Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Bill Gates Endorses Merit Pay & Says We Need To Measure “Value Being Added By Colleges”

Now that the Gates Foundation thinks they’ve figured out how to evaluate teachers (see A Beginning List Of The Best Posts On Gates’ Final MET “Effective Teaching” Report), Bill Gates apparently has decided to endorse merit pay based on those measures (I, at least, hadn’t heard him support it before, but maybe I just missed it).

Gates writes about “measurement systems”
being the key to solving the world’s problems in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Of course, there’s plenty of evidence showing that merit pay is harmful (see The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea), and it certainly hasn’t received a positive review at Microsoft.

Also, in that article, Gates says we need to measure “value being added by colleges.” Value-added — where have I heard that phrase before?

May 23, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Surprising — At Least To Me — NY Times Interview With Bill Gates On Education

Source: via Larry on Pinterest

This quote comes from yesterday’s New York Times column by Joe Nocera — his account of an interview with Bill Gates on Education.

It seems a bit odd to me, and often I can’t really tell how much of what Nocera writes is his overly optimistic interpretation of what Bill Gates says, and how much of it is really what Gates now believes. Based on what Gates and his foundation have said and done in the past, it appears to me that Gates might have made some important shifts, but I can’t tell for sure. Here’s another excerpt:

While Gates does not dismiss the need for test scores — “you do have to know whether equations are being learned,” he said — he views them as the least important in terms of helping teachers improve. A test score, he said, “is not very diagnostic. You usually give them at the end of the year, so they don’t help you during the year.” Far more important, he believes, are the peer teachers, who are paid with the foundation’s money and whose job is to work with teachers on the nuts and bolts of teaching.

And that’s the final point. In business, employee evaluation systems are aimed at improving employee performance. Yes, sometimes they lead to an underperformer being fired, but that is really not their primary purpose.

Teaching has never really had the kind of sensible evaluation system that business takes for granted. Seniority used to be all that mattered. Now, test scores have become dominant. Neither system has had as its goal getting teachers to improve what they do in the classroom. That is what Gates is trying to change.

It certainly hasn’t seemed to me that Gates has been emphasizing teacher development and de-emphasizing the role of test scores in the past (see The Best Posts Responding To Bill Gates’ Appallingly Clueless Op-Ed Piece; The Best Posts On The Gates’ Funded Measures Of Effective Teaching Report; Gates Foundation Minimizing Great Tools For Helping Teachers Improve Their Craft and Videotaping teachers the right way (not the Gates way).

To his credit, though, he did come out against publicly listing teacher rankings — though it was after many other people had already done so.

What do you think — is Gates really shifting, or might I be reading too much into this interview.

April 7, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Bill Gates Seems To Think Teaching Is Like Writing Computer Code

In an interview with NPR today, Bill Gates:

said if Microsoft didn’t have evaluations, “it wouldn’t have worked.”

He said that seniority and educational degrees didn’t correlate with “who was writing the best code.”

I “tweeted” this NPR interview when it first came out.

Here’s Jason Middlekauff’s response:

He seems to think teaching is analogous to code writing. Codes have learning styles, distractions, apathy, home influence.

February 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Bill Gates — Yes, Bill Gates — Calls Making Teacher Ratings Public “A Big Mistake”

I have little confidence in Bill Gates judgment on education issues, including on how to evaluate teachers. However, he did get one thing right in today’s guest column in The New York Times, which is headlined “Shame Is Not the Solution”:

LAST week, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that teachers’ individual performance assessments could be made public. I have no opinion on the ruling as a matter of law, but as a harbinger of education policy in the United States, it is a big mistake.

I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The New York Court Decision Releasing Teacher Ratings.

Now, if he would just admit to a few education policy mistakes of his own…

October 24, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Bill Gates Writes Another Guest Column For The Wall Street Journal

Bill Gates (co-authored by his wife, Melinda) has written another guest column for The Wall Street Journal one evaluating teachers. It’s arrogantly titled “Grading the Teachers: Schools have a lot to learn from business about how to improve performance, say Bill and Melinda Gates.”

