Just when you think change is possible, you discover that the battle for testing reform continues unabated. California is piloting new science assessments based on the Next Generation Science Standards. The State wants to administer a pilot of the new assessments rather than the older version.
U.S. Department of Education Secretary John King says “NO”, and if you do there will be serious penalties. Instead, King suggests that California use both versions. Ahhh, twice as much testing! The reason is simple. California does not want to release the scores of the pilot test, so California would not report science assessments results next year.
If you believe, as the U.S. DOE does, that test scores are the answer to achievement gaps, then allowing one state to opt out might lead other states to opt out. Is cynicism about the willingness of states to improve education this great? No doubt that some states put more value on education than others. A quick look at the Education Justice list of funding lawsuits can confirm that opinion. Nevertheless, ‘getting it right’ on moving educational policy forward, creating conditions that make equity for all students possible, and focusing achievement standards to meet new societal challenges cannot be accomplished by bullying states into compliance. The U.S. DOE must not be more rigid than the rigid bureaucracies it is trying to overcome. California will continue to fight to make advances. It has done so before, and it won.