Archives for category: Every Student Succeeds Act

I will be in Washington, D.C., on Thursday for a “discussion” about education. I put the scare quotes around discussion because the schedule is jam-packed, and there won’t be enough time for any in-depth discussion of anything. But hope springs eternal.

A few things on the program of interest.

What will Rahm Emanuel say about Chicago? Will he boast about the historic day in 2013 when he closed 50 public schools in a single day, displacing thousands of African-American children?

What will Arne Duncan tell us about how federal policy can reform the schools, after seven years of trying?

I understand this two-hour event will be live-streamed and available online.

WASHINGTON POST LIVE
Education in America
November 29, 2018
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Washington Post Live Center

4:00 p.m.
Opening Remarks

Kris Coratti,
Vice President
of Communications and Events, The Washington Post

4:05 p.m.
Educating in America’s Urban Cores: A View from Chicago
A case-study of the opportunities and challenges facing the city of Chicago’s public school system — from funding to demographics to violence in schools.

Rahm Emanuel,
Mayor, Chicago
@ChicagosMayor

Janice K. Jackson, EdD,
CEO, Chicago Public Schools @janicejackson

Moderated by
Jonathan Capehart,
Opinion Writer,
The Washington Post @CapehartJ

4:30 p.m.
The View from the
Ground: Tackling the Challenges of K-12 Schools
Educators and prominent
activists on the front lines of America’s K-12 classrooms offer perspectives on the social, academic, safety and resource challenges facing students and teachers, including the aftermath of this year’s nationwide teacher strikes. Speakers will also discuss
how access to technology affects student learning.

Lori Alhadeff,
Member, School
Board of Broward County, Florida @lorialhadeff

Geoffrey Canada,
President, Harlem
Children’s Zone

Mandy Manning,
2018 National Teacher of the Year, Joel E. Ferris High School, Spokane, Washington @MandyRheaWrites

Randi Weingarten,
President, American
Federation of Teachers @rweingarten

Moderated by
Nick Anderson,
National Education
Policy Reporter, The Washington Post @wpnick

4:55 p.m.
The Case for Social and Emotional Learning
The majority of students and young adults report that their schools are not excelling at developing their social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. This session will highlight the importance of SEL, direct from the viewpoints of today’s youth.

John Bridgeland,
Founder and CEO, Civic Enterprises

Interviewed
by Victoria Dinges,
Senior Vice President, Allstate Insurance Company

Content
by Allstate Insurance Company

5:10 p.m.
Education 360:
Defining the Debates
National education leaders debate the most pressing issues facing the U.S. education system, including school choice, standardized testing and federal, state and local funding for public schools. These experts will also discuss how well K-12 institutions are preparing students for higher
education and the jobs of the future.

Bridget Terry Long,
PhD, Dean, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University @bterrylong

Robert Pondiscio,
Senior Fellow and
Vice President for External Affairs, Thomas B. Fordham Institute @rpondiscio

Diane Ravitch, PhD,
Professor, New
York University and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education (1991-1993) @DianeRavitch

Moderated by
Valerie Strauss,
Education Reporter,
The Washington Post
@valeriestrauss

5:35 p.m.
The National Landscape:
Evaluating Federal and State Education Reform Efforts
Where do Washington and
the states go from here on education reform? Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former Michigan Gov. John Engler discuss the role of the federal and state governments in crafting education policy and look ahead to what’s next on the agenda
for the nation.

Arne Duncan,
Managing Partner, Emerson Collective and Former U.S. Secretary of Education (2009-2015) @arneduncan

John Engler,
President,
Michigan State
University and Former Republican Governor of Michigan (1991-2003) @MSUPresEngler

Moderated by
Christine Emba,
Opinion Columnist
and Editor, The Washington Post @ChristineEmba

At the end of 2015, Congress finally replaced No Child Left Behind–ten years late–with a new law called Every Student Succeeds. The two names actually mean exactly the same thing, and mean nothing at all. Does anyone really believe that a federal law will cause “no child” to be “left behind,” or that “every student” will “succeed”? Washington ships out some money and some mandates, and therefore what? Hyperbole.

No Child Left Behind introduced an unprecedented level of federal control of education, a function traditionally left to the states. The federal contribution of about 10% of overall education funding enabled the government via NCLB to set conditions, specifically to require that every child in grades 3-8 must be tested in reading and math every year. Based on test scores, teachers and principals have been fired, and schools have been closed for not reaching unrealistic targets. NCLB was an intrusive, misguided, evidence-free law that was uninformed by knowledge of children, communities and pedagogy.

