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How Should Teachers Respond To The Development Of New State Assessments?

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I’ve previously written about the state consortiums who are hoping for substantial federal funding to devise new forms of assessments that are supposed to take us away from the terrible standardized ones we have now (see Want To Learn About The Next Generation Of Tests We’ll Be Giving Our Students?).

My Teacher Leaders Network colleague and fellow Northern Californian Anthony Cody wrote about this topic today (as I’ve mentioned before, he writes a must-read blog at Education Week). In Checkbook Reform Creates Tough Choices for Teachers, he questions what role, if any, teachers should play in the consortiums’ efforts. He writes:

There may be opportunities for teachers to participate in the development of such assessments. We may be invited to take a seat at this table. But should we?

He is less than enthusiastic at the prospect. Later, he writes:

Is a seat at the table an end in itself? What if our students and colleagues are on the menu?

I’d strongly encourage you to read his entire post to get his important perspective.

Here is the comment I left on the blog:

Anthony,

During my nineteen year community organizing career, our goal was always to get a “seat at the table” so we could negotiate. Of course, we were always clear that the goal was “half a loaf” and not “half a baby.”

I do not know if teachers were key players in the development of the consortium’s proposals. The little I know about how these things come about lead me to believe the answer is probably no, which, if correct, is unfortunate.

Nevertheless, I believe it would be important for teachers (probably leaders of the two main teacher unions) to negotiate a real and substantial voice with the consortiums now to ensure that teachers are not just used as window dressing to offer a veneer of “educator participation” for the same tired refrain of standardized testing.

If the consortiums demonstrate that they are open to a genuine partnership based on reciprocity and mutual respect, then I believe teachers should negotiate one.

If they are not, then I would hope organized teachers would force them to do so.

I just don’t think this is a fight we can opt-out of…

Larry

What do you think?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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