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Thompson: Rep. Miller Had To Have Known How NCLB Would Be Implemented

NclbEdSource’s Kathryn Baron, in NCLB Co-author Says He Never Anticipated Federal Law Would Force Testing Obsession, reports that Rep. George Miller, an  architect of No Child Left Behind, says that he did not intend to create “what some have charged is a simplistic ‘drill and kill’ approach that subverts real instruction.”

Miller claims that the most important part of the law was reporting data on the outcomes of each demographic group. This “turned out to be a firestorm.”

No! The reporting of disaggregated test score data was a win-win policy welcomed by all types of stakeholders.  It was the high-stakes testing that educators oppose.

Miller undercuts his professions of innocence to dumbing down teaching and learning. He says that “there were people who believed that drill and kill could lead to learning. And there were people who were drilling and killing and saying ‘This is absolutely wrong. But that was the policy’.”

Miller still seems oblivious to the damage done by creating the utopian goal of 100% proficiency for all students by 2014. And, again, he blames school systems for responding in ways that he should have known were predictable.

He claims that, “School districts and states came in, in the first year, and waved the white flag, and said, ‘We can never make the goal.’” Illogically, Miller expected districts with a 7% proficiency rate in a test to raise the rate ten-fold to meet the equally impossible goal of around 70%.

Only then he would think about granting some relief, or perhaps talk about providing the resources and policies that would have been necessary from the beginning to make real progress. 

The more he denies blame for his law’s damage, the more Miller seems disconnected from reality.  He defends NCLB saying of it, “Whatever test you’re giving, just let us know, how are the kids doing on that test ... It’s not a big thing.”

Miller is equally dismissive of critics value-added teacher evaluations, and the way they are undermining state-federal cooperation. He sees arguments against the test-driven component of evaluations as mere “shorthand” for a “manufactured issue to keep these reforms away from the schoolhouse door.” Miller is half right on the desire to keep punitive testing away from schools. Teachers oppose the punishment regimes, not the assessments.

Since Miller is retiring, his past cluelessness should no longer be a problem. But, Miller is now “working behind the scenes, at the behest of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, to help broker a waiver that would allow California to postpone state testing until the new exam aligned to Common Core.” How long will it be before Miller attacks opponents of Common Core testing saying that he never anticipated the harmful effects of attaching high-stakes to its assessments?-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.

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