Arne Duncan twisted the screws on schools with his absurd Race to the Top. Education is not a race, and there is no top. But once again, the standardized tests became the measure and the purpose of education.

After 15 years of NCLB and RTTT, there is a great deal of wreckage, demoralized teachers, and widespread teacher shortages. And if the point of all that testing was to reach the top of international tests and/or close the achievement gaps among groups, it didn’t happen.

ESSA attempted to heal some of the harm done by NCLB and RTTT. It limited the power of the Secretary of education, to prevent another out-of-control Duncan. But it left in place the federal mandate for annual testing of all children in grades 3-8. This mandate has warped education for nearly two decades but civil rights groups became convinced by the the Gates Foundation that these norm-referenced tests were the pinnacle of civil rights protection. This was the height of absurdity: black and Latino children, as well as students with disabilities, are disproportionately ranked in the bottom half of the normed curve because these tests accurately reflect family income and education. Normed tests, by definition, have a top and a bottom, and the gaps never close, by design.

Pushed by DC think tanks, Democrats became convinced that the testing regime introduced by George W. Bush was the linchpin of the civil rights movement. They fought to retain Bush’s testing mandates, which themselves were based on the hoax of the fraudulent “Texas miracle.” Testing did not make Texas #1, but this fraud was the foundation of NCLB.

So Democrats insisted that the new law had to include annual testing because the civil rights groups wanted it. What a coalition: civil rights groups, Democrats, Republican accountability hawks, and Republicans eager to prove the phony claim that public schools are subpar.

And now we have ESSA. The Senate just voted to kill the accountability regulations of ESSA drafted by the Obama regulations. This post at a Education Week explains what was killed and what remains. It’s complicated. Not surprisingly, it turns out that the Obama administration staffer who wrote the defunct regulations now works for Jeb Bush’s accountability-crazed, privatization-loving “Chiefs for Change,” the most rightwing state and local superintendents.

Peter Greene explains here that it is a mess because it is a collection of generalities. No one agrees how it should be interpreted. Former Secretary John King wanted it to mean that nothing had changed with the replacement of NCLB, but Senator Alexander was not having that.

Greene says there are no heroes here, just confusion.

In the meantime, ESSA sits there, uninterpreted and unclear, a stunning example of how badly top-down rules can go wrong– if the people at the top can’t get their act together and figure out what they want the rules to mean, all you get is top-down confusion and paralysis. States, districts and schools have no way of knowing which sets of bad federal rules we’ll have to cope with, but in the meantime we have to keep doing our day to day work. Best of luck to us all.

The Senate, in a narrow vote, ditched John King’s last-ditch effort to preserve NCLB accountability by regulation.

http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?cid=25920011&item=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.edweek.org%2Fv1%2Fblog%2F49%2F%3Fuuid%3D65341&cmp=RSS-FEED&google_editors_picks=true

The oddly-named Every Student Succeeds Act was intended to rein in Arne Duncan-style federal dictates. King’s prescriptive regulations about how to measure “progress,” were meant to keep Washington’s control over state accountability systems.

Despite 15 years of failed accountability policy, every Democrat voted to defend the Bush-Duncan-King regulations.

Democrats really need to understand that rating students and schools by test scores is not a civil rights issue. It is invalid and just plain dumb. It hurts the neediest students most.

When the Every Student Succeeds Act was passed, there was a bipartisan majority that agreed on reining in Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education.

Race to the Top, which was not a law but a program, gave the federal government unprecedented power to dictate what happened in public schools across the nation.

ESSA is flawed in many ways but one point is clear: It is intended to empower districts and states to make decisions (about some things, but not about annual testing, which is still mandated).

Many observers think it is wrong to take power away from the federal government because states and districts have not always been diligent in protecting the rights of children.

Apparently John King, the Secretary of Education, agrees that the federal government should hold onto the power that Congress has taken away. He is writing the regulations for implementation of ESSA, and the regulations appear to nullify parts of the law.

He got his first grilling today, before a House Committee. Representative Kline let him know how unhappy he and the committee are.

King will also appear before the Senate HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions), chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander. Senator Alexander will demand fidelity to the law. King apparently thinks that Congress can be ignored, bypassed, or fooled. Senator Alexander was Secretary of Education from 1991-1993. He will not be patient with obstruction.

