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Education reform expert Michael Fullan.  Photo: <a href="http://www.michaelfullan.com">www.michaelfullan.com</a>
Education reform expert Michael Fullan. Photo: www.michaelfullan.com

How schools can really improve, in one expert's view

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An international education reform expert says if schools in New York want to improve, they need to foster motivation in teachers and students. Michael Fullan is speaking Monday at the New York State Museum in Albany.

Fullan is special advisor to the premier and minister of education in Ontario. He is largely credited with improving graduation rates in the province.

Fullan says many educational systems use standardized tests and teacher evaluations to reward or punish teachers and schools. He says this is punitive. It diverts teachers away from teaching, and toward test results.

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Julie Grant
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"People do bad things, like cheating, and tipping it in favor of just getting the results so they can show it on paper, but there's not actually learning, and the whole thing just goes in the wrong direction."

Fullan says schools do better if teachers and students are motivated properly. Instead of so much testing, he promotes teamwork, with educators and students in discussion about how to continuously improve.

New York, like many states, has increased testing and teacher evaluations in recent years. But Fullan says it's not working.

"It's causing some people, in California, at the state level we're working with, they're re-thinking it around the right drivers. I'm hopeful that with enough pressure and clarity, New York State, for example, at the Governor's level, will start to adjust."

Fullan says New York's move toward the national common core curriculum is a step in the right direction. He says reform can work well when objectives are clear and measurable, with corresponding standards.

Fullan spoke by phone last week on the Capital Pressroom. His speech in Albany begins at 12:30 this afternoon.

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