Henderson: "data craziness" is taking a toll
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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