Grant nomination highlights doubts about standardized testing


Since her appointment by DC mayor Muriel Bowser (D), Acting State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant has repeatedly asserted that students in public and charter schools in the district, after years without having been tested, should receive assessments to determine the severity of the pandemic-related learning loss. .

But his perspective does not bode well with teachers in the district, many of whom converged on a recent DC Council hearing that considered whether Grant would permanently lead the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE). .

Many of these teachers, represented by the local education organization EmpowerEd, submitted inquiries to the board that questioned the merits of PARCC and other forms of standardized testing, especially after a pandemic experience that revealed furthermore, social and racial inequalities in education.

“The city has told us a lot about the need to assess students, but that ignores the fact that educators assess students every day. They are learning about their challenges and what they need help with on a day-to-day basis, ”said Scott Goldstein, Executive Director of EmpowerEd.

“They have the information you need that you wouldn’t get from a centralized assessment. Accumulating assessment after assessment is not helpful in making decisions that inform learning. This is where we really took a step back, ”added Goldstein, a former teacher at Roosevelt High School.

PARCC, administered annually to students in the district between Grades 3 and 8 and those taking English and Mathematics classes in Grades 9 and 10, measures students’ readiness for study and career opportunities over a range of years. five point scale.

The results of the 2019 PARCC exam, when students in the district last took the test, showed steady growth among students with disabilities, non-white students, and English learners.

Despite this, questions have arisen as to whether the PARCC scores, especially among those of students in wards 7 and 8, reflect the totality of their experiences, including homelessness and chronic absenteeism. During the pandemic, parents and teachers successfully called for PARCC to be canceled, citing the need for greater socio-emotional learning. Prior to that, DCPS officials chose not to include PARCC scores as part of a teacher’s IMPACT assessment for the 2020-2021 school year.

As the school year is in full swing and teachers feel the pinch of classroom assessment and COVID-19 protocols, efforts have intensified between EmpowerEd and other teacher advocacy organizations to force teachers to consider more culturally sensitive and effective alternatives to PARCC.

In response to questions about cultural bias in standardized testing, Grant has remained steadfast in his beliefs about testing. She reflected on her experiences as a classroom teacher to explain that in terms of rigor and cultural sensitivity, it is possible that the academic standards of the program reflect a student’s culture and align them better with the classroom material. test.

“I’ve always used standardized assessment in my classroom, but what’s beyond the test is the actual teaching,” Grant told board members on Nov. 12. “We can strike up a conversation to make sure our assessments are of high quality and culturally appropriate, and make sure it’s part of our curriculum.

Grant, formerly of the Philadelphia School District, received his appointment in June after his predecessor, Hanseul Kang, accepted a leadership position at the Broad Center at the Yale School of Management.

By January 27, 2022, Grant’s appointment will be confirmed unless the DC board introduces a resolution rescinding him.

For education advocate Charles Boston, the DC Council did not show much courage in challenging Grant’s appointment and what he described as other damaging Bowser’s decisions in education. He said the emphasis on standardized testing that has continued since the Fenty administration pushed students out of schools and onto the streets without any of the new age skills needed to work and live comfortably in the district. .

Over the past year, Boston has attempted to introduce a voting measure to reinstate vocational training as a condition of graduation. He described Grant’s management style, as well as that of his predecessors and colleagues within the district education system, in a major project to close schools, privatize public education and insertion of commercial entities that make their offers and not those of students.

“Dr. Grant already told you what she was going to do. Council must ask her [about] its standardized testing reform plan which we know doesn’t measure what students actually learned or teacher effectiveness, ”said Boston, a former Ward 7 State Board of Education candidate.

“There is nothing in it for these students. Our children must come first. They must be positioned to be successful in adulthood. If Dr. Grant wanted to change anything by coming in as superintendent, she would have. She’s going to push forward a program emanating from the mayor’s office, ”Boston said.

Photo by Sam PK Collins


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