Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 20

Reducing Annual Testing
Would Hurt At-Risk Students
To the Editor:
Doing the right thing and making tough
decisions aren't easy. Politics, limited resources,
and competing priorities make standing up for
individuals or groups who don't have a loud or
powerful constituency almost impossible.
This has never been clearer than in the
current debate unfolding in the just-convened
114th Congress around reauthorization of the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Education Week recently reported that the
new Republican Senate leadership is willing to
weaken and potentially abandon protections
for America's low-income children, children of
color, and students with special needs ("Gop
Senate Aides Working on Draft esea Bill That
Could Ditch Annual Testing," Politics K-12
blog,, Dec. 15, 2014).
We cannot let Congress undermine decades
of investment by the federal government and
states that has driven significant progress.
When it comes to trusting states and local
agencies to ensure accountability and equity,
our nation has a woeful history of maintaining
segregation, hiding and ignoring achievement
gaps, underfunding schools, and neglecting
students with disabilities and those who are
English-language learners. With a meaningful
federal presence and oversight in the past
two decades, each of these has been at least
partially addressed.
Even under the current esea, the No Child
Left Behind Act, without federal pressure to
keep standards high, states have shown a
willingness to set the bar low, undercutting
efforts to give families a true sense of how
prepared all of our children are for college and
Nclb is not perfect, and overtesting is a
legitimate problem today. We should test only
as much as needed to inform instruction and
hold ourselves accountable. But reducing
annual testing to just a few grades or a
sample of kids is a shameful attempt to avoid
responsibility for educating children at risk.
As the conversation heats up, and the
prospect of a new bill gets closer to reality, I
worry that people forget that ignorance is not
bliss; it comes with a steep price, especially for
our most vulnerable kids.
Ann Whalen
Director of Policy
Education Post
Chicago, Ill.
The writer headed the U.S. Department of
Education's implementation and support unit from
2011 to 2014 and served as a special assistant to
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from 2009
until 2011.
Accountability a Crucial Element
For Teacher-Prep Programs
To the Editor:
I write in response to the recent article
"Despite Monitoring, Ed. School Closures Are
Rare" (Jan. 7, 2015).
I'm the co-founder of a teacher-preparation
program, and I believe in holding my
program and its graduates accountable. We
created the Urban Teacher Center to address
the same deficiencies in teacher preparation
highlighted in your article. Every such
organization must take responsibility for the
effectiveness of its graduates. We take this
responsibility seriously.
There is a pressing national need for
an effective marketplace of high-quality
teachers willing to be held accountable for
their students' performance and rewarded
for making a difference in their students'
achievement. We contend that states and the
federal government must create meaningful
accountability structures to guarantee
teacher-preparation programs graduate
educators with the knowledge, skills, and
ability to boost student achievement.
We know it can be done, because we do it.
Our program ensures effectiveness by linking
teacher certification to student-achievement
gains and classroom performance. Before
taking charge of their own classrooms, our
teachers spend nearly 1,500 clinical hours
in a classroom, with support via side-by-side
coaching from an experienced educator. The
graduation, certification, and placement of
our teachers is dependent upon candidate
performance against a transparent, researchbased
model and measurement tool.
With the release of new teacher-preparation
regulations, we have the opportunity to set
more consistent expectations regarding
accountability and the power to increase
student learning gains. I applaud the U.S.
Department of Education's efforts to move
state and federal oversight from a collection
of inputs to an analysis of outcomes, and I
hope my fellow preparation programs will do
the same.
As entities responsible for producing one
of our nation's most valuable resources-
teachers-we must be held accountable for
our results if we want to ensure our next
generation of teachers are the best they
can be.
Jennifer Green
Chief Executive Officer
Urban Teacher Center
Baltimore, Md.
Education Week takes no editorial positions,
but publishes opinion essays and letters
from outside contributors in its Commentary
For information about submitting an essay or
letter for review, visit
Engage in the
K-12 Public Debate
ing through the nuances of translating research with integrity.
The academy too often reduces engagement in its many forms
to advocacy, devaluing efforts of faculty to genuinely enter public
debate as scholars. Technology is forcefully eroding and reshaping
this arms' length stance as faculty members' scholarly products
appear in open access outlets, are disseminated in social media,
and reproduced and distributed by secondary sources. As the print
journal dissolves as the primary medium for the curation and
transmission of scholarly activity, academics-and the academy
itself-must come to grips with the intellectual value and impact
of work conveyed in radically different forms.
And at operational levels, there is movement in bridging the
divide between the academy and the places where education happens.
Funders of scholarship-foundations, federal agencies-now
promote and target work that fosters and exploits partnerships
between scholars and school districts. It is increasingly clear that
the academy holds most of the capacity to exploit the use of states'
longitudinal-data systems for actionable intelligence to address
problems of practice or policy. Education schools are partnering
with the private sector on a range of challenges related to commercialization
and scale. These moves reflect mutual interests in
relevance and impact.
Like it or not, the work of education school faculties is situated
in the public square. The faculty at the University of Virginia's
Curry School of Education has spent the past year wrestling with
what it means to produce work that matters. By no means have
we resolved that question. But our annual reporting system this
year includes activities that are all about engagement with the
public. We recognize junior faculty need support when establishing
research partnerships with states or districts. And we are sorting
out what it means to partner with the private sector.
Our work in the academy should engage the public square. To
back away would be to cede influence in an even larger effort:
to advance the understanding of the American public to make
informed decisions about the education of its citizenry. The relevance
of education schools may even hang in the balance. And
as higher education struggles generally to redefine its role
in society, the capacity of education school faculty to engage
with stakeholders outside of our institutional walls may set an
example for other institutions to follow. n
Address Problems of Practice
propriate audience, translating research-based
evidence into the language
of the public square, where
policymakers and practitioners can
implement that evidence for real
impact in real-world situations.
University-based scholars need
to engage in discourse that can
influence practice and policy
whether through public statements
in newspapers or on blogs
or testimony before elected officials.
Senior academic leaders, including
university presidents, provosts,
and deans, can set a strong
example for their universities
when they speak out publicly on
subjects that could shift society's
thinking toward problem-solving.
At the University of Southern
California's Rossier School
of Education, faculty members
have studied current hot-button
issues, including the Common
Core State Standards, charter
schools, technology and online
innovations, and college access
and affordability. They have disseminated
their research results
in print newspaper and online
editorials, in blogs and on social
media, as well as in highimpact,
peer-reviewed journals
and books. We have tenured, promoted,
and given merit awards to
these scholars.
In a recent example of the impact
of evidence-based research,
Rossier associate professor
Julie Marsh earned media atMake
Research Accessible
should be expected to solve.
Instead, commentators-both pundits and journalists-as
well as academic institutions can and should
play a role. Pundits could pay more attention to existing
research and evidence, bringing informed ideas and
knowledge into the conversation and distinguishing
between strong and specious studies. Too often, education
commentary is devoid of evidence, and education
reporting, in an effort to appear balanced, presents evidence
on both sides of an issue as if the research is in
equipoise when, in reality, it is quite lopsided. This fuels
the false impression that collectively we know little
about education, gives perverse incentives to researchers,
and cheapens all education research by treating
weak studies with the same respect as rigorous ones.
tention when, as a result of her
research findings, the New York
department of education ended a
teacher-bonus program. Professor
Marsh's study, "A Big Apple for
Educators: New York City's Experiment
With Schoolwide Performance
Bonuses," found that
the New York City schoolwide
performance bonus program had
no effect on students' test scores,
grades, or the way teachers reported
doing their jobs. The New
York Times, certainly one of our
most prominent "public squares,"
was among the news outlets to
feature the report.
I would hope that such examples
of translational research
could serve as a model for other
research universities and as an
incentive to support scholars who
are striving to improve our K-12
schools. n
Institutions of higher education can and should help
by disseminating ideas and research produced by their
faculties in a way that is accessible to nonacademics.
At the Harvard Graduate School of Education, for example,
we have created the Usable Knowledge website.
It offers brief summaries of the key findings of faculty
research, faculty Q&As, and relevant video demonstrations.
Rather than place the responsibility for disseminating
the work on the shoulders of our researchers, we
have created a small team that helps our faculty translate
its research for players in the K-12 field-teachers,
principals, policymakers, and pundits-who may lack
the time and expertise to wade through a long article
in an academic journal. The hope, of course, is that the
good work produced by our faculty will not only enter
the public debate, but also influence it positively. That
should be the goal of our role in the public square: to
ensure that the work of researchers is included in the
K-12 conversation. n
20 | EDUCATION WEEK | January 14, 2015 |

