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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 30, 2014 at 12:14 PM

NCLB waiver: Using test scores in evaluations is unreliable

The Seattle Times reporting of the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to revoke Washington state’s waiver from the No Child Left Behind law [“State leaders should save $40 million federal education waiver,” Opinion, April 26] overlooks an important fact:

Major research organizations, such as the American Education Research Association and the American Statistical Association, condemn the inappropriate use of standardized assessments, including the practice of linking teacher evaluations to test scores. Researchers conclude that using test scores in this manner is unreliable and unfairly punishes teachers and schools serving high percentages of low-income students.

The reporting points out that the state teachers union opposes the federal teacher-evaluation system, but it does not adequately address the reasons. This omission could lead to the erroneous conclusion that teachers resist accountability, even to the point of provoking the wrath and subsequent punishment by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Teachers do not object to accountability. Like anyone else, they simply want that accountability to be fair.

Many well-meaning individuals continue to push failed policies built upon the misuse of standardized tests. One can find an occasional success story, but those exceptions mask a lot of wreckage, especially among schools and children in low-income areas. This latest decision by Duncan adds a sad chapter to NCLB’s damaging legacy.

Rick George, White Salmon

Comments | More in Education | Topics: NCLB, No Child Left Behind, Rick George

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