A forum for discussing what's working -- and what isn't -- in standards and assessments.

Linda Darling-Hammond on International Assessment

Anthony Cody Science Coach and mentor, Oakland, California

On November 17, Edutopia will be hosting a pair of powerful webinars focused on issues of standards an assessment, featuring Linda Darling-Hammond.
Go here to learn more and sign up:


Edutopia has asked me to facilitate the discussion over here, so please allow me to introduce myself.

I first became acquainted with Linda Darling-Hammond's work when I read her book back in about 1998, "The Right to Learn, a Blueprint for Creating Schools that Work." In it, she wrote about the National Board certification process, which was then still new. I decided to pursue certification, and drove monthly to the National Board support group she had organized at Stanford. I was teaching middle school science in Oakland at the time. I left my school after 18 years, to become a classroom coach, which is my current post. I also have a blog called Living in Dialogue, on Teacher Magazine:

I have worked with Linda on numerous projects over the past ten years, and have found her to be a wellspring on knowledge and inspiration. I am looking forward to this conversation very much.

Comments (28)

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Researcher, Education Informatics at University of Arizona, Tucson

Re: Terry Smith

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Terry Smith
Project-based classroom teacher/Online Edtech College Instructor
Posted on 11/17/2009 2:37pm
Race to the Top - a sham?


Not only are so many schools overly concerned with meeting the requirements of the race,and thus putting learning efforts on the back burner, but schools are literally calling in the vendors, ready and willing to turn over new stimulus money for quick fix test prep and tracking.

I am also concerned that with the dismal economic situations in states like AZ & CA, the rush to get access to those additional funds will negate the thoughtfulness that's required to really implement change in education. It seems the US has a history of implementing educational shifts without really applying what's being learned by great education research. What's it going to take?

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

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I agree that the direct stimulus funding will probably lead to superficial "quick" fixes. However, the funding for developing new assessments and identifying regional partnerships should have a very positive impact.

Personally, I object to the title -- "Race to the Top" -- it implies that a quick fix is possible. The reason why Finland is at the top is because they instituted coherent and sustained reforms over nearly 40 years.

[quote]Not only are so many schools overly concerned with meeting the requirements of the race,and thus putting learning efforts on the back burner, but schools are literally calling in the vendors, ready and willing to turn over new stimulus money for quick fix test prep and tracking. Let's see: vendors analyze state test objectives, vendors package state objectives in ready-to-use form, then vendors sell states their own test objectives in a bright new package guaranteed to raise test scores. Why don't we just skip the schools and give the money straight to the vendors? Oh...are there students in there somewhere?[/quote]

Teacher U.S. and international: AP, IB, A-levels

feedback on webinar

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As a teacher that has taught in several countries, I was hoping to hear something new. Unfortunately with this webinar, it was information that has been recycled for years. We need to realize it is not a change in curriculum that is needed, as the U.S. is actually doing many of the same things (in the AP program at least) that countries are doing in A levels and the IB. It is culture we need to take a look at--how do students spend time during the day? How much is spent on working jobs to keep up with the consumerism, and how much is spent on sport? In other countries, students have more time to absorb knowledge. Also, this webinar could have been more effective if we had been given the slides to read first, then could have had more time to learn from each other by having time for questions/discussion.

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Excellent feedback, denise

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Thanks for posting your comments about the recent LDH webinar. You raise some good points. I particularly love your idea of having the slides available in advance and inviting more time for questions/discussion. I'll forward to other members of the team. In the mean time, we can certainly continue the discussion in this group. If anyone would like a refresher, or to view for the first time, Prof. Darling-Hammond's ppt presentation is here: http://www.edutopia.org/images/webinar/Assessments.ppt

Science Coach and mentor, Oakland, California


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Denise suggests that this information is not new. I agree, but at the same time, it feels as if we may need to keep repeating the obvious, since the dominant policies do not reflect this understanding.

I think k-12 education is straining at the edge of a paradigm shift, just as much of our culture is. In our schools this emerges as a battle between learning the traditional ways, measured by traditional means, and more authentic ways. There are other countries that have managed to move through this with a bit more grace, and for me, it is wonderful to get the perspective Dr. Darling-Hammond shares with us. Until we break with the old paradigm, we are going to have to keep pushing on these issues, even though it gets tiresome sometimes!

Pharmacist/Educator/Entrepreneur/Systems Thinker

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A stimulating and thought provoking presentation especially in light of my perception of the similarities between the education and health care systems and the need for fundamental reform in both. In many reguards,I feel teachers are very similar to physicians in that they both are the experts in their fields and ideally help guide/advise patients/students thru and help them "pull" value from their respective systems. Unfortunately, our health care and education systems are based on so called "Command and Control" models that separate decision making from the work. Systems thinking, as exemplefied in the Toyota Motor Co., asks workers to be responsible for the work they do and asks management to support them by improving the system.
In health care reform, although not included in the present legislation, there is also a strong interest in how other developed countries provide superior health care. Also apparent from the health care debate is that in order to acheive substantive, lasting and continually improving health care for Americans comparable to other developed countries, a fundamental restructuring of the health care SYSTEM is required.
In my view, our educational system requires a similar fundamental restructuring that places teachers at the center of the process that students go thru to gain knowledge--student-centered education; a system that supports teachers' continual improvement in educating our children by continually improving itself.
Other developed countries can inform us, but we need to develop our own educational system, a system that learns.

Science Coach and mentor, Oakland, California

Health and Education

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Joel makes an interesting comparison. National Board certification for teachers was invented about twenty years ago out of a desire to give accomplished teachers greater standing, analogous to board certification for doctors. But over the past two decades the medical profession has slid, under assault by the whole insurance/pharmaceutical industry. So now doctors have many of the problems teachers have been dealing with forever.

I agree we need a restructuring, and it can't come too soon.

Leadership consultant/examiner for accountability

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As an examiner, panel member, and consultant here in Massachusetts over the past ten years, I have seen different approaches to implementing education reform. Last year Massachusetts registered as a separate entity in the TIMMS and scored near or at the top in comparison with other nations. While MCAS still has its detractors and could still be improved, it has pushed Massachusetts in the right direction to improve student achievement.

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