DC Wins Coveted Golden Ticket, NAACP & Reading, Talking About Learning Loss – Or Not?

On assessment waivers DC wins a golden ticket. The letter fits within the policy framework the administration announced, but the pressure campaign continues. Here’s something about special interest politics that’s obvious but too often forgotten: While you’re out living your life, or thinking about this or that issue, getting outraged on Twitter, or whatever the advocates who care a lot about one thing are focusing on that one thing.

(If you want to be really cynical about how that works there is the classic book. Maybe a little less cynical Demosclerosis. And here’s the academic version.)

Also on assessment, the conversation about potential impacts from the pandemic on learning still seems a little confused and directionless. Seems like that might matter given a 27% increase in annual education spending is on offer. I’ve been in meetings where leaders in our sector have said, all with great conviction,

a) focus on learning loss intensely, with a keen eye toward equity to help kids get back up to speed

b) Kids have learned all sorts of other great stuff over the past year, things are OK, lose the deficit mindset

c) Measuring stigmatizes

d) Measuring is essential

Thankfully The Times offers some clarity. No, wait…

A trend that hasn’t received enough attention is NAACP chapters around the country are starting to demand more seriousness on reading instruction. This letter specifically calls out “learning loss” and explicitly says, “adding a bit of phonics to a balanced literacy lesson is not enough.” It’s great to see given how political reading is and how much better we can do.