U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday that the federal government is obligated to intervene if states fail to address the rising number of students who are boycotting mandated annual exams.
“We think most states will do that,” Duncan said during a discussion at the Education Writers Association conference in Chicago. “If states don’t do that, then we have an obligation to step in.”
Federal law requires all students in grades three to eight to take annual tests, and officials have said districts could face sanctions if fewer than 95 percent of students participate.And yet he also said this:
Duncan also said that students in some states are tested too much, and acknowledged that the exams are challenging for many students. But he argued that annual standardized exams are essential for tracking student progress and monitoring the score gap between different student groups.
He seemed to also forget that for the overwhelming majority of districts in this country, this is a new test that may also is computer-based. So many children it's content AND process.
He also said the tests are “just not a traumatic event” for his children, who attend public school in Virginia.That's mostly true. How children react to any given situation can depend on how adults react/respond. However, if you see a common response and in large numbers, for example, frustration over the inability to finish the test even when students have had 2+ hours, you should not question if it hurts kids. It does.
“It’s just part of most kids’ education growing up,” he said. “Sometimes the adults make a big deal and that creates some trauma for the kids.”
Also, from a commenter at Diane Ravitch's blog:
Do you know why his kids in Virginia don’t find the tests traumatic? It is because Virginia never adopted Common Core. They developed their own standards and believe them to be superior to Common Core.And, keep that word "trauma" in mind. I keep seeing that word and "hysteria" used by ed reform over the opt-out movement.
What did the ED say last week?
A federal education department spokeswoman said last week that the agency could withhold funding from states if some of their districts have too few students take the exams, but that it has not yet done so because states have addressed the issue on their own.
Ah, will this be Arne's out? That states have addressed the issue on their own? That would let him off the hook in punishing any given state. He could be punitive but he'd have to be punitive to all states or it would look selective unless he explains what "addressed" means.
Meanwhile, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has said she thinks it would be wrong to “punish” districts because of their opt-out numbers.
“I would say to everyone who wants to punish the school districts: hold them to standards, set high expectations, hold them accountable, but punishing them?” she told the Buffalo News last week. “Really, are you kidding me?”
I do not think I would agree with much that Merryl Tisch has to say (see her debate with Diane Ravitch) but yes, are you kidding me comes to mind when I see what Secretary Duncan is saying about punishing states.