[Editor’s note: Peter Goodman blogs at Ed in the Apple.]
Every public and charter school student in grades 3 – 8 will be taking the New York State English Language Arts (ELA) exam in two weeks. The results of the exam are the core of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and a major section of the School Progress Report.
From the NCLB perspective the results of the exam measure “proficiency” and schools can be branded as Schools in Need of Improvement (SINI) or Schools Under Registration Review (SURR) … and this designation is one element in determining school closings. The exam is a major factor, along with “growth,” in deciding what letter grade a school gets on its School Progress Report.
The NCLB methodology is zip code based, and states have tweaked the data for their own benefit … while the School Progress Reports fail the “validity and reliability” test.
Parents and teachers want to know how their school is doing in comparison with other schools as well as against an agreed upon standard.
Should accountability be a “photograph” of a school, or a measurement of a school over time?
Should poverty be a factor in any rubric?
How about the experience level of teachers?
Regardless of the accountability tool, what should the consequences be if a school is not making sufficient progress?
To what extent should parent and teacher opinions be imbedded in a school accountability tool?
One clear lesson of NCLB has been the mine field it has created. The National Education Association (NEA) wants to sink NCLB and leave it up to the States. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) wants to “fix” the law. Elected officials all oppose the current law, but, aside from vague comments, avoid specifics in discussing a replacement.
It is very much in the interest of public schools to have an agreed upon accountability tool. We lobby for more school funding, for lower class size, for more parent/teacher input, etc. … we can’t also say, ” … we don’t want any assessment measurement.”
Our problem: can parents and teachers agree upon a tool, a methodology for measuring schools?
While it is a complex and difficult task it is essential that, as teachers and as union members, we pursue a way of measuring schools, and, that we seek the “right” tool.