Friday, April 30, 2010

Fifty percent, and reporters who don’t comment.

After I blogged on the topic, several reporters wrote me personally about how policy makers in their states decided that student test scores should count toward at least 50 percent of teacher evaluations. In some places consultants insisted that would be a do-or-die threshold for Race to the Top money, though it is not clear that is the the case. (Of the winners, Tennessee policy is 50 percent, while it looks like Delaware has not come to an exact figure.) Under Florida law, teacher evaluations have to be based “predominantly” on student achievement. Achievement means test scores, and apparently 50 percent means predominantly. Nothing fancier than that.

You may have noticed that on a blog dedicated to education journalism, education journalists rarely comment, even to add facts. They often write me personally about my posts, but I know an awful lot of reporters, especially newspaper reporters, who never comment on blogs. Is it that it feels too much like publicly expressing opinion, which just isn’t in a reporter’s DNA—and in some forms and at some places is not allowed? (I get it; I might not either in their shoes.) Reporters are more likely to respond to my blog feed on Facebook.

Hey, reporters: Want to comment on why you don’t comment?


  1. I would have sworn Tennessee's use of student data has been lowered to 35% of a teacher's evaluation

  2. I'm not strictly an education reporter -- though I have begun to write a bit about it (I have an interview with Diane Ravitch coming up shortly) -- but I sure am a public school parent. I'll comment if it will affect my school! By the way, I'm reading "Tested" right now and I see you're from Milwaukee. We should talk. BobbyOnMKEcom on Twitter.

  3. I think it depends on what journalism org you are talking about, when you wonder why some journalists don't comment publicly or state their opinions. For some reporters, it's quite clear what their bias looks like, and a quick cruise through mainstream local newspapers with international circulation will show this to be true.