The old deal, the new deal, and the metrics

I don’t know about you, but I’m not paying much attention to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) debates in Washington.  NCLB, flawed as it was, represented a bipartisan commitment to equity and an end to the toleration of chronic failure.  What’s going on now (this weird local control alliance ) is is about politics not kids, it’s about taking things apart not making them better, it’s convenience not courage.
NCLB framed the last decade.  But the next version of ESEA won’t be nearly as consequential.  The balance of this decade will be framed by the old deal, the new deal, and the metrics.
The Old Deal.  Race to the Top (RttT) represents the best of the old deal–the best of what we know about making the schools we have work better.  The 15 winning states are hard at work on high standards, better data systems, new evaluation systems, and more charter schools.  It will help, but the work is limited by the old frame.
The New Deal. The emerging frame is digital learning–blends of online and onsite learning and schools that work better for kids and teachers. The recently released Roadmap for Reform outlines the path forward for states.
The Metrics.  The new tests developed by two RttT-funded consortia (SBAC and PARCC) will probably be the most important frames from 2015-2010.  Because their introduction will coincide with Big Data–the shift to personal digital learning and all the keystroke data that goes with it–let’s hope that the new tests will come in versions that evolve with widespread data capabilities.  It’s almost time for DQC, the Big Data version.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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