"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nebraska Model Assessment System At Risk

State Senator Gail Kopplin has been busy lately. Just last week he was one of two members on the Legislative Education Committee to oppose the reunification of Omaha Public Schools after an embarrassing segregation plan last year that split the schools into white, black, and brown districts. A court challenge by the NAACP led to the new plan, now opposed by Senator Kopplin.

This week he is one of the lead testocrats in the Legislature to support a bill to ditch the state's model assessment system for the same standardized testing madness that is suffocating American public education, making children stupid, and deepening race and class divisions:
LINCOLN - State lawmakers calling for an overhaul of Nebraska's student testing system still hope to pass the changes this session.

Thursday, the Legislature's Education Committee endorsed a plan to establish new statewide tests in reading and math, shifting from an accountability system that differs from district to district.

The committee still must vote the proposal, Legislative Bill 653, to the full Legislature for debate. That is expected to happen Tuesday.

But counting Tuesday, just 11 days remain in the legislative session.

The bill has priority status, and Legislative Speaker Mike Flood has called it a companion bill to the Omaha schools proposal that won first-round approval this week.

Thursday, State Sen. Ron Raikes of Lincoln, the Education Committee chairman, suggested a maneuver that could speed up the testing proposal's consideration.

Raikes said LB 653 is associated with a separate bill regarding educational service units that already has first-round approval. He said the testing bill could be offered as an amendment to the ESU bill.

Even if the proposal comes up for debate, it's unclear how it will fare.

The Nebraska Education Department and the state education commissioner have opposed changes, as have the Nebraska Council of School Administrators and the Nebraska State Education Association.

Pat Roschewski, director of statewide assessment for the Education Department, said today that the proposal would shift the state away from using assessment as a learning tool to one just for accountability.

Roschewski said Nebraska's curriculum would narrow to focus on what the statewide tests cover.

"We don't want to sacrifice the learning piece," she said. "We want to keep learning first." . . .

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