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Friday, November 07, 2008

Dorn Bests Bergeson for State Superintendent

The newspapers are now reporting that Randy Dorn has beaten Terry Bergeson for State Superintendent of Public Instructions. Ms. Bergeson has conceded to him.

This win plus the election of Barack Obama are very hopeful signs for public education. One, because President-elect Obama repeatedly brought up education during the debates (without a single question about education being asked) and dedicated a policy speech during the campaign to education. I believe education means a lot to Obama and I look forward to a revamped NCLB. (There has been talk that Colin Powell may be the Education Secretary. Interesting choice but he's obviously a bright guy. I would prefer someone with an education background however.)

Mr. Dorn has pledged to shorten and streamline the WASL. This is huge because
  • he will finally get to us a finished WASL. If we are using it to determine graduation, it needs to be completed.
  • Hey, if we have a finished WASL, he can actually focus on other important educational issues including funding, high school drop-out rates, etc.
  • making it shorter will have a two-fold outcome. One, less time out of the school year to take it and thus less disruption at all our schools. Two, less cost in terms of scoring it if it is shorter. The money that is walking out the door on creating and scoring it is enormous. This is money that belongs in the classroom and not at some testing business.
Question: Should the Obamas put their daughters into public schools when they move to D.C.?

8 comments:

anonymous said...

Obama, Gregoire, Burn, Dorn = hope for public education here in Seattle!!

Bingo

SolvayGirl said...

I don't understand why Washington, or any state for that matter, needs its own test. Aren't there a number of excellent national tests out there that all states could use? I am not knowledgeable on the details here, but it just seems like common sense for a national test to be developed to assess the schools on NCLB. Wouldn't that cut development and grading tremendously? And, wouldn't it then be an apples-to-apples comparison of schools across the country?
Am I missing some big component as to why this couldn't/wouldn't work?

reader said...

Most of those tests are norm referenced. But, Washington state requires the test, currently the WASL, as a high school graduation requirement. The 2 do not necessarily do the same thing. What should the graduation requirement then be? The 50th percentile? The 25th percentile? What if the rest of the nation suddenly scored much better (or worse)? In that case, it would vastly change what the percentiles meant... and who could graduate. It would be great to use some of those other tests AND also to stop using it as a graduation requirement. The problem in that case would be that students wouldn't take the test as seriously if it wasn't required.

reader said...

I heard Obama speak about NCLB. He said... we don't really need students to take multiple choice - fill in the bubble tests, we really need them taking more in depth tests which show their thinking.


It sounds like he would really like the WASL, and the late Bergeson. As such, he doesn't have that much understanding of the current problems in public education, at least K-12.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Someday, when I have vast amounts of time, I'm going to hunt down the differences between state tests. I know that 22 states have a graduation requirement to pass their state test and most are criterion based.

I feel at Solvaygirl does; one national test. I don't believe that we can only have "local" standards to test our students. One test, one cost, and you'd know how students from state to state are doing. There is no accurate way to do that now.

This is one of the first things I'd do to overhaul NCLB.

Teachermom said...

I am very happy that Dorn will have an opportunity to serve as State Superintendent. I have been paying close attention to education in Washington for 10 years, and I think Bergeson's wheels were spinning in the mud for a long time.

The WASL is ridiculous. It gives the illusion of getting kids to think more deeply because it is not all "fill in the bubble", but the questions are worded so obtusely, they measure decryption skills more than anything else. Fill in the bubble tests can measure higher order thinking, and they are fairer, because the scoring is not at all subjective. And bonus! - they are much cheaper.

Michelle and Barack should put their daughters in whichever school seems most appropriate for them. I do not think that government employees have a duty to place their kids in a school that is not right for them to make a political point. There is also safety to consider, and as someone who grew up in the Metropolitan DC area, I would look at the schools very carefully.

I have wrestled with this myself as a public school teacher who is very committed to the concept of a free, quality education to all citizens (unfortunately, this idea has been lingering in the conceptual stage for quite a while). My kids are attending public school, but if I feel that they need something different at some point, I will do it with much sadness, but without a thought to how it looks to others.

Very happy about the OBAMA, Gregoire, and DORN wins!

Jet City mom said...

Why should Obama have his kids in public schools, when I can't think of any other president in recent memory who has done so- not to mention there already have been threats to Obama, before he was even elected.

You know how much security the Gates children have?, in Seattle?

:::::::::::::::shakes head:::::::::::::

old salt said...

Amy Carter went to public elementary & middle school in DC.