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NCLB Outrages

Nebraska Commissioner Doug Christensen to resign

Ohanian Comment: This is a terrible blow, as Doug Christensen has stood tall and we all looked to Nebraska for hope.

You can see his Power Point Presentation (at Feb. 2008 Wisconsin State Reading Association Convention) NCLB: Vision for the Future . . . Roadmap to Disaster here.

Monty Neill Comment:

Terrible news - Nebraska Commissioner Doug Christensen is resigning. There is little info in this news clip, but it is highly probably that his resignation stems from the looming legislative decision to destroy the carefully built local assessment system, which has been repeatedly attacked by the federal government and (I've been told by other Nebraskans) a small group of ultra-wealthy Omahans, and replace it with the typical one-size-fits-all testing program. Doug has been harshly critical of such a move, but it is advancing. A year ago, the legislature passed a law for a state test; the Ed Dept was going to create a mix of a state exam (including performance tasks) and the local assessments. At that time, many teachers came out to speak in support of the local assessments, but the legislature ignored them. From my experience and talking with others in and out of Nebraska, it is quite clear that the assessments were steadily improving, teachers were developing much greater assessment knowledge, and the processes not only of assessment but also the growing collaboration among educators in schools that the assessment development process spurred combined to positively improve school educational cultures.

In any event, that law was not good enough for the single-test zealots. They won't ban local assessments, by they will no longer count in the accountability system that NCLB has imposed. That means, as in every other state, pressure to teach to tests combined of multiple-choice items with perhaps a few highly coachable open ended items.

Chalk up another destructive consequence of NCLB, for without that "accountability" pressure, the odds of survival would have been far greater for the Nebraska local assessment system.

If you want a quick read on the benefits of the local assessment system, see Chris Gallagher's article on the North Dakota Study Group website. His book Reclaiming Assessment (Heinemann) is a great read. And the Nebraska Department of Education still has valuable information on the state's locally-based assessment system.

I am terribly saddened by this development though it's been coming for the past few months.

by Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) â Nebraska education commissioner Doug Christensen is resigning.

In a letter to the state Board of Education dated Thursday, Christensen says he will step down July 15th.

He says that his leaving is in accord with the discussions he had with the board during closed sessions in January and March.

Christensen has been commissioner since 1994.

In his letter, he says it is time to move on to the next phase of his professional and personal life and to spend more time with family members.

He also says he intends to write a book.

Lincoln Star Journal

After 14 years, Doug Christensen is stepping down as state commissioner of education.

Christensen announced his resignation Thursday in a letter to the Nebraska Board of Education. He will stay in the position until July 15.

"It is time for me to move on to the next phase of my professional life," Christensen said.

Christensen, who has worked in education for 43 years, has fought for years with state and federal officials to keep testing and assessments district-based.

The Department of Education created STARS â School-based Teacher-led Assessment Reporting System, a unique system that allows school districts to develop their own tests on state standards.

The tests also are used for state compliance on the federal No Child Left Behind.

But lawmakers passed a bill last year to create statewide tests for reading and math, and a bill being debated this year would create a state commission to take over planning and ensure implementation of the statewide tests, taking the responsibility away from the state Board of Education and Christensen.

State Sen. Ron Raikes, who heads the education committee, and Christensen have gone head to head on the issue.

Christensen didnât mention the testing debate in the letter announcing his retirement.

Instead, he said, it is time for him to spend time with his family and possibly write a book.

"It is time for me to spoil my grandchildren in ways that I am unable to with the demands of this position," he wrote. "It is time for me to write the book that I believe is in me."

Christensen, who spent his first year at Midland Lutheran College studying to become a minister, decided instead he should be a teacher.

He started teaching in 1965, then went on to become a principal and in 1994 became commissioner of education.

He said he would help the board find a successor.

"I think heâs been an outstanding advocate for educators and children, especially for raising concerns about addressing the achievement gaps that affect many of Nebraskaâs disadvantaged children," said Carole Woods Harris, a member of the state Board of Education.

Christensen will answer questions at a 1 p.m. news conference on Thursday.

State Board of Education member Bob Evnen said it will now be up to the board to choose a new commissioner.

âWeâre looking forward to the next chapter in the history of educational policy in the state,â he said.

— staff
Associated Press and Lincoln Star Journal


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