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Diane Ravitch, Education, Performance Pay for Teachers

Why Business Models Fail in Education

This is an interesting comment on the perils of using business models in education – from Diane Ravitch’s most excellent blog (which you should go and bookmark right now):
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“Having spent years in business, I cringe at blindly applying business models to education. 360 evaluation is a business fad that will join MBOs and matrix management. I tried student evaluations. Students are usually upset over not getting a certain grade on the most recent test, angry over a detention, or at the other extreme, like the teacher and don’t want to say anything negative. I eavesdropped on two of my high school students evaluating their teachers and a “good” teacher had more to do with being lenient, funny, and good looking. It took me years to later appreciate my good teachers – not at the time the most popular. Most parents mean well, but often have only glimpses of the classroom from their child’s perspective. Often the truth is difficult and not always well received. Peers are OK, but not all peers are objective or can separate politics. Administrators may not have spent enough years in a math or language arts classroom – perhaps moving up through phys ed – to understand content and delivery. Third party evaluations are too disconnected and have conflicts of interest.
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So a better solution? First, and this principle is also overlooked in business, IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT. Not all schools are failing, and then, not all for the same reason. Blanket, scorched earth solutions never work and just replace one set of problems with another. Improving upon what exists takes skill and savvy. Second, if you want to know what makes a good teacher, ask a good teacher. We all know who they are. Mentoring is by far the best system with centuries of success. Make it work. Third, start listening to teachers, not politicians, billionaires, and opportunists. The latter have other interests. Teachers, in contrast to the constant demonizing, are in the classroom everyday and want their students to learn.
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The best approach to education is there is no single approach to education. Students are individuals and human. Not data points in a multi-level statistical model. Teachers know this. Will anybody else listen?”
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Diane Ravitch's blog

A comment on the post about “Zombie Education Policies”:

Having spent years in business, I cringe at blindly applying business models to education. 360 evaluation is a business fad that will join MBOs and matrix management. I tried student evaluations. Students are usually upset over not getting a certain grade on the most recent test, angry over a detention, or at the other extreme, like the teacher and don’t want to say anything negative. I eavesdropped on two of my high school students evaluating their teachers and a “good” teacher had more to do with being lenient, funny, and good looking. It took me years to later appreciate my good teachers – not at the time the most popular. Most parents mean well, but often have only glimpses of the classroom from their child’s perspective. Often the truth is difficult and not always well received. Peers are OK, but not…

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