Federal Role in K-12 Education, Testing

A primary role of the federal government must be to provide the resources necessary to maintain lower student-teacher ratios. The federal government needs to establish maximum student-teacher ratios for each taught subject area.

The federal government has been over-emphasizing testing. This needs to be trimmed back. Not eliminated, but brought back more into balance. The guiding principle is to be "the least necessary testing."

This problem has developed to some extent because of a government tendency to attempt to quantify results in order to control behavior and to manage fraud. However, in education as in many other areas of human behavior, such efforts at quantification past a point do more harm than good.

There is simply no substitute for the on-the-ground opinion of a specific caring, competent professional concerning the progress of a specific student. All these concepts can be quantified only partially, only from certain aspects. Fortunately, the non-quantifiable aspects often can be self-regulating. Who, for example, qualifies as a "competent professional?" In most any professional field, the local professionals come to know each other over time. Mechanisms can be developed to determine and weigh the opinions of fellow teachers, administrators, and even to some degree students. Such ratings and rankings can be used as part of the process of determining job assignments, pay, promotion. This happens anyway. It simply needs to be given more attention and in some cases provided more formal and open structure.