Officials at Union, Jenks and Sand Springs schools have called for largely jettisoning student test performance from education assessments. Among other things, Union Superintendent Cathy Burden thinks student assessments should be based on narratives, portfolios, teacher assessments and other elements. How a “narrative” provides a clearer measurement of student learning than testing is beyond us.
This appears to be another effort to water down graduation standards and thwart effective teacher evaluation.
The call to replace concrete data with fluff comes even as state law requires that 35 percent of a teacher's evaluation be tied to student academic growth using multiple years of standardized test data. So the Tulsa-area schools' proposal would leave teachers responsible for student test performance but potentially let kids off the hook. For teachers, that would be the worst of both worlds — which we suspect is the point. Soon these same Tulsa-area schools might decry the unfairness of the system they demanded and seek across-the-board repeal of all meaningful accountability measures.
That would be a huge mistake. Even in liberal California, the importance of data-driven assessment has become clear. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge recently ruled that Los Angeles Unified School District must use student performance as a component of teacher evaluations under state law. The judge noted that 97.6 percent of teachers were given positive evaluations under the old system, yet student proficiency in English and math was low.