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Back Home After 24 Days… and Little Has Changed

April 10, 2015

I just returned from an extended camping trip in NM and AZ where daytime temperatures were often in the 70s and 80s and precipitation and internet access were limited… It was a welcome respite from the grim weather that occurs in late March in New England and the news cycle that I can get swept into if I allow myself to…

As I noted in an earlier post, whenever I go away on these forays I often return to find that nothing has changed in terms of the news cycle and this time is not much different. I read that Andrew Cuomo’s misguided attempts to link VAM with his budget failed for the time being and see that as of Tuesday the US Senate is considering a revision to NCLB that will reverse the de facto federal mandate that test results be used to evaluate teachers. But a careful reading of these reports of “good news” reveal that nothing is likely to change.

The NYTimes article on Cuomo’s “loss” in the legislature includes this sentence:

The final bill does not include percentages for how much particular measurements will count — those details will be left to the State Education Department.

That would be the Regents Board… whose faith in VAM is undiminished and who will likely adopt standards that mirror those the Governor sought. Mr. Cuomo is probably NOT concerned about the future of VAM in NYS.

The NYTimes article on the NCLB legislation asserts that the emphasis on standardized testing will be diminished moving forward but it also includes this paragraph:

Opposition to standardized testing has boiled over in recent years as the Obama administration used financial incentives and relief from the most onerous provisions of the No Child Left Behind law to require that states tether teachers’ job performance ratings to student test scores. The new Senate bill makes clear that states are not required to formally evaluate teachers or to use test scores if they do.

This is hardly a victory for states where the Governors have advocated the use of VAM for it does not preclude its use. Instead of the testing regimen being a FEDERAL mandate it could be a STATE mandate and, as a result, I see no changes on the horizon when it comes to testing: states that love VAM will be allowed to continue it and the few states that reject it will be free to do so.

Sadly, I’m finding nothing has changed in terms of the weather either. It sleeted last night and my deck and backyard are covered with a 2 inch glaze of slouch and ice. I hoped to return to a bare yard and budding daffodils… but I also hoped to read about the demise of VAM. I think the daffodils will bud in the near future… but fear that VAM will persist like the weeds in my garden.

Categories: Uncategorized
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