Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Duncan Saber-Rattles in Remarks on Opt-Outs

From Chalkbeat New York:
 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.

“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.”
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.

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.


Patrick said...

He's already Making An Example of Washington, what else can he do?

dan dempsey said...

Arne is the emperor ... clothed or not. The fact that the people of this nation continue to abdicate power to federal bureaucrats astounds me.

Parents have the right to opt their children out of tests. When my wife was teaching special Ed self-contained she made parents aware that they could opt their children out of testing.

She was then run out of teaching by admin.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

WA state showed significant gains in NAEP testing from 2011 to 2013 so Arne's response was to punish WA by rejecting a waiver because WA did not evaluate teachers the way that Arne wanted. .... Meanwhile Arne granted waivers to states making little or no progress on NAEP testing. .....

So is NAEP the nations school report card as Arne states? And if so why does he not use that data and grant WA a waiver?

... Answer .. because this is about power politics and not education.

Federal Overreach said...

Washington State needs to rid itself of SBAC and keep tests at state level. I would support scraping SBAC and keep present exams:

"Rather, the point is that, unless stopped now, the federal government will not stop short of finding in Common Core a pretext for becoming a national school board."


Melissa Westbrook said...

See my most recent thread on more viewpoints. We may be getting someplace here.

Anonymous said...

Given the Senate's proposed gutting of No Child Left Behind and by association Duncan's errant Race to the Top (Bottom) me thinks the Emperor Doth Have No Clothes in his empty threats.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out Arnie. You have been head and shoulders the worst bureaucrat of the Obama administration. I'll enjoy watching both the Repub and the Dem presidential wanna-bes run from your policies in an effort to get elected.