What a Terrifically Bad Idea
This is an early Christmas for bloggers. Unless you’re one of the many who gave up social media for Lent, you probably know by now that Rob Miller dropped some incredible news last night. The Oklahoma State Department of Education instructed Measured Progress to exclude Jenks and Owasso from field testing item tryouts this spring. If you haven’t read it, go do that now. I’ll wait for you. If for some reason, you’re continuing to read my blog without looking at Rob’s, here’s a blurb:
Honestly, it was a pleasant surprise when we found out last week that students and schools in the Jenks district were NOT randomly selected to participate in ANY of these field tests. However, when we discovered that Owasso Public Schools had also not been “randomly selected,” several of us became a little suspicious. As you may have heard, some parents and educators in Owasso made some waves recently because of their vocal opposition to implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in their district. Therefore, this news was way too coincidental for random chance.
So, I took it upon myself to make a few inquiries by phone and email. It did not take long to discover that we and Owasso were unique and that every other district in our area had been selected for this field testing.
A conversation yesterday with an executive at the headquarters of Measured Progress revealed what I suspected. Measured Progress was given specific instructions by the Oklahoma State Department of Education to draw their testing sample from all districts in Oklahoma, with the exception of two school districts: Jenks and Owasso. This information has been confirmed separately through sources at the state department. It certainly appears that “someone” at the SDE knowingly excluded these two districts to avoid negative publicly associated with a possible parent opt-out this spring.
My head is spinning!
Measured Progress admits that the SDE told them to exclude two districts because they have outspoken patrons. How in the hell did they expect to get away with this and not have backlash?
This action undermines everything that field testing is supposed to accomplish. Aside from that, it serves as encouragement to districts whose patrons want to defy the SDE.
The blame for this decision falls entirely on Superintendent Barresi. This isn’t like last year when she explained that she had taken no part in choosing the testing company that miserably failed in two states. This was planned and approved at the highest of levels. I honestly don’t think she can’t loan her campaign enough money to get out of this hole.
Once again, we see the arrogance of Barresi and her administration fully exposed. This action is unethical. While admitting the motivation behind it is at least honest, they really thought there would be no consequences.
Since Rob posted this story to his blog last night, it has gone viral. I told him that he would break WordPress. Last night, when I refreshed the story about an hour after it posted, the site was down. It happened this morning too. Thousands of shares later on Facebook and Twitter, it’s hard to really calculate the reach of the post. I’m sure it will reach pretty much every teacher and administrator’s inbox in the state. There will be questions from the media and from lawmakers. Speaking of which, I haven’t seen a flood of supporters stand behind Barresi lately. This won’t help.
On an unrelated note, the SDE is excited to announce that Vision 2020 Round Three is coming up in August. Based on the current news, I have a few suggestions for breakout session titles:
- Parent power: You have the power to tell the SDE to stick it!
- STEMming the tide of Opt Outs!
- Redefining “statistically significant” and “randomly chosen”
- Field testing: how to take your ball and go home
- You can’t opt out; I’ll opt you out!
- Words hurt, Rob.
- Blogging for change (roundtable session)
- How to clean out your office in six months
I’d go to that last one. It sounds fun.