Federal Opinion

The Fairfax Fandango: This Test Is Too Hard

By Alexander Russo — April 24, 2007 1 min read
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For a time, Fairfax County educators were thinking about -- some would say threatening to -- give up $17 million in NCLB funds rather than give a test to ELL kids that they thought was too hard. Well, of course it is. Everyone knows that.

But threatening to give up NCLB funding -- resolutions, protests -- how 2003.

At the last minute, however, Fairfax figured out what everyone else has: take the money, comply nominally, and find a way to do what you want. In Fairfax’s case, nominal compliance means making sure that teachers and ELL kids know that they can -- yes -- stop taking the test if it’s too hard. All it takes is a shake of the head.

“A memo from the Virginia Department of Education on Thursday said students can “indicate to the test examiner either verbally, or non-verbally by shaking his/her head ‘no’,” according to the Post article (Va. Schools Yield, Yet May Shape ‘No Child’ Wash Post)..."that he or she is not able to complete any more items.”

Sympathetic as I am to the plight of ELL kids and the anxieties of teachers about how their schools are going to be rated -- yes, that’s part of this -- I can’t imagine how this new policy is going to work out in practice.

In fact, all this thinking is making my head hurt even though I haven’t finished this post. Teacher, I want to stop now.

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