[Susan notes: Paige's offers NCLB Lite. Krashen rightly chides the paper for publishing Paige's letter]
Published in Los Angeles Times
The Times should not have published Education Sec. Paige's letter to the editor defending his administration's policy of testing every child. Sec. Paige is an important public figure. He has instant access to the media by means of press conferences and press releases, and he has the ear of education reporters throughout the country.
Letters to the editor are traditionally for those who do not otherwise have a means of expressing their views to the public.
Re "Schools Go AYP Over Test," Commentary, May 8: John Merrow describes the "adequate yearly progress" measurement system as an annual measurement, arguing that this "snapshot" is prone to a "sizable error range." He neglects to mention that when determining which schools are in need of improvement, states specifically base
their decisions on multiple years of data for the reason that it is important to identify trends and not one-time snapshots.
Merrow also describes "machine-scored, multiple-choice tests" as the only criteria by which schools will be measured. In fact, the "No
Child Left Behind" law explicitly requires officials to include at least one other indicator (such as graduation rates) when designing
their state accountability plan, and they are free to include as many other indicators as they deem necessary.
As for the idea that we should use sampling to measure AYP, every child must be tested because parents must know how their child is performing and teachers must be able to evaluate and address the education needs of every individual student. Claims that testing forces teachers to "teach to the test" ignore common sense - if tests measure reading and math, then what is wrong with a system that encourages teachers to teach reading and math?
Schools deemed to be in need of improvement receive extra help from the state to get back on track. Merrow is right about one thing: "The
idea of holding schools accountable is long overdue." By measuring adequate yearly progress and making use of the tools and unprecedented funding provided by No Child Left Behind, we're finally accomplishing that goal.
Secretary of Education