Please contact your members of Congress and tell them not to allow the Department of Education to impose regulations that subvert the intentions of the Every Student Succeeds Act. FairTest has drafted the following letter and explanation. (See Valerie Strauss’s article on “The Answer Sheet” here.)

The U.S. Department of Education (DoE) has drafted regulations for implementing the accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The DOE proposals would continue test-and-punish practices imposed by the failed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. The draft over-emphasizes standardized exam scores, mandates punitive interventions not required in law, and extends federal micro-management. The draft regulations would also require states to punish schools in which larger numbers of parents refuse to let their children be tested. When DoE makes decisions that should have been set locally in partnership with educators, parents, and students, it takes away local voices that ESSA tried to restore.

You can help push back against these dangerous proposals in two ways:

First, tell DoE it must drop harmful proposed regulations. You can simply cut and paste the Comment below into DoE’s website at https://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=ED-2016-OESE-0032-0001 or adapt it into your own words. (The text below is part of FairTest’s submission.) You could emphasize that the draft regulations steal the opportunity ESSA provides for states and districts to control accountability and thereby silences the voice of educators, parents, students and others.

Second, urge Congress to monitor the regulations. Many Members have expressed concern that DoE is trying to rewrite the new law, not draft appropriate regulations to implement it. Here’s a letter you can easily send to your Senators and Representative asking them to tell leaders of Congress’ education committees to block DoE’s proposals: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-congress-department-must-drop-proposed-accountability-regulations.

Together, we can stop DoE’s efforts to extend NLCB policies that the American people and Congress have rejected.

FairTest

Note: DoE website has a character limit; if you add your own comments, you likely will need to cut some of the text below:

You can cut and paste this text into the DoE website:

I support the Comments submitted by FairTest on June 15 (Comment #). Here is a slightly edited version:

While the accountability provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are superior to those in No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the Department of Education’s (DoE) draft regulations intensify ESSA’s worst aspects and will perpetuate many of NCLB’s most harmful practices. The draft regulations over-emphasize testing, mandate punishments not required in law, and continue federal micro-management. When DoE makes decisions that should be set at the state and local level in partnership with local educators, parents, and students, it takes away local voices that ESSA restores. All this will make it harder for states, districts and schools to recover from the educational damage caused by NLCB – the very damage that led Congress to fundamentally overhaul NCLB’s accountability structure and return authority to the states.

The DoE must remove or thoroughly revise five draft regulations:

DoE draft regulation 200.15 would require states to lower the ranking of any school that does not test 95% of its students or to identify it as needing “targeted support.” No such mandate exists in ESSA. This provision violates statutory language that ESSA does not override “a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent to not have the parent’s child participate in the academic assessments.” This regulation appears designed primarily to undermine resistance to the overuse and misuse of standardized exams.

Recommendation: DoE should simply restate ESSA language allowing the right to opt out as well as its requirements that states test 95% of students in identified grades and factor low participation rates into their accountability systems. Alternatively, DoE could write no regulation at all. In either case, states should decide how to implement this provision.

DoE draft regulation 200.18 transforms ESSA’s requirement for “meaningful differentiation” among schools into a mandate that states create “at least three distinct levels of school performance” for each indicator. ESSA requires states to identify their lowest performing five percent of schools as well as those in which “subgroups” of students are doing particularly poorly. Neither provision necessitates creation of three or more levels. This proposal serves no educationally useful purpose. Several states have indicated they oppose this provision because it obscures rather than enhances their ability to precisely identify problems and misleads the public. This draft regulation would pressure schools to focus on tests to avoid being placed in a lower level. Performance levels are also another way to attack schools in which large numbers of parents opt out, as discussed above.

DoE draft regulation 200.18 also mandates that states combine multiple indicators into a single “summative” score for each school. As Rep. John Kline, chair of the House Education Committee, pointed out, ESSA includes no such requirement. Summative scores are simplistically reductive and opaque. They encourage the flawed school grading schemes promoted by diehard NCLB defenders.

Recommendation: DoE should drop this draft regulation. It should allow states to decide how to use their indicators to identify schools and whether to report a single score. Even better, the DoE should encourage states to drop their use of levels.

