Everyone Needs Professional Inquiry

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To the Editor:

Education researcher Thomas Guskey badly misses the forest for the trees in his recent Education Week blog post ("How Can We Improve Professional Inquiry?" Peter DeWitt's Finding Common Ground blog, www.edweek.org, Sept. 9, 2018). While classroom teachers often hold their students' research projects to high standards, Guskey claims, "educators frequently conduct professional inquiries in ways they would never consider acceptable from students." He derides teachers' use of Google searches, social media posts, and even books to elicit answers to teaching questions—rather than using researched-based sources, such as journal articles and scientific studies.

However, the much wider problem is not that individual teachers fail to ground daily lessons practice in sound theory. It's that too often our educational leaders, in creating national policy, fail to do the same. No Child Left Behind ushered in a punitive, untried test-based accountability model whose apparent gains, when finally subjected to careful research, were proven to be either highly questionable or downright fraudulent. The Common Core State Standards is another example of an untested national mandate. Yet educational researcher Daniel Koretz, in his 2017 book The Testing Charade, writes, "It's not just the common core that has been dropped into schools wholesale before we gathered any evidence about impact; this has been true of almost the entire edifice of test-based reform, time and time again." Perhaps in the end the problem isn't just that individual teachers need to consult evidence- and research-based literature to inform their practices. Perhaps our policymakers need to do so, too.

Alden Bird
English Teacher
U-32 High School
Montpelier, Vermont

Vol. 38, Issue 07, Page 16

Published in Print: October 3, 2018, as Everyone Needs Professional Inquiry
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