On June 11 Connecticut became the 31st state to have its application for federal stimulus funds approved by the Federal department of Education. The quid pro quo for receiving these monies is the agreement by each state to four assurances:
- Adopting rigorous standards that prepare students for success in college and the workforce;
- Recruiting and retaining effective teachers, especially in classrooms where they’re needed most;
- Turning around low-performing schools; and
- Building data systems to track student achievement and teacher effectiveness
These assurances have become the framework for the Obama administration’s vision for school reform as best we can tell. On June 8 Secretary Duncan delivered the first of four speeches intended to put a little flesh on the bones of these “assurances” when he addressed the Annual Conference of the Institute for Education Sciences – the research arm of the department established under the Bush administration. The focus of his remarks was the building of better data systems following students from cradle to college and teachers from college to their classrooms to “track student achievement and teacher effectiveness.” He reminded this audience of researchers of the paradox that plagues so much of the current policy debate in education that of competing research conclusions often based on the same data.
For every study showing the benefits of the policy, there’s another one with a different conclusion. Quite often people draw different conclusions from the same study and that’s where we need to separate ideology from analysis. Read more