DoE draft regulation 200.18 further proposes that a state’s academic indicators together carry “much greater” weight than its “school quality” (non-academic) indicators. Members of Congress differ as to the intent of the relevant ESSA passage. Some say it simply means more than 50%, while others claim it implies much more than 50%. The phrase “much greater” is likely to push states to minimize the weight of non-academic factors in order to win plan approval from DOE, especially since the overall tone of the draft regulations emphasizes testing.

Recommendation: The regulations should state that the academic indicators must count for more than 50% of the weighting in how a state identifies schools needing support.

DoE draft regulation 200.18 also exceeds limits ESSA placed on DoE actions regarding state accountability plans.

DoE draft regulation 200.19 would require states to use 2016-17 data to select schools for “support and improvement” in 2017-18. This leaves states barely a year for implementation, too little time to overhaul accountability systems. It will have the harmful consequence of encouraging states to keep using a narrow set of test-based indicators and to select only one additional “non-academic” indicator.

Recommendation: The regulations should allow states to use 2017-18 data to identify schools for 2018-19. This change is entirely consistent with ESSA’s language.

Lastly, we are concerned that an additional effect of these unwarranted regulations will be to unhelpfully constrain states that choose to participate in ESSA’s “innovative assessment” program.

I wrote before that I would support the nominee of the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton won a decisive victory in California last night, and she will be the nominee, opposing the execrable Donald Trump.

I will vote for her.

Readers will say that she is too close to the people who are promoting charters, high-stakes testing, and the destructive policies of the Bush-Obama administrations. That is true. I have fought with all my strength against these terrible policies. I will continue to do so, with redoubled effort. I will do my best to get a one-on-one meeting with Hillary Clinton and to convey what we are fighting for: the improvement of public schools, not their privatization or monetization. The strengthening of the teaching profession, not its elimination. We want for all children what we want for our own.

Which is another way of saying what John Dewey said: “What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.”

Hillary Clinton wants the best for her grandchildren: a well-equipped school in a beautiful building; experienced and caring teachers and principals (not amateurs who took a course in leadership); arts classes; daily physical education; the possibility of a life where there is food security, health security, home security, and physical security. That is what we want for our children. That is what we want for everyone’s children. I think she will understand that. Not schools run by for-profit corporations; not schools where children are not allowed to laugh or play; not schools where testing steals time from instruction; not inexperienced teachers who are padding their resumes. That is what I want to tell her. I think she will understand. If she does, she will change the current federal education policies, which are mean-spirited, demoralizing to teachers, and contemptuous of the needs of children.

Now we must turn our energies to fighting together to make clear that we are united, we are strong, and we are not going away. We will stand together, raise our voices, and fight for public education, for our educators, and for the millions of children that they serve. And we will never, never, never give up.

I am grateful to Bernie Sanders for pushing the Clinton campaign to endorse the issues of income inequality and economic fairness. I am glad that he made the privilege of the 1% a national issue. I am glad that he will continue the struggle to really make this country just and fair for all. Bernie has made a historic contribution. He has organized millions of people, enabling them to express their hopes and fears for our nation and our future.

We must work together to harness that energy to save our schools. We must remind the Clinton campaign that every one of the policies promoted by the privatization movement, ALEC, and the whole panoply of right-wingers and misguided Democrats have been a massive failure. They have destroyed communities, especially black and Hispanic communities. They have hurt children, especially children of color. They are destroying public education itself, which is a bedrock of our democracy. We can’t let this happen.

Our task is clear. We must organize as never before. We must push back as never before.

Start by joining the SOS March on July 8 at the Lincoln Memorial.

I will be on a <a href="http://“>webinar tonight at 8 pm to discuss the SOS March and the issues we now face. The timing is perfect to plan for the future.

Please join us at 8 pm EST. We need you. We need your energy and your voice.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8824328855840974852&#8221;

Larry Cuban writes on his blog about the most important inventions that have raised our nation’s standard of living. He poses the question that is the title of this post. He supposes that most people would respond “the smartphone,” but they would be wrong. His post is an intriguing review of a book by economic historian Robert Gordon, who contends that the century from 1870-1970 experienced greater growth and innovation than the past half century.

Cuban summarizes Gordon’s central argument:

Thus, an unheralded, stunning century of innovation and economic growth produced the telegraph, phone, television, house lighting, automobile, airplane travel, and, yes, indoor plumbing. These inventions networked the home and workplace in ways that raised living standards and increased workplace productivity considerably. It was in that same century that medical advances reduced infant mortality and lengthened life of Americans dramatically.

