Umm, Good Question

Mercedes Schneider had an interesting blog post last week, Florida Supers Fake Readiness for 2015 Computerized Testing–for Which Bus Drivers Could Serve As Techies, detailing a Florida DOE official’s testimony at a Florida Senate Education PreK-12 Committee “regarding Florida’s technological readiness for their state assessments.” (HT: @TruthinAmEd)

The questions and answers are interesting. How good is the information that Florida districts are technology ready for computer-based assessments? Answer: perhaps not very, as some superintendents reportedly told a senator that they felt pressured to certify readiness, even though they aren’t ready and expect to have problems administering the assessments. What’s the plan if Florida districts aren’t ready? Answer: we don’t have one.

As striking as these exchanges were, here’s the thing that is most striking to me: the Florida Legislature makes video recordings of committee hearings (and subcommittee hearings?) available to the public by way of The FLORIDA Channel:

Located in the state Capitol building, The FLORIDA Channel is a public affairs programming service funded by The Florida Legislature and produced and operated by WFSU-TV. It features programming covering all three branches of state government, and is Florida’s primary source for live, unedited coverage of the Governor and Cabinet, the Legislature and the Supreme Court.

How cool–and transparent–is that?

As it happens, the Iowa House Committee on Education heard from DE Director Brad Buck last week. What did he talk about? Did the representatives ask good–tough and probing–questions on behalf of their constituents? Or did they just ask easy–softball–questions? How good were Director Buck’s answers? What topics were discussed and what was the quality of that discussion?

The only people who know are the people who were in the room, because here’s the record of the meeting that has been provided to the public:

HEC minutes 012015

It isn’t easy for members of the public to attend committee meetings. Unlike lobbyists and Des Moines-based government employees, we may need to arrange to take most of the day off for travel to Des Moines and back while hoping that the meeting we wanted to attend hasn’t been moved or cancelled. This isn’t easy for many of us to do on short notice.

The Assessment Task Force report is expected to be presented to the Iowa House and Senate Committees on Education this session. Will tough and probing questions be asked? Will good answers be provided? One hopes so, but how will we know?