Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An emerging mystery in education reform

Over the last two decades, the number of professionals / resource persons / researchers / academics has dramatically grown in two areas related to educational improvement / reform -- planning and evaluation -- but not so much in the part that comes in between: IMPLEMENTATION! We have more and more data on learning outcomes, provisioning or the lack of it, 'non-performance' of personnel, expenditure incurred and the like, but comparatively very little on, say, emotional incentives that help teachers change, or practices that enable diversity to become a resource rather than constraint, or ways in which debilitating hierarchies and lack of equity can be addressed in large scale, or how systems learn to be more responsive...

In particular, the ability to evaluate children's learning as well as programme 'outcomes' has seen the greatest degree of rigour and academic/professional depth. Suddenly, there is a large number of agencies undertaking research, assessment and evaluation, and 'data' related activities such as monitoring / tracking. And we have people who have studied in places such as Harvard / Cambridge etc. evaluating the work of those who went to somewhat less distinguished schools/universities, studied courses that didn't really prepare them to design or execute brilliant programmes.... And who, of course, are not really able to get teachers to be more committed or display innovation or even basic professional capabilities. Interestingly though, the various studies / data bases + analyses by the highly qualified minds come up with results that their less qualified counterparts can quite accurately predict beforehand!

So why are the highly qualified academics/professionals so involved with evaluation and planning rather than actually getting things done? I believe because it is EASIER - easier to point out what is going wrong than actually make it better, easier to give 'recommendations' than nitty-gritty details that might lead to improvement (and which you can learn only if you really dirty your hands and undergo the deep frustration that teaches you what works or doesn't).

Perhaps all this is doing a disservice - certainly more and more people in the system are coming to believe that whatever they do is not going to work, and will probably not stand up to the 'scrutiny' of these 'intelligent and knowledgeable' people. There is also a tendency to focus on what will 'please the researchers' - hence some states devalue all-round education to emphasize only reading and writing and numeracy; or are forever 'piloting' aspects that should be well-known after so many decades and therefore diverting energy from larger systemic reform that is required post-RTE. Looks like the law of unintended consequences is beginning to operate...

[At a later date I hope to write a more 'researched' and 'data/evidence-backed' piece elaborating on this - in the meantime, comments really welcome!]

1 comment:

kurinji said...

Really,these reports only affects the teachers who are already struggling. They some how manage and teach the child they are used as more clerks than teachers.
First every body must know Each and every school is UNIQUE it has its own problems which looks very normal for others.
Really I wonder how thwese people TEST my children.WHEN?WHERE?HOW?