The High-Stakes Testing/Common Core Connection to New Teacher Ed. Regulations

Nancy Bailey was a special education for many years. She left teaching due to the current reforms that are taking over the nation’s classrooms. She is now an education blogger and author, writing about the teaching profession and public schools that are critically important to the future of America and its children. Her book is entitled, “Misguided Education Reform: Debating the Impact on Students.

High-stakes testing, Common Core and teacher education are all interconnected. Controlling for all three is a privatization package deal.

For years, there has been a push to deprofessionalize teaching and that includes going to the heart of what makes a good teacher—teacher education. By doing so, the school reformers change the way teachers work.

Not only are teachers more likely to be temporary, like Teach for America (TFA), they will be followers instead of leaders. They won’t be innovative and focus on the individual/personal needs of the student.

They will be fast-track workers who administer nonstop assessment and implement Common Core aligned curriculum to reach Common Core State Standards.

Data will mean everything to the new breed of teacher. If you examine the focus of every fast-track program, you will find it centers on high-stakes testing and data collection.

The new teacher won’t study and learn about child and adolescent development and base their decisions on real research. They will follow the script.

As many of you might have heard, new federal regulations have been drafted concerning teacher education and they are a serious concern. The kinds of changes, if they are approved, will create a teaching workforce focused on what I noted above.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), well-respected scholars, presented a review showing that the new federal teacher regulations to be approved on February 4, 2015, will do harm to teacher education. Kevin K. Kumashiro who is the dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco and who has written award-winning books about education, examined the draft of the new regulations and broke down what they mean to the teaching profession. His “vital policy concerns” are published on several websites already, but they are worth repeating.

If the federal regulations are passed this NEPC press release tells what we can expect. Links to the report and the draft of the regulations are on that page as well.

  • They underestimate the cost and burden of implementing them, which Kumashiro says would be not only “quite high,” but also “unnecessary.”
  • With no foundation in evidence, they blame individual teachers – rather than root systemic causes – for the gap separating educational outcomes of affluent and white students from those of economically disadvantaged students and those belonging to racial minority groups.
  • They rely on an “improperly narrow” definition of what it means for teachers to be ready to teach.
  • They bank on test-based accountability and value-added measurement of teachers in analyzing data about teacher performance – even though those measures and tools have been “scientifically discredited.”
  • They are premised on inaccurate explanations for the causes of student achievement and underachievement, and as a consequence will discourage teachers from working in high-needs schools.
  • They will likely limit access to the teaching profession, especially for prospective teachers of color and from lower-income backgrounds, by choking off federal financial aid.
  • Finally, Kumashiro warns, the proposed regulations are rooted in “an unwarranted, narrow, and harmful view of the very purposes of education.”

There have been many attacks on teacher education in the past 30 years. More recently, many states have made it tougher for those who really want to be career teachers (See here for Georgia’s initiative) to get their degrees. At the same time states have made it easier for short-term fast-trackers to enter the classroom. They are, of course, cheaper to fund and easier to fire.

At the University of Memphis there are current plans for a new program to make fast-trackers through the Relay Graduate School of Education and The New Teacher Project. Don’t let the slick websites fool you. Both of these programs are questionable when it comes to how those entering the classroom as teachers will be credentialed. Yet this new program will be set up to compete with the real teacher education program. There are concerns that it will eventually drive the authentic program to close. Other universities should watch out for such programs too.

Why are there such hostile efforts to destroy the teaching profession? Not having to pay teachers is one motive. Not having teachers who question inadequate curriculum is another. If this kind of new teacher becomes common, few teachers will grow in experience–in expertise.

There have been all kinds of unusual reports that attack teachers. The National Council of Teacher Quality criticizes teachers and their teacher education programs. It is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. It grades teacher education schools, and they have people like Wendy Kopp, who started TFA, and others with a vested interest in the privatization of schools on the advisory board.

There are serious changes taking place in all realms of public education. How teachers are prepared is one of the most important.

If these new changes are made to teacher education programs, it will most likely seal the deal with the continuance of high-stakes testing and Common Core State Standards because future teachers will be taught that these practices are how students learn best.

The U.S. Department of Education is asking for comments. Both Valerie Strauss of theThe Washington Post Answer Sheet  HERE, and Jim Horn of Schools Matter HERE , have nice summaries including a list of professors concerned about the changes that will take place if the regulations are approved, and, along with this they provide links to respond to the U.S. Department of Education and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.The deadline is February 2.

The U.S. Department of Education does appear to be displaying comments so we can see what people are saying. It is important to voice your opinion. We need professional teachers who will do what’s right in the classroom.

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