Evaluating schools on “multiple measures” of student performance would weaken accountability systems, writes Debra Saunders. Rep. George Miller, who helped write No Child Left Behind, wants the reauthorized version to call for portfolios of students’ writing and art, teacher evaluations and other measures that would “no longer reflect just basic skills and memorization, but rather critical thinking and the ability to apply knowledge to new and challenging contexts.” Saunders writes:
. . . Miller is right to push to improve NCLB. He wants to allow states to apply graduation rates toward their yearly NCLB progress scores and also would have states include history and science test scores.
On the other hand, when the education establishment touts testing for “critical thinking,” that can be code for: Maybe the kid can’t read, but look at the bright side, he’s smart . . .
A kid who can draw does not mean a kid who can multiply.
Amy Wilkins of Education Trust defends testing as a way to assess whether students have mastered the basics they need before going on to more advanced work.
“It’s goofy, they (the anti-test crowd) talk out of both sides of their mouth,” Wilkins noted. Some educators complain that NCLB tests are confined to low-level skills and that they have to spend all their time teaching to the test. But: “If they’re such low-level skills, why do you spend so much time teaching them?”
Sherman Dorn’s Education Policy Blog has more on multiple measures.