LDH Another Look – Was I wrong about Linda Darling-Hammond

After a recent post on Linda Darling-Hammond not joining Arne Duncan’s Department of Education team I received a comment about my stance on Darling-Hammond.

Change.org education
writer Clay Burell said this in response to a recent post.
Re: LDH as “status quo” – Derek, you bought the spin. She advocates reforms across the board, just in directions different from privatization and union-busting. Search “Linda DarlingHammond” tags on my blog and you’ll get a lot of links to learn just how misleading the media “status quo” label was.

I went back and read Clay’s posts on Linda Darling-Hammond, as well as some others. After reading a wider variety of opinions on the woman and words from Darling-Hammond herself I feel I can make a more educated opinion of her.

Some have accused LDH of being against student and teacher accountability. I could find no reference in the pieces I read to Darling-Hammond either being for or against teacher accountability. From what I have read she seems to be focused more on student performance. I still am a firm believer that things like tenure, raises, and bonuses should be linked to teacher performance. Since the only way to measure teacher performance is student performance, the two must be coupled. It would improve my opinion of Darling-Hammond ten-fold if she was as well.

I agree with her assessment of our school standards system.

from Gotham Schools

Darling-Hammond said her vision draws on the examples of countries like Finland, Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Canada, which outperform America on international tests and which she said do a list of things wtih their schools that America doesn’t. One is that they use better tests, with more open-ended questions, less multiple choice, and more personalization by individual schools.

Though she didn’t endorse national standards, she did praise Finland et al for having “leaner, fewer, higher, deeper” standards than our 50 states. She did say that all students should be asked to meet the same high expectations.

I think we need to have some sort of national standard. This would be the only way to ensure all students would meet the same high expectations. This does not mean there cannot be local personalization cannot happen. What problems children are solving don’t matter as much as that the problems prove they can use certain knowledge to reach their conclusions. Give multiple choice the axe. Multiple choice represents the 20th century, the lever pulling, button pushing past. We need to evolve into the 21st century.

Linda Darling-Hammond is a proponent of just the kind of tests and standards we need.

from The Quick and the Ed

Darling-Hammond has spent a lot of time studying the teaching and testing systems of high achieving industrialized countries and likes them better than ours. Among other things, she says, they teach fewer topics in greater depth; focus more on reasoning skills and applications of knowledge rather than on coverage of content; and rely heavily on open-ended questions “that require students to analyze, apply knowledge, and write extensively,” in contrast to US tests that “rely primarily on multiple-choice items that evalute recall and recognition of discreet facts.”

Given the growing consensus that well-crafted performance assessments would represent a big step towards teaching students the higher-order thinking skills that they need today (Darling-Hammond points out that US students score lower on problem-solving that their international counterparts), this would be a smart investment–and a refreshing change from the Bush administration’s hear-no-evil, see-no-evil stance on test quality.

As I said earlier, this is the way we need to move. Show students what they learn has a practical application, that solving the problem is more than just knowing the answer. Outcome -based education people!

Well Clay, maybe Linda ain’t so bad after all.


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