Michael Petrilli has never met a high-stakes test he didn't like. Well, that's not exactly true. He actually only likes those assessments that ensure all kids are not above average, based on his paraphrase of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon. In other words, he demands assessments that ensure us a fair percentage of kids will score below average.
What's even more revealing is the statement he and his collaborator, Robert Pondiscio, make at the close of this piece:
Virtually all kids aspire to go to college and prepare for a satisfying career. Now, at last, we know if they're on track to do so.Because words mean something, it's clear that the purpose of Petrilli's test-view of the world is to provide an accurate post-mortem on whether kids are on track for college. Of course, he assumes that "virtually all" kids aspire to go to college (guess that's why college enrollment of incoming freshmen in many areas is down this year) and we certainly want high-stakes tests that tell us often too late that they're not on track.
You would think that if Petrilli were actually concerned that all kids (including urban poor, minority and limited English speaking) be on track for college, he would recommend eliminating the traditional end-of-year "weighing of the pig" and instead advocate that the time wasted on these tests, as well as the countless hours of prep that goes into them, be exchanged for purposeful, relevant, formative assessments that provide the feedback teachers, students and parents need to know on a continuous basis to guide the student along the right path.
NCLB and RTTT's appetite for ratings and rankings by annual assessment has us all headed on the wrong track and folks like Michael Petrilli are helping steer the train.