From the editors of the Idaho Press-Tribune:
When Idaho’s public school educators and Emmett Sen. Steven Thayn agree that something is a bad idea, that’s the very definition of “broad opposition.” And when you’re the superintendent of Idaho’s school system, it behooves you to acknowledge and respect that level of broad opposition…..When Thayn and many school district superintendents both expressed strong concern about the cumbersome, eight-hour Common Core test — the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium — to be administered this spring, Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna did a very savvy thing. He listened and responded quickly…….
It was only a matter of hours after Thayn announced he would try to get the test scrapped entirely that Luna announced a compromise — allow districts to opt out this year for 9th and 10th graders. The original plan was to field test all 3rd through 11th-graders and then use the results as a gauge to develop the test next spring, when schools teachers and students will be evaluated on the results.
Common Core emphasizes critical thinking and real-world application of math and English arts over mere rote memorization. So those former multiple-choice tests kids used to take will be replaced with more rigorous, comprehensive exams, and Luna said he expects some scoring data to decline the first few years as teachers and kids adjust.
Lots here to digest. Luna is one of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change. One can be skeptical of his motives as the Press-Tribune writes Luna will be facing a tough election battle “from both the left and right.” Idaho has its own school accountability system, Idaho’s Five Star Rating System. Luna’s willingness to give districts a “choice” and to field-test the first year is far more prudent than what Florida commissioner Pam Stewart is willing to do.
Stewart is not – not yet, anyway – one of Bush’s Chiefs, but is operating as if she is. Florida doesn’t even have its test in place as does Idaho, yet Stewart and Senate President Don Gaetz insist on maintaining ramming speed.
Until Stewart and Gaetz demonstrate a willingness to compromise with state superintendents on school grades or republican opposition to Common Core, the impression will always be there that the agenda is to protect the Bush Florida model. And at any cost.