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“Grade Levels” are an Administrative Convenience…Standardized Test “Grade Levels” are a Statistical Artifact… and BOTH Block Mastery Learning

July 21, 2017 Leave a comment

I am bewildered by the fact that most of the general public and most people associated with public education believe that “grade levels” linked to age cohorts are a natural, biological and developmentally appropriate means of grouping children and, because of that fact,”grade levels” linked to age cohorts are a fair, equitable and valid means of categorizing students for the purpose of measuring their performance.

But here’s are two facts: the grouping of students into “grade levels” based on their age cohorts was a practice instituted in the early 1900s for administrative convenience. Once it became THE “standard” means of grouping students, it also became the basis for scoring “standardized tests” that became the basis for creating homogeneous “ability” groups within those grade levels, norm-referenced tests that used scale scores to determine if students were performing “at grade level”.

In the late 1900s it appeared there might be an opportunity to replace norm-referenced standardized tests that sort and select students with criterion referenced tests that help determine if students have mastered the material presented in class or learned outside of the classroom .The technology was emerging that would make the use of such tests feasible, and, had the hoped for conversion to mastery learning taken place it was possible that student directed learning would have replaced test-driven learning.

Since NCLB, the administratively convenient standardized tests have moved to the forefront. Predictably, their results, which would necessarily yield a bell curve, demonstrated a large number of “failing students” and, just as predictably, those “failing students” were housed in schools serving children raised in poverty whose test results correlated strongly with the income of their parents.

Now that these “failing schools” require “take overs” by the State, and given that the State Departments of Education do not have the wherewithal to oversee all of the schools identified as “failing” based on standardized test scores, the “failing schools” are turned over to private contractors who promise to get better results on tests in exchange for a waiver of regulations and relief from the “administrative burdens” imposed by teacher unions.

When Congress repealed NCLB by passing ESSA, the misnamed “Every Student Succeeds Act”, and President Obama signed it into law, there was SOME hope in my part of New England that given the flexibility built into ESSA that they might be able to institute some mastery-learning and/or student-directed learning into their state plans. When the bill passed, I was hopeful of that outcome for Vermont and New Hampshire, the two states I worked in before I retired… but also dreading how other states might use their flexibility to impose things like “value-added” measures and school choice. I was also fearful that those states who rejected the Common Core might feel liberated and impose Creation Science requirements or limit the teaching of climate change

Now… several months later, it is clear my hopes will not be realized in either Vermont or– especially in New Hampshire… and my fears about the direction other states would take were well founded. Worse, as reported in yesterday’s Politico Morning Edition for education it appears that after declaring that the USDOE would give states flexibility in determining their accountability measures— which MIGHT have given them some flexibility— the USDOE is rejecting any metrics that move away from standardized tests based on grade levels. Here’s Politico reporter Benjamin Wermund’s analysis of on state’s experience at trying to move away from the “traditional” model of accountability by using scale scores instead of “grade levels”:

Connecticut, in its updated plan, stands by the use of scale scores to measure academic achievement, rather than grade-level proficiency. Scale scores convert a student’s grades to a common scale – for example, 300 to 900 – enabling educators to distinguish the relative performance of students at the high and low ends of the same proficiency level. The Education Department told Connecticut in June that the law requires a greater focus on whether students are performing at grade-level. And a team of federal reviewers, who separately provided notes on the plan, said the state’s approach to grading schools “lacks transparency.”

But Connecticut officials disagree. “Webster’s dictionary defines proficiency not only as a state of being proficient, but also as an advancement in knowledge or skill,” they write in their revised plan, which calls scale scores “the most accurate measure of a student’s proficiency.” Connecticut’s new plan says that “characterizing a student’s achievement solely as falling into an achievement level is an extreme oversimplification,” and “solely relying on a binary proficient/not proficient approach encourages unsound educational practices.” Colorado and Massachusetts also want to use scale scores. Massachusetts received similarly discouraging feedback from the Education Department, while Colorado is still waiting. Read Connecticut’s revised plan.

If ESSA does require “a greater focus on whether students are performing at grade-level” then there is yet another reason to lament it’s passage. Scale scores are not a perfect means of determining mastery, but they DO move the thinking of educators, parents, and decision-makers away from the statistical artifact of “grade level scores” and compel them to be more open-minded to different forms of accountability and instruction. If ESSA does NOT explicitly require “a greater focus on whether students are performing at grade-level”, then I hope that Lamar Alexander and other Senators will speak out against this interpretation by USDOE. If ESSA’s intent is to fulfill Betsy DeVos’ stated ideal of pushing for  “…reforms locally that will help to ensure all children, no matter their zip code, have access to an education environment that works for them”, allowing states to set their own accountability standards is a step in the right direction.

