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Are Standardized Test Scores Arne Duncan's One Note Song?

CJW, December 23, 2009 4:53 PM

qqRace To Top.jpg

The Federal Stimulus and "Race to the Top" Grants - How Will It Affect Education?

According to The Christian Science Monitor this month:

"The federal stimulus money for education is prompting states, much more than before, to embrace reforms promoted by the US Department of Education. In particular, states are moving to better track students' progress and to use rigorous assessment tests.

These conclusions are drawn from a new study released Dec. 2 by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) in Washington. The report sizes up the impact so far of the $100 billion in stimulus money that has started going to education.

These funds include the $5 billion in Race to the Top grants, which will be awarded in a competition. States haven't even applied for this money yet, but the grants already appear to be a key factor in states deciding to make changes."

If you have not been following the specifics of the stimulus and Race to the Top (RttT) grants, the article continues to outline major issues:

"In short, the stimulus dollars, in a time of economic challenges, mean that the federal government is poised to play a far greater role in driving education reforms."

Four of the major priority requirements are data management and tracking; more rigorous standards and assessments, more effective teachers; and turning around poorly performing schools. 

And, the article closes with some final riffs:

""We don't even have agreement on what makes an effective teacher," Jennings says. "And I don't think we know how to systematically improve poorly performing schools." 

This is one reason that some education experts are taking issue with the priorities laid out by the federal government.

Grover "Russ" Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, would like to see more emphasis on instruction and curriculum. The push to encourage states to adopt the common core standards accomplishes little if it's not accompanied by other reforms, he says.

"Simply having the standards is like gassing up your car to take a trip somewhere: The fuel is in the engine, but the trip may or may not be successful," he says.

The complete Christian Science Monitor article can be seen here.   The full report and press release from the (CEP) Center of Education Policy is here.

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Arne should get a reality check.

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The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots.
Erich Fromm, German psychologist & philosopher

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