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K-12 change for change’s sake a bad plan

Change. I have often said in my work “the only constant is change,” referring to the need for us all to accept life’s unpredictable challenges. Some changes are unavoidable, out of our control and the result of a chain reaction much bigger than ourselves. Other changes are the results of conscious decisions, put into motion by the very choices we make.

Personally, change excites me; the limitless possibilities change promises are powerful. I am not scared of change; I welcome its new perspective and fresh opportunities. Purposeful, well-informed change can be transformational.

There is a difference between purposeful well informed transformational change and hasty uninformed unnecessary change.

I believe the call to abandon accountability measures currently in place in education in the state of New Mexico is hasty, uninformed and unnecessary – its only purpose to create the appearance of change. The reality is that all of these measures are mandated by federal law and supported by best practice in our field. Abandoning PARCC, NMTEACH and school report cards would be an unfortunate setback to the progress we are making to improve our educational system.

Standardized testing is a federal mandate. If we abandon PARCC, it would only be replaced by some other standardized assessment that looks a whole lot like PARCC. It would take years to transition, cost millions of dollars we don’t need to spend, and undermine the hard work our educators have done to familiarize ourselves and our students with this tool. Instead of setting our students back years by requiring the implementation of a new tool, let’s embrace where we are and engage in the innovative ways we can prepare our students to perform proficiently on the tool we have invested in for years!

Teacher accountability in the form of teacher evaluations is a meaningful process which champions the best and provides a starting point to intervene in all of the ways we are currently failing our students. As teachers we know the importance of evaluation and feedback! They are cornerstones to the learning process. We must learn to engage in the same reflection and growth we are asking for from our students. Let’s not forget teacher accountability is also a federal mandate, which means we would have to replace it with something similar! Our current system is not ideal, but it is a solid start and through intentional continuous training and development it has the potential to evolve into the systematic improvement of our profession. Meaningful accountability is the only way we are going to get better!

I still have multiple issues with various components of our school report cards. I don’t believe we have developed a fair and transparent measure – YET. But I do believe we have a significant foundation, and I am engaged with the Public Education Department to voice my concerns and advocate for a better balance. Using data to identify schools meeting the standards of a good education and those that are not is the first step in providing the support failing schools need and recognizing those places that can model the strategies that are working. How are we ever going to get better if we do not have an accurate understanding of what we need to change? I can NOT understand why anyone would consider radically undermining the vital step of transparent school evaluations in improving our education system.

Unless the person advocating for that change is acting hastily only to gain momentum politically. Unless the person suggesting we abandon these best practice and federally mandated systems is really uniformed about education in general. Unless this person is suggesting change just for the sake of change.

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