Arne plays dodgeball with the test question

Arne’s not even trying the “better tests” dodge anymore…

Has testing become too scary a topic for the Obama administration after the President’s recent comments on the topic generated such a PR nightmare for USDE?

Here’s a Q and A from yesterday’s NPR Talk of the Nation with Fed Ed Head Arne Duncan, who took some questions from callers:

HELICKA: Hi. My name is Helicka(ph) and I’m a tutor at 826 D.C. And I just wanted to know about the emphasis placed on standardized testing. And if it’s going to be continued being the prevalent measuring forming decision making education.

CONAN: I think we have about 800 emails on exactly this point. Thank you.

DUNCAN: It’s a great question. So I think in some places we over test. And we need to be smart about that. I also think it’s important to evaluate students on an ongoing basis and know how much they’re learning. But I’m really interested in outcomes. What are schools graduation rates? Are graduation rates going up or down? Are more students who are graduating being successful in some form of higher education? If you guys graduate from high school today and don’t get any more education, how many good jobs are out there for you now? Not a lot, right. Not a lot. So to me the goal can’t just be to graduate from high school.

First of all, if you drop out, there are no good jobs – none in the legal economy. But once you graduate, the goal has to be some form of higher education, four-year universities, two-year community colleges, trade, technical, vocational training, whatever your passion is.

And so I want to look at are test scores a piece of what you have to look at, yes. But I want to look at graduation rates. I want to look at once students graduate, how are they doing on the next level? And where students are being successful and furthering their education, we need to do a lot of more of that. Where students are unprepared to be successful, then we have to challenge the status quo.

So, is Arne going to set a new ESEA standard of a 100% graduation rate by 2020 to replace the NCLB goal of 100% proficiency rate by 2014? Hey, Urban Prep’s already there!!!

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.