I know full well that a politician’s admitting a mistake is only allowed to happen when a resignation is turned in (and any former students reading this, note how many passive verbs pop up when I talk about politics), and I know that opposing a policy that one formerly championed, in reality or in the screwy narrative that AM radio crafts, is a species of the “flip flop” and thus tantamount to a complete withdrawal from public life, but come on.
Eighty percent of Georgia’s sixth graders failed the statewide mandatory test this year. Four out of five. And everyone who knows any teachers at all knows that idiotic education policies of the last decade have all the teachers terrified of Atlanta’s and Washington’s campaigns to straitjacket public schools with endless and unaccountable and potentially school-closing testing. In other words, in a state full of teachers who taught what the state told them, the state-issued test registered that eighty percent of Georgia’s sixth graders, who as fifth graders and fourth graders knew their material, are dumber than the sixth graders who went through in the last six years, when the vast bulk of the state’s sixth graders passed.
The happy ending of this story is that, so far as a politician is capable of admitting a mistake, our state schools superindtendent did just that:
“Simply, the performance appears to be implausibly low, which raised serious questions,” Cox wrote in an e-mail to superintendents. “After intense scrutiny of the standards and the assessment, we have come to the conclusion that these scores are not trustworthy measures of student achievement in social studies.”
Two cheers for Superintendent Cox. Now the next step (to get three cheers) would be to admit publicly that the regime of standardized tests might itself be a bad idea, that perhaps (radical notion) the teacher teaching the material should be responsible for assessing which students learned the material better than others, that a test that teachers aren’t allowed to see might not be the best measure of teacher competence.
You can do it.
Don’t worry; I’m not going to hold my breath.