Obama Education Pick Backs Test-Heavy Regime

John Hechinger, Janet Adamy & Robert Tomsho:

The Obama administration’s selection of Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan as education secretary signals an intent to maintain a rigorous system of standardized tests in public schools, while experimenting with reforms disliked by unions, such as teacher merit pay.
In announcing the appointment Tuesday at a Chicago news conference, President-elect Barack Obama said he and Mr. Duncan share a “deep pragmatism” and a willingness to tap ideas often associated with conservatives. “Let’s not be clouded by ideology when it comes to figuring out what helps our kids,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Duncan’s “strength is really his openness to ideas and a real interest in data and how things are working,” said John Easton, executive director of the Consortium of Chicago School Research, a University of Chicago program that has studied the city’s schools.
One of Mr. Duncan’s first tasks will be deciding what to do about the federal No Child Left Behind law, enacted in 2002, and now due for reauthorization. The statute, which has divided educators, requires all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014. Schools that don’t make adequate progress on tests measuring student achievement face sanctions.

2 thoughts on “Obama Education Pick Backs Test-Heavy Regime”

  1. Hope the 8 year war with the Bush Administration is over. The national school boards association, teacher unions, educational garus in higher education, state and federal superintendents of education were in agreement in their hatred for George Bush. They seem to be united in wanting to eleminate national standardized tests. I feel that the tests should be continued because they allow the public to gauge how our education is doing vs other countries, states and school districts,

  2. The problem with standardized national tests (or any tests) is the profound ignorance of politicians and the public about tests and testing, and the seeming lack of understanding by the educational establishment (school boards, teachers, unions, educational gurus), since few seem able to usefully explain educational tests, how tests questions are developed, what tests actually measure, what they don’t measure, how to interpret tests (rather than misinterpret them), their weaknesses, and limits.
    And, there is much money to be made by pushing testing: SAT, NAEP, ACT, TIMSS, WKCE, and the myriad of other similar test across the states.
    Test purveyors have convinced even those who should know better that they measure reading, or grammar, science knowledge or math skills of one sort or another, or personality then for the sake of politics add value-ladened terms of basic, advanced, proficient, which are arbitrary at best, mix well with a population who desires simple black/white bright line arguments, and willingness to accept any explanation which substantiates their preconceived notions, and you have an environment where demagoguery reins supreme.
    These tests simply cannot be used alone to determine decisions about teacher quality, school quality, student preparedness, text book quality, etc. Yet, the push is to do just that. And, worse, these tests do not “allow the public to gauge how our education is doing vs other countries”.
    Perhaps the best gauge of our educational attainment, or its paucity, is how easily persuaded people are to talk radio, 10-second ads, highly-educated financial experts who cannot detect Ponzi schemes, or those who lament poor science achievement at the same time denying global warming, and evolution — the fruits of real science.
    The school systems we have will only be as good as the population as a whole. As the US population seems to model nothing akin to intelligent behavior or discourse, we cannot expect better of the schools.

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