The half-century since 1970 has surely seen innovations that have enhanced these earlier inventions but the template for economic growth was laid down for that fruitful hundred-year period. In past decades, new technologies have clearly expanded communication and entertainment, making life far more instantaneous, convenient and pleasurable. But social media, immediate communication, and constant access to photos, video clips, and films have not increased the standard of living as had the decades between 1870-1970.

Cuban then segues to a discussion of the current reform movement in education, which traces its roots to the 1983 report “A Nation at Risk.” That report was “driven by an economic rationale–the human capital argument–for improving U.S. schools” and embraced by policymakers, business leaders, and foundations. If we didn’t improve education dramatically, we would lose our competitive edge in the world economy. And thus was born the “reform movement,” in which governors and “reformers” sought to raise curriculum and performance standards for both students and teachers, increase testing, and create accountability frameworks that included rewards and penalties in subsequent decades….

The current reforms in education and the pressure to raise test scores on international tests have not increased economic growth, stimulated productivity, or reduced inequality, writes Cuban.

In other words, reforms aimed at getting U.S. students to perform better on international tests for the past three decades–think No Child Left Behind, expanded parental choice in schools, more computers in schools, and Common Core state standards–was of little influence on growing a strong economy, raising median income, or lessening inequality, according to Gordon. These reforms, while aiding low-income minorities in many instances, overall, contributed little to improving productivity or raising standards of living

Gordon’s book concludes, writes Cuban, with a list of ten interventions that could raise the standard of living, like raising the minimum wage. Of his ten interventions three have to do with education. They are:

“…investing in preschools, state and federal school financing rather than local taxes, and reducing student indebtedness in higher education. Not a word about the dominant school reforms in 2016–Common Core standards, standardized testing, technologies in schools, charter schools, accountability.

In questioning the dominant beliefs in current school reform as essential to economic growth, Gordon’s argument and evidence are useful to those politically active decision-makers, teachers, parents, and researchers who know that a democracy needs schools that do more than prepare children and youth for the workplace.

The paradox, as Cuban suggests, is that the more we focus on test scores and workplace readiness, the more we sacrifice civic values that may be of greater importance in a democracy.

Valerie Strauss reports that Secretary of Education John King is utilizing the drafting of regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act to try to snuff out the opt out movement. The new regulations demand a 95% participation rate on state tests. Schools that can’t reach that target will be subject to sanctions.

 

Critics say he is engaging in the same federal overreach that ESSA was supposed to curtail.

 

Will Senator Lamar Alexander let King get away with this disregard of Congressional intent?

New Secretary of Education John King must have thought he could follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Arne Duncan and tell the states and districts what to do. Congress made it clear in the Every Student Succeeds Act that it was curtailing the Secretary’s power. King is now overseeing the drafting of new regulations to implement ESSA, and Senator Lamar Alexander–who led the effort to write ESSA–didn’t like what he saw. He gave King a strong reprimand at Senate hearings yesterday.

 

Here is a report from a Knoxville newspaper on some of their exchanges:

 

“U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander angrily accused the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday of blatantly ignoring part of the new school reform law that Congress passed last year with overwhelming bipartisan support.

 

“In an unusual public scolding, Alexander told Education Secretary John B. King Jr. the department is not adhering to a key section of the law that relates to funding for low-income schools.

 

“Not only is what you’re doing against the law,” Alexander said during a Senate committee hearing, “the way you’re trying to do it is against another provision in the law.”
“King tried to assure Alexander the Education Department is not circumventing the law, but is merely proposing regulations to give guidance to states and local school districts. But Alexander was not convinced.

 

“I can read,” he said bluntly…..”

 

“At Tuesday’s hearing, Alexander accused the Department of Education of overstepping its authority and trying to work around a provision that says federal funding must be used to supplement state and local spending on education.

 

“Another section of the law requires comparable spending between Title I schools — those with large numbers of disadvantaged students — and schools that are not Title I.

 

The “comparability” provision has been in federal law since 1970, and Congress did not change it when the new school reform law passed last year.

 

“But Alexander charged the department is trying to implement new regulations that would require equal, not comparable, spending per pupil. He also accused the department of trying to dictate the methodology that local school districts must use when calculating whether funding between schools is comparable — a move he said is not allowed under the law.

