Grading the graders in the Sooner State
Last week, when Barack Obama said that "those of us who manage the public's dollars will...do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between and people and their government," he must have had Oklahoma in mind. A new proposal from the Oklahoma Business & Education Coalition would create an independent agency to manage the state's testing and accountability program. Those functions are currently handled by (elected) state education superintendent Sandy Garrett, and department that she leads. Understandably, she's not too thrilled about this idea, calling it "more bureaucracy." But Sandy should know better. Having the state education agency evaluate its own performance is like having students grade their own tests. With those kinds of perverse incentives, it's no wonder Oklahoma is bragging about good news while its students are lagging. In fact, this is such a good idea that other states should steal it for themselves--"sooner" rather than later.
"Oklahoma legislators seek fixes to school performance," by Julie Bisbee, The Oklahoman, January 16, 2009