Monday, January 06, 2014

Propaganda Can't Save Schools: How will we know if Common Core has "worked" in Kentucky?

2014 was the year we were all supposed to know whether the Kentucky Education Act of 1990 (KERA) had worked. And yet here we are, in 2014, talking about a completely different education reform proposal: Common Core.

KERA is dead: Long live Common Core

All experiments have some procedure for evaluating their success--some means of verifying whether a particular program is successful or not. The advocates of Common Core owe it to the rest of us to explain exactly when and how we will know if their program has worked.

With KERA, which involved the largest tax increase in state history, the justification of which was to improve our schools, we were given an actual date and some actual numbers that would verify its success. We were told that by 2014, all schools would reach "proficiency" on state tests. We were even given exact numbers: "Proficiency" meant scoring 100 to 140 on state tests. If this happened, then it would be judged a success. If it didn't happen, then it would be judged a failure.

State Sen. Ed Ford, KERA advocate and then chairman of the Senate Education Committee famously said, "It will take a generation to know whether KERA has worked." Well, it is now 2014 and not only did KERA not pass its own self-imposed test, but it has been almost completely forgotten.

By its own criteria, KERA was a failure.

But at least there were was an actual date and actual criteria. Where is the date we can use to tell if Common Core has worked? Where are the criteria we can use to judge its success?

Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, says its "too early to tell" if Common Core has worked. He says two years is too short a time period to tell whether it has succeeded. We need, he says, "at least three years worth of data to tell."

Okay. Three years to tell if Common Core has worked. Is that our time frame? Is everyone agreed on this?

But then we still have the other matters necessary to verify success, such as 1) having criteria we can use to determine whether a school has successfully implemented Common Core; 2) a means of telling whether a school's improvement is due to Common Core or some other factor; and, most importantly, 3) Specific criteria whereby we can define what success is.

Where are these specific criteria? Can Hughes tell us? If not Hughes, who?

We need to get beyond the propaganda. The failure of KERA should have taught us that propaganda can't save schools.

HT: Richard Day


Lee said...

Propaganda is not designed to save programs; it is designed to save budgets.

Anonymous said...

We may have lost this battle when an American President asked a Grand Jury what the definition of is is.

Lee said...

The best program is one where the evaluation period is longer than your expected stay in any one job. That way, when you're applying for a job somewhere else, they can fairly evaluate you based on your promises, rather than unfairly evaluate you based on your performance.