If you remember your Greek mythology, you’ll recall Cassandra, tragically blessed with the gift of prophecy but cursed by Apollo so that no one would believe her. Think of her while reading Diane Ravitch’s latest over at Bridging Differences.
Here is my prediction: Merit pay of the kind I have described will not make education better, even if scores go up next year or the year after. Instead, it will make education worse, not only because some of the “gains” will be based on cheating and gaming the system, but because they will be obtained by scanting attention to history, geography, civics, the arts, science, literature, foreign languages, and all the other studies that are needed to develop smarter individuals, better citizens, and people who are prepared for the knowledge-based economy of the 21st Century. Nor will it identify better teachers; instead, it will reward those who use their time for low-level test preparation.
“Is it possible to have an education system that mis-educates students while raising their test scores?” Ravitch asks. ”Yes, I think it is. We may soon prove it.”
Cassandra is speaking. Are you listening? Do you believe her?