Earlier today, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Governor Dannel Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor announced that Connecticut would be one of the states receiving a waiver from the “No Child Left Behind” Act.
And there was much rejoicing.
You’d think Connecticut had won the lottery or something.
The Governor even said “Quite simply, a waiver is a profound recognition that what we achieved over the last few weeks, that is real standards of accountability combined with a turnaround plan for struggling schools is the recipe we need to close the nation’s largest achievement gap.”
But the real problem is that our elected officials either don’t understand or don’t care that the waiver is as bad for Connecticut’s schools as the underlying law.
Instead of changing the flawed and destructive No Child Left Behind law, Malloy et. al. are “celebrating” a waiver that further condemns Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and schools to a system that will do nothing to provide our children with the knowledge and skills they need to compete and succeed in the 21st Century.
According to a detailed study published by the non-partisan research organization, Connecticut Voices for Children, “many of the features of NCLB will remain in place even if a waiver is granted by the Obama administration, particularly the use of standardized testing to manage and evaluate schools and districts.”
That’s right. In fact, a reasonable person might very well conclude that the waiver is actually worse than the law itself.
The waiver does away with the “annual yearly progress” approach that was mandated under the NCLB law and replaces it with a system of evaluating and ranking schools based on a “School Performance Index.”
This new SPI index actually increases the reliance on standardized test scores because it requires that standardized tests now be used IN ALL SUBJECTS and AT ALL LEVELS.”
Thanks to this federal waiver and Connecticut’s new “education reform” law, our children will now be facing an education system that is either teaching to the test or testing the students beginning in the third grade and running every year after that.
And ready for this?
Part II of the waiver that Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are bragging about actually prevents the use of “classroom-based assessment of student learning such as local tests, essays, projects, performances, or presentations.” In addition, qualitative information observed in schools by experts or participants” cannot be used as part of the school evaluation system.
So instead of providing greater flexibility in determining how to measure success, the waiver provides “greater flexibility” on spending – as long as we become even more reliant on standardized tests.
Furthermore, the Governor and Commissioner failed to explain that the waiver is the very vehicle for instituting the controversial and detrimental Commissioner’s Network system.
When Connecticut’s children, teachers and education system are wasting even more time on standardized tests, they’ll know who to thank – the participants of today’s press conference.
For the CT Voices report, go to: http://www.ctvoices.org/sites/default/files/edu12nclbwaiverchartrev.pdf
For news coverage of today’s events, see http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/gov._to_feds_its_about_time/ or http://ctmirror.com/story/16474/winning-nclb-waiver-national-spotlight