Update from Nebraska: Promises Worth Keeping
This year’s conference drew participants from not only from
It is hard to imagine why the legislature would take this action. For the past five years, the STARS system in
The scores are used not to drive teaching and learning as is the case in so many states where standardized tests drive the curriculum. Instead, Nebraska educators pour over the results and, as one teacher told me during a school visit, ‘if our kids don’t do well on an assessment first we look at our teaching, then we look at the curriculum, and finally we look at the assessment to see if we are doing the best job we can.’ Quite a different story than we hear from across the country where in many schools the school experience is being narrowed to make room for more test preparation.
And the results in
One more thing that should catch any legislator’s eye—the
This may be why, according to Nebraska Commissioner Doug Christiansen, some legislators and bureaucrats want to push a standardized, one-size-fits all approach to student assessment and school accountability. In his opening address, “Promises worth Keeping” (read the entire speech here) the Commissioner warned that “There are those who would steal our practice and its practice from us. I believe they are afraid of a profession that leads from the inside. I believe they fear what we bring to the conversation. And we bring a lot to the conversation…we bring the deep hearts like those of our mothers, the passion like that of a champion athlete, the relentlessness like that of the mountain climber, and the spirit like that of the artist. And, we bring the most important and precious piece of all to the table, the voices of our children…”
The standards and accountability movement in American education has a kernel of wisdom in it—we want high standards for all kids and we want to hold our system of education accountable for helping every child meet those standards. The problem is that this agenda has been hijacked by some who feel that the only way to improve schools is to standardized them and link accountability to a narrow band of test scores. This strategy takes control and authority away from those closest to children, teachers and their parents, and puts it in the hands of state and federal authorities.
Through investment in teachers, engagement of the public, and leadership with an eye toward what’s best for kids and not test or textbook companies our friends in