professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Crash Course

When I see headlines proclaiming that most teachers are "enthusiastic" about CCSS, I am puzzled. I have been in a variety of places speaking about books and reading and such. I am not finding much "enthusiasm" as I talk to teachers. So, I turn to one of the things that I admittedly like to do. I look at the research behind these statements. Recently, this led me to a study, a survey, of teachers conducted by Scholastic with a Gates Foundation grant. I am already a tad wary here as the Gates Foundation DOES have an interest in CCSS and its outcome. You can find a link to the survey here:

Let's look at ONE statistic a bit more closely. In response to the question: "I am enthusiastic about the implementation of CCSS in my classroom," the report from the survey states that 71% of teachers WERE enthusiastic. But look more closely at the figure provided: Gates.Scholastic survey Only 16-32% agree with this statement STRONGLY. The other 41-49% agree SOMEWHAT. I am not certain that saying you are somewhat in agreement demonstrates enthusiasm. This rather misleading reportage then leads others to claim that teachers are all enthusiastic about the reform initiatives when, in truth, that is not what the survey says. If we were to add in the negative numbers (and I assume the remainder of responses falls under STRONGLY and SOMEWHAT disagree since there is no mention of a more neutral answer), I could make the case that more than half of all high school teachers are not enthusiastic about CCSS in their classrooms. We need a crash course in reading and understanding what statistics really say. And some folks need a crash course in constructing surveys.

I also noticed that the article I reference from Education Week also receives funding from the Gates Foundation. Recently it was discovered that NCTE has received significant funding from Gates as well for "college ready" research. While I applaud the funding of research and its dissemination, I do wonder about the ties to various foundations.

I accepted an offer to blog for Follett recently. I asked that I not be paid for a monthly blog about books and reading. I do not want to feel that I must review A book or speak kindly about A program (or any program). I want to be able, instead, to make recommendations and perhaps put together some lists of books that I think would benefit kids and classroom teachers and librarians. I have turned down invitations to speak to groups when asked to address only particular topics, programs, etc. I want to be able to use my voice for the things that matter to me and, I fervently hope, to educators.

Please take the time to dig behind the statement of facts, the "research," and see what is being asked, how it is being distributed, how results are analyzed. Look for reliability and validity, see if the study has been replicated. Most of all, see who is funding and conducting the research. We must ask these questions before accepting the numbers at face value. And always, follow the money.
Tags: research, surveys, truth
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