Monthly Archives: January 2015

Why Accountability Bill (AB 1) Must Be Stopped


AB 1, otherwise known as the “accountability bill” is being fast-tracked and will have a public hearing at 10am next Wednesday, January 14th.

JUST A FEW of the reasons you should stand firmly against this bill, show up to testify against it, and write and/or call your state legislators to tell them to reject it include:

  1. At the very least, for the next two years, it relies on the Smarter Balanced assessments (SBAC assessments) as a principle measure of accountability; SBAC assessments are, quite simply, the enforcement mechanism for ‪#‎CommonCore‬, meaning that we are actually further entrenching Common Core through this bill.
  2. The SBAC assessments have been exposed as having ZERO validity; if the assessments have no validity, how is it ethical to build an accountability system upon them — one that will be used to hold teachers, schools, and districts accountable.
  3. Moreover, the cut scores for the SBAC assessments have been purposely designed to fail upwards of 60 to 70 percent of the students who take them, meaning that many students, teachers, schools, and districts will be labeled as “failing” when the first round of assessment scores comes back in the spring/fall of this calendar year. It will be a false read, but it will be taken seriously, resulting in deleterious effects to all parties and entities: students, teachers, schools, and districts. REMEMBER: There are REAL PENALTIES tied to this accountability system, up to and including the closing of schools.
  4. The high stakes described above can have no other outcome but “teaching to the test.”
  5. While this bill does provide for the development of alternate assessments by 2017, the manner in which this provision is made and framed suggests that the alternatives will ultimately be no better than SBAC, resulting in a lot of wasted taxpayer money — five flavors of ice cream, and they’re all vanilla.
  6. Even if the resulting alternative assessments ARE appreciably different, which is extremely unlikely, the bill states that any school district opting to administer one of the state developed and approved alternatives will have to pay for it, whereas SBAC will continue to be the “cost-free” option, limiting the number of schools that would actually depart from SBAC.
  7. DPI is given far too much control in this bill.
  8. The bill would create YET ONE MORE UNELECTED, UNACCOUNTABLE BOARD in this state, something we have far too many of already.
  9. The people able to appoint members to this board would largely be those who have already demonstrated that they’re not terribly interested in divesting this state of Common Core; if that’s the case, are we crazy enough to expect anything will change under the plan this bill proposes?
  10. This bill makes school districts increasingly accountable to state government; in a local-control state, that is the wrong direction. We should be pushing for measures that restore greater local control, not solidifying centralization and standardization at the state level. (LOOK BELOW FOR SOLUTIONS.)
  11. This bill reinforces the “grading system” sham that has been foisted on teachers, schools, and school districts. The grading system sounds like a good thing on the surface, but in fact it is not about measuring academic success at all; instead, it’s about measuring compliance to a centralized, standardized model of education. Anything that reinforces it should be rejected out of hand. If we’re going to measure something, it ought to be actual academic knowledge…something that can be measured by well-educated (notice I don’t say “trained”) classroom teachers.
  12. Despite the fact that there is an attempt to frame it otherwise, this bill could have no other effect than to homogenize educational alternatives over time, because it ultimately brings public, charter, and voucher schools all under the same accountability measure. Again, for AT LEAST the next two years, that’s SBAC, the enforcement mechanism for Common Core.

WHEN LEGISLATORS INEVITABLY ASK YOU WHAT THEY SHOULD DO INSTEAD, tell them that there are three things they should aim to do:

  1. Suspend the SBAC tests IMMEDIATELY.
  2. Propose a bill that would give local school districts the freedom to choose from a range of properly validated, reliable, and COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE assessment measures that have no resemblance to or association with SBAC, PARCC, VARC, AIR, PEARSON, or any other outfit that has been part of or demonstrated willingness to play ball with Common Core development and/or advocacy.
  3. Start to figure out a plan to move the bulk of funding for public education back to the local level. Since the Thompson administration, the State of Wisconsin has funded education at about two-thirds. That was the beginning of the end for true local control. Until that funding is restored primarily to the local level, the state will continue to have too much power over local school districts. Tell legislators that we ARE a local control state, and we ought to start behaving like one by restoring REAL authority and funding mechanisms to the local districts.