A snowstorm, an earthquake -- and now we have Pamela Grundy and Pat McCrory on the same side of an education issue. The end times must be here.
Grundy, a founder of Mecklenburg ACTS and Parents Across America, is urging parents to boycott state exams this spring, part of a national "Testing Resistance and Reform Spring" protest against excessive testing. Other sponsors are FairTest, United Opt Out, the Network for Public Education and Save Our Schools.
|Grundy and Carol Sawyer of Meck ACTS|
McCrory, the Republican governor, probably doesn't support the boycott. But he did get vocal about the hazards of overtesting at last week's Emerging Issues Forum on teachers. (Speaking of which, anyone interested in issues raised at that forum can sign up for a free online course on world-class teaching, sponsored by N.C. State's Emerging Issues Institute.)
No one's arguing against kids taking tests to show what they know. The controversy springs from the barrage of N.C. exams designed primarily to rate teachers and schools. A lot of folks who want solid data about the quality of public schools say the state is going too far in the quest to generate numbers that may or may not capture teacher quality.
Meanwhile, we just got a first look at how those test-generated ratings play out for N.C. schools and districts. I'll be eager to hear what people are thinking as they check out data on their schools. The state's site makes it easy to look up schools and districts, but it's tough to do any kind of big-picture comparison and analysis looking up one data point at a time. State officials say they'll send me a spreadsheet as early as today. If you'd like a copy, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with "spreadsheet" in the header.
I caught up with Julie Kowal, executive director of CarolinaCAN, after I'd filed the story on value-added ratings. Her group is big on data and accountability, so it was no surprise to hear her say that "the wonk in me" loves this report: "It is so valuable for the state to make this publicly available in the way they have. We need this data to be able to make responsible decisions." But she added a note of ambiguity: "The parent in me thinks it's very difficult to know what it's good for."