Obama’s New Education Secretary Moves to Protect Standardized Testing
Far from dispensing with high-stakes standardized testing, Education Secretary John King’s proposals for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, the education law that in December replaced the infamous No Child Left Behind Act, show that the Obama administration intends to defend it “by blackmail if necessary,” writes Marilena Marchetti at Socialist Worker.
The passage of ESSA in late 2015 appeared to offer a concession to the growing concern that public schools are being taken over by high-stakes testing, which degrade curriculums and are misused to shame and blame teachers for the outcomes of an impoverished public education system and justify closing public schools in order to privatize the system with charters.
Enacted after a spring of historically high boycotts of exams around the country, ESSA gives each state the ability to determine how to meet the prescribed 95 percent participation rate in federally mandated tests that are given each year from 3rd to 8th grade and once in high school.
But in what can only be read as a tightening of the noose around the growing movement to “opt out” of state tests, King’s new regulations threaten states with financial sanctions should they fail to put a stop to test boycotting.
Here is how a Department of Education (DOE) summary puts it:The proposed regulations do not prescribe how those rates must be factored into accountability systems, but they do require states to take robust action for schools that do not meet the 95 percent participation requirement. States may choose among options or propose their own equally rigorous strategy for addressing the low participation rate. In addition, schools missing participation rates would need to develop a plan, approved by the district, to improve participation rates in the future.
For many supporters and participants in the opt-out movement who believed that the tide was finally beginning to turn in their favor, these regulations are a sobering alert that the fight to ensure that students are treated as more than a score is far from over.
“King might be the new Education Secretary,” Marchetti continues. “[B]ut he is making the same old mistakes: not respecting the voices of parents, teachers and students; doubling down on threats to financially punish students for boycotting tests; and digging in his heels to prevent the long overdue termination of standardized testing.
The battle over public education, she adds, “pits those who work for and/or send their children to public schools against those with a stake in seeing more funding diverted to testing companies and charter schools.”
“High-stakes standardized tests imbue toxic levels of stress into a school–as anyone who works in one knows quite well–bringing profit to education corporations at the expense of children’s well-being. John King is the mediator of this conflict between everyday people and a hugely profitable testing industry, and it’s clear what side he is on.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.WAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
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