A LYS Superintendent shares a concern:
I know you have seen the TASA resolution opposing high stakes, standardized testing. They are conducting a big push to get as many districts as possible to join in support of the resolution before the start of school.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the resolution. I agree that the accountability pendulum needs to swing back. Yes, we need a fair, balanced and sensible accountability system and we do not have that now. Teac My concern is are we sending the wrong message… That our students and teachers aren’t capable of meeting these standards?
SC Response I think we are occupying the same hill.
On one side of us are the “reformers.” The reformers have an overt agenda for dismantling public education, as we know it. Their tools: misinformation, reduction of public education spending, diverting public education revenue, and accountability systems designed to punish and pummel. By now, it should be obvious to everyone that by their own words and deeds, that neither excellence, nor equity are the goals of the “reformers.”
Springing up on the other side of us are the “anti-reformers.” The anti-reformers too have their agenda. Key to this agenda are the following beliefs:
1. Because of inequities in society, holding schools accountable to performance is not possible.
2. Schools and teachers are already operating at near peak levels of effectiveness and efficiency.
3. Student performance cannot be objectively measured by testing.
4. Teacher performance cannot be objectively measured by student performance. Which leaves those of us in the middle, who act and lead based on the following belief set:
1. Increasing student performance increases student opportunity.
2. Our understanding of teaching and learning is constantly evolving. And due to that evolution, we know that we are leaving student performance on the table.
3. The push to evolve practice requires training, focus, reflection and resources. The required level of expertise required to ensure both excellence and equity in our classrooms is greater than it has ever been previously. This expertise cannot be retained or secured with the current level of education funding.
4. Social inequities do exist, but to ignore the fact that adult practice drives student performance is to give up on the students that need education the most to change their lot.
5. Performance can be measured. And even if we are measuring ineffectively, measuring poorly is better than not measuring.
6. If we (educators) do not hold ourselves accountable to the success of our students, we will remain blind to those that we underserve.
Which brings us to the question of joining the resolution. I would not sign. Like you, I agree that our new system is a shambles and an embarrassing joke. It has been poorly thought out and is overly intrusive. On the other hand, I know that absent of an accountability system, those without a voice and/or resources are systematically undereducated and then blamed for their lack of success. My advice is to chart your own course. Teach at full speed and work at getting better at it each day. Don’t worry about the district next door. As one LYS Principal at a large inner-city school pointed out to me, “As we keep outscoring schools that are more affluent than we are, the more they point out that there is something wrong with the test. I guess some schools don’t want to have to work like we do.”
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