Home > Uncategorized > Article on MD’s New Rating System A Reinforces Notion that Parents are Consumers who PRESUMABLY have a Choice

Article on MD’s New Rating System A Reinforces Notion that Parents are Consumers who PRESUMABLY have a Choice

July 1, 2017

Liz Bowie’s Washington Post article describing the state of Maryland’s new rating system elicited a response that is a combination of resignation, dismay, and frustration.

Resignation because it is reinforces the notion that parents are “consumers” who presumably have a choice when it comes to school; dismay because that clearly is NOT the case for those parents who are living in poverty; and frustration because I don’t see either circumstance changing any time soon.

Ms. Bowie’s article describes the tension between the State Board, appointed by Republican Larry Hogan, who seek a greater emphasis on so-called “academic” measures and the largely Democratic legislature that passed a law limiting the percentage of a rating that can be based on “academic” measures (i.e. standardized test results) to 65%. But given the GOP leadership in the USDOE, the State Board’s desire to emphasize academics is likely to prevail. Why?

Basing just 65 percent of the weight on academics may be deemed too low by the U.S. Department of Education. The department has already told Delaware that its 80 percent weight for academics is too low.

And what, exactly, constitute “academic measures”? Here’s Maryland’s idea of “academics”, which currently constitute 65% of a school’s rating but, based on the USDOE’s reaction to Delaware’s submission, will need to constitute an even higher percentage:

… students’ annual academic growth and the percentage of students who pass the state English and math exams.

Meanwhile, those who celebrated the passage of ESSA might think again. Here’s how Ms. Bowie described ESSA as compared to NCLB, the law it replaced.

ESSA replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, which was in effect for more than a decade and was widely criticized for being too punitive because schools were judged almost solely on test scores. ESSA was designed to give more authority back to the states for how schools are held accountable.

The legislators who championed ESSA because it stopped the centralization of decision-making in Washington—especially the conservative GOP members who harp on this issue repeatedly— should ask themselves if that has really happened. It seems that the spirit of ESSA should allow Maryland to base 65% of it’s ratings on test scores. But the billionaires who love to demean public education and who help underwrite the campaigns of the “states-rights” Tea Party will likely look the other way on this issue.

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