Thursday, September 4, 2008

BloomKlein Model in the Land of Oz

I received an email from Trevor Cobbold, a parent activist, who is based in Canberra, Australia's capital and is involved with Save Our Schools Canberra.

He wrote an article for the Canberra Times addressing the situation in New York in terms of school reporting:

Ideology win in school reporting

The Rudd Government's ''education revolution'' is looking more and more like an extension of the Howard government's school policies. All the same elements are there choice and competition, reliance on markets, and now public reporting of school results.

The model for the new school reporting scheme comes direct from New York. Julia Gillard has been enthusing about the New York system ever since her audience with the New York schools chancellor, Joe Klein. She says she is ''inspired'' and ''impressed'' by Klein's model.

If Gillard had looked more closely, she would have seen major flaws.

The New York system produces unreliable and misleading comparisons of school performance and student progress. It is incoherent, can be used to produce league table,fails to compare like with like and is statistically flawed.

He goes on to cite Diane Ravitch and Jennifer Jennings (Eduwonkette) and concludes with:

Australia and Finland are two of the highest-achieving countries in the world in school outcomes according to the PISA surveys conducted by the OECD. Neither country got there by reporting school results.

Why the Rudd Government is choosing to emulate the reporting policies of much lower-performing countries such as the United States and United Kingdom can be explained only as a triumph of ideology over evidence.

Read the entire piece here.

Trevor also sent this blog site for reference.

I have disagreements on an article he wrote on class size at Save Our Schools where he talks about cost effectiveness and teacher quality as excuses not to jump into class size reduction across the board. While praising the STAR project, he also cites research on teacher quality, which no one seems to be able to define:

There is evidence that improving teacher quality contributes more to increasing student outcomes than class size reductions. Recent studies by Doug Harris and David Plank at Michigan State University and by Dylan Wiliam, Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, show larger improvements from increasing teacher ability and skills than by class size reductions.

Too many researchers have agendas based on where their funding is coming from and the TQ people have a lot more money than advocates for class size. I find it interesting that the "quality" issue is not raised when it comes to putting more police on the street to reduce crime or firemen on the job to cut down fires or doctors in emergency rooms.

I have to ask him what he thinks about all those Aussies Klein hired (at up to $1000 a day) to run around schools in NYC as consultants.

Personal Aussie Note
We visited Canberra in the early 90's to attend the Scherr scion's Bar Mitzvah. We had to smuggle in the yarmulkes - apparently it's tough to get them engraved in Canberra but I did manage to get them through customs despite the yarmulke sniffing dogs. The Scherrs, now living in Perth/Freemantle, stayed with us for 3 weeks last summer (and we're still talking.) Their son Sam is now 30 and a founding member of Capital City, a rock band in Australia. Dan Scherr, a native of the TenEyk housing project in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, keeps me informed of ed events in Western Australia.

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