My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Education Reform From The Left

Lawmakers on Tuesday gave tentative approval to a proposal to replace the 10th-grade CSAP test with a standardized test that measures a student's vocational aptitude and readiness for college.

Republican opponents put up a fight on the House floor, but House Bill 1164 passed on a bipartisan voice vote. It now awaits a final vote in the House.

The whole purpose of the CSAP, and, indeed, of all standardized testing under the No Child Left Behind regime, is to measure whether or not students are performing well in comparison to the state and federal standards established by the legislatures and Departments of Education. It's call criterion-based testing, and it's the best measure of actual educational progress. By replacing this test for 10th graders (who are notoriously bad at CSAP, especially in Math), and replacing it with what sounds like a non criterion-referenced test, the Democrats have just managed to water down the expectations for education in the state.

As anybody who reads this blog regularly knows, I am not a big fan of the CSAP. It is a test that has some serious design flaws and is being asks to tell us more than it is intended to. But there are ways to fix that without throwing out the expectations for achievement. For instance, redesiging the test to make it a "value-added" assessment, so that it measures the progress individual students, individual classes, and entire schools make over the course of a year, would be a much more useful tool for evaluating schools. I also believe the test needs to incorporate some sort of accountability for the students taking the test, which the CSAP does not.

At any rate, this bill strikes me as a legislative cave-in to teachers' unions, who REALLY do not like the CSAP. Combine this with efforts last week to okay school districts' opting out of federal education monies (about 7% of total education monies), and noting that GOP opponents of this bill cite its non-compliance with NCLB, and this could get very tricky.

Also, notice that the Post story says "Bipartisan", but it couldn't find a single Republican supporter of the bill to quote. I'll have to do a little research to find just how "bipartisan" this actually was.

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