 

“King disputed that. The department is not requiring any particular methodology, he said, but is simply trying to give schools the flexibility to measure the goal of comparable funding.
“How can you sit there and say that?” Alexander asked, arguing that the proposed regulations clearly dictate how states must go about measuring comparability.

 

“Alexander warned he would use “every power of Congress” to make sure the law is implemented the way it was written, even if it meant using the appropriations process to block the regulations or overturning them once they are final.

 

“If the department tries to force states to follow regulations that violate the law, “I’ll tell them to take you to court,” he said.”

 

As Peter Greene wrote, Senator Alexander took John King to the woodshed. Greene writes that Senator Alexander noted “that a December Politico story quoted Duncan saying that USED lawyers are smarter than the lawmakers. But “we in Congress are smart enough to anticipate your lawyers’ attempts to rewrite the law.””

 

 

Sandra Stotsky was deeply involved in the transformation of public education in Massachusetts from 1999-2003. As senior associate commissioner of education, she oversaw the development and implementation of curriculum frameworks and testing of entry-level teachers. Massachusetts rose to the top of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. As she explains here, the Bay State did not have annual testing.

She writes:

“K-12 schools have coped with an abundance of mandated testing since the early 1990s. Worse yet, under federal guidelines, the consequences of poor student performance have in the name of accountability come to fall more on teachers than students. The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) expanded the educational-level testing mandated in the 1994 authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), mandating annual testing for reading and mathematics in grades 3-8, once in high school, and at several grade levels in science.

“The 2015 re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), called ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), continued NCLB’s annual testing mandate. It did so in large part because of strong support from education researchers (e.g., Whitehurst, West, Chingos, Dynarski, among others, in Education Next). Yet, none provided evidence that annual testing via ESEA had significantly increased the achievement of low-income students in K-12 in both subjects. They couldn’t because there is none. Nevertheless, even though the national needle had not moved in reading at any National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)-tested grade in 50 years, ESSA punished the states with a continuation of annual testing and test-based accountability.

“A big question is why education researchers don’t look at what Massachusetts did and did not do to increase low-income student achievement. Remember, its average scores in both reading and mathematics, for grade 4 and grade 8, on NAEP tests in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015 were the highest or among the highest of all 50 states. On the one international test of curriculum-based achievement (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study—TIMSS), the state, entered as a separate country, tied with Singapore for first place in grade 8 science and was among the top six countries in mathematics in grades 4 and 8 in both 2007 and 2013. Surely, there should have been a long look at what the Bay State did, beyond its testing schedule.

“This is the testing that was done: From 1998 to 2000, testing took place in four major subjects (math, science, reading, and history) annually in grades 4, 8, and 10, or at one grade per educational level as mandated by the state’s 1993 Education Reform Act. After 2000, testing in math and reading took place annually but only at every other grade level (grade span testing) and at one grade per educational level annually in science and history until 2006, when NCLB’s annual requirements kicked in for math and reading because the tests were now ready for previously untested grades. The state’s high math and reading scores beginning in 2005 cannot be accounted for by annual testing. Nor can the state’s stunning performance in grade 8 science in 2007 or 2013.

“As the person in charge of the total revision or development of all the state’s K-12 standards, teacher and administrator licensing regulations, most teacher licensure tests, as well as criteria for professional development from 1999-2003, I have some basis for suggesting what I think likely contributed to students’ enduring academic gains in the past decade even if education researchers do not seem to want to learn what the Bay State did.

“Under my direction, the state department of education revised major documents to increase the content knowledge requirements in standards for all students, and to strengthen academically the licensure requirements for the state’s teacher and administrator corps. The results of high quality research were clear; teachers’ knowledge of the subject they teach is the only trait associated with enhanced gains in student achievement. The documents we developed during the years I was a public bureaucrat, including definitions of terms used, embedded policies approved by the field (via frequent public comment), the Commissioner of Education David Driscoll, and the Board of Education under James Peyser, chair.

“Annual testing at every grade level in math, reading, and science was not one of them. Nor was it apparently necessary for higher and enduring academic achievement in these subjects, even though ESSA froze it in for reading and math. Nor can the case be made today that annual testing improves low-income student achievement. It’s possible it may even retard achievement. We don’t know because the idea has not been explored by education researchers. Why civil rights organizations or the Gates Foundation support a policy that exists in no other country needs explanation.”