Know-It-All School Reformers

Although Larry Cuban’s post on school reform is focused on the US K-12 system, this overview of what we know and don’t know about education reform, including the impacts of curriculum, testing and performance or merit pay systems, relates to what we have seen happening in Ontario’s adult literacy system.

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Listen to Michael Mann, a climatolgist at Penn State University who talked about the science behind global warming and rising sea levels.

Any honest assessment of the science is going to recognize that there are things we understand pretty darn well and things that we sort of know. But there are things that are uncertain and there are things we just have no idea about whatsoever. (Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise, 2012, p. 409).

Ah, if only federal and state policymakers, researchers, and reform-minded educators would see the “science” of school reform in K-12 and higher education in similar terms. “Science” is in quote marks because there is no reliable, much less valid, theory of school reform that can predict events or improvements in schools and classroom instruction.

Still, for K-12 children and youth there are “things we understand pretty darn well.”

*We understand that socioeconomic…

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