Over at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Flypaper Blog, Mike Petrilli just posted an echo of things I’ve been talking about for a long time regarding education, stating “Identifying ‘what works’ is still a work in progress.” Petrilli’s article points to major concerns I always have when I hear educators talk about using “what the research shows.” To be blunt, the research in education is far behind the maturity level of say, medicine, and education studies are often of such poor quality that they really can’t establish anything with even reasonable confidence.
Petrilli certainly isn’t the only soul to raise such concerns, of course. Arthur Levine, former president of Columbia Teachers College in New York, issued several reports about a decade ago on “Educating School Teachers” and “Educating Researchers.”
Levine’s studies raise strong concerns about the quality of research that informs education and the way that research is used in teacher preparation programs.
For example, a summary of the Educating School Teachers report points to problems like “…most education schools are engaged in a ‘pursuit of irrelevance,’ with curriculums in disarray and faculty disconnected from classrooms and colleagues. These schools have ‘not kept pace with changing demographics, technology, global competition, and pressures to raise student achievement.’”
Still, Levine’s’ papers are now about decade old, while Petrilli’s observations are current time. So, nothing substantial seems to be changing, and that is a huge problem for our kids.