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Annual Testing in ESEA Reauthorization: A Red Herring?

Charles Barone

December 18, 2014

When it comes to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Fordham’s Mike Petrilli is right about one thing: "Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative John Kline, and their respective staffs have successfully freaked out sizable portions of the education-reform crowd - especially those who spend our days inside the Beltway bubble - by threatening to eliminate No Child Left Behind’s annual testing requirement.”

Petrilli thinks Kline, Alexander et al. have not yet “come to their senses”. But he "expects they will." I'm more inclined to believe that annual testing is a giant red herring.

Threatening "annual testing" could be a brilliant negotiating tactic. The more freaked out the “education-reform crowd” is about annual testing, and the more singularly they stay focused on “annual testing” to the exclusion of what are equally important issues, the easier it is for Kline and Alexander to take everything else off the table.

Whether intended or not, the signals that the Kline/Alexander team is sending are having that effect. They're also doing a whole lot more. Some, primarliy on the left, are dangling out their support for doing something that, at the end of the day, could be called "annual testing” but defining it in a way that renders Petrilli’s implicit definition meaningless. Stranger things have happened.


DFER Supports Bonamici-Gerlach "SMART" Act To Improve Student Assessments


By Charles Barone, DFER Policy Director

DFER commends Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Jim Gerlach (R-PA) for introducing the "Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely" ("SMART") Act. This is the best legislation we’ve seen yet to support and improve state student assessment systems and to identify and reduce over-testing. 


The 2015 Brian Bennett Education Warrior Award - Make A Nomination!

Attention Education Reformers:


After three years, Democrats for Education Reform will be reviving the annual Brian Bennett Education Warrior Awards!

Named after the late education advocate, a nationally-known activist and education reformer, and a front-line warrior for four decades in the fight to close the achievement gap, the Brian Bennett Award serves to honor those that are heroes of public education reform and tireless advocates for children. Past award recipients include such education warriors as Former Colorado State Senate President Peter Groff, Dr. Howard Fuller, Representative George Miller, New Jersey State Senator Teresa Ruiz and Colorado Senator Mike Johnston.

An "Education Warrior" is a hero of public education reform, a tireless advocate for all children, and someone whose leadership serves to remind us of what we can do every day to strive for educational excellence in our public schools.


Democrats for Education Reform Applauds U.S. Department of Education Move to Improve Teacher Preparation

Washington—November 25, 2014—Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) released the following statement from Policy Director Charles Barone applauding the U.S. Department of Education’s release of its draft plan to collect better data on the performance of teacher preparation programs and to set higher standards for the federal TEACH scholarships.

“This an important first step toward overhauling the way the United States prepares teachers and raising the status and prestige of the teaching profession.

“In this era of ever-increasing international competition and higher academic standards, substandard teacher training is just as unfair to our nation's educators as it is to our students.

“The failure, over the course of decades, to remedy deficiencies in teacher training by those institutions whose job it is to select and prepare teachers constitutes educational negligence of the highest order.


Correcting the Record


In today's Hechinger Report, Andre Perry draws some hasty and misinformed conclusions on where Democrats in general and DFER in particular stand on certain education issues. Perry states, for example, that "DFER makes no reference to regressive tax policy and inequitable funding formulas that keep families poor and schools under-resourced." 

Apparently, Perry didn't look very hard. To help him out, we've put together a short - illustrative, not exhaustive - reading list of commentary and advocacy on school funding from our website.
For more, go to our site search bar and enter "school funding," "equity," etc. 
High-poverty schools often have a larger share of lower-paid teachers.


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