Organizing my Thoughts over the Last Year on Education Reform

Recently I’ve become fascinated by education reform, and in the past year (And especially the last month) I’ve written on different aspects of the subject. I did this in two general periods, a pre-systematic period (actually beginning with the very first post I made, “US Public Schools — Still Terrible” from early December 2004) and continuing thru “How Science Works” (from mid-december 2011). In the comments to that post, Mark Safranski of ZenPundit made this comment on Christmas Eve:

The corporations involved in marketing to public education entities, including testing companies, are not run by scientists and are not doing “science’. That’s not their objective.

There are companies that make (and/or administer) very high quality tests in psychometric terms in which you can have confidence that the results are valid and reliable. And then there are companies that offer testing products that…well….do not meet this standard but have the attraction of being markedly cheaper to purchase and can be administered by anyone off of the street or have students self-administer via computer.

If these much lower quality tests are used as a rough “snapshot” of academic performance as a guide to adjust instruction or direct remediation resources, that’s somewhat useful if re-testing is part of the process. To make any life-altering decisions about students or teachers on the basis of the results of one of these substandard tests is unethical and invalid.

And then at the bottom there are testing products at the level of which the State of Illinois was recently forced to term “catastrophic vendor failure” on forms submitted to the Federal Department of Education. Psychometric quality was not part of test selection criteria under tGov. Blagojevich’s ISBE.

*Who* gets to decides what test is used is a key decision; as is *how* the test results will be used, but low quality tests used for purposes for which they are not designed will discredit the process

which forced me to take the structure of education reform more seriously. ON Christmas Day I wrote “Major Political Actors,” which began my process of seriously thinking about why education reform is so hard. Generally, my thoughts have clusered in several major categories: xGW Theory, Dimensions of Force, Central Actors, Labor Relations, and of course the pre-systematic stuff I wrote in the preceeding seven years.

In the Context of xGW Theory

In the Context of Dimensions of Force

In the Context of Central Actors

In the Context of Labor Relations

In the Context of Education

Pre-Systematic Articles