Post

UPDATED

If there has been unanimous agreement on anything during the process for renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act it is this: School ratings systems should no longer be just about performance on standardized tests.

Indeed, every version of the new law in both the House and Senate has required states to broaden the measures on which schools are evaluated. In looking at high schools, for example, states might also consider the proportions of students completing a full college- and career-preparatory curriculum; the numbers successfully completing Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses; and even results from surveys of parents, educators, and students.

So imagine the surprise of the broad coalition of national civil rights, disabilities, and business organizations when their proposal to require schools to act whenever any group of children is not progressing on a combination of those measures was immediately labeled by the National Education Association as a “preservation of the test and punish culture of No Child Left Behind through a backdoor Adequate Yearly Progress-type (AYP) approach.”

Clearly, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia wants to claim the mantle of civil rights and social justice — words that are sprinkled throughout her speeches — while simultaneously freeing her members of the responsibilities of improving outcomes for the most vulnerable children.

Not surprisingly, the NEA’s lobbyists are happy to embrace accountability in the lowest performing 5 percent of schools or in those that graduate the fewest students. After all, those schools are far more likely to be in gritty urban school districts, where the AFT represents more teachers, than in NEA territory.

But when it comes to other schools, including tony suburban districts that routinely shortchange low-income students and students of color, accountability is a three-letter word — AYP — and decidedly NOT OK. And they are working to flood Capitol Hill with visitors, letters, and callers, demanding that senators vote against the accountability amendment – Amendment 2241 – offered by Sens. Chris Murphy, Cory Booker, Christopher Coons, Elizabeth Warren, and Dick Durbin requiring schools to act on longstanding problems exposed by their data … or else.

I, for one, have had enough of the silence around this behavior for fear that teachers will interpret any calling out of their union as “teacher-bashing.” Most of the teachers I know don’t want to admire the problem of underachievement; they want to solve it.

So as for these lies about “test-based accountability,” let’s just collectively say, “Enough.”

Related Content