In case you haven’t heard, the SDE’s assistant superintendent for accountability and assessments will vacate her position March 14. Although the testing program has not run all that smoothly under Maridyth McBee’s watch, the timing of this change is a concern for those in school districts who manage testing, which starts on April 10. Two pieces of news should be of tremendous comfort, however.
First is that the SDE has a seasoned veteran of testing at the ready to serve in an interim capacity. From the Tulsa World:
[SDE Director of Communications Phil] Bacharach said Wes Bruce, a nationally recognized consultant in the field who has been working with the department since before McBee’s decision, agreed to expand his role in assessments in the interim.
“We do anticipate a smooth transition,” he said. A national search is already underway for her successor. and Bacharach said there are some strong candidates in the field.
Bruce is the former chief assessment officer for the Indiana Department of Education under former Superintendent Tony Bennett, who lost the election in 2012 for another term.
Bennett then became Florida’s education commissioner. He resigned less than eight months later amid accusations that he changed the state’s A-F grading formula to raise the grade of a charter school backed by influential Republican donors. Bruce retired last fall under Bennett’s successor, Glenda Ritz.
Let’s recap the connections here. Bennett is one of Barresi’s closest political allies. What she and her supporters (to the extent that they exist apart from her own checkbook) don’t copy from Florida, they copy from Indiana. Faced with a testing debacle nearly identical to Oklahoma’s at the exact same time, Ritz – an actual educator – held the testing company accountable in a meaningful way.
What led the SDE to decide we needed Bruce on our payroll is unclear. But it’s a good thing he saw fit to pack up and leave his home and put his skills to work for another state.
Bacharach said Bruce does not live in Oklahoma. “But under terms of his agreement with SDE, he is here for a number of days each month and is in routine contact via Skype, email, etc.,” he said.
It is unclear whether that will continue under his interim leadership.
Well that’s different. This guy is phoning Skyping it in. But he has close ties to PARCC, which helps because…oh wait, it’s not. We pulled out of PARCC.
Still, this is only temporary. Bacharach also said a national search is already underway for McBee’s permanent replacement. By already underway, of course, they mean on back channels. Currently, no job posting appears on the Careers at SDE page.
Maybe they’re trying to find the right words to use in the job description. If that’s the case, allow me to help. That is what I’m known for, after all.
Assistant State Superintendent for Accountability and Assessments
Under general supervision from the State Board of Education (SBE) and with diligent collaboration with Oklahoma school district personnel, effectively lead the state testing program in accordance with all state and federal laws, always maintaining the best interest of students.
Examples of Work Performed
I looked at a posted position for the formatting, but the language definitely reflects my own preferences. This probably has more boxes that a school district would check than what a state agency under the indirect control of Chiefs for Change would check. In short, I hope the person who replaces McBee on a permanent basis is not a Jeb Bush/Tony Bennett/Janet Barresi crony. I’m hopeful we can find an Oklahoma educator with a strong testing background.
And of course, I wish Dr. McBee well in her post-SDE life.