Miami Dade Superintendent Addresses Congress; Urges Revamp of the Way Students are Measured


Miami Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho joined educators from Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Mexico before a congressional committee yesterday and urged them to revamp “how the federal government measures student success.”

Above all, they criticized how the existing law compares test scores from one  group of students to another (for example, this year’s ninth-graders to last  year’s ninth-graders) instead of measuring how one group of student improves  over time (this year’s ninth-graders in August compared to May). Schools, they  argued, should find out if students are learning at least a year’s worth of  material in one year.

The four educators also suggested the law — which breaks down student scores  in reading and math into categories of race, disability and poverty — also take  into account science and writing. Members of Congress said teachers and parents  are frustrated by an emphasis on reading and math that leads to “teaching to the  test” instead of focusing on skills such as critical thinking.

Carvalho in particular asked for a more nuanced measurement of student  achievement for children with special needs or who are learning English as a  second language.

“States build a road,” he said of the U.S. education system. “But it’s up to  the federal government to install the guardrail to make sure nobody falls  off.”

Not sure what to make of that last little metaphor, but Carvalho communicated to Congress some of the perils in relying on test scores.  This is a good thing.  And its at odds with another prominent Floridian,  Jeb Bush, who wants strict adherence to NCLB’s steadfast guidelines.   Senator Marco Rubio created some daylight between himself and Bush with a critical letter to Federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan which became public this week.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle fawned over Caravalho yesterday in Washington. It’s been speculated that the Miami-Dade superintendent desires a future in politics. His critique of NCLB is a nuanced one, yet separate from the dogmatic reliance on test data from the Bush-Michelle Rhee-Arne Duncan wing of education reform.

Bush is beginning to face naysayers from his own state. John Winn, who was education commissioner during the Bush years called the Florida governor’s school grade system a “disconnect that send the wrong signal.” Rubio’s letter was critical of Duncan’s waiver power grab while Bush has urged Duncan to grant more. Caravalho’s audience before congress yesterday gives further pause to the Bush way.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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2 Responses to Miami Dade Superintendent Addresses Congress; Urges Revamp of the Way Students are Measured

  1. Watch his comments from the last Board of Education meeting and you will gain a bit more insight! Working for a future political position for sure.

  2. Sandra says:

    Carvalho may indeed have sights on a political career; however, his voice right now from the largest school district in the State of Florida regarding the insanity of NCLB testing mandates is an important event. Hopefully, it will widen the examination of RT3 initiatives as well. THANK YOU BOB for your Florida coverage!

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