Education Tax Credits Save Taxpayers Money, Destroy Public Education

July 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Late last month a Progressive article by Dora Taylor outlined four things about education tax credits (aka Education Savings Accounts in NH) that Betsy DeVos and her allies at ALEC do not want the public to understand. Marketed as a means of providing low income students with “scholarships” that enable them to enroll in private schools, they actually divert state funds to middle class parents who are already enrolled in parochial schools. Ms. Taylor opens the article with a description of how these tax credits work:

Education tax credits are similar to school vouchers. A voucher is money paid by the state to cover private school tuition for a student. Voucher money comes straight out of public school funds.

Vouchers are unconstitutional in eighteen states and one of the reasons is that the money can go to a religious school, crossing the line between church and state.

In a “scholarship tax credit program,” the money bypasses the state and instead goes through a go-between, a “scholarship granting organization” to a private school to pay a student’s tuition in full or in part. Typically, these organizations keep 10 percent of the money as they pass through funds to private schools.

A scholarship granting organization distributes money to students, who are purportedly “low income”, to attend a private school the organization has selected to include in its portfolio. Granting organizations can select the schools they do business with, whether they are religious schools or schools that are unaccredited.

While these groups have set a standard for “low income” —a family of four with an income of $64,750 or less—family income is not a determining factor for many of the students who receive the scholarships.

This convoluted system effectively replaces locally elected school boards with a state appointed scholarship granting board that determines schools worthy of scholarships and the eligibility of students who can attend those schools…. but this aspect of the law creating “education scholarships” is not part of the marketing campaign…. and that is intentional. After providing an overview of the tax credits, Ms. Taylor identifies four elements of education tax credits that Betsy DeVos and ALEC do NOT want the public to realize:

  1. Education Tax Credits Deplete State Budgets: Instead of providing additional resources to enable “poor” students to choose private schools to attend, ALEC’s boilerplate legislation diverts current education funding to these scholarship funds…. and that’s on top of revenue they lose when billionaires make tax-deductible donations to these scholarship funds, some of which might go to for-profit charter schools the self-same billionaires invest in!
  2. Education Tax Credit Programs Benefit the Wealthy: ALEC’s boilerplate legislation calls for donors to scholarship funds to effectively receive a subsidy for making a contribution. As Ms. Taylor reports, donors receive “a dollar-per-dollar write off on Federal taxes and, in some states, it can be used as an additional write-off on state taxes. With a donation to a scholarship grant-making organization, a person, company or corporation can benefit financially, sometimes doubling the tax write-off.” So a billionaire can “donate” a large sum to a scholarship fund and receive both a federal and a state deduction that offsets the donation… and a corporation that likely gets some kind of local tax-credit to locate or remain in a state similarly receives a tax credit at the federal and state level! And in both cases, the donors can claim they are helping disadvantaged children expand their opportunities. Also, as noted above, states can set a “low income” standard that is relatively high and thus enable middle class parents who are currently sending their children to a private school to qualify for a scholarship… even if that school is a parochial school (see #4). 
  3. Education Tax Credit Programs Pose Significant Risks to Children: Since the schools receiving scholarships are overseen by a non-public entities, they are not subject to federal or state standards. Thus schools receiving scholarships can discriminate, barring special needs students and permitting religious instruction… which leads to the fourth factor.
  4. Education Tax Credit Programs Divert Public Money to Religious Indoctrination: While there is evidence that Betsy DeVos wants to use her position to allow public funds to flow to schools with religious affiliations, I do not believe ALEC’s shares that intent. However I do believe the billionaires who underwrite ALEC appreciate the political clout they can garner if they develop programs that appeal to the evangelical base of the GOP. Thus, an essential element of all legislation is to permit public funds to flow to all private schools, including those operated by churches, synagogues, and mosques.

The marketing of “Education Tax Credits” is artful. What voter wouldn’t want to have more tax credits available to them? What voter could oppose giving parents and children more choices in terms of schooling? What voter could oppose a law that will augment state funds with donations from generous billionaires enabling funding for schools to increase without imposing higher taxes? And what voter would be willing to pay higher taxes to help poor kids in another part of the state when those kids will be able to qualify for scholarships funded by someone else? Advocates of funding equity, of public education governed by locally elected school boards, and of opportunities for all children have a steep uphill fight in the years ahead.

