Over at Flypaper, Michael Petrilli asked some of his fellow pundits for a quick post mortem on The Tony Bennett flap.
RiShawn Biddle: Four lessons to be learned from the Tony Bennett revelations
1) Transparency matters
2) A-to-F grading isn’t ready for prime time.
3) Reformers must make sure that state school leaders take good care in developing their systems.
4) The fiasco is a reminder of why the Obama Administration, which approved A-to-F grading as part of its No Child waiver gambit, must embrace the subgroup accountability approach contained within the law.
Kevin Carey: Falling short of equal justice under law
I live three blocks from the United States Supreme Court, where the words "Equal Justice Under Law" are chiseled in stone. It's bedrock principle of democratic governance and the first obligation of public officials. This is the idea that Tony Bennett failed to uphold in Indiana.
Anne Hyslop: A betrayal of public trust
In changing Christel House’s grade and those of twelve other schools, Tony Bennett undermined the very principles of school accountability that he sought to defend. Bennet wrote, “They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work.” In fact, changing Christel House’s grade from a C to an A is what compromised the work. Bennett’s “statistical anomaly” is, in fact, just another “loophole” in a series of previous loopholes states have used to avoid accountability.
Kathleen Porter-Magee: School grades need to be more science than art
If we are going to tie serious consequences to the results of a statewide accountability plan, we need to be far more certain that the metric we’re using is more science than art. Then, we need make sure there is a clear and transparent process by which the metrics are developed or changed, and we need to erect checks and balances that help preserve public trust in a system that so many parents, children, and community leaders rely on.
Marc Porter Magee: Is a single letter grade the right approach?
My graduate school advisor once told me that when weighing the results from a regression analysis, the most important factor was not what you saw on the page but, rather, how much you trusted the person who ran the analysis. There are so many ways you can tweak complex equations to get the results you are looking for. In the end, it’s the ethical—not the scientific—aspect of the work that’s most essential. I think the same holds for state accountability systems.
Mike Petrilli: School grades, stakes, and signals
What matters most, though, is how reformers react to the bright spotlight now on school-grading systems. To be sure, these haven’t exactly been out of view before; how we measure school success (or failure) has been a raging conversation in the policy community since before No Child Left Behind. Arne Duncan’s waivers were an admission that the law’s Adequate Yearly Progress approach was hardly infallible as a metric—and that states should have more leeway in designing measures going forward.
Andy Smarick: First, think about the kids
We need to keep an eye on what this means for Common Core and PARCC. Bennett’s been among the nation’s strongest CCSS backers and maybe the leading conservative supporting the standards. He’s now left without a public perch—at least for the time being. The influence on PARCC, I fear, will be even greater. Florida has served as PARCC’s fiscal agent. Tony has been a driving force behind PARCC from the start. PARCC is losing Tony as a chief and maybe Florida as a member.