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Linda Darling-Hammond Talks Education Reform with Education Sector
posted by: Melissa | July 17, 2013, 05:49 PM   


Linda Darling-Hammond has long been known as one of the nation’s preeminent educators. She is best known for her efforts to increase learning outcomes for inner-city youth, the promotion of social justice education, and her work with teacher preparation and evaluation.  She’s published a wide variety of books including The Flat World and Education, The Right to Learn, and Powerful Teacher Education. Darling-Hammond has never been afraid to take a stand on controversial issues. In her latest work, Getting Teacher Evaluation Right, she waded into the controversial area of teacher evaluations.


Recently, Linda Darling-Hammond sat down with the education reform-centric blog, Education Sector, to talk about some of her viewpoints.  As anyone familiar with Darling-Hammond would expect, she spends a lot of time talking about the importance of teacher preparation, professional development, and the need for high-quality educators in order to improve outcomes for students in impoverished areas.


Early on, Darling-Hammond is quoted as saying, “At the end of the day, if we achieve a level playing field, if all schools become reasonably well-resourced, children are fed and housed, and we have adequate health care, what will still matter most in terms of students’ achievement are the qualifications and capacities of their teachers.”


On the subject of teacher preparation she asserts, “There’s a lot of research  showing  that teachers with more training, more qualifications, and more experience are even more important to children who live in low-income communities and who have had learning challenges than to students with more advantages.”  It’s obvious to Darling-Hammond that well-prepared and high quality teachers are ultimately how we will improve overall educational outcomes in this nation.


When discussing how she would ensure that high-quality teachers enter the field, Darling-Hammond first refers to the plan for a “bar exam” and then talks about her own work creating a much more rigorous and practical evaluation for beginning teachers.


While seeming to favorably view many of the reforms that are seeking to increase teacher quality, Darling-Hammond falls into status quo talking points.  Soon after saying that teacher evaluation should include both observations on teacher practices and evidence of student learning from multiple sources including tests, she criticizes the use of value added measures and falls into the trap of calling using test scores as a part of evaluation as evidence of “teacher bashing.”  Both statements seem to undermine her viewpoint of a strong and varied teacher evaluation system and ignore the opinions of real educators.

Beyond talking about teacher evaluation and preparation, Linda Darling-Hammond brings up her views on the effectiveness of President Obama’s education policy, the role of public charter schools, and comparing U.S. education to that in other countries.  You can read the entire interview with Linda Darling-Hammond on Education Sector’s website.


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