Walt Gardner posted a good critique of their column at Ed Week — Nothing New about Teaching from Bill Gates.

I don’t have much to add to what Walt wrote, except for one thing. The Gates’ keep on referring to a joint Gates/Scholastic survey of teachers, and this is the only one I could find online. In the article, they claim that “Eighty percent said that teacher tenure should be re-evaluated regularly, and as a group they believe that tenure is granted too early in teachers’ careers.”

However, unless I missed it in the survey, or unless I’m looking at the wrong survey, I couldn’t find any such thing. It does say this:

Only 10% of teachers say that teacher tenure is a “very accurate” measure of teacher performance, with 47% saying it is “somewhat accurate” and 42% saying that it is “not at all accurate.” Veteran teachers are more likely than new teachers to say that tenure is at least somewhat accurate. These results do not indicate teacher opposition to the tenure system, but rather skepticism that tenure is an accurate measure of teacher performance.

So, are the Gates’ wildly misrepresenting what the survey says about tenure, or are the claims backed up elsewhere and I’m just not seeing it?

March 3, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Posts Responding To Bill Gates’ Appallingly Clueless Op-Ed Piece

Readers of this blog are familiar with the op-ed piece that Bill Gates wrote for the Washington Post this week where he said class size should be increased that teachers haven’t gotten any better over the years (unlike other professions). Believe me, those are just the tip of the iceberg. He also made a similar presentation to a meeting of U.S. Governors this week.

There have been a number of excellent responses to Gates over the past twenty-four hours from….educators.

Here are my choices for The Best Posts Responding To Bill Gates’ Appallingly Clueless Op-Ed Piece:

Though I wouldn’t say mine are the best of the bunch, you might want to check out The Arrogance Of Bill Gates — Part Three and A Perfect Cartoon For Bill Gates.

Who Elected Bill Gates? is from Gary Stager.

Smart Guy (Gates) makes my list of “Dumbest Stuff I’ve Ever Read!” is from School Finance 101.

Can We Improve Education By Increasing Class Size? comes from GOOD.

An Open Letter to Bill Gates: Higher Class Sizes will Drive Teachers Out by Anthony Cody at Ed Week.

Expert Witness comes from Nancy Flanagan at Ed Week.

A partial response to Bill Gates’ op ed about teachers is by Ken Bernstein.

The Bill Gates problem in school reform is by Paul Thomas.

The Increasingly Strange Logic of Bill Gates is by Justin Baeder at Ed Week.

Richard Rothstein has written a great piece titled Fact-Challenged Policy.

Here’s a great column from The Seattle Times pointing out that small class sizes were important to Bill Gates when he went to school, and are an important reason why he sends his kids to the school they attend.

Fact-Challenged Policy is by Richard Rothstein, and is a longer version of a previous piece of his I’ve shared.

Wealthy Amateur Advises Decision-makers about Class Size is by Larry Cuban.

Larry Cuban has written a very important post titled Teacher Resistance and Reform Failure (the title of my post is a quote from it). He makes a number of key points refuting charges that some school reformer make about many of us being “defenders of the status quo.” In addition, because he points out how teachers have indeed changed their pedagogy over the years, it’s a good response to Bill Gates’ charge that teaching hasn’t changed in a hundred years. Because of that, I’m adding it here.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the over 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

March 2, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Perfect Cartoon For Bill Gates

I’m a fan of the comic strip “Pearls Before Swine,” and today’s edition reminded me of Bill Gates and other reformers who have little (if any) direct experience in education but have unhelpful ideas — and the power to push them.

A little information can be dangerous. The difference, of course, is that unlike the gophers in this strip, when some “school reformers” push a new and shiny idea that blows up, our students, their families and us are the ones who get hurt. The school reformers usually do fine.

Pearls Before Swine