Monday, August 6, 2012

A Hill to Die On! by Tim Slekar

Original post found on The Chalk Face, HEREby Tim Slekar 8/6/12
The SOS convention was a great opportunity to see old friends and make some new ones.  A lot happened and I am not going to summarize the conference.  My intent is to portray what I believe is the single biggest issue facing public education that emerged and describe the only solution.

The WAR we are fighting (and it is a war) is against the mistaken belief that private interests would run public schools best.  And the weapon being used–very successfully– is punitive high stakes testing.  The tests and the “data” perpetuate the mythology of failing schools, failing teachers, and failing students.  This mythological mass failure has convinced our neighbors that “doing anything” is acceptable and even preferable as long as we “fix” failing schools.

However, “doing anything” only occurs because of the false narrative that is supported by data from high stakes tests.  The use of high stakes tests must end.
There is nothing to compromise on this issue–nothing!.  We know (and we better start helping our neighbors know) that the only thing high stakes tests tell us reliably and validly is the socio-economic condition of the test takers—that’s it.
Even if we cared about achievement (I don’t because I care about learning) the test scores provided by high stakes tests don’t tell us about achievement.  Therefore a massive “Opt Out” of high stakes testing must be used to destroy the entire reform movement!  We cannot negotiate some % of acceptable use of high stakes test data in calculating student achievement, teacher effectiveness, principal effectiveness, and school achievement.  There is NO acceptable use of high stakes test data–None!
Opting out and subverting any use of high stakes tests is the only solution.  This is war and this is a hill we must be willing to die on!
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