DeVos hedges on banning discrimination against LGBT students

Cheryl Sanders
June 7, 2017

"Measuring the growth of the student versus a student's proficiency - those are two different measures", DeVos replied. Franken cut her off and expressed dissatisfaction and surprise with her answer.

"According to ESSA, student "proficiency" rates in math and reading/language arts must carry substantial weight in state accountability systems", Hill told Chalkbeat in a statement.

Researchers generally advise that individual student growth is a more accurate and fair way to evaluate schools than proficiency, since it better isolates the impact of a school and doesn't penalize schools serving students who start out behind. And many states plan to do so. In a May 23 interview, Tony Katz of the In radio station WIBC asked DeVos to discuss proficiency and growth and whether the debate was a useful "yardstick" for discussing education.

The education secretary repeatedly said that any school "receiving federal funding is required to follow federal law", but said federal law is unclear on protections for LGBTQ students.


The Trump administration wants to invest millions into an unprecedented expansion of private-school vouchers and public-private charter schools, prompting critics to worry that religious schools, for example, might expel LGBT students or, more broadly, that private schools might refuse to admit students with disabilities. We do not orient around that now. Watch the DeVos-Katz interview below-the exchange about growth and proficiency begins at about the 6:45 mark. That term is typically used in reference to grades and other in-class measures of knowledge rather than when talking about large-scale tests. "I think that is important for the public to know, today, the Secretary of Education, before this committee, refused to affirm she would put forward a program that would ban discrimination based on LGBTQ status of students or would ban discrimination based on religion", he shouted. Instead, DeVos quickly pivoted to another topic - mastery-based learning, where students move to new concepts once they've demonstrated understanding of past ones. And such programs don't ultimately illuminate the test-centered question of whether proficiency or growth should count more when judging student performance.

DeVos responded, "For states who have programs that allow for parents to make choices, they set up the rules around that".

In addition, since the Department of Education has already determined that these students are eligible for loan forgiveness, the letter urges DeVos to abandon the application process and automatically discharge all eligible loans. But she didn't seem to reiterate that here. The students were directed to fill out a short application for the Department of Education.

"This has been a debate within the education world for a long time".


"There is simply no reason for Secretary DeVos to delay student loan forgiveness for the thousands who were victimized by Corinthian Colleges", said New York Attorney General Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. But although being proficient on NAEP is tough to attain, attaining it doesn't mean a student answered 100 percent of test questions correctly.

However, he added, "In no way does that get at the heart of the growth versus proficiency question, except insofar as kids would have to grow to get to mastery".

In the recent interview with Katz, DeVos also indicated that she wanted to scale back the role of the federal education department, but not eliminate it completely. DeVos last month called school choice critics "flat-earthers" and said expanding families' educational choices is a way to bring USA education "out of the Stone Age and into the future".


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