Daniel Koretz on Equity and Teacher Performance

Daniel Koretz is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education.  He focuses his research primarily on educational assessment, particularly as a tool of education policy. A primary emphasis in his work has been the effects of high-stakes testing, including effects on schooling and the validity of score gains. His research has included studies of the effects of testing programs, the assessment of students with disabilities, international differences in the variability of student achievement, the application of value-added models to educational achievement, and the development of methods for validating scores under high-stakes conditions. His current work focuses on the design and evaluation of test-focused educational accountability systems. Dr. Koretz founded and chairs the International Project for the Study of Educational Accountability, an international network of scholars investigating improved approaches to educational accountability. Dr. Koretz is a member of the National Academy of Education. His doctorate is in developmental psychology from Cornell University. Before obtaining his degree, Dr. Koretz taught emotionally disturbed students in public elementary and junior high schools.

  • Transcript


Daniel Koretz:

There are hard data on this that teaching has become a less appealing field for a lot of people.  That’s, I think, an overwhelmingly important problem particularly when we’re concerned about equity because most districts are set up have hirings, have personnel systems in which the better teachers are able to get themselves into the schools where there are at some sense least needed.  So that’s, I think, one of the most serious problems.  The second is a failure to deal with things outside of school that inhibit achievement.  Some of that is preschool.  Some of it is not.  Some of it is harder for policy makers to deal with.  But when we have media and pure culture that are not supporter of academic achievement, we’re going to get less than we otherwise would.  [Margaret Mead] many, many years ago said that children don’t need to respond to what their culture rewards, they just need to find out what it is.  And if we don’t make academic achievement something that is really esteemed, then we’re just going to get a lot less of it.  There has been some movement in that regard.  I think, there are, for instance, TV shows that glorify smart people, there aren’t many but there are few.  But a lot of places in the United States, it’s still more important for a kid’s self-esteem to do well in a sport than to do well in school and certainly more important than to do well in mathematics, for example.  So as long as we maintain those attitudes, we’re going to get kids who say it really isn’t important to learn the skills the policy makers are correctly saying are important for our national well-being.