This from Diane Ravitch at Bridging Differences:
The president said that his administration would support whatever works, without regard to whether the ideas are liberal or conservative. He then laid out a vision that heaped goodies on both the liberal Broader, Bolder Agenda (early-childhood education) and the conservative Education Equality Project (more testing, tough accountability, charter schools, merit pay).
This is a politically astute trick. President Obama avoids choosing sides by giving both camps what they want. The left wants more funding: Done! The right wants choice, testing, and merit pay based on test scores: Done!
But let’s look at the vision of where American education is heading. The key here, I think, is the $250 million that the Obama administration will give to states to build longitudinal data systems. These data “warehouses” will collect and track every student’s data from pre-kindergarten through the end of college. Students’ test scores will be linked to individual teachers. Teachers who fail to get test score gains consistently will lose their jobs, while those who do get gains will be rewarded with bonuses or higher salaries. That is one obvious use of the data warehouses.
The assumption here is that the tests we have are excellent; that they are vertically aligned from grade to grade; and that they can safely and reliably be used as the basis for making high-stakes decisions for teachers and students. Many testing experts would challenge each of these assumptions....