Matthew Di Carlo at the Shanker Institute has a good post about the importance of test security in an era of high-stakes testing.
As long as we have high-stakes testing–which I oppose–we need to guard against cheating.
He points out that the scandal in Atlanta was thoroughly reviewed by independent and well-trained investigators. They got to the bottom of it.
But the other major cheating scandal in D.C. was swept under the rug by officials who wanted to see it disappear.
Di Carlo explains in one of the links in this post that the alleged academic gains under Michelle Rhee’s tenure occurred before she became chancellor and before she implemented any of her reforms. He points out that even those gains were suspect because they are based on proficiency rates of different cohorts of students, not on test scores. Once her reforms were installed, the DC scores and proficiency rates went flat. He finds it annoying that she travels the nation boasting of her great success when her record is so thin that it is invisible.
It is a shame that the nation must now pay for test security (no doubt to the same companies that are reaping rewards writing the tests) to buttress a failed regime of high-stakes testing. More and more money is being diverted from the classroom for accountability, when those who make the decisions at the top are never held accountable.
Well, this is a relief:
This morning, StudentsFirst CEO Michelle Rhee drafted a memo to the organization’s senior staff — it was later sent internally to the entire StudentsFirst staff — regarding the organization’s opposition to any and all proposed laws that would allow guns in schools. That memo is printed below in its entirety.
TO: SF Staff
DATE: December 18, 2012
RE: Gun Control Laws
As an education reform organization, we try hard to remain singularly focused on those issues that directly affect student achievement, and to abstain from broader policy debates and political discussions that are outside our mission.
It is for that reason we did not take a position on measures like the one on the governor’s desk in Michigan that would allow guns in schools. There are organizations whose sole mission is to fight gun violence, and which are far better equipped than we to engage on these bills.
However, like many of you, I continue to be disturbed by the violence that took place last week in Newtown, Connecticut. I am disturbed by the dozens of shootings that have taken place in recent years at schools across the country.
It should go without saying that guns have no place in schools. Schools must be safe havens for teaching and learning — that is a basic obligation to children that comes before anything else.
Accordingly, I have come to the conclusion that StudentsFirst must publicly oppose legislation that would bring firearms into schools, anywhere. That includes opposing SB 59 in Michigan. We urge our members to voice their opposition as well. While gun control issues fall outside our direct policy agenda, I have absolutely no reluctance taking this position. I am convinced that allowing firearms in schools cannot help advance student achievement or put the interests of students first.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is right when he says that our nation’s leaders must not let this moment pass without taking strong action.
If you have any questions about our position or our thinking in taking this position please don’t hesitate to contact Eric Lerum or myself.
StudentsFirst has decided to remain neutral on a bill just passed by the Michigan legislature to allow concealed guns in schools.
Most of the candidates supported by StudentsFirst in the recent election voted for the legislation.
“Asked about its stance, StudentsFirst spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel said, ‘StudentsFirst believes that schools have to be a safe haven for kids. It is incumbent upon our elected officials to ensure that every single child is protected, particularly those under the care and direction of our public schools.’”
Most of the legislators supported by Michelle Rhee’s group are far-right Republicans. Their idea of making schools safe is to make sure that the principals and teachers are carrying guns.
Where will they keep them? In a holster at their waist? Locked in a drawer? Strapped to their ankles?
But wait! The intruder in Newtown had an assault weapon, a semi-automatic that fired six bullets a second. Shouldn’t principals, custodians, security guards, and teachers have the same weapons? This sets the stage for universal home-schooling, where of course every family would be suitably armed to prevent home invasions.
How crazy can we be?
What happens in a society when no one trusts anyone les?
What kind of world do you want to live in?
This Ohio blogger reports that Michelle Rhee is now advising the anti-public school administration of Governor John Kasich and the Republican legislature about how to fund education.
Given the predisposition of the leadership in Ohio, the outcome is predictable and it won’t be good for public education.
Ohio has a flourishing landscape of charters and a growing voucher program.
The charter landscape is very profitable for certain big-time charter operators, but charters do not outperform public schools. Many get very low scores.
The online charters are immensely profitable for their owners, but do as poorly for their students as online charters in other states.