Education Week - January 14, 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 14, 2015

Education Week - January 14, 2015
Mandatory State Testing on Thin Ice
Feds Confront Doubts in Plan To Fix Tribal Schools
TFA-Like Corps Places Advisers In High Schools
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Pittsburgh Collaboration Seen as Model
News in Brief
Report Roundup
With Common Core, More States Sharing Test Questions
New Study Plan Set on Down Syndrome
Blogs of the Week
Growth of Md. Advising Program Runs Into Familiar Controversy
N.Y. Governor Aims to Flex Muscles On Education Policy
Head Start Partnerships to Provide New Resources, Standards for Day Care
State of the States
Blogs of the Week
FREDERICK M. HESS: The 2015 Edu-Scholar Rankings
How Does an Edu-Scholar Influence K-12 Policy?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
WILLIAMSON M. EVERS: Exit, Voice, Loyalty—and the Common Core
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Pittsburgh Collaboration Seen as Model
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 2
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 3
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Report Roundup
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 5
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - New Study Plan Set on Down Syndrome
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Blogs of the Week
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Growth of Md. Advising Program Runs Into Familiar Controversy
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 9
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 10
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 11
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 12
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Head Start Partnerships to Provide New Resources, Standards for Day Care
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Blogs of the Week
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 15
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 16
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 17
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - FREDERICK M. HESS: The 2015 Edu-Scholar Rankings
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - How Does an Edu-Scholar Influence K-12 Policy?
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Letters
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 21
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - 23
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - WILLIAMSON M. EVERS: Exit, Voice, Loyalty—and the Common Core
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Cover1
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Cover2
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Cover3
Education Week - January 14, 2015 - Cover4