Refusal to offer low-achieving school list creates new front in California’s school war

Dan Walters:

years ago, the Legislature adopted a landmark measure to give parents – particularly poor parents – more power over their children’s educations.

The education establishment, especially unions, didn’t like it, but refusing to compete for a “Race to the Top” federal grant was an unpalatable option.

The best-known aspect of the measure, carried by Democratic Sen. Gloria Romero, was the “parent trigger” that allowed parents of children in low-performing schools to intervene – even seizing control.

Another provision, however, required the state schools superintendent, then and now Tom Torlakson, to publish annually a list of the state’s 1,000 lowest-achieving schools, as shown by academic tests, and allowed parents of children in those schools to move them to higher-rated schools.

The basis for those judgments was the Academic Performance Index, a test-based scoring system for schools that teacher unions and other elements of the education establishment also disliked.

Two years ago, the testing regime upon which the API was based was changed, and the API itself was suspended. The state Board of Education is devising a “multiple measures” accountability program that downplays testing and is likely to seek a repeal of the API.