December 20, 2005

Inputs vs. outputs

Reg Weaver, the head of the nation's largest teachers' union, rails against the current focus on "output":

On Monday, Weaver balked at focusing on students’ standardized test results. “In many instances they want us all to focus on outputs,” he said. “An output is nothing more than a test score, and as long as they get us focused on a test score, then they cause the public and many legislators not to deal with the inputs.”

“Inputs,” he said include not only class size and adequate funding but qualified and certified teachers, safe and orderly schools and state-of-the-art technology.

Is the public really not interested in inputs? Or have they had it with inputs, like state-of-the-art technology and fancy teaching programs, that might be pricey but haven't been shown to be related to those important outputs? I don't think any parent would not want a school to be more safe and orderly, but they might balk at laptops for all if the school still doesn't teach kids how to read.

Weaver [also] offered general advice. “We can begin to introduce legislation that talks about closing the loopholes,” he said and added that corporate tax relief totals billions of dollars in lost income in some states. “We can begin to make sure that Arkansas school districts have what they need... if these children are going to be able to be successful. And let me tell you that if in fact the achievement gaps that exist here are going to be closed, it is not going to be done with charter schools, and it is not going to be done with pay for performance.”

Why not? Certainly, merit pay for teachers who do well could certainly be considered an important "input." And if a parent decides to pull their kids out of the public system and enroll them in a charter school, my guess is they're thinking about a lot of inputs, like discipline and safety and class size and textbooks.

Posted by kswygert at December 20, 2005 02:42 PM