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“Using the indefensible to defend the status quo”

Interesting thoughts from Dropout Nation’s RiShawn Biddle on how some standardized testing critics are using the Atlanta scandal to overstate their case. Here’s a highlight:

Plenty has already been said about the cheating scandal at the Atlanta school district. And, as one would expect, education traditionalists such as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Diane Ravitch proclaimed that the mess proved that standardized testing leads to perverse incentives that force teachers to behave unethically, provide low-quality instruction, and ultimately, poorly serve the children in their care… …what education traditionalists are doing is simply trying to let teachers and principals off the hook for actually doing their job: Ensuring that every child gets a high-quality education, is proficient in reading and math, and has the skills they need to succeed in traditional and technical colleges, and in the working world. Certainly, teaching is a difficult career, and becoming even more challenging; there are plenty of teachers who are learning that they lack the subject-matter knowledge, instructional competence, entrepreneurial drive, zeal for improving the lives of children and empathy for kids of all backgrounds needed to be high-quality instructors. There are also principals who now realize that they cannot handle the complexities of leading schools in an age in which using data to support the work of good-to-great teachers, get rid of laggards, and revamp school activities, is more critical than ever. They should leave the profession.

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First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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