The knee jerk response to the question of state accountability this year is… “NO! BOO! HISS! UNFAIR! TERRIBLE IDEA!”
Which is the right response to the wrong question (or, the wrong response to the right question… toe-MAY-toe / toe-MAH-toe).
The wrong question is, “Should the state accountability test be administered this year?”
Answer – “Yes,” which I will explain in a couple of lines.
The correct question is, “Should the RESULTS from state accountability tests BE USED FOR RANKINGS and RATINGS of schools, and SANCTIONING of low performers this year?”
Answer – “NO! BOO! HISS! UNFAIR! TERRIBLE IDEA!”
This year using state accountability data for anything other than research and analysis purposes is pure leadership incompetence driven by stupidity, cruelty, greed, or some combination of the three.
But canceling state accountability tests would rob the profession (and policy makers) of critical data that we need for research and analysis.
Think about it. For twenty years the profession has been almost singularly focused on improving student performance on state accountability tests. Regardless of the motivation (fear, competition, pride, passion) state accountability data is based on sweat equity and honest effort by educators.
But not this year. As a profession we are not singularly focused on state accountability tests. We are focused on staying alive and healthy (rightfully so). We are focused on overcoming fear, grief, trauma, and uncertainty (rightfully so). We are focused of getting Zoom to work or dealing with intermittent Wi-Fi (rightfully so). We are distracted, both educator and student.
So let’s take the accountability tests. Let the poor results this year show everyone the value added when we have functioning education systems staffed by focused professionals—arguably, not the case this year (again, rightfully so) . The discrepancy in the performance data between the Spring of 2019 (the last normal school year) and Spring of 2021 (this school year) will clearly illustrate the return on public investment in public education.
From a public education perspective, the only adverse data result from taking state accountability tests this year would be if student performance DID NOT regress. On the other hand, if regression does not occur, it would force the profession to question everything we think we know about effective, scalable education. Either way, we need to know.
So to sum up, this year…
State testing to derive comparison data – good. State testing for accountability – BAD!
Lead Your School and Wash Your Hands!
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