The statement on testing was embargoed and held until 12pm on a Saturday. What's with that? The US is out picking out pumpkins and Halloween costumes so let's release it then and maybe no one will notice?
Well, of course, we noticed. We also noticed that major news outlets like the New York Times wrote an entire article without bothering to talk to a single teacher. What's with that? Afraid of what a teacher might tell you about this release?
I'm not a teacher, but here's what I got out of that release.
First, and this a biggie. Reducing test time to 2% of the number of hours students are in school per school year. For those of you who grew up without Common Core math, that's roughly 23 hours. TWENTY THREE HOURS.
Second, "the assessments must be worth taking." Excuse me while I laugh so hard I snort. That's great. Presumably every teacher on the planet would agree. So why has USED forced the adoption of standardized tests? And more to the point, ones that do not do what they claim they do. Why are states, like New Jersey, having committees look at "assessment" with the aim of doing away with tests created by teachers, for the students they are currently teaching, and will be able to immediately use the results to inform their teaching? (hint: no one makes any money on that) How many of your kids no longer have midterms or finals? Mine doesn't.
Third, and this one cannot be typed with a straight face, "No standardized test should ever
be given solely for educator evaluation." USED offers this up now? When all states that took the NCLB waiver were coerced into creating a teacher evaluation in which standardized test scores are required??? Really?? I'm pretty sure teachers would have a lot to say about that.
Fourth, the babble about students with disabilities and English language learners is the usual trite language about leveling the playing field. If anyone was interested in actually doing that, you wouldn't require these populations to take standardized tests, you would make sure IDEA was fully funded, and you would come down like a ton of bricks on districts that didn't provide appropriate services for their students.
My take away was not one of a victory in any sense of the word. Yes, I fight like mad to get rid of the crazy testing and, more importantly, the ridiculous high stakes that go with them. Yes, I'm glad that someone in Washington is at least willing to give a nod to the infatuation with testing, but this statement did not make clear which "assessments" they really mean, nor did they back off from the high stakes that go with them.