“White Girl” Kati Haycock Takes On Marc Tucker and His Dissing Annual Testing
On May 28, 2015, National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) president Marc Tucker wrote a piece for Ed Week in which he argued against the utility of annual testing. Below is an excerpt from his post:
…The data show that, although the performance of poor and minority students improved after passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, it was actually improving at a faster rate before the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. Over the 15-year history of the No Child Left Behind Act, there is no data to show that it contributed to improved student performance for poor and minority students at the high school level, which is where it counts.
Those who argue that annual accountability testing of every child is essential for the advancement of poor and minority children ought to be able to show that poor and minority children perform better in education systems that have such requirements and worse in systems that don’t have them. But that is simply not the case. Many nations that have no annual accountability testing requirements have higher average performance for poor and minority students and smaller gaps between their performance and the performance of majority students than we do here in the United States. How can annual testing be a civil right if that is so?
In order to prove Tucker wrong, all one must do is refute the claims he makes based upon testing data available pre-NCLB and then during NCLB.
One could also attempt to show that some other nations without annual testing, their minority children demonstrate “achievement gaps” on international tests or based upon some other outcome, such as secondary school graduation.
The daytime television route.
In her June 4, 2015, Education Post rebuttal, Haycock jumps out of her daytime-TV chair, knocking it back as she rushes forward to get in Tucker’s face while declaring that she, “even a white girl,” can register what is Tucker’s obvious insult: That the civil rights community could possibly be injuring children by insisting upon annual standardized testing.
No such drama was necessary. All Haycock had to do was refute Tucker’s evidence.
She did not.
Instead, she goes on to write (in the $12 million, Walton-Broad-Bloomberg-funded, corporate-reform Education Post) that she– the white girl– is there to call Tucker out on behalf of a group of 12 civil rights organizations that she admittedly did not join with in their May 5, 2015, formal declaration against opting out.
In her Education Post entry, Haycock states she could refute Tucker’s evidence but that the real issue is his insult to those civil rights orgs that may or may not speak up for themselves:
If it mattered, I would refute Tucker’s assertions one by one. That would be easy, for the “evidence” he puts forth is weak. His suggestion, in particular, that these organizations are blind to the problems inherent in standardized testing should give pause to any knowledgeable reader, for these very organizations have fought against the misuse of tests for decades.
If test results are really what matters, why not present the evidence? Are the only “knowledgeable readers” the ones that already agree with Haycock– and therefore do not need to see any pesky evidence?
And actually, it is possible for an organization to “fight against the misuse of tests for decades” and not succeed in such a fight. But this concept, Haycock dismisses out of hand.
Instead of providing evidence of other nations that have successfully used annual standardized testing to “close achievement gaps,” Haycock continues by declaring that Tucker’s “attack” on those 12 civil rights groups (that Haycock chose not to formally join with in their formal statement against opting out….) is just a ruse to keep teachers from being graded using student test scores.
What Tucker did write was that grading teachers using student test scores fosters an environment in which teachers face the incentive to focus their energies on teaching students just below a targeted threshold score:
…The teachers in the schools serving mainly poor and minority kids have figured out that, from an accountability standpoint, it does them no good to focus on the kids who are likely to pass the tests, because the school will get no credit for it. At the same time, it does them no good to focus on the kids who are not likely to pass no matter what the teacher does, because the school will get no credit for that either. As a result, the faculty has a big incentive to focus mainly on the kids who are just below the pass point, leaving the others to twist in the wind.
Haycock insists that Tucker’s real purpose in writing is to promote his disapproval for grading teachers using test scores.
In her indignation, Haycock misses Tucker’s point that poor and minority children will lose in this grade-teacher-using-student-scores game.
Instead, in her Jerry-Springer-esque words, Haycock insists that annual testing and grading teachers using the results of annual testing are not related. Two completely separate ides:
Now what, you ask, does the civil rights leaders’ support of annual assessment and the responsibility of every school to act when the results show that any group of students is not progressing have to do with whether it is right to use tests in the evaluation of teachers?
Not a damn thing.
Ahh, but it is a “damn thing”– and any teacher who has those student test scores hanging over his or her head knows it.
I know it. I know my students. I know who is more likely to beef up my test-score-based eval– and I consciously teach each and every child, regardless. But I also know that teaching each and every student regardless of his or her test-scoring potential could one day cost me my job.
This is an irony that Haycock will never face.
Nevertheless, in keeping with union scapegoating promoted by those who fund the Education Post (especially the Walton Foundation), it is “the unions” that are trying “to dupe parents into sabotaging the best tests we have ever had”:
…By baiting readers with his portrayal of civil rights leaders “duped” into supporting practices that are bad for vulnerable children, he avoided ever having to wrestle with efforts by the unions to dupe parents into sabotaging the best tests we have ever had just because those tests also are used in the evaluation of some teachers.
Haycock just stated that the Refuse the Test/Opt Out movements are the result of teacher union efforts.
In other words, it isn’t civil rights leaders that are “plotting to injure the nation’s most vulnerable children”– it’s their parents– or the parents of other children.
Parents would never choose to opt out without first being duped by the teachers unions… right?
Now Haycock sounds like US secretary of education Arne Duncan and his “white suburban moms who– all of a sudden– their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were” comment about Common Core.
And about that Common Core: Haycock uses this opportunity to declare Common Core as better than what states had before. No empirical evidence exists to support this assertion. It’s just true because Haycock wants it to be. And where there is a Common Core, there simply must be annual tests:
At a time when almost every state has adopted new and much higher standards for what its children should be taught, we owe parents, teachers and students themselves at least an annual look at where students are on their journey toward those standards.
Common Core is something that Haycock takes personally because of her hand in Common Core precursor, the American Diploma Project (ADP). I discuss this in my book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? (TC Press; June 12, 2015).
Now that her Ed Post, daytime TV drama is ended, here are two questions for Haycock to consider:
If annual standardized testing were no longer the focus of public education, what would test-centric Ed Trust have to keep itself in business?
Not a damn thing??