The new guidelines are essentially like the old guidelines, with a hard line emphasis on basing evaluation of teachers, schools, students, principals, bus drivers, landscaping artists and the guy who delivers paper supplies to the school on standardized tests. It was just a month ago that Duncan was shrugging his shoulders and saying, "Dang. I don't know why the heck everyone got so obsessed with testy stuff. I guess it was all of us, huh?" Now he's back to "You will all eat, breathe, live and die by the tests. Or else."
The feds have tightened up the old sub-group requirements. We all remember this from the NCLB days-- a subgroup of twenty-or-so students (depending on your location) will carry the fate of the entire building in their test scores. Students who belong to subgroups may once again look forward to Special schedules featuring five hours of steady test prep. Congratulations, subgroup students.
The new waivers also feature a super-extended feature which will allow states to exist in whatever extra-legal limbo the waivers create well past President Obama's expiration date. This is a really novel stretch of a really novel idea. There is already some debate about whether the waivers are legal in the first place; now we get to ask if they can be made binding on a subsequent administration. I suppose we're fortunate that they didn't try to lock testing in until the tri-centennial.
Perhaps it's an attempt to weight state's consideration about whether to bother or not ("We could just skip the waiver application, and by the time the feds had gotten around to actually doing anything, we'd already be getting new rules from a new President anyway"). Or it could just be a mark of how deeply committed this administration is to the idea that an untested child is a wasted young life. maybe they're sincerely dedicated to making sure that
Or maybe they're just trying to give extra inspiration to movements like the one that rendered testing of seniors in Colorado completely moot. Imagine that-- students smart enough to figure out that the testing is a complete waste of time! I guess we're doing something right.
Whatever the case, this new set of waiver guidelines is great news for testing companies and terrible news for everyone who actually cares about public educations and the students who attend public schools. So, thanks a lot, Department of Education.