Eva Moskowitz, Union Leaders, and Special EducationFebruary 9, 2015
QOD: Annual Standardized Testing and Doctor’s Visits: Doing Right by KidsFebruary 10, 2015
In a letter addressed to U.S. Congressmen John Kline and Robert Scott of the Education and Workforce Committee, a group of civil rights leaders and education advocates argue that a newly-authorized ESEA must maintain annual standardized testing in order to provide all children with equitable access to education.
Signatories r include heads of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Education Trust, National Council of La Raza, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, and Democrats for Education Reform.
As the anti-testing movement heats up in New Jersey and elsewhere and PARCC becomes synonymous with “evil empire,” civil rights leaders are pleading with Congress to not pander to the hard-court press of teacher union lobbyists (more concerned with new teacher evaluations tied to student growth) and Tea Party activists (more concerned with philosophical conceits about federal intervention) and gut the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While there’s much to dislike about the current law, and multiple areas of potential improvement, these leaders explain that “the essential backbone of the law — assessment, public reporting and accountability for student outcomes” must remain strong.
ESEA’s singular achievement, after all, is its mandate that schools report academic growth broken down by subgroups: economically-disadvantaged children, those with disabilities, those new to English, members of minority groups. Without disaggregation of test score data, these children are rendered invisible. We know this, because that’s how it was before ESEA’s standardized testing mandate.
Certainly, there’s great value in evaluating whether schools are over-testing students. But eliminating annual standardized testing, which comprises a small fraction of the tests that children take each year, merely returns us to an era when our neediest kids were lost in aggregated averages.
From the list of recommendations from the civil rights leaders:
- All students must be assessed by the states in reading and math on a statewide assessment annually in grades 3-8, as well as at least once in high school, so they and their parents know where they are on state standards;
- The results of those assessments must be reported publicly, both overall and for all groups of students, so parents and taxpayers have honest, consistent information on how their schools are performing;
- States must establish accountability systems that expect faster improvement for the groups of children who have lagged behind, and prompt action when any group of students underperforms, so parents can have confidence that their children matter and that schools will partner with them in getting them to state standards and graduating with a regular diploma.