'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
As organized opposition to standardized testing grows, one of the nation's most outspoken and controversial education activists said Sunday that such assessments have a place in public schools but cautioned against an "overemphasis" on them.
One of American education's leading provocateurs still knows how to set off a firestorm.
The nation's capital had the worst four-year high school graduation rate in the country in 2010-2011, a finding that suggests the city has more work to do to reform its historically troubled school system.
Merit pay for teachers, school choice, in-state tuition rates for veterans and undocumented immigrants.
A long-awaited report by the D.C. office of the inspector general says investigators found no evidence of widespread cheating among city public school students from 2008 to 2010, despite alarming testimony that some teachers at Noyes Education Campus in Northeast pointed out incorrect responses on standardized tests until students filled in the right answers.
Standardized test scores from three D.C. classrooms were invalidated because teachers helped students choose the right answers or flouted security protocols in April 2011.
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and public schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson outlined an ambitious five-year plan Wednesday to improve student performance, increase graduation rates and fund pilot programs that could lengthen the school day or academic year at specified schools in the District.
Earlier this school year, D.C. officials released some discomfiting news: Only 52 of 187 city schools met federal Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks in reading or math.
Recently, I returned to my alma mater, Anacostia High School in Southeast Washington. As a graduate of the class of 1966, who had not stepped inside the building since, I was invited back by the principal, Ian Roberts, who gave me a personal tour of the facility. As the former chairman of D.C.'s Public Charter School Board, which regulates the city's public charter schools, I knew about Anacostia's educational woes. I was familiar with the difficulties in getting the vast majority of Anacostia's students to grade level in reading and math, or even to guarantee their safety on campus. Mere survival was a sign of success.
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown begins a round of school-oversight hearings Thursday, and this one focuses on the longstanding issue of residency.
As another school year begins across the region, the District of Columbia and Montgomery County open their doors under new leadership and with widely contrasting academic and socioeconomic challenges.
Are D.C. students moving backward? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Kaya Henderson was for years the right-hand woman to an education pioneer who gained celebrity status.
Shortly after taking the helm of D.C. Public Schools, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, as part of her efforts to modernize classrooms and incorporate digital learning, enacted a plan to put thousands of computers into schools across the District.
Recent test scores show long-term improvement among D.C. students, despite concerns about cheating and a dip in reading proficiency this year at the elementary school level, city officials said.
"The problem is that these educators and kids are trapped in a school system and a bureaucracy that is really driven by antiquated rules and policies," she said.
Whatever the reason, whether it be too great a focus on testing or something else, Ms. Rhee said the American education system remains in desperate need of reform.