(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
From a New York Times story on Mayor de Blasio reversing more of Mayor Bloomberg’s policies:
Teachers and parents had been lobbying for a change in the promotion policy since last year, when the state adopted new exams aligned with more rigorous academic standards known as the Common Core. Test scores across the state plummeted; in New York City, 26 percent of students in grades three through eight passed the English exam, while 30 percent passed in math.
Responding to the outcry, the State Legislature this month mandated that school districts take into account multiple measures in deciding which students to promote, and it barred schools from including test scores on student report cards.
Finally got rid of those test scores on student report cards. Whew- what a relief! I read somewhere that the Republican candidate for Governor in New York has joined the testing opt-out movement, which is also charming.
Meanwhile in Indiana, well, go read about it for yourself. Given that the federal government requires student testing in Grades 3-8 and once in high-school as a condition to receive federal funds, it might be a really good idea for Common Core opponents to give some thought to what it is they favor in addition to what they oppose. A constructive vote of no confidence is a much better idea than what is starting to look like:
Here in Arizona, Governor Brewer requested $13m for a new assessment tied to the standards that the State Board adopted in 2010. The legislature appropriated $8m. What happens next? Your guess is as good as anyone’s.
It might be easy to attribute this to Common Core, but you take a look at fiercely independent but still chaotic Texas and then you realize that it’s not so simple. I highly recommend reading the Dallas Morning News series How the Texas Testing Bubble Popped. The series has three parts (I, II and III) and is well worth reading. Towards the end of part III the DMN series says:
While test opponents elsewhere are looking to Texas for clues about how to pop the testing bubble back home, it’s not a model that will be easy to replicate.
The battle over testing in Texas pulled together an incredibly broad-based and narrowly focused coalition that managed to avoid the political battles that afflict many other issues.
School superintendents started tilling the field in 2006.
What had seemed unified business support for the tests publicly fractured, giving some legislative leaders political cover to join the rebellion.
TAMSA brought in mostly white, suburban moms from high-achieving schools who were politically and geographically diverse.
Mind you that Texas had a 30 year bipartisan elite consensus on testing that gave birth to No Child Left Behind. The elite consensus got steamrolled in 2013. I had something close to a second or third row seat to the debacle. Governor Perry threatened to veto HB 5, but wound up having a signing ceremony despite the fact that the legislature had acceded to few if any of his demands. Governor Perry already had a special session called that could have addressed the topic. Texas is however a democracy, and the demos appeared to be speaking loud and clear regarding the end of course exams system. We all have times where we want the trustee model to triumph over the delegate role, but you get some of both in life.
So when you factor out the unique Texas strangeness out of the Lone Star State accountability collapse (which may have only started rather than finished btw) it looks to me that the future of testing in the United States is going to be a battle for the hearts and minds of suburban parents. The Dallas Morning News opines that what happened in Texas is unique and complicated. Perhaps so, but it may be the case that it is simple: when the Alphabet Soup crowd successfully recruit suburban parents to wreck shop on state testing systems, well it kind of reminds you of Hudson’s post-crash tactical assessment from the American film classic Aliens:
So where is this all headed? I have no clue. Circa 1980, public schools largely stood as transparency free zones where real estate agents based their highly sought after expert opinions on public school quality on the percentage of kids they saw running around on the playground that were white. This was the school system that I grew up in. Personally I’d prefer not to go back, just in case you were wondering, but it is not going to be up to me.