Government fears accountability above all.
A few weeks ago, the California education department did a peculiar thing: It scrubbed historical data about standardized-test scores from its public DataQuest website. This being a government agency, it immediately began to lie to the public about why it had done this.
California law forbids using comparisons between different tests to set policy or evaluate programs. This makes sense: If last year 40 percent of students received 85th-percentile ratings on a standardized test and then this year 70 percent of students received 85th-percentile ratings on a different standardized test, it is likely that the radical difference is in the test, not in students’ performance.
The law, however, says not one word about making historical test-score data available to the public or suppressing that data. Naturally, California then cooked up a new lie: The data hadn’t been deleted at all, the education department said, simply moved to another part of the website. That might be technically true, inasmuch as the data was no longer available on the section of the website where — get this — historical data about test scores is published; the department says it was still made available to researchers.
That’s one definition of public service: making it more difficult for citizens to access information about their government, obstructing informed democracy, and being a general pain in the Trump. RELATED: The Obama Administration’s Newly Political Approach to FOIAs All that was really required was an asterisk. California is changing its standardized-testing practices to bring itself into alignment with Common Core standards.
The results from the new tests will not be comparable to the old ones on a point-by-point basis. What actually seems to have happened here is that the California department of education was worried that the old data and the new data would be used to make invalid comparisons. Which is to say, the people who run California’s schools have put forward the self-indicting thesis that Californians are too stupid to understand the issue. They should know.