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Test scores real basis of school woes

It never fails.

Whenever one of us “little people” dares to speak up against the inept, dizzying, and out of control nonsense that continues to come from the “reformers” in our state government and education department, we are accused of “defending the status quo.”

In other words, we are trying to maintain a system that has been broken for years. That system, which the heroes of education reform are trying to leave behind. Heroes like Gov. Susana Martinez and Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera.

Let’s think about that status quo for a minute.


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For more than a decade, the status quo has been No Child Left Behind reforms, those that attempt to hold schools accountable based on test scores. Skandera and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan say that system didn’t work, since it only offered a “pass/fail” method of accountability.

Race to the Top and the NCLB waivers apparently fix everything because now we can break it all down into more categories, like “Highly Effective,” “Effective,” “Minimally Effective,” and with traditional letter grades for schools. The brilliance of this plan is blinding.

The problem is, it’s still exactly the same plan.

It’s still based on normed test scores, which means that you will always see the same normed results, made worse by a fatally flawed statistical equation that has been shown over and over again not to work.

The “reformers” also like to point to the dismal lives of new college students, as they struggle to pass their remedial courses in order to fit into the mainstream.

Those are the kids who have endured the past decade of education reforms that have left them unprepared to be the critical thinkers and creative problem solvers that America’s higher education system is seeking.

The new reforms, under the Obama Administration, use the same playbook, with only minor changes to the accountability schemes. And those changes are already proving to be incredibly harmful to our nation’s envied education system of the past – the system that so many other successful countries have copied.

The status quo is to forget about poverty and to forget about the changes to the way American politics, corporations and society respond to those who are affected.

The status quo is to keep barking about international test scores, which show strong correlation with said poverty, and very little correlation with the effectiveness of schools.

The defenders of that status quo seek to maintain lack of awareness of these issues and, even more so, lack of action. The real defenders of the status quo – Duncan, Martinez and Skandera, among others – seek to maintain the harmful policies which threaten the futures of our children, our schools and our nation as a whole.