Education community outraged over DeVos' response to proficiency - WNEM TV 5

Education community outraged over DeVos' response to proficiency vs. growth question

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MIDLAND, MI (WNEM) -

Betsy DeVos was grilled during her confirmation hearing Tuesday night.

The Michigan native and Republican donor faced several tough questions from Democratic senators.

The education community was outraged over Devos' answer to a question about the debate over proficiency versus growth.

"We're concerned with her ability to lead public education," said Mark Hackbarth, president of the Midland Education Association.

Hackbarth is one of many educators nationwide scratching their heads and counting their concerns after DeVos' hearing on Capitol Hill. Her answers to senators' questions have been described as "bizarre."

"Thank you senator for that question. I think, if I'm understanding your question correctly around proficiency, I would also correlate it to competency and mastery. So that each student is measured according to the advancement they are making in each subject area," DeVos said when asked about proficiency versus growth.

The senator who asked the question, Al Franken (D-Minnesota), responded DeVos was speaking about growth and not proficiency.

"That's one of many things you should know. It's a small piece of a bigger puzzle. Understanding student growth, understanding proficiency, understanding evaluation, understanding how kids learn. All of those things you should understand if you are going to have the secretary of education label in front of your name," Hackbarth said.

He said proficiency is whether or not a student is meeting certain learning standards, but growth is how a student improves year after year regardless of how proficient they are. Hackbarth said a teacher's evaluation is tied to both.

"So knowing the difference on the state assessment for between whether a student is proficient and whether they made growth is really important," Hackbarth said.

Hackbarth said to him it's clear DeVos is not the right person for the job.

"Hasn't served on a school board. She didn't send her own kids to public schools and there's very good public schools where she's from. I would cite that as evidence," Hackbarth said.

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