Fordham: Make America Great Again, but for education
Capitol Hill High School is one of Oklahoma City's largest high schools. (Josh McBee)
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister spoke recently at a community meeting hosted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. After hearing what she had to say, it was easy to believe that Oklahoma schools are ready to move beyond the use of unreliable and invalid test scores (such as the A-F School report card) to intimidate educators into overcoming the educational legacies of poverty.
The audience made it obvious Nov. 14 at Capitol Hill that they have had enough of bubble-in accountability, and the Hofmeister administration is listening. She previewed its new effort to expand college-readiness instruction and equal access to challenging and meaningful courses. Given federal pressure, the administration will almost certainly have to incorporate some test-driven growth measures, but its intent was made clear: As long as school systems are convinced that those estimates won’t be used to punish unfairly, the questionable statistics’ downsides can be minimized.
Superintendent Hofmeister’s most important message was that a completely different, thoughtful and collaborative mindset has replaced the top-down and punitive accountability obsession of the last 15 years. To that end, her department carefully seeks to employ research-based methods that address each individual flaw of grading schools.
Meanwhile, back at the Fordham Institute …
About a week before Hofmeister’s appearance, The Oklahoman published a guest editorial from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli and Brandon Wright. In it, the authors outline a plan to do the seemingly impossible: Fordham would make the discredited A-F grade card guesstimates even more destructive than at present.
It’s not like Fordham has researched Oklahoma’s grade cards and the options for improvement created by the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and then contemplated a better system for Oklahoma. Quite the opposite: Fordham has championed its own national boilerplate matrix, which shifts the emphasis from poor students to high-performing, mostly affluent kids. (When incorporating Fordham’s Fordham: Make America Great Again, but for education - NonDoc: