Wednesday, August 26, 2009

California Senate testimony on Race to the Top

Testimony before the California State Senate on California’s response to the demands of the Duncan Administration Race to the Top.
The Senators asked excellent questions. They probed the real issues.
California Secretary Glenn Thomas made important comments that no teacher was going to be measured by a single test nor a single test score. He asserted that the Race to the Top provided the basic architecture for the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. He argued for a growth model , a value added approach to measurement. A major demand is “effective support for struggling teachers.” and a second measure is that the state has a process for restructuring of low performing schools.
An argument was made by Jennie Oropeza of the state Department of Finance that funding under Race to the Top will be used to improve the gathering better data. She argued that providing a robust data system will allow policy makers information to make better decisions. Well, perhaps, but developing further data gathering will not improve teaching one step.

If the state wishes to improve schools – as they should- there is a need to assist and support teachers. Developing a “more robust” testing system does not do this.

Lets take an example. If a person has the flu, a nurse takes the person’s temperature. ( Like taking a test.) Taking the students’ temperature does not treat the disease, it does not even treat the symptoms. It only measures the temperature. That is what we are doing with test scores. We are investing in testing, not in treating the problems.

Marty Hittleman of California Federation of Teachers gave testimony on the limits of current testing. The views are well developed here:

There is yet no evidence that the official policy makers understand the problems of testing, of assessment, or with teaching support.

Clear testimony from the Vice President of United Teachers of Los Angeles. And Pat Rucker representative of Calif Teachers Association called for slowing down and developing good schools, not in responding to Race to the Top.

No comments: