In a recent Washington Post article entitled "Four Decades of Failed School Reform," Pat Welsh -- a retired 43-year-veteran teacher from Northern Virginia -- discussed the various education initiatives that have come down the pike over his career in the classroom, none of which had any noticeable improvement on either teaching or student outcomes. For this 10-year-veteran public school teacher, reading Mr. Welsh's catalog of failed initiatives yielded an exasperating realization: The last three decades of reform have been just as fool-hardy as this current one. And it's not just in the D.C. metro-area.
In New York City, our most recent and controversial reform has included the rolling out of a set of standardized tests called Measures of Student Learning -- or MOSL. (My colleagues keep pointing out that this sounds like the name of a klezmer band.) MOSL's mission is two-fold: First, to evaluate teachers, as students' standardized test scores comprise 20 percent of their teacher's yearly "rating" (the number by which the teacher will be judged effective or ineffective) through NYCDOE's "Advance" initiative; second, to evaluate the school itself, based on the improvements in students' scores from one sitting, in September, to the second, sometime next spring.