Federal Campaign Notebook

Remark on Testing Opens a Portfolio of Questions

By Michele McNeil — October 28, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A spokeswoman for Sen. Barack Obama sparked a mini-debate over testing last week when she suggested on a national radio show that the Democratic presidential nominee endorses the use of student portfolios.

There’s debate about what she meant by what she said—and even after Sen. Obama’s campaign clarified her remarks, it’s still not entirely clear where the candidate thinks portfolios fit into the testing mix.

In response to a question about Sen. Obama’s view on the No Child Left Behind Act, spokeswoman Melody Barnes said on “The Diane Rehm Show” on National Public Radio on Oct. 21 that “we have to deploy and employ the proper kinds of assessments, ... portfolios, for example, and other forms of assessments that may be a little bit more expensive, but they are allowing us to make sure children are getting the proper analytic kinds of tools.”

Michael J. Petrilli, the vice president for programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, suggested on his organization’s Flypaper blog that Ms. Barnes’ comments meant Sen. Obama wants to “dump” testing under the NCLB law in favor of portfolios, which Mr. Petrilli doesn’t consider tests.

Later that day, in an e-mail to Education Week, Neera Tanden, the domestic-policy director for the Obama campaign, attempted to clarify Ms. Barnes’ remarks.

“Sen. Obama has said he supports testing but wants to make sure our tests are better and smarter,” Ms. Tanden wrote. “He does not support replacing the current structure of NCLB with portfolios, and to suggest otherwise is a willful misreading of his comprehensive agenda on education.”

Also on Oct. 21, one of Sen. Obama’s education advisers, Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond, addressed the candidate’s stance during a debate at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“If you look at other countries, their assessments include relatively few multiple-choice items, and in some cases, none,” Ms. Darling-Hammond said. “Their kids are doing science inquiries, research papers, technology products. Those are part of the examination system.”

Lisa Graham Keegan, an education adviser to the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, maintained during the debate that “the problem with backing off of assessments and turning them into portfolios that are more subjective is that we can’t compare kids. That’s where we were before we had accountability.”

A version of this article appeared in the October 29, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal What’s Behind the Push for a $60K Base Teacher Salary
When reintroduced in Congress, a bill to raise teacher salaries will include money to account for regional cost differences.
5 min read
Teachers from Seattle Public Schools picket outside Roosevelt High School on what was supposed to be the first day of classes, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Seattle. The first day of classes at Seattle Public Schools was cancelled and teachers are on strike over issues that include pay, mental health support, and staffing ratios for special education and multilingual students.
Teachers from Seattle Public Schools picket outside Roosevelt High School on what was supposed to be the first day of classes, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Seattle. The first day of classes at Seattle Public Schools was cancelled and teachers are on strike over issues that include pay, mental health support, and staffing ratios for special education and multilingual students.
Jason Redmond/AP
Federal Teachers Shouldn't Have to Drive Ubers on the Side, Education Secretary Says
In a speech on priorities for the year, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said teachers should be paid competitive salaries.
5 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers a speech during the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2023.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers a speech during the “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2023.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
Federal A Chaotic Start to a New Congress: What Educators Need to Know
A new slate of lawmakers will have the chance to influence federal education policy in the 118th Congress.
4 min read
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks on the House floor after the first vote for House Speaker when he did not receive enough votes to be elected during opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan 3, 2023, in Washington.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3 following the first round of voting for House Speaker. McCarthy fell short of enough votes to be elected speaker in three rounds of voting on opening day of the 118th Congress at the U.S. Capitol.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Federal Historic Changes to Title IX and School Safety Funding: How 2022 Shaped K-12 Policy
Federal lawmakers sought to make Title IX more inclusive, respond to school shootings, and crack down on corrupt charter schools.
6 min read
Revelers march down Fifth Avenue during the annual NYC Pride March, Sunday, June 26, 2022, in New York.
Revelers march down Fifth Avenue during New York City's annual Pride March in June. Proposed changes to Title IX would explicitly protect students from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexuality.
Mary Altaffer/AP