Monday, February 25, 2008

Accountability

Eduwonkette has a post today on the Richard Rothstein appearance at Teachers College which we wrote about here and here. I made this comment.

The idea of accountability for everything needs to be challenged (I know, we teachers just want to avoid responsibility). The climate of over-accountability can poison the atmosphere between teachers and students. When you teach kids who are struggling academically and have become used to feeling like failures there's a need to build a lot of trust and teachers walk a delicate balance of encouragement and building self-esteem – I know how some disparage this - see the attitudes of Al Shanker in the Kahlenberg book – as somehow being destructive.

I had an MA in reading and went through all the rigmarole of diagnosis and correction of reading problems. The biggest leap is made when you convince a child to want to read. Then the skills problems (other than dyslexia) fall by the wayside. It them may take years to catch up but it is possible. Can you measure me as a teacher in my ability to "sell" reading? Maybe give me merit pay? Give people reasonable class sizes, resources and support and then think about measuring results.

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