Monday, November 23, 2015

Chief State School Officers Continue to Believe We Can Test Our Way to Equity

Somehow I am not surprised at all that the Council of Chief State School Officers still believe that we can “test our way to school equity.” They still believe if we “just get the tests right” and hold those teachers’ noses to the grindstones, then “Poof” all our students will receive an equal education. They met and pledged their allegiance to the “Accountability Doctrine” recently in a Council of Chief State School Officers policy forum in Charlotte, North Carolina. (See Ed Weeks Article “State Chiefs Pledge to Continue Focus on Accountability.”) What they don’t seem to get that we had at least 15 years of “Accountability and Testing” and schools are no more equitable, in fact, there’s evidence that they are more unequal than ever.

“Our members want to be held accountable,” said Chris Minnich, the executive director of the CCSSO. That’s nice for him to say, coming from a man who has never spent a single day as a teacher in a public school classroom. If you check out this glowing biography from CCSSO, you can see he knows his policy though. Too bad he has no clue about the nuts and bolts of classroom teaching.

That’s the real problem here. It’s not that the accountability is always a bad thing; its that we have people pushing these damaging policy initiatives who are policy wonks, but know nothing about what No Child Left Behind and current Accountability fetishes have done to schools and ultimately to students. We are not going to make our schools equitable by the having the right tests and accountability systems. We are going to address equity by advocating for a society that does not favor those who have over those who do not have.