It’s not so much that we have bad teachers (even tho they do exist): It’s an incoherent educational system that is at fault

Very interesting article in Atlantic by E.D. Hirsch on the problems facing American education. Among other things, he finds (as I do) that Value-Added Measurements are utterly unreliable and, indeed, preposterous. But most of all, he finds that the American educational system is extremely poorly run because its principal ideas lack any coherence at all.

Here are a couple of paragraphs:

The “quality” of a teacher doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Within the average American primary school, it is all but impossible for a superb teacher to be as effective as a merely average teacher is in the content-cumulative Japanese elementary school. For one thing, the American teacher has to deal with big discrepancies in student academic preparation while the Japanese teacher does not. In a system with a specific and coherent curriculum, the work of each teacher builds on the work of teachers who came before. The three Cs—cooperation, coherence, and cumulativeness—yield a bigger boost than the most brilliant efforts of teachers working individually against the odds within a system that lacks those qualities. A more coherent system makes teachers better individually and hugely better collectively.

American teachers (along with their students) are, in short, the tragic victims of inadequate theories. They are being blamed for the intellectual inadequacies behind the system in which they find themselves. The real problem is not teacher quality but idea quality. The difficulty lies not with the inherent abilities of teachers but with the theories that have watered down their training and created an intellectually chaotic school environment. The complaint that teachers do not know their subject matter would change almost overnight with a more specific curriculum with less evasion about what the subject matter of that curriculum ought to be. Then teachers could prepare themselves more effectively, and teacher training could ensure that teacher candidates have mastered the content they will be responsible for teaching.”


“You will differentiate instruction for every student in exactly the same way, or else”


One of the many reasons I rejoice every day that I was able to retire!


Read what classroom observations have devolved to:

Scooped by Gary Rubenstein

If you are very observant, take a look at a graph by Gary Rubenstein on his blog 2/12/25, and look at a graph by me on 3/9/12, nearly a (short) month later.

Both show the lack of correlation between a teachers’ score on the exceedingly complex Teaching and Learning Framework classroom observation scores on the one hand, and their scores on the Individual Added-Value measurement scheme either in math or reading or both, depending on what subject(s) and grade levels that they taught.

Gary’s graph is, of course, populated by lots of bright red triangles; mine has little blue squares. His grid is missing vertical lines, so mine is clearly better. (joke !) But look even more carefully – you can see that the individual triangles and squares are in the identical places.

This shows that Excel, when given the same data, will produce much the same graph.

It’s really easy to do, by the way. You should try it. Here is the original data table.


Published in: on March 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm  Comments (3)  
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