Duncan on testing: twitterdum?

I had to leave in the middle of the Arne Duncan Twitter Town Hall to do an interview about Rahm’s Trojan Horse (watch it on CBS-2 this evening and read more here) but I did hear our Fed Ed Head talk out of both sides of his mouth (as usual) about testing.

Here’s a brief report from talkradionews.com about Fed Ed Head Duncan’s interchange with host John Merrow on the subject:

While Duncan was adamant that testing is critical to measure reading levels and annual improvements, he did admit that “the law is too punitive” and schools need to be granted “more flexibility and autonomy.”

“Students shouldn’t even be tested 10 days out of the year. It is too much,” Duncan said.

“Growth and gain need to be evaluated,” Duncan continued,” but that doesn’t mean excessive testing.”

Duncan noted that good teachers need to be rewarded for their hard work and bad teachers need to improve. He even suggested implementing a reward system with higher pay for schools with higher performance. He maintained, however, that the only way to measure this is through testing.


Duncan’s rhetoric about testing is a slippery as his charter school dodge (“I only support good charter schools”).

Duncan’s “growth and gain” only mean one thing – year-to-year changes in scores on one-shot standardized tests. Duncan’s ‘better tests” are simply expanded, computerized standardized tests.

In other words, more of the same.

Just because you call a pig “better” or “more flexible” or “value-added” doesn’t mean it isn’t still a pig.

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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.