NPR, Performance Management, and Fact Checking

On Wednesday, NPR ran a story on the use of "performance management" as a means of teacher evaluation in the Chicago school system.

From the NPR story:

Some urban school systems are turning to the tough tactics businesses and law enforcement use to improve employee performance. The sometimes-contentious approach, known as performance management, has yielded promising results in Houston, New York and some other districts. In Chicago, it's forcing city educators to embrace a cultural revolution in how they go about their work.


Top district officials argue that performance management offers principals a way to tackle tough educational problems that seem insurmountable. And they point to other districts, like Houston, where these methods are working.

The superintendent there, Terry Grier, credits performance management with forcing his principals to use data to pressure their worst teachers to get better or get out.

Unfortunately, Houston ISD did not receive accreditation due to a developing cheating scandal. If a success story fails to receive accreditation, what does failure look like?

How can anyone make the claim that performance review is working in Houston when Houston ISD has yet to receive accreditation due to concerns of widespread cheating? And it's not like Houston is any stranger to allegations of falsifying data under pressure of a top-down mandate.

More importantly, the NPR story ran on March 10th. The news of Houston ISD not receiving accreditation was published on March 5th. Why didn't this get caught as part of routine fact-checking?

If this detail was missed, what other details were overlooked or ignored in pursuit of the narrative that the only thing wrong with schools is those darn teachers, and all that's needed is some common-sense know how from the business world?

I don't know what's more stunning: the lack of fact-checking in a piece put out by a respected, credible national news outlet, or the fact that as the world's economy is still teetering due to widespread malfeasance in the corporate world, we are still trumpeting increased corporatism as the "solution" to our education "problem."

I may be naive, but I believe that we will get a better understanding of how to improve our educational system with a more accurate depiction of the actual problems. Getting basic facts straight is a good place to start.

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