Stories in 2013

Valerie Strauss - whose Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post is a top source for education news - takes the end of the year to reflect on the top stories in education reform in 2013.  With Common Core finally raising the controversial debates that should have preceded adoption and implementation, the year of 2013 provided the spark that will drive education talk for years to come. From new "standards" to "standardized testing" to teacher evaluations based on assessment standards, 2013 has set the standard for the education debate to come.  Some of the debate will be driven by former teachers like David Greene who are speaking out in retirement about what they believe is going wrong - and right - in the profession.

“Teaching is a performing art as much as a science,” he said. “It takes talent. And personality. The match of your personality and skill set determines what kind of teacher you are. What works for one teacher may not work for another. You can’t expect everyone to do it the same way. And yet…” Like many teachers, Greene is mystified by the reforms currently favored by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and New York’s educational leadership.In general terms, he thinks there’s plenty to like about the Common Core standards and even efforts to improve teacher evaluations.In fact, he argues in his conversational but impassioned book for many of the same things favored by reformers: greater depth in instruction; lessons that engage students; focused reading that leads to tight writing; and regular assessment of students. But Greene believes that reformers are betraying their cause by overloading the school day with too many new goals, over-emphasizing tests and trying to grade teachers with formulas and test scores. The result, he said, will be a uniformity that sucks the life out of teaching and learning.

Greene's book - Doing the Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks - is intended to spark the debate about what effective teaching and relevant effective reform is all about.

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