No test is perfect. The exam administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles didn't prepare me for the daily rush-hour commute on the harrowing 405 or teach me how to change a tire. However, it did measure my ability to follow basic driving standards, something other drivers and pedestrians rely upon.
Now, imagine that the DMV -- in an effort to adopt a better test -- suspended all driving exams, but still continued to issue new licenses. We wouldn't know if the people behind the wheel met or even understood the rules of the road.
That same kind of backwards thinking has produced an equally dangerous education bill in California, one that the governor is considering signing into law.
As a part of the critical work to adopt the Common Core State Standards, California lawmakers have proposed postponing all English and Math testing for at least two years while schools put the more rigorous standards and assessments in place.
The bill, as it currently stands, will leave teachers and schools without the data used to identify the students who need intervention and support. They also won't be able to classify students for special education. Schools won't have state data to make decisions about who is ready to graduate and who needs remediation in college. Parents won't have the information to understand and advocate for their child's special needs. And for at least half their high school career, students won't know how they are performing in relation to their peers across the state.
That's why Educators 4 Excellence joined several community organizations in urging Governor Brown to veto this dangerous bill and demand a common sense plan that provides information and transparency for teachers, students and parents.
Let's be clear about whom the lack of transparency and information most affects: the students, particularly those most in need of help. Children with special needs, students in foster care and young people who rely on state data to access special services and programs will be without the information needed to secure these resources.
The bill also adversely affects students living in poverty. The Federal government is threatening to hold back Title 1 funds, including $600 million for LAUSD, if the bill becomes law -- dollars that directly support high-poverty schools.
Instead of denying data to those who need information, transparency and equity, we need our state government to promote efforts to level the playing field as we transition to more rigorous standards. Teachers, particularly those working with high-needs students, need ongoing training, technology tools and regular feedback to make this transition. This spring, E4E teachers offered a rational middle proposal to address the need to quickly get our schools "Common Core-ready." We proposed and advocated for Los Angeles Unified School District to create a leadership opportunity for teachers who are trained to be peer leaders and in-school trainers around Common Core. This position is now included in the district's newly passed Common Core budget as "teacher advisors," to support implementation on the school level. It's an example of one way we can build upon and leverage the talent in our schools to address the large learning curve that is inevitable as we make this shift.
We applaud lawmakers for embracing higher standards and aspirations for all students and teachers. However, we can't postpone state assessments of student growth while we make this transition. Teachers will still need to help their students to grow academically each year, schools will still need to diagnose and serve students with special needs, and students will still need equitable access to special and selective programs that are based on student data. Similarly, we need leaders to not postpone the work of responsible legislation. Instead of quick fixes, we need our governor and legislators to push us forward through this transition and model the kind of 21st century problem solving that are at the core of Common Core.