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Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 11/30/2010

Henderson: "data craziness" is taking a toll

By Bill Turque

One month into the job, interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson is starting to take slow, careful steps out of Michelle Rhee's shadow. In an interview with WAMU that was aired this morning, Henderson said that an unhealthy emphasis on standardized test scores had evolved in the No Child Left Behind era. She told reporter Kavitha Cardoza that DCPS will continue to work toward steady growth in scores. Then she added:

"But I think we've gotten something wrong. Previously there was no measure of student achievement. We just sent kids to school and hoped for the best. And then the standards and accountability movement came along and said what doesn't get measured doesn't get done, so we have to test. And I think testing is incredibly important. But I also think that we have to help people understand that tests are a benchmark, not the goal. The goal is to educate children. And I think the swing of the pendulum from absolutely no accountability to what I might call data craziness is starting to hurt."

Henderson said test scores remain the most objective available indicator of academic growth across the school system. "But I feel like we have to make people understand that test scores are not the only thing happening in our classrooms," she said.

Asked if she wanted the chancellor's post on a permanent basis, Henderson said it was too early to tell--too early for Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray to decide whether he wanted her and equally early for her to determine whether she was interested in the job.

"I think it's very important for Chairman Gray to feel like his pick is somebody that he has a good working relationship with. I've been on this job for 28 days. I don't think you can figure that out in that short a time. Likewise I have the same challenge....I have always said that I am a great number two and have not been interested in a number one position primarily because I like to keep my head down and do the work and don't have to deal with the politics, the media, the externalities. And I have to really think about what that change of role means for me."

Listen to the full interview here

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By Bill Turque  | November 30, 2010; 12:59 PM ET
 
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Comments

"But I feel like we have to make people understand that test scores are not the only thing happening in our classrooms,"

Sounds like she expects the scores to go down this year.

Posted by: efavorite | November 30, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I notice she isn't going around the country with the media fawning after her like Rhee did. She may have real substance, and be above her predecessor.

Posted by: jlp19 | November 30, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

She is not qualified for the number 2 position let alone for the number 1 position. I will be glad when she is gone also. I bet she will open a charter school once Gray lets her go. (lol) Then she can hand pick her students and then say look at my data like all the other charter schools do. Anybody can hand pick students and surpass the masses. She is a joke.

Posted by: helluvateacher | November 30, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

At least she's showing she has a little more common sense that Rhee had.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | November 30, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

The velvet glove touch.

Posted by: edlharris | November 30, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree that she is not qualified and should probably step down at some point, but at least she is more realistic than her predecessor, Michelle Rhee. Unlike Rhee, she understands that test scores are not an accurate measure of student progress and should not be the only factor looked at when evaluating a teacher. Also unlike Rhee, she is not jet-setting across the country looking for every photo-op she can find when she is SUPPOSED to be working. So, despite her lack of qualifications, I would still say that Kaya Henderson is a step-up from Rhee.

Posted by: thebandit | December 1, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it on the record by Mayor-elect Gray that the job is Ms. Henderson if she wants it?

As for the qualifications...find the job-vacancy announcement and post-it for all of us.

In all instances, shouldn't we have all scrutinized everyones number two, such the thought is her [Henderson] appointed number 2 is now a former outstanding/recognized teacher Jason Kamaras. Which almost give credence to finally having a homegrown chancellor/superintendent and a former teacher rising up the ranks to serve as number 2. Isn't this what many have been asking for?

Posted by: PowerandPride | December 1, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it on the record by Mayor-elect Gray that the job is Ms. Henderson if she wants it?

As for the qualifications...find the job-vacancy announcement and post-it for all of us.

In all instances, shouldn't we have all scrutinized everyones number two, such the thought is her [Henderson] appointed number 2 is now a former outstanding/recognized teacher Jason Kamaras. Which almost give credence to finally having a homegrown chancellor/superintendent and a former teacher rising up the ranks to serve as number 2. Isn't this what many have been asking for?

Posted by: PowerandPride | December 1, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Henderson said test scores remain the most objective available indicator of academic growth across the school system. "But I feel like we have to make people understand that test scores are not the only thing happening in our classrooms," she said.

That's funny! That's what everybody else was trying to tell them when they started their reign of terror.

Since she's acknowledged that she is a good #2,(that's debatable as well) let someone with the skills and qualifications get the #1 spot. That entire Rhee atmosphere needs to go. The only thing different about Henderson is that she taught longer than Rhee but she has never been a school administrator and basically did the same thing as Rhee, recruited teachers via TFA. It makes no sense to repeat the same mistake when Rhee was "her" mentor.

Posted by: candycane1 | December 3, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

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