‘Firewall’ States Argue They Qualify for RTTT

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 28, 2009 1 min read
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The blogosphere is absolutely buzzing about the data-firewall issue in the Race to the Top Fund.

The administration’s position seems pretty clear, and certainly Duncan has been vocal about it over the last few days. But we’re seeing stakeholders in the three states that this seems to apply to—New York, California and Wisconsin—offer arguments for why their laws aren’t really firewalls and why they should be able to compete for the funds anyway.

I fully realize not all of you may be as fascinated by the complete geekiness of this topic, so I’ll give you the Cliffs’ Notes version of these states’ arguments:

New York: “OK, our law says you can’t use test data in teacher-tenure decisions, but teachers have to demonstrate how they’ll use data to get tenure. Besides, the law only refers to tenure, not all those other teacher things.”
California: “OK, just because there’s a state prohibition on the use of this data doesn’t mean local districts can’t choose to include it on their own. Like, six whole districts already do!”
Wisconsin: “OK, we can’t use our NCLB tests for these teacher-related purposes, but we have all kinds of other tests we could use!”

Over at Swift & Change Able, Charlie Barone thinks the real push will come in the form of stealth campaigns to weaken the language in the proposed regulations. No doubt he’s remembering all that midnight horse-trading that went down during the writing of No Child Left Behind.

We live in interesting times...

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.