Even though I think Massachusetts’ education system should be emulated nationally, the various education reform initiatives, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top,
Put Your Right Foot In, Put Your Right Foot Out, Do the Hokey Pokey and Shake It All About, are leading to an increase in bureaucratic requirements (boldface mine):
We are drowning in initiatives. Even if they were all good ideas, there is no way we could effectively implement them all. They are getting in the way of each other and working to inhibit necessary change and progress. The number and pace of regulations to which we must respond and comply is increasing at an alarming rate. The following information is taken from the testimony of Tom Scott, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, presented to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Education Committee on June 27, 2013. An examination of the regulations and documents requiring action by local districts on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website demonstrates that from the years 1996 -2008 (13 years) there were 4,055 (average of 312 each year) documents requiring action of local districts in response to regulations. The same examination conducted on the four year period of 2009-2013 reveals that there were 5,382 (an average of 1077 each year) multiple page documents requiring action by local school districts. How are we effectively supposed to implement local initiatives and meet the needs of our students when we are mired in this bureaucratic nightmare of a system?
…Current education reform is not designed to truly change education it merely adds additional levels of bureaucracy to an already overburdened system. The extreme emphasis on standardized testing is an unproductive exercise in bureaucratic compliance. As educators, however, if we speak out against the standardized testing movement and the amount of time it takes away from instruction then we are not for accountability. If we point out that many of the standardized test questions are not developmentally appropriate for the age of the students to whom they are being given, then we are not for rigor.
Assessments are an essential part of education. They serve as diagnostic tools that afford teachers the opportunity to determine areas where students need extra assistance or demonstrate when a topic needs to be re-taught. However, standardized tests whose scores take months to arrive, often after the student has moved on to another teacher, have a limited utility for shaping the educational environment.
It’s worth reminding everyone that charter schools and other early reform initiatives were supposed to circumvent school bureaucracies. It’s also worth noting that the image reformers put forth (NO BULLSHIT!) doesn’t jibe with the reality (increased bureaucracy). Once again.