D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee plans to significantly expand the use of standardized tests so that, eventually, every D.C. student from kindergarten through high school is regularly assessed to measure academic progress and the effectiveness of teachers.All the money that Obama is putting toward education is going to go for these batteries of new tests and the data tracking systems.
The plan, to be phased in beginning in the spring, is certain to reignite debate about what some D.C. parents and teachers already regard as a test-happy culture.
Tests would be given about every six to eight weeks and at the end of the year, allowing teachers to identify student weaknesses and adjust classroom strategies. Administrators would also be better able to spot shortcomings in teaching, officials said.
"It's been a priority for a long time," said Rhee, who is preparing to ask outside firms to submit proposals for developing the tests. "We want to have a much more robust set of assessments, not just in math and reading, but different subjects. As a parent, I want to know on a regular basis how my kids are progressing or not, and have my teachers take a pulse not once a year or four times a year."
School officials declined to discuss the potential cost of the expanded testing before negotiating with vendors.
Rhee, who frequently talks up the virtues of "data-driven" decisions, also wants more testing data to expand the reach of the school system's IMPACT teacher evaluation system. As it stands, only reading and math teachers in grades four through eight -- fewer than 20 percent of the District's 3,800 classroom instructors -- can be assessed on the basis of growth in test scores. Student "value-added" will account for half of their annual evaluation. Educators with low IMPACT scores -- the rest of the appraisal is based on a series of five classroom observations and other criteria -- can face dismissal.
Then they will be used for merit pay and firing "bad teachers."
And of course there is no disclosure from the Washington Post - owned by Kaplan Test Prep - that they will make a shitload of money from the Rhee "reforms."
Or the Obama "reforms."