Klea Scharberg

Our Country Deserves a Great Education System

In this TEDx presentation, Brian M. Stecher, associate director and senior social scientist at RAND Education, suggests three steps we need to take to cultivate schools where students can thrive.

  1. Describe what we mean by "a school where students can thrive." A thriving school is likely to produce
    • Students who know things, from reading and mathematics, to science and technology, history and social studies, and other cultures and languages.
    • Students who can do things, like engage in performances and interact with technological tools.
    • Students who are healthy individuals, from diet and nutrition to exercise and recreation.
    • Students who play well together in the "sandbox," working in teams and developing social skills.
    • Students who are resilient psychologically, feel good about themselves, and have self-confidence as they go through their present and future lives.
    • Students who become good citizens, are engaged with their local community, and play a role in our democratic society.
  2. Measure the things that a thriving school produces. Tests are not the only way. Educators have a diverse set of tools to find out if schools are achieving their outcomes, including observing classrooms to see if the interaction between teachers and students is positive, supported, and focused on content; using school records documenting teacher turnover, graduation rates, and absenteeism; and surveying teachers, students, and parents on resources and support.
  3. Signal to people that we value these things through publication of results, recognition of schools that do better on these measures, and sanctioning of schools that do worse.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Stecher's research focuses on measuring education quality and evaluating education reforms, with a particular emphasis on assessment and accountability systems. During his 20 years at RAND, he has directed prominent national and state evaluations of No Child Left Behind, Mathematics and Science Systemic Reforms, and Class Size Reduction. His measurement-related expertise includes test development (prototype performance assessments for teacher certification, hands-on science tasks for middle school students), test validation (the quality of portfolio assessments in Vermont and Kentucky and new assessments in Washington), and the use of assessments for school improvement (formative and interim assessments, quality of classroom assessments).

Comments (2)

Shelley Joan Weiss

January 27, 2012

Thank you Klea for your post.  I love your key points - particularly the comment in #2 that test are not the only way to assess student progress or success.  One the most important components that is essential to effective instruction and effective schools is RELATIONSHIPS.  Students must know that the adults that support them are honest, trustworthy, consistent, and constant.  Students need to know that we CARE about them as individuals first in order to advance.  I always believe we teach children first - content second.  This approach helps students to excel in content and personal growth.  Not all students will be mathematicians or poets, but hopefully they will all be healthy, productive citizens who care for each other and for their community.  @ShelleyJo

Ranae Beyerlein

February 12, 2012

Thanks.  I whole-heartedly agree.

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