High-stakes testing once a year is an uninformed and ill-advised way to evaluate students, teachers, and schools, if not combined with other measures. Atlanta teachers and administrators, like thousands of other teachers and administrators nationwide, are convinced being judged by such tests is unfair, particularly for school systems and schools that serve predominantly impoverished populations. They view the test as unfair to teachers, schools, school systems, and students.
I do not condone, and I view as unethical any score-altering that results in low -functioning students not getting the help they need. But I still must defend teachers and administrators who have shown the courage to say the premises of NCLB are false and some of its effects have been damaging. Both of these perspectives must be balanced for fairness to prevail for these convicted educators. Had I been in the shoes of these educators when they were sentenced, I would have apologized for harming individual students if the evidence was compelling. But I would have defended the morality of resisting a law that is, on balance, harmful, even though it has caused us to look more closely at historically underperforming demographic groups and seek to accelerate their progress.
I hope the appeal of their convictions leads to a broader view, lighter sentences, and increased attention to flaws in both NCLB and the current version of the Every Child Achieves Act before it is passed into law.