I am awash in analysis of the Obama administration’s walk-back of testing. See, from the NYT.
This is a somewhat hopeful shift in focus for an administration that has exponentially increased the amount of testing in the last several years. But this increase in testing would not have occurred unless this administration did not possess a legion of pawns stationed in various high-profile districts throughout the country. In what should have been plainly obvious to anyone with experience in bureaucracies (not saying I’m one of them), there began a struggle in schools across America to win the trophy of the most compliant.
States, Districts, and schools were incentivized for maximum compliance and lauded for the speed at which it was achieved. Teachers were in turn evaluated and scrutinized excessively for their compliance, micro-managed to the point where wall-hangings are subjected to detailed checklists. After years of pushing testing, the test-pushers are all in positions of power, from superintendents to school principals. They have no other compelling vision for education. The data and its meticulous measurement are all they know.
We cannot expect any changes in the very near term as a result of this announcement. Additional details won’t even be released until January. As far as I’m concerned, this school year is a wash in terms of any improvements in the test and punish culture. Despite this announcement, teachers will not see any improvements or changes in their jobs on Monday. As the context is clearly shifting around us, and the future trend lines for testing becoming less certain, many teachers will still be subject to data meetings, will still be required to hang data walls, and will still, in many cases, be evaluated based on student growth, or value added measures.
I definitely did not anticipate any changes as a result of this announcement. Yet, at the very least, teachers can send the link to the announcement around to their colleagues and supervisors, indicating that relief might be on the way. And if anyone claims that our current vision for testing is here to stay, so we might as well get used to it, there is an opportunity to say with some certitude that times are about to change.