 

 

For Once I Agree with Arne Duncan and John King: Defrauded Students Need Protection

July 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Readers of this blog know that I seldom agreed with the positions taken by Arne Duncan and John King. But I strongly support the position they took yesterday in a post they wrote for The Hill decrying the Trump administration’s decision to throw out the rules they promulgated protecting students who were fleeced by for-profit institutions like ITT, Corinthian College, and— while they didn’t mention it in their post— Trump University. As Mr. King and Duncan note, self-regulation of the marketplace did not work any more effectively in for-profit education than it would work in any sector.

But here’s the irony and the reason I was unalterably opposed to both Mr. King and Mr. Duncan. During their tenures as Secretary of Education they promoted “reforms” that relied heavily on deregulated free-market for profit charter schools… and many of the deregulated free-market for profit schools they promoted proved to be corrupt and of no value to the students they purported to serve. Yet despite these failures, both Mr. King and Mr. Duncan stood by their “reforms”, “reforms” that paved the way for the de-facto vouchers Ms. DeVos is now promoting.

Florida Legislature Opens Door to Corrupt Charters, Endless Content Challenges, Lawsuits in Public Schools

July 15, 2017 Leave a comment

The Tampa Bay Times editors’ assessment of two bills passed by the Florida legislature has it right: the governance of public education is in peril. The fiscal conservatives in the state undercut the school districts’ ability to serve children over the past several years by passing stingy budgets. This year the legislature passed HB 7069, which diverts more funds from public schools and makes it easier for parents to opt into private charter schools– many of them private for-profit entities and religiously affiliated, and far too many of those privatized for-profit entities have turned out to be corrupt. Moving children out of schools governed by elected boards into schools governed by shareholders or religious leaders is anti-democratic and will continue to open the door for mismanagement and corruption.

The editors had already bemoaned this development, and in yesterday’s editorial they flagged two other bills that religious conservatives enacted this session, laws that are likely to result in a spate of needless lawsuits and public appeals that will likely fill Board agendas for years to come.

SB 438, a “a religious liberties bill”, provides superfluous “rights” to students and opens the door to promoting religion in classrooms. Here’s the analysis of the bill in the editorial:

The bill reaffirms that students and teachers are allowed to pray privately during non-curriculum moments at school, but that was a right that already existed under the First Amendment. It then goes a step further with language that would allow teachers or students to openly express religious beliefs in class or at other public school functions, which is seemingly in conflict with previous Supreme Court decisions. The potential of proselytizing along with the ostracizing of students are just two possible pitfalls among the many unintended consequences this ill-considered law could wrought.

The fact that this bill is “seemingly in conflict with previous Supreme Court decisions” means that one or more school boards will be faced with litigation from one or more parents and/or libertarian groups who do not want their children exposed to proselytization or ostracized from classes. It also means that principals and teachers will likely have to deal with religious zealots who want to ensure that the law is being followed in each and every school.

The worst bill, though, is HB 989, a law that “…gives almost anyone — from parents to strangers off the street — the ability to challenge the appropriateness of a classroom lesson. Supporters say it empowers parents, but it more accurately promotes censorship.”  The editors assessment is rightfully scathing:

Think of the mayhem this could create. Don’t believe in evolution? Challenge the science teacher. Don’t believe high schoolers should learn about sex education? Challenge the health teacher. Don’t believe the Holocaust actually happened? Challenge the history teacher. Don’t like the language in The Catcher in the Rye? Challenge the American lit teacher.

Legislators used straw man arguments to insist this bill was necessary, citing unnamed instances of parents who were unhappy with the age-appropriateness of books on reading lists. To be blunt, this sounds like bunk. Schools routinely have alternative selections available if a parent feels a particular book contains objectionable material. To waste precious time and resources on reviews of mainstream books and lessons is foolishness. Even more absurd is the possibility of denying a particular lesson to a large majority of students because one parent, or any other resident of the school district, disagrees with it.

This law will open the door to crackpots of all varieties to appeal curriculum decisions made by individual teachers as well as school districts. Having dealt with appeals dealing with controversial books, I know that it also has the potential to eat into the time of school districts who may ultimately have to hear every appeal brought by every member of the public who believes that the content in history, science, and literature lessons is “inappropriate”. In the meantime, the privately governed schools can offer the curriculum of their choice and tell their constituents to go elsewhere if they don’t like what is being taught.

The editorial concludes with this paragraph:

The common thread in all of these bills, from HB 7069 on down, is state legislators usurping control of local school boards and school districts. These same lawmakers who shout and stomp their feet at any sign of interference from the federal government are interfering even more in local schools. (See: House Speaker Richard Corcoran.) It is hypocrisy. It is bad governance. Sadly, it is business as usual in Florida.

With Betsy DeVos at the helm in Washington and ESSA giving states more leeway, expect to see copycat laws introduced into legislatures across the country in the years ahead.

Campus “Rape Culture” Questioned by New DeVos Civil Rights Appointee Who Appears Intent on Reversing Obama’s Standards

July 13, 2017 Leave a comment

The United States Department of Education’s (USDOE) responsibilities include the oversight of civil rights in all education institutions, including colleges. While the Obama administration’s USDOE track record on K-12 education was horrible, it’s civil rights division did solid work on Title IX, especially when it came to addressing what some call a “rape culture” that permeates several campuses in the country. An article in today’s NYTimes by reporters Erica Green and Sheryl Gay Stolberg indicates that the Obama administration’s civil rights advances related to campus safety for women are about to be undone by the Acting Head of the Civil Rights division, Candace Jackson.

Some background: In 2011, the head of the Civil Rights division issued a “Dear Colleague” memo to colleges that included a mandate that campuses use a higher standard when they review allegations of rape on campus. As Mss. Green and Stolberg report:

The most controversial part of the 2011 guidance mandated that college officials use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which makes it easier to find students responsible than a “clear and convincing” evidence standard that some schools had been using. Advocates for the accused are pushing for Ms. Jackson to revoke the guidance and adopt the “clear and convincing” standard.

Why? Because in the judgement of those currently leading the civil rights division those accused of rape have paid too high a price!

Investigative processes have not been “fairly balanced between the accusing victim and the accused student,” Ms. Jackson argued, and students have been branded rapists “when the facts just don’t back that up.” In most investigations, she said, there’s “not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.”

Rather, the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,’” Ms. Jackson said.

Among Ms. Jackson’s assertions is that in response to the 2011 memo, college administrators handling rape allegations were “specifically told to keep looking until you find the violation”. It is unclear what evidence Ms. Jackson used to draw this conclusion or the conclusion that “90% (of accusations) fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk'”, but it IS clear to the authors of this memo who later enforced it that this was not the case:

Catherine E. Lhamon, who led the Education Department’s civil rights office from August 2013 through December 2016, called Ms. Jackson’s claims that investigators were told to fish for violations “patently, demonstrably untrue.” For the department to distinguish between violent and nonviolent assaults in investigations, she added, “portrays a profound misunderstanding of Title IX.”

Ms. Lhamon said investigations under her tenure turned up “jaw-dropping degrees of noncompliance” with sexual assault law.

While the legal interpretation of the 2011 memo by campuses may be unclear, but the political context of this conclusion IS clear. As Mss. Green and Stolberg note:

Appointed by Ms. DeVos in April, Ms. Jackson represented sexual assault victims as a private lawyer before joining the Education Department. She is best known for her involvement in attacks against Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign, when she elevated women who had accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault or harassment, while denouncing women who accused Mr. Trump of such behavior.

Much has been written about how evangelical Christians, like Betsy DeVos, found a way to overlook President Trump’s misogyny and misconduct and support his candidacy. But it may be that the part of the evangelical culture includes the notion that a husband has dominion over his wife translates to a legal standard where the woman needs to present a preponderance of evidence that she was coerced or even forced to have sex in order to bring a rape charge. The concluding paragraph of Mss. Green and Stolberg’s article suggests that Ms. Jackson thinks the scales of justice have tipped to far in the direction of the women on campus:

“We have a justice system where nobody demands that the system itself be weighted in favor of a plaintiff,” she said. “In principle, there is no reason to depart from setting up a Title IX discipline process on campus that is anything other than fairly balanced and doesn’t prejudge and weight the system in favor of a finding. We don’t do that in our court system, our criminal justice system, and I see no reason why we would want to do it in a campus system either.”

I’m certain that Mr. Obama’s Civil Right’s attorneys have a different take on this… as do the thousands of women who attend college.

ESSA Creates Opportunity for ESAs and Koch Brothers Network is Ready to Seize the Opportunity

July 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Over the past eight years, Congress reached a bi-partisan agreement that NCLB and its progeny, RTTT were unmitigated disasters. While the basis for this agreement differed from State-to-State, there was an underlying consensus that both RTTT and NCLB took power away from the states and placed too much power at the federal level. The solution to this was ESSA, which returned decision making authority for accountability to the states. As noted in several earlier blog posts, since the election of Donald Trump and his appointment of Betsy DeVos to head USDOE, the federal influence on education has declined markedly thanks to Ms. DeVos’ efforts to repeal regulations on an array of fronts including civil rights, gender equity, and desegregation.

But a more chilling development associated with ESSA was reported earlier this week in an article written by John Frank for the Denver Post: the Koch brothers intend to use Colorado as a testing ground for school choice and vouchers by diverting public funds to Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), thereby de-funding public education. His report on an annual meeting of the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity Foundation described the strategy:

The effort in Colorado involves the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the Libre Initiative, a group focused on Hispanic community outreach. Together the organizations are making calls and sending flyers to voters this summer, two of which promote ESAs as a way to “give families the freedom to select schools, classes and services that fit the unique needs of their kids.”

…The summertime effort in a nonelection year demonstrates the Koch network’s permanent apparatus in Colorado and how it can mobilize like-minded volunteers into action.

“When there’s not an election, there’s not a lot of noise and you can have a lot of impact,” said Michael Fields, the senior director for issue education at the national Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

The ESA model is relatively novel in Colorado, and Fields sees his team’s work as a “race to who defines the issue first.”

If the persuasion effort is successful in Colorado, the Koch network’s political groups could push it forward as soon as the 2018 legislative session or possibly onto the ballot for voter approval.

Fields is optimistic: “I think we can get something across in the next few years.”

Stripped of its anti-Government libertarian philosophical basis, ESAs would be an easy sell for the “middle-of-the-road” voters in Colorado, a state the Koch Brothers began grooming a few years ago when they helped underwrite the bi-artisan effort in that state that resulted in legislation that provides equal state funding for charter schools. Framed as an opportunity for parents to “select the schools their children can attend”, using funds drawn from donations made in lieu of taxes to a state-wide savings account it is hard to elicit a negative response. If the Koch Brothers are making calls to elicit support from middle-of-the-road” voters, here’s the pitch they can make:

  • If the “middle-of-the-road” voter has children in school and is happy, tell the voter that ESA legislation would allow their child to remain in that school and they would pay lower State taxes.
  • If the “middle-of-the-road” voter has children in school and is unhappy, ESA legislation would offer them a chance to send their child to a different school that meets their needs…. even if that school was affiliated with a church or was an on-line school.
  • If the “middle-of-the-road” voter has no children in school, promote the notion that parent-consumers can “choose the school for their child”… and emphasize that ESA legislation will result in a reduction in their taxes.
  • If the “middle-of-the-road” voter sends their child to a religiously affiliated school note that ESA legislation will substantially defray their tuition costs and reduce their taxes.
  • If the “middle-of-the-road” voter either attends a church that offers schooling for children who desire religious training, note that ESA legislation will help support their church’s efforts.

The advocates for ESAs have an easy sell. Those who support public education, on the other hand, cannot assure more choices for parents or lower taxes. The need to appeal to more abstract notions like “fairness” and “equal opportunities” for all and need to counter the negative arguments that disaffected and resentful voters will voice, arguments like:

  • The only people who support public schools are the unions
  • The money for public education goes to teachers who have better wages and benefits than I do
  • We’ve spent millions of dollars for schools and they haven’t improved a bit
  • When my kids went to school we didn’t have all these fancy programs and social services. Why should I pay higher taxes for these frills?
  • I already pay tuition for my children to go to a private school that has Christian values, why should I pay higher taxes for a school that promotes secular humanism?

The list could go on and will be expanded and amplified as the pro-ESA messages from the Koch Brothers permeate the airwaves and phone lines in the months ahead.

