California’s warring education factions dueling over federal rules
The newest front in California’s perpetual war over the direction of its public schools is in Washington, D.C.
State education officials have been battling a coalition of civil rights and education-reform groups over holding local schools accountable for academic outcomes.
The state Board of Education is on the verge of approving a “multiple measures” system that downplays academic testing, but critics say it’s too obtuse to be a meaningful tool for parents and the public.
The federal Every Student Succeeds Actlooms over California’s wrangling.
When the ESSA was passed last year, state officials hailed it as a complementary move away from top-down judgments toward more flexibility and local control. They talked confidently about designing a single accountability system that would meet federal and state standards.
However, ESSA still required schools to be ranked and the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools to be identified. The draft regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education bolster that mandate, requiring states to “assign a comprehensive, summative rating for each school to provide a clear picture of its overall standing.”
Suddenly, state officials were disenchanted with what was coming from Washington, characterizing it as continuing the punitive attitude of the discarded No Child Left Behind program.
Conversely, however, the “equity coalition” of groups critical of multiple measures saw in the proposed federal rules elements of what they had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get the state to include.