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A Tale of Two Education Policy Polls

By Justin Reich — August 25, 2015 5 min read
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In a networked-world sort of way, I co-wrote this post with J. Gordon Wright at Education Post. Two different educational policy polls came out this week, and I posted a bunch of tweets about the funny and fascinating differences in findings and interpretation about very similar issues. Wright took my tweets, added some context and analysis, and posted over at Education Post. With permission, I’m re-posting here.

It’s edu-poll season, everyone.

Peter Cunningham already summed up the most pertinent conclusion from these competing polls: It’s all how you ask the question.

On the flip side, as Harvard professor Paul Peterson revealed to NPR, “The first thing you learn is that there is no right way to ask a question.” [BJFR: Two other posts comparing the polls come from Paul Peterson and Marty West from Education Next and Morgan Polikoff on his blog.]

By far my favorite recap of the recent poll bonanza, though, comes from #EdTech guru Justin Reich. In typical techie fashion, he took to Twitter to make essentially the same point, but in an epic series of 20 tweets. (Hat-tip to @Ed_Realist.)

Reich starts by setting the scene:

First he looks at annual standardized testing: Do we love it or hate it?

Hmm, so it’s a draw on the tests. Well, then how do we feel about parents opting their kids out of those tests?

Aha! So apparently it’s okay to opt out of standardized tests, as long as they aren’t math and reading tests. (Good thing those are the only ones required by the federal government.)

But this is the easy stuff. Let’s get into a dicey issue like merit pay for teachers:

Fair enough. When I think back to the bubble-tests of my youth, I understand why people wouldn’t think that was a useful metric for gauging teacher performance. Fortunately, standardized tests are getting much, much better.

But let’s stop beating around the bush. What’s the scoop on Common Core?

Um, I was frankly surprised that these results on Common Core came out so differently.

But as Cunningham points out, apparently PDK’s use of the word “guide” implies some sort of nefarious meddling in the teacher’s classroom autonomy. If so, then respondents may intuitively understand the true intent of the standards--to provide a meaningful benchmark while still empowering school leaders and classroom instructors to choose what’s right for the kids in their community.

But let’s not get too upbeat, a bit of cynicism is appropriate here:

Here’s a great takeaway:

Here’s the CYA:

Some more smart takeaways:

And then a great finale:

For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my publications, C.V., and online portfolio, visit EdTechResearcher.

The opinions expressed in EdTech Researcher are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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