Saturday, November 9, 2013

A twisted "other side of the story" on Tennessee's most improved education status

One of my favorite sources for insight into education issues is Lipstick on a Pig. For those interested in following education issues, I highly recommend that blog. I am reposting this story from that website. I also recommend Tennessee Education Report as a site that can provide good information on education issues despite a liberal bias. Both sites are listed in my blog roll. Rod

TN Ed Report is out with a post "NAEP IN TN: THE REST OF THE STORY."

I like Andy Spears, the author of the post, and think he's a smart guy and a good thinker who brings up a lot of good points. At times though, TN Ed Report is much more "TN Liberal Democrat Ed Policy Promotion," and gets in the way of being an objective source of ed news.

Which is fine.

But it shouldn't be considered as an education news outlet, when in fact it is much more a political promotion blog. Below is a comment I added in response to the most recent post on NAEP (but I have embedded graphics in this post so you don't have to click through).

I continue to think “TN Ed Report” should be better titled “TN Ed Selective Bias Narrative”…but oh well, it’s a free country.
I also don’t know any other current research that looks at 20 year trends to determine next year’s policy goals and legislation. 20 year trends is stuff that goes in history books.

You can’t criticize the last 2 years of administration reforms (when it was really 4-5 years of work), and then analyze 20 years of NAEP scores.

The time frame needs to be kept at least close to the same

Which, if we do that…

KY actually had a slight regression from 2011 to 2013 test cycle, which is likely why you had to move it to 20 years.

While you do recognize “It’s also important to take care in assigning causality.”…a good deal of this post spends time implying causality.

“Despite some claims, though, it’s very difficult to say results on the 2013 NAEP are a direct result of reforms that took place in 2011 and 2012.”

If you actually listened to Gov Haslam, Comm Huffman, and Gov Bredesen, they didn’t make this claim. They attributed the growth to a combination of things, that included higher standards, and yes, professional teacher evaluations. They were intentional about recognizing that it is a multi-administration effort.

Higher standards were mainly Bredesen admin, and yes, we can’t forget actual history that Bredesen helped put teacher eval framework into law during special RTT legislative session.

Yes, Haslam & Huffman have worked to implement it and improve it, but teacher eval system has spanned 2 administrations.

Your post’s claim about reforms “just” being 2011 and 2012 are simply inaccurate. I thought it was quite dignified and classy that Gov Haslam recognized the Bredesen administration and their work on ed policy. Given toxic environment of political parties in America today, this is almost unheard of. Your post failed to mention any of that or recognize that, but again, came across as a criticism of the current administration.

TN Ed Report: Haslam, Huffman, bad! all the time!

“Before I go further with this analysis, I want to point out that Kentucky doesn’t use value-added data for teacher evaluations, has no charter schools, its teachers are awarded tenure after 4 years, and it hasn’t adopted any of the reforms Tennessee’s current leaders tell us are essential to improving scores.”

Why you mention charter schools is again another point of selective bias.

Charters in TN are so small relative to the overall student population, that mathematically, TN would have had the same gains had there been no charters in TN.

But you had to mention it.

People read that and associate causality to it. Because it’s part of the narrative you like to continue to promote.

You spend a good bit of your post predicting that these gains will level out. “That’s an expected result, by the way — a big gain followed by steady maintenance of the new level. ”

Actual data indicates otherwise (handout from TN Dept of Ed):

Massachusetts and Indiana have both had multiple test cycles of big gains.

While you make some good points in your piece, the main impetus of the narrative was to again criticize the current reforms of the sitting administration.

It just doesn’t add up and it skews us farther away from the middle, where we should be having the conversation, centered on student outcomes and doing what’s best for them.


Another point I forgot on teacher eval systems.

DC had very impressive gains in this test cycle as well.  They have adopted higher standards AND implemented a robust teacher evaluation system (IMPACT) over the last few years.

Massachusetts - a typical high scoring NAEP state, is now implementing a teacher evaluation system:

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