Taking Credit for Being The Most Enabled Man in Raleigh – Mark Johnson And His Crusade Against Too Much Testing

Relief could be coming to reduce the stress of administering North Carolina’s high-stakes standardized tests.

North Carolina’s public schools follow rigorous security rules for giving state exams to students, prompting complaints that the state’s rules have gone too far. In response, state Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson is promising that changes will be coming to testing policies this school year.

“We will be changing policies around how you must administer end-of-year tests based on your feedback and my experience as a 4th grade EOG proctor last year,” Johnson said in a memo sent to elementary school educators last week” (http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article217575090.html?__twitter_impression=true).

The above opens T. Keung Hui’s article entitled “Giving end-of-year school tests can be as stressful as taking them. Help may be on the way” from September 1, 2018.


It is interesting that Johnson, after a listening tour, a gift of power over the state board, and almost 20 months on a job he was never qualified to hold, now seems to want to take credit for something that many people have been fighting for the longest of times. against lawmakers who refuse to let go of power.

Taking away testing pressure and the absolute draconian measures of security have always been a topic of discussion. The problem has been that whoever had the power to control those measures never wanted to relinquish their hold on it.

Testing protocol is directly linked to the fact that we have high stakes testing. And if Johnson is able to lessen the effects of high stakes testing, it will not be because he is that powerful or that persuasive; it will be because he is that enabled.

In January of 2017, Billy Ball wrote a piece that talked about how high-stakes testing has been so politically controlled in the state and in the country that it would be an act of God for anyone to even ameliorate their effects.

In “New state superintendent may find it hard to keep pledge on school testing,” Ball begins,

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson may have signaled his intent to reduce the testing load for North Carolina public school students, but education officials, past and present, say the new superintendent is going to need some help from state and local policymakers to achieve his goals.”

Dr. Atkinson would have never gotten help from the GOP-controlled NCGA headed by Berger and Moore because a lot of what elementary students have now as far as testing was mandated by Berger himself.

The former superintendent and other top education officials say both federal and state laws, such as the GOP-championed Read to Achieve law shepherded by Republican Senate President Phil Berger in 2012, will complicate matters for Johnson.

Critics says the GOP-backed law, while perhaps admirable in its intent to ensure students in the lower grades were on track, only bolstered a system of testing that places students in a perilous position to pass or fail come the end of the year.

As former Policy Watch reporter Lindsay Wagner reported in 2014, Berger’s law, which mandated passing reading tests before students in lower grades could advance, helped usher in expanded early-grade testing from districts seeking to lessen the reliance on high-stakes, “make-or-break” examinations at the end of the school year.”

What that means is that if Johnson is successful in reducing the load of testing and the administrative / proctoring measures, then it will be because state officials in control will allow that.

It means that Berger will allow that.

And Johnson does not seem to be able to do anything unless Berger allows it.

Thus, Johnson still remains the most enabled man in Raleigh.