Meet Dr. Robert Marzano.
Dr. Marzano calls himself an education expert. His specialities include competency-based education and teacher observation.
Dr. Marzano, who has long been in the education reform business, recently acquired the Reinventing Schools Coalition.
According to the recently revamped Reinventing Schools website (they dropped the “Coalition” because “RISC” sounded too risky), their “story begins in the early 1990s in a rural Alaskan school district comprised of a native population as well as other groups.”
All sorts of miracles happened, “news about the dramatic success in a small Alaskan town traveled far and fast and Chugach received the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2001.”
Now read here to learn what really happened in Alaska. (Hint: The Gates Foundation, who funded the start-up of the Reinventing Schools Coalition, was part of the project the whole time, and the award was planned.)
Dr. Marzano now offers a suite of consulting services for districts looking to implement competency-based education, which is especially convenient because the recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act offers a pile of money for states to move to this type of system.
Here’s a map showing states where Marzano is currently at work.
If you don’t see yours highlighted in red, be on the lookout. Competency-based bills are coming at us fast and furious.
Marzano also recently endorsed a tool called iObservation that administrators can use to monitor how closely teachers’ practice aligns to his theories of good practice.
The internet is now awash in teachers anonymously voicing their concern with this system. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:
I have been teaching over 20 years. My experience with this new evaluation system has been overwhelming to the point of getting physically ill. In my opinion this is not a fair system to evaluate a teacher. I think someone must be making a lot of money with all these workshops and the materials that go with it. I also think is a way of replacing teachers with more years of experience and a higher salary.
I think it would be more enjoyable to read a legal document than this garbage!
This is undoubtedly distracting from my ability to teacher student well. Most of my time is spent on the process and requirements of Marzanos system rather than preparing, planning and actually teaching my students.
I have been overwhelmed by the requirements imposed by iObservation. The workshops and forms required take away from the time I would be giving to my students. I am most angry regarding the amount of money our district is spending and what the Marzano organization is reaping.
If we don’t simplify this, there will be a lack of teachers in the nation cause the word is spreading and college students are getting frustrated before getting into the classroom and dropping out. We need to work hard without slavery!
How is this making me a better teacher? MOST of the Marzano strategies are nothing new -just repackaged and sold to our school for a nice price. What a racket!
The Withering Apple writes, “The only thing about Marzano’s “research” that can be independently verified is that it’s main purpose is to make money, and lots of it.”
And it’s not just anonymous teachers who are voicing their concerns about Marzano’s work. Alfie Kohn writes that Marzano is abusing research. Justin Baeder writes in Education Week that he is “staggered by the hubris embodied in Marzano’s claims.”
In 2012, Marzano Research Laboratory received a contract from the U.S. Department of Education to establish a new Regional Education Laboratory, where Dr. Marzano will serve as executive director.
You read that right. Our federal tax dollars are paying for Marzano to conduct the highly questionable research that he will then use to turn a profit.
Of course, we shouldn’t be shocked. Using our tax money to develop and sell snake oil is par for the course for the U.S. Department of Education.