Michelle Rhee, Parent Revolution Blink on Accountability

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Florida Public Employees

Published: December 25, 2013

Republish: December 29, 2013


By: Bob Sikes – Scathing Purple Musings

From Education Week reporter Alyson Klein:

So remember how California is planning to suspend most of its accountability testing for a year in order to help the state’s schools get up to speed on new tests aligned with the Common Core standards?

U.S. Secretary of Education of Arne Duncan is none-too-happy about that idea, as my colleague, Catherine Gewertz, reported. And neither are a number of state and national advocacy organizations, including StudentsFirst, Teach Plus, The Education Trust-West, and the Alliance for a Better Community.

Their latest argument: Not explaining to teachers and schools how their students—particularly subgroup kids, such as English language learners—perform on assessments is a major missed opportunity for professional development.

The groups made their case in letter sent to Duncan on Monday. Reading between the lines of the letter, it sounds like they are hoping that the Secretary will include some additional reporting requirements for the state education agency when the department considers California’s recent request for a “double-testing waiver.”  (Check out the full text here.)

“The teachers, principals, and superintendents with whom we work have been very clear: they need to know how their students are doing,” the groups write. “This is not only essential in assessing how schools are adapting their curriculum and instruction to meet the [common core standards], but critical to teachers in their own professional development and continuous improvement to meet the needs of their students.”

Ben Austin of the pro-charter school, parent trigger advocacy group, Parent Revolution added his signature to the letter. Along with Michelle Rhee’ Students First, any walk-back of test-based accountability is a threat to their existence. This paragraph indicates they are desperate for a cease-fire agreement:

Approaches are available to California consistent with the intent of ESEA that would acknowledge known parameters and LEA capacity constraints, while helping to ease the transition to SBAC assessments. For example, one option would be to offer, in addition to the field test to the necessary sample, the fixed form version of the practice test with a common set of items to all students. SBAC is already producing these practice tests and California could fund the administration and scoring of them. The state could then provide at least some data on individual student performance to schools, teachers, and even parents, with the necessary caveats. This data would only be used for professional development and instructional modifications and not for accountability purposes

This is the latest – and most significant – plea or a pause of accountability measures. New York scared the daylights out of them. How ironic it is that Rhee in particular made test-based accountability a moral imperative, but she now is advocating pause in the implementation of supposedly better tests?

And when did her fondness for professional development begin? I thought that firing teachers because of poor test scores was the ticket. And that “failing schools’ as demonstrated by test data would allow noble hucksters like Austin to deliver a benevolent charter school to aggrieved communities.

Tests good; then tests not so good. How can Rhee be taken seriously by policymakers any more?

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