I Stand With Smokers

One of the earliest models of the policymaking process was known as the Rational Planning Model, in which policymakers behave as rational actors and proceed through a series of logical steps to produce public policy. First, policymakers identify a social problem. Then they search for solutions and, after weighing all possible alternatives and available evidence …

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Testing and Accountability for Public Power

Testing and accountability policy has consistently been held up as a way to empower parents, especially in poor neighborhoods. Give parents clear, objective information about how schools are doing, and schools, facing complaints from parents and shrinking enrollments as parents opt to send their children elsewhere, will be pressured to reform themselves. In essence, accountability …

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The Day Education Failed

For decades now, public discussion about education has been erroneously fixated on economics. Schools, the argument goes, are critical for the development of human capital. Their most important function is to create a highly skilled workforce which can in turn produce economic growth, international competitiveness, and individual prosperity.  This is the economic imperative of education. …

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The ESSA’s New Transparency Requirements

The recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) received acclaim for scaling back the federal government’s role in accountability. But at the same time it loosened the accountability reins on states, it also bolstered transparency requirements. The biggest changes on this front are new requirements which add additional subgroups to existing school and district report …

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The Rise and Fall of Common Assessments

In 1984, President Reagan’s Secretary of Education, Terrel Bell, introduced a new innovation at the Department of Education (ED). It was called the “wall chart”, and it ranked all 50 states’ educational systems on the basis of their average SAT scores. It was an admittedly crude measure of educational effectiveness. After all, no school’s curriculum …

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The ESSA and Public Opinion

Long-time Washington D.C. lobbyist Tom Korologos once quipped: “The things Congress does best are nothing and overreacting.” In many ways, the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was an enormous federal overreaction to the problem of stagnating educational achievement. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), by comparison, is a long overdue legislative correction of that …

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Michigan’s Accountability Blind Spot

A new report from the advocacy organization The Education Trust-Midwest (ETM) has raised alarm over the lack of governmental oversight of Michigan’s charter school authorizers. The report, entitled Accountability for All: The Broken Promise of Michigan’s Charter Sector, scrutinized the performance of the state’s largest charter authorizers and determined that many of them are failing …

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2015 NAEP Scores: A Look at Performance in the U.S. and Michigan

In late October, the National Center for Education Statistics released the results of the 2015 National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP), a nationally-administered exam often referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The NAEP is administered every two years to a sample of 4th and 8th graders in each state.  Students are tested in reading and mathematics …

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Reflections on AERA’s Warning About Value-Added Models

On November 11, the Leadership Council of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the nation’s largest professional association of education researchers, released a statement admonishing researchers and policymakers against the excessive use of value-added models (VAMs) in high-stakes evaluations of teachers, principals, and educator preparation programs. Coming on the back of a special issue of …

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