Monday, January 12, 2015

Our Pals in -- THE Republican Senate?

While the Democrats screw us, here is something to cheer in the Republican takeover of the Senate.
The administration's position comes amidst growing anti-testing sentiment fueled by an odd alliance of parents skeptical of standardized tests, teachers unions who say using test scores to evaluate teachers and schools has warped education and conservatives who argue the federal government should play a much smaller role in local education.
In case you don't remember, Diane Ravitch served as under secretary with Lamar Alexander in the first Bush administration in the early 90s. Who would have thunk they would one day come around to similar positions on the opposite side of the spectrum they were once on?
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a former education secretary, university president and governor who took control Monday as chair of the Senate education panel, said he is weighing whether to ditch the federal requirement to test.

"Every parent, every teacher in 100,000 public schools is asking the question 'Are there too many tests?"Alexander said. "I don't know the answer. I'm asking the question. And the United States Senate ought to be asking that question as we think about No Child Left Behind."

Alexander said the federal requirement appears to have created a cascading effect in states and local school districts, most of which now regularly test students during the course of the school year to make sure they are on track to succeed on the federally required exam at year's end. And this year, as most states prepare for new tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards, the testing debate has gained new urgency.

"It's a good, healthy discussion that the country is having," said Alexander, who has scheduled a Jan. 20 Senate hearing on testing and set an aggressive timetable to move a bill to the full Senate for a vote by late February.
At this point, the Obama administration can't disappear fast enough.
Obama administration draws 'line in sand' over education testing
The State Journal-Register
By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post News Service
Posted Jan. 9, 2015 @ 5:38 pm
WASHINGTON — As a new Congress gets to work to rewrite the 2002 federal education law known as No Child Left Behind, the Obama administration is drawing what Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls his "line in the sand": The federal government must continue to require states to give annual, standardized tests in reading and math.
In a speech scheduled for Monday at an elementary school in Washington, Duncan is expected to insist that any new law retain the trademark of No Child Left Behind, requiring that every public school student be tested annually in math and reading in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, and also be tested in science at three points during those years.

The current law is about 600 pages long and spells out how the federal government sends roughly $25 billion annually to states to help educate poor and disabled students.
The National Education Association (NEA), the country's largest teacher's union, wants to kill the annual testing requirement and replace it with age span testing, which calls for students to be tested once in grades 3 to 5, once in grades 6 to 8 and once in high school.
"We need to cut back on testing and build a smarter accountability system," said Becky Pringle, NEA vice president.

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