The problem for those of us who support public education is journalists like Mr. Frank and news outlets like the Denver Post are framing the debate as one between unions (which are implicitly “self-serving”) and “reformers”, who are seeking the best solutions for parents and children. The astro-turf organizations funded by billionaires will issue white papers and organize and populate rallies in support of ESAs while those who oppose them will be left on the sidelines. And since school choice is now a bi-partisan issue, the lonely voices in the wilderness don’t even have a political party to advocate for economic justice. Someone who is not a union member needs to compete in the “race to who defines the issue first” in the words of Michael Fields, the senior director for issue education at the national Americans for Prosperity Foundation. In my way of thinking, we need to assert the high-minded purpose of public schooling. Here’s a 15 minute effort to define the over-arching purpose of public education, a purpose that ESAs undercuts:

  • Every child is entitled to a high quality education. Since ESAs only provide partial funding for schooling parents are expected to supplement the costs for their children who do not attend public schools. This means that parents with lower incomes will not have the same choices or same opportunities as more affluent parents.
  • In order for democracy to thrive, all students need to attend high quality schools where the values of the community, state, and nation are taught. ESAs fragment the community of learners and will reinforce the divisiveness that is poisoning discourse in our democracy today.
  • Locally elected school boards, not individual “consumers”, should set the priorities for how your school funds are spent and what values are inculcated in the schools. ESAs will undercut the power of local democracy.

These arguments are harder to sell than “choice” and “lower taxes”. But if we cannot get agreement on these issue, it will be difficult to sustain our democratic form of government in the future.

 

ESSA’s Flaws Exposed as Betsy DeVos Assesses State Plans

July 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have long held misgivings about ESSA… and Erica Green’s article in yesterday’s NY Times flags some deficiencies that surprised advocates, deficiencies that I did not foresee in my earlier critiques.

Many conservatives believed that ESSA was going to provide more flexibility to States in terms of oversight by the federal government. But the early analyses by the USDOE under Betsy DeVos’ leadership indicates that will NOT be the case. Their response to Delaware’s state plan is exhibit one:

In one case, the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, Jason Botel, wrote to the State of Delaware that its long-term goals for student achievement were not “ambitious.”

It is mind-boggling that the department could decide that it’s going to challenge them on what’s ambitious,” said Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute, who worked in the Education Department under President George W. Bush. He called the letter “directly in opposition to the rhetoric and the promises of DeVos.”

But USDOE’s assessment of Connecticut’s plan flags a concern of progressive educators, who hoped that State’s might be able to break away from the strait-jacket of standardized testing.

The state was also criticized for its use of an alternative system for measuring academic performance instead of more standard “proficiency” measurements on state tests, as the law requires.

Such feedback signaled that the department “appears to be resorting to very traditional and narrow ways of interpreting student and school performance,” said Laura Stefon, chief of staff for the Connecticut State Department of Education.

So after being hailed as a bi-partisan bill that satisfied both sides of the aisle, why has ESSA riled up those on both sides of the education debate? One chief state officer offers a cynical explanation:

Christopher Ruszkowski, the acting secretary for the New Mexico Public Education Department, said the idea that the new law would yield total state control was merely “rhetoric from the Beltway.”

I think a lot of the euphoria over return to local control was an overpromise,” he said. “What this signals is that U.S.D.E. will continue to play the role they’ve always played in the years ahead.”

In addition to alienating policy-makers in both the “reform” and progressive camps when it comes to testing, ESSA has riled us another group: the National Science Teachers Association. Why?

Connecticut was also among a handful of states faulted for including science as a subject for measuring achievement, even though the law allows the use only of reading and math. This feedback was widely criticized by academic groups, including the National Science Teachers Association, who said the department was interpreting the law too literally.

The science teachers, like the teachers of any content outside of reading and math, experienced staffing challenges as school districts were forced to teach-to-the-test in order to meet “ambitious” goals required under NCLB and RTTT. They, like the state and local leaders of schools and the state legislators, were led to believe that ESSA would enable their states to develop accountability systems that would incorporate their topics. In the end, as Mr. Green notes in her closing paragraphs, the consensus seems to be that ESSA DID over-promise and under-deliver:

State leaders said they believed they were all but promised their plans would be approved. Instead, Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said some aspects of the Education Department’s feedback were “overzealous” and could undermine community involvement.

“It’s going to be really hard for a state to go back and say, ‘I know I told you we were doing all of this, but we’re going to change it because the federal government told us not to,’” Mr. Minnich said.

There was bi-partisan support for this bill when it passed. I fear that there will NOT be a bi-partisan acceptance for the responsibility of the bill’s deficiencies… and know that in the end the children who will suffer the most are those being raised in poverty.