On Friday, California governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB547, a bill that would have changed the state's school accountability law to encompass high school drop-out rates, graduation rates, participation in career and technical education programs, and student achievement data for subjects and grades that are currently un-tested, such as art, music, and physical education.
The bill would have likely led to the creation of additional standardized tests–but it also would have counted test scores for only 40 percent of a high school's accountability score, while the current system relies 100 percent on test scores. Nevertheless, Brown's veto statement, which is getting a lot of attention in the education blogosphere, argued that the collection of additional data would indicate the "siren song of school reform." He wrote:
Over the last 50 years, academic “experts” have subjected California to unceasing pedagogical change and experimentation. The current fashion is to collect endless quantitative data to populate ever-changing indicators of performance to distinguish the educational “good” from the educational “bad.” Instead of recognizing that perhaps we have reached testing nirvana, editorialists and academics alike call for ever more measurement “visions and revisions."
The California Teachers' Association didn't take a position on the bill, but union leaders will likely cheer Brown's embrace of data-skepticism. I noticed that he ended his veto message with an Albert Einstein quote that American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten likes to cite: "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."